Its over once again

Well, thats it for another season, the ski resort closed yesterday not surprisingly as we have had plus temperatures for two weeks reaching +22c on Sunday, it is ridiculous how quick the weather has changed this year, the ski-ing and snowboarding on piste has been very good since the beginning of December but free riding in the mountains was terrible, too much wind and too cold made it very icy,
Here a some pictures, first of Paseky with a good piste but grass already showing at the beginning of March, plus some of Maria and I up in the mountains on natural snow having a great time even if I managed some slip ups.

The best news so far this year is we have another dog, since Roxy died two years ago we have been looking, well actually, Maria has been looking and at last found Meddy who is a rescue dog from Levoca near Poprad, she is six months old, a Border Collie crossed with a Springer Spaniel we think, but she is lovely and has settled in very well, as you can see from the pictures she loves water especially muddy water, just the right kind of dog for us I think, she is getting lots of training at the moment and seems to love it here.

When we went to collect her we had lunch in Levoca which is a very historic walled town, the restaurant was called the 3 Apostles, as you can see it is very plush but not expensive, the service and food was excellent, will go again in the summer.

Also in March our Ewe gave birth to triplets and they are all very well, this is her fourth lot of lambs and she is a very good mother so we never have to worry about anything, this weekend we put them out in the field at last although we may have to put them inside if the weather turns really cold.

Other than that we have been busy in the garden repairing stuff damaged by the winter, we have started sowing seeds in the greenhouse, should put potatoes in this weekend, the Snowdrops Crocus and Pulsatilla are up so spring is finally here…………

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It has definitely been cold so far…..

Hi everyone and Happy New Year to you all, lets hope it is a peaceful and healthy one. Since I wrote my last blog I can say it has been very cold, since the 12th December we have not had a plus temperature till yesterday, the coldest day was 7th January -28.7c, not snowboarding or skiing weather I can assure you and it stayed around -20c for the whole week, but since December 9th the conditions on the slopes have been very good, we actually went free riding up behind the chalet on several occasions.
It was a great opportunity to test out the new camera, snow pictures can be very difficult due to lack of definition but most images came out well, the first two are from the very cold days in December.

On Christmas eve I was fortunate to be at the ski resort in Vratna and spotted two juvenile Golden Eagles playing above us, I was told by one of the hunters that it was a ritual for choosing their mate, I took loads of photos but it was so difficult because of light conditions and the speed they were moving at but here are a couple of the better ones, they were amazing to watch.

The following images are from the coldest day, first two are the river in Terchova which is just slightly warmer than the surroundings.

The next four were taken around Chleb where the temperature was -30c which resulted in the visibility been exceptional, we could see approx 100km or more, the sharp peak in the centre of the second image was taken with a 400mm lens and is approx 80km away, the other two images show how the cold froze the snow and shrubs sticking out of it, very beautiful but it was too cold to stand around for very long and the camera did not like the cold either.

In the middle of January the resort hosts an international ski competition for children under 14 years of age which I normally get to do gate judge for but this year I was not required so it was another chance to test the camera using my 100-400mm pro lens, here are three images from that day, the sharpness of the skier crashing was great and the camera seemed to cope very well with varying light conditions, I was more than pleased especially as they were all taken hand held.

So we have had a good season so far, Maria has been teaching most days and we have found time to go and ride around the area so we hope things will continue giving us more snow and more riding. Last images are of our friend Jaro and his horse Gastan bringing timber down from the forest, it is very impressive as he sends the horse down on its own with the complete pine tree, moving at a fair rate through the snow gave me a moment of panic as he came straight towards me but he knew when to stop thank goodness, brilliant horse and bloody impressive to watch, hope you enjoy 2017 and bye for now…..

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What! Christmas here already….

Yes its true, the amazing Christmas is upon us once again but we actually sent all our cards on time and did all our shopping before it went crazy, we hope our cards will arrive on time this year as people were still getting them in October from last year, why, only the gods will know that…
Anyway we will talk about the weather first as it is the most important factor at this time of the year, first picture was taken on the 21st November, a lovely autumn evening out with the sheep, three days later and all had changed, we were blessed with 30cm of snow and it was very good snow, by the 3rd December we were out riding snowboards behind the chalet, wicked eh!!!

The chicken were not so impressed but managed to acclimatize quite quickly, some people were still gathering wood with the horse where they could and Maria went alpine trekking much sooner than she expected to.

Since then the snow has hung about and it has been very cold which meant that the ski resort in Vratna where Maria teaches was able to run the snow guns and consequently open its doors for early skiing, we have been up there almost every day and it has been very good, most times we have had so few people there that it was almost like having your own resort but that will change from today as everyone will be on holiday till the new year.

Lastly a lovely Christmasy picture from behind our lovely warm chalet, from myself and Maria hope you all have a very good time and all the best for the new year, good health and happy days.

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Quieter Times

This is one of the quietest times of the year for us, the garden has been tidied up the sheep are by the chalet ready to go in if the weather turns really cold and all our outdoor patio stuff is put away, so we take some time to go out walking or travelling around.
The autumn was stunning as usual and I always take loads of photos but one or two are a bit special, the leaves on the trees and the clouds that seem to appear over the mountains.20161023-016

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Still playing with the new camera, long way to go before I have mastered all the little idiosyncrasies, but half the fun of it, next two photos are taken of our chalet, one with 16-35mm lens on 16mm the other with 100-400mm at 400mm, the detail it picks out is amazing even though I took it handheld.20161028-011

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Our sheep are having time out with Maria as she takes them over the hills in the afternoon for fresh grass and it makes them much easier to handle when they are inside for the winter, the other photo is of our friends sheep, these are proper Slovak breeds, nice horns eh!!!!!20161109-036

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We have had snow and quite mean frosts but today it is 14c and very windy, I managed to take a few photos of the supermoon, it was -8c that evening so I didn’t stay out too long but it was very impressive and our skies were crystal clear so we were lucky. I took this with the 400mm lens which was not strong enough really but we think its ok…20161114-007

Had a few checks done this month as my blood pressure was a little high but all the checks found nothing so just taking a mild tablet and going back to see the doctor this week some time, that and forgetfullness go with getting older I believe. Got my ski pass so all systems go when the snow arrives, (Big when I suspect) till then we will get out as much as we can and take loads of photos.

Last of all we went to Vienna last week to do some shopping and stuff, it was really such a nice change if only for one day, the people there are always so friendly and the shops are great, stopped off in Bratislava on the way home to get a couple of things in M&S as they have closed our local branch and rumour has it that all the branches in Slovakia are going to close, oh well all things must pass. Here is a rare photo of me having a delightfull lunch in the Hard Rock Cafe in Vienna, the staff and the food was excellent, would definitely recommend it.20161116-002

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October already, it can’t be !!!

Is quite amazing how the time whizzes by, it is quite a while since I wrote in this blog, not only is it October but we have also just had our first snow and it is hard to believe that the next two pictures were taken only a week apart and it went from mid 20’s to the minuses in the same period.
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Nature really does know how to wake us up sometimes, the snow was around for about four days and it stayed cold, at the moment it is raining very hard.
Back in September we went down to Slovensky Grob near Bratislava to visit some friends who were kind enough to invite us to a wine tasting, the vineyard is in the family and very good it was too but after 24 wines we were not very good at assessing them.  The area where our friends live is so flat as to be unreal but maybe that is because we are used to the mountains, their village is surrounded by agriculture.
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I have also after 9 years decided to buy a new camera and it is very good although it is taking me some time to get used to, here are the first few pictures I have taken with it, the bugs are drinking from my grapes and sometimes there are as many as ten on each grape, they must get pretty drunk I guess.
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20161002-025Seeing the bee reminds me that we did not get any honey this year and nor did anyone in this area, we know one beekeeper who has 200 hives and never got any at all, it is almost certainly due to the very fluctuating temperatures at the start of the year, fingers crossed for next year. The sheep are doing well though and didn’t seem at all fazed by the snow..

20161006-009So, new camera which seems brill and this week we had new kitchen worktops as the old ones were very worn and now we have got solid wood, interested to see see how it wears, it looks great anyway.
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Thats about all from me except to say Maria is making amazing bread and as we go to press the loaf made today is even bigger than the photo, watch this space for any more developements…….
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