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Yes, it’s been more travelling and none of it went to schedule.  It started fairly well with me up at about 05.00 on Monday the 25th.  By 06.35 the view looked like this.

I was off on Cerise and rapidly aware that my hands were going to freeze as I shot down the mountain road with all its hairpins, dropping through that layer of cloud, into the valley you can see below it.

For the first 5 to 10km I was doing that thing of alternating a hand in my armpit to stop them getting painfully cold but by 10km it was astonishing to find that already that wasn’t necessary and by the time I reached the town down there, not long after 07.00 it was already really warm there.  Altitude really does affect ambient temperature; I think the rule of thumb is about 1°C for every vertical 100m so I guess I gained about 16°C from the apartment to the valley.

Cerise and I waited happily in the increasingly frankly hot sun for Damien, kind partner of Aurélie to arrive and haul Cerise away for safekeeping while I’m away.

Aurélie works in the letting agency we use (Alp’agence  www.alpagence.fr for the French or http://www.alpagence.com/en/agency/ gives some history in English).  He was early and lovely and Cerise went off in the back of his pickup.  That had all been great but from then on things were fraught.  My 10.55 train just disappeared off the board with no comment or warning.  The station in Aime turns out to have been closed though the trains still stop.  That meant there was no-one to ask, and finding out information from the internet on my ‘phone was not easy.  In the end I did make it back home, shortly before midnight instead of early evening, but the journey back had two steps and no-one able to confirm I would make it until I got to the ticket office in Gare du Nord in Paris and got my final ticket changed. Fortunately, both the ticket agents were friendly, believed me about the first train and changed my tickets without charging me. 

The following day I was off to Amsterdam for the Society for Psychotherapy Research conference there (http://www.sprconference.com/).  I was taking no risks and got to Luton Airport really early … so I was trapped there for four and a half hours while EasyJet seemed to have lost interest in us and kept asking us to look at their app to find out what was happening.  That was particularly unhelpful as most of the time the airport wifi didn’t work and, bizarrely, neither did my 3G.  Not good!

Wednesday to Saturday was pretty full on at the conference and I’m still digesting that.  Hm, talking of digesting, here are some daft ‘photos in the spirit of my 2016 pelerinage.

That crèpe in Chambéry was after the first ticket agent had been lovely and fixed my next step, but warned me she couldn’t promise the next agent would be so sympathetic and that she couldn’t do me a ticket for the whole way back.  The crèpe was  very welcome but the cold water was even better as  I had been roasting in Aime for the better part of five hours before the 12.55 train did arrive and get me that crucial first step of the way home, by which time it started to look less than 50:50 that I’d make it.

This, below, was my first evening in Amsterdam.

OK, that’s enough digesting food and I need to get back to work (and we’ve got some extended family health challenges at the moment so, with work and a backlog here while I waited for my ISP to shift this blog and the containing site (https://www.psyctc.org/) to a new server, I’m a bit backed up.

I do need to digest the conference but but that’ll have to wait.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d share three birds (well, three species, about six individual birds) who gave me a huge lift out there.

Oystercatchers at the university, having a snack between lectures.

You’ll have to click on that to see them but there they are: three oystercatchers.  They were stabbing deeply into the grass to get their food, worms?  Insects? I am so used to only seeing them on sea beaches I was stunned to see them there.  Even more so when they went to the same first lectures as me.

What do you mean you don’t believe me?  This is Amsterdam, the Free University, this is the Netherlands where everyone speaks perfect English.  Of course the oystercatchers at the Free University go to lectures!

This was the cormorant just before I met the oystercatchers.

Again, you’ll have to click on it to see him (or her) on that strange sculpture, in front of that even stranger advert.  No, s|he didn’t come to lectures, s|he was just hanging out.

And this was my best avian friend who stayed down the road about 1km from the university, waiting for frogs and other edibles to come into stabbing reach and rather mistrustfully allowing me to get fairly close.  On the third day I started to feel we were friends, well, familiar acquaintances.

Actually, I’ll finish here with two more ‘photos and a short story.  When I finally arrived in Amsterdam after EasyJet found the plane they’d lost and got us away, I had missed the chance to get to a museum or exhibition and was tired and frustrated at having been cooped up for so long and unable to Email or blog.  So I was walking the couple of km from Amsterdam Zuid station to my hotel and I was grumpy about my travel woes of those two days and limping a bit as my heels still haven’t completely recovered from the famous walk down the mountain.  Then I passed this and cheered up.

I was taking ‘photos with my ‘phone, as is my wont, when a lady with beautifully coiffured white hair and I’d guess about ten years older than me came up to me and I suddenly felt intrusive.  She asked (yes, straight into perfect English) if I’d been taking ‘photos.  I said I had and asked if that was OK.  She still looked a bit surprised but was emphatic that it was fine but asked why.  I was a bit nonplussed and then realised why and answered that I’d seen them and thought “You’re definitely in the Netherlands now Chris!” and explained that I thought it a quirky and generous thing that I thought some people in the Netherlands did well.  She looked very pleased and we went our separate ways.  Enough for now!

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