Mixed feelings

Posted by Jenni

The last few months have been an absolute roller coaster. I guess that’s what happens when you throw your whole life up in the air to see where it all lands!

Recently, as I get closer and closer to leaving I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve been feeling recently and why and how I’ve managed to keep going.

Relief – I’ve spent the last six months moving, decorating, packing, unpacking, stashing possessions and generally dismantling my life. The other week, I did my second car boot sale and stashed everything that was left in my parents loft. I now have just the contents of my room at my sister’s house – about half my clothes and the stuff I use every day (plus a few silly things that I can’t quite bring myself to parted from just yet). Finally, I don’t have to move or pack anything else – except, of course, my bags for the big adventure.

Exhaustion – But the relief is mixed with extreme tiredness. I have been on the go for nearly six months with barely a break. Even my amazing holiday to Annecy didn’t give me a break. I’m not complaining – it’s been fun (apart from the moving house bits) – but the other day I did find myself thinking longingly of the moment when I pick Bex up in north France and hand over the keys to the van and, temporarily, responsibility for looking after me for a few hours…

Frustration – because I can’t concentrate on anything, because my mind is always somewhere else (although that’s fairly normal), because I want to have finished work and be off adventuring already, because I still have a few last details to sort out and insurance companies are a massive pain to deal with, because there isn’t enough time to do everything and see everyone I want to before I go off, because, because, because…

Nostalgia – I know there are people and places I’m going to miss so much.

Tranquility – I’m confident that what I’m doing is the right thing, however it works out. By that, I don’t just mean the travelling, but also setting my life up in a way that offers so many possibilities. I don’t expect to come back to London and this way of life, but I also know that if it’s what I decided to do, there’s nothing to stop me.

Excitement – Well, of course! The next month is going to be epic! And then, hopefully, so is the one after that and the one after that! Who knows what adventures we have in store and how it will all turn out? And that only makes it better 😀

Flight after flight after flight

Posted by Jenni

One of the things I loved about flying in Annecy is that every day and every flight was different. In England, I often have to make a real effort to fly and set myself challenges so I can improve. But there, it was easy!

Heading for Les Dents

On the first day, we launched from Forclaz into strong thermals and soon climbed up to 8,000′. With only one little XC flight under my belt, I set off towards Annecy. Flying over 1,500′ above Les Dents, I decided to head out across the lake to Roc des Boeufs, then worked up that ridge, planning to get high enough to complete to loop back to launch. A collapse over the highest point of the ridge pushed me out of the lift, and having had two hours in the strong conditions, I decided to call it a day and headed for the landing field. I was pleased with my flying, but slightly overwhelmed by the strength of the conditions. However, I managed to get a lift back up to take off and launched again into a completely different sky, with smooth evening lift and flew until sunset.

On the tandem

The following day, equally strong, I had the opportunity to go up on the tandem. I got expert thermalling tuition and got to experience proper wingovers, asymmetric spirals and generally gain more experience and confidence in the strong conditions. It was fascinating to be shown how and where the terrain worked. In particular, being shown how well a small disturbance in the leaves of the trees marks a thermal. Later, I went up again on my own and again climbed up to 6,500′, working the gentlest evening lift. As the sun was setting, I realised that it was probably already getting dark in the landing field, so rapidly burnt off the 4,000′ down to the landing field, practicing wingovers and going into and out of spirals to build up my confidence with the exit.

The fortnight continued in a similar way with several new sites, a proper little cross country flight back to the house and my first experience of being the retrieve driver as my friends dropped down all over the countryside. The conditions were phenomenal and made today’s flying at Caburn feel mellow by comparison. Now I’m hoping that the hours in the air and the bombardment of new flying experiences can translate to bigger, better and longer flights on (and hopefully away from) my home sites in Sussex!

It’s a shame I didn’t write this sooner as I know I’ve forgotten a lot and there’s much more I wanted to write about. I should have been writing this as I went along. But with flying every day and surrounded by friends in the evenings, it wasn’t the first thing on my mind. But I’ll need to work on finding time in amongst all the fun and the chaos to keep up with the blog – hopefully one of the better challenges Becky and I  will have to deal with as we go on our big adventure!