Last full day in the sun – 21 November 2018

The sun was out so we were too.

After breakfast we sat and read in the sun, then we went for a walk, but we were soon back again in the sun. There was packing to do, but the sun was more important and it won again.

After lunch Scamp went down to the pool for more sunbathing and I went for a final walk over the lava rocks, hoping for a good final pic. I got some more shots of the Brimstone that was still fluttering around the rocks. However, the winner of PoD was a moody shot of some cactus against the sky. I also remembered to get some shots of baked mud to use as textures in photos that need a bit of extra grunge.

Back at the hotel I started my packing because Scamp had already completed 90% of hers. Then it was out to dinner in the main dining room. Sat inside after dinner and played another round of UNO. No definite winner this time round, so it looks like Scamp is the 2018 Holiday UNO Champion. A few drinks and back to the room to finalise my packing and finish off the gin. Neither of us were desperate to see the Crazy Show by the entertainment team and the last time we’d looked there were dozens of kids from the kids club pushing little chairs round the dance floor while the singers, who were the live music for the night, were trying to ignore them. Chair pushing seems to be a big thing at Riu Paraiso. Kids seem to practise it every night, getting in everyone’s way. If the americans can get good at it, look out for it in the next Olympics. As a result, it didn’t look as if we’d get a dance tonight. What we did do was sit in the room with the sliding door open and finish the aforementioned gin.

Just before we went to bed, I was sure I could hear a mosquito’s high pitched buzz and once we turned out the lights, I was sure there was one in the room. I thought I’d silenced the little buzzer, but I was wrong.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day. We needed a bit of sleep.

Bad Loser! – 19 November 2018

After breakfast we sat in the warm sun in case it would disappear. It didn’t.

We sat in the sun for most of the morning. Later when it appeared that the sun was staying with us for the day, we went swimming. I swam in both the pools. One was cold and the other was warm by comparison, but not by absolute temperature. Some people who waded in to the ‘warm’ pool thought it cold! This was the pool with the bar and the underwater bar stools. All it lacked today was a barman. He was otherwise engaged clearing tables and serving drinks in the other bar outside the pool.

After lunch Scamp went sunbathing I went looking for dragonflies. I thought I’d seen one yesterday when I was coming back from the lava fields. I didn’t find any dragons, but got a few shots of a Brimstone butterfly photos. I wished I’d brought the Oly M5 with the macro lens, but you can’t have everything. The Teazer and the iPhone were doing sterling duty as default image grabbers. Thought I saw a young fox, but it turned out to be a feral cat.

Later we went for a walk and got then wrote postcards. Couldn’t find a postbox, so that’s tomorrow’s task.

Watched a beautiful sunset this evening. Lovely colours and massed clouds with the sun finally going down behind some palm trees just outside Los Pocillos. That became PoD.

We had forgotten to bring our usual assortment of games, so I bought an UNO card game. Scamp won five games in a row against my none! Not a happy bunny! Sitting in the covered area with the flame heaters on.

Tonight’s show was about dance. Quite funny and enjoyable. Lady in Red sketch was memorable. Drunk woman at the end of the night was not funny! Not Scamp I hasten to add!!

Big Boots To Fill – 30 July 2018

I wanted to take my bike out today, but off-road, not on-road.

I’d seen a bloke down at Auchinstarry with a Juke, casually sliding his mountain bike into the car once the back seats had been folded down. I knew the car had a good big boot, but the secret to the ease with which he could carry his bike is that once the seats are folded down, the raised boot deck provides a flat surface from the rear of the car to the back of the front seats. If he could do it, so could I. I forgot that he had a mountain bike and I have a hybrid. His wheels are just that bit smaller than mine. That meant I had to remove my front wheel to make the bike fit, but fit it did. I also had to cover the folded down back seats with a sheet of heavy duty polythene that I found up in the loft. The main thing is it worked.

Cycled along the railway path almost to Twechar, then took a right turn and cycled along a rough track through some fairly recently planted trees out almost to Queenzieburn and from there back to Twechar. From there I went along the canal to the steps to Shiva Pend which is a tunnel under the Forth & Clyde canal to allow a burn to run down to join the River Kelvin. It’s a strange wee place which was built apparently in the 18th century. Wandered around there watching tiny wee trout trying to catch flies while I was trying to take some photos. Climbed back up to the canal and realised that it was beginning to rain. Down at the pend the overhanging trees had given some shelter, so I hadn’t noticed the rain. I decided that would do for today and headed back to Auchinstarry along the canal and passed four blokes in two canoes. Crossed over at the Plantation where I got today’s PoD which is a Painted Lady butterfly sunning itself on the warm stones. I thought I’d avoided the rain, but then it came on with a vengeance and I got back to the car just before I got completely soaked. Bike dismantled and back in the car then up the road.

Scamp made dinner tonight while I got ready to go to salsa. Salsa was all twists and turns and awkward moves which didn’t do my poor wee knee any good, but I survived and it feels a bit better tonight. Tonight’s move was called Venezuela. Jaime would approve.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks wetter than today.

Ticking Tuesday – 3 July 2018

Same start as yesterday. Still trying to get used to the sounds of the city back home I think.

More catchup on blog posts. Then spoke to Hazy on Skype which is now flying the Mickysoft flag and becoming an absolute bastard to use. No surprise for a Mickysoft product. If you want a good app broken, give it to Mickysoft.  After we’d signed off, I found that I’d picked up a tick yesterday. First one for ages. Must remember to be more careful.

Another trip to Tesco for more supplies and then I went for a run in the car hoping for more dragonflies up behind Fannyside Loch. Didn’t find any, but usually they are later than they are here. Ended up walking along the Luggie. Saw a deer but it was too far away and too deep in the long grass. Settled on a Red Admiral as PoD.

Later in the afternoon did more blog and Flickr posts.  Flickr now up to date.

Watered the garden in the evening and the thirsty wee plants soaked it all up.  Still hot.  G&Ts all round tonight and an early bed. Scamp’s cold seems to be improving, thankfully.

Tomorrow we’re intending to go dancing! And me wi’ a bad leg tae!

The Constant Gardener – 17 May 2018

Today I had the car booked in at Halfords to get the dash cam wired in properly.

We were told that it might take up to 2 hours to do the job, but after having a quick look, the bloke said it would only take 15 minutes. He was correct. With the work done and paid for we drove to Torwood Garden Centre for Scamp to buy some (more) plants for the garden. We ended up with quite a car full, but she has it all planned out. She knows where they are all going, and I believe her. I got some leafy broccoli looking plants whose name escapes me at the moment and we also got a bay tree to replace the one we lost to the winter snows. All the rest were flowers. I’m sure they’ll all look beautiful.

Went out for a walk and left Scamp to her digging, potting and pottering. Got a good shot of Mr Grey and another of a young deer just losing its winter coat, but PoD goes to the Orange Tip butterfly that sat patiently for me to focus the new macro lens on. The lens is a prime (non-zoom) and is as sharp as a tack. You can see the butterfly above, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see the other two.

When I came back there was just enough time for a glass of wine in the sun in the garden before dinner. Dinner tonight was Neil’s Chicken and Wild Rice Salad. It’s a firm favourite in the summer and went down especially well tonight.

Tomorrow Scamp and the Witches are off on the town, although which town isn’t totally settled yet. Me? I’m off the leash for a day, so I think I may go and take photos. Now there’s a surprise!

Sangria, Dolphins and a Demonstration – 06 March 2018

P1040326The task for today was to walk to the island for sangria.  Anything else was a bonus.

After breakfast, we sat by the pool for a while, but I was getting itchy feet and wanted to go for a walk.  The grounds of the hotel are fairly extensive and really well landscaped.  There’s  a stream running through it with fish in it.  There was a waterfall too which feeds the stream.  Along the banks of the stream there is a cat house and a fenced off area for the partly feral cats to live in.  I’m sure you’d be impressed Hazy.  That was where I headed today.  I was disappointed to hear that there was no rushing waterfall noise and that was because the waterfall wasn’t operating now.  The river is still there and the fish are enormous.  There are loads of cats too wandering around.  Some are quite dismissive of humans, as only cats can be, others are quite skittish.  This too will be quite normal for you Hazy.  Saw one of these large butterflies and managed to get a photo of it while it was feeding on some pelargonium flowers.  That is my PoD.

Wandered back to find Scamp and then we got ready and walked to the island.  It is actually an island, partly manmade I think and only accessible by a bridge.  A new bridge as it turned out.  Not more than a year old and made of good quality mahogany.  Most impressive.  We found a table and ordered a jug of sangria.  It was really quite good.  Not as good as the brandy based sangria Scamp had in Trinidad, but tastier than a  lot of red coloured water I’ve had in the past.  Lots of apple and orange bits floating in it too.  That’s when we saw the dolphins.  I’d seen some from the balcony last night, but all I really saw was the spray from their blowholes.  They were far too far away and my binoculars were no use because they were in a drawer in the back bedroom back home.  Difficult to access from that distance away.  These ones were much closer, but you could clearly see their fins and the spray when they breached.  I took a few photos and we agreed it was good to see them so close to the shore.  When I went to pay I saw one of the dolphins even closer to the island, only it appeared that there was a ball shaped object floating, now sinking, now floating again, just ahead of it.  Next time it surfaced I saw the pipe of the snorkel strapped to its head and then realised that ‘fin’ was in fact the diver’s flipper breaking the surface.  Oh dear, what a numpty.  Sangria must have been quite strong after all!

Walked back via the Spar shop in the Atlantico Centre and bought a tin of Pimento Dulce (Sweet pepper) for cooking with when we get home.  Yes, I know that I could have bought it in Tesco for about the same price, but when I use this pepper in a paella, I’ll remember the day we had sangria on the island at Caleta and saw the mysterious dolphin.

When we came back, it was time for lunch and today it was steak for me, cooked perfectly. Scamp had the vegetarian option.  After lunch Scamp and I went for a walk over the wilderness bit of the dunes.  There wasn’t much to see there, but it was good again to listen to the sea crashing in.

After dinner we went to wait for the singer and sax player we’d heard the last time we were here.  Unfortunately she couldn’t start until some football game was finished.  Bad planning by the hotel authorities.  Also, the germans (Small ‘g’  –  you know what that mean) had taken over all the seating and wouldn’t let anyone sit near them.  Now maybe we’ve just met some rude germans, but every time we come into contact with them, they are rude and overbearing.  Eventually we found a seat far away from the guttural shouting they call language.  Heavens, they didn’t win the first world war and they didn’t win the second word war,  They weren’t even placed!  What right do they have to be so noisy and proud of themselves?  Like I say, maybe we’ve just been unlucky.

When the music started, it was the typical middle-of-the-road stuff I hate.  Music for people who don’t like music.  However, Scamp coaxed me up to shuffle around the floor to something totally forgettable.  When we were leaving the floor she asked the singer if she could play some salsa.  Yes, she would.  She made an announcement that a couple wanted to do a salsa dance and she would play El Carnaval.  It was fast, really quite fast, but we knew it and gave it everything we had.  Not quite a perfect dance, but a good demonstration.  It certainly shut up the slimy guy who seemed to think he was John Travolta.  We got a great clap for that, then it was back to german junk and vanilla pop.  Got to keep the germans happy.  Look what happened the last twice they got upset.  We did try out our emerging Jive steps to an old Neil Diamond track and that was the end of the night.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go for a walk to the harbour.  Maybe get some food and drink on the way.

Look for the Juke – 29 August 2017

Went to Stirling today hoping for a test drive in a Juke, just to clear the air and get the car out of my system. They didn’t have one.

Well, that’s not completely true. They had lots of cars, even lots of Jukes, just none that we could take for a test drive today. We did get to sit in one and the nice lady took our details and hopefully we’ll get that test drive on Friday.

Since we were in Stirling and PC World was just down the road, we went there looking for a printer to replace the one that’s languishing in the boot of the car at present. They didn’t have one.

Well, that’s not completely true. (Does this sound like groundhog day?) They had a few printers. Most of them were for Home or Office and only two were marked Photo. One, a Canon and one an Epson. Not an Epsom as the Head of Computing at the school insisted on calling them. I’d have liked a printer that was designed to print photos, but both the PC World offerings were printer/scanners. I don’t need a scanner, I’ve got a really good one. Why would I want to pay for a scanner I didn’t need? Both the alleged ‘photo’ printers used four photo inks and one text printing black cartridge. Proper photo printers have five photo inks, sometimes with a black text cartridge. I wasn’t impressed. Nobody came near me to offer a test drive either. It would be good if you could do a test print on the printer you’re interested in buying. Nobody would think of buying a laptop without first checking how fast apps load and how clear the screen is, but you have to trust the hyperbolic manufacturer’s claims for printers. Once you get it home and find it print pictures that look like something out of Minecraft, you can’t take it back and complain. Well, you could, but nobody at PC World would listen to you. Maybe I’ll just keep the old printer and try to coax it back from the dead.

The day started earlier with me attempting with a fair degree of success to tidy up the back room. I did find the sofa that was hidden under holiday stuff. It took some time and effort, but now it has reappeared, it gives me the impetus to clean up the rest of the room. It should only take another three or four days. Ok, a week tops.

The day finished with a walk along the canal. A place to unwind and do some tidying up of my head. As you can see from the confusing jumping back and forward in the blog, I need more of this ‘head time’. Today’s PoD is a Red Admiral that I managed to grab a few photos of at Dumbreck Marshes. Then it was home for fish pie! A nice end to a day in the sun. Some things done, some things in the pipeline.

Tomorrow is to be much like today apparently and as today was warm and sunny, I’ll take that and say thank you very much.