...this time last week I was in the Pyrénées with three mates, enjoying a walking holiday, away from the stresses and other attendant pains of work. In fact, at exactly this time last week we were a couple of hours into climbing up a mountain called Pimené, which we topped out (2,801 metres) at around lunchtime. It was a pretty hard walk in places, on a very hot day (and check out the steep, zig-zagging sections of our route), but entirely worth it. Yes, even the last stretch when the path just sort of stopped and you had to climb, almost on all fours, up a steep ridge lined with razor-sharp rocks and with a sheer fall on either side.
For the latter stages of the ascent, we were joined by a few griffon vultures (gyps fulvus, if that's your thing) who circled above in the forlorn hope that we would perhaps fall off or just lay down and die. Now I can't afford the sort of camera I'd like, but I did manage to capture one of the vultures as it soared over at little more than head height (left) - an awesome sight. It was a pretty amazing feeling topping out Pimené too; I don't think I've been higher on foot.
I'm not going to bore you with untold reams of scenic photography, partly because my camera isn't good enough to justify it but mostly because you can do a Google image search if you're that desperate for shots of Pyrénéan gorgeousness. Nor will I tell you about the place we ended up the next day which, I think, is possibly the most naturally beautiful place I've ever been in my life... because if word gets out, more people will go and it will only get spoiled.
What I will say is that, having been back at work all this week, it's sad that the events of seven short days past feel so long ago and far away. It's a sobering feeling, recognising yourself as a wage slave... but at least there is the consolation that being a wage slave for twelve thirteenths of the year pays for such pleasures as the lads' jaunt to the mountains. Oh, and this weekend's ticket to see Morrissey too.
Quite often, life can be pretty bad. But I try to keep telling myself that, as griffon vultures and Morrissey prove, it isn't always so.