The river from Europe’s cleanest lake gets cleaned

Annecy was built on the banks of the  River Thiou, where the water flows out of Lake Annecy. It has been canalised for centuries now and surrounds the Palais de l’Isle, an old prison dating from the 12th century. It has become a symbol of Annecy and one of the most photographed sites in France. The lake is very clean, as it is supplied with plentiful clean water from a spring, which accounts for 30% of the fresh water, plus of course all of the melt water from the winter snow. In summer, the lake temperature gets up to 24 degrees Celsius and the lake has many beaches, where swimmers can enjoy the lake. I was there in the spring and the lake many of the sightseeing cruises had restarted.


Fishing in Lake Annecy


Landing stage at Lake Annecy


Palais de l’Isle, cleaning the canal on left


Cleaning the canal


They even wash down after the Weekly Market


There are many beautiful shops and cafés on the banks of the river


Annecy Chateau


Eglise St Maurice


Town Hall, with 2018 Winter Olympic bid posters

I have visited Annecy twice this year (2010), once as my direct train to Chamonix was cancelled due to strike action and I had a two hour wait there. The second time as I wanted a return visit. That must say something about the power of attraction the town has.



Czech observations through a car windscreen (Not closely observed trains.)

While driving the car along Czech roads, the discoveries came thick and fast.


Nearly all small roads were lined with orchard trees. The varieties were mainly apple and cherry trees.


Lots of places had their resident storks.


Solar power farms were being set up on former industrial sites.


Of course there were a few wind farms, but I don’t think they get a lot of wind.


Outside of the cities, villages and towns all had Public Address Systems on telegraph poles. We went through one village as it was broadcasting. Can someone tell me what they are used for?


The farms grew a wide variety of crops. Who knows what these thistle type plants are?


The Czech Republic has an extensive rail network. The trains may not be that new though.


It is not unusual to find deer grazing alongside the road.

Důl Michal or perhaps he’s not so dull after all?

The first half of my career was spent in collieries in Wales and England. Throughout my time in the mines, I played a game of “musical mines” as they closed at an ever increasing rate. In the end I decided to pursue a different career and reluctantly waved goodbye to my last mine in South Wales. When I am travelling through a country and see  headgear or winding towers, I am irresistibly drawn to them. On my 2010 Czech Trip, I made sure I had a day aside to visit Ostrava Area’s mines. They mine coal in the Silesian Coalfield which straddles the Czech / Polish border.

Of course some mines have closed in the Czech Republic as reserves are depleted and the economic cost of recovering the coal cannot compete with world prices. One mine with very thin seams that did not allow easy mechanisation was Důl Michal. It closed in 1993, but all of the surface facilities were preserved as the day the last shift signed off. Although I wonder whether this shift went home naked as their clean clothes are still hanging on chains in the drying room!


External view of mine


Tally board


Clean clothes drying room


Dity Clothes drying room


Mrediacl Centre where injured miners would be washed before being picked up by ambulance


Surveyors Office


Control Room


Oil lamps


Electric battery lamps in charger


Self rescuers including Russian and Czech Chemical oxygen types

The gosts in locations such as this are tangible.

Can you pass these road signs?

All towns have been discovered, but some have been discovered more than others”. John Williams, with thanks to George Orwell

Brown sign

When travelling along the highways of Europe, it is virtually impossible to miss the brown signs erected to highlight a nearby leisure attraction. Most of the time we are on a tight schedule to reach our destination, so we drive past and can only wonder what delights we may or may not have missed.

Watch on Posterous

Then there comes a time when we are travelling by car with no fixed deadlines, just the urge to explore. So the invitation, extended by a brown sign, with its basic pictogram showing a castle, monastery, an ancient town or even a theme park can sometime become irresistible. We slow down and take the next exit to discover a new place.

When travelling by air, I take it as read that the surface I pass over will mostly remain a mystery to me. When travelling by train, I get to see the towns and countryside, but unless I have GPS, or a map I am not always sure what I am looking at, or what the town I pass through has to offer. On a coach I can read the signs, but have no opportunity to follow to where the brown signs lead. It is only by car that I can really appreciate what is on offer.

In this way I have come across all sorts of fascinating places. From unheard of character filled towns, to the foundations of “Big Bertha” a massive First World War gun and Parc Asterix.

So when I pass one of these signs and have to drive on, it is often with regret. Am I alone in feeling this way?

Updated 24 March 2011 for #FriFotos on the Theme of ‘Signs’ on Twitter.