The last one this year – 31 December 2021

Sometimes you just have to drag yourself out to take the last photo of the year.

This was the last day of 2021. A day for thinking back to those warm sunny summer days, both of them. When the rain didn’t fall incessantly and you could ignore the weatherproofing of the camera and lens combination. When the wind doesn’t blow the flowers around just as you’re about to press the shutter button. Alas, the reality was another dull, dreary grey day. However I did go out dressed for the weather and took some photos, just like most of the other 364.

That was later in the day. Earlier a parcel had arrived that was bound for my old pal Fred who turned 70 on Christmas Day. I parcelled up the tee shirt and drove up to his house which, luckily, is only about ten minutes by car. It’s nearer an hour if you’re walking, but today wasn’t a day for walking. It was tipping it down. Torrential rain in the early morning had given way to just rain by midday. I caught Fred just as he was coming out of his car and handed over the parcel. I was going to head back via Tesco, but Fred told me there was a queue to get in to the carpark that started at the roundabout about 100m away from the actual carpark. I decided to drive home instead. There wasn’t anything on my list that was essential.

Even earlier, just as we were getting up and admiring the beautiful rain, we got a message from Jamie and then from DHL to say that a parcel would be delivered in about half an hour. We quickly dressed and unlocked the front door luckily just in time to collect the big box the man had left on the step. He looked soaked as he waved and got back in his van. The box contained a lovely hamper hand-made from willow and inside was a great selection of chocolates, biscuits jams and wine. Thank you both. That was a lovely surprise on the last day of the year.

I suggested pizza for dinner. Home made pizza. Scamp seemed happy with that. It used to be a tradition, pizza for dinner on Friday. I made the dough with plenty of time to spare for it to rise then cleaned the downstairs toilet, hoovered the downstairs rooms and then went to look at today’s photos. They were a mixed bunch. Some good, some not so good, but one stood out for me. A little dried out weed whose flowers and seeds had gone but the skeleton of the plant remained. It looked just like a Japanese pagoda to me, and that’s what I called it. The Pagoda Plant. It was PoD. The last PoD of 2021.

The pizza was exceptional. By far the best I’ve made for a long, long time. Scamp had Tuna and Sweetcorn I had Anchovies and Tuna. Both were finished with only crumbs left behind.

It’s been another strange year. Lockdowns, vaccinations, boosters and the constant threat of Covid, but it’s the holidays that will stick in my memory for a long time. Especially the first one in July when all three families came together in Cumbria. I’ll also remember climbing the Nine Standards with Jamie, Simonne, Sheila and Vixen. That was a tough one, but I did make it to the top and it was worth it. You were right, Jamie, it was a lot easier going down.

Tomorrow we have no plans. The weather looks like it might be better than today, so maybe a traditional New Year’s Day walk.

Tonight at 4pm Scamp noticed that it wasn’t quite dark outside. There was a little bit of light in the sky. The days ARE getting longer, we’re coming out of the dark.

All Good Things etc. – 19 November 2019

One last chance for some sun before we return to sub-zero Scotland.

After breakfast we found those sun beds again and put them to good use, then the clouds started rolling in, but we didn’t mind, in fact we were quite glad for an excuse to get up and go for a walk. We walked round the garden to the manmade waterfall and there stood a heron. At first we both thought it was a fixture, a model to scare real herons away from the fish in the pond. Then it move. Camera out and grabbed a few shots. Moved closer and took a few more, as did Scamp. Finally we were almost inside zoom range and had to back off a bit, that’s how close. We walked through the cave and another photog appeared and took some photos. Still the heron blanked us. It must be really used to tourists in the hotel and the fishing must be good too.

Back to the room and did the final change into winter clothes and sealed up the bags. Taxi was due for 12.30pm we waited until 12.45 and then went to phone the help line. I was just getting put through when Scamp shouted that the taxi had arrived. I went out and all I could see was a big bus, no taxi. That’s when the bloke took my case and bag and put them in the hold of the bus. The bus was our taxi to the airport. I think we laughed all the way to the airport, just the two of us on a big tour bus!

The laughing stopped when we got through security and saw that our flight was delayed. The only one that was on the whole board. We needn’t have worried, it was only delayed by about 30mins and we were boarded fairly quickly. The captain explained that the temperature in Glasgow in the morning was -5ºc and in his words “None of the ground crew seemed to want to come out and work.” I think he was choosing his words very carefully because he really sounded as if someone was going to get one helluva bollocking when he got back to Glasgow.

Flight back was fairly uneventful and we were actually slightly ahead of time when we landed. Back home, the heating was on and the house was warm, thankfully because it was about 3ºc when we were driving into Cumbersheugh.

PoD was that heron. What else could it be

Tomorrow, believe it or not, Scamp wants to go dancing!

Heliotropic Sunbeds – 18 November 2019

Another scorcher for our last full day, but there were a few clouds in the sky.

Grabbed those two seats again. The ones we could rotate to face the sun. Heliotropic is the word. Lay there baking for a few hours before our peace was broken by Pepe doing his round of the pools. Pepe, by the way is a multicoloured caterpillar with a big friendly smile, and is the emblem of the Kids Club at the Elba hotels. All the kids seem to love him (and at least one adult too). Once Pepe had done his round, we went for lunch.

After stuffing our faces again, Scamp headed back for more sun while I headed off to the badlands for one last walk on the wild side. Today I chanced upon a Southern Grey Shrike that was perfectly happy to pose for me. Didn’t see any evidence of its ‘larder’. Shrikes are known as ‘Butcher Birds’ because they hand their kills on the spikes of bushes. Viscious wee devils! I finally found some of the green and yellow rock plants I’d been looking for. I presume their bulbous leafs store water to see them through the dry spells. I also found a ‘Mother of Thousands’ plant looking quite graphic with its dark leaves against a light sandy background. A host of Painted Lady butterflies and a Snowy Egret completed my collection of flora and fauna for this visit. On the way back I saw one of the blokes with the carabiners and the ropes from the other day, abseiling down from the roof to wash the windows. Nice way to spend your day.

Back at the hotel, Scamp was just finishing off a cup of sangria delivered to her by a dubious Ladyboy with a dodgy lopsided wig. So she said, anyway but she had no photographic evidence to prove her story and she was just finishing off a cup of sangria. I rest my case.

The night was spent packing and consuming a few more G ’n’ Ts. Probably a few more than was good for us, but it was the last night and tonight’s entertainment was Bingo or a Quiz. G ’n’ Ts won.

PoD was the Shrike. First one I’ve seen on Fuerteventura although I did see a few on Lanzarote.

Tomorrow the dreaded flight home.

A sunny Sunday morning – 17 November 2019

At last some sun and respite from the wind.

Spent the morning sunbathing in much calmer surroundings. Found that sheltered spot again and claimed the sunbeds we had yesterday. Same ones, same spot and just lay there angling the beds round to face the sun. The wind had dropped considerably overnight. This was the holiday we’d booked!

After lunch I decided to go for a walk over to the Museo de Sal and Scamp came along with me. It took us a lot less time to go there and come back than I usually take. We didn’t actually go in to the museum because we weren’t all that interested, but we did take a few photos around and about it. The walk back was much more pleasant than recently with the reduced wind strength.

Nothing much of interest at night. Dodgy singer who sang with a Polish (?) accent. We were not impressed. Entertainment, with the exception of Pepe and Tina, is not a strong point of this hotel.

PoD was some fluffy flower seed heads. Seen on the way to the Atlantico Centre for some ‘supplies’.

Tomorrow hopefully more sun.

Sunshine and Showers – 16 November 2019

A day of mixed fortunes.

In the morning after breakfast, we found a sheltered place and went sunbathing for an hour or two.

After that we walked to market in Caleta. It was the usual junk. Michael Kors bags, tourist tat and cheap belts. I actually heard a ‘Looky-looky man’ at a belt stall say “Looky-looky is no charge!” There was nothing much to see there so we walked down to the town and then chose to walk back along the walkway to the hotel.

Just as we were arrived, the rain came on. We had a beer in the sheltered part under cover, then lunch. After lunch I chose to go for a walk to the crashy waves and Scamp went to sunbathe. Both of us had to give up and come back because of rain showers and the cold wind.
I did get some photos of the waves and of the camels going home for the night. It was the camels photo that made PoD.

Went to kids club after dinner and it was the best entertainment of the night. Guitarist on at the upstairs bar could play, but couldn’t sing and didn’t seem to know the correct words to any of the songs.
Gave up and took our drinks upstairs. Apart from the sunbathing morning, it had been a disappointing day in a disappointing hotel.

Tomorrow will be better.

Fairy Lights – 15 November 2019

I’d tried to avoid it, but Christmas is coming.

This morning, the inevitable happened. We’d been waiting for it and watching the weather forecasts. Pulled back the curtains and there it was. Rain. Not terribly heavy, but it was there blowing in on that constant north wind. Hmm, let’s have breakfast and make plans for the day.

Breakfast is the first chance you get to over eat in this place. I’m trying to meter my fruit intake because too much isn’t too good for my insides, but a little is good. I’ve been trying to have cereal on most mornings, then an omelette with some bacon. What are called ‘English Sausages’ have the shape of British sausages, but the content is partly sawdust, partly stale breadcrumbs and partly something else I don’t want to consider at this time of the morning. Bacon is fatty and salty. Both of these ingredients are essential to giving it a bit of taste. The omelettes are excellent and enormous.

After the morning repast we noted a fair bit of activity in the hotel. Three blokes kitted out with carabiners and ropes, clinking around with hard hats on. Then we realised they were there to put up the Christmas lights. All the way down from the ceiling on the enormous window wall to the floor. Oh dear, it’s almost Christmas.

While Scamp read in the hotel, I attempted a sketch of the rear of the hotel with its chairs, tables and palm trees. Half listening to the chatter around me of people whose plans had been thwarted by the now lessening rain. Soon it stopped and so did the sketch. Time to go for a walk.

We’d hear that the market was on in Caleta today and walked down the main drag to find that the rumours were untrue. Not a Looky, Looky man in sight! Continued on to The Trafalgar, the English pub in the town. Lunch was a bowl of hand cut chips washed down with a mug of Nescafe coffee. One of Scamp’s traditions is coffee in the English pub. After that a pint of lager each washed the coffee down!

We walked round to the harbour which is now much prettier and less interesting than it used to be. After that we crossed the sands to cut off a large corner of the road back. Today wasn’t just cool, it was actually getting cold. Scamp, of course, disagreed!

In the afternoon I went out to get some more bird pictures using the 4K setting on the camera. This time the subject was Ringed Plovers, but the abseilers got PoD.

There was a Variety Show tonight, but we’ve been to one of those before and there was very little variety on show, so we decided to give this one a miss. Played Rummikub for a while and called a halt to the day.

Tomorrow we may go to the market. We’ve checked and it is on tomorrow.

The big city – 14 November 2019

Travelling with the ordinary folk

This morning we got the bus to Puerto del Rosario. Paid the princely sum of €2.90 for both of us to travel to the big city. About a 20 minute journey, equivalent to a ‘fast’ bus to Glasgow, but at a fraction of the cost.

We didn’t have an agenda, although Scamp wanted to go to the beach which had looked interesting the last time we were on the island. We got off near the big shopping mall and Scamp immediately found a shoe shop. There she started a conversation with two Scottish women in the shop and discovered that they were from one of the cruise ships that was berthed in the harbour.

We found our way back to the “Church with the Bar”. The bar isn’t actually in the church, but it is in the church grounds. Can’t see that happening here! We got interviewed by two students who recognised us as tourists. I was shocked, I thought we fitted in perfectly with the locals! They were doing a survey for school and wanted to know if we’d been to Fuerteventura before, what we thought of it and why we came back. The boy especially spoke perfect English. I felt ashamed of my “Two beers and where’s the toilet” in Spanish.

Lunch was in the same café we went to last time we were there and after a bit of a panic, when I thought I was eating shellfish stuffed peppers, only to find it Hake, we had a great meal for a very, very reasonable price.

There were two Cruise ships in the port. One was the gigantic Aida Nova and the other was tiny by comparison, the Marella Explorer.
It was the Marella, the two ladies Scamp met were sailing on. We walked along the prom and were forced to listen to a street drummer playing to a seemingly endless set of midi files.

Lovely and warm in Puerto del Rosario, but cool when we got back to Caleta. It took us almost twice as long to get back. We must have boarded the island equivalent of the X3 by mistake.

Went to the Island when we got back and had a couple of Mojitos (one each!) sheltering from the wind.

PoD was one of a group of little shells. About 100 meters from the sea and not near any river. How they got there in the middle of what’s really a desert, I do not know.  Also saw a Spoonbill.  Never seen one before.  Such a strange looking bird which Scamp thinks looks like a pelican from the front.  Yes, it does, but from the side there is no likeness at all.  It was interesting, but  the little shell won PoD.

Danced to Tina at night. Even got a namecheck. “My two friends from Glasgow” she called us!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to walk into town to go to the market.

A walk in to town – 13 November 2019

Still windy but still warm.

After breakfast we walked in to Caleta and had a paid-for beer. I think we must have picked one of the most expensive bars in the place. €5 for a pint and a half pint of lager. Not what I’d expected, but a lot cheaper than back home.

We hadn’t intended going much further today, so we walked back to the hotel, noting the very few changes that had been made to the town. It was still very windy, and although the wind did keep the temperature down, it wasn’t too cold. Certainly still shorts ’n’ tee shirts weather.

In the afternoon I walked out across the wilderness, almost to Museo de Sal and took some crashy wave shots. Trying to get to grips with the new 4K mode in the TZ90. It certainly has a lot more settings than the TZ70 and the results on the Mac look acceptable. Also saw a Painted Lady butterfly. Hard to believe that they fly all the way from the UK down as far as southern Spain and maybe even as far as the Canaries!

Tonight was our Italian dinner and although we had had one before, a few years ago, it was just as good. I remembered the sweet that I described as “Disgustingly Good!” It hadn’t changed. Mascarpone Cream on a Crispy Ice Cream base.

Afterwards our entertainment was a sad group of jugglers. You lose a bit of interest when one of the jugglers drops the hat she’s supposed to catch. It wasn’t totally dire, just a bit tired.

Couldn’t sit on the balcony and have our traditional G ’n’ T because that bloody wind didn’t drop much in the evening, so it was a bit of light reading with a drink after the entertainment.

Today’s PoD was a Bird of Paradise hidden among the bushes. A Bird in the Bush, Not the Hand, so to speak!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to get the bus to Puerto del Rosario.

Up early and out – 12 November 2019

Off to a warm place

Early rise, just before 6am. Quick breakfast then a fairly easy drive to Glasgow Airport. Equally easy check in and then, as usual my bag got hand searched at security, but this time the tray holding my ‘tronic stuff got searched too. I’m was beginning to think the ground coffee was looking suspicious, but what is there in a Kindle, a Samsung phone and a ten year old laptop, all of which switched off that could give cause for concern? Anyway, we were sent on our way again.

Flight was on time and the actual flight was without event. It was actually an interesting flight with very little cloud after we left Scotland. Great having plenty of leg room in the Jet 2 plane.

Short wait for our pre-booked taxi, and a short run to hotel. The room was fine, on 5th floor with a sea view as advertised. Unfortunately there was no sunny balcony and it faced into wind. A strong wind. Fuerteventura is always windy, but according to the weather app this was a 20 – 25mph wind which is a lot stronger than usual.

Quickly got dressed in something more appropriate for the 23ºc temperature and went in search of our first holiday beer. It’s traditional, lunch and a beer in the sun. We won’t starve.

After dinner we danced to Tina, the saxophonist who we were hoping told be working the hotel. So we should be having at least two nights of dancing as she will be back on Thursday, all being well. We even had a visit from the dancing Pepe who wasn’t worked very hard because there were very few kids for the Kids Club. I think the visit made Scamp’s night.

PoD was a quick snap of the airies at Glasgow.

Tomorrow we investigate the hotel further.

Why now!!!! – 15 August 2019

Woke up this morning, the day we were flying home, with sickness and diarrhoea. Why now?

No breakfast for me although Scamp did encourage me to have a slice of toast. Journey to the airport was actually ok, because I was medicated to prevent any leakage. Journey from the terminal to the plane with Mad Max Verstappen driving the bus was a nightmare I don’t want to relive. Flight was comfortable and scenery was fantastic.

Drove back home through rain and terrible traffic. The M8 at it’s worst. Anyway, got back home safe and sound and tomorrow’s another day.

PoD is the view as we were crossing the Channel.

Recovery starts tomorrow.