Christmas 2016 -- Bagnères-de-Bigorre

Hello everyone, Well, it’s been another lovely year -- it’s gone by too quickly as always, but we seem to have filled it pretty well.

As usual, there’s been a lot of cycling involved. We’ve all had our achievements. Patrick did several races incuding a couple of enduros and mountian biking stage-race, but his favourite ride was a two-day mountain bike-packing adventure from east to west across the Hautes Pyrénées.

First col riding across Hautes Pyrénées

My high point was the Pyrénéene cyclosportive -- 125km, over the Tourmalet -- which I managed to come 2nd in (in my category of 40-49 year-olds).

Claire on the Tourmalet during the Pyrénéene cyclosportive

Sophie and Thomas are both in the mountain bike club (which we help run), and they’ve started racing for the school as well. Sophie won her cross-country race and came 2nd in the downhill, while Thomas was 4th in the downhill and 16th in the cross-country, out of 50, the biggest category. They also both enjoyed the downhill run at the local Pic du Jer (which has held a round of the downhill world cup the last two years)

Sophie on the way to her win during an inter-schools race

Thomas on the DH track at the Pic du Jer at Lourdes

They’re both at college (secondary school) now, Thomas in his 1st year, and Sophie in the 4th and final year. She’s in the process of deciding which lycée to go to -- the local one for a general Baccalaureate or a lycée in Tarbes that specialises in art.

Patrick and I were very lucky earlier this year. We were invited by his work to spend an all-expenses-paid long weekend in Hawaii. Bit of a long way to go for 4 nights, but it was an amazing experience, especially the sea kayaking and snorkelling. (And thank you Mum and Mike for coming over to spend the week with the kids)

Hawaiian sunset

Our other main trip was a lovely visit to the UK, mainly to take part in Hiltrud’s (Patrick’s mum’s) birthday celebrations. It was great to catch up with so many people, both family and friends.

Catching up with friends in July

We haven’t really done much travelling since -- plans to go to Spain were put on hold after we looked after some friends’ dog for a week and promptly decided to get one of our own. He’s a fox terrier, called Toby, who came from the local rescue centre. He’s only a year old and loves joining us on walks, runs and mountain bike rides. Fortunately, he’s got over his interest in the chickens. Patrick caught him with one in the mouth, but managed to rescue her.

Sophie, Thomas and Toby at Payolle

The house is still coming along, slowly. We’ve decorated the sitting/dining room, having knocked the two rooms into one. We’ve also got a roofer booked for March, to retile and insulate the roof. So, hopefully, next year we’ll have a fully finished top floor -- slightly more salubrious accommodation for guests!

Ice creams at Hendaye

Hope you've had a good year too, and best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Claire, Patrick, Sophie and Thomas