June - August 2017
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  • Day11

    14:06:17- 16:06:17

    June 16, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    At five on 15 th June we went looking for bears. We were well wrapped up as Marcus had suggested and clutching cameras and binoculars we journeyed deep to the forest. Marcus explained that his family had owned the farm they run with the Na megi accommodation through several generations and the last four generations had all been born a different nationality. His grandfather was Austrian, his father Italian, he is YUgoslavian and his son is Slovenian. He showed us a disappearing lake which had bomb blasts in it as the area is military training country. Eventually we talked to the huntsmen. The bears are at the top of the food chain so they need to be culled, the meat is used and the skin, the same huntsmen also help find the bears for people such as ourselves who just want to see them in the wild. It is a job for them with many salaries so helps them subsist. They shoot for the government, sell the meat for themselves and find the bears for the tourists.
    We sat for two hours in an open hide, which was stilts of wood hammered together at a height of about fifteen feet, with a rough hewn bench and just enough room to put your feet. It swayed rather alarmingly in the wind and that and the fact that we were here to see real wild animals that can do humans damage was the subject of a few nervous thoughts as we teetered above the feeding station. The feeding station is actually for the wild boar who without encouragement to feed in the forest would do so down on the nearby farms. However, the bears have also discovered its food benefits especially the young bears and cubs.
    Two hours came and went with no sign of our bears and dusk was descending when the second hunter returned to say that at another open hide was a mother and two cubs. We climbed down and bombed through the forest and crept as silently as possible to the hide. This one was a good 25 feet above the floor and was much more sturdily made than the last. The mother and cubs were still there so we slowly climbed the ladder and sure enough the mother was in plain sight. Very moving for me as I promptly burst into tears, she was huge and very busy feeding. There was no sign of the cubs but later we spotted them playing on the periphery of the feeding area and she went to get them to feed themselves so we had wonderful views.
    On the way back it was dark and those in the front of the vehicle saw a fox cub and a badger.
    The next morning we drove to some wetlands near to Ljubljana and did some birding some of it off road which was very amusing and then drove on into the city and checked into the hotel. Typical conference hotel, quiet and well run but features less. We then wandered into the city and had a look round, it has been through many incarnations since roman times so is an eclectic mix of young and old architecture..after an evening at a restaurant called most (bridge) we went back to the hotel. Paul was then working in the morning so I went back into the town and did some light shopping, we met for lunch and after lunch was a great cloud breaking thunderstorm. It stotted down and we huddled under a market stall to get dry. Tonight we are due to eat at a restaurant called Manna. Hopefully tomorrow will go smoothly and we will be back home by the end of it, traffic and British airways permitting.
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  • Day9


    June 14, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Today we went to the skocjan caves park.
    It was just amazing. It deserves a really great big mention with lots of descriptions of its vast scale but really nothing would do it justice. Only photographs.
    However it is worth mentioning the immense task the early explorers had, cutting out their steps from sheer rock and their paths looked most precarious.
    Their cafe too is worth a mention as they did fantastic and reasonably priced gnocchi.
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  • Day8


    June 13, 2017 in Slovenia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We set off after breakfast to the next part of the adventure. Slovenia..it was hard to say goodbye to Willi and Marie and Angela and her family as we felt that they had made us so welcome we had become friends by the end of the four days.
    We knew it was going to be a long drive to Trnje which is where we are now. We had planned to stop somewhere for lunch and a journey break e traffic was awful with many bits of road under reconstruction. We came off to find somewhere to eat but ended up in a not so bad service station and shared a sandwich. having set off again we put Trnje into the Apple car play sat nav. Basically maps. We skirted round Lubjana and arrived at what was supposed to be Trnje only to find it wasn't and the real place was still one hour away. By this time we had been driving for five hours and were pretty fed up with the situation. However, there was nothing for it and we continued on our way.
    Worth the drive when we got here Na Meji as it surpassed our expectations. We had stopped for some provisions. Got the meal on to marinade and then had a lovely walk along the lanes before supper.
    After supper we partook of the home made brandies with our cherries. Not a great idea!
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  • Day7


    June 12, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We went off after breakfast to see if we could find some hoopoes. We went down some lanes near the town and eventually found where we thought they might be. We parked up and were scanning the area when we were hailed by a park ranger who was quick to point out that we were not allowed to be in the park at that point as it was just for cyclists.. there was a fine of five hundred euros. We quickly turned round and headed out and instead went to look for bee eaters which were on the way to a place called wallern (spelled from memory).
    This was much more successful as we not only found their nesting cliffs but they shared them with some jackdaws who were most entertaining to watch. We took lots of pictures and then set off to go to Hungary along the iron curtain trail. We got a bit lost but eventually took a cycle path (no wardens around, nor cyclists) to the river separating the two at a bridge. We saw some cuckoos. It was so peaceful there. After that we went back to civilisation for lunch and had deep fried breadcrumbed cheese! It was particularly unpleasant and gave us indigestion. It was made even worse as it was masquerading as salad on the menu and it was mainly hefty calories.
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  • Day6


    June 11, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    We got up early despite the vastly indulgent evening and set off to do some birdwatching around the marina and the area nearby. We parked our car and wandered about. It was lovely and quiet and we had some good sightings of the usual suspects round a lake. There were many birds a long way away, and some nice sightings of ducks and ducklings and geese and goslings. We then went to St martins spa to meet up with the seewinkel guide to be given a private bird watching tour. We had a very acceptable lunch and relaxed until two when our tour began. Our guide was called Ronald and he took us in a brand new discovery jeep to various points to see the birds. Highlights were a male great bustard still with breeding plumage strutting his stuff around a meadow whilst the female played hard to get, both to him and our binoculars.
    We saw grey partridge and pheasants.
    The Pygmy cormorant was a first for us as well
    The inevitable stork and western marsh harriers were in evidence everywhere. Also buzzards and kestrel were plentiful. We spotted a pied avocet on the wing and many northern lapwing.
    There were Eurasian curlew in the field where the bustards were and we also saw the common cuckoo.
    Another highlight was the long eared owl chick.
    The Eurasian sky lark was everywhere and we more unusual western yellow wagtail as well as the common white wagtail. We saw some other common birds, stonechat, great reed warbler, common chiffchaff, red backed shrike, carrion crow, Eurasian tree sparrow,common chaffinch, corn bunting, yellow hammer, and icterine warbler.
    We had supper at the summer kitchen and then joined the dinner guests having the special meal at the hotel. It ended with a discussion about politics.
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  • Day5


    June 10, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We went for a long walk looking for birds. We found a rare red footed falcon and saw lots of red backed shrikes. It was hot and sunny and we walked for miles along the paths near to where we were staying, eventually returning to the hotel. We saw some fantastic white donkeys that resembled unicorns as they were so pure in colour.
    on our return we had a tour of the vineyard and learned lots of useful hints on how to look after our vine. Such as only allowing one out of the three bunches on each stem to grow to be grapes and that the vines benefit from being properly trained along the wires, a metre of vine in depth gives you the best yield. They are susceptible to frost so need protecting during the flowering period.
    We had drinks in the vineyard as the sun was setting and canapés delivered by Marie who is Angela's mum. Willi the wine maker has made wine for prince Charles and for his grandchildren Prince George and princess
    Charlotte. He was very proud and deservedly so.
    We retuned to the hotel and went down into the cellar, there were two other couples with us and we had a fantastic meal. This was cooked by Iain and it was his birthday. Every course (and there were many) was accompanied by a suitable wine. We had three deserts and three desert wines and then schnapps. We were so full and so mellow by the end of the evening. Iain is an extremely talented chef and his father in law is an extremely talented wine maker.
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  • Day5


    June 10, 2017 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Had a bit of a todo picking up the car at 7:30. Although we had a voucher the car hire in vienna (Europcar) did not find the money we had already paid. Eventually they did and then we had a frantic dash back to the hotel to pick up the bags and then onward to the vet school. Paul ran his workshop all day while I purchased lots of blister plasters and then went for lunch and a sit by the beach. At 4 we drove here wein and land haus Willi Opitz for the next few days we are chilling here. It is run by a young family, Iain and Angela Ashcroft and their two children Sophie and Daniel. They have a lovely black cat called Nelson. We were on our own here last night and had another Austrian speciality rump steak and onions in a little place called bartholomews in the square.Read more

  • Day4


    June 9, 2017 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Election result day. It's a hung parliament. All very interesting as to how things will proceed. But definitely the hard brexit will be difficult to make happen.
    We collected our hire car, would have been ok in the time frame but it was complicated by the fact that it was a bit hectic due to the lack of any understanding that the prepaid voucher meant that we had paid for the car in advance.Read more