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In two days I’ll be hopping on Cerise to belt down the mountain road hairpins and catch the train from Aime to bring this first pathfinding snippet of semigration to an end.  Oh, sorry, you don’t know Cerise, I never was very good at proper social introduction stuff.  She’s my semigration bike.  I’m not 100% sure that’s going to be her permanent name, I’m not 100% sure of her gender but leaning to female for reasons I’m utterly unable to explain.  Hey, who wants to be crassly binary and gender rigid these days?  Anyway, seeing her ‘photo the family said she was pink, hence the name and it’s sort of stuck for me despite the fact that she’s actually a slightly odd orange.  I’ll introduce you properly at some later date when I’m back up here and she and I know each other better.

I left the UK two weeks ago today and a lot has happened so it seems time for a stocktake and I think I should start by reminding myself why I’m here:

  1. I am hoping to get French residency and that it will generalise to the young ones giving them a small protection against the restrictions Brexit puts on their options.  One way or another we’ll probably know about that around the end of March 2019 when there will either be a negotiated separation or, perhaps looking increasingly likely, a default exit with no agreements  … or even, but this seems to look increasingly politically unlikely, the UK has a rush of sanity and we don’t leave.
  2. I am hoping that it will start something more solid for all of us in the nuclear family giving all full EU citizenship rights. I am increasingly clear that’s the secure thing to aim for and the only sensible route to that which seems fairly clear whatever happens with Brexit is for me to keep semigration going and do everything else necessary for French citizenship and hence full EU citizen rights … which would, barring some other tragic and radical political madness, involve five years semigrant residency and some other things.
  3. Making a statement, a bizarre one maybe, of my personal, and my family’s shared, anger about Brexit and petty nationalisms of all sort.
  4. Having the pleasure of living in France for over half the year.
  5. At the moment, the particular pleasures of being over 2000m up in the northern French Alps.
  6. Perhaps thereby having a less busy or mad life and achieving more of the work things I want to achieve before I pop my clogs.
  7. Perhaps thereby having a less busy or mad life and, despite #6, having a more balanced and pleasurable life while I am still around (see #4 and #5 above particularly, but also #3 I think!)

OK. That’s quite a list.  But a quick visual diversion.

They’re both taken from the vast balcony area that our appartment shares with three others up here.  The one on the left was taken on the 11th in the evening and the one on the right, clearly not quite from the same point on the edge of the balcony and an hour ago.

At last, I have something I’ve wanted for a long time for this blog: you can click on those and get them full screen in a “gallery” or “lightbox” and can flick between the one and the other to get an even better, or at least bigger, sense of the huge change that’s happened in the 11 days between the two.

The snow is disappearing at an impressive rate with the run of blisteringly hot days we’ve had here, following the first radically cloud shrouded and pretty cold days I had.  Part of the reason for showing this is pragmatic: I now think that snow won’t prevent me cycling up and over the ridge in distance (on the extreme left of those ‘photos) to meet friends from Nottingham over in the Champagny valley.  The most direct route would be over a saddle just out of those shots to the left.#

 

 

That route would take me up that inverted Y (that’s from the 13th) which looked still skiable when I arrived. Now it’s a mix of snow, gravel and rock and at this rate it would probably be walkable in reasonable walking shoes by Monday.  That’s a pretty steep climb there so in fact I will be taking a longer route off the left and not visible from Aime2000 here but I’m sure that by the 18th of July, when we’re hoping to meet up, both routes will be clear for cycling, if challenging for the quads.

I’m sure of the meteorological feasibility of our meeting there now which I wasn’t a couple of days ago.  That does beg the question of the physiological feasibility, particularly given how little Cerise and I know each other and as most of the route (all if you follow Google’s recommendations) is off road.  Today or tomorrow, I may, hm, I think I must, make time to slog over either to the foot of that red run, or over, further, to the gentler blue round the back of the ridge.

Hm, here’s what Google maps makes of the cycling options.

Again, you should be able to click on that to see it in a bit more detail, or to go to it directly and be able to zoom around and have fun with it courtesy of Google: click here!

Hm.  I know what’s going to happen here, if I go back to the stocktake, or start working, I’m not going to do that and it’s beautiful out.  OK, stocktake 1(a) terminates here!

    2 Comments

  1. Congratulations on taming an element of the beast, WordPress! Much more enjoyable viewing experience.

    Have you noticed any physiological effects from the altitude? Looking at Swiss height comparions, by it rises to 2000m I begin to notice it. At 2970m – Schilthorn – I’m ok outside doing nothing much. Though I made it to the 3466m Jungfraujoch once, with breathless and tachycardic determination, the second time was a complete waste of a train fare – never again without Diamox and/or oxygen!

    • Yes, being able to zoom the images is a big improvement I think. Also, I think it spares me from having to create various images of different sizes as I had been doing. All work in progress and the site should move to a much better and faster server this coming week. Bet that breaks something!

      As to altitude, I’m sure it does and think, though I haven’t looked at this as carefully as I’d hoped to, I think my resting pulse rate has gone up from upper 50s to upper 60s. I remember going high in the Pyrenees when I was about 21 and starting to run off across a beautiful meadow that went slightly uphill, running for the sheer pleasure of the setting (I’m no runner). I was amazed that in about 150m I was gasping and realised it was altitude. I think that was about the height I am here. I do think that on these uphill cycle rides that something kicks in when my pulse rate is above the low 140s for minutes on end: I hit a wall. I think the same happens on the really steep bits where my HR goes above 160: I simply can’t sustain it for any distance/time. I suspect that I’d manage a useful bit longer at sea level.

      I think I’m relatively lucky. Way back in the early 90s we found ourselves up in the Rockies for the my first time, and walking up around 3000m I’d guess. I was fine, well, panting if I pushed it, but not ill, but suddenly J was really nauseous and unwell and it was very clear that descending rapidly solved it. Our local host was clear that it was the altitude and that it had nothing to do with fitness (J was probably fitter than I was then). To him it just seemed that some people hit first element of altitude sickness much lower than others.

      One thing I do notice is that I have sneezing bouts and get a sore throat and nose in the first week. However, I think that’s the mucosa dealing with the change from the foul pollution cycling the streets of London, and clearing out in the pretty good purity of the air up here. We have always thought that the first week up here involves a lot of nose blowing, then it stops! tnp always used to get a nosebleed the first night up here but didn’t last time we came.

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