Saturday, 7 December 2013

It's a mild one

I looked out and was unable to tell whether the white stuff blowing about on the breeze was light snow or more polystyrene from the insulation used on the outside of the buildings. Sarah had set off for Luxembourg and I could still feel the tension, or I'd had way too much coffee. The staff winter party loomed and I was going to have to go alone. The air had thickened again after yesterday's brief respite and I just could not sit around waiting until it was time to prove that my suit no longer fitted me comfortably.
So checked the temperature -10c and then packed a small bag and set off for the mountain. I took the walking poles and put the ice spikes in the bag. And to quote Patagonia 'The more you know, the less you need'.  True in so many ways. The snow and ice are simply not here in the city but the hill looked a good bit whiter. Unwilling to run in the grey air I opted to hike it all (apart from a new bit of downhill into the ger camp). I am pretty certain I wouldn't have attempted this last year. I did not know the mountain so well as I do now but it was also just too cold to contemplate that amount of time out in the open. This winter is so mild.

It was a lovely hike up to the ridge.

looking back you can see the grey air hovering over the city - you cant see them but the ger district and hills to the north are completely swallowed

The ice/snow crystals were beautiful

The footing was better than I expected but I was glad of the poles.

There has been 'work' on the ridge.

looking North - four large holes 
and looking south there are similar looking 'platforms' some with big holes some without 

Having gone to check out the 'holes' I had a hard climb back up to the ridge to get back onto the trail. Needless to say as I was heading up I met some locals coming down. There was a group of young Mongolians mostly young ladies, beautifully turned out for a gentle walk to the restaurant. There were many different garbs but if I were to describe one, Ugg boots, jeans, and a fir trimmed hooded fashion parka, you get the picture. I'm sure they would have been given quite a telling off by the overly equipped trail walkers in other parts of the world. Inappropriate clothing - fool hardy in these conditions. Except that they were having a great time. Laughing, giggling, occasional shrieks of enjoyment. I felt seriously overly dressed in my 'technical' clothing and walking poles. I was having fun but not that much.

I have not used poles for years preferring not to bother with the faff and just keeping moving but as I was in no hurry I had them, and thoroughly enjoyed the extra security they provided. Maybe I should have traded my Rocklites for Ugg boots and done away with the poles.

Just over 3 hours later and I'm home, cold tired and relieved of the nervous tension for the moment. With Sarah away for the next 6 days and no news likely before her return I'm hoping the air stays relatively clear because I get the feeling I may need to get out and run or hike a bit more regularly than of late.

Details and a map here

Friday, 6 December 2013

clean air

For the first time in 3 weeks I looked out of the school windows at leaving time and could see the hills. Not only could I see the hills but I could also see the nearest of the offending chimneys. All of these have been hidden under a thick gloop of grey smog by 3:30 everyday in recent weeks.

So seizing the opportunity I donned some extra clothes and set out to jog home via the park. It was a relatively mild -15C with little in the way of wind chill and with clear blue skies. It was the weather I remember and rather missed. I know how can you miss -15c? But take my word for it cold and clear (no matter how cold) is better than the acrid air of recent weeks.

The park is ever changing. The young and fragile trees have now been wrapped for the winter, the bike hire place moth balled and the road building halted, though there may still be some ongoing work to the lights that ring the inner pathway. Work on what is to be the football pitch and the basketball courts had halted a little while ago so I was a little surprised to see workmen.

They were making what will become a couple of basketball courts in the summer into ice rinks for the winter. Its a hi-tech operation as you can see.

Still good to get out and run a bit.


I went on a course recently. Being an international teacher of course it's not quite as simple as heading off to your nearest training school, well actually it is, but in our case it was in Shanghai a mere 11 hours travel away. Community International School were our hosts and very good it was. We were based in the upper school campus, which from a personal perspective is a bit of a shame, I would have liked to see the elementary campus.

The course was good but I'm sure you don't want to see pictures of people doing math so here are a few of the evening excursion to 'The Bund' which was interesting - very brightly lit but good. I particularly liked that the river is still very much a working waterway and the tourist boats and ferries all give way to the working barges.