Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wot I did on my Summer Holidays. By me, age 47 1/2

Wow, summer is over and we are heading for the end of autumn over here in I guess what will soon be called good old Trumpland.  Anyway, wot have I been up to then?  The answer is not much wargaming.

Nearly seven years ago I started working in a small biotech, I was employee no 35, yup, that small. Part of our package was the offer that if we made it for six years then we got a six-week paid sabbatical.  Well, long story short, here we are three drugs in late stage clinical trials and we are a rapidly growing company and most relevantly for me, I made six years this spring.  Now we came to the small print, yes, sabbaticals are on, 'subject to operational requirements'.  Bugger said I, turns out I was not able to get clear until August.  Well when August appeared I was off!

In short(ish) order what I been up to is:

A week in Blighty with the kids visiting Grandma and my brother

Outside Grandma's house on the way to

Go ride one of the best preservation steam lines anywhere, the North York Moors Railway  (its the line they use for the 'Harry Potter' train).

Riding the North York Moors steam train, Mini-me Minor had his head out the whole way!

Mini-me Minor making friends with my brother's dog watching Thunderbirds are Go (his new obsession)

Not actually a castle, a walled city instead, off visiting...

The National Railway Museum at York.  My two Boys and me and my big brother (hand in shot) got to play on the footplate of the Mallard.  Quite the moment I can tell you 8-)

A week with Mrs OA and kids back in Newcastle where I used to live/went to college

Riding the East Coast Mainline to Newcastle.  The boys loved all the trains and funky double-decker buses.

An Ent in the garden around Alnwick Castle

Alnwick castle, quite the famous place, been in a bunch of TV and movies from Blackadder to Downton Abbey and Harry Potter.  Not bad since its only a few miles up the road from my old house. The other side is the one they usually show, its just this is the route from the garden

Me and Mini-me Major playing at Knights

Boys 'capture' a dragon

Broomstick flying (more Harry Potter inspiration)

The obligatory 'levitation' shot

Mini-me Minor wasn't so good at getting off the ground

Out exploring Jesmond Dene in Newcastle

A week mountain biking the Kindom Trails , Vt

Its pretty!

Riding was good, its was hot and beer was necessary.  Also, I'm wearing what will turn out to be a pair of horribly uncomfortable brand new shoes, pity, they look great.

Trails were awesome, in pristine shape, even the really popular ones

Yup.  Hard riding, pretty and beer.  An excellent week

A week running errands and packing while the kids went to school (Mini-me Minor finally made it to Kindergarten, yeah!)

Boys and I did some day trips on out bikes.  We often went to the ice-cream shop, however, this one was to a 'secret bridge' over a water-wildlife park

Finally, boys went off to school.  That little green dot in the distance is Mini-me Minor legging-it to school

Oh, yeah, boys got kittens: Iggy Macaroni and Jaspurr.  The Cuteness was WAY off the charts.

No, No, please don't stop at the kittens.  Next was a week in Aix-en-Provence/Nice with Mrs OA to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary

Center of Aix

See, told you so

Oh yes, we did a lot of this.  Turns out this is from the smallest AOC in France.  Excellent wine it was too.  We mostly stayed in Aix, with a little sight-seeing between sitting in bars and cafes

Cassis, a very pretty little village

Cassis from above.  We rounded out this phase of trip with a few days in Nice.  Followed by Mrs OA returning and me heading off to a trip of a lifetime, oh yeah!  

I went and rode the Trans-Provence Tour in the French Maritime Alps

Alright, it wasn't the race, it was the Tour.  What's the diff?  Well we rode the same stages but there was a lot more of this in the Tour 

Mmmmm, un Bier, sil vouz plait

Me pretending not to care that I'm way above the tree-line on a bike and not stuck in some crappy meeting

Look down there (all the way), that's where we are going, WHEEEEE!

And there too. The trail actually did start in this village

Up there, then down...

Here, that's me that is.  What you don't see is the exposure, the walls drop about 200m on each side, its just there are trees on one side.  The wind was howling up the slopes, when I exited the trees it nearly blew me over the other side.  

This was one of my favourite days the 'Red Earth' stage.  OMG, it was awesome.  Almost worth the trip for this one day alone.  And I'm not Fat, I'm just big boned!

Just like the race we actually rode down steps and through the town of Menton (just along the road from Mont Carlo) to the beach were we drank much and went swimming in the Med.  Riding the town in a train of bikes was weird and fun, many folks were taking pics and videos as we went down the stairs.  It was a great way to end a week of hard riding.  And yes, this was a trip of a lifetime, the riding was truly next-level stuff.  Scary, technical, fast and very addictive.   I'm sure I'll be back in the mountains soon.

Soooo, after a huge summer here I am finally winding it down back in New England.  One final bike note was a great piece of swag from the T-P.  We all got T-shirts but as I had acutally rented one of the race-standby bikes, I managed to blag the last T-P race mudguard, a nice bit of swag for the bike!

Seriously, this was the last one from the race, there was much envy at he last nights beer drinking/Karaoke contests...

So with that its back to life as normal, at least mostly normal as we have been promised another sabbatical after another six, so its only 5 and a half to go until the next trip.  

Got to go start planning now!

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