Thursday, September 21, 2017


The train from Barcelona to Pamplona took 4 hours, speeding along at a steady 140 kms per hour. The landscape appeared dry and dusty, as I'm used to seeing it more green in the Spring. I looked at El Pais newspaper on the train; the demo in Barcelona was front page news. I took a shot of their aerial photo which I had witnessed at ground level. There had been rousing speeches, patriotic songs, police roadblocks, TV outside broadcast vans and even a helicopter hovering overhead.

I took a taxi from Pamplona Station to  Trinidad de Arte, hoping no other pilgrims saw me arriving! I haven't done any walking yet. I wanted to stay here at the oldest Albergue on the Camino, built next to the 12th century bridge. It used to be a religious house till recently, but the monks are all gone now! I'm in a small all-women dormitory which can only be a good thing. The other two occupants are Danish.

Trinidad Albergue 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


On arrival in Barcelona Sants, the main station, I joined another queue to book a ticket on the train to Pamplona for tomorrow morning at 9.30 am. Worn out by this time, I took a taxi to my final destination for the day: Hostal Oliva at Passeig de Garcia 32. The direct route was blocked by police because of "a demonstration". Crowds everywhere: I've never seen Barcelona this busy. It's all to do with the vote for Catalan independence. After a quick shower in my tiny hotel room, I went out to view the excitement on the street. Desperate for a drink in my dehydrated state, I stopped for a beer and some people watching at Divinus Tapas, where two of the protestors allowed me to take their photo, wrapped in the red and yellow Catalan flag. A poster informed us that the referendum is to be on 1 October. It said VOTEM PER SER LLIURES. The crowds were building as all the Catalans were out in force, as well as all the regular paseo goers and shoppers. As soon as I'd finished my squid and patatas bravas, I went down the street to see the action. It's a long time since I saw a demo!


First impressions of Emirates flight: at the last minute I purchased an upgrade to Business Class, my excuse being that I'd been suffering from a terrible cough for the last 2 weeks so not in the greatest shape for a long haul flight!  The B Class cabin was absolutely enormous, taking up virtually the whole of the upper deck. There were plenty of cabin crew to look after us and the Purser greeted us individually. I got a window seat that was also an aisle seat, which will convert to a full length bed when the time comes. All the drinks and meal orders were taken by a stewardess on a mobile device, and my G&T came with a bowl of warmed nuts, most of which were secreted away as emergency rations for later. On the late night dinner menu was smoked salmon followed by beef tenderloin with mushroom sauce and colcannon potatoes. All delicious and nice to have the courses served separately. Also, there were no trolleys trundling about as the individual trays were carried from the galley. Best of all was the seat that reclined to an absolutely flat bed. Toiletries by Bulgari.

I managed about 5.5 hours sleep before sounds of breakfast being served woke me up. Fresh fruit and a cheese omelette with asparagus went down well. On arrival in Dubai my life of luxury came abruptly to an end! The airport was absolutely packed and it grew more and more crowded as time went by. Long queues for coffee and even longer ones for ladies toilets. Boarding the Barcelona flight was incredibly slow and generally disorganised and very very hot. I imagined all kinds of new bugs entering my body already weakened by my chest infection and dose of antibiotics. The second leg of my flight, now in Economy, was a real come-down. The crew were run off their feet looking after a full plane. I tried to take my mind of it all by watching two films: The Queen of Spain (in Spanish) with Penelope Cruz as Isabella, and later The Circle with Emma Watson.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Our latest expedition to see Spring flowers took us to Araluen, where each year there are massed plantings of tulip bulbs (the work of volunteers). We were a bit late in the year for daffodils, but the tulips and camellias growing in the sheltered valley didn't disappoint.

Yellow tulips open to show their red centres


Magnolia Starwars
Their huge flowers hang low towards the ground

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

More wildflowers

A second visit to Kings Park was called for, in order to see the everlastings and the formal plantings near the cafe as well as the beds representing different parts of WA.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Kings Park

The wildflowers are out in profusion in Kings Park.  Sunday was Fathers Day for JL and our regular birthday outing for C.  Unlike E, she declined an invitation to Sandalfords Restaurant, so we settled instead for a gourmet picnic. 

Spider Orchids

E trying to photograph the orchids

Donkey Orchids

Cowslip Orchids

Swan River Myrtle

Kangaroo Paws

Freesias (regarded as weeds)
We dig a few up for the garden!


C models her birthday pressie

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Progress 5 and Ellis Brook Bushwalk

Now that I can walk a bit further each day, I can go along the river under the Causeway Bridge towards South Perth.  This lovely flame tree is at its best just now.  After a month of wet and windy weather, Spring is definitely in the air! I have bought myself another Fitbit to give myself a bit of encouragement.

Sunday was such a beautiful day, I decided to see if I was up to joining my bushwalking group again.  The walk was one I had done several times, but I had forgotten how challenging it was: only 11 kms but consisting of many steep ups and downs, with stony tracks and hazardous gravelly slopes. My calf muscles are still feeling it two days later!  However, I'm glad to say that my hip wasn't unduly affected - though I felt really tired and generally unfit after several months of not doing very much strenuous exercise.  The best part of the day was the profusion of wildflowers. C, E and I set off before the main group in order to tackle the first climb to the top of the waterfall at a slow pace and this enabled us to photograph the flowers on both sides of the track. C and E had agreed to come along on the day in case I needed extra help to cope with the rigours of the walk, but I'm glad to say that I was quite OK, except for running out of water on a day that reached 24 degrees!

Ellis Brook Falls

Donkey Orchids