Saturday, November 18, 2017

Summer walks

At this time of year you have to study the weather forecast and pick the coolest day for a walk. I picked just such a day to do the 3.5 km walk around Lake Monger. There were more waterbirds than I'd ever seen there, especially big groups of Mountain Ducks. There were signs up warning walkers to wear hats and glasses because of dangerous swooping magpies which are trying to protect their nests and have been known to peck people's scalps!

Today was the first of the Bushwalking Group's "summer walks", where we set off at 7.30 am to beat the heat, and have morning tea afterwards at a Beachside Cafe. Each walk does a nice section of the coast from North to South. Today we did Burns Beach to Ocean Reef Marina, an 8 km round trip.

Waterbirds at Lake Monger

Coastal footpath at Burns Beach

Limestone rocks

Coastal vegetation

Monday, November 6, 2017

Camino Accommodation List 2017

Sep 20                Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Sep 21                Trindad de Arre         Albergue

Sep 22                Pamplona Hotel Europa

Sep 23                Muruzabel         Albergue Mendizabel

Sep 24                Puente La Reina         Casa Rural Bidean

Sep 25                Cirauqui    Albergue Maralotx

Sep 26                Estella                 Albergue Curtidores

Sep 27                Los Arcos   Pension Mavi

Sep 28                Viana                  Palacio de Pujadas

Sep 29                Elciego       Casa Rural Rojanda

Sep 30                Laguardia Hospederia de los Parajes

Oct 1                   Logrono     Hotel Calle Major

Oct 2                   Navarette  Hotel Rey Sancho

Oct 3                   Najera                 Duques de Najera

Oct 4                   Najera                 Duques de Najera

Oct 5                   San Millan Hosteria del Monasterio  S. Millan de Cogolla

Oct 6                   Sto Domingo                Parador

Oct 7                   Redecilla del Camino           Hotel Redecilla

Oct 8                   Belorado   Hotel Verdeancho

Oct 9                   Villafranca          Hotel San Anton Abad

Oct 10                 Burgos       Hotel  Meson del Cid

Oct 11                 Silos           Hotel Sto Domingo de Silos

Oct 12                 Lerma                 Parador

Oct 13                 Burgos       Hotel Silken Gran Teatro

Oct 14                 Tardajos    Apt El Camino

Oct 15                 Hornillos   Albergue Meeting Point

Oct 16                 Hontanas  Hostal Fuentestrella

Oct 17                 Castrojeriz          Posada

Oct 18                 Boadilla del Camino   Hotel En El Camino

Oct 19                 Burgos       Hotel Meson del Cid

Oct 20                 Burgos       Hotel Meson del Cid

Oct 21                 Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Oct 22                 Barcelona  Hostal Oliva

Oct 23                 Barcelona Hostal Oliva                


Melbourne Cup

Crown is cashing in on the Melbourne Cup celebrations in a big way. A temporary TAB has been set up outside the Casino, so that punters have another outlet to lose money. In the hotel foyer beautiful people pose for photos in their new frocks and fascinators in front of special orchid displays for backdrops. Some are not so beautiful and many young women are overweight and need to go on the Camino! All this is happening at 9.30 in the morning. 

It's hot today, so I'm making gazpacho.

Kitchen staff as photographer 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lake Leschenaultia

The last meeting of the Bushwalkers Club for 2017 took us to Lake Leschenaultia, an hour's drive from Perth. From now on it's too hot for bushwalking. Even today was too hot, reaching 30 degrees, so I just did the 3 kms round the lake, while the others went on a longer route and met up for lunch at the car park. It is a popular spot for family picnics and the kids can swim in the lake or go out in a canoe.

View across the lake

Woodland track around the lake

Blue lady orchid

Pink version 

Blue leschenaultias which gave their name to the lake

Clumps of leschenaultias: the colour fades out in the sun

Purple flag iris

Fringe lilies: my favourite of all the wildflowers. I have never seen them so good!

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Visit the MNAC website.

The National Museum of Arts of Catalonia was high on my list of priorities in Barcelona. I wanted to see the collection of Romanesque wall paintings which had been rescued from small churches in the Catalonian Pyrenees. Many were displayed in rooms where the shape of the original church interiors had been recreated.

Baldacchino de Tost 1220 (San Martin de Tost)

Medieval door

1123 San Climent de Taull apse painting
One of the greatt masterpieces of European Romanesque art. "Dry fresco" technique. Blue was a very expensive pigment imported from Mid East : (i.e. lapis).

The church of Santa Maria de Taüll is the most complete example that is conserved of the pictorial decoration of a Romanesque interior.  You can find on the vault of the apse the Epiphany or the adoration of the Kings, with the Mother of God as a throne for the child Jesus.  This ensemble is completed with scenes from the Final Trial and other biblical stories on the walls, as well as on the columns and the separating arches of the naves. (MNAC website).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jet lag

After three days I still haven't shaken off the jet lag. The Emirates flights were both packed. I had a window seat near the front but it was all a bit too much like a sardine can. There was no chance of an upgrade on the 10-hour Dubai to Perth leg, as everywhere was full. The airport scanner picked up my titanium hip and gave a loud beep. It took a while before the perplexed female security guard asked if I'd had surgery!

Home at last with a big bottle of duty free gin to look forward to. Looking back, it's been a brilliant holiday. The weather was unbelievably good and I ticked off everything on my list of must see. Here are the last photos of Barcelona:

Police presence on Passeig de Gracia

Giant thermometer 

Entrance to the building where I stayed: Hostal Oliva is on the 4th floor

Looking up the stairwell

The lift reminds me of an Agatha Christie novel

Monday, October 23, 2017


On my last day in Barcelona I decided to take a day trip to the Monastery of Montserrat. So did a great many other people, especially a large number of school parties! We left town at 10.00 am and the journey took about an hour. Our guide Leila fed us information non stop, switching effortlessly from English to Spanish and back again.

The Benedictine monastery was founded in 1025 with 10 monks. The mountain range behind it is a spectacular backdrop. Montserrat means "jagged mountain". Inside the church is the much revered Black Madonna, a carved wooden statue of the virgin and child. Her hands and face have darkened over time with the application of varnish. She is kept high above the altar and people formed a long queue to go up and touch her; not me!!

The Boys Choir was due to perform at 12.00 noon so I decided to get there early and secure a front pew. The church grew more and more crowded and when I thought it couldn't possibly hold any more, a huge school party was ushered in and made to sit on the cold marble floor between me and the altar, while the nun in charge did her best to keep them quiet.

The body's singing was lovely. They perform every day. Competition is stiff to enter the boarding school, but I must say that winters up there will be freezing! Also performing was a school choir from Córdoba as a guest item, but I realised that there would be long queues for lunch, given the numbers of visitors, so I made my escape!

Lunch was in a vast newly built self service cafeteria, with a buffet containing every possible dish and free flowing drinks for €16.50 and a view down the mountain. It was an amazingly clear sunny day, the best possible time to visit (it was raining and miserable last week, they said!). 

I tried not to be too glutinous at the buffet , restricting myself to veg soup, grilled fish w salad and a selection of many fruit and chocolate cake items from the dessert area. Then I sat down in the sun to await departure from the crowds at 3.00 pm. All in all , it had been a good day but would have been a whole lot better with fewer visitors!

Arrival at Monistrol where the bus dropped us off and we marvelled at the spectacular mountain we had to climb 

An old-style train preserved for posterity

The station for the rack railway up the mountain 

The green train starting its ascent on the rack railway

Leila, our super efficient bi-lingual guide

Looking back down the mountain 

Local conglomerate stone blocks used in the restoration 

Entry to the basilica 

The Black Madonna high up above the altar in the middle of the picture

The Montserrat Boys Choir in white; a school choir from Córdoba in red

The monastery buildings with part of the old cloister now restored 

School parties everywhere