Collies crossing the Border

Ola! Blog here,  International Travel Dog.

Day Two of the Camper Van Experiment has seen us cross the border into Spain. Landing initially in San Sebastian, a picturesque seaside resort on the Atlantic coast.  VW_sanseb_11

Arriving in the centre, it immediately felt too urban – cars, people, businesses, busyness. We stopped at one end of Bay of La Concha and took a walk to look back at the town. Cracking view, and we were rewarded by a sculpture called The Wind Comb.

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Happening upon a small coastal road that ran above the cliffs, we continued westwards and stopped at a place called Zarautz. This was more like it. Smaller, quieter, with a beautiful beach and plenty of grass.

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It has to be admitted that we opted for the ease of a camp site – with luxuries such as toilets and hot showers. Bliss (for the humans). The parking spot was on a headland overlooking the sea and the beach, with the mountains on the other side. Gorgeous.

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And – deep joy, we could be let off our leads – hooray!

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The camp site was practically deserted, just a few other camper vans – all MASSIVE compared to ours. Most folk seemed to have a doggie or two with them. All this running about is thirsty work – time to investigate the local bar, check out the cervezas and the basque tapas, of course. These are called pintxos.

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And work out what we do tomorrow (to be continued).

 

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California Dreaming

California tossing and turning more like. We are just back from an Experiment, namely : Can 2 x humans and 2 x border collies live in comfort and harmony, on the road, in a VW California camper van for a few days?

The conclusion seems to be ‘mostly’.

VW_van_1A pristine, white camper van turned up last Tuesday, and I quickly commandeered the back seat. Excellent viewing possibilities -paws on the kicheney bit, good view through side window – hail all oncoming white vans and lorries. It was also to be my bed. Very nice.

Genepi was consigned to the floor, and took up position between the driver and passenger seats – either of which she later used as her bed.

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Once loaded with a surprisingly modest amount of stuff, off we set, heading west into the Basque Country. Plus Point No 1 for campervaning is that we can head off wherever we like – there does not have to be a Plan. We headed off to the sunshine.

The van came with a guidebook to something called France Passion, which lists all sorts of stopover places – all free, and in places like vineyards and farms. Dallas decided we should head for St Pee sur Nivelle – Genepi thinks this is hilarious. And we found the site, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, up high on a sheep farm.VW_pee_2

Minus Point No 1 is that we seem to have to stay on our leads. We were in the middle of the countryside, nothing but fells and rivers, precious little traffic. Just herds of sheep grazing peacefully. They seems to be able to roam freely – why not us? Dallas mentioned something about a video clip called Jesus Christ Fenton  (https://youtu.be/3GRSbr0EYYU) – and we must stay tethered.

That evening I was taken for my customary wee wee walk, only this time it wasn’t just me who availed myself of the grassy banks. Minus Point No 2 (for the humans) is that the camper van lacks some basic facilities.

It was all VERY peaceful and quiet. They enjoyed beers and saucisson as the sun set over the Pyrenees, and Dallas whipped up dinner in the mini kitchen. As darkness fell, the two camper van novices started fettling their sleeping quarters.

This is the upstairs bit of the van – opened up electronically, and the bedding fed up above the cab. Clambering up there was not a lesson in grace and modesty. Glad I was downstairs. Especially when the wind picked up and could be heard whistling through the rafters.

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Anyway, they emerged from Above the following morning – and we were all soon off on another wee wee walk. Breakfast prepared, it was time to break camp and work out where to go next.

Lets go to Spain – y viva espana    (to be continued)…

Postcards from Iceland : Its lavaley

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Sometimes Andy and Dallas dare to go off on holiday WITHOUT us. Its not nice and we hope they feel bad and guilty about doing it.

In such circumstances I call upon my trusty friend, Travel Blog. He’s small and squishy and can sneak into their luggage without being detected.

He sends me regular updates, complete with selfies. My spy in the suitcase.

Turns out they flew off to Reykjavik. The most northerly capital city in the world.

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Hi Blog, here at the Blue Lagoon and its is quite surreal. Its about an acre of cloudy, yet glowing, turquoise bath water, situated in the middle of a black lava field. All man-made. Its keeping the people remarkably calm and quiet. I just see their heads in the mist gliding about slowly in the mineral rich spa water.

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The surrounding lava field is rugged and barren. And the knobbly basalt is covered in soft green bouncy moss. There’s no habitation for miles around, just a big geothermal power plant.

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Blog, this is a picture of me on the shores of lake Laugarvatn, right next to a puddle of boiling water. The locals come down here and bury rye bread dough in the sand. They leave it to bake for for about 9 hours! Its sweet, and is delish with smoked trout (apparently).

TB_geysir_1Blog – we have moved on to an area famous for geysirs. Sadly the biggest one (the Great Geysir) was all quiet, but a smaller one (Strokkur) was bubbling up and spurting every 3 or 4 minutes.

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Here I am above a big waterfall called Gullfoss (Golden falls). The falls start off wide, then turns through 90 degrees, and suddenly the water all cascades into deep dark crevice – maybe into the centre of the earth?

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And here I am at Thingvellir. Its a big national park, and the seat of the very first parliament in the world, which started in 930AD. Interestingly it is on two tectonic plates, the Eurasian and the North American. Andy and Dallas snorkelled in a fissure between these plates. They had to wear dry suits (what a palaver) as the water is very cold, coming directly off a glacier.

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Finally Blog, you asked about the wildlife. I have met one Icelandic Sheepdog,  who was white, friendly and wee’d on our car. Have seen lots of Icelandic horses, and learnt not to call them ponies. Missed the puffins, who actually spend the winter somewhere out in the open ocean. And got close up and personal with this chap who may well have drifted to Iceland from Greenland on an iceberg – how cool is that?

Signing off for now, love to you and Genepi.

Travel Blog x

Crayfish Tale

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‘Our’ Lake is being drained. At this time of year it is normally pretty empty anyway, because the farmers use the water for crop irrigation. Mostly for the maize and soya beans. Here it is, or rather isn’t,  in 2012…

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This year though, because its been so blinking wet and rainy, the lake has remained full. And very, very verdant around the edges. In some places, its like a tropical rainforest. The bamboo especially is thriving.lake_bamboo_1

The farmers are letting out the water, so that they can tackle the overgrown bits. I have no idea what they intend to do exactly, but will no doubt soon find out.

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The upside of this is that the fish are all getting concentrated in a smaller and smaller area. You would think that that would improve my chances of catching one. But it doesn’t. The fish hold all the aces in their watery world.

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the dot in the middle of the lake is me – click on image to enlarge it.

I’m not entirely sure what I would do with a fish if I caught one anyway.

Another aspect of the lake draining are the crayfish. As the water recedes, they are being revealed in great numbers. We all noticed them, except for Genepi. Completely oblivious.

gen_crayfish_1Genepi, look down, you numpty. And, quickly, put that tongue away!

 

Sunflower Safari

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Sunflowers to the north of us, sunflowers to the south of us. They have got us surrounded. The farmer planted them later than everyone else’s, as usual. And they are now at their peak.

Dallas declared it time for a Nature Walk, to principally check out the bee activity on the sunflowers. And also to see what other bugs and butterflies are out and about.

True enough, the sunflowers were abuzz.

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Coming up to midday, and its getting hot.

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The thistles and teasels were also teeming with life. Butterflies, beetles and bumblebees…

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Spiders and wasps…

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But the key thing is that those honey bees are out working their little socks off, and very soon we will be able to see if they have managed to perform their alchemy. And transform sunflower dust into scrummy honey.

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Honey harvest in about two weeks time, all being well.

 

A big white box

blog_mouse_box2Dallas came home with a mysterious big white box. She muttered something about Christmas. Surely its a bit early for presents?

She put it down on the grass, and we went to investigate. Judging from Mouse’s reaction the box isn’t empty!

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It was taken over to the hen enclosure, opened up…

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And out popped this handsome (?) fellow. Not a hen or a cock, but a capon. He is 8 weeks old.

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Poor chap had an operation a couple of weeks ago, when they cut off his bits. There won’t be any baby chicks or cock-a-doodle-doing. The idea is to fatten him up, ready for Christmas Dinner.

What are the chances of that, I wonder?

He came from a local poultry farm, which produces all manner of ducks, hens, guinea fowl, geese etc. It was Dallas’ first visit and the very kind farmer showed her around. This is the capon hut.

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Normally they are outside in the fields, but because today is Pick-Up day they stayed indoors, ready to be united with their new owners.

Our capon should be fine to live in harmony with the Chicky Girls, and be free to graze during the day. I will report back on that.

His name is Baubles.

The day the well caught fire

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We had just finished our early morning walk, when it sounded like Chinese New Year at the bottom of the garden. Loud bangs, flashes, puffs of smoke and flames.

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Electricity + Water = Sound & Light

The drama was centred around a little building which is a pumping station, or used to be. It sits above a natural spring and well, and once supplied the whole village with water. It is no longer in use, and we were told that the electricity had been cut off years ago. Which seems to not be the case.

Andy called the Electricity Company, and they promised to arrive sometime today. I was shepherded inside and got on with my bowl of Blog Flakes. The fireworks continued. Bang, bang, splutter, fizz. Somewhat surprisingly the EDF were with us within about an hour, saw the fire and Rushed!

well_5Hats off to them for their prompt service. Electricity to the house was restored and I was allowed back outside to do some Patrolling and other important stuff.

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