Traversing France, Italy and Switzerland, the Tour du Mont Blanc (or TMB, for short) is an iconic hike, and one which had sat on my wish list for nigh-on six years. The TMB is 170km (or thereabouts, depending on any variants taken) of snow-capped cols, alpine pastures (minus the cast of The Sound of Music) and lush valleys; an adventure like no other. / Traversant la France, l’Italie et la Suisse, le Tour du Mont Blanc (ou TMB, en abrégé) est une randonnée iconique, qui est sur ma liste de merveilles depuis presque six ans. Le TMB, c’est 170km (à peu près, dépendant des variantes) de cols toujours enneigés, d’alpages (sans la distribution de La Mélodie du Bonheur) et des vallées verdoyante; une aventure sans pareil.
A couple of weeks back, I turned twenty-five; a quarter of a century, another year gone in what feels like the blink of an eye. Time waits for no (wo)man, but I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out so far: I have friends and family who are there for me no matter what; I’ve worked abroad – twice; and I’ve got a job I enjoy with a steady income. I’m not so keen on living in Cambridge, for a number of reasons, but that’s about the extent of my woes.
I’ve enjoyed reading others’ musings on lessons learnt over the years, so I figured I’d mark the occasion with a list of my own. Here are twenty five lessons I’ve learnt over the past twenty five years.
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] These gooey triple chocolate cookies tick all the boxes for a sweet, sugary pick-me-up at the end of the working week (or any time of the week, if the truth be told). I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for going on thirteen years, trying out alternative flavours (such as these scrummy mince pie cookies) and double- and triple-chocolate variations along the way. If, like me, you’re a big fan of Sainsbury’s Triple Belgian Chocolate Cookies, these won’t disappoint – and, what’s more, you can bake more at home for less moolah.
On my trains, there’s a fairly even split of bookworms and people who treat their commute as an extension of their working day. I can’t help but sneak a glance at others’ books. What are they reading? Why are they reading it? What made them pick Reservoir 13, Nox or Sapiens? (I haven’t read any of them. Should I?) Was it the eye-catching cover design, or the pithy blurb? Was it the Goodreads rating, or a friend’s recommendation? Or plain old FOMO?
From afar, the Barbican Estate looks like a concrete jungle: a bleak mass of grey blocks, columns and towers. Cast aside your opinion of brutalist architecture for a moment, and venture inside. Greenery spills over the balconies; water features create an oasis of calm. But the best is yet to come.
Rewind to last summer: searing heat, endless sunny days (a stark contrast to the grey days and downpours this year). Sun’s out, bikes out. Destination: St. Ives. Cripes, that’s a long way, I hear you say. Fear not: I’m talking about St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, here, which is only 20-odd kilometres away from Cambridge on the world’s longest guided busway. (Yes, that is St. Ives’ claim to fame.)
[veuillez défiler vers le bas pour la version française] Porridge? Bleurgh; not for me (unless I’m camping, in which case I’ll tolerate it). Combine oats with sugar (lots of it) and syrup, and it’s a different story: I’m the sort of person who’ll eat flapjack mix straight from the saucepan, and who can’t resist a crumbly, oaty biscuit fresh from the oven. It doesn’t take long to whip up a batch of these scrummy little snacks – and, in my house at least, it takes a serious amount of self-restraint not to demolish them in even less time.