Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Lanzarote Christmas (a special time with friends)

Leaving the foul Christmas weather in the UK behind, we soon “adapted” to the change in temperature in Lanzarote! and to the company of our friends and hosts –Les and Chris.


Christmas soon arrived and we had a very nice meal together on Christmas Eve down by the waterfront in Playa Blanca. Good food and, of course, good company made for a great evening.


We celebrated our first “hot” Christmas Day ……….


over a bottle of Champagne on the terrace with Chris and Les.


Hearing of the horrendous weather being experienced back in the UK, it felt a bit strange to sit down to Christmas lunch in such sublime conditions.


Our second excursion on the island took us through the most incredible wine producing countryside we’ve ever seen.


Depressions are made in the volcanic soil (known locally as ‘rofe’ – which is a pyroclast product), for the grape vines to be planted in, with little dry-stone walls of volcanic rocks around one side to reflect the heat of the sun.


There are other methods of planting but the round holes seem to be favourite. You can see them going up the side of the volcano in the background.


Further on towards our destination for the day we had a coffee stop and a look at some of the amazing views the island has to offer.


Coffee, cake and delicious cheese and tomato rolls (plus the view!) – what more could one ask for? Great company of course!


The day’s objective was to see the caves at Cueva del Verdes. These ‘caves’ are lava tunnels formed thousands of years ago by the volcanic activity which the island is so famous for.


Don’t be scared of the dark Doug!


The descent was rapid and deep and headroom for some of us (James!) was a challange ……


……. but the experience when we arrived in the lava tubes was amazing.


Some of the lava flows can still be seen.


This is Chris, emerging into the light once more. Chris’ camera equipment was a a bit of a challage for him through some of the tighter spots but the results, of course, were fantastic!


Close to the first cave complex was a second, at Jameos del Agua, which showed the lava tubes in a simpler state. This section has a pool which is home to a very rare white crab (well – lots of them really not just one!)……………….


……… and another section which has been turned into a spectacular concert venue!


The devlopment of the second cave complex is the work and vision of Cesar Manrique – an island born artist and passionate advocate of all things beautiful. Much of the Lanzarote’s culture and presentation as a tourist destination and somewhere to live and work is down to life’s work of Manrique.


Many of the island’s roundabouts are home to Cesar Manrique’s amazing sculptures and mobiles.


These beautiful constructions are often powered by the wind.


At the end of the most incredible day we made our way home with the sun being shrouded by a Saharan dust storm. Very weird, it was a bit like experienceing a solar eclipse! The temperature and light levels dropped and an erie feel accompanied us to our door.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Sunny Style!

During the two weeks we’ve just had at home we’ve enjoyed three special occasions with famly and friends.


Firstly, we drove over to Portsmouth to meet friends Bill and Eileen on their return from the continent in their super-large motorhome. It was one of those catch-up chats we have from time to time over a cup of tea before they made their way northwards. Lovely to see you both.


Our second lovely occasion was a visit by cousin Sue and Hubby Lindsey and daughter Jade. It was a good excuse to cook a Sunday roast and have a wonderful family get together. A great pleasure.


Thirdly, friend Steve and Pip drove down from the cold of the north to enjoy nearly a week with us in the sunny climes of the south coast. Arriving after a tortuous journey which ended in the dark one evening, he was very surprised to wake up in the morning and see palm trees growing in the gardens. Quite a shock to the northern system!


We showed him the quirky delights of Bosham, just along the coast from us, which is flooded twice a day by the tide. This was another very bizarre experience for him as Buxton is just about as far from the sea as you can get. It was really great to have you and ‘Pip’ with us.


At the end of our two week “break” at home, we jetted off to the even sunnier climes of Lanzarote to be with our dear friends Chris and Les in their villa in Playa Blanca for Christmas and New Year. If the immediate start to our visit is a taste of the next couple of weeks then it will be a joy. The veggie lasagne and the company were first class!!


On the first full day of sight seeing, Les and Chris took us to the awesome Timanfaya National Park. This wonderful volcanic area, known locally as “fire mountain”,  presents visitors with the nearest thing to actually being on the moon that we’re ever likely to experience. On the way into the park you pass Echardero de Camellos (camal station) where you can get a ride to the outer volcanic limits on a camel. We decide to take a rain-check!


The station did, however, have a very interesting little museum about the last volcanic activity on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries and a potted history of the contribution by camels to the islands heritage.


And here’s the most beautiful camel we could find!


Some of the views from the visitor centre were terrific but nothing to what we were about to see.


We had a little picnic before experiencing …….


…. some of the demonstrations of the power of the volcanic activity just below our feet.


The rocks just feet below us could boil a bucket of water in a few seconds before shooting it skyward in a noisy flash of steam.


Chicken was being cooked above a well some 20 feet deep. The scorching heat was too hot to look down into the well and this camera shot is being blurred by the heat haze.


The culmination of our visit was a coach ride around the park and through some of the most spectacular scenery we’ve ever seen. The next pics have to speak for themselves :-



A truly awesome experience, especially for James who’s quite into his volcanogy and the like (yawn!!!) Rofe, lava, magma and pyroclast can be most interesting!


Leaving the amazing land of volcanoes we head to the coast and to the very scenic village of El Golfo. Pinched between the lava flows and the Atlantic coastline the area is of magnificent beauty.


While there, we took some hard-earned time off for a beer next to the Atlantic breakers as they pounded the nearby shoreline.


The village, at the end of the road, is quiet and picturesque and superbly kept (like all the island!)


At the end of the day, and back “home” at Playa Blanca, we took a few minutes to watch the magnificent sunset and to take stock of the most fantastic day out thanks to Les and Chris.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Goan, Goan, Gone.

Our last week in Goa was as sensational as the first two but it all went very quickly.
We took a day trip out to one of the islands off the Goan coast and then we were taken to the boats which were moored ‘up the creek’.
We were supplied with all the food and drink we wanted so James started the day off with a very fine rum watered down with coke.
After an hour and a half motoring, seeing dolphins on the way, we anchored off the island to do a bit of fishing. we were supplied with lines and bait and it wasn’t long before Doug caught a rather nice example of marine life. All the fish that were caught were carefully unhooked and released.
After an hour’s fishing the boat moved round to the opposite side of the island were we could enjoy some swimming and snorkelling around the rocks …………
……. and, of course, there’s always a “monster from the deep” in any fishy tale!
We got on very well with a charming young German couple, Luana and Jacko, who were taking some time out and seeing some of the world.
Another short trip to another small island ……….
…….. where we all enjoyed a beach BBQ (and more drinks!) and it was here that we met up with three lads from Delhi way. We originally were shown onto the boat they were on but then moved to another which we were a little disappointed about as that one was going to be the “fun” boat. Anyway, separation from the them didn’t last long as we all joined up for the BBQ.
After an absolutely brilliant day we made the journey back to base.
That same evening, after the boat trip, we met up again with the Delhi lads for a meal at one of the beach shacks. About to start our meal – Rahul, James, Doug, Ujjwal and Ruchit.
After our meal we all went off down the beach to Stringfellows Shack to catch up with Luana and Jacko for a party!
Rahul gave James a few lessons in Indian dancing and Bollywood moves!
Thursday was an “off” day for James so Doug went on his own to meet up with Julroy in Old Goa for the Festival of St Francis Xavier.
It was a huge event with thousands of people taking mass …….. and market stalls selling just about everything you could think of!
….. both inside and outside the “new” church.
This is the new church ………
……. and this is the old one.
Doug was shown around, and had the architecture and history explained ……
…….. by the ever attentive, and marvellous host, Julroy.
After being shown around Old Goa by Julroy, he and Doug joined the family of Nikson (who we’d met at the wedding) for a wonderful picnic in a beautiful park near Panjim.
Nikson, Ashvil and Julroy relaxing in the park.
An interesting photo, not just for the chaos in Candolim high street but because it shows how you by fuel. Discarded water bottles are filled with petrol and placed on stools outside shops! You buy one (or two) and fill up your scooter – and nobody even thinks about stealing them from the stools.
These lovely old Banyan trees offer shade from the scorching sun and looking fabulous at the same time.
On our last day (Saturday) we went on the bus to Marpusa about 30 kilometres from Candolim to meet up with friends Dev and Rajaa. Marpusa has a vast market every day of the week – Friday being the busiest day with twice as much as we saw on the day we went.
The following pics just speak for themselves with all the fruit, vegetables, fish and meat in huge quantities and freshly placed in perfect order every day.
After a wonderful tour around the market Dev and Rajaa took us for lunch at one of their favourite local restaurants ……….
…….. and after that we caught the bus back to Candolim! Yes, this is the bus and yes, it did get us back home!
And Doug got a special seat at the front!
Well, that’s our three weeks in Goa. It was much, much more than we could ever have imagined it to be. Crazy, bizarre, special and so very easy to fall in love with. We expected the people to be friendly, kind and considerate but we were blown away by their sincerity and approach to us as their guests and we’ve made plans to return to this amazing place and it’s people.