The Gallery: Black and White


Point Helbronner

I am always a bit stumped when I’m asked to submit black and white photos for anything. and I suspect I’m not alone in resorting to a little photo editing. Luckily I have plenty of photos to play around with, but these ones, taken over a huge glacier in the Alps between France and Italy are some of my favourite. They probably work well because there isn’t much colour in the originals- just a blue sky and a a bit of red for the cable cars.

Six years ago we spent a week in the summer holidays in Chamonix, which is a popular ski resort in the winter. In the summer it’s a fantastic place to stay with families, and we were with a company who took the children for the day 4/7 days, so the parents could get out and explore on their own.

DH and I got out and about on our own, and had a few adventures, but the most thrilling thing we did was take a series of cable cars up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi, then rode the Panoramic Mont Blanc Cable Car across to Point Helbronner, in Italy.

It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. I’m not a fan of heights and we were a long way up. The cables seemed very loose and blew around in the wind as they traveled above the ice and snow. And when you looked straight down you could see how deep the ravines in the ice were.

I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen if we fell.

And once we’d crossed from France to Italy safely, we had to go back again. This time, I tried not to look down as often.

View from Panoramic Mont Blanc Cable Car

The scenery was fantastic. We had this car to ourselves and felt like we were the only people on earth until the carriages going in the opposite direction whirred past and we all waved to each other.

See those little dots? They are people who chose to climb up the mountains and risk life and limb while doing so. We saw plenty of them staggering through the snow, perched on ledges and climbing the jagged rocks. They did not look like they were having fun.

It looked far too much like hard work to me and I was relieved to be able to look down on them, even though we were bouncing around in a metal bauble on a bit of  steel rope. To be fair, I’d not describe our experience as fun either. But it was a ‘Once in a lifetime’ experience and I’m glad we did it.

Though I admit to breathing a sigh of relief when we made it back to Chamonix safely and I had solid ground under my feet once again.

For more black and white photos, check out this week’s Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.



Well, we are home.

We got home yesterday actually. We were supposed to drive from Dijon and stay the night at St Quentin, then trundle home at a leisurely pace today but I was a bit speedy on the Autoroute and we arrived at our planned destination at 1:30 pm. DH and I looked at each other, neither  of us fancied another night in a cheap hotel and having to unpack, then pack the car again the next morning.

We ascertained we could change our Eurotunnel booking, the threatened strike had not come to pass, we had until 7pm to cancel the hotel and the kids wanted to get home too so we went for it. It only took an extra 4 hours driving and we were home by 6:30. Bliss. read more

Last Days.

Today is the last day of our Esprit Family Adventure for the summer of 2011.

We’ve had a fantastic time in both resorts, Saas Fee and Belle Plagne, but now have to start thinking about the journey home. Packing for home never seems to take as long as packing to leave on holiday; it’s merely a matter of chucking everything in the nearest suitcase and sorting it out at the other end. read more

The Gallery: World Photography Day.

Today’s theme is World Photography Day over at The Gallery.

We are on holiday in France at the moment, high up in the mountains in a resort called Belle Plagne and I could post some stunning photos of the views up here. But I’ve been blogging every day of our holiday and anyone reading regularly will be sick to death of photos featuring mountains, blue skies and stunning vistas. read more

The Only Lift In the Village.

Belle Plagne is a very different resort from Saas Fee.

Belle Plagne is above the tree line, while Swiss Fee is below it. This means Belle Plagne has a very open outlook from the hotel, you look down the valley and across to various peaks in the distance. Saas Fee feels more closed in, you are surrounded by snow covered mountains and glaciers looming high above you.

SF is a pretty, chocolate box Swiss village  and BP is a purpose built typical ski resort.  BP doesn’t fare too badly in the looks stakes but the lower village Belle Cote is pig ugly.  It is dominated by apartments that were built for the 1992 Winter Olympics which were designed to look like a dam. This illusion may be more obvious in winter but is wasted in summer. read more

In Pain In Belle Plagne.

We are in the second week of a two centre stay with Esprit Family Adventures.


We are staying at the amazing Chalet Hotel des Deux Domaines in Belle Plagne. We have always been quite happy staying at the Annahof in Saas Fee but the ‘Triple D’ is something else again. It’s almost a proper hotel. It has an in room fridge and telephone but it still bl**dy well doesn’t have WiFi past the first floor. Esprit, get this sorted!

Today was the first day of the activity filled week for everyone. Because we’ve not been here before, the kids have been very excited about the activities lined up for them. read more

From Switzerland, to France… via Italy.

I guess it’s a mark of how much confidence we have in our satnav.

‘Miss Polly’ built into the car and is usually pretty trustworthy. She’s not led us into a lake or instructed us to do a U-turn on the M25 in the 6 years we’ve had the car.

So yesterday when we had to drive from Saas Fee to Belle Plagne, we loaded the car up, merely glanced at the suggested route last just under 4 hours, and blithely drove off down the mountain.

DH had used Googlemaps to print out a back up map and both versions of our route were in agreement until we reached Chamonix. Then Miss Polly instructed us to bear left and it was only then we realised that the traffic we were caught up in was actually queuing for the Mont Blanc tunnel.

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Packing For Our Summer Alpine Adventure.

Three more sleeps and we are off on our holidays, so I should really start thinking about what to pack.

No doubt some of you will be having palpitations that I haven’t got the suitcases sorted and stacked in the hall already, but there is really no need to be that well prepared. We are last-minute packers in this house. If I packed any earlier, I can guarantee that someone would decide that they couldn’t live without whatever is at the bottom of the largest suitcase and would create chaos retrieving it. Besides we are still wearing clothes that will need washing before we leave.

We leave early Thursday morning, so DH will get the suitcases down from the loft tomorrow night and I will start packing on Wednesday. For me, that’s pretty good. Before we went away for Easter, I got up at 5 am the morning we were leaving, in order to pack!

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The Gallery: Travel.

This week, at The Gallery, the theme is Travel. It’s a subject that’s dear to my heart, as without travel I wouldn’t have come to the UK and found the rest of my life waiting for me.

And it’s one of the reasons we’ve chosen to raise a family in the UK, rather than head back downunder.

As a family, we love to travel. We’ve been to 4 of the seven continents and plan to do something about two of the missing three in the next couple of years. Most of the time we fly because we have to, but when it’s all possible we take the train, or drive.

When you have this much luggage, it makes sense to take the car if you can.

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