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We landed at Nice Airport and travelled down the coast to Le Dramont just north of St Raphael by train.  It’s a small and relatively underdeveloped place with about half a dozen hotels, a pharmacy and a spar shop.  As you walk under the tunnel at the station you arrive in a square with what looks like and is in fact a World War II landing craft.  On investigation it seems the 36th Texas Infantry landed on the beach here on the 15 August 1944 to begin the movement North from the Med against the occupying German forces.  I had no idea that there had been a southern push into France but they are obviously very proud of their role and the local bar at the harbour has lots of photos taken at the time.

US landing craft in Eisenhower square Le Dramont

US landing craft in Eisenhower square Le Dramont

The harbour is small and there is a small island off shore with what looks to be a folly built on it.  It is supposedly the basis for the island in ‘Tintin and the Black island’  The original book art work  –

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And the island itself just off the harbour.

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As you can probably see the weather was fabulous.  Although it was only early April, it was warm and sunny and we did spend one day on the beach – though Stephen didn’t really do the whole sunbathing thing!

Stephen sunbathing

This is just a short post – we’re busy getting ready for France.  We fly out on Saturday morning from Leeds Bradford Airport to Nice.  We’re catching the train to Agay down the coast from Cannes. We’ll be there for three days walking in the  Esterel region which is by the coast.  Then on the Tuesday we’re heading back to Nice to catch the Chemin de Fer du Provence which is a narrow gauge railway up to Digne Les Bains.  There we’re picking up a hire car and driving down to Castellane – for the rest of the week.  We’re going to do some walking down, in and around the Gorge Du Verdon which is the biggest canyon in Europe.  I’m really looking forward to a good break and some interesting walking.  I don’t think it will be much warmer than here and some of it is quite high so we’re taking lots of warm clothes.

On a separate note, the first Conference Post is on Inclusive Learning.  We have a twitter stream and hash-tag for the event – #jiscrscnw09.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we had just returned from Nice.  What a fabulous place and it is easy to see why the rich and famous and not so rich or famous head there.  We arrived to a rather cloudy overcast day  but at least it was warm – about 26 degrees.  The hotel was right on the Promenade des Anglais and our room overlooked the sea.

View from Hotel room

View from Hotel Room

The following day we decided to walk round the headland to the West of the town from Villefranche sur Mer.  We stepped off the train and within a few hundred yards were on a superb little beach with a diving pontoon and a swimming area bouyed off from the boats coming out of the marina.  It sort of set the tone for the whole holiday.  Walk a bit, head round a corner, ‘Oh that looks a nice beach’ swim, sunbathe, potter on a little further.  Walking in the Dales is nothing like this!

The old town of Nice is a warren of small streets full of restaurants, bars and shops.  We ate there a couple of times but it is not cheap – £7 a pint of lager!

Vieux Ville

On the Saturday we took a trip to an island just south of Cannes.  It’s called Isle St Marguerite and is just 4 Km long and about one Km wide.  It has no vehicles and is even no smoking!  The trip took about an hour and was quite bumpy across the bay.  We walked along the coast stopping every so often then on the South side found a fantastic little cove.  It was about 15 ft wide and just exqusite.  I swam out of the cove with Stephen’s camera, which is waterproof to take a photo of ‘our beach’ and will post the photos along with loads of others onto the flickr site when they’ve been downloaded.  It was just idyllic and I could have spent all day just taking photos of yet another beautiful view.  The island is covered in pine and eucalyptus trees making the air scented and delicious.

Isle St Marguerite

Isle St Marguerite

It wasn’t all sun, sea and beaches though, we did visit the Museum of Modern Art and the Matisse Museum which are all free.  The Matisse is held in a beautiful 17th century mansion surrounded by olive trees in a park to the North of the city and is worth the visit.   I also managed to get the timer to work on my phone camera so here are the happy couple on the steps of the Museum of Modern Art.

Lisa and Stephen

Lisa and Stephen

All in all a fantastic holiday the best ever!

On Sunday last we decided to attempt Pen-y-Ghent the final of the Yorkshire Dales ‘Three Peaks’ that we still had to climb.  We took the train to Horton in Ribblesdale which is only 20 minutes from my village and we set off along a gently sloping stony path.  We had decided to do the longer walk rather than the straight up and down to the top and back so were going to walk the full length of the fell, climb the ridge and then walk along the top back to the summit.  The weather was showery and despite having been soaked to the skin on Ingleborough a couple of weeks ago we still didn’t have over trousers (£100 is a lot of money!).  The guide book mentions a couple of pot holes and we could see these by the side of the path.  Then as we approached what seemed to be a dip in the path it very quickly opened up to a 20 m chasm.  This is not for the faint hearted.  It is unfenced and just appears in front of you.  Hull Pot as it is called is said to be the largest natural hole in England.  There is no way down it other than abseiling.  The river normally disappears before it reaches the pot and emerges half way down the wall but as we had had so much rain it cascaded dramatically into the bottom.

It was a real treat and a complete and rather un-nerving surprise.  We trudged on as the showers got heavier and more horizontal and we were repeatedly soaked.  As we got to the bottom of Plover Hill at the far end of the walk I was having problems staying upright in the wind and the prospect of walking into the wind on the ridge on the way back wasn’t too appealing – so I ahem, suggested we re-think and come back another day to get to the top – when it isn’t so windy.  And perhaps we should check the forecast in the Pen-y-Ghent cafe which warned of ‘significant buffeting’ and winds of up to 45 mph.  So we retired hurt to a pint of tea and to dry out.

Hull Pot Beck disappearing

Hull Pot Beck disappearing

Next Monday, 21st January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year and as such is named Blue Monday. It is the start of the last week in January and a combination of the debt, weather, time since Christmas, time since New Year resolutions are broken, lack of motivation and need for action can be represented in a mathematical equation. I’m not sure about the accuracy of the equation but it is certainly a depressing time of year, for all those reasons just stated.

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The campaign to ‘Beat Blue Monday‘ was started by the Creativity at Work consultants and is being promoted by Green Communictions here in Yorkshire. There is a facebook group (of course) and the Samaritans are part of the partnership.

They suggest you try and do something to cheer yourself and others up such as:

“Blog – Write a blog about what you are doing to Beat Blue Monday. Make your readers smile. If you do write a blog post on Monday 21 – make sure to tag it: “beatbluemonday”.
Try something new -Be creative, or learn something new to get your brain active and start thinking of new things instead of dwelling on the old.
Get physical – By changing your physical state, from a simple shoulder-shake at your desk to a full work-out at the gym, you can change the way you feel.
Contact a friend or relative – Get in touch with someone you have not heard from in a while; thinking of someone else takes your mind off you.
Take a break – Go somewhere different, whether it’s a coffee bar you have never been into, or a faraway luxury holiday; by changing your physical location, you change your perspective on the world.
Be nice to a stranger – Do a random act of kindness; doing good for others is the best form of self-satisfaction.
Help the planet – Be a good ancestor in some way; the planet will be here long after you are gone.
Pamper yourself – Spoil yourself, from a small indulgence to a luxury you have been promising yourself. You can even dye your hair blue to create a stunning eye-catching change.
Plan something new – Whether it’s planning a holiday for later in the year or deciding what to do at the weekend, looking forward to something new or different can be uplifting and refreshing.
Share your thoughts – A problem shared is a problem halved. Visit the Blue Monday blog to see what ideas people have come up with for dealing with life’s little problems. ”

Having read all those, I got a day’s pampering at the Spa of a rather smart hotel locally for my birthday so might just take that up next week.

I read this with disbelief yesterday, then having laughed out loud decided it was actually quite sad.

“A British Lottery scratch-off game sold by Camelot had to be pulled from circulation after the math involved confused too many players. The Cool Cash Lotto ticket dealt with temperatures, often below zero. To win a prize the temperature number under the scratch off had to be lower than the one displayed on the card.

Tina Farrell, from Levenshulme, called Camelot after failing to win with several cards.

The 23-year-old, who said she had left school without a maths GCSE, said: “On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn’t.

“I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher – not lower – than -8 but I’m not having it.”

I love the ‘I’m not having it’ bit, so she can look forward to the weatherman announcing that we are expecting temperatures of -20 degrees this weekend – ‘Oh goody, I’ll get my shorts and flip flops out’! I wonder if she knows that her ignorance is being bounced around t’interclacker? I was going to write a post about the state of the Education System in the UK but I’m too depressed.

I’ve had the link for the Blog Action Day in the sidebar for what seems like months so I had better make sure that I do actually post something on global warming.  Whether you adhere to the view that it is caused by human interaction or that it is natural phenomenan , I think it is pretty clear that it is happening.  I’m usually of the view that whatever I can do will make little or no difference but lots of small actions can be greater than one large action.  So go and put a brick in your cistern, don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth and change your wash cycle to cold – it works just as well!

Another great picture from the Astronomy picture of the day site.

saguaromoon_seip800.jpg

Saguaro Moon
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip (Astro Meeting) Explanation: A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. For example, tonight’s Full Moon, the one nearest the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, is popularly called the Harvest Moon. According to lore the name is a fitting one because farmers could work late into the night at the end of the growing season harvesting crops by moonlight. In the same traditions, the Full Moon following the Harvest Moon is the Hunter’s Moon. But, recorded on a trip to the American southwest, this contribution to compelling images of moonrise is appropriately titled Saguaro Moon.

With all the bad weather – have we actually had a day without rain since May? – I thought I’d post a picture of a construction site in Dubai when the restraining wall from the Arabian sea failed.

dubaiaccident.jpg

The full story is here. I’ll have to be careful – this is turning into something of a construction blog – I’ll be writing about cranes before I know it!

Latest Jimmy Choos to hit South Yorkshire! I’ll have the blue ones please. Thanks Kate.

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