Title comes from another Strawbs song, and is a bit appropriate right now. Words here.

I’m in Chamonix. It’s been both an exciting and a restful few days since the last blog, but now my big trip begins to have a sense of going home. Its own “autumn”, if you like. My weather has turned. I’ve had a bit of re-planning of my itinerary, which was only ever vague to begin with, and a couple of lucky escapes from early snow. Snow might be ok in a car with snow tyres or chains, but on a large and heavy loaded motorbike, it is no go.

I was sorry to leave the Dolomites, especally as it was on a very murky morning, which robbed me of the final photo I needed for my big project. However, I’d been in a rather indifferent hotel for a couple of nights, one in which non-smokers were a beleagured minority, and so the fresh air was welcome. My route to Andermatt, in Switzerland, involved some back-tracking, but also took me through places I had travelled a few years ago, and wanted to see again.There was also a race on. Against the weather, this time.

For several days, the forecasts had been certain – the Central Alps was in for some snow and a real freeze. I’d abandoned a few days’ plans in faour of a couple of nights luxury near the Italian Lakes, but I had to get there first. Dropping into Andermatt, in central Switzerland, gave all the signals that big weather changes were imminent, with black skies on the horizon. I had an anxious night as it rained with snow forecast, and I rode out of the town after breakfast as heavy snow began to fall. Fortunately, my route was pretty much straight into the 17km long Gotthard Tunnel, heading south, under the mountains. At the other end, it was dry and sunny. Such is Alpine weather.

There was a similar fortunate escape crossing the Simplon Pass, on my way over towards France two days later. Major snow had clipped the area about two hours before I passed through. There was masses of the stuff on the mountains and on the roadsides, but the black stuff was clear.

Chamonix was freezing when I got here. Almost literally. Two degrees. Remember, I’ve been used to 29 degrees recently. Overnight, it rained. I could hear it all night. I expected to wake to oodles of the white stuff. Not a problem this time – I have three nights here. However, it also warmed up a lot, and the rain actually stripped off a lot of snow laying below 1,500 metres.

So, I’m writing this at breakfast before a morning spent wandering around the outdoor equipment shops etc of Chamonix. Plenty of them to keep me occupied. Having no room for any more luggage is a good antidote to retail therapy, too. Wish me luck!

Next blog is likely to be about going home.


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