694-697: Burton Birthday in Barcelona

694 – Lloret de Mar ‘ere we Come

A separate drive (car and van) back to the farm in Farnham.  We collected Maddy from work and drove to Gatwick.  We’d had limited choice of destination with wanting to depart on Thursday evening … Maddy had Friday – Sunday off work – even arriving very late in Barcelona on Thursday night (really Fri morning!), it still gave us two full days.

695 – Catching Up the Zzzz

I slept in.  And Maddy slept in majorly!  A wander around the town, lunch and then cosies on for a sun bathe.  Supper after another Sangria and a wander around the small streets.

P1130719

We lunched in the sun with Sangria …

P1130720

… followed by an ice cream at the end of the beach.

696 – Barcelona Architecure

We caught the 9.00 bus into Barcelona and followed a phone app walk to view some of the best and interesting architecture.  Fortunately M did not want to join the massive queues to go in ay of the Gaudi buildings as it was sunny.  We walked our socks off … but it was worth it.  One detour to a Sephora …. a make up store for M to spend some of her birthday money.  She ticked lots of boxes on her wish list; Tapas, Paella, Ice cream and walking Barcelona.

P1130726

P1130727

P1130729

P1130737

P1130742

P1130743

P1130744

P1130745

P1130746

P1130748

P1130755

P1130761

P1130762

P1130765

P1130767

P1130771

P1130778

P1130781

P1130782

P1130783

P1130784

P1130788

P1130797

697 – Home Again

A walk and coffee in Lloret and a little sun bathing on our balcony – the bus transfer picked us up at 12.30.  

P1130721

I had hung all these up!

P1130722

My stuff is just in one small plastic bag!


554-563: The Aged P’s and Portugal

554 – Friday 2nd December 2016:  Driving Day and Villa Real San Antonio

We basically awoke surprisingly OK after the excess of last night …. led astray by the Grey Gappers!  Having recently spent a few additional spontaneous nights at different places (we blame the company we’re meeting!), we had to head straight for Portugal for our rendezvous with my Aged P’s near Lagos.  We overnighted at VRSA (Villa Real San Antonio), having been told that it was a good stop over for cheap towels, bathrobes etc.  We parked in the gated aire there …. really not very pleasant and EUR4.50, as it was crowded, some rubbish and barking stray dogs if you headed one way…. all a bit derilict like the railway station adjacent.  However, it was walking distance to the town.  Essentially a few streets, selling only linen and towels.  The only other premises were cafes – we were not moved to stop and sample.  I did buy 3 small hand towels for Jez though.

555 – Saturday 3rd December:  Lagos – Turiscamp and THE AGED P’S 🙂

The Aged P’s had booked a bungalow for 4 nights at Turiscamp in Lagos and then for another 4 at Olhao … we’re stopping in Jez.  We’ve done this before, and the benefit of having them really close by is brilliant for those (all of us) that like to have a drink!  Turiscamp is extremely well run and clean.  I’ve never seen washrooms with smart tiles like here.  Don’t know how we do it, but we both pretty much arrived at the same time …   So good to see them.

SAM 0997

All immaculate, but given the rain there were not many users.

P1120637

Large pic, as need it for so many bottles.  Most of this is sherries … for sampling and comparing.  Tonight, we just finished a Canasta and ???, I forget!


556 – Sunday 4th December –  A Tax-ing Lunch

J here on:  One of the letters that Diane and Grahame brought was news of a tax rebate of £4k for me – an instant excuse for a good lunch out !  Excellent luncheon at a recommended fish restaurant in Lagos…..  Wines to accompany the dishes…Heavy rain most of the day !

Sherry sampling tonight was two Manzanillas and a Tio Pepe – a neighbouring motor homing lady saw the bottles on the booze bar in our van – she laughed when K said the contents had already been much reduced – by sampling !

SAM 1001

Prawns with garlic, salmon and swordfish … no room for pud.  We’re discovering that portion sizes in Portugal are HUGE. 

557 – Monday 5th December – Lagos

We wandered around the town centre and bought ice cream, some window shopping and some sunshine….  We even managed to loose Dad for a short while, but her turned up again like the proverbial bad penny, having already had an ice cream…

Sherry sampling tonight was the best of last night – the Tio Pepe and two Olorosso

P1120638

Even out of season, Lagos is geared to tourists.

P1120640

The market place where slaves were first traded.

P1120642

I did a couple of loads in my twin tub and turned the Aged P’s deck into a Chinese Laundry … spot the girl guide line back and forth from the eaves!

 

558 – Tuesday 6th December – Moncheekie (actually Monchique)

Aged P’s had been before and knew where to go … Caldas de Monchique – slightly bizarre spa hamlet with a nice atmosphere, built at the head of the spring, with a bottling plant and a spa hotel.  A few bars … so …early glasses of wine and uphill to a beautiful picnic spot …

SAM 1003

…  up to Foia, the highest peak in the Serra de Monchique.  Almost at the top we stopped for a picnic.  Mostly but great views out to the Atlantic (we thought it may be the S coast, but I checked it in the guide book).  Several cars were stopping to fill water containers from a spring … K went to investigate.  The very nice chap (38 yrs old, a site foreman who has worked all over Europe on major constructions, spoke excellent English and is home for a month for Christmas) gave me a 5 litre container to take away!  I spoke to an Irishman who has lived in London for 50 years and still has retained his inner city “Liberties”accent…

P1120646

P1120649

Out to sea over humpy ground … I thought it looked volcanic (most places are!) and evidence of a recent fire.

Sherry sampling tonight was the best Olorosso of last night and a Cream and Moscatel.  Think we may have hit the Perdro Ximenez too!

 

559 – Wednesday 7th December 2016:  A Move East and a BBQ

We packed up from Turiscamp in Lagos and headed east to Olhao.  Whilst the Aged P’s bungalow was larger it was dark in side with dated decor … but it did have a great patio for a BBQ.  Sherry sampling tonight was a free for all, drinking up the ends of a lot of bottles!

SAM 1004

560 – Thursday 8th December:  Tuk Tuk Tavira and THE SEA BASS

Tuk Tuk treat was a Piaggio scooter driven rickshaw – electric power – Joachim was our very well informed guide – a one hour tour gave us an excellent potted history of Tavira…

Lunch at an Irish pub “The Black Anchor” turned out to be the most spectacular meal of the Aged Ps visit.  we’d only stopped for a drink thinking an Irish bar is not going to present the best of Portuguese fare, but how wrong were we – melon, parma ham, sea bass, veal, garlic prawns and fish cakes……..xxxxx  and wine… definitely worth the positive Tripadvisor post from K – and the same for the Tuk Tuk tour…..

SAM 1007

The Roman Bridge – called so due to its shape.

SAM 1008

SAM 1021

Outside the free to enter small castle on one of the three hills … a garden and tower inside with views.

SAM 1022

We all just fitted in … and Oscar, who some unaccountable fear of my father (a dog friendly person … has to be … he’s dog sat, walked and fed all my other dogs), even lay quietly under his legs.

SAM 1023

SAM 1026

561 – Friday 9th December:  Estoi and Milreu

Estoi promised much – and didn’t really deliver! A Pousada hotel (SLHW – “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”) built from an old palace – the guide books were out of date – the much vaunted gardens were shut and having rebuilding works – from what we could see, they were very early stages in this.  After a fairly brief walk, we selected a small cafe bar for lunch – and the resulting food was not very good!  On our tours, there have not been many places where we have experienced disappointment – not  a bad result in 20 months of full-time travelling…

On our way out of town, we looked for the Milreu Roman ruins – and guess what – we didn’t stop to even look having no signage to help us find them.    

SAM 1028

No entry here … 

SAM 1032

Very little to see garden wise, but you can see the impressive building of the Pousada behind.

SAM 1034

Square where we had the rubbish quality lunch … a nativity scene under the tarpaulin. 

 

562 – Saturday 10th:  Olhoa and a BBQ

Olhao town on Saturday has a bustling market – Grahame drove and found free parking near an carpark full of motorhomes.  Lots of caged birds, turkeys and chickens on sale – is Christmas coming soon?  K not tempted to buy a gooble cock and fatten it up!  We let Oscar off for a good romp along the seafront. A bit later, we found – guess what? – a cafe bar – for a glass of vino tintos!  Only one – as we had planned a BBQ for the afternoon….at chez Jez. 

I fired up the Weber (invented in Chicago – as was the Ferris Wheel – no obvious connection to Portugal – just nice to keep our reader informed…) with lumped charcoal from the Murco Fuel Station on the Gloucester Road near Almondsbury… will you get back on topic, James please!  OK so I won’t describe the ‘twigettes’ I used for kindling, then….  

Chicken and bits – and wine – for 4 ‘OS’ folks – no, not Ordinance Survey people – just ‘Old Soaks’!  No Sherry … tonight was a Port night.  White as an aperitif and a good red after.

Reasonably early to bed – Grahame and Diane will leave for a few days in Faro in the morning…and then back to the UK winter wonderland – just imagine readers – they have to wait a whole month before their next holiday in the sun in South Africa!  Life’s a real bummer…

P1120651

Faro is off to the left.

P1120652  1

Yes, mother is at the coffee again … all this caffeine really is not good for one!

P1120654

P1120656

If not a pet turkey, how about a canary?

 

563 – Sunday 11th December 2016:  A Dry Day and Cleaning

After a nice week with K’s parents – outings and dining – we decided to have an alcohol-free day!  Yes, really!!!   Although we had not warmed to the campsite, as it is a bit higgledly piggledy laid out with lots of permanent caravans and campers, we decided to stop another day.  We’ve never seen so many huge Concordes and Carthegos … Nordic countries were well represented.  Today was van cleaning – our campsite has very sandy soil which seems to want to spread itself all inside our Jez home …  We had a ‘dry’ BBQ – unheard of!

You may notice our ‘booze bar’ is greatly reduced in quantity… but the produce was hugely enjoyed …

P1120657

549-553: Ma Sherry Amour

549 – Sunday 27th November 2016: Cadiz

Cadiz – free overnighting on a vehicle packed seafront….nice beaches for walking – and a stroll around the town – Moorish influences – lots of bodies surfing and boogie boarding – not for us and definitely not for doggyboarding!

Glasses of vino blanco and tapas by a very warm cafe … nice quiet night when the traffic died down.

P1120585

The view of old Cadiz a few metres from our parking.  The dots in the water are surfers and body borders … all wearing wet suites!  Cadiz is picture perfect.

P1120587

P1120592

Moorish influences.

P1120596

J and Oscar kept cooling off in the shade.

P1120597

P1120610

P1120621

We’d stopped off for another glass overlooking this beach.  The young men had a guitar and were crooning some lovely harmonies.

P1120625

‘Not guilty’ look?!

 

550 – Monday 28th November 2016:  Rota

K bought some Oscar food – our special hound is on an 80/20 grain free diet and the nearby pet store stocked some – yay; Oscar will be able to eat for at least a month more!  He also tried on a waterproof jacket … in keeping with his ‘girl’s blouse’ personality, it was shiny black plastic with a red trim  – very fetish … sadly he is so stocky the belt would not go around his middle.

Our van exit might have been difficult – we were sandwiched tightly between a scooter and a car – but thankfully, the scooter had moved just in time and Jez has a tight turning circle.  Off we went to our next adventure.   En route we had blowy beach walk at El Puerto de Santa Maria – one of the Sherry towns.  The parking was right on the beach and looked perfect EXCEPT there were no services and our toilet was now full.  We discussed options … could we manage without using the toilet … common sense and modesty prevailed.  Can’t stop here then … onto Rota where there are motorhome services.

On our arrival at Rota, K did a van internal cleaning and Oscar and I cleaned the van alloys.  Our kind Liverpudlian neighbour helped me to check the engine oil level.  We met Sarah and Mac – and Rockydog!  Something clicked immediately between us – and post-prandial drinkies were arranged for 8:00 pm. Lots of chats and some few glasses of vinocollapso – and lordy lordy – K and S discovered they both play Crib (and have husbands that won’t) – arrangements were formalised for the next evening by a bilateral treaty….  we’re stopping here another night then!  

Somnovinoque ensued around our two vans – until the am…

 

551 – Tuesday 29th November:  Bike Ride and CRIB

Somewhat miraculously, we dragged ourselves out to run after a lie in at goodness knows what time – 10:00/11:00 am… the running had a restorative effect.  Clune brekkie and we had planned to have a walk into the town – when our new friends M and S (M&S?) offered us the use of their bicycles – kindness personified!   They even suggested they would Oscar-sit for the duration – a new adventure for Oscardog.  We cycled off (not looking back) and had a wonderful ride along the beach promenade and lunch in the town square.  See photos of K’s lunch – one of the best she has had in Espana…

IMG 1150

Revoltos!  Honestly, that’s what it’s called.  Scrambled eggs, with onion, topped with a caramelised slice of goats cheese, marmalade toasts and salad – all drizzled in an unctuous Balsamic … YUMMY.    Free pudding 🙂  And yes, that is a hair of the dog Sherry – an Olorosso Dulche.

IMG 1151

Our lunch took place in a pretty square to the tickle of a fountain … very warm 🙂

IMG 6385

Sarah and Mac … comparing wild camping spots.

IMG 6387

Rockydog … we would happily have had him for Doggy Day Care … permanently.

On our return, we collected a now much animated Oscar from Doggy Day Care … he’d been quiet and just lay under a neighbouring van.  Good to know … we will start leaving him more often now.

The much planned crib game took off at about 5:00 pm – accompanied by glasses of sherry – how very British – we didn’t have cucumber sandwiches – not  cricket bat in sight, either.  Crib continued post-prandial again in the MS and Rockydog’s van – much hilarity and lots of shouts of “and one for his knob!”  Crib lovers will know that this has nothing to do with the male appendage – but the ladies shouts were so vigorous that Mac and I wondered???   A bit less vino than the previous night was a good idea …. we managed to sample some Muscatel, Tio Pepe and then the remnants of a bottle of Pedro Ximinez.  

P1120631

Oooer …. what shall I discard?

P1120632K won one, Sarah won the next hand … and then the decider was an edge of the seat game, but it went to Sarah … most excellent fun. 

552 – Wednesday 30th November: Sanlucar de Barrameda

We were all sad to leave Rota and our new friends – we all hope to meet again – “Hasta Pronto” indeed…. Probably on our Scottish summer tour.

Onto Sanlucar de Barrameda – we squeezed Jez into the last official parking pitch – of about 12 vans.  Off to town we went to explore.   Sarah had announced to Mac that she would go dry for the rest of the month … K had nobly risen to the challenge … it was only one day and best to start with an achievable target!  Now when in Sherry country – you must (?) drink the local produce, don’t you know, readers?   Noble ambitions out of the window.  We rose to the sampling task manfully/womanfully.   Two local Sherries – Manzanilla, consumed, followed by a bun to soak it up, followed by one in another bar on the way home … we both needed the toilet was our excuse!  How’d you do Sarah?

IMG 6394

Manzanilla – very light and dry, like Tio Pepe.

IMG 6395

IMG 6396

A really pretty town square with lots of different architectural styles.

553 – Thursday 1st December 2016:  A BIG ‘Grey Gappers’ Booze Day

It rained during the night so no morning running for us.  A sherry tour was identified for 11:00 am – Oscar had to stay in the van for 3 hours, another first-ish for him.  Early for the tour, K got chatting to some bloggers she has been following – thegreygappers.co.uk.  Karen from London and David from – Foxrock in Dublin – a few miles from my home in Dun Laoghaire!  Small planet?  Excellent tour, although the guide’s English was superb, it was heavily accented and meant we only got the gist of her explanations.   Photos again – we loved the cellar known as “The Cathedral”, which is where the Manzanilla is made.  It has earth floors under the barrels, cool winds in one side and warm winds in the other …. the perfect conditions to make the Manzanilla.  In another cellar, the floors were stone and as the castle backed onto it, there were no windows for the warm / cool air combo.  This wine here was made in exactly the same way, but not having the perfect conditions for Manzanilla, it produced only a Fino!  The whole of this cellar was bought up by Tesco and sold as their Finest Fino.   Interestingly, the Barbadillo Sherry house is still family owned.  And retired staff have an area where they congregate and drink … free wines / Sherries …. 

Our tour guide seemed to warm to our little group and produced a few extra bottles for us to try.  We started with dry wine, dulche wine, Manzanilla, Cream … sparking and finally a EUR36 bottle … think I may have missed a couple too!   Our guide explained how she gives people that are new to Manzanilla their first taste in a wine glass, as against a Sherry glass … we got to compare and it DOES taste and smell different.  Even the viscosity seemed different … try it at home.

By now it was all of about midday and one was then let loose in the shop … and we bought some more Sherries for a taste test with the Aged P’s.   This was a mark of things to follow…  No prizes for guessing what happened next – so no need for answers on a postcard!   Lunch with D and K – once we had liberated Oscar.  He was patiently watching out for us perched on the driver’s seat.  Sherries served at Il Colloseo restaurant near Jez – K and D had biked into town from their bivouac some kilometres away… Lunch started at about 1:00 pm and lasted for about 3 weeks, it seemed!   Hugely enjoyable conversations – David was baptised in UCD church where my parents got married – more coincidences – D had a record shop (in the good old days of vinyl) in Dundrum – around the corner from Olivemount Road where I lived as a child – Amelia – you will remember our home there.  Post lunch drinks continued in our van until about 8:00 pm – our new friends bravely biked back in the dark to their home – we knew Karen wasn’t looking forward to the journey – but they messaged us when they arrive back safely…

A brief walk for Oscar – we were abed by 8:30 pm!!! When did that ever happen before – not since childhood, methinks… there is a bit of a child in all of us.  K:  since the double ’ 3′ afternoon in Nijar for me!

IMG 1155

One of the smaller lorries bringing the ‘must’ in from the country. The grapes are picked by ‘hoards of hoary handed expert pickers’ – quote from the small museum – try saying that fast after a couple of Sherries!

IMG 1156

Barrels are not replaced; one is on its side being repaired.  The wood is American White Oak and used to be used as ballast on ships coming from the States.  To get up the river by Sanlucar, they off-loaded this and the sherry houses ‘harvested’ the free wood.

IMG 1159

The Manzanilla Cathedral.

IMG 1163

The wine has a 9 stage rotation – wine is taken from a newer batch and added to an older, whilst not disturbing the yeast wall between wine and air.  The movement of wine from one barrel to another used to be done by a pipe and a man who had to suck on it and swallow a little each time … day in day out.  Wonder how their livers coped?  This octopus machine replaced the men; multiple tubes for automating the moving the wine from one barrel to another.

IMG 1165

Our guide – she joined us for a tasting when the EUR36 bottle came out.

IMG 1167

This pic pretty much says it all …

 

 

547-548: Gib – A Sort Of British Experience!

 547 – Friday 25th November 2016:  Teeming Rain in Gib

We woke in Zahara and checked the weather forecast, given the rain was catering on our roof.  Terrible weather right across Spain – we were not going to be able to out run this one until it blew over after the weekend.  Having wanted to do some more walking around the Pueblos Blancos, but not relishing the idea of being sodden and cold, we aborted the hills and headed for Gibraltar.  We know we will have to come back to this area of Spain … how many times have we said that?!

Our mifi also seemed to die … we have been expecting Three to cut us off at some point.  We had rudimentary parkings for Gib from the apps I use, but could not easily verify them.  But hey ho – off we set.  We arrived in a large flat tarmac, gated (security guard) car park all of a few mins from the border.  We can live with the expensive EUR 18/ night.  The Rock is an impressive sight as you approach:  Greeks and Romans believed it was one of the Pillars of Hercules – the other being in Morocco.  We donned wet weather gear … well some of it as the waterproof trousers were deep in the garage, deep in a box and we did not fancy unpacking it in the rain.  It was Noah territory … floods, puddles and just plain wet.  We walked to the border around the corner and showed passports twice … once they were retrieved from a plastic bag to keep them dry.  In fact, every thing, was in plastic bags … phones, wallets, us … but not Oscar!

Through the boarder controls, we slid our way across the run way which projects into the sea.  By this time I, (K) was having a sugar low from insufficient food (and a skinful last night), so we slid into the covered apex of the first restaurant we came to and ate.  Blood sugars sorted, we headed up Main Street … post office shut which we needed to send back a pair of J’s glasses for repairing under warranty.  I ‘encouraged’ the boys to walk as far as the Governor’s Residence … Oscar shakes regularly to remove the rain and wears a hang dog expression … J hunches shoulders and grasps the opportunity to turn about when eventually proffered to him!

P1120583

Crossing the runway.

Initial impressions?  Not great.  Being sodden does not help.  A few high street names, but mostly jewellery and booze shops as duty free so cheaper than the UK, but I’m not sure if things are not cheaper than Spain.  Some dated red Post Boxes and telephone Boxes are about as English as it gets.  Most of the natives seems to speak a heavlily accented Spanglish.  The children coming off the school bus looked inbred and I wondered if it was a special school.  Later back in Jez drying out, we decided to abort Gib tomorrow – J muttered something about it not being much different to Boroadmead (B shopping area) in Bristol.  We slept to the heavy rapping of rain drops on the roof.  

 

548 – Saturday 26th November:  Up Ze Rock and Rugby

What’s this? … The skies are clearing.  This was not the forecast.  We decided to both go into Gib, back through the border control and across the run way.  J to post his glasses, me to see if I could buy a lens cap for my camera and do a ‘can’t get this abroad’ shop in Morrisons.  We ‘got into’ the garage and retrieved waterproof trousers … and set off.  Now, Oscar only likes to do his business on grass and is a pain on the lead until he has emptied … trying to get him to walk in a straight line is neigh on impossible and he becomes NOT popular with regulars trying to get across quickly.  Ho hum.

J got his glasses posted (Aged P’s, if they make it to Rothbury in time, another small item for your suitcase!) and then we did the cheese (no cheese on the plate!) full English Breaky.  Well J did … I just helped with the odd mouthful!  

IMG 0560

A regular feature recently seems to be that if we see a hill with a castle / church etc on top, we need to climb it.  Rain’s holding off, so up the Rock we go.  Blinkin steep in places, but great views across to Morocco and along the coast.  Gibraltar looked like a model village.  There were not many other people walking it; most take the cable car.  J has eschewed cables cars since reading about the Chamonix cable car failure in the summer, when people here helicopter winched off or stayed there overnight!  Near the top we encountered the first of the Barbiary Apes.  On the viewing platform, they were civilised and left us alone.  A little further up, one saw Oscar and came screaming out of the trees snarling with long curling teeth warning Oscar off … think Sarbre Tooth Tiger for the fangs.  Now I was not being naive, perhaps a little, I knew dogs and apes are not a good mix, but I guess I’d assumed that the residents were used to tourists et al and would keep a distance.  Once we got to the top, and aw more of these flea infested buggers / baboons, J stayed back with O and I carried on to the top.  

IMG 1137

The Moorish Castle with the Union Jack … the water way below is really busy with container ships and ferries.  Little did we realise that there was still a long way up to go!

The walk up did improve my impressions of Gibraltar (amazing what a lack of rain can do).  Street names reflect the military outpost history:  e.g.  Tank Street, Camp Street.  On the way up the free to enter Siege Exhibition described conditions during the 3 year siege; there were actually 17 sieges in total.  

IMG 1138

Discipline was tight.

IMG 1142

This one did not show his teeth.

IMG 1144

The runway we crossed from our parking.

IMG 1147

Old military installations at the top.

After our knee crunching descent we lunched … J and I have a great partnership … I ate the prawn and hake stuffed aubergine in tomato and cheese sauces (Yummy – I will try to recreate this one) and J ate my chips.  Don’t feel sorry for him, he’d had a full English!

I’ve not been using my camera since I lost the lens cap and broke the UV filter, so we asked in one of the many (tax free) camera shops for a 46mm lens cap.  No lens cap, but a filter at £20.  No thank you, I’ve ordered on on eBay for £10 which will be with me in a week … quick chat out the back in Spanish … suddenly the price dropped to £10.  Yay!    A big shop at Morrisons was a bit surreal … lots of Spanish speakers … rucksack and a couple of bags filled.  J waited outside with O and chatted to a Hungarian busker who was trying earn enough for a holiday to Morocco.  A lady came up and asked him (the busker) if she could empty her wallet into his hat … he did not say no!

One of the reasons for heading to Gib this weekend was to find a pub showing the Ireland v Australia rugby game … a super pseudo Irish bar, hostess moved us closer to the TV, turned up the volume and we sat and quaffed wine watching a really good game.  

Back at the van, we were pleased not to have left Gib this morning … we did some shopping, climbed the Rock (not many can say this) and watched an excellent rugby game.  But we don’t need to come back!

 

 

544-546: Steep Dried in Pueblos Blancos

544 – Tuesday 22nd November 2016:

Those of our readers (are we up to 7 yet? – Terry Wogan had 21 million listeners – we will settle for 21 people for us…) – who read our adventures in “Castelbellissimo” in Siclia will know about this slightly misadventure…. Our brave SatNav CoPilot ‘Colin’ brought us to Sentinil via a narrowing hill road (when will we learn?) – I was driving and getting more nervous by the second.  Sure enough our proposed parking didn’t appear and we were faced with a turning manoevre that didn’t quite suit a 7+ metre motorhome.  A 7 point turn became a 7 point turn (am I repeating myself?) and with K directing, we retreated sadly from NavSentil… No dings or dents – good!  Shame as the town sounded interesting with houses sheltering under the overhanging rock.  To Olvera next – my best way to remember the name is to think of Basil D’Oliviera – south African cricketer who played for England during the Apartheid era – banned by South Africa – 1960s (if I’m wrong – please correct me – anyone?).    

Good parking at Olvera – EUR7 incl. electricity – we met a German couple whom we had previously encountered at El Torcal … ‘small world’ we shared in German.

Coffee in Olvera – chatting to a resident gent from ’God’s own country’ – Wales! – wake up, Bronwyn…  lots of good local advice on walks and weather – more heavy rain in the next week – are we back in Brizzle?  The rain in Espana falls mainly on…. US!   In said bar, we partook solo cafe!  Honest.  Dray day1 of 2 planned.

By the way, don’t ever pee or poo in public here…

IMG 3401

Misty view up to the church and Arab castle .. bit of a theme may develop here.

IMG 3410

Love the flower pots against the white wall.  Church was shut; we suppose they did not reckon anyone would venture out with the clouds coming in. 

IMG 3415

And the mist sure folded in.

IMG 3418

On the viewpoint by the church … never seen a sign like this before!  There must’ve been a ‘need’!

545 – Wednesday 23rd November 2016:

After congratulating my gorgeous daughter Sarah on her xxxth birthday, we set ourselves to a long walk on the Via Verde – a never quite opened railway track. 22+ km later, we returned to our Jez-van.  Oscar just about reached our van – and promptly dived into his bed and went ‘sparko’…  Tired but fit, only for K to do some laundry (twin tub out!), sweep the floors, groom Oscar and me to do something (?)… Another alcohol-free night – and ‘vino-free-somnoque’ sleep…and tomorrow also… 

IMG 6305

View from our parking at the start of the Via Verde here.

IMG 6318

Scenery changed and became more agricultural (other than olive groves), but always with distant hills.

IMG 6320

Please explain this:  cattle shelter under the tree and churn up the mud to form the inner brown ring.  Why is there a bright green circle just before the normal dried earth?

IMG 6321

Lots of tunnels; longer ones lit.  Typical view as you emerge:  just lovely.

IMG 6322

On the return Oscar collected a stick.  When he has a toy, out of our reach, he always does his happy dance.

IMG 6324

No, you’re not having it … you might promise to throw it for me, but your aim is so bad, I’ve no idea where it may land.

IMG 6327

I’m off with it … it’s mine!  All mine!!  And I’m still doing a happy dance.

 

546 – Thursday 24th November 2016:  

Wednesday night bed at 10:30 – woke at 9:30 am (???) – exercise benefit – yes!  Algodonales, home of a famous guitar maker and mecca for para gliders.   Coffee – and chats with a young English couple – slightly self important man who explained his crowd funding to support his ‘I’m a different sort of sportsman … I walk for days and then paraglide down and save damsels in distress from nasty Moroccans who were beating her up …. glory glory.’  Are we self important?  “To ourselves we must be true…”  

IMG 6333

Algodonales – heading up to the top of the town for the views.

IMG 6337

View over the town, and I reckon that distant hill town is where we’re headed … not sure about the roads though, but won’t tell J!

Zahara, not Sahara Desert, and parked after only 3 hairpin bends :).   The steepest mountain town we have visited on foot – climb up to El Castillio – even Oscar was breathing heavily.  At the castle, which was open to the public with no fee, and the the battlements were open to … air and the drop –  K had to grasp Oscar sharpish from going over the edge …  back on the lead matey!  El Castillo – mega high – more superlatives (?).   3 weeks in Espana and we haven’t even touched the surface… Roll on the rest of this wonderful country!  The more of Espana we see, the more we are hugely enjoying it… 

We have booked on to the Inverness Scottish Motorhome rally in June 2017 – Margaret and Shirley take note….. as people seem keen.

The most amazing sights over the valley and reservoir below – don’t think we’ll slide into them!.  Cafe and our first glass of vino for some 3 days, actually two calendar days, but J calculated it is some 66 hours – not counting … much!   Lessons here, fellow motorhomers?  Enjoyed just the same… 

Parking on a slight slope, but agin with wonderful views.  Chocks out, van slipping a bit; it does not seem to rest easily on chocks and creeks when we move?!   Sleep may be interupted be some slippage – maybe the earth moving?  K: It does all the time, darling!

IMG 6351

Yep, that is where we’re going, and I’ve not satellite viewed the roads.

IMG 6364

The route up to the castle.

IMG 6367

Mega wow.

IMG 6371

Can just make out Jez.  Later to be joined by a NL van.  It looks as if we’re in the valley, but the scenery drops away from here.

IMG 6373

The ledge Oscar tried to catapult!  K was looking out, so O thought he would too!

IMG 6375

IMG 6377

IMG 6379

IMG 6382

No friendly barman offered to let us and Oscar inside, so we were layered up, but still managed two glasses each and the most amazing roasted and salted almonds.