Los Madrilles

 

Sunday 28th October 2018

Camping Los Madrilles is close to the small seaside resort of Isla Plana.  It’s a great campsite mainly populated by long-stay residents who choose to spend the winter in warmer climes. Many people arrive here in October and don’t return to the UK until April.  I’m not sure that I’d like that but the lure of the sunshine and warmth is just too much for a lot of people!

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The site is well looked after, well maintained and very well manicured………….

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Many people return here year after year and have the same pitch which they make their own. They get a local internet connection and have huge great satellite dishes so that they can get BBC and ITV, thereby keeping up with the English T.V. (Strictly come Dancing, for example!!!)

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There is a real community feel here with large groups of northern Europeans looking for a warmer winter than they would get at home.

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The site is very well laid out with small closes of no more than 6-8 caravans or motorhomes in each area so it never seems very busy or overcrowded.

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A lovely sunrise to welcome you in to the day as you set off for your morning ablutions!

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The showers and toilets were all spotlessly clean and there were plenty of them so never any problems getting a shower when you wanted one!

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The pool area was great and again this was spotless …………..

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I liked the indoor pool best as it was easier to measure my daily mile……well almost daily!

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One of the main social activities centred around the boules courts where competitions were held 3 times a week, a great place to meet people. If you didn’t like boules there were walking clubs, cycling, choirs, pilates , yoga and much much more!

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A short walk from the campsite is the small town of Azohia which has a very nice promenade, ideal for an afternoon stroll followed by a glass of wine or two!

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The beach was one that was better to view from a distance rather than struggle over all the stones for a swim, especially when you have a great pool back at the campsite!

 

 

 

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Geocaching

During this trip I have really caught the Geocaching bug.  It is great to go out for a lovely walk with a purpose.  Caches are hidden in some very unusual places and you get taken to places that as a tourist you might not ordinarily find.  To start off with I downloaded the geocaching app to my i-phone.  The first page shows you the caches that are available to find in your area, and  if you highlight one of the icons on the map it will give you a description and a location of where to start your hunt.  On the example above the yellow smiley faces are ones that I have already found and the green ones are ones that still need to be searched for. The Lost Mine, for example, was one that I was heading for on this particular day, and on the bottom left screen shot you can see a blue dot, which is your present location, and the orange line is the most direct route as the crow flies  to where you need to be. This is not always the best way for you to get to your goal as rivers and lack of roads can really hinder your progress!  The green compass tells you how far, and in which direction, you need to go, and the last screen shot shows you one of the hints that are available for this particular cache.

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The distance on the compass shows that this cache was 2.8km away from our present location…………. but by the time we had walked “around the houses” it was a lot longer……. you can just about make out the deserted buildings in the far distance!

We were advised that the cache wasn’t hidden in any of the tunnels ….. as if !

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Well, I suppose if you had Indiana Jones with you then anything was possible!

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This cache was found under a few rocks beneath a sink in a crumbling wash block.  (Now that I am geocaching more often I have treated myself to a Garmin GPS which works when there is no phone signal.)

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This is Kev surveying the area, and he really wanted to explore in the mine entrance and beyond, that you can see in the distance.  I wasn’t so sure, and besides Jane has told me I have to behave myself, and not get lost…..well I think thats what she said!

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The view back down the valley to the sea was well worth all the effort, however Kev did point out to me that if I had studied the map a little more thoroughly then we could have saved the “around the houses” part of the trip and driven a lot closer and saved a bit of effort……..well I am still learning……..from the master!!!

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We have now done many early morning trips to explore the local areas close to our campsites, which gives Jane and Val plenty of time to “do” their hair and get ready for an action packed day!

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It’s amazing, during a 4-5 mile walk early in the morning, how many of the world’s problems we can solve!

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Then every half a mile or so we stop to find a cache hidden in a log………..

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Or by a crumbling shed (we didn’t find this one due to a recent landslide!)

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We couldn’t find this one either.  Well, there is always tomorrow!

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As I said earlier you get to see places a little off the beaten track and very often get rewarded with some stunning views!

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And plenty of photo opportunities along the way!

 

 

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And if you can’t get the whole trail done in one session, you get a chance to do a bit of off-road driving the next day so you can finish off your hunt!

 

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Cartagena

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Tuesday 1st November 2018

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ear……….and I will tell you all about our day trip to Cartagena.  This city is only a 45 minute drive away through some large hills with some great views. When we arrived we bought a ticket which allowed us entry in to all the sites of Roman ruins that we had come to visit.  These sites were dotted around the city so as you strolled from one to another you got a feel of the modern city as well.

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One of the sites we visited was of a Roman town house where you could still see the outlines of all the rooms and with a few of the walls still intact, and the artwork on the walls still vibrant, you could get a sense of how a wealthy merchant might have lived.

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The modern graffiti style art work grabbed your eye as you moved from one historic site to another…………

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2,000 years ago the Romans had underfloor heating……………now we are just considering it for our new house!

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This is the decoration on one of the walls from in a building which forms part of the Roman Forum.  In this area you can stroll along the ancient pavements of Carthage Nova and see many buildings from the thermal bath houses to the shrine of Serapis.

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This area gradually fell into disrepair and got buried over the years.  It was rediscovered during fairly recent building works and is now a national monument which attracts many visitors every year.

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The jewel in the crown as far as I was concerned was the Roman amphitheatre.  This huge building still maintains the level of grandeur from the days when it was built, and you can only wonder at what it must have been like before it fell into neglect and became the site of a local market!

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The wings of the theatre are still there where the actors would wait for their moment of glory……….comedies were the most popular shows of the day!

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From the top of the theatre you get a great view over the city!

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This is the stage that has displayed the talents of many famous actors and singers………the hills are alive with the sound of……………….

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A Villa Full Of Heards

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We have finally got to meet all the rest of K&Vs family.  We had met Matt and Emma and the girls quite a few times before over the last few years, and we have heard lots and lots about the family, but this was the first time we were able to meet. The grandchildren were as lovely as they had been described by their doting grandparents, as were their daughters-in-law and I thought Owen and Phillip were as charming as they had been described by their mum and dad!

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The family had all got together near Granada for half term in a villa rented out by K&V. It was great to see all the cousins getting on so well and enjoying all the wonderful facilities that this large villa had to offer. The kids were in the pool much of the time, but I only managed about 2 lengths as the water was soooooo cold!

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I think the trick here was to for Manon to jump over the net that Inigo was holding and to dive through the rubber ring that Bryn is pointing to……………….

Meanwhile Ezuo was content crushing the shells of the almonds he had got from the tree in the garden, and eating the contents!

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He wanted to wash them down with a sip of Kev’s beer………but Kev was having none of that!

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Phillip and Gabby took time to savour the stunning views from the balcony as the sun was setting.

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The villa was perched high in the hills and the view over Granada was breathtaking!

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It was great entertainment just to watch the sun go down……………

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With a glass of wine of course.

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Isla Plana

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Friday 2nd November 2018

The next few blogs might be out of chronological order as for some strange reason some photographs are taking longer than others to download, I think its all to do with which camera I have used and what quality level they have been set at!  These photos were taken last Friday when Jane and I went for a late afternoon stroll to find a few Geocaches.

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The early evening light with the sun struggling to break through the clouds was ideal for a few snaps.

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There is a beautiful picture to the right-hand side of these people but they are so engrossed in their phones they are missing it!

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I have not adjusted the colours of these photos at all, they are just as nature intended !

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I have saved the best shot until last………..I think it’s the socks that give it that certain gravitas!

 

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Granada the Old City

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Saturday 20th October 2018

Hooray K&V are here and with their car…… it has only taken more than 2 weeks to get it fixed! They have made it to Granada in time to meet the rest of their family later in the day. Their plan is to leave the caravan here with us whilst they spend the half term week in a rented villa with their sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

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We had visited Granada on our first long trip to Spain, at the beginning of our adventure last year.  On that visit we managed to get tickets for the Alhambra and fully enjoyed its beautiful buildings and stunning gardens. This time we had a chance to explore a little further afield and walk down some of the narrow cobbled streets, trying to avoid the many gift shops……..

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When the sunshine bounces of the white-washed walls  and lights up the purple bougainvillea it is hard to think that it’s the end of October and getting cold at home!

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Although we were dressed in shorts and T-shirts the locals were finding it a little chilly and most of them had their long trousers and jumpers on  Many were even wearing coats and scarves!

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Occasionally the narrow streets opened up to a balcony from where you could get a great view of the modern city below.

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And of course the majestic Alhambra dominated the skyline on the opposite hill!

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These peaceful little garden balconies were a great place to sit and catch your breath……

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And to take in your surroundings …………

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We had started this trip into the city from the Albaicin Quarter and made our way to the Mirador de San Nicolás so we could enjoy all the views as we walked down into the old part of the city………

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The only problem with walking all that way down was eventually we were going to have to walk back up again!

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Well anyhow that would be for us to worry about later…….we found this lovely square and decided to try a set menu of mixed tapas for 2.  This always works out alright for me as Jane doesn’t have a big appetite and I always end up with slightly over half of the meal! Our favourite dish was the black rice with squid.

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Whilst we we wandering around the back streets Jane noticed a Turkish baths that she had been reading about so it seemed like a great idea to book up a visit. Jane decided not to go but encouraged me to try it out. It was brilliant, steam rooms, hot water baths, plunge pools, warm water pools, tepid water pools, hot stones, followed by a traditional Turkish massage. After all that I was good for nothing apart from sleeping!

There is far more to Granada than just the Alhambra.  This is a great city to spend a long weekend exploring, try it, you won’t be disappointed!

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Granada – the Majesty of the Mountains

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Saturday 20th November 2018

We only had a short drive from Cordoba to Granada but it was wet and windy the whole way.  There was a little respite whilst we set up the caravan and then it carried on for a bit longer. Kev and Val had finally got their car working a couple of days earlier and where hot-footing it down to Granada to await the arrival of their 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 6 grandchildren. They had asked us to have a look at the villa and check to see if they could store their caravan there for the week to avoid storing it on a campsite . Well, with immense difficulty we eventually located the villa and we thought it was hard enough to drive a car through the narrow streets of the village, let alone attempt to take a caravan through.  Not only that, but the road to the villa was a little bit hairy as well!  Not for Matt, Owen  and Phillip, K&V’s sons of course!

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Our campsite was high up in the foot hills of the Sierra Nevada with absolutely stunning views.

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It was great to see the sun rise slowly above the mountains.  In the distance you can see the snow-capped peaks of the High Sierras!

 

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Most mornings I took a 5 mile or so hike up in to the mountains to stretch my legs.  It was very interesting seeing people on their way to work, some even took their dogs with them!  On the top of some of these hills were allotments and they seemed to be tended by men in their 70s.  I found it quite a challenging walk but they must have been knackered!

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When you found a newly finished road with fresh tarmac it was a minor cause for celebration………well another good excuse to stop and take a photo!

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After risking life and limb driving along the winding mountain roads with the locals overtaking you on blind bends………………

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There is nothing better than spending the afternoon sitting outside the caravan just   admiring the view!

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When you set out on a geocaching trip you never know what you might find on your travels, maybe a manmade lake/resevoir

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Or the remnants of a Roman aqueduct………………….

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But you were always guaranteed a fantastic view!

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And as the leaves are turning a golden colour they just seem to accentuate the natural beauty that was around!

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Some mornings when the sun wasn’t always shining at its best there was still always so much to see, and if you were keen on scrumping you would be able to find more than enough produce for tea!

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The early morning mist was waiting for the sun to burn it off!

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Everywhere you turned there was another frame for a picture!

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I certainly made the most of my early morning hikes by taking 100s of photos……………..

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However my editor has made me reduce my selection…….and she is always right, so she says!

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At the end of the day if it is clear enough, you get to see the moon rise!

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Jane always reads the guide books and is great at finding things to visit.  This castle was spotted on our trip to a chocolate factory!  I’m not sure if it is the highest factory in the world but apart from the Everest double glazing plant in the Himalayas I can’t think of another……..well I could if I put my mind to it!

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The drive to the chocolate factory had many photo opportunities along the way!

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Some of the higher roads leave a lot to be desired and are just concrete with grooves in.  I found that these surfaces made me concentrate just a little bit more than usual!

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The factory was set in the whitewashed mountain village of Pampeneira. It is the lowest (at 1000m) of the three such villages in this area

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After a lovely €9 Menu del Dia we set about exploring the steep and narrow streets.

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They have to make the most of their space so hows about a patio over your front door?

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And then the moment that Jane had been waiting for all day, there was so much to choose from and they had very helpfully left out lots of samples for us to try, we both tried everything twice before we made our decisions

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A very happy Jane…………….but we didn’t buy enough…………its all gone!!!!!!!

 

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Córdoba

 

 

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Monday 15th October 2018

The news on Kev’s car wasn’t good so it was agreed that we should carry on our journey and meet up as soon as their car was mended. The aim was to rendezvous in Granada on Saturday when all of Kev and Val’s family were arriving to join them in a villa they were renting.  So we set off on a very blustery Monday morning to head south and to hopefully find some sunshine.  The drive took us about 2  1/2 days, mostly motorways but the last leg of this part of the journey to Còrdoba was on a lovely ‘A’ road through very quiet rolling countryside.

Our first day in Còrdoba was a little wet and windy, so we decided to have a drive around to get our bearings and then visit the city the next day when the weather was forecast to be a lot better.

Whilst driving around Jane spotted a sign directing us to a viewing point.  It was along one of those roads that the moment you have taken the turning you instantly regret it!  The road was very steep and uneven and then you start worrying if you will be able to turn around when you get to the top.

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And when we did get to the top the view would have been great if it hadn’t been misty!

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And then of course there was the drive back down to the main road!

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The weather seemed set in for the day so we set off for one of Jane’s favourite destinations………..a hypermarket!

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And whilst we were there it was mentioned that it was about time I had my hair cut.  It was a little difficult to try and explain exactly the style I had in mind, but with the help of a few photographs I managed to get the desired result and I think it will last me until we get home!

 

 

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Friday 19th October 2018

The sun was back out so it was time to go and explore the city. We made a bit of an entrance as I managed to miss a no entry sign and ended up driving through a pedestrian area! Still it was definitely the quickest way to the car park!

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Còrdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic centre in the Middle Ages.

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The Roman bridge.

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The city is best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D, featuring a columned prayer hall….

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and older Byzantine mosaics

 

It was beautiful !

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It became a Catholic church in 1236…….

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and a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.

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It’s hard work all this sightseeing, and it can’t be done on an empty stomach, so it was squid and chips for lunch for me……….lovely!

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My favourite place, though, was the Alcázar de los Reyes Christianos.  This stunning medieval building was beautiful but it was the gardens and all the water that set it apart for me.

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The bright colours really came alive in the sunshine

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Even the fish seemed to be enjoying themselves !

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However the toilet facilities left a lot to be desired!

 

This is another Spanish city that I would highly recommend a visit to,  it was simply lovely !

 

 

 

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Âncora, Valença and a little bit of Monção

 

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A bit of a windy night………..

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When I bought these wind breaks I thought the idea was to break the wind (no not like that!) not break in the wind! Actually they had just fallen down in the overnight storm so no major problem!

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Saturday 13th October 2018

The wind was still getting up a bit as we ventured a little further along the coastal path toward the resort of Âncora.

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The waves were looking and sounding very dramatic. Kev and I had brought our wetsuits down as we were thinking of taking a dip, but we were ‘advised’ by our other halves that this would be foolhardy…………..we had actually arrived at this conclusion ourselves, I mean, after all we aren’t stupid are we ???

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Jane and Val were finding all this exhilaration too much and had to sit down to admire the view!

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Jane was a little miffed that the wind blew her hair out of place, I was a little miffed that the breeze blew my shirt out and made it look like I had a bit of a belly!

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Kev managed to keep his hair under control by keeping his cap on!

As the afternoon went on the wind was getting stronger…………………

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When we got back to the campsite, a Dutch guy on another pitch asked us if we had heard of  Hurricane Leslie  which was headed our way!!!!!!!!  We hadn’t, so it was all hands on deck to make sure everything was packed safely away……….our only worry now was that the caravans might be blown away!  The only way we were going to be able to see out this storm was to go to the local restaurant and get smashed!  The only thing we hadn’t really considered as we walked down to dine in the calm before the storm………. was how we were going to get back? At the end of the evening, as the rain lashed down and the wind was howling, good old Kev stepped up to the mark and bravely headed back to the campsite to get the car and save all us wimps from getting wet!  Thanks Kev!

Sunday 14th October 2014

Having survived the storm with nothing more than slight hangovers, Kev decided to take us all out on one of his Sunday afternoon drives. Valança was to be the first destination, a fortress town on the river Minho.  The river Minho is the border between Spain and Portugal.  Now you can cross a bridge easily between the 2 countries, but when the fort was built things were slightly different!  Getting in to this place was far more difficult than we thought, and we arrived at a very narrow gatehouse with a set of traffic lights outside.  Now if this had been in most other countries it would have been pedestrian- only traffic from now on.  This wasn’t the case, however, and chaos reigned as cars tried to pass both ways through the narrow tunnels of the fort whilst at the same time trying to  find a parking space and also obey another 3 sets of traffic lights!  If one car too many came through at a change of lights then no-one could move………..that’s 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back!

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It was all worth it when we finally got parked, and after finding a couple of geocaches it was time to hit the shops!

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I have never seen so many linen and towel shops in all my life!

After battling the traffic back through the fort we set off for Monçâo.  This place was far more chilled, with a lot less people and a calmer “vibe”!  It is great to see the cafe culture still in full swing with families out for coffee and cake on a Sunday afternoon, mums, dads, fathers and sons, grandparents and grandchildren all enjoying each others company.  So we joined them and had a selection of cakes for ourselves!

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Ponte de Lima

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Wednesday 10th October 2018

Today’s ride out took us to Ponte de Lima. Kev drove the 35minutes that it took us in his recently acquired hire car.  He soon got to grips with the awesome power of the Vauxhall Corsa, and the slight inconvenience of having the steering wheel on the wrong side for him but the right side for the country!

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The first thing we came upon in the town was a wedding group, and never one to miss out on a party Kev was straight in there chatting to the bride………..he did get a steely look from the groom!

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Jane doesn’t look her best in this photo………and I’m not too happy either pushing yet another shopping trolley!

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Not too sure whats going on here but Jane has got a smile on her face!

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Kev tries his hand at brake dancing, however Jane doesn’t think too much of his efforts and only awards him 2 points!

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Kev and I managed to do a couple of geocaches whilst in the town and without too much complaining from our other halves either………..

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I think they were just happy to be walking in the Tropical Gardens……

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Right that’s it for this edition of the blog, now I’m off to find out why they named this place Ponte de Lima?

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