So we (LWD and I) continue to investigate our new surrounding in terms of finding suitable off lead dog walking, and I have to report that we are a little overawed by the amount of choice. We have trekked several routes along or near the banks of the R. Parrett, we’ve found a route into town by going around it, and a route on the disused rail line to Yeovil, not that we’ve gone quite that far yet, we stopped at the medieval abbey at Muchelney.
We’ve discovered The Hanging Chapel in Langport, a 15th century chapel built on top of a 13th century archway at the eastern entrance to the old town. It was a fairly common practice in the middle ages to have a chapel at the entrance of a town so that merchants and other travellers could give thanks for a safe arrival or pray for a safe journey on leaving. It is a Grade 1 listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. The chapel is still in use today as a Masonic lodge.
Today we climbed the steep banks of the highest hill in this neck of the woods.
Burrow Mump is a 79 ft high tor standing near the confluence of the River Tone and the old course of the River Cary, joining the River Parrett at Burrowbridge, surrounded by the low lying land, maximum 25ft above sea level, of the South Somerset Levels. Thought by some to have been used by King Alfred, he who according to legend let the cakes burn whilst on watch for Danish marauders, as a lookout point across the levels. Today the views from the top are 360° of drained farmland, in Alfred’s time the views would have been of swampy marshes. A medieval church was built on the hill in the 15th century. The current ruined church on top of the hill was built in 1793. The land and ruin were donated to the National Trust in 1946 as a war memorial to the men of Somerset.
All that and I haven’t even had to unpack the wellies – yet …
I presumed that from the under-the-table position and general hang-dog air you’re giving off.
Well I AM sulking.
Despite the treats?
Hmmph! Don’t know why you had to bath me.
Because, Daisy-bella, if you will insist on rolling in dirt, sand, grass and smelly stuff and are the grey colour of white sheets not washed in Daz and then want to share my bed, you need to be cleaned up.
Still don’t like it. And you trimmed my face …
Want another treat?
You look gorgeous when you’re clean and fluffy and I can see your eyes …
LWD was pronounced “improving” by the vet on Friday morning and we hot tyred along the much improved N125 west to Luz. The Portuguese are the latest country to have caught the English roundabout disease and as well as ironing the road surface they’ve added loads of the damned things.
I arrived at my hosts nearly a month late and luckily they didn’t hold it against me. Linda and Trev’s springer isdead ringer for BB’s Sally, identical features, they both half close their eyes when content, brown fur growing longer and rougher than the white, hardly surprising then I was struggling to remember to call her Ruby; definitely related to Sally. Trev very kindly researched solar panels for me and I’ve decided which I’m having. I did think about getting it delivered out here but currently I would have had to have taken the side sofa apart every time I wanted to plug it into the leisure battery, not an option, so I’ll wait til I get back. (BB got a tiny little electrical job for you in the summer …)
Linda and I managed to natter away a couple of days!
Me ‘n the Scouse
Linda and Trev
Monday morning, and we had breakfast of bacon butties and fizz whilst sitting on the very warm patio before I left. They’re back off to UK this week as Linda’s having her second hip replaced in a week or so. It was super to see them and I had a great time, thanks guys.
Arriving my pitch at the campsite at Espiche and manoeuvering on to the levellers I managed to overshoot and bash R0X1’s left hand rear corner AGAIN, leaving a small amount of red glass on the ground. Waste of money to do anything other than gaffer tape it until I can afford to get distance sensors put on (and anyway the lights still work). There was also a bit of a Hokey Cokey with a camp fridge/freezer until I realised that for some reason the circuit breaker had tripped and that was why my fridge/freezer wasn’t working.
Perhaps I should rethink my dark night policy and not continue to cover up the little “I’m working” lights on the main panel … I’m sure the lovely lad who danced the Hokey Cokey to my pitch and back with the fridge/freezer would have appreciated it!
So Monday evening found me waiting at the vets with LWD who had developed, quite unusually, bilateral ear infections. Unusual only because up to now it’s always been either one or the other ear. Silly moo had been rubbing her ears in the sand again, tho’ I’m never quite sure whether that’s the cause or the effect. Very thorough Portuguese vet who did an extreme deep clean of both ears and hair plucking of the worst affected. LWD snuggled and trembled but didn’t make a sound, the Vet was most impressedshe apparently gets snarled at and bitten quite a bit doing that procedure. She prescribed ear cleanser (which I’d run out of – lulled into a false sense of security by 9 infection free months) and an aural antibiotic. LWD was totally stressed out by the time we got back to R0X1, even the biggest cuddles didn’t calm her, so I administered Daizepam which relaxed her enough that we both got some sleep! 3 days later and her ears are slowly improving, we go back for a check up on Friday.
My plans haven’t changed much, I shall just be a day later arriving at Pria-de-Luz than I expected. We’re currently up in the hills about 20 miles inland but still by the Spanish border. The weather is foggy first thing, some days like yesterday the cloud lifts and we get a warm afternoon. Not looking that promising today but we shall get a good walk in later and it’s so peaceful up here who cares about the weather!
Alcoutim was our first stop in this neck of the woods. The drive alongside the river Guardiana was winding and would on a nicer day have been stunning. I didn’t see Alcoutim at its best either, dull and deserted – but hey ho, I had high hopes for our lakeside overnight stop. Except the lake was almost empty, the dam virtually completely exposed and the water left was not much larger than Hurst village pond and, with only two water birds, a lot less populated. Walking around what used to be the reservoir bed I found it quite a depressing place.
Castle wall and R. Guardiana Alcoutim
From reservoir to pond
Grey heron and friend
Alcoutim and Pereiro reservoir
It was with a heavy heart and little hope that I drove to our current stop at Odeleite. So I was delighted to find one of the best aires I’ve ever used; large marked out pitches all with water and electricity should you want it (gimme, gimme, I have a blog to write and photos to edit and upload). Despite it not being high season, there’s a cafe and bar on site which is open, and a laundry room. Price? €7.50 per night (only €4.50 if you don’t want hook up). The views are stunning and it’s so quiet I can hear my tinnitus! Add to that a bread delivery van arrived at seven this morning; unsurprisingly I went straight back to bed after purchasing my day’s requirements.
I now know that the leisure battery will give me four nights 12 amp as long as I don’t do any photo editing on the MacBook; the poor old inverter struggles with that. I may have to reconsider the solar panel issue as I’m finding I’m wanting to spend more and more time off grid. The Aire I’ve been at for the past few nights does 24hrs electricity for €2.50, which is very good but not that many places do it at all let alone that cheap, so today I’m treating myself to power and charging every battery I can find. And as today’s weather is not as warm and sunny as it’s been the last week I’m catching up with aforementioned photo editing and blogging.
First night in Portugal was in Castro Marim, tiny place with an interesting medieval castle and an exhibition of torture tools from the Inquisition. I must be getting squeamish in my old age – the heavy wooden chair with leg, arm, waist and neck straps was studded all over the seat, back and armrests with large iron spikes and was my unfavourite; of all the torture instruments I found it especially gross. All in the name of Christianity … yesteryear’s terrorists if you ask me. I decided to spare you dear regular reader, and didn’t take photos of the exhibition.
From the battlements
Livestock pens and chapel housing the grim exhibition.
Inner bailey walls
Second up is Vila Real de San António a quiet, well in January it is, border town. The Aire is riverside to the Guardiano with Ayamonte (Spain) on the other bank. VRSA as it is known locally, in its heyday was a busy port and fishing town, catering now mostly to tourists. I met and spent a lot of time over the weekend with convivial companions Sharon and Matt who are in the process of giving a forever home to Rrrita (short for Señorita – don’t forget to roll the R). She’s an indeterminate breed of around LWDs size with the prettiest of faces and light brown velvety fur. Daize and Rita hit it off, had a great time together on the tiny beach here and both were very tolerant of the frequent wine-o’clock stops!
Old “grid” style town
Tiny beach …
Spain viewed from the “wine-o’clock” terrace
Vila Real de Santo António
Matt and Sharon are off to the rescue centre today to sign the adoption papers and get Rita’s passport. I’m off tomorrow after I’m fully charged, for a side trip up to the the lakes before heading to Luz at the end of the week.
Daize and I have both had hair cuts this week. LWD’s grooming session was done at the neighbours. Using my new clippers Jo and I, but mostly Jo, removed quite a lot of fur from LWD’s coat. Amazingly the result was much better than the previous groom she had in Spain two years ago. But it did make a bit of a mess …
Gone – (well sort of)
This morning Jo and I had trims and Karina a complete restyle by a Spanish hairdresser recommended by a fellow camper. It was done at her home where she has a tiny salon, those waiting were invited to sit in the lounge and coffee was offered. The multi-generational family own and live together on a small holding and our hairdresser, Natalie does waitressing as well as hairdressing to make ends meet. Lovely, lovely people and so generous.
We didn’t make quite such a mess as LWD but then we didn’t keep shaking …
This evening “4 foxy ladies and a gigolo” became PIST (Pinar International Seniors Trophy) champions at the Pinar quiz. My fellow Championship winning teammates were Julie, Karina, Diana and Gary. It was the most utterly trivial of quizzes I’ve ever done and we were all totally gobsmacked that we won.
4 foxey ladies and a gigolo
L to R; Diana, Karina, Julie, me, Gary.
Within half an hour our Champions cup had been stolen – we await the ransom demand. Interpol have been informed and are to head up the investigation.
Silly moo LWD is not a happy puppy; she does not learn.
Despite me politely suggesting she stop, she’s been rubbing her head around on the beach, grazed her ear on the sand and the inevitable has happened. Luckily I have some ear drops and, bribed with treats, she’s not making too much fuss about their administration . This morning her ear is not as red and hot. Hopefully we won’t have to make a trip to the vet for antibiotics.
So the beach is banned and yesterday we had a wander round the streets of Conil-de-Frontera. Its another white Andalucian hill town but with the added attraction of being a seaside town too. Temperature was in the 20℃s – what I have to endure whilst my family and friends in UK and northern Europe have Storm Eleanor to delight them!
My regular reader may have spotted that I’ve recently acquired a busy social life. Since arriving at Pinar San José, as well as the obvious socialising with the Bezzies whilst they were in residence, I’ve made new campals by the dozen, or more. I’ve joined small parties for dog walks, larger gatherings for afternoon drinks, live music, lunches etc. – in fact staying on here for a rest has turned out to be quite exhausting!
Last nights outing was to see the Christmas lights in Vejer. I wasn’t too keen on being the thirteenth member of the party but thankfully I wasn’t the unlucky thirteenth. We had a good wander and admired the shops (all open ’til eight/nine p.m. – this is Spain!) and the lights were beautiful. The Thirteen then popped into a bar, rearranged all the tables and chairs to their own satisfaction and flummoxed the poor barman/waiter/cook who was on his own, expecting a quiet Tuesday evening no doubt. After ordering 13 drinks, we considered, to great mirth, ordering 13 different meals but decided that might be a joke too far.