Winds of Change

I’m still “enjoying” lots of face ache. It turns out that it’s entirely possible to have toothache concurrently with sinusitis. I’ve cured the toothache part of it by having the offending molar removed yesterday. It remains unfortunate that the sinusitis has settled into the opposite side from the offending tooth socket so both sides of my face remain sore – thank Waitrose for fish crumble and mashed veg last night, and mashed bananas and strawberries with yogurt for breakfast this morning.

Last week was half term and we took the Smart One to one of his favourite haunts, Didcot Railway Centre. We always go by train as the centre is on the old marshalling yards adjacent to Didcot station. We picked an “in steam” day but surprisingly the place was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it. This year there is an ongoing exhibition covering the part the railways, in particular the Great Western Railway, played in the first world war, in commemoration of the centenary of it’s end. I found the inclusion of two of the GWR locos and a couple of the coaches used as ambulance trains during that war particularly interesting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to provide treatment to the wounded whilst in a moving train.

The GWR ambulance train

 

In the field.

These days the Smart One is allowed to roam the large site unsupervised, he had a hoot availing himself of several free rides on both “in steam” trains.

 

The two “in steamers” for the day

 

A few days later and totally unconnected to our day out, following a long family discussion, K handed in her notice at her current school and sent out her first applications for posts advertised in Somerset. Rents in Berkshire are horrendously high and becoming unaffordable for a single-parent teacher’s salary. In the area we are looking at we will be able to get a 3 double-bedroomed house for less than the rent on the current 2 bedroom flat. Apart from the rent issue there are other advantages to the move. We shall be closer to J&B, who are delighted that they will only have a 45 min drive to visit and to quite a few old friends of mine and K’s, including my Bezzies. We know and love the whole of the south west and for K and I it will be going home. The Smart One is a little apprehensive but there are several “outstanding” secondary schools in the area, he will be closer to his Uncle and to his maternal Grandfather and only an hour and a half’s train journey from his Dad. He’s delighted that we shall be close to the West Somerset railway, a heritage line which ends at Minehead beach (!), and is already putting forward towns and villages with stations on the line as potential areas for me to house hunt! K will be doing the hard bit, applications (two already sent) and interviews and I’ll be doing the fun bit – finding us somewhere to live.

Watch this space …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The rain in Spain

I’m getting a little fed up with wind, rain, thunder storms and gloomy skies – this is not what I signed up for.

Despite the weather gods’ tantrums Merida proved to be a delight. Following my recce of the first afternoon, I determined not to let the elements spoil my sightseeing and the frequent heavy showers didn’t dampen anything other than my clothes.

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The Roman amphitheatre and the theatre stand side by side at the top of the hill …

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The Temple of Diana is half way down one of the main streets …

The Alcazaba which started life as a Roman fort, took a new life after restoration by the Visigoths and finally became a Moorish citadel before falling into ruin …

The Roman bridge, adjacent to the Alcazaba, across the R. Guardiana (the very same that forms the border between Spain and Portugal further south) has not suffered from flood damage as has the bridge at Avignon and is therefore superior at 732 metres long …

Lusitania as it was called in Roman times boasts two aquaducts of which the St Lázaro (tho’ it wouldn’t’ve been called that at the time) is the better preserved …

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Storks (not butter) nest on pillars all along the aqueduct Los Milagros.

 

Spot the sunny snap – there is one!!

Well it’s sou’westers and galoshes on for another LWD walk then …

🙂 🙂 🙂

West of the border, down Portugal way …

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.

Castro Marim

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!

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

A, B or S?

On Monday I dragged myself away from Pinar and my amazing social life. I was out nearly every afternoon and/or night for wine or gin o’clock most of my stay there, and that hasn’t happened in a couple of decades.

Drunken Pinar People

So what could follow that? Well Seville could. I now find myself tossing up which city I prefer Barcelona or Seville … and then there’s Amsterdam …

Unfortunately I saw an unpleasant incident yesterday. I was waiting for several horses and traps with tourists aboard to trot past before crossing a narrow street. Suddenly there was a bit of a commotion and I looked over to see another horse and trap with only the driver on board approaching at what seemed like breakneck speed – probably only a canter rather than a full on gallop – the driver whipping his horse like blazes. Overtaking the other traps to the startled looks of their drivers, passengers and onlookers, he entered a slight bend, the poor horse slipped on the cobbles and fell to it’s side. The driver just hauled at the reins and whipped the horse again until it got up, and with that he was gone. Everyone around me looked as shocked and upset as I felt.

Apart from that Seville has delighted me once more. LWD has suffered several forced marches around parks, along riverside walks and city streets. It’s a hard life for her!

Ancient

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and Modern

Tomorrow’s route takes us into Portugal. The weather is settled fair tho’ it’s cold at night and the mornings are chilly.

 

Maria Luisa Park

🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. I think it’s Barcelona by a whisker (simply because of Gaudi) with Seville and Amsterdam in joint second.

Beach ban and convivial company

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Whistle stop tours presents …

The Bezzies and I have been in full on tourist mode;

We’ve been to Cadiz

and the beautiful white hilltop town of Vejer.

We’ve walked the clifftop path in  Parc Natural de los Alcomocales to the Torre del Taijo

and seen a fab sunset from Zahora beach.

Our quiet Christmas morning has been rather spoiled by a loud and violent thunderstorm and torrential rain but the sun is now breaking through just in time for us to walk to our Spanish lunch in the site restaurant, it’s already wine o’clock!

Have a wonderful festive season and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wandering locally

I spent the couple of days before the Bezzies were at Camping Pinar St José, Zahora having a wander locally …

 

 

R&S arrived safely and more or less on time (by my estimation of their journey time) on Sunday.  I was out wandering locally …

The following day, as S didn’t want another long drive, it was decided we would wander locally along the beach to the Roman ruins. Out of the campsite, R said, turn left and they’re along there by the beach, after the bridge and before the village. Off we set along the beach; after three and a half miles there was still no sign of the supposedly impressive Roman ruins and we had reached the edge of the village. We continued, as we could see plenty of bars and restaurants ahead and were all, LWD included, in need of refreshment. After a further half mile we finally hobbled into a restaurant/bar, the only one open literally for miles. The tapas was OK, the wine was OK, the seat was wonderful!

 

We were chased back to site by some very ominous looking clouds which thankfully were not cruel enough to deposit anything wet on us. On arrival S looked at the map and discovered that not only had we been walking the wrong way along the beach, said Roman ruins were sixteen miles away in the opposite direction just outside Tarifa!

Fast forward 24 hours and we finally arrived by campervan at Baelo de Claudia! I forgave R immediately; said Roman ruins did indeed impress.

 

 

🙂 🙂 🙂