Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘2017’

Last week Sharon and I followed in the footsteps of Spain’s King Alfonso XIII.

The king (el Rey) perambulated the 5k long walkway/boardwalk, which hangs on the sides of a river gorge, in 1921, quite a while after it had first been constructed to allow access to hydroelectric power plants situated along the way. Although the construction was completed by 1905, the king:

“…crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, (which is at the north end of the walkway) and it became known by its present name (The King’s Little Pathway)” (1)

IMG_0580

We’d heard of it before, but never really took any notice until last year, when my brothers and their wives accompanied Sharon and I to Ronda, by train (2). It looked remarkable, so Sharon and I set about trying to fix a date to complete the walk ourselves. We’d looked at doing it last January – but were too late to get ourselves a booking and at Easter, we were just too busy – until again we were too late.

IMG_0558The walk costs around €10 each and YOU HAVE TO BOOK a starting slot.  Timetables are available on the website (3). These are currently being updated, but I believe they were in half hour slots from 10:00am. We’re told that you can just turn up at the kiosk, but for all sorts of reasons, I wouldn’t risk it.

The pathway is one-way, going north to south and parking can be found at both ends – although beware, there’s not a lot of parking.  At the north end, there is a small group of lakes – the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba Reservoirs, around which cafes, hotels and other recreational activities have been established. This is where you begin your walk.

IMG_0562

“The actual entrance to Caminito del Rey is either 1 mile or 1¾ mile from the road, depending on which route you take.  There is a car park of sorts but it does not have the capacity that this attraction requires.  Cars are abandoned all the way down the road leading to the lakes.  There is a walkway that heads out towards the Caminito ‘entrance’, which starts around the side of El Kiosko restaurant/bar, under a short tunnel (with cars parked along it) and then through the woods and along a winding forest track that covers some stunning views. Another entrance begins closer to the main car park – via a pedestrian tunnel.” (4)

There is a bus service that shuttles walkers to and from either end of the walkway. For example: If you arrive by train at El Chorro railway station, close to the southern entrance, you can catch the bus right outside the platform. 15-20 minutes later it drops you outside El Kiosko (northern entrance), so you can begin your walk back to the station. However, do beware – there are not many trains per day. (5)

The bus also stops at the entrance to the small car park by the Mirador Restaurant.  So, if you’ve parked at the north and walked all the way to the south entrance – the bus will bring you back to your car. The bus cost us €1.55 each.

IMG_0569

The walkway itself is probably less than 5k in length but overall, expect to walk 8-9k, with the extra walks to and from each entrance.

None of it is strenuous, other than you needing a head for heights.

Unlike days gone by, when unfortunate people died whilst attempting the route as it began to decay, the walkway is perfectly safe and staff patrol it all the time in case of incident. Half way along, there is a fairly lengthy stretch of normal walking – so it’s not all hanging boardwalks and scary stuff. This area would be a good place to stop and maybe have a small snack. Our photographs don’t really do it justice at all. The colours are more magnificent (and we went on a day that was overcast), the views are much ‘closer’, much higher and much deeper. It really was worth the hour or so drive to get there from Fuengirola and the parking problems (actually, we did ok for parking because we arrived about 09:45am in plenty of time for our 10:30am booking).

IMG_0588

They don’t allow umbrellas and a guide seemed to be asking someone why he’d brought sticks (I don’t think they are allowed either – they’re certainly not needed).  Everyone is issued with a hardhat and sanitary head cover.  You need good strong footwear, some water (the amount depends on the weather I suppose) and possibly a fleece or lightweight rain coat if walking late/early in the year.

There are toilets at the IMG_0560northern entrance, so if the coffee you had at El Kioski has worked its way through by the time you reach the entrance barrier, don’t worry. If you see groups of people milling about – ignore them: look for an official, get your ticket scanned and follow instructions. What we didn’t know was that the people milling about were parts of organised groups waiting for their time slot – get past them, they are like cats being herded.

It’s not a long walk, you don’t need lots of food or drink. Judge your water needs on the weather and take a small snack (we took a couple of tiny pastries each) to keep you going.

We were advised not to bother with photographs and to soak it all up as we walked instead – and to be honest, I wish I’d heeded that advice. When I go again, I will not take my camera – I will feel the moment.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caminito_del_Rey

2 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/hermanos-y-cunadas/

3 http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/

4 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/a-day-out-ardales/

5 https://www.rome2rio.com/s/M%C3%A1laga/El-Chorro-Andalusia-Spain

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Car buying

Well, yesterday saw the completion of our car buying journey in Spain. It’s not been difficult, but it has been long-winded and tiring.

We started looking around about this time last year, as we’d got fed up with the tricks that car hire companies were up to with their insurance costs. Over the years it has become more and more stressful to hire a car in Spain as any little scratch ‘could’ lead to you losing your deposit – one time we had to leave €1300! Our research had told us that second hand cars in Spain were not cheap and so we did some cursory looking around and came away to consider finances.

IMG_8967Sharon rooted around the internet and came up with a number of sites to visit when we got here and we checked out some of the main dealer showrooms. We kept coming back to MalagaCar.com (car sales) as all the write-ups were good and the prices comparatively reasonable. We’d met Miguel when we visited last year and he remembered us as we talked with him this time. What I liked about MalagaCar.com was that there was no pressure, none.

No pressure to buy, no pressure to look at this/or that and only answers given, to question asked. The cars and the service sold itself.

Our price-restricted choice came down to a Corsa or a Punto. Our research didn’t look good for the Punto and neither did our test drive. So that left us with a 2014 Corsa or a 2013 Corsa (@ €1,000 less). We test drove both and opted for the older version purely on price. Here, at MalagaCar.com the price includes registering the car with authorities, 2 years ITV (MOT), 1 year guarantee, VAT, and a free 12-month service. It had its ITV yesterday.

It’s been tiring because we’ve had to visit the showroom quite a few times for this and that (probably because our hire car had to be back on a particular day – so they couldn’t keep the car until fully ready). I went back yesterday for it to go for the ITV, but suspect that this would normally be done before collection.

We bought fully comprehensive insurance with Liberty Seguros yesterday. The company have an office in Los Boliches and we had it recommended to us, as the service was good and English was spoken. Sammy explained everything to us in detail and we ended up buying fully comprehensive cover, with €150 excess – with breakdown cover included.

Sorted.

Read Full Post »

I took advantage of an unusually dry day today,  to take a bus up to the top of Varley Road (I wasn’t walking up; it’s too steep, too busy and there are no footpaths) and I then walked along Chain Road (B6107) to Marsden.  The views from up here are tremendous and now that we’re a good way into August the heather is beginning to populate the hillsides and tops.  Along with the purple thistles, and other pink/white flowering wild flowers – the colours are just beautiful.

FullSizeRender

There is a slightly higher route, on Marsden Moor proper, alongside the water channels originally designed to move water to and from Deerhill and Butterly reservoirs, but I fancied the road route as I would return to Slaithwaite along the canal.

The canal was wet and muddy after all the rain and in places, showed signs of having been flooded at some point. Still the rain stayed off and I had a pleasant five-mile walk.

IMG_8766

When the weather is nice here in the UK, we can experience the most wonderful scenery. From where we live, rugged countryside is never more than a few minutes away.

IMG_8765

Read Full Post »

Readers may have noticed that quite a few pictures of jigsaws have been appearing in my Flickr Stream, which appears below the Archives link – to the right of this post. These have all been completed by me, over a period of years.

I started doing the jigsaws sometime in 2012. Our friends Karen and Dave had invited us to stay with them at a cottage in Derbyshire and Karen had brought one along with her.

I was hooked.

It helped that I’d heard from friends that jigsaws were good for memory retention and brain exercise and as I was getting quite a way into my 60’s, I started scouring the charity shops for examples to complete. Sharon bought me the first puzzle, https://flic.kr/p/dQ8VK1 which almost put me off for ever. It was well-worn to begin with, but I persevered and managed to complete without too much frustration.

 

Studies [..] have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other mind-flexing activities can actually lead to a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, and reduce our chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s Disease (by an amazing third)(3).

KING

That first jigsaw was one created and published by King, a Dutch manufacturer. I’ve completed many others by this manufacturer since and all have been tricky – even new ones. This is because the card used by King is quite flimsy and many of the pieces fit many of the other pieces – even though they shouldn’t. The boxes are also quite cheaply constructed and I generally have to cellotape the corners to stop pieces from falling out.

RAVENSBURGER

Ravensburger, a German company, have consistently produced well-made jigsaws on good card and which click together in a quite satisfying way. The most recent one to be completed was a scene from a 1960’s village green. https://flic.kr/p/UDQqbb. All of the puzzles have been challenging and all quite colourful.

GIBSONS

Gibsons is a British family run company based in Surry. I’ve experienced a range of quality from Gibsons, but the more recent examples have approached that of Ravensburger.

33838556200_a536b4aeb3

I have my own Flicker Album of jigsaws and am also a member of the Flickr Jigsaw Group, which displays a vast array of jigsaw puzzles from around the world.

23971124000_32b6fef042

Now that I am semi-retired and have more time on my hands, I find myself completing more and more jigsaws. When we visit Spain, I tend to have less time as we are out and about more, but we have a room there where the jigsaw can be left out and sat at for a few minutes at a time. Here in the UK where it is always overcast and dark, I wait for sunnier days or, in winter, make sure I’m sat under the brightest lights (which then bring a problem of too much reflection – but ….).

My board is from https://www.theworks.co.uk/ and folds away whenever I need the space.

Resources

  1. http://figur8.net/dream/2014/03/14/what-are-the-brain-benefits-of-jigsaw-puzzles/
  2. http://www.ebay.com/gds/How-Puzzles-Help-the-Mind-/10000000177633935/g.html
  3. http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/The_Healing_Power_of_Jigsaw_Puzzles.html
  4. https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-dementia-jigsaw-puzzles/
  5. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibsons_Games
  7. https://www.ravensburger.com/uk/start/index.html
  8. https://gibsonsgames.co.uk/

Read Full Post »

I took my mum for a memory test yesterday.

She’s eighty-seven.

Sadly, my mum has been slowly losing her ability to remember certain things, over an extended period of time – probably for about three years. She copes with most things on a daily basis, with help! Without my dad, I suspect that she would have tremendous difficulty coping with day to day things like cooking and eating. This isn’t to say that she isn’t ‘all there’, she is: she takes part in discussions (when she can hear – her hearing aid is not always fully loaded and ‘on’) and retains a wicked sense of humour.

Memory_Process

However, despite not wanting outside help (“David, whilesoever as I can manage, I want no one else coming in here to help**) my dad has been asking the doctor if there’s anything they can do to help my mum. [I have to say right here that I have THE very lowest opinion of my parents’ doctor, both historically and presently]. The result, after a fair amount of nagging is this memory test.

Dad didn’t want to go with my mum as he felt that he would get too upset, which I suppose, after sixty-six years of marriage, is understandable. Also see ** above. So, the original appointment having been when we flew to Spain in March, I visited the centre, rearranged the date, and off we popped yesterday.

Word Art

Mum hated the idea of going (I hesitate to say that she was terrified); she accused my dad of going behind her back and of being sneaky (by asking me to go with her instead of him).  Also: “no one told me about this! I’m not losing my memory, I’m ok!” etc. Yet, once there, having been assured for the umptieth time that I would go ‘in’ with her, she was lovely.  She was calm and had no worries. Once the young (very pregnant) nurse had introduced herself and directed us up to her room, mum was the personification of ‘nice old lady’.

elephant-1090828_1280She answered all of the questions as honestly as she knew how and seemed to feel no pressure at all throughout the full hour of questioning. On the standard test, she got 59% (the standard being 85% ish) and for me it was easy to see exactly where she was losing ‘it’. Mental sums and short term memory tasks were very poor, but at longer term knowledge (that is a penguin, that is a kangaroo etc.) she was much better.

She still thinks that she has no problem remembering things (I haven’t had sugar in my tea for forty-five years – yet I’m asked every time we visit) and insists she’s ok with money; but she’s not.

However, she wasn’t fazed by having to go, soon, for a brain scan and then, afterwards, to see a specialist doctor. But those are hurdles to cross further down the line.

What do we hope to get from this?

I’m not sure.

References:

Pics:

Resources

Read Full Post »

What can I say about India, that I haven’t said before?

Not much!

pani-puriIt bustles. (It REALLY bustles). Although where we are based this time, out on the outskirts of the city proper, it doesn’t bustle quite as much. It still takes a brave man or woman to cross the road at most times of the day – something that seems to be achieved with ease by the locals but which fills me with dread.

It smells. There is such a variety of smells too, from the rich and sweetly scented to the downright sewery pongs of open drain networks. Now we’ve spent a little time here, I think we realise that the running water (smelly running water) is pump-out from the many building sites up and down the road. It looks like the have reached the water table in the site next to us and are pumping the water out to build foundations.

You walk in the road. Most of the pavements we have to use on our 10-15 minute walk to work either don’t exist, or might have done at one time but have fallen into disrepair. Dust is everywhere and is kicked up by the relentless turbulence of passing traffic. Along our route, there are various commercial outlets – it’s difficult to use the term ‘shops’ because whereas some ARE shops in the traditional Western sense, others are tiny (tiny!) sheds with the vendor’s goods laid out on (for example) a carpet, or hand carts piled high with all sorts of things: grapes seem to be popular just now, we’ve seen a number of carts piled high with tiny green grapes. (There’s even an unrefrigerated pork shop!).

There’s rubbish everywhere. In-between those commercial outlets, in what appears to be no-man’s-land, is rubbish. Not necessarily smelly rubbish but all kinds of other detritus. Certainly, much of the broken pavement can be found in the rubbish piles, but there’s also bits of iron, old boxes, trailing wires, bags of unspecified garbage waiting (forlornly) for pick up and, in one place, huge piles of paper. In fact, I’ve now seen, several times, a man sat tying up sheaves of papers – so I guess that the piles of paper are his and that one day a truck will come along and take it away after paying him a small pittance for collecting it. No one says that the locals are not entrepreneurial.

img_0406

I suppose all that suggests that I don’t like it here – but nothing can be further from the truth. 

This is my third visit and I’m still fascinated by India and by the Indian people. See previous posts:

I cannot comment on the countryside as I’ve not really seen any. On each visit to Bangalore we have travelled from the airport, which is miles outside the city proper, to our hotel and not really seen anything other than urbanisation and cityscape. The city is HUGE. The third largest population in India (some fact sites tell us) and it is still growing very, very quickly.

scaffoldOur hotel is surrounded by building projects.  On all sides there are cranes, banging machinery and some of the ricketiest scaffolding you’ve ever seen. From the roof terrace, there is not a direction I can look in that does not have building work going on (hence the dust).

We see workmen scrambling along the scaffolding and wonder how they don’t fall off. I suppose it’s some improvement in health and safety that they always have a clip-on harness while they do this but – who knows.

 

Read Full Post »

It’s now early February and I’m nearing the end of my sixty fifth birthday celebrations. After the UK celebrations, I decided I would spend two months in Spain. That time is almost up.

It’s been a fabulous stay, with friends popping in from time to time and a break (a big break) from the UK winter weather.

Following the celebrations at home, we set off on 12th December to stay in the Premier Inn at Heald Green, close to Manchester Airport. We arrived here in Torreblanca on the 13th https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/winter-201617/ and spent the Christmas and New Year period on our own, mainly just Sharon and me. Early on, she took me for a great day out in Malaga, on a food tour https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/malaga-food-tour/ . See also: http://devourmalagafoodtours.com/

We also went for lots of walks. For example: up and down the hill lots of times; to and from Fuengirola, Los Boliches or Torreblanca (quite often!). We also caught the train to Torremolinos and walked back to Benalmadena a couple of times.

I’ve written elsewhere about our walks up and around the hills behind the apartment for exploration. See:

fullsizerender-3Michelle came up from Gibraltar one day before Christmas and we took her up to Mijas before deciding it was too cold up there and coming back down to Los Boliches and eating in Mason Salvador. She came up to see us again early in the New Year and we took her for a day out in Malaga. As in all the subsequent visits (with JT, DT and Tony, as well as with Martin and Lin), we visited the marina, the castle (Castillo de Gibralfaro) and the city itself, sampling some of the places Sharon and I had enjoyed on the food tour.

Sharon had to return to the UK for a couple of weeks on 12th January and while she was away, friends came over and stayed with me.

3-amigosJohn (JT) came out to visit first and we went more or less straight down to Gibraltar to see Michelle (his daughter) and we spent the day there with friends and shopping. Michelle cooked a delightful Pork Fillet Wellington for dinner – splendid.  John’s brother David (DT) came out on the Sunday to stay in 916 and Tony (TT) flew in on the Tuesday; so, there was quite a crossover of friends whilst Sharon was back in the UK. We ‘did’ Malaga again and walked up to Mijas (twice, once with JT and Dt and again then, with TT – we also walked back – which nearly broke me J )

Most evenings we ate out, but one rainy evening, the weather was so bad that we decided to come straight back and ‘eat in’. This was probably the best meal of their stay; we had all sorts of food, DT cooked steak, I cooked Tortilla and we emptied our fridges of other cold foods and salads (and beer).

three-amigos

Sharon arrived back the same day that Lin and Martin arrived to stay with us for a week. During that week, we had trips to Mijas, to Malaga and to Gibraltar where Michelle, again did us proud. She drove us onto The Rock and gave us a magnificent tour, showing us viewing points and time to see the marching re-enactment of the ceremony of the keys. http://www.visitgibraltar.gi/event/re-enactment-association-saturday-march/187. We had a late lunch in La Linea before setting off back before it was too dark.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So that’s it. All visitors arrived home safely and we depart on Sunday.  Back again soon.

Read Full Post »