Monthly Archives: January 2017

Trail Running in Southern Spain

Paul and I love exploring new areas and one of our favorite ways is to run. We run at a speed where we can take in all the surroundings and stop when we feel like taking breaks. Southern Spain does not disappoint us. While heading south from Seville we stopped at a recommended hike/run that Gene Dykes had done. We had to climb a huge distance up in the van to get to the Nature Park, El Torcal de Antequerra. We are up so high there is snow! Local children and adults are having fun throwing snowballs at each other. There is a visitor center and the paths are easy to fine. Amazing rock formations and views of the valley below.

Heading West we arrive in Cabo de gata which is near Almeria. Here there are pretty easy flat runs you can do along the beach on hard packed sand trails. We wanted to climb a bit so we headed to the lighthouse on our bikes (nice climb too) and locked them up there. We ran 5 miles north over some nice size hills and back. The trails themselves were easy enough to follow, just a lot of up, up, up, then down, down, down.

On the way to our next camp spot we decide to try another trail somewhat on route. We park our van in a small town called Agua Amarga. There we followed the trail sign south over the cliffs and spent the rest of the run ooohing and aaaahing as we rounded each corner or crested a hill. We reach Cala San Padro which is only accessible by foot or boat. There we find a rustic encampment that probably grows in the summer months. Sweet hideaway from the world.

Time to clean off the feet and jump back into the van, heading North up the coast.






Travel time, now the journey really begins. We leave Bath on January 13th and drive to Portsmouth where Paul arranged to meet up with an old professor he knows. We do a short run on the waterfront then Paul goes visiting. I watch the sunset, drink hot chocolate at a cafe and stroll around the Southsea  shopping area. We meet up with Paul’s family at a camping spot, Dible Park, outside the city. Paul rides his bycycle to get us a tasty fish and chips dinner.

We wake up early and head to the ferry. All of us line up and the ferry is on time for an 8:15am departure. (that’s Lynda and Derek’s van in the first picture) The ferry itself is surprisingly cozy and clean. It has a restaurant, 2 theaters, game room, shopping and more. I especially like sitting on the top deck, relaxing on a bench in the sun and wind. Very peaceful. After a 5 plus hour journey we arrive in France. We head south to a rustic Aire and camp for the night. Up early before the gang is awake and head out on our own.

We do a long day of driving before stopping at a free Aire in Briviesca, Spain. Hard to find at first but it was next to a bull fighting ring and soccer field. Some kids threw mud balls at the van but other than that it was quiet, police patrolled and had just one other camper.

One more day of driving and we arrive late in Seville at Hacienda el Burgo the home of Rodrigo Charlo. We get shown around his amazingly beautiful home and then escorted to a guest room. He would not hear of us sleeping in the van and we were easily persuaded. At about 9pm (Spain’s dinner time) we head into Seville for Tapas with his son Rodri and daughter Bebe (Angela). Our first glimpse of the city and I am excited to explore more. Back home after midnight .

Our time in Seville was brief but we enjoyed it immensely. Here are some photos of highlights.

Metro Parasol created by Jurgen Mayor H. in 2011,  at the Plaza de la Encarnacion

Plaza de Espana, tile work, fountain, a must visit and next to Parque de Maria Luisa

The Real Alcazar, this palace is crazy big and has labyrinth rooms and gardens that are so much fun to explore.

This palace has also been in Game of Thrones, as the Water Palace of Dorne

A view from the Seville Cathedral. Needless to say, Paul did not climb up the tower with me. The views are incredible and the interior breathtaking.

Lunch at Mercado Lonja del Barranco was tasty then we crossed the river to Triana.  We checked out Mercado de Triana but it was closing time. Good thing the Centro de la Ceramica de Triana was open. Very inexpensive to enter and we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit on the history of tile making in Triana. plus there are remnants of the old factory, kilns etc.

We want to thank Rodrigo and his family for welcoming us in their home. Also, to my sister Bridget who is Rodrigo’s longtime friend and our connection. Thank you Rodri for playing some original music for us at dinner one evening.

On our last night Rodrigo took us to eat at Puerte Galeta where he has his photos from Africa displayed. Delicious tapas and much vino. We love Seville!!!

Wales and the Elan Valley

After a lovely New Years eve in London with Vanessa and Victor, Paul and I set off early to pick up Hannah and then head to Wales. We rented a sweet cottage, Grofftau Holiday Cottages, near the Strata Florida Abbey.  Our plan was to meet up with Paul’s dad and spend a day together. Hannah and I had never met John Davis, her paternal grandfather. We met John in Aberystwyth early in the morning on January 2nd. It was a cold morning so we all jumped into his car while he took us on a whirlwind tour. We got to Devil’s Bridge around lunch time and had coffee/tea and the lunch afterwards.


From there we went to see the Red Kites feeding at Bwlch Nant yr Arian visitor center. Beautiful day for Wales in the wintertime. At sunset we went town to watch the starlings by the pier. We met up with Paul’s half sister Karen and had more coffee/tea. Our good-byes felt awkward but real like the song, “who knows when we shall meet again”. Afterwards we walked back to our parked car. The night sky was crisp and dark which made the stars glow seem even brighter.

DSCN1812 DSCN1807

We spent the next day relaxing in our comfy cottage. Paul and I ran a bit on the local hills, Dinner was in the closest town, Pontrhyfendigaid (yes really) at the Black Lion Hotel. Very Good! We drove the next day through the Elan Valley and stopped to see sights along the way. It was rainy but still the valley has so much beauty you can enjoy it in any weather.


The Elan Valley is a place of beauty, mystery, and life. I can see why people come to visit then stay and live near the water, hills, and fresh misty air. The sheep are smart too.


Glastonbury – Shoreditch London

One benefit of having children is that they grow into adults. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our adult children Hannah and Evan during their trip abroad. Doing physical activities with them like walking, cycling, hiking and swimming gave us time to talk and also share collective experiences.


We took a day trip to Glastonbury and climbed up the Tor to the roofless remains of St. Michael’s  (a tower). The Tor is mentioned in Celtic Mythology, particularly in myths linked to King Arthur , and has a number of other enduring mythological and spiritual associations.


We had a quick stroll in town and enjoyed checking out the crystal shops before having hot chocolate at the Blue Note. We headed back to Bath and relaxed at the Bath Spa outdoor/indoor pools and steam rooms. Wonderful day!

20161229_145445 20161229_145509

After saying goodbye to Evan at Heathrow airport, Paul, Hannah and I headed into London and the Shoreditch area. We stayed one night at the Citizen M hotel and walked around the hip neighborhood. Free street art is everywhere but there are many cool shops if you want to get your consumerism on.


We found a highly rated place for breakfast, Ozone Coffee Roasters. Yummy! Spent a good part of the day at the new Design Museum (formerly the Commonwealth Institute for older readers). Then off to Staines for a birthday party for Judy, a good friend of Paul’s.



Christmas in Bath

I feel blessed to have had such a wonderful Christmas with Paul’s family in Bath. The whole production was well organised as there were 11 people staying. Lynda actually made programs for all of us and put them on our pillows. Two of our children, Hannah and Evan, came over from the USA. The rest of Paul’s family traveled down from London. Vanessa, Victor, Natalie and Tom. Nick lives wherever he is at the moment. (in a tent)dscn1673

We slept in our Sprinter van parked behind the home while Natalie and Tom slept in Lynda and Derek’s  Murvi van. They have very nice neighbors to accommodate us.


Our son Evan has not been abroad for 11 years. It was a special treat to have him over to share the holiday. Nick took this foggy evening photo of us.


My cousin Mick lives in Cambridge and was able to join us for two days in Bath. He really enjoyed listening to Evan’s new music collaboration called Fett. Soon to be available for your own listening and dancing pleasure.

Most of our days involved DIY breakfast, Lunch, tea/coffee, an exercise of choice (cycling, running,walking, yoga etc..)


We also played games, read poetry by candlelight, did Christmas quizzes and ate so much delicious food and drink. On boxing day a few of us sampled the sales with varying degrees of success.


Here is the group of us on Christmas morning with Uncle Terry, Aunt Pat, and cousin’s Toby and Ben added to the mix. Very memorable time had by all.