claire + dave

claire n dave

claire + dave

In July 2006, having packed up our homes and jobs, sold the children and robbed the bank, we left Australia for a year-long cycling and hiking (and mountain climbing) adventure, mostly in South America, via Cuba. Since then, we've been plotting how to do this again. Until it comes off we've made the most of what opportunities have come our way for smaller trips.

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Derbyshire June 28th 2009

Everywhere we looked there were wildflowers in the glory of full bloom. Not just here and there, but swathes of them, through all the pastures and thick along roadsides and paths. For Claire, who has dreamed of having a meadow instead of a lawn in her garden, this was heaven. Even having to swallow twice-daily doses of anti-histamines to combat unending hay fever couldn't dampen her joy at wandering through the grasses and flowers. It was almost as good as coming to life in the poppy field scene in A room with a view. And it was much, much better than our usual midsummer: trying to not move through Brisbane’s sweltering humidity. We were in the Peak District to visit Dave's family, and we’d congregated at a cottage in Eyam for a week of catching up. ... read more
Welcome to Eyam
A Saxon souvenir from 800AD
Dressed well, Tideswell

Oceania » Australia » South Australia » Blinman October 18th 2008

By Claire ‘These are some of the important parts of my landscape,’ my friend Don says, his hands and eyes pointing beyond the horizon ahead as we clear Adelaide’s northern extremities and feel the spaciousness of the plains and low hills. He had offered to show me around some of his favourite parts of South Australia, should I get an opportunity to slip away from work for a few days. His words encompass far more than geography: they are part of the psychic landscape of his life. He is a great travelling companion, since he knows the region and its people so well. Don farmed for decades near the Clare Valley, famous for its wines, although these days he lives in Adelaide, his base for providing business services to pastoralists and Aboriginal communities. I am his ... read more
Heysen country
Blinman Pools
Smoko for the joey (and us) at Blinman Pools

Oceania » Australia » Tasmania » Strahan August 16th 2008

The text message on Claire’s mobile phone read, “The eagle has landed.” It could be from only one person. And it was: Dave, in a boyish mood, had just arrived in Hobart. Claire had been in town for several days for work, and now, freed from a workshop, it was playtime for a weekend before climbing back onto the treadmill in Brisbane on Monday morning. Snow during the week had cut several roads, but workers had bulldozed it off and we putted across the plateau in the dinky hire car to Strahan, on the west coast. On the way, a few stops, including the Franklin River roaring its way south, Nelson Falls, looking primordial in the rain, and Queenstown, lying shuttered beneath its denuded hills. Queenstown was a mining town Australians learned about in primary school, ... read more
On the Lyell Highway to Strahan
Nelson Falls in the rain
Queenstown and its denuded hills

Oceania » Australia » Queensland » Lady Musgrave Island June 24th 2008

The 30-year-old fuel stove is choofing malcontentedly, and we put in a half-hearted attempt to improve its efficiency enough to get a dinner out of it. The result is in proportion to the effort we put in and, as the stove coughs itself to a stop, we decide the most holidaying way to deal with the problem is to forgo a hot meal for another glass of wine and the pleasures of cheeses and crackers on the beach to watch the post-sunset colour fade from the horizon. It's our welcoming message from Lady Musgrave Island: that what may seem to be a problem may turn out to be a pleasure if we change our perspective. We are half way through a two-week respite from the stresses of work, and have arrived on the island, part of ... read more
Native bees feed on a grass tree flower spike, 1770
Mangrove roots in late afternoon, 1770
It's a tough life! But someone has to do it, right?

It took quite some time to come down to earth from the high of climbing Huayna Potosí, and almost no time to decide that the sapphire waters of Lake Titicaca were a more appealing place to spend our last days in South America than the grey streets of La Paz. Copacabana, on the southern shore of the lake, is only a few hours' drive north of La Paz, and we set off crammed among the locals in a small van, a common form of public transport in Bolivia. For part of the way the road ran parallel to the Cordillera Real (Royal Range), giving us good views of Huayna Potosí and two other 6,000m-plus mountains that stand high above the rest of the range. We could see clearly the western face of the mountain, which had, ... read more
The tourist heart of Copacabana
Copacabana from Cerro Calvario
New Year revellers gather on Niño Calvario, above Copacabana

South America » Bolivia June 17th 2007

Climbing Huayna Potosí, one of Bolivia's highest mountains, was to be our last big challenge before heading home to the realities of jobs, mortgages and a privileged western life. At 6,088m (19,974ft) above sea level it breaks the 6,000m point, and is only 26ft short of the magic 20,000ft mark. And why not? We were certainly fit enough and having spent the last 2 months at an average altitude of 4,000m we were definitely acclimatised. This climb is not the sort of thing you can just fly in and do. It was now or never! On the first day of our 3-day trek, we drove from La Paz with our guide, Rolando, and our cook, Jaime, to Laguna Zongo, where we set up Base Camp at 4,700m. The afternoon was spent at a nearby glacier head ... read more
Porters carrying our gear
Claire and Rolando summit a small ridge
The team settling in at High Camp

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco June 11th 2007

Claire started dreaming of Machu Picchu after reading Tintin's adventures about hunting down Inca gold during her primary school years. So being in La Paz, only 12 hours by bus from Cusco, the launching point for visits to Machu Picchu, proved too great a temptation, and abandoned our bikes to head north on a bus. Not that it was that simple. It took three ticket changes to leave La Paz because of a strike (understandable) of drivers of inter-urban and regional micros, buses and trucks. The strike action included blocking the road to Perú; road blocks are a normal event in Bolivian life. Once we did get going, we had only to join the chaos of the rather casual border crossing at Desaguadero, on the shore of Lake Titicaca, and we could sit back and enjoy ... read more
Welcome to Cusco
Landslide at  Santa Maria
Road building

South America » Bolivia May 20th 2007

Oruru took a bit of getting used to after the freedom and emptiness of the Altiplano roads: the narrow streets choked with vehicles and pedestrians; and footpaths that petered to nothing, or taken up by vendors with a blanket or table spread with goods for sale, forcing pedestrians to walk into the road to pass. Given how atrociously Bolivians drive, this is risky business! Many of the streets don't have names displayed, which makes for a good joke to play on strangers trying to find their way around. It is a mining city, and not a tourist destination, and we appreciated being able to join the rat-race of locals making a living that didn't involve hawking for our business. With the reality dawning on us that our year is quickly running out, we decided to leave ... read more
Sweet and fizzy
Waiting for customers
Fresh juice stand

South America » Bolivia » Oruro Department » Oruro May 9th 2007

url='/Videos/3128.html' onclick='dialog("/Videos/3128.html?popped=1","tbvideo",600,600);return false;' Drunken Bolivian Partyurl='/Videos/3268.html' onclick='dialog("/Videos/3268.html?popped=1","tbvideo",600,600);return false;' Riding the Salar "You should be carrying a gun..." was the friendly advice of the owner of a restaurant in Oruro where we were treating ourselves to a slap-up meal after spending 8 days cycling through a remote part of Bolivia. A journey involving a salt desert, bad roads, an adopted dog, witchcraft, a drunken party and surviving a violent sandstorm. It all started out in Uyuni, the last large town before we rode into the remote Altiplano. We rushed around the town buying last minute supplies, ending up with: * 10 litres of water each (our personal record!) * 1kg wholemeal rice * 1kg brown lentils * 500g oats * 500ml mayonnaise * ... read more
Salt mining
OK, let's head, erm... straight ahead!

South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Uyuni April 28th 2007

Crossing into Villazon (Bolivia) from La Quiaca (Argentina) is so laid back that Claire missed it, wheeling her bike past passport control and a man in a green uniform lounging against a lamp post, and into the main trading street of Villazon. Despite the uniformed official's lacked of interest, Claire decided to turn back to indulge in her share of border bureaucracy. Even though words in capital letters at the top of our entry forms were blunt about the need to answer all 22 questions, no-one bothered to check the forms or the information on them against our passports. A young man — surely he was no older than 16? — stamped us through for 30 days, even though we had asked for 90. The young man shrugged. Bienvenidos a Bolivia, amigos. South-western Bolivia is ... read more
Shade stop at Mojo
Red-rock gorge country

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