John Bickerstaff

Joined May 2017
  • Day15

    Airport worries

    June 10 in Spain

    An early text from easyjet complained of French air traffic control strikes, again so we were braced for delays. Quick breakie, tidy & pack - out by 10. Rather than spend time here & risk cutting it fine at the airport, it was decided to head up the coast to Bilbao & head to a beach near there. The forecast was better there anyway. Motorways were pleasingly empty especially going through Bilbao itself. Approaching the coast there was a sudden inundation of walkers in purple t-shirts. Seems it was an annual charity hike along the coastal path. Stop at a crossing and there was an endless stream of people. Patience. Parked up & finished off the remnants of our supplies for lunch in the sunshine. Path down to the beach seemed to have suffered a little storm damage - a puny bit of tape blocked the way down. Judging by the steady stream of surfers coming & going, this was something of a tick box blockage. Chose to ignore - Liz played by the rules & chose life. As it happens it was perfectly safe & the surfers were having a ball. Back at the car we sought out toilet facilities but baulked at the prohibitive parking fees so cut to the chase & headed to the airport. Miraculously easyjet had managed to catch up on the predicted delay so all went relatively smoothly apart from baggage reclaim at Manchester. Useless place.Read more

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  • Day14

    A relatively upbeat forecast & the option of having breakfast outside proved to be a shock to the system. Once the various courses had been negotiated (muesli, toast, fruit) we, eventually, headed for the beach. The plan being to have a couple of hours at the beach, come back for lunch when the sun was at its fiercest and then go to San Vincent for a walk along the beach. La Franca was as gorgeous as last time and only maginally busier. Plenty of basking, swimming & reading. Throughout the week the constant comment has been how wherever we were could've been Cornwall - both appearance & the changeable nature of the weather. A couple of hours in & Liz was needing a break so along with others heading off for an epic Spanish lunch we made tracks & not 10 mins had passed before things were clouding over. Back at the cottage lunch was taken outside but it was a stubborn thing (ie 1 of us) Again the stubborn streak - persevered with the walk at San Vincent despite the looming black clouds. Miraculously there was only the odd drop of rain but it was a bit blowy - kits surfers were loving it.Read more

  • Day13

    Just a little rain in the night & no real suggestion of better or so it seemed. Lazy breakie & a book finished - forecast suggested coastal & to the east might be better so decided to give it a go. A couple of options - Santillana del Mar (not by the sea) historic & scenic village - cloudy option. Suances - surf beach option - not likely. Not a huge drive to Santillana - the challenge it seemed would be finding a parking spot that we understood whether to pay or not. The location found had a pay & display but no instructions. One car had a ticket - no one else did - we were confused. We gave it a miss & went to Suances sunny or not & it most definitely was not. Parked up, found some food & picniced on the beach - bit breezy. That done, had a walk along the coast to Roco Blanco - some nice walks around the headland which unsurprisingly had a white rock. By the time we were back in town the sun was making a miraculous appearance. Enjoyed a final walk along the beach and waited patiently while a couple of old biddies got in the way of my photo. On the way back the heavans opened - sunny in Liverpool & crap in Spain. Not HP.Read more

  • Day12

    Going Underground

    June 7 in Spain

    Leisurely start to the day, part laziness, part grim looking weather. The forecast suggested things may improve but it didn't look hopeful. Muchos reading, lounging & lunching by which time brightness was beginning to take hold - lunch on the decking boded well. With a certain amount of trepidation we headed for the local beach - not far if the it goes pear shaped. Thankfully it did not. That said there was another school party disturbing the peace. Had a little wander - explored a little cave - intrigued a couple of the boys - not sure leader was too fussed about them doing the same. Map of the area suggested something of a cave system at low tide & a rock that looks like a gorilla. Decided to hang around in the sun for a while & as the tide subsided a little exploration was in order (well for one of us) First obstacle: get round to the next bay - much wading & phone above head height. A cave entrance could be seen & with phone flashlight there might be a chance to explore - sea was still a bit high. Ventured in and the system did cut through to a beach beyond - still needed to wade & would've been a struggle without some light. Tooks some photos inside & that was something of a mistake - the battery decided at that most opportune of moments to give up on me. Cue a battery change in the most inappropriate of places. Just about got away with it and made my way back to give the class leader another headache - more kids eyeballed me exiting the cave - was that eyes raised heavenwards. Back to Liz & no dozing on the beach today. Eventually the crap weather caught up with us - back home & a little explore down by the river. The local area's willow trees are a protected area or at least I think that's what the map says...Read more

  • Day11

    Gaudi's whim

    June 6 in Spain

    Woke up to sun streaming through the windows - can't last. But amazingly it looked like it might. Breakie done & suncream applied - the clouds rolled in. And we rolled out - off to Comillas - one of Gaudi's first buildings, other assorted nice buildings and a beach. Amazingly the town proved to be equally as quiet as San Vincent yesterday. Parked up pretty much by El Capricho de Gaudi (Gaudi's Whim) & proceeded to take the long way round to the main entrance. Nice enough walk. Entry fee was only 5€ & that included a guided tour if we wanted - we'll see - if the intro video was anything to go by it would architecture overload. Had a little explore & some of the detailing was nice. But at the main entrance we saw the guided tour - 10 mins later having been round the garden they were still at the main entrance, the guide still wittering on about the entrance - not that nice. Headed off to get some food - usual stuff but rejected first supermercado - absence of cherries. Didn't make the beach - park & then explored the rest of the town (as the sun departed) The beach had the obligatory school party - didn't stop the snoozing.Read more

  • Day10

    Good day sunshine

    June 5 in Spain

    Being woke up in the night by rain didn't bode well. Foreboding clouds at breakfast equally so. Lots of fruit for breakie & a mildly optimistic weather forecast helped the mood. Decided to head to San Vincente de la Barqeura - a pretty port town with some great beaches, apparently. On the way patches of blue came & went, lasting only fleetingly. Located free car parking & headed for the visitor centre at the lighthouse - closed. Detour down to the harbour & took in the hotel quarter - no-one about, though the way the weather has been, no great surprise. Back to town & toilet quest (bus depot) By now the sun was doing it's best so the beach was calling along with food. A pleasant picnic, a safe distance away from the massive school party & ample sunshine (as it transpires too much for a certain person) Took a walk along the massive beach & managed a first swim of the year - bracing. The theory was that the coast was clear & once we went back up into the hills it would cloud over. Thus we prevaricated by way of an ice cream. Pleasingly on our return the deck chairs were of use - make the best of the sun - might not come back...Read more

  • Day9

    Arrival.

    June 4 in Spain

    No photos - something of a mundane day but in a good way. First task - big food shop - well, a big cherry shop and other assorted items for lunch & tea. Rain on departure & rain on return. Quick check on Liz's flight and the routing to Bilbao airport. Texted the owner to see how to turn the heating on - un poco frio. Headed out to pick Liz up - left plenty despite her flight being delayed the almost obligatory 30 mins at Manchester. Roads were fine & the phone satnav directed painlessly around Bilbao. Found a village nearby to sit & await Liz's arrival. Scooted around the departure drop off a few times
    (15 mins free) - phoned & found she was waiting at arrivals. Sorted & headed back into the rain for Bilbao was dry.
    Read more

  • Day8

    When the rain comes

    June 3 in Spain

    Today was all about getting sorted for Liz's arrival - pick up the car, sort out the cottage & get food in. All well & good but it transpired, on closer inspection the closest supermarket with opening hours to suit was in Barcelona - not vastly local. Sunday trading laws here are a little different. Looks like bread & water for tea. Opted against walking to the airport - the 4 miles was walkable but the looming clouds & grim forecast suggested the airport bus would be a better bet. This did mean a massively early arrival. Had some dubious pasta to pass the time & supplement the bread & water diet. Dinky Fiat located & various bumps & scrapes documented. Time to pick up bags from the hotel & head for the cottage. On the way out spotted a Carrefour/petrol station combo - might be open. It was. Unfortunately the only ready meal available another type of dubious pasta. Better than bread & water ... maybe. Village located easily & perfectly on time. Circled round the village - passed a guy twice & we both eventually realised that he was the guy I needed to find. Quick tour & unload of the car. First impressions - very nice & peaceful ... & wet.Read more

  • Day7

    Enforced socialisation

    June 2 in Spain

    No escape from being sociable, or at least pretending. In a fit of optimism signed up for the day trip in to the Picos & swiftly regretted it afterwards but it'll do me good... Grudgingly particpated in the market activity - speculated that if aliens were amongst us would we be able tell them apart from some the bizarre looking things that were on display in the seafood stalls. For all we know some Spaniard is chowing down on an emissary from Alpha Centauri & he thinks it's a crab. My mind wasn't focussed. The day trip was to take in 2 stops - Potes, a mountain village(ish) & Fuente de, a cable car up into the Picos proper. On the way we went past the village we'd be staying in so that would give me a little navigational help. The road to Potes was windy, bendy overload but very dramatic. On arrival it was already lunch time - not a fast process. Once done, inevitably the tower with a view had closed for the day. Ho hum. Took a walk along the river & mooched around town. Still - should be views in the Picos - assuming the cloud holds off - bit hit & miss (showers & sun in Potes) The cable car sped us upto the snow level (temp going down from 21 to 12) & thankfully some stunning views of the mountains & the alpine pastures. Weird to think of snow in Spain in June. Only time for a little walk around & then back down. Both places deserved longer really - the joys of coach party day trips.Read more

  • Day6

    Spanish headaches

    June 1 in Spain

    There's a reason why Green Spain is green & while the UK is basking in glorious sunshine (for once) Northern Spain seems to be shrouded in a semi-permanent blanket of Mancunuian greyness. Still Monday - Thursday was all about the Spanish. 3 hour blocks of language interspersed with activities designed to integegrate & socialise in equal measure - urgh. When the rain let up that called for an escape to the coastal path - either running or walking depending how quickly escape was called for or how much head clearing was needed - language study promoted some belting headaches (not hangovers!) The bright side was the fruit - breakfast and snack time - cherries & nectarines were heavenly. Day off on Friday was miserably wet - more so. Report writing - get ahead of myself.Read more

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