Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Puerto Mogan   2 comments

Further southwards after another flight and another batch of custard pies in the airport! Gran Canaria for some sun, sea, sand and mountains. Our base was the resort of Puerto Mogan at the far SW corner of the island. I thought a little introductory post about our home before some more dedicated posts to our trips out, walks etc.

It has fine artificial beach, very sheltered and great for swimming

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Around the breakwater you can see the next resort tucked among the cliffs as well as the dramatic coastal bluff that separates it from Puerto Mogan.

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On our first full day it was somewhat cloudier than expected but no matter as we had to head to the airport to pick up TBF’s sister who was coming out to join us. We decided to take the scenic route through the mountains to get a feel for the island’s interior and its very narrow and twisting roads.

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The weather was firmly in the cloudy and cool bracket. We had a very chilly picnic lunch by one of the lakes, Presa de las Ninas, that would have been a lovely spot in the sunshine.

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We drove on to the airport past the highest point which was deeply immersed in cloud!

Arriving back at base with our new arrival we went for another stroll around the town and beach.

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Dramatic clouds replaced cloudless blue skies.

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What it lacked in warm sunshine it more than made up for with light effects on the surrounding hills and trees.

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A sunset view from our roof terrace.

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Much as the golden light and clouds was impressive we wanted blue skies and sun and for most of the rest of the trip that’s what we got!

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The town had a rather nice viewing platform set high (and very steep) on the hillside. Great views over the harbour, coast and town.

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Providing people stayed out of shot.

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More sunset views from our roof terrace (which was rather fine by the way).

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And more views from a second lung bursting climb to the viewing platform.

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And a shot of the town at night from a walk up the cliffs on the other side. many more photos from a couple of splendid walks up there in later posts.

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Settled in, now it was time to explore and see some of the sights and especially the mountains.

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Posted January 21, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain

Tagged with , ,

Slow Return to Outdoor Life   18 comments

That nasty bout of flu stuck with me for three weeks and really hit me for six (I still have a nagging cough four weeks on). Last weekend I tentatively ventured out for a day outdoors for the first time since I got back from my ski trip. A short trip that I’ve done may times before but one of my favourite local walks

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A decent weather forecast and the cold weather had been replaced by almost spring-like conditions

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Through Cwmyoy village and my favourite wonky church

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Ysgyryd Fawr as always dominates the view to the south

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Wild ponies on the summit

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And the beautiful Vale of Ewyas to the north

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We found a relatively sheltered spot on the summit for a bite to eat and a chat about TJS impending choice of University. When we set off the fickle British weather delivered a punch. The skies had gone very dark and within minutes it was raining, a cold slanting rain that replaced the spring conditions of earlier with a taste of winter. After a soaking, the skies cleared and all was sunny again

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The late afternoon views were rather fine

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The Sugar Loaf

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And a dark looking Ysgyryd Fawr

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I particularly like the light in this shot

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Only 6 miles but I was completely wiped out when I got back to the car. Hopefully I can recover some of my lost fitness over the coming weeks now I seem to be over the bug. Always good to use an old favourite to start over

Lanzarote – The Final Day   13 comments

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Just one more post to do from our final day. We decided to head up north again and I was anxious for another walk. Finding a short walk that TJF would be happy with (never easy) was proving a challenge until I spotted a walk in my guide-book that started with a long walk up a road and a footnote that said it had been recently improved. If we could drive up the road we could have a short walk up another couple of old volcanic craters without breaking sweat. Plan

We found the road at the back of the village of Maguez and indeed it was now metalled and easy enough to drive. We parked up at 520m to leave us a monumental 71m to climb to the top.

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We were heading up the twin volcanoes of La Quemada and Los Helechos. This is the crater of La Quemada

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And this is Los Helechos with Montana Corona in the background

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They are perched high above the cliffs of Famara with superb views over the coast and the island of La Graciosa

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It was a splendid easy stroll to the top (not easy enough for TJF to be honest)

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A view over the crater of Los Helechos and Montana Corona behind

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Looking south along the spine of the island. In the middle ground you can see the road we drove up zigzagging across the hillside

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Family shot on the top

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Montana Corona – one of the 600m peaks and one for the next trip

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More superb views across the high valley of Guinate to la Graciosa

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A short drive away and we were able to walk to edge of the cliffs. It’s a sensational spot. the cliffs plummeting 400m down to the sea

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The photos just don’t do justice to how exposed it was. It made me feel giddy looking down

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Lots of interesting looking walks along the cliffs and farmland up here. Looking forward to a return visit

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We went back to one of our favourite restaurants of the trip in Orzola for lunch. We had hoped to spend the afternoon on the beach for a final swim but it turned a bit overcast and cool for that. Instead we took a look around one the other big resorts of the island. Costa Teguise. Its a huge place and as one of the older resorts it does look a bit tired and dated. It much more “Brits abroad” than Playa Blanca and needs some money spent to bring it back up to scratch although we didn’t see it in the sunny weather. It has a nice beach though and we took a wander about before heading home

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Me and TBF found time for one last wander up Montana Roja in Playa Blanca (featured in an earlier post)

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Not a bad finish to a superb couple of weeks away from the Xmas madness

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A chance to see the sunrise on the last morning before we headed off to the airport and back home to winter

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Lanzarote is a superb place and if you make a small amount of effort there are untold, unspoilt corners to discover. In reality its nothing like the holiday brochures and for the outdoor types like us a wonderful, almost perfect place for a winter break. From one extreme to the other in the next post

Lanzarote – Montana Blanca   14 comments

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Time to bag another volcanic summit. We’d had another leisurely morning of poolside lazing and strolls along the seafront so an afternoon hike was in order. Today’s outing was on the far side of the Timanfaya National Park to Montana Blanca, or Caldera Blanca. The name seems to vary depending on which map or guidebook you use. It’s obviously quite well-known as the parking area was very busy when we pulled up and its obvious to see why once you reach the top.

First things first, we had to reach the bottom that involved a path carved through one of the lava flows from the Timanfaya eruptions

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The fact that someone has decided to drive a path through this stuff is extraordinary. You only have to walk two or three paces off the path to realise how impossible it is to cross without help and how much effort it must take to build

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They are interesting with features that form like “rivers” albeit from lava rather than water

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They are pretty hard going however and you soon long for easier ground

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On the way to the main summit you base the smaller sibling of Montana Caldereta, itself not exactly insubstantial

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These volcanic relics of much older eruptions are very reminiscent of the Auvergne in France at least in shape. Those are much older and now covered in grassland and forests

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The main summit looks loose and hard to climb from below and you expect it to be a loose pile of dust and rubble. In fact it was quite hard and rocky and a decent path takes you onto the rim of the Caldera. It’s striking and the base of the crater is pretty deep, good few hundred feet I’d guess

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This is Montana Caldereta from above. These older cones are called Isoltes (Isolates I assume) and are the older relics that the more recent lava simply flowed around. You can see it quite clearly in this shot

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The weather had changed with a bank of cloud rolling in and a pretty ferocious wind blowing. The rim is narrow enough to make it interesting without being dangerous but I was glad the wind was blowing away from the drop into the crater

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We reached the top at 461m without incident and in fact just a couple of feet below the summit marker all was calm

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The views across this particularly remote and uninhabited corner of the island were amazing

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The panorama shot below got a bit interrupted mid-flow as it were (hard taking one in a strong wind) but gives an idea of the massive size and depth of the crater

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One of my favourite shots of the day, bright sunshine and moody clouds

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I think the big peak on the right is Guardilama that we climbed a few days earlier

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Looking out over the Atlantic

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Time to head down and continue around the crater rim. There is a path up to the next summit along, Risco Quebrado but we’d started late and still had a way to go, so took a rain check on that one

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As with most days as the sun lowers the light highlights the volcanic summits to greater effect

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I think (not 100% sure) that this is the Aloe Vera plant that seems to thrive in these landscapes. There are lots of dedicated museums and shops on the island to this little plant and its various unguents and potions

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We found a nice traversing path down to the base on the far side of the crater taking in the last of the sunny photos before it started to set

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It was a long walk back through the lava fields to the car and it was pretty much dark when we reached it. We were only one of two cars left

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Another stunning walk on this strange and beguiling island

Lanzarote – La Graciosa   8 comments

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Why visit one island when you can visit two. From Orzola at the north end of the island you can take a boat trip around the Punta Fariones to the island of La Graciosa. Of course we had to give this a go.

The boat trip was rather excellent if a little cool and breezy

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The views of Punta Fariones were superb

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And the island of la Graciosa came into view (the island we’d seen from the top of the cliffs at the Mirador del Rio a few days earlier)

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The highest point on the island, Agujas Grandes

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And the harbour of the main town Caleta del Sobo

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We took a little wander around the town before lunch. All the roads are sand and there are few vehicles

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It’s a pleasant sleepy little place with a few shops and a handful of restaurants

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After a fine lunch we went off for a walk. There are some small peaks to climb and some stunning beaches. TJF is not the keenest of walkers so we wandered down the coast to the nearest beach

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The island is dry, dusty and peaceful and I really enjoyed the walk along the coast

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The dark summit of Montana Amarilla dominates the southern part of the island

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While the views back across the water the cliffs of the Risco de Famara on Lanzarote were superb

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We reached our destination at Playa Francesca and its a beauty

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Golden, sand, clear water and overlooked by a volcanic remnant

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Being the main organiser I’d packed the water, snacks, towels, beach rugs, snorkel stuff and everyone’s swimming gear – except mine. Can’t turn down a swim on such an idyllic beach so pants (discretely covered by a rash vest) were the order of the day

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There were a few day trippers from the big catamaran but they departed not long after we arrived and beach was wonderfully peaceful

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We spent a happy hour sunbathing and pithering about on the beach/rocks and admiring the views

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The walk back was equally fine. As on most the days the late afternoon delivered a wonderful light that highlighted the stark landscape to perfection

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There is a lagoon that holds water at very high tide but today it was bone dry

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We timed our walk back perfectly to catch the last ferry back to Lanzarote

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The light was fading and the cloud building on the way back so photography was a little challenging

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I liked this slope of what looked like soft earth eroded by water over a matter of days

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It those clouds look dark enough to drop some rain you’d be right. We had a few spots on the boat (and a brief shower on the drive home), the only rain of the trip

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La Graciosa disappeared into the distance

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Another fine day out and we were finding so much quality stuff to do. When I return to Lanzarote I’d like to spend a couple of days on La Graciosa, there is some quality walking and more great beaches to explore and its wonderfully peaceful

Lanzarote – Hiking a High Point   12 comments

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Time to get back to more serious walking. After a morning of lazy strolls and chilling by the pool me, TJS and TBF headed out for a walk in the afternoon. The weather was still stunningly clear and we wanted to bag one of the higher summits.

We started from another of the small quiet villages of the island, Uga. Heading out of the village and along a wide track into the hills

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We crunched our way along the ash track, reminded me of walking on snow in very strange way

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This is the valley of La Geria. It’s close to the area that erupted and was devastated not by lava but by ash. The area was quite well farmed and verdant before the eruption but after it happened most people left and never returned. More recently the area has been turned into a vast collection of vineyards. Each of these small hollows surrounded by a wall contains a single vine. Rather than protect from the wind the construction allows the dew to collect and trickle down into the hollow in miniscule amounts but its enough to sustain the vines. As you’ll see from the rest of the photos they dominate the landscape in such number as to be a marvel of effort to create that many. The unique pattern they create is one of the abiding memories of the island

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Back to our walk and we were heading for the peak in the centre right of the photo, Montana de Guardilama. Its one of the “Three Peaks” over 600m I mentioned and had supposedly stunning views

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We caught a glimpse of one of the Timanfaya tour buses traversing the slopes a few miles away

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The panorama shot gives a feel for the width and desolation of the uncultivated parts of the valley

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This lone palm tree caught my eye

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Our target peak getting closer

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As we reached the col the views along the east coast towards the resort of Puetro de Carmen and the capital Arrecife opened up

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All we had to do was climb to the top. Hard work on the loose rubble slopes and took far longer than I thought

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Fortunately the views from the top were stunning

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TJS struggling to keep up with the old man

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Couple of panoramas taking in 3/4 of the island

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We had an extended stay on the top. The air was stunningly sharp and clear. An absolutely perfect day for walking

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Looking south towards Playa Blanca

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The National Park where Hell was unleashed a few hundred years back

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TBF providing some foreground

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We’d started late and we had another summit to climb and a few miles to go so we had to push on. We slithered down the slippery slopes and I waited for the others to catch up. While I was there an old German man walked up and abruptly asked what the climb was like. I gave him the low down about how long the climb might take etc but that the views were well worth it. He then set off just as abruptly without another word or a thank you. Some people!

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We headed back up towards our second summit of Montana Tinasoria. Much lower and less steep it was an easy climb. We passed these ruined buildings, an area heavily used for paragliders as a launch site

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As the sun was starting to go down the shadows and the golden light on the islands dusty brown summits was just mesmerizing

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One of the things I loved about the island were the smooth sinuous curves of its volcanic cones. The low angle of the sun highlights them and the vine hollows perfectly

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It is the age of the selfie

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Reluctantly we headed down. I didn’t much fancy loose volcanic ash slopes in the dark

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We passed through the crater of the much smaller Montana Mojon. These Prickly Pears providing a welcome splash of green to the landscape

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There was a shallow crater rim so we wandered along it for some bonus views. By now the light was just sensational

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As we reached Uga again the sun was catching the white houses perfectly, picking them out against the black lava and darkening blue sky

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One final treat as we drove home and saw the sun setting as we crossed the col at Femes

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from the walking on Lanzarote but its magnificent, fascinating and surreally beautiful. This half a day walk was amazing and one of the highlights of the trip. Boxing Day sales in a retail park or a walk like this?

Lanzarote – Schedule for a Perfect Xmas Day   10 comments

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Preparation:

Tell the family there will be no Xmas presents, keep the tree in and decorations in the loft. Avoid all expressions of Xmas while on holiday

Leave cold, storms, rain and snow behind and head somewhere warm and sunny

Xmas Morning:

Take a stroll before breakfast in the sunshine while there is no-one else about

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After breakfast on the patio take a long lazy stroll along the seafront to the beach (Playa Dorada)

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Pose on the beach for smug Xmas day photo

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Take a paddle in the sea

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Look at (but don’t buy) any souvenir tat from the shops

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Have lunch on the patio

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Xmas Afternoon:

Return to the beach (Playa del Papagayo), pose for another smug photo

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Enjoy the expansive blue sky, golden sand and calm clear water

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Take a scramble around the rocks to the beach next door, Playa de la Cera

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Take a swim in said calm clear water

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Return to the apartment for a late afternoon beer in the sun on the patio

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Take another stroll on the sea front to watch the setting sun

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Finish the day with an improvised Xmas dinner (no dates in blankets!) and a bottle of cheap Cava.

Now that’s what I call a good Xmas Day 🙂

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