Cruising donkeys

Joined April 2017Living in: Guernsey
  • Day295

    Almerimar, you knew we’d be back

    January 13 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Well we had the car so decided as part of our trip to go and visit some friends from two winters ago down in Almerimar. It worked out well the drive from Gib up took a while but the little Fiat 500 that we got from Europecar went well. Our first evening was spent with Jane and Dave eating a home cooked delicious curry and doing a lot of chatting. We caught up on the local gossip and heard about future plans and discussed meeting up in the summer on their home turf, can’t wait. Friday we met Julie and Phil, only just they were off that evening to Ecuador, Galapagos and then the Caribbean, it’s a hard life. After that a bit of Boule now I warned the other players that we were rubbish only having played the plastic beach version, only to find John was pretty good. The men trounced the ladies, before retiring to Mario’s for drinks and Tapas. I attended a 1:1 Pilates reformer session in the evening before we headed back to Mario’s for the Yachties get together. This was all new faces so introduced ourselves and heard some more great sailing stories. Saturday and off to the yard to see Debbie and Simon and what work they had done to their Asian 40, an ex-drug boat they had bought while we were there last time. The progress was impressive they were all moved in but obviously they were still improving things as they went, lots of hard work and lateral thinking but she was looking good. Hope they manage to pop in to Guernsey later this year to catch up, we’ve offered free accommodation and our old cabin lights as incentives. Saturday evening was the Galley Quiz, it used to be the Leo’s Quiz but the operators have moved to a new locale, great night and questions pitched perfectly so you could get most with just a couple to isolate the really clever buggers. Our team was joint second, pretty good we thought. Sunday morning and we were already at Mercadona for the 10am walk, the weather was perfect and we all headed off to Cabo de Gato, Las Negras for a sunny stroll, with a lot more chatting mostly to Mike Ken and Gail but also some of the people we had met at the Yachties Get together.Sadly the weather was so good that all the locals were out as well so there was nowhere to get a beer and Tapas at the end but that didn’t spoil things. Sunday afternoon and evening we were with Debbie and Simon again first at theirs for beer and tapas then Algarbe for more tapas. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the little dishes, delicious. On Monday i just had time for another Pilates session, well €10 for an hour on the reformer was such a good deal, before checking out and Coffee morning before a leisurely drive back to the airport.
    We are shattered that’s more socialising than we have done in total since leaving Levkas in April. Time to go back to the boat and relax and recover which is good as I seem to have picked up a horrible head cold.
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  • Day290


    January 8 in Gibraltar ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Well when we heard that Nick and Gemma were getting married in Gibraltar, the Gretna Green of the Med, we asked if we could come along and help them celebrate. ‘But of course and can you be our witnesses’ was the reply. What a great way to celebrate a birthday, especially once you are over 21 when you’re not sure they are really a cause for celebration anymore. So flights arranged Marseille to Malaga on Ryanair and a hire car to get us around using Doyouspain, as well as of course various hotel and apartment reservations. The bookings were almost the most traumatic part of the trip, we had issues with arrival times and getting checkin details with some bookings and well who knew that Ryanair online checkin only works with Google Chrome!! Obviously our iPad being a whole 3 and a half years old can’t work with Chrome, but all sorted eventually, they had to input identity document details for me, and flights went without a hitch. I was very anal about making sure our luggage was the correct size so of course no one gave a damn.
    The most traumatic event was the hirecar NEVER and I mean NEVER EVER use Del Paso. We have our own annual excess insurance policy so didn’t want theirs, that apparently is a not the right answer. We were then told that they didn’t make a record of the marks on the car had to photograph them at the beginning of the rental. OK so we went out into the night, it’s 9:30 damp and dark, they have a black car for us, that has condensation on it, we move it to under the lights and it’s covered with dings. We are responsible for any marks no matter how small unless we can show through the photographs that they were already there. Well I tried to take pictures in the dark under bright lights, we only had the iPad, but only really got reflections and how were we going to see them all the with the dew anyway! We decided to cut our losses (€8.97) and cancel the booking. Luckily the hotel was next to the hire car lot as I’m not sure they would have given us a lift back to the airport. Now we just have to keep checking the credit card bills to make sure no charges appear.
    We got to Gib a day early and John had the first of his three Full English Breakfasts, we met Dave again and had a great evening catching up, lots of changes for him last year but all set to enjoy 2020. The wedding at the registry office was lovely and went without a hitch, still can’t decide on the registrars accent very weird. We then had a wonderful lunch and afternoon sipping bubbles and eating tapas with the happy couple and two other friends.
    Our room while we were there was actually in La Linea just across the border. Seriously if I was any good at throwing stones I could have landed one on British soil. The view out the bedroom window was also pretty good, the bedroom was compact but did what it said on the tin, and there was a share kitchenette, no complaints for €29 a night.
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  • Day286

    Stray cats

    January 4 in France ⋅ 🌬 12 °C

    So we have found the local strays they live next to the local cemetery and someone has built them shelters and feeds them. Now we do too! The most we have seen there at any time is 10, most are grey and white, there is one Siamese and some tabby’s. They are all very healthy looking no cat flu which was everywhere in Greece and most look cute, but John says I can’t have any. I have also attached a picture of John holding the homemade lemon cheesecake that I made for New Years Day, it was surprisingly good.
    The final photo is of part of the interior of the bar at Salin de Giraud as promised.
    Our latest scavenging finds well the ones worth mentioning were this McDonalds toy and some stickle bricks who remembers those?
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  • Day285

    Salin de Giraud

    January 3 in France ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    Well we had a beautiful day, Sun was shining almost no wind and nothing else to do so we decided to revisit Salin de Giraud. As this was a planned excursion we remembered the iPad for photos as well as some snacks and water.
    We rode up along the east bank of the Rhône to Barcarin, where the ferry is spotting a bird of prey on the way, it might have been a buzzard. We arrived just in time to hop straight on and across we went, the river was definitely in a much calmer and more relaxed state than the first time, but we’ve had no real rain for a few weeks so that makes sense. Once across we headed back down towards the sea not quite on the West bank of the river as the tow path there was a bit bumpy for our not mountain bikes but initially we were on a new cycle lane but this did disappear. On the way down we saw another bird of prey, and stopped at an artificially raised viewing platform to see the salt flats and salt mountain. The info boards told that this salt was used for the roads so wasn’t refined very much. Then onwards to the beach, this one also had a lifeguard station also only open for the two summer months. The beach was very long and apart from the lifeguard station the only features were the wooden teepees that visitors had built out of drift wood. There seemed to be a lot less rubbish perhaps this is because the prevailing wind carries the river rubbish east to Port St Louis’s beach. We stopped for a snack and to watch a family have fun extricating their people carrier from the sand, then back up to Salin for a hot chocolate. The cafe/bar/restaurant is a bit odd it is one big room with a really high ceiling a section that is the ‘restaurant’ a bar on one wall and random decor, photo on next post.John said it reminded him of a church hall or old fashioned community hall. Near the ferry we met a ram with enormous horns and saw two more birds of prey, maybe the same ones again who knows.Read more

  • Day280

    More preparations

    December 29, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    So we have had a couple of days of sun and only mild winds which has been very pleasant. Today we decided to finish of the work we had started on our secondhand Bimini and cover. We bought this in early spring this year from some friends in Levkas, they were getting a higher one, The problem we had was that as once the masts had been removed we would have had no shade for the outside steering position. We until now used the Missen boom and various stays to secure a shade cover. But with the frame now cut to size it looks like it will be perfect for keeping the sun off so now we just have to figure out how to keep the mozzies at bay. Would you believe they were out with us today looking for a lunchtime snack.Read more

  • Day277

    Christmas Day and Boxing Day

    December 26, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    We managed a quick dip on Christmas Day before a hot shower and delicious Christmas lunch with our French friend Nicholas. Then a FaceTime chat with my family who were at my brothers for what I am told was a truly spectacular meal. Sadly my Dad missed out as he has the stomach bug that’s doing the rounds.
    Boxing Day doesn’t seem to be celebrated as such in France with businesses open as usual though more people were wondering around and trying out their Christmas presents? I did a circuit session earlyish, not too early as a bit bloney cold outside, then after breakfast we rode to the beach to continue our clean up operation and took some pictures on the way. Sadly the local birds are really camera shy and kept flying off but you can just about make out the flamingos and swans and of course gulls and teens. We are definitely loosing the cleaning battle by the way as not only is the rubbish arriving via the ocean but also via the river. On the beach were a number of walkers and also fishermen, a couple of them had set up their rods then collected some driftwood and had made a fire. I’m not sure if their wives realised they had the tefal frying pan. Later on we tried a run but my Achilles is still not happy so have now applied deep heat, a support and am keeping it elevated, we are resting on the couch. Hope everyone has had a great time and is looking forward to the New Year.
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  • Day275

    Christmas Eve

    December 24, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Hello Everyone, we hope you have enjoyed the Festive buildup and have a great next couple of days.
    Today has been bright and breezy p, this seems to be the most usual weather phenomenon here so as we had done all our food shopping yesterday we decided to go for a ride and this time we headed up the Rhone rather than down it towards the beach. We rode to the Bac Baccarin and took the ferry across the Rhône to Salin de Giraud. The decision to take the ferry was a bit last minute when we realised it was free for us and our bikes. We didn’t have the iPad so I have found some photos from the internet to show what we saw the horse were grazing in the fairly waterlogged field on our way up to the ferry and Bar de Sport is where we stopped for a hot chocolate sitting outside soaking up a bit of sun. We would have explored the town and surrounds a little more but we had no idea when the last ferry was and didn’t want to end up stranded on the wrong side of the river for Christmas.
    We have invited a French friend Nicholas to join us for Christmas lunch and are planning a Festive dip before hand, that we will remember the iPad for with its waterproof cover! So we need to be a bit organised so the poor guy isn’t waiting till 6 for his lunch.
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  • Day265

    Getting settled

    December 14, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Well we have been here over two weeks already and although the weather hasn’t been great it’s been a lot better than in Guernsey. We have put up our Christmas decorations inside and out. We are the only decorated boat in the marina. At the moment we have some more liveaboard boats but not sure if they are just here to avoid the SE Gale/storm we are experiencing, they are all french and we hardly ever we the residents.
    Thank you to those who sent us new Christ decorations, we love them.
    I have also attached a photo of me in the finished pullover thing I knitted. It doesn’t look quite like the pattern photo it’s bigger as I knit very loosely even though I used a smaller size needle and pattern to compensate. In its favour it is lovely and warm.
    Last Friday we headed back to Martigues by bus to go to the DIY store for various things but primarily wood so John could build a folding table around the Missen mast tabernacle. Unfortunately our Martigues luck, or lack of, was holding out as after over an hours journey we got to the store to find out that for technical reasons their wood saw was out of action. At least the trip only cost €4in total, well and lunch of course but a person has to eat. The nearby hypermarket was doing a deal on some GF biscuits so we saved the cost of the trip in biscuits. We also bought some new sheets as ours were a bit grubby and even whitener was no longer making the grade. The other thing we had hoped to buy at the DIY store was Perspex to replace the panel that the wind blew out 2weeks ago, and we thought we had done it until, John double checked his measuring (after we had paid) and realised it was too small to we had to return that at least we hadn’t carried it home.
    A bit of luck we have had is that on one of forays to the beach we saw a long scaffold board and later in the day when John went back a saw it was still there so he reduced the length to 8foot and cycled back with it, carefully.
    There is also a photo of some more scavenging finds. We are still collecting plastic bottles and other rubbish each time we get to the beach to the amazement of the locals.
    John is again back in the engine room doing something semi technical and as I did the washing yesterday I am looking for things to do. I have some sewing projects but am waiting for the market tomorrow to buy some grey thread for the new liner curtain, and for new needles before I tackle the table cover, as material quite strong.
    I have however made my own GF vegetarian mincemeat and then some mince pies using shop bought GF pastry, they aren’t bad, but as no more GF pastry until we return to Martigues I need to try making that as well as have lots of mincemeat left over. It ridiculous what you consider doing if you are bored enough.
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  • Day259

    Port Saint Louis du Rhone

    December 8, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 11 °C

    Well we have been in our winter marina for just over a week and feel we are getting to know the place quite well. While we have been here though two of the other visiting liveaboard boats have left, we think there is one other boat with full time residents and a few weekenders. The facilities (loos, showers and laundry) are clean dry and wonderfully warm, there is also a common room with TV and DVD that we can use. There is a supermarket nearby that sells John’s preferred GF bread and well stocked chandlery’s so John is mostly happy. He however a bit concerned about the temperatures, one morning this week we were showing only 2.5 degs on the external thermometer and that’s early December he’s not sure he will like January and February very much. Take a Five now looks a little different as we have removed the Missen mast, we aren’t thinking we will put it back as we haven’t used the Missen at all and without it we feel we have so much more deck space. Sadly there is no gym for me to use but I have found a boxercise type class that’s very energetic and hope to start running again soon, niggling Achilles injury just not healing, and am using common room for Pilates/yoga/body balance type workouts. We are planning to cycle to Arles when weather is cooperative for an overnight stay, it is about 35km if the signs are to be believed. And the buses to Martigues allow us to visit a large Bricolage (DIY) store, John is thinking about building a folding table around the Missen tabernacle?
    So far we have had at least two good days for each bad one but this coming week doesn’t look so good forecasted winds with gusts around 45km/hr every day except Wednesday which is good as Wednesday is market day.
    We try to do a longish ride every day and have ridden to the beach every few days and have started a little beach cleaning, just a carrier bag of plastic bottles each visit as well as collecting some of the more interesting finds that I will put on the photos to see if anyone can invent a story to link them together.
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  • Day249

    Martigues and home

    November 28, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    OK well our plan when we headed towards Port de Bouc was to go along the channel and into L’Etang de Berre but we picked the 1 week of the year when the lifting bridge at Martigues was undergoing repair work and wasn’t lifting! Never mind, while we established that the bridge was actually going to be working at all, this took a couple of days as it was supposed to reopen on Wednesday night, then Thursday then this got pushed to Friday and they still weren’t sure, we had a free mooring in Martigues. The town was OK but nothing much going on like a lot of the towns in this area it isn’t very old a grew as somewhere for the workers in the power plants to live. In February next year we will come back and go into the Lake (Etang) to visit Istres which was one of the attractions, the other was free anchoring. But we are now in Port Saint Louis du Rhône our winter location. We plan to be here until at least mid February if not later. That said we might take a few side trips but Take Five will be staying.
    We haven’t had a proper look around yet but the town seems quite small but as a plus the supermarket sells Johns favourite GF bread and the Capitainerie have heated toilets and showers as well as a coin operated laundry and a reading room with a TV and DVD player, microwave and fridge. So if wind noises get too much we will go camp out in there, we are already planning a weekly film night. Downside is we appear to be the only liveaboards!
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