3rd Time Lucky


Just a boy that likes bananas but hates a cat

Take one,two three

The excitement of setting sail from Portsmouth to Caen in June 2022.

The plan included a meticulous layout—a drive near Pau on the Pyrenees’ west side, camping, and riding the first climb, the Port de Laurra.

From Pau, the journey was to wind east along the Pyrenees to the enchanting Ax les Thermes, with the possibility of returning to Caen via the Massif Central.

The map portrayed a logical and tidy route, a visual blueprint for the upcoming escapade.

Training has been progressing smoothly, and with just five weeks to go, it was time to ensure the trusty car was ready for the expedition.


I thought I saw a pussy cat (I could certainly smell one)

As I returned home on this sunny day, an unexpected twist unfolded—a peculiar smell led me to a feline intruder, my neighbour’s cat.

This adventurous creature explored and claimed its territory, resulting in a not-so-charming encounter.

Upon discovery, the delightful feline darted underneath a unit. My attempt to remove the cat waw met with an unexpected bite.

Initially dismissed as a minor inconvenience, the next day revealed a swollen hand and a red vein — this was a cause for concern.

Reluctantly, I took myself off to the local hospital, where I expected a trivial response to a mere cat bite amidst the chaos of the ongoing pandemic.



Make yourself comfortable

To my surprise, a few hours later, I found myself in a hospital bed, connected to an antibiotic drip, and with my arm hoisted.

Four days passed before the hospital discharged me with antibiotics and a still-swollen hand.

Optimistically, I hoped for a quick recovery and a return to the initial schedule. However, a few days after discharge, the red vein persisted, prompting a return to the hospital.

The antibiotics, unfortunately, proved ineffective.



Things are getting deeper

Now things took a dramatic turn as a deeper course of action was deemed necessary—an operation to ‘clean things out.’

The quick local procedure I had expected turned out to be a full-blown affair, requiring general anaesthetic and carrying a ‘slight’ risk of tendon damage.

Two days later, the verdict was in—the first operation hadn’t succeeded, and a second operation was required with the ominous promise of going even deeper.

Miraculously, the second operation was a success, sparing my tendons from harm.

Despite this triumph, the realisation struck hard—a June departure was no longer feasible, even with my Monty Python Black Knight attitude.


Joyful and not so joyful events

Contemplating alternative dates, an early August family wedding emerged on the social calendar.

To avoid complicating matters, I rescheduled my sailing for a few days after the joyful event.

And so, it was back to training and preparation, yet the unexpected still awaited—an unfortunate encounter with COVID at the wedding, despite being triple jabbed. #£&@ it, indeed.

A second delay and a rethink.

I now considered the possibilities that fitness after COVID might be an issue and the tough Pyrenees might be an ask too much.

Time to reverse the entire plan.



Away at last

The easier Massif Central first and then if all is ok, then I will venture down to the Pyrenees.

My first Massif Central climb was now planned, The Col de la Croix-de-l’Homme Mort.

No fate tempting there then. 🙂


Hello Sweetie Pie - already to go

No turning back

The Massif Central originally was a ‘nice to do’ if time allowed, but now it was in the schedule.

The Black Knight recovers, mounts his steed, and picks up the gauntlet.

(Or, Phil and a loaded Toyota Yaris with a Brompton catch a ferry to meet the mountains).