British Open 1999
Le Grand Bornand - 15th-22nd August

This article was based on a series of "ePostcards" sent back to the UK from France daily using a Canon Powershot A50 digital camera, a Psion Series 5 and an Ericsson GS18 mobile phone. Please get in touch if you would like more information regarding the tehnical setup of my mobile "comms centre". 

Sun 15th August

Hello all

Just a quick report from the campsite in Le Grand Bornand.

Having left Bath at 0130 on Sunday morning, we had to take a detour via Brighton at 0400 to pick up Fiona's newly logoed glider and eventually caught the 0700 ferry from Dover. A large breakfast restored flagging spirits, and set us up for the long drive south.

The best sky we saw all week - half way down France!

Pretty easy drive really in Fiona's sponsored Toyota Rav 4, arriving at the campsite in Le Grand Bornand at about 1800 where we met up with Marcus. Erecting the Bedhouin tent was fairly straightforward once we'd sussed out the basic principles (thanks very much Karen & Tony - it's excellent). Only trouble is Marcus can't get to his tent now, as it's so big! Tim and I would have been quite cosy sharing our igloo tent! As it is we've got a sleeping compartment each.

Team Avon encampment

It's now 1930 and the campsite and valley are now completely in the shade and it's really quite cool, but it's a lovely evening albeit quite breezy. Apparently it's the first evening that hasn't clouded over by now - it's rained heavily the last few nights, but fingers crossed that won't happen tonight - maybe the unsettled weather here is going to start improving...

We've just had our first beer courtesy of Marcus, and we're about to head off for a pizza, and some 'biere serieux' afterwards.

Anyway, that's all for now - if you get this message and photo then it's a minor miracle!

Bye for now



Monday 16th August

Bonjour tout le monde.

Aujourd'hui il pleut.


Au revoir



Tuesday 17th August

Well folks, we actually got to fly today, although it wasn't exactly what you might call epic! The promised burning off of the clouds never really happened, and for me (and about 50 others) the day was summed up by a long wait (see photo of us all queueing in a typically English fashion for take off) and a short flight.

Queuing for take-off

We got to the take off - Col du Forclaz - at 1215, took off at 1630, and landed 3km away at 1645! The task was a 55km elapsed time race around the lake, but I think only 10 people made the first turnpoint, and only one person (Simon Olifant) made the second TP to do a massive 16km!

At least the tandems had fun...

A number of people who took off just before the window closed at 1715 had pleasant flights (30-45 mins) but for Marcus, Fiona and me it would have been pleasant to get above take off! Tim B had the best flight of the four of us, making it to the Planfait landing field.

It's a beautiful evening now, the stars are very bright and it's quite cold, which in theory bodes well for tomorrow, but I believe the forecast isn't all that good in fact, so please keep your fingers crossed!

Anyway, thats all folks, I'm getting an early night tonight!



Wednesday 18th August

Well guess what, the day was canned PG wise, with a forecast of strong winds and rain, which turned out to be exactly right, although there was some sunshine to tempt us into thinking that it might be flyable in Annecy.

But before we tried Planfait, we had the sights and sounds of a wonderful market in Grand Bornand to savour. All kinds of meats and cheeses were on offer, plus jams, honey, spices, olives etc... A feast for the eyes and nose!

There was also an amazing roundabout, not with the usual horses, or tacky cars and trains, but a true mechanical work of art with a space rocket that lifted up through the roof, a teradactyl that opened ad closed it's wings, a locust, a giant octapus, a submarine and a bi-plane and many other wierd and wacky things to sit in/on. Emily and Toby would have loved it.

Whilst all this was happening, the clouds were breaking and the sun was definately trying to come out, so we decided to head off to try to fly at Annecy. There were people actually flying at Planfait but it was definately windy and not terribly exciting, so we decided to check out the south facing bowl near Col du Forclaz. Alas it was windy here too, so Tim and I decided to go on a major stomp around the "Dents" and back to the Planfait landing field.

This turned out to be a wonderful three hour walk through some amazing mountain scenery - if you can't enjoy the views from the air, you may as well enjoy them from the ground!

We then met up with Fiona and Marcus and went for a swim in the lake at Talloires - very refreshing, despite the freshening wind and rain, which actually only appeared once we were on the road heading back to the campsite for a mellow evening in...!

Grizzle's girlfriend Grizelda makes her debut on the web

...and Marcus - by no means his first appearance!

Apparently the forecast is looking better for tomorrow, but the way the weather is generally at the moment you just don't know...!

Anyway, bye for now, from a somewhat damp Grand Bornand.



Thursday 19th August

Aujourd'hui il pleut aussi! Beaucoup! Actually it wasn't too bad to start with, but later on it was what you might call "no shit rain"! Needless to say not a huge amount of flying, but you have to keep feeling positive. The forecast is for Sat and Sun is to be good, but you never can tell.

errr... view from inside the tent!

Had a good night tonight, I think everyone was drowning their sorrows - thigh wrestling, bottle walking and paper picking up were amongst the highlights! Needless to say, being the lanky git that I am, I won the bottle walking comp!

L-R - Nico, Jonathan ?, Fi, Me, Tim B, Marcus

Nico, Fi and a hand

Karl Ford and me

Serious thighs - Karl and Ian Blackmore!

Adrian Thomas shows us how to do it...

...whilst some have to overcome an in-built disadvantage!

Bye for now



Friday 20th August

Great party night last night as you will have gathered, but alas no sign of any break in the weather yet. The 1000 briefing hinted at improving conditions in the afternoon, and was adjourned to 1300.

Tim B decided he had had enough and left for Geneva and an EasyJet flight back home.

Marcus and I waited for the 1300 briefing, at which, with no sign of the weather improving, the task for today was canned.

This was the turning point for Marcus and me, we had had enough of all this sitting around - if we left now we could be back in Bath early on Saturday morning in time for some serious flying at some of our local hills! And for some serious partying at the Mere Bash tomorrow night. Whether we'll be up for it after all-night travelling remains to be seen!

As we approached Annecy all packed up in the black Panda, the weather was indeed improving - hot and sunny and the nicest clouds we'd seen all week, but there's only so much waiting for better weather that one can do. I'm missing Lisa and the children immensely and just want to get home now despite the sunshine and a possible good comp day tomorrow.

So by the time most of you read this I'll be home, or at least well on the way!

Heading home for sunshine and flying at the Mere Bash!

Au revoir Le Grand Bornand, hello good old Blighty!

See you all soon