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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A pail of puppies

It was time to change their bed sheet, and so the puppies were transferred to a big red bucket for a few moments, whilst fresh bedding was brought in. Looks like this method of containment will only be effective for another couple of days.

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The puppies are now 21 days old, and growing up fast. All 8 have their eyes open, and are moving around, albeit rather wobbly on their legs. Their individual personalities are starting to show, they are certainly getting noisier and more inquisitive. In a nutshell, they are getting cuter.

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Little Liberty laughing

Liberty, in a classic case of nominative determinism was one of the first to clamber free of the birthing box.

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Following in the footsteps of her big brother, Looping.

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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)…

Its a Boy, and a Girl, and another Girl, and another Girl…

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I can proudly announce that I am now officially Granddad Blog. Gibsie gave birth to 8 puppies a few days ago. Two boys and six girls. All healthy, squeaky fur balls, in various markings of black and white.

Gibsie is made-up. She is well chuffed with herself (rightly so) and is doing an excellent job of caring for her brood. Although I hear today that she feels like a bit of time off – not for another 8 weeks or so, Gibsie!

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Here they are less than one day old. They took about 10 hours to arrive, and Gibsie coped really well, delivering nearly 3 kilos of puppy.

One is more Dalmatian than Border Collie…

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The two boys have mostly black coats, whereas the girls have all sorts of patterns. Here is Lucky, the first born…

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Position Filled

The recent vacancy for a suitor for young Gibsie has been filled by a dashing chap from the other side of Toulouse – a 2 year old hunk with piercing blue eyes, known as Iliot. The Border Collie equivalent of Daniel Craig.

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Sporty, agile, playful and affectionate – excellent boyfriend material.

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They have been cavorting now for the past two days. Iliot fulfilled the brief with consummate ease, so all being well she is ‘with pups’. Fingers crossed. The happy event should be just this side of Easter.

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Hallucinogenic Honey?

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Dallas went off on one of her of her Nature Walks, but for the very first time I wasn’t allowed to go along. Genepi and I don’t really understand this pre-occupation with bugs, flowers and such – but normally we go along with it, because whilst she’s prattling around with a camera, we get to play hide and seek in the undergrowth, and chase rabbits.

thornapple1Today the focus was in the corner of a nearby sunflower field, where the flowers weren’t big, round and yellow but long, thin and white. Exquisite. And Dangerous.

There’s an extensive patch of Thorn Apple (Datura stamonium), also know as Jimson Weed or Devil’s Snare.  It is HIGHLY TOXIC and belongs to the Nightshade family. Now I know why we are locked in the kitchen. Imagine Genepi high on some psychoactive stimulant. She’s mental enough as it is.

All parts of this Datura plant contain dangerous levels of  substances classified as deleriants or hallucinogens. This didn’t stop the bees from collecting pollen / nectar.

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They were out in force. Diving right down into the tube.

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Emerging some seconds later, seemingly compos mentis.

This does beg the question : What does this do to the resultant honey?

To quote from Wikipedia ‘Some substances which are toxic to humans have no effect on bees. If bees obtain their nectar from certain flowers, the resulting honey can be psychoactive, or even toxic to humans, but innocuous to bees and their larvae.’ So its okay for the bees, but the honey may well be toxic.

This is a massive blow. Having lost one hive to wax moth, this probably means that the honey from the remaining hive should be ditched. Further research is now required. Any information will be gratefully received.

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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