Greece 2021 – On Holiday At Last

They make a spectacular sight against a blue sky.

We first booked a trip to Greece, to sail the Faraway Islands, north of Corfu, for spring 2020.

Of course, Covid-19 scuppered those plans, so we rearranged the trip for spring 2021. Then we realised a May holiday could clash with my sons’ rearranged wedding, leaving us no time to isolate if that was the current rules, so we moved it forward a couple of weeks.

Then COVID came back with a vengeance and we asked Sailing Holidays to just find us a sailing trip in Greece for October. We had to avoid the 13th as that was Barbara’s 90th birthday party, so we booked the delivery trip from Nidri to Gouvie for the following weekend.

As the pandemic is still very much with us, we had to be tested, and fill in lots of forms.

Eventually it was time, and off we flew, after an early departure from Pete’s on Sunday, we arrived mid afternoon at the Hotel Iris and were shown our yacht, Elara, a Beneteau 331.

After welcomes, and more testing and forms, we settled on the boat and dined in the restaurant. The weather was a bit glum, but we had a rainbow to give us hope.

The following day, after briefing and shopping, we left Nidri for Spartakhori.

We were delighted to get our sails up, and as we headed into a bay for a swim, we spotted a few dolphins a short distance away.

We have visited Spartakhori a few times before, and as it was a team meal, I forgot to take any new photos.

Next day we set off for Kamalos. the sun was shining but not much wind. We had hoped to meet up with Mary-Ann and Colin, as they were also sailing in the area, but our plans didn’t match up, so we motored down the Meganissi chanel and stopped in Port Leone for a swim.

We anchored just outside the old windmill, before setting off up to Kalamos.

Goerge, who owns the tavern on the quay, is renown for getting any boats into his harbour, even if it seems full. Luckily it was fairly quiet as this was approaching the end of season.

Wednesday we set off to Sivota, with a bit of early wind, and we were delighted to see 3 dolphins swim past our yacht. We kept sailing all the way across the top of Meganissi and downto Sivota.

There is a beach near to the marina so todays swim was sorted on arrival. We also had a punch party on the beach as dusk set.

Sailing this late in the year means we were up before dawn most mornings, and we had some spectacular sunrises.

Thursday started with little wind so we motored most of the way to Little Vathi on Meganissi, only getting the sails up after a stop in Abeliki bay, where a flash new house was being built. This was a feature of the holiday we had not seen before, lots of modern buildings arising everywhere.

We did mange a short stretch sailing Goose wing, which is always a delight.

After an evening briefing, we slept ready for an early start.

The next trip was through the Lefkas Canal, all the way to Gaios, so we had to set off at 07:30.

Another sunrise rose behind us as we set off north to Lefkas.

The morning had a surreal feel to it, as it was so calm and still, with only our 2 flotillas out on the water.

A bit of chaos ensued at the canal, as first one boat had rushed across under full speed and had overheated their engine, then another boat ran aground in the mud in the canal. Then a third yacht had its anchor drop mid canal, meaning the lead crews had to haul it back up while we dodged the obstruction.

So when the horn blasted for the bridge to open, for 5 minutes, it was a crazy dash to get through, and the horn to signal its closing blasted as we motored past. Our lead crew failed to get past and had to wait an hour for the next opening.

We motor sailed part of the way, then dropped the sails and carried on under engine. It’s a long trip, with Paxos only becoming visible after a couple of hours, but luckily the weather was good and not too much swell, as this is my least favourite part of the trip.

After that long trip, we only had to get to Lakka the next day. The wind was stronger and we reefed our sails and had a good play, with more goosewinging.

We enjoyed a delicious dinner at NioNios of Pork Hock, then we wandered round the town, finding a children’s clothes shop that had to be visited. That’s 2 Christmas presents sorted.

Next we returned to the mainland, to Sivota Mourtos, stopping on the pontoon in the next bay. Our yacht was moored nearest to the land, and I had my best swim yet along the rocky shore, with many different types of fish.

There is a fancy new taverna in the bay, but other people weren’t impressed, so we dined on board, then as dusk started we walked into town, which is a steep 1. We do werer arround 5km walk. we treated ourselves to a great ice-cream and walked back in the dark.

Monday we sailed up to Plataria, having a good tack with reefed sails before mooring uplowed them orarouhalfnd h on the town quay.

We dined in Olgas fish restaurant and I shared the fish platter with Phil, yum.

A new port for us the next day, Sayiadha. It sits behind mud flats which are very shallow, and we were lucky to spot a turtle just before it disappeared, then some dolphins came swimming nearby, with one of them coming within a couple of meters of us. We were able to follow them for about half an hour.

The tavernas here specialise in local caught prawn, which I had with spaghetti.

A few pelicans were floating just outside the harbour the next morning, and another turtle passed us on our way out.

We finally reach Corfu on Wednesday, stopping in Petitri.

Due to a river entering behind the marina, this bay is very atmospheric.

On a previous trip here I had photographed the dawn, and this year we had a similar experience, with thick mist rolling out from the bay.

Thursday was a trip up the coast, stopping in a bay enroute for a lovely swim, and into Corfu Yacht Club. We were lucky to get a spot on the quay side, but it proved a rocky night.

We walked into town late afternoon, and smelt a great curry cooking in the Yacht Club taverna, so rather than return to town, we dined there.

I found this amazing fruit on the quay.

We still had a couple of days before returning to base, so we now venture to a new area, visiting Kassiopi, which is very close to the Albanian shores.

We had a lot of spare time today, so had a swim and sat and read for a while.

Our last day was a gentle trip back round to Gouvia, with a bay stop for my last swim.

We had a team cocktail party and prize giving, we got the ‘David Attenborough’ award for our wildlife spotting.

The following day we didn’t have to leave the marina until 16:00. The staff had already started work on readying the yachts for winter, opening up the genoas to dry.

They make a spectacular sight against a blue sky.

That sadly is the end of a wonderful trip, lots of sunshine, wildlife, swimming, great food and company, but short of good wind.

Dystopian Beauty

‘the sea had just scattered the remains across the beach’

2020 has been a very strange year, and sometimes we just needed to escape, and for me that means the seaside.

Our campervan has not been used much this year, so we decided on a few days trip mid September. Our normal breaks take us westward, so for a change we opted to go North Easterly to the Yorkshire coast, to places we had not been to before.

As we were booking late, and due to Coronavirus, many more people were holidaying in the UK, we couldn’t get the first night where we wanted, and opted to stop in Snaith, on the way there. The site was small, and we were the only guests when we arrived, sharing the field with some chickens who soon departed once the dogs were let out.

The site had caught my eye as the pillars from an old bridge remained in the river behind the site. So we went to have a look, but as the banks were overgrown and fenced off, we only got distant views.

This used to be a toll bridge, charging an awful lot of money to cross when it was built. The 2 small church like building across the river are the toll booths.

We carried on our walk with a visit to Snaith town. To get to the town we passed underneath the road bridge, and a Barn Owl flew out, too quick for a photo.

We found a wonderful cake shop, so took a couple of huge yummy cakes back with us for afternoon tea.

The next morning we continued on to Spurn Head, and the Yorkshire coast.

Our campsite was a small tidy site with around 8 other vans. We quickly realised that Spurn Head is a great venue for Bird Watching, as everyone else there seemed to be in Camouflaged clothing carrying huge binoculars and cameras.

A quick check of Google told us that a rare sighting of a Rosy Starling was todays excitement, but as we only had small binoculars with us, we left that to the twitchers.

If you don’t know the area, Spurn Head is the long strip of sand and dunes the curves around the end of the Humber estuary, and is one of the most easterly points on this part of the coast, which is why random birds appear here, having been blown across the North Sea.

As we had arrived early, we set of for a stroll by the sea, after all, that’s why we were here. Dogs are not allowed on the main Headland as it is a nature reserve, but we stopped at the cafe for a quick drink, no ice-creams! Then we set off along the beach.

The sea is constantly eroding this part of the coast, moving it ever Westwards. As a result, the beach is now scattered with the ruins of war time lookout building, and the static caravan park is slowly being reclaimed by the sea.

The dogs were glad to be free on the beach, with Rita making sure she collected lots of sand to take back to the van.

Lookin gout to sea there is a large Wind farm, gently spinning turbines making pretty patterns as they lined up.

I never imaged lumps of old brickwork could be so beautiful, eroded by sea and sand.

The large concrete blocks are part of the sea defenses. Further along we came to the ruins of WW2 gun turrets.

The first sight of them has a shape that resembles a huge bird, until you venture closer.

These make for a very dystopian lands scape, and truly show the power of the sea. They were very solidly built to withstand bombing, but the sea had just scattered the remains across the beach, at crazy angles.

It is an almost alien scene, with crooked staircases going nowhere, and weird round shapes like UFOs.

Eventually I was dragged away to continue our walk, knowing we would return the next day for more photo opportunities.

We booked ourselves a meal at the nearby pub, which overlooks the Estuary, facing West, towards Grimsby .

The meal was delicious, and we were treated to their ‘cabaret’ – the sun setting into the water. As I have usually visited the west coast, this feel right – I’m never comfortable with the sun sinking behind me as I look out to sea.

The next day, still hot and sunny, we set off from where we left off along the beach.

There is a Sound mirror inland a short way, but we didnt find the footpath to it, so only got a distant shot.

The signs of erosion are everywhere, the caravan site had lost a row of plots, and the road hangs over the edge.

On the dunes we found a ‘sculpture’ of several lobster pots and some rubbish, with a poem written on.

At one point the dogs started barking when they were close to the sea defenses, and I soon realized they had come across a young seal.

It wasn’t too concerned by them, as I called them away, and it flopped back into the sea.

I grabbed a shot of the starlings on the telegraph wires, one of them might be a rosy Starling, but I doubt it.

After another good night, despite me finding a wasp in my cider, and getting stung on my lip, we set off to our next stay. I was for once glad to wear a mask, as my lip and cheek swelled from the sting.

First we called in at Bridlington, a very typical seaside town, all rocks shops, arcades and tacky souvernirs.

We just had to stop on the prom for fish’n’chips, and took a stroll around town. It was busy due to the lovely weather, but the breeze was a bit brisk.

Our final site was on Flamborough Head, just round the coast.

The next day we walked from our site to the lighthouse on the Head, passing the old Chalk tower, which was the first lighthouse here. But the charges for this service were voluntary, so it quickly fell into disrepair.

The Greenwich Meridian crosses the head and is marked by a plaque. This can be confusing, as many maps of Britain are tilted, so you would imagine it passed further inland than this.

The modern lighthouse is now a popular destination for more bird watchers and has a small cafe. It also has a shop where I found a souvenir pencil for my collection and a badge for my camera bag – result.

From here we set off round the Southern side of the head, where we could sea bird strewn cliffs.

Part of the route passed through a Sculpture park, but is seems most of the sculptures have gone, leaving only a totem pole and a wonderful Whale Bone bridge

The final part of the walk we dropped down to the beach below the chalk cliffs, and then back to the campsite, warmed by the sun, and tired from our great walks.

We were so glad we decided on tis trip, adding new locations to our travels.

Can’t wait for our next trip.

Costa Rica 2011 Part 3

spread warm volcanic mud over ourselves with paint brushes

Back to our Costa Rica travels, following on from Part 2

Our next days adventure included a stop in the Carara National Park for a Crocodile cruise.

We set off along the river in a smallish boat similar to this.

P1030231We caught sight of lots of wildlife as we motored along this wide river,  as this is a Biological Reserve known for its birdlife.

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Then we stopped at the side of our river where our skipper had seen a large crocodile, and he proceeded to jump ashore and feed this 4 meter croc some chicken.

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Rather him than me, but I presume this is a daily occurrence, and they know the croc well, and he is well fed.

More bird spotting on the return trip

 

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and I spotted this turtle on the bank

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I decided not to use the facilities onshore!

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Back on the minibus and onwards to the Rincon de la Vieja national Park and volcano. This is part of the Cordillera de Guanacaste, a great central volcanic massif made up of 5 active volcanoes.

Our residence here was the Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin,  an acrtve cattle ranch,with stables housing the horses nearby.

The first evening we were taken out to a Rodeo, which was just an entertainment, with no harm to any beasts, showing off the skills of the cowboys.

 

The first days we walked around the flank of the volcano, seeing where their geothermal power station was, and checking out the wildlife.

In the afternoon, I took the option activity of tubing down a nearby canyon, while Ian relaxed in the hammock strung across the hassienda supports.

The next day we had a horse ride up the volcano to a mud spa. Ian had not ridden horses before, so I arranged for him to have a few lessons during the autumn, to give him more confidence for this.

First we visited the Oropendola waterfall, 25 metre high, and a chance to swim in the cold water below.

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The ride gave us great scenery, and took us up to the spa, where we could see mud bubbling away

 

and lots of wildlife

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Hummingbird

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Leaving our steeds at the gate, we walked up to the spa.

For the spa, we had a sauna, then spread warm volcanic mud over ourselves with paint brushes, and laid down in the sun to dry.

Then after a shower, we sat in thermal pools, dipping our toes in each to find one of a suitable temperature.

Relaxed and freshened, if still a little muddy, we returned to the horses for the ride back down, and to dinner, and a stunning sunset over the volcano.

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Costa Rica 2011 Part 2

After a tranquil nights sleep, we were woken by the sounds of the jungle, and some cheeky white faced Capuchin monkeys crawling around the site.

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Any food we took into our cabin had to be shut away in the lockable cupboard, as these monkeys happily climb in and raid the cabins.

Todays activity was a Nature walk, and boy, did we see nature!

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Ginger bushes

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Pelicans

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Fungii

The scarlet macaws are very noisy, but you wouldn’t believe how well they hide in trees.

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Frigate bird

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Sloth

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Sloth

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White-nosed Coati

After all that adventure, Ian decided to try the sloth way of life

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And another sunset to end day 2 here

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Day 3 activity was snorkeling on the reef, one of my favourite activities, but Ian is not a great swimmer, so was not as excited.

Off we set in a small boat to the island of Cano would could see from camp.

En-route, our guide spotted a sea snake swimming along – these are deadly, and can jump from the water, so after a quick look we moved on

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A few other boats were visiting the reef, but it was very organised, and I was soon enjoying the sea life

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Eventually I had to end this adventure and head back to the lodge.

This was our last night here, but we ended with a night nature walk – no photos, as it really was dark, but very interesting – we saw a tarantula hiding in a log, and narrowly avoided a venomous Fer-de-lance snake resting in a branch we crept under.

We left Corcavado Lodge by boat again, and picked up our van for the rest of the trip, plus the remainder of our luggage, as the small plane couldn’t take it all, they had arranged for some bags to be left behind.

First stop was at Canta De Ballenas Hotel, in Bahia, a short distance from the Marina Bellina National park.

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Iguana

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Bird of paradise Flower

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Scarlet Rumped Tanager

I don’t seem to have many photos of this park – I think I might have forgotten to take the camera. The park is shaped like a whales tail, jutting out into the ocean.

On Friday we moved on again, this time to Manuel Antonio National Park.

This park has a split personallity – it has stupendous wildlife all through it, but it also hosts some of the worlds best beaches. In order to maintain the park, there is a limit on the number of people in the park at any time. Despite this, I felt some resentment to people there just to sunbathe, with no interest in the scenery or wildlife.

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As soon as we walked into the park, we saw sloths, weird insects, tree frogs and spiders.

However, when we took a rest on the beach, the raccoons soon appeared, and more monkeys, all very cheeky and unafraid of the people.

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You can see why the beach is so popular – Ian even had a swim – this is almost unheard of, but the water was bath temperature.

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One animal we hoped to see in the park was the squirrel monkey, but none appeared. But at breakfast at our hotel Manuel Antonio the next morning, this pair turned up, sat on the kitchen roof, so we didn’t leave disappointed.

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Costa Rica 2011 Part 1

This is a throwback special. A friend has said they have booked flights to Costa Rica, and wanted to know if I had blogged my trip. This was before my blogging days, so lets do one now!

The trip was Ian and my main honeymoon, we got married the year before, but wanted to miss the rainy season, so chose February 2011 for our trip.

We had no idea where we wanted to go, and I didn’t know where Costa Rica was exactly, but this trip stood out in the travel brochures. It was also an activity trip, whereas we wanted to see the wildlife, but it turned out the best option.

CIMG1949Our holiday began with flights into San José, the capital, and an overnight stay at the Rosa Del Paseo Hotel on the main road through the city. It is a quaint Victorian building, within easy walking of the centre, and here we met the rest of our party and our tour guide.

CIMG1950The second day began with a flight from San José out to Palma Sur airport in  a tiny plane, where they had to weigh us as well as our luggage, and they decided that our bags had to follow on the next plane out.

The flight was not going high, so was not pressurized – this meant it could have huge windows, giving us a great view of the scenery as we travelled.CIMG1953

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Soon we reached a Palma Sur airport, and transferred to a coach, and then travelled down to the river Sierpe, where we were loaded onto a barge like boat, and set off towards the sea.

P1030010However, we had noticed that this boat had rather impressive outboard engines, and once out of the town, the gentle trip turned into a  white water ride! Wheee.

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After an hour we reached the sea, and then went down the coast to reach our next stay – the Danta Corcavoda Eco Lodge, on the Pacific Coast of the Corcadavo National Park.

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First sight of the lodges at Corcavado Lodge

There are few roads in the park, so boat is the best way to arrive, even if this meant paddling ashore from the dingy to the beach.

CIMG1969We carried our bags up the hill to find our lodge, a wooden building with mesh windows, and a balcony facing the ocean.

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The view from our balcony.

We still had some daylight left so wandered down to the exquisite beach.

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The beach was covered in tiny hermit crabs, making it appear as if the sand was alive.

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Back to the lodges for dinner, and then time to relax on our balcony. My one ‘must see’ on this trip were Macaws, and on our first evening we saw several fly across the jungle between us and the sea – Wow.

Sunset across this peaceful corner of our planet – bliss.

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Scotland NC500 and more, week 1

We found one of the most incredible beaches, almost deserted

With the weather forecast for Scotland looking warm and sunny, yes, that’s right, we decided to make our desired trip to Scotland in May, when the midges are not yet in their thousands.

So we sat down and planned a route, as since the North Coast Road has been turned into a must-do drive, the campsites can be busy.

After spending our first night at Lytham St Annes for a family visit, our next site was Hoddom castle a beautiful site near Lockerbie, set in the grounds of the castle, and with facilities inside the castle. It was special to take a shower inside a castle.

There are also lovely walks around, including up to Repentance Tower, and along the river. They also have cute pods if you don’t have your own accommodation.

After a lovely quiet night and a morning walk along the river we set off north, stopping briefly at Lochmaben Castle, very much a ruin, and most of it closed off due to crumbling masonry.

This part of the journey took us past Glasgow on mainly motorways, but there were still lovely sights to see.

Our next night was spent near Oban at a site set within a walled garden. You can walk down to the loch shore, but there is a Fish farm factory alongside. However from the back of the site there is the delightful balcadine walk through the woods, with fascinating iron railing down steps to an enchanting chasm.

From here we stopped in Fort William, a fairly drab town, for some supplies, then detoured a little off our track to visit Fort Augustus and the bottom of Loch Ness.

While the town is small and mainly filled with tourists, it is charming and the locks on the canal are worth a walk up, and then walk down to Loch Ness. Of course, everywhere we go Reggie and Rita create a stir.

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The obligatory Loch Ness selfie

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We set off on the A87, enjoying the mountains and lochs, and crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye. However, we didn’t find Skye as enchanting or picturesque as other places, and our site, though lochside, was a bit bleak, but did provide a colourful sunset and a bright start to Thursday .

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Our next stop was Applecross, the the faithful among you will travel the famous Bealach na Ba road, with hairpin bends and steep hills, but we decided Connie was a bit big for the road, so we took the alternate road up to Sheildaig.

En route we stopped by a loch for lunch, and I walked down with the Puli to the lochside, started taking photos, when 3 deer appeared and calmly walked towards us.

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The road from here becomes single lane, but with plenty of passing places. The road is popular with not only campervans, but motorcyclists and flash cars, but was not too busy to enjoy the drive.

Shortly before arriving in Applecross, as we were early, we stopped at a small car park, and found one of the most incredible beaches, almost deserted, with a vast stretch of clean soft sand.

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The pulis has a wonderful time, and we even caught a glimpse of a seal in the bay.

 

The site at Applecross had been in a list of top 10 site on NC500, but as they were building a new shower block, the existing facilities were very poor, with insufficient showers, and the field we were on did not have much view. Hopefully this will improve later this year.

For dinner we walked down into Applecross and had a delicious meal at The Junction, where they allowed the dogs upstairs, and there was a great view across the shore to Skye.

As we had 2 nights here, on Friday we took the walk to Applecross walled garden and beyond, a lovely walk with forest, rivers, hills, and the sweet gardens where we also stopped for lunch and both had Haggis and Cheese melts – mmm.

On our way there we met 10 red deer, just standing by the public footpath that goes along the roadside. They didn’t care about Reggie barking at them, and just stood grazing and watching us pass within a few metres of them.

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Showing how close people were passing the deer

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deer and more wild deer

On Saturday, after revisiting the wonderful beach just up the road to gather more sand into the van, we swapped driver and set off towards Ullapool, passing many pretty fishing towns and lochs.

One pit-stop was to Inverewe Gardens, a lovely sub tropical garden, kept warm by the Gulf Stream. The azaleas were in bloom, and the lovely handkerchief tree.

Luckily, the weather had stayed warm and sunny, reaching 22 degrees some days, and not too many midges had found us.

Stay tuned for week 2, as we head further North and around the top of Scotland.

 

Tanzanian Safari part 2 – Selous

After our trip to Serengeti in my last blog, we then travelled to the Selous Park for the next part of our trip. This started with the 150km drive back to Mwanza, a flight to Dar es Salaam, minibus to Dar train station (a wreck of a place) and onto the train to Kisaki. This train actually travels twice a week all the way to Kapiri Mposhi, in Zambia, and takes 2 days.

Our trip should have been a 4 hour trip, but mechanical problems added 2 hours to the trip, so we arrived late at night, tired and hungry.

A quick drive to Sable Mountain Lodge, and dinner, and bed was all we could manage.

Due to the remote location, and the bandas are spread out, a guard with gun had to escort us to our banda.

Next morning, we woke with the dawn, and opened the curtain (no door) to the front of our banda, and WOW!

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The bath was outside on a high balcony with the most incredible view

After a later start we set off for a game drive in the Selous Park.

We were met by a troop of baboons as we entered the park, and continued to see many animals on our drive.

And lots of birds:

We stopped for lunch by a large lake, and then took a boat trip amongst the hippos and crocodiles.

We were warned about flying fish, and sure enough, one tried 3 times, and eventually leapt into our boat. We saw mother and baby hippos on the banks and lots of crocs.

We then had a quick look at the ‘Bush Rover’ Land Rover Tent, which another couple we met in camp were staying in here overnight. The spiral stairs lead to a bedroom with balcony.

This must be rather exciting, but noisy at night with all of the wildlife.

Fed and watered, we set off driving again, and were lucky enough to meet some kudu, which are normally very shy, plus many more animals and birds.

Eventually, worn out from our ‘African massage’ of a drive, and nearing park closing time, we speedily drove back to camp.

The next morning, as I started getting up, I heard noises above our tent in the banda, and as I went (outside the tent, but under the roof) to the toilet, a bushbaby (galago) ran across the top of the wall!

Sadly, he didn’t stay for a photo shot.

It was another early start, setting back out for a dawn game drive before breakfast.

We saw a lot of zebra, impala and giraffe, and a tree full of black and white colobus monkeys.

Back to camp for breakfast and a lazy morning, then after lunch we set out for a visit to a nearby Masai village, but first we walked down to the tree-house that overlooks the watering hole the camp built, but no wildlife was around. The watering hole takes the water from the camps swimming pool every 3 days, which is drawn fresh from a  spring and contains no chemicals.

On route we came across 4 male elephants bathing in a mud hole they had dug right next to the road.

The Masai village was interesting. The chief had 3 wives, the second of which is a teacher in their school, and she has insisted he have a brick built house (with solar panel and satellite dish), but other villagers still live in mud and coconut leaf huts.

They showed us the trees they grow and explained their medicinal uses, and then laid out goods they had made for us to buy. The Masai always wear their traditional clothing and the men are allowed to carry their knives in public – we saw a lot of Masai security guards on our later travel.

We called in at the train station and village where we had arrived, people were waiting for the return train, as they only run twice a week, and it was running several hours late.

On the road back to the camp, we stopped to see some hornbills,  when Mbasha noticed a tree full of black and white colobus monkeys, who then leapt from the trees.

The following morning we had a dawn walking safari, again with an armed guard. Nothing was at the watering hole, but we saw warthog, about 20 water buffalo, and other quick sightings. We also saw some bones from an elephant that was poached for its tusks a few years earlier, and footprints from civet cats, hyena and lions, all only a couple of hundred metres from our lodges.

We walked back uphill to join the river that runs below our camp.

Sadly this was the end of our time in Selous, as we prepared to set off for Zanzibar – keep watching for the next installment.

But not before one last bit of excitement. We were sat in the back of the jeep, and I dropped a water bottle. Mbasha started turning around to pick it up, and stopped, so Ian said he would jump down and fetch it, when Mbasha shouted NO!.

There was a black mamba on the side of the road.

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A lucky escape, and we carried on to Zanzibar.

Tanzanian Serengeti

Thompson gazelles, impala, wildebeest, water buffalo, eland…

DSC_9387Grab your passport, camera and anti malaria tablets, we’re off to Tanzania for the next adventure.

As Ian and I have significant birthdays this year and next, we finally booked a safari trip to Tanzania. As part of my presents, I bought a nice new camera, a Nikon D7200, and some decent lenses, and boy! I’m so glad I did.

Our entry to Tanzania was Mwanza airport, a shabby dis-organised affair, and then we were met by our guide, Mbasha, from Explore! and met the rest of our party, Robert, Ann and Amanda, and set off along the road to our first camp. This was a 2 hour drive, and the road is lined almost all of the way with stalls and huts selling assorted produce. If Britain is a nation of shopkeepers, Tanzania is a nation of stall holders.

We arrived at the camp, which is set at the edge of the marshes on the Speke Bay in Lake Victoria.

Our accommodation was a tented banda, one of 5, with a comfortable bed, set under trees full of weaver bird nests.

As we had all had a long day, we chilled out in the camp, started some bird watching and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Ian spotted a monitor lizard enjoying a frog for lunch.

The next morning we were up before sunrise for coffee, then set off to visit a local fishing village for the morning market.

The fishermen are out on the lake through the night, with lamps to attract the fish, and then return at dawn to sell their fish. Even if they are married, their fish are sold to the highest buyer among the women, who then sell on smaller bundles of the fish to local people and traders. Most of the catch are whitebait, but also some lungfish, catfish and their favourite, tilapia. The small fish are either cooked in a stew, or dried.

The fishermen have an assortment of boat, some with sails, a few with motors and the rest rowing boats, all painted bright colours.

We returned to camp for a lazy afternoon, then set off in a handmade canoe for a trip along the canals cut into the reeds by the fishermen.

Lots of birds to see, as we paddled between the reed and papyrus.

As the sun set back at camp a pair of grey crowned cranes settled in nearby trees.

Our sleep was again disturbed by the sound of nearby farmers scaring elephants from their plots with whistles and shouting, but we never saw the elephants around.

On Wednesday, we were again up at dawn for breakfast, then set off in the jeep to Serengeti Park.

We saw lots of animals and birds, including Thompson gazelles, impala, wildebeest, water buffalo, eland, topi, Hippo, crocodiles, tortoise, baboon, Vervet monkey, giraffe, zebra, warthog, dwarf mongoose, banded mongoose, black backed jackal, hyena and a hare.

We also saw many many beautiful birds, and decided that as they are all so colourful, they are names for any monochrome part they might have, so a kingfisher with bright turquoise wings is called a grey headed kingfisher.

Our luckiest siting was as we watched Hippos from a bridge over a watering hole, and Amanda noticed a leopard resting on the bank the other side of the jeep. It crept away once we had seen it, but not before i got a quick shot of it.

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Leopard creeping up the bank

As we travelled on, we came into a large open area with a clear watering hole, full of all types of animal, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, impala etc, plus storks, cranes and geese.

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As time was passing we set off back for camp, saying we were still missing a few animals, like Lion, Rhino and Cheetah, but as we approached the gate, I spotted a female lion and 2 cubs by the road. We quickly stopped the jeep and reversed, but she took the cubs into the bush. However Mbasha noticed a young male lion hiding in the bushes.

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So we left the park happy, and returned to camp just before a thunderstorm.

Next morning we set off after coffee for a boat trip on the Lake.

Our brunch was served at the top of the lookout tower, with a view to the camp and across the Serengeti Park in the distance.

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An afternoon walk gave more bird watching opportunity before the dark clouds and rainbow sent us back to camp for our last dinner in this camp, ready for our travel to the Selous Park. Back soon for that adventure.

And back again

Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever

As I never got around to finishing the second half of my last blog on our sailing trip from Nidri to Corfu, I thought the best thing to do would be make the return trip, and more.

So this blog covers a flotilla placement trip from Corfu to Epidavros.

We start by waking at 02:30 for a 06:00 flight to Corfu, this had better be worth it.

We arrive in Corfu late morning, and travel the short distance to Gouvier marina to pick up our yacht Kanoni.

After settling in, we dine in a marina cafe, and settle for an early night.

Next morning, we set off (hopefully before the other 160 Sailing Holiday yachts) for Corfu yacht club. We found some light wind in the morning to sail, then stopped on Nisida Vido, the island outside Corfu town, for me to take a swim, and collect sea glass on the beach. Refreshed, we made our way into the yacht club, with the help of the harbour master.

We stayed here last October and fell in love with the quirky place. The marina is set right below the high imposing walls of Corfu citadel, and below the music college.

The citadel is lit at night, and snatches of music can be heard drifting down to the boats.

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The lead crew organised a punch party for us to get to know the flotilla members, then we wandered off to dine in Corfu town, an odd mix of regency British architecture, with twisty lane climbing the hill. While here last year we heard brass band playing in an upper storey.  Research found that Corfu has 3 brass bands.

Tuesday morning is the Greek labour day holiday, and we set off southwards and over to the mainland. The wind was not existent all morning, but after lunch on the go, it picked up and we sailed most of the way to Sivota Mourtos.

Ian is sure we have stayed here before and we both recognise a hotel on the way in, but the town itself doesn’t ring many bells. However we moor on the town quay, facing a busy taverna packed with local and holidaymakers enjoying the sunny labour day.

Next day we head off back over to the island, to Gaios on Paxos. A good windy sail, with our sails well reefed.

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Due to encroaching bad weather we stayed another night in Gaios, giving us a relaxing day for reading and walking, and meeting the local cats.

Friday we set off early towards Prevesa, planning a swim in Emerald bay, but large waves and jelly fish kibosh that idea, so I will have to resort to last years photos, when it was calm and sunny, it really does live up to its name.

We then motor sailed onward. This stretch is my least favourite, large swell and no scenery. Last year it was so tedious we played Eye-Spy, ‘S is for……’ should have been the title to the second blog

Eventually we arrived at Prevesa, which is off the tourist track and is popular with the locals who promenade along the front. On our previous trip this was our laundry stop, as you can see from the washing strung around the boat.

We had another lovely meal in the Mermaid taverna, if you ever travel there, we recommend you visit.

Saturday, after a thundery briefing the rain stopped and we set off out of Prevesa. A good wind allowed us to sail to the Lefkas canal.

After motoring through, we again sailed towards Sivota. We made a brief detour at Skorpios to meet Robin and David who had been sailing in the south Ionian while Robin passed her ICC. Having eventually found them, we had a short chat, then set off again, motoring down to Sivota.

Thunder and heavy rain rattled through during the night, and the next morning.

Sunday was a free sail day, but due to the bad weather many of the flotilla decided to stay put in Sivota. We looked at the weather maps and planned to go to the bays on the north of Meganissi, which looked a bit more promising.

We left the harbour in heavy rain and thunder, but after half an hour, it started to brighten up, and while it still drizzled, it was far better that in Sivota. We sailed around the foot of Meganissi, and up the east side, and finally anchored in Kapoli Bay on the north, with just a small yacht and a cruiser for company. I swam ashore and tied a long line to a tree as wind was blowing down the bay.

This photo is taken by AllWinner's v3-sdv

Eventually the cruiser left, and we spent a quiet if lumpy night, as the wind turned and we were side to to the waves with our line to shore. It alternated between sun and showers all evening.

Next morning we woke to a gorgeous sunrise, and after a swim, in undid the line and we sailed around the north of Meganissi. As we passed Nidri we saw some dolphins who came a played for a few minutes, including a youngster.

We continued down to Big Vathi to rejoin the flotilla, where, despite our longer trip, we arrived first after the lead crew. We strolled into Vathi from Dimitris quay, and had the best ice cream ever from the bakery on the front.

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Next morning,Tuesday we set off by 08:30, as we were rafted in behind 3 yachts, and we had a longer trip today.

We motor sailed across the inland sea to Messalongi. going further than our Autumn trip this time.

This is another town not visited by tourists, and the approach is along a long shallow sandy canal, bordered by wooden houses, some on stilts, that gives the place a very Southern American feel.

Wednesday we strolled around the harbour at Messalongi then set sail before 10:00.

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Once out of the channel, and lots of photos, we raised our sails for a while, but soon gave up. The flotilla congregated by a cardinal marker for sand banks, and one yacht had quick repairs, then we set of for Rion-Antirion bridge which we could see through the haze. The wind picked up a little, and we goose-winged with engine power towards the bridge.

After the bridge the channel narrows, and the wind picked up and we were able to goose-wing all the way to Trezonia, reaching 8.8 knots a few points, as the wind was behind us and the waves travelling our direction and speed. Yeeha!

It was sad to find thaT Trezonia has become a yacht graveyard, with an examples of how NOT to park side to.

We wandered round the quay, comparing sailing notes with the flot, then ate on board as the wind died down.

Thursday, we set off for Galaxidi, getting good sailing under a genoa, until we turned the corner, when it died down. Galaxidi is as gorgeous as ever, a real refreshing treat after Trizonia, it even smells delightful, with rosemary and other herb bushes along the quay.

We wandered into town to dine, only to find the whole of the flotilla had chosen the same restaurant.

We were up early on Friday for a coach trip up to Delphi. We had been before, but due to renewing the paths and step, part of this ancient site was shut. This time we wandered up to the stadium.

Saturday we had an early start towards Corinth. After a short bit of wind, it died down and we motored across, but did see dolphins for a short while. Corinth has cleaned up its act and the yacht marina is now clean and tidy. In the evening it is a meeting point for the youngsters of Corinth, and also a standard walk for young and old alike. Later it became busier as a club ashore had loud music, but we still got a good nights sleep.

IMG_2744We were booked to traverse the Corinth canal at 9:00, so we’re up bright and early again, but we were them delayed to the 10:30 slot so I took the chance for a swim while we loitered. The canal is as marvelous as ever. We saw sparrow hawks nesting on the walls this time.

For lunch we stopped in a bay with a very steep beach, which meant the boat was only a few feet off the shore. I had a great swim, it looked almost like we were on the edge of a reef. A couple of other flotilla boats came and looked, but only one managed to anchor beside us.

After lunch we saw a boat well under sail, so set off. After an hours very good sailing, we realised we didn’t have time to continue so motored on to Angistri, a new harbour for us.

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A team meal in Milos Jamaica bar, a lovely hotel with an incredible view, and live music and they even got us up dancing.

Monday we had a good sail round to Poros. A beautiful sunset over the lady as usual.

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Next day was a free day so we first walked round the end island of Poros and up to the clock tower, then after lunch walked along the large island coast and I had 2 swims, and collected more sea glass.

Early start on Wednesday, to Hydra, as it is always busy. Despite a short sail and arriving 11:15, it was full, so the flot headed round to Mandraki bay, where we rafted and most had a good swim. We then walked into Hydra, for ice cream and shopping, and got water taxi back.

I tried out my GoPro while swimming, and dined onboard, sat looking at stars.

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Thursday, after a morning swim, we headed over to frog rock for another swim,

CIMG0037 then motor sailed to the bay next to Perdika for yet another swim, but didn’t take camera, then on  to Perdika, where we fought off catamarans for a space.

Next we travelled to the third Vathi of the trip, this one is a tiny pretty little harbour next to a few tavernas.