Cobble Beach

Happy News

Thursday, April 5,2018

I will not bury this lead…Brian got a clean bill of health. Instead of having to wait another couple of weeks for a nuclear stress test, he got in on a cancellation on Tuesday morning. The cardiologist phoned late this afternoon to say there are no blockages and no scarring indicating a past problem. Brian is good to travel! Wonderful! Such a relief!

We booked our flights to Rome for Friday, April 13th with a return on May 6th, a week shorter than we originally planned, but we are happy. Tomorrow we will rebook some accommodations.

It has been a roller coaster week: emotionally and weather-wise. I have been contemplating a quote from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, “ All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”  This week we saw frequent changes in the sky from sombre grey skies with fog, snow and rain that hid horizons to brilliant sunlight that sparkled on ice coated trees, shrubs, fields and fences. Grass was greening until yesterday when our world turned white again. We made an overnight trip to Toronto and were fortunate to make the two and a half hour drive home after an ice storm and before a snowstorm. We were not caught in multiple vehicle pile-ups as some were.

Our spirits changed frequently from excitement at the prospects of travelling to fear, concern and anxiety about health problems and disappointment in plans foiled. We enjoyed time with family: Dad’s 96th birthday party, long walks with Brilynn, a visit with my brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Lynn, a visit with Laxmi and our grandchildren. We enjoyed time with friends: playing cards, having dinner at home and at Cobble Beach, seeing The Ghost Island Light performed at the Roxy by Owen Sound Little Theatre. We were supported and comforted by so many emails, phone calls and prayers.

Plenty of light and shadow in our lives. The shadows make the light more brilliant. So much for which to be grateful. So many for whom we are most thankful.



Easter Weekend

I walked in sunshine this morning here at Cobble Beach with Brilynn. (Yes, Brilynn is here for the weekend: always delightful!) The sun was shining and the thermometer showed 9C. Warm, right? Not so much when facing a bitter south wind. For the past couple of weeks the north wind has been pretty steady and had kept a solid bridge of ice across Georgian Bay from Cobble Beach all the way in to Owen Sound. The fishing aficionados were delighted. Twenty or so fishermen/women have been on the ice every day. Not out this far because the ice at the edge is not so reliable. I have been questioning their judgment about walking a kilometre and more into the middle of the bay even closer to town, however, as far as I know, no one has gone under.

We have been expecting the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker in since last Sunday. Rumour has it that it will appear on Easter Sunday. The south wind has done a pretty good job of clearing the ice out of the sound at least as far as we can see here at Cobble Beach.

Brilynn and I inspected two of the houses being constructed here. Both houses will have amazing views. Although one of them will more frequently than not be featured in my sunrise photos, it has not taken away my view of the lighthouse and most of Georgian Bay.

After lunch the sun totally disappeared and grey skies took over. The winds picked up, according to the weather report, up to eighty kilometres per hour and the rain has been streaking down on our windows ever since. Brief flurries were seen. It is no longer 9C! You are not surprised! This is a Canadian spring. Totally normal. Actually we have probably had more sun in the past few weeks than is normal. I even did some gardening: I cut back ornamental grasses and hydrangeas. Brian dethatched the lawn.

We had great hopes of a month in Italy with our flight leaving on Easter Monday. It is supposed to be 18 to 20C in Rome next week.  The best laid plans do not always work out. We lead a charmed life, or so we thought, but not this time.

Brian has been having tests as a result of chest pains two weeks ago. The lastest test, an echocardiogram was done this morning. The medical staff in Owen Sound has been very good about following up quickly with each result. The cardiologist phoned Brian this afternoon, on her day off, to advise him to cancel our trip. He has some blockages in his heart. More tests need to be scheduled. Low dose aspirin is now on his daily menu.

We have cancelled our flights, accommodations and car rental. We will continue to experience all the construction happening around us. I was going to do this blog about living in a construction zone. This winter, and into spring,

nineteen homes have been built or are still in progress. Where there was one house in the block to the west of us, there are now eight with another to get started next week. I will post some photos I have taken in the past few days and I will get back to you about our Canadian April.

I have a lengthy list of Canadian literature to read. In the past six weeks, I attended a lecture each Thursday by Gary Draper, a retired professor from Waterloo University. I thought I was well read, but apparently not, there is plenty of interesting reading to keep me busy on a drizzly cold day. It also means more indoor golf, card games and evenings with our many friends. We are fortunate!

Another happy note: yesterday was my father-in-law’s 96th birthday. We celebrated in grand style with lobster and angel food cake. So much for which to be thankful!

Happy Easter, everyone! Be well!



Black and White

December 7, 2017

What I am about to type, I first wrote by hand in a notebook, very unusual as I have a tendency to type more than I write, a speedier process, but perhaps one that does not give me enough time to think about the actual words I type….

I have not written in this notebook for a long time, more than six months! I am currently waiting for my desktop computer to catch up to my commands. Why is it so slow? It may have something to do with saving to the cloud. That cloud must match the one outside. It is saturated.

Georgian Bay is long gone .The lighthouse is disappearing into a uniformly grey sky.. The tone of that grey is getting darker as night descends. Somewhere the sun is setting but it is not at all visible in any direction at Cobble Beach today.

This week I have been experimenting with black and white photography. Why, you might well ask. A friend, Marie, issued me a challenge on Facebook to post a black and white photo each day for seven days. I am to post each photo with no people, no comment, no explanation, photos of my life. Then each day I have also dutifully extended the challenge to someone else. This is day five of the challenge for me.

In the course of the past five days my world has become more and more monochrome as the days shorten and the snow falls, and falls. In the past twenty-four hours more than thirty centimetres of snow has blanketed our neighbourhood.

The snow began in earnest yesterday afternoon with fierce winds driving it horizontally past my windshield as I drove home from a delicious potluck lunch in Port Elgin. I left behind the waves crashing on Lake Huron’s shore, splashing onto the road and icing the branches of shore-side trees and shrubs. The drive reminded me how grateful I am to be retired. I do not have to drive anywhere if I do not feel like it. My preferred mode of travel is walking, cycling and skiing. I will be able to take up skiing tomorrow after four days of golfing this week! Amazing weather changes!

I shoveled out our driveway when I arrived home yesterday. Brian cleaned it out again this morning. I reshovelled after him, adding the steps on both sides of the house and the front walk and porch.

This afternoon in the space of two hours as I cleaned out two friends’ driveways, the snow continued to fall straight down in huge wet flakes with no wind. The kind of snow that sticks to eyelashes. I love it!

Although I have seen such constant snowing in the past I still marvel at the magic and power of such a snowfall.

My efforts at cleaning driveways is no longer obvious as an additional fifteen centimetres have filled them in. My snow angel will soon have disappeared.In fact it is now so dark that I can no longer see it in the yard below even though the white snow is bright in the darkness.

Black and white, yes that is our winter. However, in the natural black and white winter world, I see colour. In the milkweed pod, a golden glow of seeks peeks out of the cracked pod. In a dark sky sunrise varying shades of pink and gold slowly leak across the horizon and line the clouds. Some days, not today, a patch of blue briefly sneaks into existence, a bright spot in a dull day.

Right now, as I look out, the bay has reappeared. The grey shade of the bay is now distinguishable from the far black shore, the medium grey sky and the white snow.

Alan did a fine job of decorating six small trees outside his townhouse, five with white lights and one with red. These sparkle in the black night. Our own small pine in the back yard is weighted down with red and white smudges of light.

I like colour photos more than black and white because even on a monochrome day, I glimpse colour, subtle perhaps, but there, and I like it. That little bit of colour warms my heart and brightens my life.

This black and white challenge is teaching me a thing or two about photography. I think it is more demanding of talent or skill or both. I need to learn more about editing photos and taking the photo using the optimum light in the correct direction.

I chatted with Brilynn on the phone as I waded shin deep through the falling snow along the buried golf course path. I consulted my photography expert on what I had to do to give my black and white photos more definition. Brilynn suggested that I download the snapseed app. I have done so and have even looked at a couple of the tutorials. I have so much to learn about editing photos: colour or black and white.

I sent Brilynn some of my colour photos and asked her to edit them as black and whites. She sent my milkweed pod back in seconds, edited with snapseed. I clapped my hands in delight. The monochrome milkweed pod no longer has black blobs hiding the features that I saw in real time, features I tried to capture with my IPhone. The seeds were missing in my black and white version. Brilynn knew how to use the tools to highlight those seeds.

I finished creating a forty-page book of colour photos this week. I like to assemble my photopages as collages. Many of you would probably say I included too many photos and that the photos would have stood out more with white space and fewer larger photos. No doubt you would be right, but making collages brings me joy. And that is good!

Brilynn pointed out that many of the editing tools are available in the editing software of my iPhone and iPad. I just have to dig a little deeper in those menus. Now perhaps if I learned more about editing I might even select fewer photos but spend more time making them just right. Unlikely!

It is a good thing that I typed this immediately after writing in my notebook. Probably a month from now I would not be able to decipher my hieroglyphics. Decoding handwriting is another reason to opt for typing or thumbing my blog. The resulting black and white text is legible.

Eulogy for November

We often say that November is a good month to head to sunnier warmer locations than southern Ontario. We think of November as a gloomy month. Our daughter questions why I gave birth to her in November when October is always a much more colourful month in which to celebrate one’s birthday. Brilynn is beyond the age when I have to explain conception and duration of a pregnancy.

It is true that on this last day of November we had a cold drizzle all day long, but I have fond memories of this month. I even looked back through Brian’s careful daily weather recording and note that there were only ten days this November in which we had some precipitation. It only snowed on three of those days. On the other days there were probably only three days when it poured rain. Most days it drizzled a little, let up for a while then drizzled a little more. That is not bad!

November has some of the best sunrises! This November was no exception. From my pillow I often open one eye early enough to see if there is colour over Georgian Bay. When there is, I am compelled to rise from my cozy nest and go into the living room to see just how special the sunrise is. Sometimes there is only a pink orange band glowing on the horizon but I have observed magnificent displays of rose, magenta, purple, fuchsia, tangerine, then pale pink before the golden sun dazzles me with its brilliant light and spills its reflection across number sixteen pond and Georgian Bay.

The days grow shorter and darker in November as we approach the winter solstice. It is time to turn inward and recline with a pile of books from the library, but this year we have continued to walk at least five kilometres a day around the golf course. Our morning yoga straightens our spine and rids me of headaches that sometimes plague my nights.

My cache from the library usually includes a travel guide to a different country as we contemplate a future adventure. We have not yet decided on a destination, but we have time to dream and wonder about the possibilities.

And then we have a surprise day such as November 28th when the temperature rises to 14C and we play nine holes on a deserted golf course. Windy, true, but sunny, most of the time!

Brian has not been participating in hunting in recent years but still helps the hunters with butchering and packaging. This means that November is also time for a venison pie making party with friends. We now have five delicious pies stored in our freezer.

In the United States, Thanksgiving heralds the end of November. Although we did not travel to Shawn and Agnes’ for Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the time we spent with them in Connecticut at the beginning of the month. We can be part of our grandchildren’s busy lives and provide a little support for their parents. We always enjoy hikes at Hammonasset and in the state forests. The oak leaves there this year provided greater variety of orange and brown colour than our own maple trees did. We think the wet summer and warm fall made autumn scenes less spectacular.

We marvel at the beauty of each day and recognize that November is also a gift for which we are grateful.

October Delights

Kayaking and Swimming
October 2, 2017
5:23 PM

That was delightful. We just came home from kayaking along the shore of Georgian Bay here at Cobble Beach. This morning when we were golfing the bay was a sheet of glass. Not so this afternoon. The waves were rolling in from the northeast; so, we paddled north with the waves swiping at our side and occasionally landing in our kayaks. It would have been a good day for kayak skirts. That is something for our purchasing list.

It is so quiet kayaking in the bay with only the occasional cry of a gull or the waves splashing the shore or spilling over boulders rot make white caps. It has been three weeks since we finished kayaking the Douro and our first time back in a kayak, this time our own, a little sleeker and cushier. I think our trip gave me a keener interest in kayaking. We had never done a multi-day trip before. I really enjoyed it.

We kayaked back to the beach in a stream of sunshine, the sun warm on our bodies. That made it perfect for a swim after kayaking. Brian did not think so, but when the air and water temperatures match at 20C, I think it is perfect. I love to be able to swim in October. That is so special. Still more swimming, Kate!

I spent a few hours this afternoon dead-heading flowers, trimming and edging the garden. I prefer cleaning the garden to cleaning the house. We grew our tomatoes with our dahlias this year, with greater success. If the long range forecast holds true we should keep getting tomatoes for a couple of weeks.

Blue Sky Day

Saturday, September 30, 2017
Blue Sky in Grey County

While we were in Portugal, most days were blue sky days. Since we arrived home we have seen far more grey skies. From Thursday evening to the wee hours of this morning we had plenty of rain with fierce winds. People north and south of us lost power as tree limbs or trees downed hydro lines. We were spared. Today turned into a blue sky day.

This morning I drove to the Riverside Community Centre southwest of Meaford to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Trout Hollow Trail and to walk a few kilometers on the trail with Robert Burcher as our guide. Robert is a John Muir enthusiast who has been compiling data about Muir for a number of years. Robert gave a very interesting presentation to the Owen Sound Field Naturalists in the spring. That inspired me to participate today. Robert is a member of the Canadian Friends of John Muir. Muir was an environmentalist, botanist, writer, co-founder of the Sierra Club and known as the father of the National Parks system in the United States. Muir spent two years (1864-1866) in Ontario a year of that time working for the Trout family at their mill near Meaford.

Today’s hike took us to locations that have been identified and sign posted of the mill and cabin where Muir worked and lived as well as other historical features including the remains of a concrete dam that was used to create a 30 foot deep lake on the Bighead River. While we can still see where the dam was and stand in the Hollow where a lake once existed. It is hard to reconcile today’s peaceful pastoral scene where there once was a project that provided electricity for Meaford and a bridge where people used to walk for a Sunday outing.

I will have to visit the Meaford Museum the next time I come to hike Trout Hollow with my hiking buddies. There are 14 kilometers of trail of varying difficulty. We did not hike the whole system today.

Instead of going to the museum after our hike for cake and coffee, I drove into Meaford to admire the many scarecrows that are hanging about on the Main Street. At this time of year no visit to this area is complete without stopping at one of the roadside stands to buy apples. I brought a bag of sweet juicy Honey Crisps home to Brian who was waiting for our new fridge to arrive.

The fridge did not arrive until after I came home, but Brian made good use of his day cleaning the pond, doing laundry, getting rid of wasps and making our bed with fresh sheets. What a great husband!

We golfed nine this afternoon. A month’s absence did not improve our scores. We do not usually golf on a Saturday as it is usually busier; thus, slower. Brian had time for a nap while waiting to hit his ball off number five tee.

Home at Cobble Beach

Cobble Beach
Home again, home again! Yeah!
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We love travelling but we love coming home! There is nothing quite like our own bed, our own shower, our own home. Our fall garden is well underway. There is plenty of deadheading to do, but my roses still are colourful and those splashy red and white dahlias make me smile. We had overnight guests here on the weekend. They loved our sunrise and enjoyed watching the heron pick his way over each fish line to the pond. They did not see him eat any koi. Brian was hoping a neighbour would have had barbecued heron by now.

Our fridge is not working. We had heard of problems with it a couple of weeks ago but anticipated the problem only being in the freezer compartment which was emptied. Sadly the fridge itself is at 61F. The good news is the repairman will come this afternoon. The last time we asked for a repair, it took two weeks for someone to come. Arghhh…$1000 compressor needed…buy a new fridge!

We watched a beautiful sunset sink into a hazy horizon as we approached Owen Sound last night. We stopped for some groceries and thought we would have a Hamburg on the barbecue when we arrived at home but neither of us felt especially hungry; so, we thought it might be a popcorn evening. As we drove past Kate’s, Brian called out to whoever was standing at the barbecue, “Is supper ready?” We kept driving but minutes after being in our house, Kate called and invited us for ribs. So happy to hug our friends again.

A welcome home emergency food kit was waiting in a cooler on our front steps. Bryan and Susan made sure we would have some essentials: tonic, cheese, crackers, eggs. We have good friends here who took care of us and our property. Will made sure the grass was cut and windows open.  Helen watched out for intruders and Susan watered plants. Adrian has been feeding the fish. Lots of willing hands. We are so grateful!

This morning I cycled in a few drops of rain to the beach to meet Kate for a swim. En route I stopped for welcome home hugs. Susan rode down for a swim too. After Brian had secured a fridge repairman he rode down for a swim too. The water is an awesome 72F. Even though yesterday’s air temperature of 32C has cooled to 20C, it felt great.

I planted my few Portuguese seashells in my beach garden.

Three new houses and a set of townhouses have been started in our absence and several of the newest houses now have green lawns. By all accounts the Concours was a great success, the first of five that we missed.

Lisbon to Cobble Beach

Lisbon to Toronto to Cobble Beach
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Walk 500 metres, Cais do Sodré Metro to Airport 10 km, airport walking, Air Transat Flight to Toronto 5746 km, walk to car in parking garage, drive home 182 km

A very nice Portuguese-Canadian gentleman quickly came to our aid when we arrived at the Oriente train station yesterday. He has been living in Canada for the past forty years, most of that in BC. He returns to Portugal every year for a couple of months. He has an apartment for sale in Portimão if you are interested. He decided he is too old to keep doing this trip and his Canadian wife refuses to do it anymore.

We got out of the metro at Baixa Chiado station, based on our helper’s advice. I am glad we did. We would not likely have climbed up here from our apartment but it was worth seeing the elegant squares and impressive buildings. Our friend was disappointed we had so little time in Lisbon as there is so much to see but we are travel weary and ready for home.

We spent five hours walking nine kilometres around Lisbon mostly in the Alfama district. We walked up the narrow streets, visited the Immaculate Conception Church with its amazing carved arches, the Se Cathedral where groups were filing through and tuktuks lined up at the entrance, St Anthony’s Church and birthplace. Anthony is the patron saint of Portugal. We climbed to the Sao Iorge Castle. A line forty people deep was waiting to buy tickets. Lines are not for us. Brian talked to the budgies in cages along the streets instead. I took photos.

There were people shopping everywhere. We sat at a sidewalk cafe sipping beer, watching the lemmings race across streets against red lights, narrowly missing accidents.

Getting to the airport in Lisbon was easy and cheap. We left our apartment, walked across the square to the market where cleaners were sweeping up last night’s debris and pigeons were treating themselves to the sweepings. We dined in the brightly lit Time Out Market last night. We sat on stools on the quieter side of The Sea Me restaurant. I had very good baked cod with roasted potatoes and turnip greens. Brian’s cod cakes with tomato rice were much less satisfactory. He suffered from indigestion.

This morning we walked through the deserted Time Out side to where the fruit, fish, meat and vegetable vendors were now all set up and ready for business. We picked up our cafe com leite and pastry and sat in the sunshine opposite the Cais de Sodré train and metro station. Brian is always wiser choosing ham and cheese while I opt for chocolate. I really wanted a pastry half the size and a coffee twice as big. Spain’s cafe con leche are twice as big as Portugal’s.

We descended deep under the city to the green metro line and for one euro forty-five we had our ticket to the airport that involved one transfer at Alameda Station to the red line. This took less than half an hour including waiting for seven minutes for the first metro train.

Getting through Lisbon airport was quick and painless, no long lineups until it was time to board our flight. We had Option Plus that was to speed up boarding but there were a dozen wheel chair passengers and half of the hundreds other must have had Option Plus. Two passengers got lost somewhere in the airport. Extra time was being taken to remove their bags from our flight but then they were found. We were in a bank of three seats with extra legroom but less elbow room. Luck was on our side as the big guy beside me was moved elsewhere and Brian and I were sharing the three seats. Our flight was fifty minutes late leaving.

Eight and one quarter hours later we stopped taxiing down the runway at Pearson. Now we are driving north, past the rush hour traffic and less than two hours from home.

Preparing for Portugal

Thumbs away! Only two more sleeps to take-off for Porto! I sure hope the next two nights offer better repose than last night. I was awake from 3 AM until 6 AM flipping side to side rather than sensibly getting up and reading. At seven the construction vehicles awakened me from deep slumber with their constant beeping. I think they operate in reverse more than forward. My neighbour had said we could use their hot tub anytime except at 2 AM. I suspect that three to six is somehow also in the exclusion zone. Unless perhaps I slide in without turning on the jets?

Had I arisen in those wee hours I may have caught the Great Blue Heron pilfering koi from our pond. Brian had not laced fishing line over and around the pond as he had done in previous summers. Initially he was waiting for the garden tour at the end of June to be done. Then it seemed there were no herons hovering over our yard although we have seen the silent sentinels on the edge of the golf ponds. Last night a heron alighted in the yard while we were dining. We rushed out to see it take off. It is a magnificent bird but an evil antagonist for anyone who has fish in a pond. Brian thought he would have time to string his line this morning but the heron was already at the edge of the pond when we got up. We do not know how much damage he has wrought. So far we have only seen two koi. Either they are totally spooked or twenty koi have been devoured. Sigh!

It appears that the predators know we are departing and are moving in. Brian’s game camera caught the groundhog thief in action as it munched its way through our peas. It already ate two full rows of lettuce. Brian has noted that it did not touch any kale, beet greens or zucchini. Therefore, a smart groundhog.

We had told our neighbours to help themselves to our herbs and vegetables but we did not include groundhogs as neighbours.

I spent this morning weeding and deadheading. Of course everything will be looking even weedier and deader upon our return in a month’s time. Getting sweaty meant I had to leap into the Bay. The dock was rocking and rolling today with big waves and the water was probably about 66F. Refreshing!

Brian has packed his backpack. I have mentally packed mine but I still need to move to the physical packing. We are pretty good at travelling lightly. We really do not need much for kayaking across Portugal or hiking the Fisherman’s Trail. At least we think we do not.

We have hosted four dinners in the past five evenings and gone out for dinner on the other evening. We have caught up with most folks and have many offers to look after our house in our absence. Will already cut our lawn this morning and we have not even left yet. Such good neighbours! Will was actually hoping Brian would rest his knee and hip for a few days before we left. Not having to cut grass was indeed helpful.

Brian has been suffering from sciatica for over a week. He has not golfed for a week; has had shiatsu, daily massaging with the thumper and a friend gave him some homeopathic pills to try. Two days ago his knee gave out the way it did in Iceland. We hope that both of these issues will be resolved very soon.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, Ladies Golf League day, our last. I will be playing with my team then dining at the inn. Brian will be going to a Kate and Jim’s for dinner and cards. I really must get packed tomorrow.

Excitement is mounting!


Winter Wonderland

January 29, 2017

This morning we went to 8AM mass at Our Lady of the Scapular Church in Niagara Falls. This is a regular Sunday habit when in Niagara. We usually have occasion to see some siblings there. This morning it was Margaret and Genny. Rarely, there are no other family members present, but we have been attending mass for many years here; so, many faces are familiar even if we do not know all their names. The church was built in 1960. My family moved to Niagara eight months later.

Brian and I have a history with this church. We received the sacrament of Confirmation together. We were married here. Two of our three children were baptized here. Our parents’ funerals were here. So even though only two years of our married life was in Niagara Falls, we have been returning here for decades. There is something very comforting and peaceful about such a familiar place, about such a tradition.

Father Paul’s homily this morning was about the Beatitudes: nine blessings such as Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God. All are very hope filled. Father Paul read some modern versions of the beatitudes that refer specifically to our times and suggested we create some of our own. Pope Francis has added some beatitudes for our times: Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Plenty to consider and practise in what can otherwise be troubled times.

Today we drove the two hundred and seventy-five kilometres home to Cobble Beach in our normal three hours and forty-five minutes. We listened to the beginning of Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo, one of the earlier Detective Harry Bosch series. We noticed that the fields were blanketed in white around Guelph but the snowbank and piles of snow did not appear until Durham. At home we had to clean almost a foot of snow out of the driveway before we could drive in. We did not anticipate more than a couple of inches of snow. When we left home two weeks ago, the ground was still covered in two feet of snow but we thought with the mild temperatures and rain of the past two weeks, there would be nothing left. In fact all had disappeared but this fresh snow fell in since yesterday.

We quickly emptied the car and donned our skis to take advantage of this winter wonderland. We think Cobble groomed the trails just for us, a welcome home gift! The trails are in good condition and except for a few places, we were the first to use them. After 7.4 kilometres we were happy to relax in our steam bath.