Woke up in the middle of the night. The sky looks very pretty when there is no light pollution! Can't say it was a quiet night though, the local fisherman made quite a racket most of the night. At least we had a quite breakfast as most of the fishermen left for their breakfasts and the day visitors hadn't arrived by the time we left.
Next we trekked east for the day to just south of Puy de Lassolas and Puy de Vache, where the park headquarters are. We setup camp on the lawn and put Manon in a vast and luxurious paddock - there were no other horses or donkeys in
Another cool night, but warmer than the night at 1200 m by the lake. The facilities at the Gites d'étape are good and we were able to use them for only €4. The morning started out beautiful again.
This morning we hiked up round the two near by volcanoes: Puy de Lassolas and Puy de Vache - well worth the effort. In the afternoon we packed up our stuff and set off for Laschamps.
Another night wild camping but lower again so it should be warmer again. Tomorrow Manon has the day off as we hike up the 1464 m of the nearby Puy de Dôme volcano.
Still no 'flu symptoms, looks like we are okay.
Our first dry night! It's not that the Ferrino tent leaks much but rain and thunder doesn't help with the sleeping...
The morning broke beautifully and we were able to pack up in glorious sunshine. When we went to collect Manon the donkey she was still there so we headed off for our first full day of donkey trekking without any problems.
After a few hours we arrived at Orcival several kilometres to the south. We put Manon in her coral for the night and booked into the the hotel (no camping facilities here). Not the best hotel in the world but it was clean and dry.
Refreshed from our night in a bed we set off to the near by lake of Lac de Servières. We arrived around lunch time and spent all day here. Everyone wants to take a picture of Manon or feed her some leaves - she is proving quite popular!
Tonight we wild camp by the lake - a bit of a change from a hotel. At least it's a beautiful day.
Still no 'flu symptoms...
Today was our first day with the Donkey!
The day started well, it had eventually stopped raining and we hadn't been washed away during the downpour - the campsite was on the bank of a river...!
We packed up the camp and climbed into the taxi for the short ride to the trail head where we'd pick up our donkey for the holiday. We were dropped off by the bread oven in the warm August sun hoping we were in the right place and the the donkey would turn up.
After a painfully long wait Mr "Volc'Ânes" turned up with Manon our donkey. After a quick briefing about Donkeys we set-off on our own with all our stuff on the back of a half-grey-half-Provence donkey...
The first few kilometres was not very good, our stuff kept slipping from one side to another. We unloaded Manon over lunch and then reloaded her afterwards and made it safely to our first overnight in the tiny Hamlet of Mazeye.
Still no 'flu symptoms...
We took the SNCF TER Corail service down to Clermont-Ferrand from Paris in the morning. Not as fast as the more modern SNCF TGV service but still a pretty decent InterCity service and a decent 30 kmh-1 faster than a car on the motorway. At Clermont-Ferrand we changed for a local service to Pontgibaud were we set the tent up at the small municipal camping site.
Our first shock came as we were putting up the tent, my partner's mother was diagnosed with Type A (H1N1/09) 'flu and there was a good chance we'd come down with it!
Our second surprise was the sheer strength of the thunderstorm that started after dinner and lasted almost until breakfast... We knew that a storm was predicted we just didn't expect it to be so loud and last so long.
On day 3 we decided not to go far as it was a bit grey and damp. We went up to a local lake for a walk. We didn't get very far before it started to rain again. It didn't stop all day, or for that matter, all night! At least we haven't gone down with 'flu yet...
We're on holiday! No more work for us. Even though SNCF did their best to thwart our plans we set off on time with a viable plan. Even better we got a lift to the station from friends in the village and SWT upgraded us to First Class for the section of the trip into London.
Eurostar are a pain, check-in takes an age and you can't take BS EN417:1992 gas cannisters on their trains, apparently they are dangerous... I believe lots of people take aerosol sprays on with them and they are full of butane too... Anyhow we made it to Paris by Saturday night all in one piece.
On the Sunday we had to get hold of a gas cylinder for our stove, which is a pain as we had forgotten the converter for the readily available CampingGaz "blue" piercable cartridges. As most shops in France are closed on a Sunday this was inconvenient, but in the end we found a Decathlon open that had one Primus cylinder in stock.
This week I deployed a Debian GNU/Linux system at work, I'll deploy another one shortly. They should be Microsoft Windows XP systems but it's company policy that only approved Windows systems go on the network, and all company Windows systems MUST have a screen saver with password set.
The problem is that these systems are basically running public displays so the screen saver is required to be off. Therefore it's easier to deploy a Linux system which isn't part of the company wide Windows Domain to solve the problem than it is to use a Windows systems...
Ironic isn't it? Personally I'm always happy to replace Windows systems with Linux ones but in this case the decision was forced onto me by the IT department - which is becoming increasingly less Windows centric...
I'm normally quite conservative with computing, it is more important that it works than it's the latest toy. The only exception is my desktop system, which runs Debian "testing", so periodically things break.
The latest 2.6.30 kernel and 173.13.09 nvidia glx drivers are not compatible. I can either run an older kernel with working drivers or a later kernel with the 2D only open source nvidia drivers which are working fine.
One can understand why my family and my servers at home and work all run Debian "stable" (currently 5.0.2). Once it goes in, it keeps working, Debian stable upgrades are perfectly safe.
Nearly a decade ago, when I lived in the US, I bought a nylon webbing belt made by Bison Designs. I liked it so much that I bought two more. I used them daily for over 6 years and then the Polyoxymethylene (aka Delrin) buckle on one them died and then to my horror I broke an other one by standing on it.
I ordered replacements from Bison and a few weeks later they turned up in the post, via a proxy as they don't sell outside the US. I liked the replacement though the drape and design on the original belts was better.
After two years of use the buckle on one of the new belts died. This time I wasn't happy, two years isn't very long, a fraction of the time my originals had lasted so I emailed Bison Designs to complain. A nice lady replied and said I should just pop all the broken belts in the post and they'd fix them all. When they say a life time warranty, then really mean it!
Today my belts turned up in the post, all as good as new!
Without the generosity of others it would be very hard to run a LUG. To all our hosts - many thanks!
This week I'm on a SAP delta course between SAP R/3 4.6C and ECC6.0. So far the commute hasn't been too bad, the instructor is good and the material has been well paced.
It's really good to see the new stuff in the latest version of SAP, it is a vast improvement from 4.6C. At the same time some of it is clearly incomplete, immature and not very stable and worst of all other programming languages had this kind of technology a long time ago.
Shortly we are going on holiday to France and plan to use the normally excellent rail service offered by SNCF to get about.
However one minor requirement is a decent map of the rail network in the Auvergne where we plan to travel so we can decided exactly where we are going to go. It's hardly a complex requirement, a simple PDF with coloured line maps and stations will do along with easy access to the timetables.
SNCF/TER don't seem to think the way I do. Their marketing droids think a crude flash animation with and handful of stations will do and a web application that lets me pick my route, assuming of course I know all the station names.
I thus resorted to Google searching for a decent rail map of the region and so far most of my searches have found sites where people ask the same question "Where is there a decent map of the French rail network". There are plenty of low scale and old maps out there, though even they are not on the SNCF or TER web sites.
One day when the revolution comes, marketing people and graphic designers will be the first up against the wall...
So dear lazyweb, "Where can I get a decent rail map of France?"