About Clunegapyears

Travelling around Europe with James in our motorhome

1048-1054: Munchkin Visit and a Change of Direction

1048 – Thursday 19th April: Munchkin Arrives

We set off for Iraklio at 8.30, what an early start for us.  The hire car process was extremely simple … hand over EUR30, no hard sell or any sell for additional insurances and no walk around to note dents and scratches.  I didn’t worry about additional insurance as we have an annual hire car policy.  For that we had a 4 door Nissan Micra 52,000km on clock and suspension on the way out … but perfect for a day for us.

Being in a car, I was able to park in the airport carpark, see James to Departures (he was off back to Blighty for 2 nights) on the plane that brought Maddy Munchkin out to me.  We stopped for a late lunch in Sives, and then had and ice cream in Kalamaki, making good use of the car.  We deposited the car and ate again in the town.  This was a recommendation by one of the cave men, Jeremy, we’d met … he offered us a tour of his cave, but it felt a bit voyeuristic … anyway, the restaurant was un-prepossesing, but the food super.

1049 – Friday 20th April:  A Beach Day

Being a working girl, Maddy wanted a beach day … so we did.  Jeremy came to find us on the campsite and volunteered to join us for supper … we went back to the same place. And I paid 🤨

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1050 – Saturday 21st April:  James Returns

We had planned another beach day, but the wind was up.  Seriously up, every time we went near the beach, we were shot blasted, making it very uncomfortable.  We tidied up and left our free campsite in Matala.  With time on our hands we went to a ‘fake’ Cretan village which was really a hotel and then up to a small seaside village for coffees … not up to much.  Maddy had said she would like to stand in an olive grove … anyone that knows Crete, or Greece will know the landscape is predominantly olive groves!  I chucked and pointed out a few olive trees!  As J’s flight was due after 11.00 p.m., we headed out to supper.  Took a recommendation from a pharmacist and it was really good … Maddy raved about the pork belly.

 

1051-1052 – Sunday 22nd to Monday 23rd April: Chania/Hania

We had forgotten how the Greeks really do got out en famille en masse on Sunday … no chance of getting parked in Hania, so we headed for a campsite just west of the town, by a couple of sandy beaches.  The afternoon saw us basking again!

If you are ever in Crete, avoid Camping Hania!  It was built in the days of small tents only, so they planted lots of low olive trees for shade.  Great in principle, but hopeless for getting caravans or motorhomes in.  A few smaller vehicles managed to swing into a couple of pitches, but no way could we.  So we ended up parked up on the central road.  One water point only, right by the reception which meant we blocked the entrance.    And don’t expect a good night’s sleep … not one, but at least two cockerels from about 4.00 a.m.  I was not happy to pay EUR36 for the 3 of us per night anyway … and certainly not with rubbish sleep.  Decision to leave … We had to reverse all the way out :(, brushing the olive branches.  The owner was somewhat elderly … as I followed him into the reception to pay, he let rip a minor parp …. surely not?  Yes, it was as it was followed by a major long one!  He couldn’t get the card machine to work either!

We parked up by one of the beaches and slept, dozed … late p.m. M showered and we headed into Hania.  Our first choice carpark was unobtainable as two cars had had an ‘incident’ and were not moving their cars, as I guess they were waiting for the police.  We re-routed to choice number 2, but one of the access roads looked a little narrow, so choice Number 3 … a fee paying carpark, which was perfect, as no crowing cockerels overnight and walking distance into the old town and harbour.

Hania definitely has the wow factor.  Pretty narrow streets, a massive waterfront with restaurants and a harbour.  We had coffee, wine and supper … oooh and a super ice cream.  Seems strange to have a pizza on the last night in Crete, but that’s what M and J both wanted, and it was yummy, as was my chicken soup.

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Maddy seems to think that Corrie is hers!!  She became known as the accessory dog when M was wearing black and white.

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And no, she does NOT look like me … M takes after her father.

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1053 – Tuesday 24th:  All Aboard

Maddy caught her lunchtime flight back to Gatwick and we headed for the beach (again) for dog walking and demanding the van.  Our overnight Anek ferry left at 9.20 p.m. and the dogs got to poop in the poop deck again. Comfortable beds and a good strong and hot shower in our cabin. But all too early up, as it arrived at 6.00 a.m.

1054 – Wednesday 25th:  Birthday 1 and Rear Air Suspension

Happy Birthday Maddy Munchkin.  I am no longer the mother of a teen!

Off the ferry and into West Athens … back to Adria Athens to fit the rear air suspension … their second attempt … but we’ve booked the ferry from Patras to Ancona for Friday afternoon, just in case!

*** There is change of plan, cutting short this extended trip.  James needs to be back in the UK for tests and treatment.  We will keep blogging our trip home and when we do anything of interest whilst in the UK.

1041-1048: Oozing along the South East Coast

 1041 – Tuesday 10th April 2018:  Ierapetra

Vet needed for Corrie’s booster injections and rabies blood tests – so straight to Lerapetra to vet Michael and his team…..3.5 hours later all done and the vet missed his lunch, for the first time ever apparently!  But such a thorough examination: ears, teeth, paws skin etc.  Huge thanks to Michael and his team. 

We were starving by now – so where to go?  The answer was obvious – right across the street – “G-spot bar” with ‘playzone’!!! Not a “G spot” in sight and the plays were cards and board games ……  

An evening wander – buzzing town – and wild parking on a town street with a not noisy fairground nearby. 

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Ierapetra.

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Any Greek coastal town of any import has one of these …  A Venetian Fort.

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Napoleon spent one night here … according to the map and vague direction of the rusting sign … this is it!

1042 – Wednesday 11th April: Mirtos

Morning – I ran on a real running track for the first time in 2 years. Repetitions x6 – a 250 metre short track. If I put my fast laps together – it would be 4 minutes for a kilometre!  Quickest for several years…..  K shopped – lamb and sea bass – and wine from a shop/local vineyard.  K:  I had to send for reinforcements to carry it all back to Jez .. J deployed the trusty shopping trolley.

We kept meeting a ‘interesting’ Dutch/Norwegian lady whose Greek finance had died – she seemed very concerned that he’d died in the street with one show off.  She’d seen the police photos  She’s buying a house in nearby Mithi, uphill from here.

 

 

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Pyrgos Ancient mini site looking down to Mirtos.

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Mirtos:  very pretty but too twee.

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 Gourmet supper:  Parchment backed sea bass, with spinach drizzled with oil and garlic and Fava (a puree of split peas).

1043 – Thursday 12th April: Sarakinas Gorge & Gortys

In the afternoon, we drove to the Sarakinas Gorge for our overnight – completely secluded…… Early-ish morning, we set off to walk the Gorge – but after 20 minutes the way became too difficult for our doggos so we aborted. But we had a real flavour of the steep sides – a bit like the Syq in Petra…..

En route to our next destination (monuments to WW2 fallen), we encountered a small mountain town. The streets were narrow – ok, we’ve done this before – easily….the got more narrow – and cars blocked our way, completely. To make matters worse, 2 cars came towards us – more blockages. We had mistakenly drive the wrong way into a one-way street!  (K: to be fair, when I was shown the no entry sign it was flat against the wall so fairly invisible!) We scraped one side of Jez on foliage … hearing the nails on black board sound as we passed – and on the other side we broke a cars wing mirror!  Guess who was driving?  Moi!  K leaped out to spot – the people didn’t speak any English – and one man shouted at her – unusual in Crete….. others were very helpful.  20 minutes later, the 2 cars reversed – which they could have done much earlier and saved a lot of bother.  We scraped through and out of the town – huge sighs of relief – this was Castelbellissimo in Sicilia all over but just as stressful!!!  The joys of motor homing, indeed.

Quiet afternoon (K walked) and overnight parking in the car park of an ancient site at Gortys……much needed relaxing glass of vino or two …    

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Windscreen passenger.

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Start of Sarakinas Gorge walk.  Only possible when little or no rain.

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Really impressive high and narrow gorge.

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This is where we aborted as we’ve not taught the dogs to climb steps.  Oscar had already been scrabbling to get this far.

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A monument to one of the villages where men and boys were killed by the Germans in September 1943 as reprisals for resistance activities.  

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This monument was just outside Ano Viannos.  A huge number of names.  Very moving.

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Gortys:  A 1600 year old Olive tree; surreal as growing around Roman pillars.

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Gortys:  The Roman Temple of Apollo.  A lot of the rambling site is fenced but easy to wander around for free.  Gortys was a major city by 8BC and later co-operate with the invading Romans, so the city was not destroyed, but developed.  At one point it had a population of 300,000 and the provincial capital.

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My walk … The neighbouring village is Ayii Dheka, which means Holy Ten.  Ten Christians were martyred here in AD250, this is the tomb of 6 of them underneath a much newer church.  Christianity first reached Crete at Gortys.

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Ayii Dheka is really authentic … slightly tumble down with odd Roman pillars and stones lying around or having been used in more recent buildings.  The church is where the martyrs met their fate … sadly it was closed, so I could see the actual stone where they were decapitated with their knee imprints.

 

1044 – Friday 13th April:  Blimey It’s Hot … Sea Breeze Needed

We both ran in the morning 2k and 6k – excellent…  K visited the Gortys ancient site, while I cogitated.

It was so hot that we decided to head for the sea and shoot the breeze – at Matala. An unmanned and unmaintained campsite, but with electric, toilets and water – free!!!  A regular hippy colony with many pony tails – K suggested I grow one. Well, I remember 1968, flower power and Haight Ashbury – “If you’re going to San Francisco….wear some flowers in your hair”, etc. 

We were not the only Brits … We met Diane and John – fellow motorhomers from Nottingham. What happens when motorhomers meet?  Drinkypoos, of course! They’d come to Matala for 2 nights … 6 weeks ago!  This is something like their 18th trip to Greece.

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Flowers along K’s running route.

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Some fine Roman statues …

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Gortys ancient site – Ayios Titos Church 6AC: fenced off, but still remarkable.  It was Crete’s main church.

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The Odeion: the structure at the back houses the law code, dating from around 500BC.  

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The Law Code is an ancient Doric Cretan dialect and is written left to right and then right to left, so eyes can continuously follow the script.  The code is a series of rulings on specific cases.  For instance 5 witnesses were needed to convince a free man, but only one to sentence a slave.  The law covered rape, trade, children of mixed marriages and property & inheritance rights … giving historians a clear insight into the Gortys society.  

1044-1046 – Saturday 14th to Monday 16th April: 

K walked to Red Beach – whilst watching nakedbuttocksbathing – a nuddy beach!   K:  I was chatting to the parents of an ex-student in the cafe, when I suspended my train of thought … pert buttocks do that to one!   The campsite bins overflowing due to some campers being silly?  Solution?  A complete site community project to sort it!!!   We supplied the rubber gloves.  Diane and John admired our twin tub, so K Diane went into full laundrification mode… Meal in Jez – and first swim of the year – sans K9s… 

Matala was a hippy town, but the caves on one side have all been fenced off and people are charged to wander around them.  However, there are still occupied caves around the other side, plus a number camped pretty permanently with us.  One such cave dweller is Jeremy … adopted from the USA, public school educated, agricultural collage, chef trained etc etc … he has an opinion on EVERYTHING, but is well informed.

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Looking down onto Matala.  Many caves in the rock.

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Red beach.

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Matala is nothing but a tourist resort with tat shops and restaurants.  Great beach though. 

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John and Jeremy, who just happened to pass as we were hitting the gin.  He stayed to supper.  No prizes for which is the cave resident.

1047 – Tuesday 17th April: The Bikes Came Out

Running again…  Then for Corrie’s first bike ride – a total success – but we decided not to harness them in the Os-car OscarCorrie buggy as Corrie nearly strangled herself!   Kommos beach walk and lunch nearby – ice cream and more vino in Kalamaki… 

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Kommos:  we parked the bikes and walked the beach with the dogs.  Surprisingly busy given none of the 3 tavernas were open.

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Lunch in Pitsidhia:  Supposed to be a dry day! 

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Fine bone china coffee cups 🙂

 

1048 – Wednesday 18th April: Bike Ride Number 2

Cycle to Ayia Triadha and Festos. Entrances were free saving €18 – worth a good lunch – lamb for moi and chicken for K –  ‘nostimo’ – delicious in Greek.  Rental car booked as Maddy will arrive tomorrow – and I will depart on her Squeezyjetplane…..  Maddy will love Matala – shops, beach, restaurants – and Hippydom…..

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Ayia Triadha:  some of the best finds were vases, now in the Iraklio museum.  Another site where you could wander at will.

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Festos:  Busier and larger than Ayia Triadha.  The original palace was used as a foundation for a later one.  The central court had amazing views.

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1035-1040 : A Crete Easter, Ancient Sites and Some Walking

1035 – Wednesday 4th April 2018: Paddling, Gournia and Mochlos

We ran again….I’m going for a record 7 days in succession – tomorrow will see it.   We paddled in the sea!  Brrrrrrrr…..  Then – K’s brain flashed – short of water on board – why not use the external shower connection to part shower, and more importantly do hairwashes?  Brilliant!  Onwards and upwards to Gournia – Minoan settlement – up to 5,000 years old – and the doggies were allowed in too. 

Jezmotored us to Mochlos – a beautiful seaside/harbour town – more of those closely shaved streets – millimetres to spare – whew….  Walked a bit and saw a nice big villa for sale – K googled it – €3.8 million!  South of France prices here….

Glass of vino at a nearby family restaurant – lovely people.  We decided to return later for supper – entree, 2 courses, wine with complimentary dessert and Raki  – €25 including tip!!!   

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The dogs were NOT tempted to follow me in for a paddle.

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Gournia: the most completely preserved Minoan town in Crete.  It was occupied 3000BC, but these remains are c.1500BC, as fire destroyed the previous town.

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What is great about this site is that a) the dogs were allowed in but more importantly b) you can wander at will, climbing over all the paths and into all the stone foundations.  The stone streets are clearly identifiable.  

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We stopped at a lay-by at Platanos … our lunchtime view.

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Looking back to Mokhlos harbour and the island with more Minoan remains.  You can swim to it, but we didn’t, given how chilly our paddle was yesterday. 

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You can just make out the archeological remains on the island slopes.

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Just outside the retaurant we we dined … the island and an air drying octopus … I had to google it, apparently a is common practice here to dry them out before grilling.  It had to be rescued by the waiter as a cat did a cartoon pole climb and slide back down in an attempt to get to it.

1036 – Thurday 5th April: Richtas Gorge

I ran and yes – now 7 days on the trot – I trotted for just over 5k – that’s 30k this week – best for years!  Richtas Gorge was our next target…..3 hours walking, we reached a beach with picnic tables for al fresco lunch.  At the start the route was concrete road through allotments with all sorts of fruit trees just coming into blossom … easy peasy walking.  Then muddy track – this is more like we thought!   Followed by significant large boulder climbing.  K’s bum came into it’s own – oops, actually she slid on her derrière…that’s more posh than ‘bumming’ it!!! Or slumming it, plumbing it (I’m plumbing the depths now), glumming it…..  2.5 hours climbing back up – faster.  Doggos needed use of the external shower for mud removal! 

We wanted to overnight at Sitia town but the available parking looked a bit rough.  Luckily, K spotted a beachside small parking – so we encamped gladly.  Think we’ll all sleep well tonight!

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What this does not show is all the big boulders we had to climb over … I used my bum a number of times … ho hum clean shorts on today!

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Another beach front parking.  An info board said that a rare breed of turtle hatches here, but no sign of them now.

1037 – Friday 6th April: Monastery But No Easter For Us

Toplou Monastery – an Easter service was in progress so we didn’t see a lot of the church – we attended part of the mass/service – I recognised some Greek prayers that are included in the Catholic mass – “Kyrie Eleison”…..  Unfortunately, the museum was closed so we toured the grounds and the shop.  We purchased an excellent Gorge walks book – and some Monastery wine at €9!  

Vai palm tree forest and beach was next but – no dogs allowed!!!  And we were advised this most forceibly as soon as we dismounted from Jez.  Didn’t feel at all welcome so we instantly decided to take our business elsewhere – with all our noses in the air!  In season, they charge for the car park, toilets and beach showers … not our sort of place.  Itanos ancient site and lovely beaches instead to wander freely and on our own …..   Great lunch stop.

We had wanted to visit the town of Palekastro – but no possibility of easy van parking.  We had thought to to join in the Easter service and parade, but not to be.   Overnight – Chiona Beach – at the waters edge – again.  Excellent nearby restaurant – for a glass – and a decision to return for supper.  See photo of our table right overlooking the clear blue waters…..  We both had fish – superb!  We dined into the sunset and beyond – when we heard loud barking coming from the direction of Jez – our doggos?  Now the most unusual thing happened!  We legged it back to the van – and left wine on the table!!!   Our dogs were fine – the barking was mostly elsewhere… we suspect it was the noise of the dynamite and fireworks setting off all the local dogs.  A good reason for us not to be in town … both our darlings are sudden noise adverse.  

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Toplou Monastery:  a major tourist attraction.  Very wealthy and a major land owner. 

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 Unfortunately we could see much of the inside of the church due to the service and the museum was closed.  

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Vai:  the date palm are the only indigenous European palms.  Stopped to take a pic, as we were not made welcome at the beach, where they filmed the Bounty advert.

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Itanos ancient site.  It had 3 small sandy beaches that were dog friendly 🙂

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Chiona: I thought this was a muddy puddle, but it is a wetland!  We parked up jus to the left.

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Supper out again!  Right on the water’s edge.

 1038 – Saturday 7th April: Zakros Site and Gorge

After a very good nights slumber, we both ran…..on my way, I felt some strange wetness on my face?  Was it pissperation – oops, perspiration?  Digression here, readers if you will indulge me?  As a young adolescent, I frequented Fitzgeralds bar in Sandycove (Amelia will know this location too – and James Joyce drank there, also).  One evening, my friend Andrew and I were having a wc visit – he dared me to try and pee out the window!  I duly obliged (as one does) successfully…..  Back to our pints of Smitwicks….  Just then my uncle Peader came in from the street – shaking his rather wet flat cap – shouting “some bloody f****r just pissed on my hat”!!!!!  Straight faces from us – and we promptly bought him a large whisky!  What’s the link to motor homing, you cry?  Well, has any of you ever tried to pee out the window of your van?  Margaret, Shirley, Robyn???  With a ’shewee’?   No need to post replies – decorum….

Back to the present – the wetness was an unusual thing called ‘rain’!  What a cheek….. run cut short (I’m not a wimp, really).

We zig zagged our route to Kato Zakro – for the ancient site and Gorge.  No parking in town (it is only a street really with restaurants) – about to reverse – K got out to spot for me….  The nearby restaurant owner appeared – and invited us to park in his customer car park – and said we could overnight  there as well!  What lovely people!  We took coffee there – and perhaps supper tonight….  It is Easter after all – and we just won £75 on Premium Bonds!!!  Decision made …  as if there was much of a decision to be made!

The ancient site is one of the best we’ve seen – compact and easy to navigate with good signage.  And again we had it to ourselves.  As the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms – so we wondered about the Gorge walk?  Ok, let’s set out and we can return if it gets too wet.  Wow – did we make the right choice!  Immense and ‘Gorgeous’.  The photos do it full justice – caves in the cliffs, goats (we had to restrain Corrie), lilies, different coloured rocks – just amazing! 

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Zakros: another Minoan palace, but not excavated until 1960s so more modern preservation techniques used. 

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The Port Road.

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Drop Dead Gorgeous … Dead Man’s Gorge, so named due to Minoan burials in the caves.

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Corrie’s fav attraction …  At one point, she was perched on a … well perch of rock, in pursuit.  After that she spent a lot of the walk on the lead.

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They really are beautiful creatures.  And amazing what they can climb up.

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It’s really a starter, but suits me as a main.  Shrimp Saganaki … some of the shell is left on to flavour sauce…. green pepper and ouzo with crumbed feta.  Yummy.  I think this my be 4th.

1039 – Sunday 8th April: The “You Should Be OK” Walk

Easter Sunday in Crete! Nico the restaurant owner and his team started roasting 3 lambs at 6:30 am!  We had asked if we could participate – yes….and he said we could stay an extra night in his car oark.  We enquired about the ‘big hill’ walk – he looked us up and down and said – “you’ll be ok”.  (5 hours later, we might have disagreed!). Steep walking, clambering, rocks, boulders and ‘bum sliding’!!!  One sign said the walk was ‘laborious’!!!  Boy, was it worthwhile! Carpenters song “I’m on top of the world – looking down on creation”….. we were.  The cave was reached in good time – 310 metres long and very deep. The path back was easier along the coast – and we fell into Nico’s – I murdered a cold stein of beer and K had iced coffee…bliss. We settled to a veritable feast of lamb, veggies and vino – scrumptuous…..  

A large Greek gathering beside us were in full vocal flow – an Easter birthday party. We only know this as they sang Happy Birthday!  Later, a nearby house had singing well into the evening – luckily, no fireworks or dynamite!

We love the Cretan Easter celebrations…..and we slept wonderfully.

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And we’re going up.

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And still climbing.  You can just make out the crevice of the Dead Men’s Gorge top right

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Reckon that’s a trig point so we must be at the top.

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We came from that distant bay.  And still travelling north in search of Pelekita Cave.

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Made it to the Cave

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OK, the rock looks a little phallic, but interesting that they are excavating down here, and it stretched quite a way.

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A much easier path now.  The end and a late lunch (J had breakfasted on a large bowl of muesli, I’d had a cuppa soup and we’d each had a slice of dry rye bread en route … so pretty hungry) is nigh.

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We’ve seen only one shop window decorated for Easter.  This is their major celebration of the year, but not a chocolate egg in sight.   A very welcome change from the excesses in the UK.

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The fire outside the restaurant where they make their BBQ coals.

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The fantastic owner had saved us two portions of lamb.  Truly scrummy. 

1040 – Monday 9th April: Cleaning Day

Morning, we ran and said fond adieu to Nico and team…. drove to a parking up at the top of the gorge with a water tap – for laundry, van cleaning and self showering!  Filled up with water and Jezzed along past more gorges, stunning mountains and countryside – to Xerokambos – and more unspoiled beaches – a nicely secluded free seaside parking. Even a Portaloo for chemical wc emptying.  All serviced up and a chilled down evening inside!  And home cooking after all the extravagancies of Easter.  We may not have gorged on chocolate, but we gorged on gorges and dining out!

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Beaches at Xerokambos separated by rocks.

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1030-1034: Gulf of Mirabello

1030 – Friday 30th March 1028: Ayious Nikoloas

Agios Nikolaus – free parking on the Marina – walked the town – very nice area – lunch sitting right on the water’s edge …..  

We met two chaps on a boat nearby – they’re sailing their craft from Turkey to California! 14 metres long – it’ll take about 3 months with the longest stretch of nothing to look at but waves being 3-4 weeks.  It looked small but, we were invited to look around inside – and it’s remarkably spacious. Two double bedrooms en suite and large living/dining space. They sail rather than power – 2 salty sea dogs!  Apparently, a yacht will self right if turned over, but a power boat won’t.  

K: even when having a boat tour in harbour, I was uncomfortably conscious of the movement … I’ll stick to a motorhome, even if a lot smaller inside.  Incidentally, I met a another yatchie dog walking who told me the mooring and electric here came to about EUR350 per month … not cheap if you want a marina.

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One of the views from yesterday as we approached Ag Nik.

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Ag. Nik. only has 2 small beaches, but look at the mountains heading east along the coast. People come here to relax, eat and drink.  We had read that Ag Nik has been adopted by the Brits and we did hear quite a few UK accents … having not heard British voices for a while, it take a moment to tune into them.

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Europa who was kidnapped / tricked by the leacherous Zeus who had disguised himself as a beautiful bull.  He hid Europa in the cave he was born on.  She bore him numerous children.  

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The bottomless lake.

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A family of paddle boarders entertained us whilst we had lunch. 

1031 – Saturday 31st March: Plaka Walk

We ran along the seafront in the morning – perfect running conditions…

We sailed Jez to Plaka – a short distance – to a gorgeous free beachside overnight – 50 metres from the lapping waves!  A good perambulation uphill around the headland via a wind farm – 14 kilometres all told!!!  A Plakaperfect sunset…

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Corrie impersonating a mountain goat.  We came across a huge herd / flock / school of goats … fortunately we were warned by the sound of their bells as Corrie seems to think chasing them is acceptable.

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This coast line is the Gulf of Mirabello … and it truly is.  Over the last 40 years the hotel complexes and holiday villas have moved in, but it is still stunning.  The small island is Spinalonga Venetian fortress and subsequently a leper colony until 1957!

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1032 – Sunday 1st April: Spinalonga Fortress & Lunch

Uphill am running on the track we walked yesterday – but not 14k!  About 4k up and down….   All brekkied up and off to the boat for Spinalonga island (ex leper colony).  It appears that leproacy still exists in India, China and some other poor countries – a dreadful disease…  

Our doggies were well admired en route.  The photos tell the tale of our circumnavigation of the island.  To the mainland for a sumptuous lunch of seabass, salad and wine – we had been recommended to the restaurant by a young lady we met in Ag Nik…   

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Neither dog was happy to board … particularly Corrie … we shan’t get a yacht then!

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The Venetian fortress 1579 completely covers the island.  It was impregnable and was only handed over the the Turks 50 years after the rest of Crete had surrendered.

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The Turkish building within the walls were adapted by the lepers, as well as 3 large ugly C20 concrete dormitories.

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Most of the buildings are shells that you can wander around, but there are still features such as wooden shelves and window frames.

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The Lepers’ Graveyard.  This was the last Leper colony on Europe, long after medicines were available.  The conditions here were very basic and those that complained were incarcerated in the fortress jail.  

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Would this be another sea side lunch?  It was a little windy and a certain hero had to clamber onto the rocks to retrieve my sun glasses that had blown off the table.

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Simply the best sea bass EVER. 

1033 – Monday 2nd April: A Plaka Pruning and Big Spinalonga

Morning run again – then vanwork – K shearing Oscar – and moi doing van internal cleaning. Then K sheared me as well – one of her special Kkutz…. different shears!   We left the lovely parking having filled a few watering cans for Jez’s gunnels from the high up beach shower … aching and wet arms for K who held the watering can aloft, like a processional torch.  

We motored all of 10 minutes to south of Elounta.  Across a small stone bridge to big Spinny island and another seaside overnightly – just as good as the last one…  An Austrian motorhome arrived – the first we’ve seen on wilding for a while.  K doggywalked while I set up camp and tidied a bit. 

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Sunrise.

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Think Corrie was panicking that her turn was next!

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Can a view get any better than this?  

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There were salt pans here, stone windmills and an ancient port.

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From a small chapel on my Big Spiny walk.

 

1034 – Tuesday 3rd April: Kritsa & Laundry

Morning run – this is my fifth running day in succession – six will be a record for some couple of years!  I’m upping the distance slowly – 6+k today – forcing myself to run slowly.  K: I walked this morning … the dog pruning is not easy on my back!  

On to Kritsa via Lidl and a small church with frescos, coffee – and guess what?  Another beachfront parking!  Twin tub out, laundry – and clothes line fluttering in a strong breeze – mega quick drying.  A no alcohol day so I’m imbibing zero alco beer…  We visited a British food shop – I’ve got some Magners cider for tomorrow.  My first taste of booze was Bulmers cider in a corner pub in Blackrock Dublin where I got rather squiffy and threw up in Blackrock Park!!!  Amelia will know the area well… K:  J assures me that the ONLY reason Amelia knows the area is as it is near where they lived.

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 Panayia Kera Byzantine Chuch with the most complete and best preserved frescoes in Crete … mostly C14 and C15 …

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… the guide book says they’ve been retouched so often that they are now impossible to accurately date.  They were beautiful though.

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Krista is know for its weaving, embroidery and other handicrafts … to be honest all the shops looked the same and the table cloths all looked machined.  We did spot a lady doing some crochet, but this was about as creative as it got.

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Karavostasi Beach: A working shower on the beach, so we filled Jez and I did several loads of laundry … it all dried within hours.  Not sure how many pairs of knickers I lost off the line!

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Yes, another great waterside overnight parking … we are now used going to sleep to the sound of waves.


The Owners’ Diary – the Empire strikes Back!

Four can play this game – Oscar/Corrie!  Now readers – these little feckers have chewed through a lead (halfway), a recycling bag – and stole a days supply of treats from K’s bum bag!   We will instigate the ‘naughty’ step, kiddos!  But they do it so innocently – “who me?”  How about an exchange visit – with Poppy and Boo, Shirley and Margaret?  Or we’ll take Kensie from Robyn and Tom!  

Watch this space – K9OwnersClub.littlefeckers.chewballs.dryfarts.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1025-1029: Museum, Sites and Caves

1025 – Sunday 25th March 2018:  Heraklio/Iraklio but Not As Planned

Free daytime weekend parking at the port of Heraklion…..doggy walking and then doggyinvanshutting – off to visit the much famed archaeological museum. But…..it was closed because today is National Independence Day holiday to celebrate the Greeks liberation from the Turks in 1821!  Back to collect el houndos.  The bonus for us was we got to see much of the big parade…. K got photographed with the comely local lassies….. lots of lovely people around celebrating with lunches.  We like Iraklio – it’s got life.  A good ‘snackette’ mere lunch in a side street sitting outside and watching the world go by. 

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The Arsenali: the most important Venetian dockyard in the Med.  As many as 50 galleys could be built here at a time.  And now there is massive unemployment in Greek ship building which once was a major earner for the economy.  These ship sheds were cut off by a new road.  Progress?!

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Family transport.

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 The Turkish pump house.

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The Lion Fountain or Morosini fountain, after the city’s Venetian Governor 1628.  It was the city’s main source of water, via a 15km aqueduct.  The lobes at the base allow many people to fill containers at the same time.

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We watched a two party documentary on Greece by Simon Reeve … apparently the sponge divers use long hoses so they can stay under longer.  Pollution has had a really negative impact on sponge stocks.

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The Venetian fort.

1026 – Monday 26th March:  Heraklio/Iraklio But As Planned

Van services completed – we said a fond adieu to the owners of Creta Camping – really wonderful people – and good value at £14 per night (4th night free:))!  We perambulated the hounds at a nice beach en route to Iraklio….called into a local Michelin dealer – Jez needs two new shoes in front – “Michelin Agelis” tyres. I suppose 23,000 miles is about right for a change – they’re just on the tread bar and we are front wheel drive.  Instant service again – and they will be in stock tomorrow!  Price good at €380 for the pair, given where we are.    

C and O left in van – and second attempt to see the Archaeological Museum.  Success – and – it’s one of the best museums we have seen – well laid out and informative boards in Greek and English – highly recommended – the intricacy of the pieces from over 4,000 years ago – amazing!   

Decision time – we intended to spend the night at Knossos and return tomorrow – but that nice nearby beach would be a good overnighter with loads of room for CO2 walks – so that will be our ‘nightly’. Back to ‘our’ beach via Lidl – parked for the night and – guess what – quite windy…….

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The Bee Pendant from Malia: a masterpiece combining repousse, granulated, filigree and incised decoration!  

Minoan civilisation pre-dates Ancient Greece and was extremely developed … art as in frescoes, sculpture and jewellery, weaponry, pottery, and international trade etc.  We’ve since read that the palaces were not fortified, so either their ships protected the island and / or it was just peaceable times.

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Palatial pottery from Kamares cave 1900-1700BC … I’d give them house room.

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1800-1700BC.

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Big ‘ums.  Big Ernie.  Or just big Urns.

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Harvester Vase: 27 men carrying harvesting equipment 1450BC.

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The Ring of Minos 1450-1400BC: Another Minoan masterpiece with religious iconography.

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Pottery funeral chests … never seen these before.

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And watching for our return 🙂

 

1027 – Tuesday 27th March:  Knossos and Up Into the Hills

Nice  am walk on ‘our’ beach – well, we’ve been here 4 (?) times……the wind had died down during the night, thankfully.  De van needed to be seriously de-sanded, again – definitely, deliberately, delectably, debrushedly, dedogedly and de feckin dogs brought it all in anyways!!!  Young Corrie sheds white hairs everywhere (K: even brushing both dogs every morning and sweeping out, we’re finding her hairs attached to everything)!  I’ve even found some up my nostrils – or are they mine?  Did you all know K does a mean nasal hair inspection?  Externally, of course…no, that doesn’t mean she does it outdoors – she’s wicked with her tweezers – but less detail is more here….   Is this blog about motor homing?  Yes, it’s all grist to our mills…..

Knossos Palace is the biggest in Crete with a history going back 10,000 years to the earliest settlement – amazing…..but….the most visual wooden representation of it is actually in the Iraklio Archaeological Museum. The actual site is quite impressive – we may be just a little Greco-Roman remainsfull.   

Anyone who wants motorhome tyres – go to the Michelin tyre dealers in Iraklio!  Really – drive from UK to see them – these people are the business!  Our tyres were ordered and delivered in 24 hours. We arrived to a coffee invitation (my coffee delivered by a man on a motorcycle) – instant tyre fitting – good price and just Cretan excellence.   Next destination Thrapsano – pottery making town – but – town centre on our route SatNav-guided road closed…..narrower streets.  Now, all you motorhomers will know this sinking feeling – the walls of the houses start leaning in towards you – no way through?  Stuck behind a pick up. By magic, the driver appeared and moved his vehicle – enabling us to reverse and head back out of town – then north to pick up a major road – whew!        

Coffee and ice cream once we arrived in Thrapsano, though.  K walked and found a suitable parking…. 

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Knossos:  the largest of the Minoan Palace complexes and the most visited of Crete’s tourist attractions … we’ve certainly not seen this many tour groups anywhere in Greece, even the Acropolis!  Heinrich Schliemann, famous Greek excavator / archaeologist suspect there was a city here, but was denied permission to dig by the Ottoman authorities.  This pleasure was give to Arthur Evans bought the site in 1900.  With his owner’s rights, he liberally interpreted what he found and restored his vision with the liberal use of concrete.  But you do get a sense of the size and scale, including the multi storey buildings that were built here.

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Current Knossos inhabitants … he may preen but the hens don’t seem interested!

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Just South of Knossos, the aquaduct looks older but was built on Roman lines during the brief Egytian occupation between 1834-1840.  i’ve just been reading … the Ottomans enlisted the help of the Egyptians to put down insurgencies and Crete was the prize.

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Thrapsano: Known for pottery.  Apparently they do a good export trade to the Americans.

1028 – Wednesday 28th March:  Ayios Pandeleimon Church and Karfi Castle

Walk to old church – shut so back to Jez and z-bendy drive to “Homo Sapiens” museum and parking for mountain walk up to Karfi Castle – 1,000 metres high but commencing at 800 metres.  It was steep!!!  At the top, there was a plateau – with the scant remains of the Palace…..  Bracing air – we spotted a Griffon vulture, a small church and young Corrie had to be ‘persuaded’ not to chase goats, for which she has developed a penchant….she can hear goat bells long before we can!  

Back at our parking – we detected that the owner of the museum is unhappy with overnight parking so we moved a kilometre downhill to a small secluded over nightly. 4 strong hailstorms during the night kept us partly awake but – we were ‘snuggly’…. and fortunately no rood damage.

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 Ayios Pandeleimon Church:  home to ‘imposing though weathered frescoes of soldier saints’, but shut.

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Walk up to Karfi Castle; the guide book said we may be lucky and see Griffon Vultures …. we did.

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Great, if misty, views … later the clouds swirled around us.  We is high up!

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Not much of Karfi remains; it was evacuated about 1000BC.  Excavated by John Pendlebury in the 1930’s … he died in WW2.

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She hears goat and sheep bells long before us.

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Not modern art, but hailstones on our roof light.

1029 – Thursday 29th March:  Caves

Post-hailstones, we had a lie-in, naturally…..carried water by watering can from a tap downhill in the village square.  Drove into Lassithi Plateau- a green flat plain surrounded by more mountains.  We stopped to photograph a selection of windmills en route.  Tzermiado is a plain untouristy town – we sampled (well, I did with a little help from K) a gyros – a sort of ‘MacCretan’ roll up sandwich which threatened to attach itself to my face. But a meal in itself!    

Kronos cave – free to enter – small and unlit but good old Iphone torches – mine is 6-7 years old – an Iphone -3 version!  It’s a ‘caving’ day so – forward to Dikteo cave…  Does anyone still use a ‘Dikteophone’ for secretarial work?  Or shorthand? Pitmans?  I’m showing the age thing again….  Anyway, Zeus didn’t need to be ‘dick’tated about his use of ‘dick’ety boo to his young maidens – he bowled a few overs in his time – no boundaries there….. he was born in the cave, anecdotally.

Splendid use of high camera ISO figures to light the stalactites – very phallic – no wonder Zeus was in residence here.

Now then, readers – K has this fitness thingy watch for running and walking….very progressive.  It calculates her ‘fitness age’….. Currently, she is 23 and getting younger – well, I could have told her that…   But a conundrum looms – when she gets to be ‘under age’, where do I get my ‘dickteoation’ so to speak, without being rude?   Answers on a postcard – to – ‘CluneCrete.puzzled.Gr……


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Windmills lining up at a museum on the entry range of mountains.

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Gyrating on a gyros.

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Kronos Cave entry.

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You needed your own lighting.

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View of Lassithi Plateau surrounded by mountains.

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Windmills were to draw water up from the underground aquifers … fabric sails unfurl.  Apparently very few are now in use.

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Dikteo Cave entrance.

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View looking towards Ag Nikoloas as we came over the other side of the plateau.


Corrie/Oscar Diary

Corrie here, readers – my strategy to keep Ozzy waiting after a few dates for his ‘rumpy-pumpy’ has sort of backfired – a bit like a wet fart – sorry, that’s not very ladylike – and K never does those windy things (!).  Blow me – now I’m ready to have my wotsit tickled – and the little fecker ain’t biting!!!  What’s Kensie’s address please, Robyn – will she have him back – he’s undamaged in his ‘danglies’ department…..  Now we have my new game – I chase him like a sprinter and sink my teeth in his rear leg to bring him crashing down (like Ireland did to England to land the Grand Slam)!  He barks to put me off so I grab his ear – and anything else that dangles (no, not that thing)….  Unbelievable – he loves it!  Great for beach runs – but the Owners don’t appreciate it when we romp in the van – why?  They can romp all they like (I wasn’t really looking) – but ‘doggos’ are called ‘muppets’ when romping…..  Nowt as queer as folk…

Oscar here, my readers!  That little minxy missy thinks she’s dead posh and smart….. Well, I can sew my wild groats anywhere I please!  Kensie – I never left you – it was only an optical confusion, really…..  prissy missy can take her bossiness elsewhere. My friends Boppy and Poops will stand by their man – just like Polly Barton in the song “Joleeeen” – K likes to ‘sing’ along with that one….

Yours in aloofness – head held high.

OscarClune1@TopDog.orgy.K9.love.Dot.Eu.Grrrrrrrr