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Alastair Thompson
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News Junkie
News Junkie

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Some intriguing performance art today at #OSFEST16 , a group of actors some with a slightly steam-punk vibe going on moving through the crowd, hiding in corners, and taking groups of festival goers off to a secluded booth for a blessing ceremony involving a crystal - ending with a singing, alightly angst edged, finale.
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Ouishare - Day 2 Lunchtime Performance
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OuishareFest.com started today in Cabaret Sauvage, Paris. I am volunteering as a member of the organising team (which is quite big). Yesterday I helped with the setup. Here are some pictures of the OuishareFest.com Circus and Village as we put it together.
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Setting Up Ouishare - Tuesday 17th May 2016
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In Fendrement (In Bretagne) where Wendy and I are presenty living spring is fast approaching. The leaves on the vast bulk of trees are not yet budding, but spring is definitely here.
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Fendrement Bretagne March 2016 - Spring Begins
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On Friday 29th January Greg Meylan and I took a trip up the Jura Mountains to the north of Geneva for a days skiing while the kids were at School. The days was mostly rather misty and thanks to the unseasonably warm weather the snow was thin and wet. However in the hour before we left  the mountain cleared and we got some decent fast runs in and views of Mt Blanc above the clouds to the south over the city of Geneva.
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Geneva 2016 - A Ski Trip To The Juras (Feat. Mt Blanc)
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In the final chapter of our travels Wendy and I have spent the past 11 days in Switzerland and the France's Savoie Region. We visited our son Gregor in Courcheval for three days and spent the rest of our time in Geneva with the Stone Meylans. Unike our previous three visits to the Swiss/French Alpes in 2002, 2008 and 2014 this time the clouds lifted and we managed to get a good view of the mountains and the highest of which - France's Mt Blanc - can be easily seen from downtown Genveva.

The weather has been unseasonably warm during our visit with temperatures in the doubled digits for most of our stay but today as we prepare to depart it is starting to snow in Geneva.

In this the first of four photo albums of our visit Wendy, Greg Meylan and I went for a walk on the mountain to the south east of Geneva. We drive up to  1300 metres where there is a beautiful active Monastery run by the Monastic Family Of Bethlehem and order of silent nuns and monks which was formed in 1950. 
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Geneva 2016 - Signal des Voirons
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Croagh Patrick is known as the Holy Mountain of Ireland. Last year in July 25,000 people climbed it, some in bare feet to take part in the "Reek Sunday" pilgrimage. Which is remarkable because it is no easy feat to climb it. 

Waking in Westport a Texan chap at breakfast asked us if we had seen snow on the mountain. We hadn't and he took us the window and pointed to a peak in the distance which reminded us immediately of Ben Ohau in winter. At 764 meters it is roughly half the height of Ben Ohau but as you start from sea level the climb is similar in magnitude as are the views.

I was a bit skeptical about the plan which was suggested by our B&B host David. Partly because it was about 4 degrees and I have become accustomed to the Atlantic Sea throwing bringing in some pretty torential rains from the west. However as we reached the bottom the summit was clear and the skies appeared to be clearing too. Moreover there were a bunch of hardy types setting off for the summit and the sign said it was a 3.5 hour round trip. So we decided it worth a crack.

And it was most certainly worth it. the path is steep and strewn with bolders. No attempt appears to have been made to make it safe for the pilgrims, some of whom climb it in bare feet - admittedly in July. But even so it is hard to imagine that their feet are able to still be walked on once they return.

In addition to the hardy Irish regulars there were a couple of other visitors, one dressed as a wizard with a girlfriend with red hair, we passed them on the way up but were passed by most of the locals, some of whom told us they had climbed it 20 times or more.

The snow-covering at the top was special and unusual and that and the clear skies had probably attracted more than the usual Sunday crowd. The pilgrimage however takes place in whatever the weather happens to be and nothing seems to deter the crowds.

The final second part of the ascent is particularluy steep something which cannot be photographed unfortunately and snow covered the path for the final 100 meters or so. At the top there is a church (known as an Oratory) which was closed and a monument called the bed of St Patrick which is where St Patrick is said to have slept for 40 days when he visited the mountain and banished all the snakes from Ireland.

From the top as you can see in the pictures we could see a long way and we stayed up there for about 20 minutes. It was a truly glorious day, capped off by a visit from a beautiful little red robin who appeared to be happy to pose for photographs.

Alastair 10/1/16 
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Wild Atlantic Way Day 4 - Croagh Patrick
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Wild Atlantic Way Day 2 - Donegal - Feat. Slieve League Cliffs
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Day three of our Wild Atlantic Odyessey saw us travel through four counties and move from Ulster to Connaught. We woke in the town of Donegal to a fairly bleak day. We travelled south and watched some surfers in Bundoran, the set was pumping very consistently with a wonderful wave which I think even David McLelland and Pattrick Smellie will be impressed with.

Bundoran is right on the border with Letrim. Letrim's coastline is rather short - between two rivers which presumably mark its borders - and rather nondescript, hence no photos. We then entered the county of Sligo, and quickly ran into some striking landforms one of which is appropriately named Benbulbin (Irish: Binn Ghulbain) which we had seen from the cliffs of Slieve Leaguie.

We skirtied around the town of Sligo to the west and heading for the sea-side suburb of Strand-hill which has some magnificent seaweed baths which we did not visit as we were short on time. Behind the beach of Strand-hill  there is another similar albeit much smaller landform which like Benbulbin is peaking through the clouds.

Entering Mayo we hightalied it west of Ballina across some plains which bore a striking resemblance to the Desert Road and McKenzie Country in Wellington. We ended the day in the strong hold of Queen of the West Grace O'Malley the Island of Achill, the largest Island in Ireland. Once again we found ourselves on the wild Atlantic coast and watched the sun set to the south west before driving south to Westport - presumably the original Westport. Which is situated in the beautiful Clew Bay which could be thought of as being Ireland's equivalent of the Marlborough Sounds. Only strikingly different. Like the Marlborough sounds it is made up of sounds, flooded river valleys, one of which also formed the moat around Queen Grace's island fortress.  

- Alastair 10/1/16
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Wild Atlantic Way - Day 3 - Donegal, Sligo & Mayo
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A visit to the cliffs of Slieve League was the highlight of Wendy and my second day tripping along the Wild Atlantic Way.on the West Coast of Ireland.

First however we visited Glen Cholmcille the village of St Cholmcille aka St Columba. It is a very remote bay in Donegal reached after driving over some mountains (NZ would probably regard them as hills). For more info see  >>  http://www.gleanncholmcille.ie/turas.htm << we visited two of the 15 Turas  while not really knowing what they were at the time - a Turas is a pilgrimage and it was to be a day of those.

"Slieve League, sometimes Slieve Leag or Slieve Liag (Irish: Sliabh Liag) is a mountain on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal, Ireland. At 601 metres (1,972 ft), it has some of the highest sea cliffs on the island of Ireland." - From Wikipedia: >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slieve_League

The cliffs of Sliabh Liag are also the site of a pilgrimage although the walk to the top was more than we had time for.

We arrived at the viewing platform to see the cliffs as the cloud shrouded the top and light from the sun in the south west played over the bottom of the cliffs. On our way up we passed a sheep with a remarkable resemblance to Sean the Sheep.

We then ascended the rocky path above the viewing platform. The view from the path when one approached the edge made for a feeling of giddiness. Wendy was ahead of me as we climbed and I eventually found her sitting on a rock looking into the west. As both of us looked down from the head of the bay the skies cleared and the clouds rose up the cliffs. On returning to the viewing platform the sun was shining on most of the cliff faces, which at this time of year is apparently pretty rare.

It was pretty cool.
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Wild Atlantic Way Day 2 - Donegal - Feat. Slieve League Cliffs
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