San Sebastian/Donostia

 

It wasn’t the first, nor the longest stop on our holiday but it just might have been our favourite. I didn’t know a lot about it when I chose it as a stop off, and it doesn’t have masses of “must see” sights*, it’s simply a lovely place to be. It was quite astoundingly beautiful, surrounded by mountains, full of attractive buildings and fringed by golden beaches.

city and mountains

It might have been the gorgeous weather, or relief at having parked the car after a fairly relentless  drive. You might equate Biarritz with Belle-Epoque splendour and surfer hip but to me it’s a mass of giant lorries hurtling their cargo  to Spain and Portugal. Obviously we didn’t actually visit Biarritz, or Bayonne,  or straddling the border Irun; but their names flashed past as I gripped the wheel and followed the SatNav. Then when we reached San Sebastian a road close  to our hotel was closed forcing us to navigate old school style.  I was so pleased to have arrived that I didn’t even baulk at driving into the underground garage. Well not that much.

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after a quick wash and brush up at our hotel this was our lunchtime view

The previous few days in France MrS had been recovering from a lurgy so it was lovely to sit,  soak up the sun, relax  and enjoy lunch.

 

san sebastian starters

our starters at   La Perla

Two important lessons from that first lunch: one,  Spanish restaurants are not generally dog friendly,  and two, some “menu del dia” include a bottle rather than a glass of wine*.* Actually the last one could be a northern thing as I’ve never come across it on other visits.

We did find one dog friendly*** restaurant in San Sebastian, Kaxilda was a few blocks inland from our hotel and a little hard to find but very friendly and with some  nice vegetarian options.

With all that eating we had  lots of calories to walk off,  luckily San Sebastian is perfect for that, we walked along the paseo de la concha, headed east through the fringes of the old town and were amazed by the waves on the Rio Urumea,  surfers rode even bigger ones on Playa de Zurriola.

Next day we had a slightly more strenuous walk up to Monte Urgull

looking down from the top

beer with a view

and a little light refreshment

 

sun puddling

while DogS did some serious sun puddling

You can see from the pictures that there’s something for everyone, gorgeous sandy beaches, including one for surfers, grand shopping streets, the old town crowded around the port and delicious food. We didn’t get to try out any of San Sebastian’s Michelin stars and with DogS it was hard to fully experience the  pinxtos bars but we ate very well.

 

 

this little dog taking advantage of the spillages

tired B snoozing

meanwhile it’s all zzz from Dog S,  must have been a good walk

 

At the western continuation of Playa de la Concha, (Playa de Ondaretta)  you can board the  funicular which climbs up Monte Igueldo

from funicular

view from the funicular 

There’s a small funfair at the top, which was closed for the season. As well as the roundabouts and dodgems there was  a wooden roller which on first glance seemed  very tame, but then I looked at how closely it hugged the cliff and decided I was glad it was shut. There’s not a lot else up at the top but the views are gorgeous and it’s a popular spot in the early evening.

We took the beach  back into town, in the evening dogs are allowed to run free.

“it’s my ball”

And after that, it was time for a sundowner.

Salud! Osasun!

 

Until next time

Marina x

*there are good museums and cultural centres, just not as well known as the Guggenheim, Bilbao.

**we actually started to avoid “drinks included” menus

***by dog friendly I mean places where dogs can join their owners indoors, most places allowed dogs on the terrace.

…walks with a little brown dog

I may have written this before but there are few things that can’t be brightened up by a little brown dog. Recently two much loved local dogs have died;  I’ll miss seeing them about, though nowhere near as much as their people will and it’s made me specially glad to have B around.

Part of the joy of walking with a dog is the pleasure they seem to get from their surroundings. B meanders from side to side, on “zombie pawtrol” as it’s known by her Twitter pals. I think she mostly “sees” through her nose but mine is a little further from the sniffs so I decided to look in the more conventional way.

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It was a grey, drizzly morning which may accentuate the smells,  it can bring sparkle to things you might overlook.

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raindrops on spiderwebs

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and on whiskers of kittens (well caterpillars)

There was an advertising campaign last year or so with the strapline “Be more dog”. I can’t remember what the product was but it’s not a bad way to be.

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from little burns mighty oak trees grow (hmm, maybe that’s not the saying)

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and here’s one which grew earlier

Autumn leaves fall, all things pass;  sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I fret. But sometimes I can find my inner dog.

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And who could resist that smile?

 

Marina x

Shock

I arrived home after my walk today to a missed call on my mobile and the message light blinking from the landline. Looking up the number I recognised it belonged to MrS’s cousin. Oh that’s nice I thought, she must be coming to visit her friend and wants to  drop in on her way.

And so we listened to the message.

She’s dead.

I can’t really take it in. Whilst she was (so hard to write) in her seventies, retired,  a grandmother she was by no means old. And not ill. She was always full of life, walking travelling, keeping up with family and friends.  Both her parents lived into their nineties.

Now she’s gone.

It’ll be worse for MrS;  the cousins are the senior generation of his family. A chain of births stretching from the ’40s to the ’60s.  And now a link is gone.

We’ll talk about it later no doubt.  Remember.

But for now there is just shock.

And sadness.

 

Good Service

I’ve sent more time than I’ve liked these past weeks complaining to a Major Retailer about their bad service. It’s left me feeling generally discontented and anxious. I don’t want anyone to come to any harm following my complaints, I just wanted those at the top to know how they were failing their customers.  Anyway to offset that I thought I should in my own small way recognise good and great service.  So here for what it’s worth are “The Marinas”

My local deli * , we visit every week for cheese and other speciality items. But they really excelled themselves recently when I was outside and spotted a particularly seasonal item which only they stock. Problem? I had Bramble with me so couldn’t go in.  But my gesticulations, pointing first to the items and then to Bramble,  and MrS’s supplies were guaranteed. My items were brought outside and swapped for payment and we shall not be marmalade-less this year.

A small retailer with an online presence Lowie . I was introduced to them by a friend when I admired her frock.  I’ve since ordered items which suited, and others which didn’t.  Returns were handled efficiently and by an actual person. Great service. Thanks.

Online (mostly) retailer and designer Masato Jones I’ve never ordered a bespoke item but I’ve bought from them a number of times, packages arrive promptly, beautifully packed and with a lovely little drawing from Masato.  Oh, and they regularly support homeless charities with their sales.

Big Beasts Space NK and FitFlop which deliver on time and in the case of the latter deal with returns very efficiently.  I once had to call Space NK customer services and they were very and immediately helpful.

You may deduce from all this that I do a lot of online shopping. This is true of certain things but we buy all of our meat and eggs** from local suppliers, use our local store*** for sundries (and posting back those returns!)

And finally a call out to the many unsung heroines/heroes of the NHS like my big sister the GlamourPuss aka @KayMoggie , Medical Laboratory Scientists, who work the same long hours as all those ward staff you’ve heard of,  but rarely get mentioned.  Whenever you have a test done at your GP, clinic or hospital one of these will receive it, process it and get the result back asap. Thank you all.

And finally because this is all a bit too wordy, some pretty pictures.

 

(and a couple of me)

Until next time

Marina x

* Kitchen Garden, Oban

** Balvicar Farm Eggs

*** Balvicar Stores

We have lots more great local food producers. More on them another time.

OOPS! Update! Forgot to mention The Furniture Workshop, Oban. Did a wonderful job re-upholstering and generally rejuvenating some of our furniture and came to our rescue lending us a sofa when we were let down.

Las Islas Canarias

Well the ones I’ve been to anyway.

Last Christmas (2016) we flew off to Lanzarote to escape our renovation works at home. There we discovered the delights of mojo, wrinkly potatoes and its unique volcanic landscape.

 

This year (2017) we spent Christmas and New Year at home, having fun with lots of family and friends.

So after all the festivities we were ready for some sunshine, sightseeing, relaxation  and perhaps the odd night out…….

 

We were based in Garachico, in the gorgeous Hotel San Roque  

 

There was plenty of good food and drink

 

 

But we managed a few little strolls.

Walk sign

Some traditions are familiar

But presents come with The Kings on January 5th.

 

It was strange seeing these seasonal favourites growing outside

Poinsettia

 

And it wasn’t all sunshine

But it always came back

lily pond

 

We saw lots but there’s still more to explore.

map

And other islands too

graciosa form mirador

Until next time

Marina x

 

Tote bag in wine glass photo by Cara Morris at  CaraPrintsThings

We ate at :  Ardeola

Tasca del Vino

Canada de Garachico Espacio Gastronomico

Aristides

all in Garachico, and the

Cofradia de Pescadores

in Puerto de la Cruz. We also enjoyed meals at our hotel, high up in Teno mountains and indulged in cake and ice cream in La Laguna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little things…..

Today I took my dog to the beach.  Now that is not an unusual thing, but today I tried to do  just that. No ‘phone, no photos, no posting. Just me’n’B, walking, watching , listening. Enjoying her pleasure at simply being there.

My dog smiles. Disclaimer, this is blatant anthropomorphism on my part. She’s a terrier, her mouth is just made like that and anyway she expresses delight from her other end. But her smiley face lifts my spirits.

So back to the beach and maybe at first little MissB is looking for something else too, but I’ve brought no balls so it’s just running and sniffing and maybe digging up some treasure. The tide is low today giving us a lot more beach than last time.   More sand, more seaweed,  more stones;  so many different types of stone;  slate, granite, quartz, smooth, crusted, hairy.   The smooth ones are great for bowling along the sand,  B in hot pursuit.

The splash and sift of the sea on the sand, children’s voices, the thunder of paws – for a small dog she can make quite a din.  It’s a week day, a work day, the children are here on a trip from school, learning to climb the cliffs.   Last time the sun shone, it was a holiday, I filled a big shopper full of rubbish as I walked.  I’d  found the shopper tucked into the rocks.  A couple of tourists joined in, horrified by the mess. There’s a different couple today, taking pictures, enjoying the almost pristine beach, but all that plastic didn’t just end up in my bag.  It’ll visit some other shore.

Just for a moment, banish that thought. Just for a moment, be in the moment.

Having fun, with my dog, on the beach.

 

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PS. Towards the end, I cracked. I took some photos.

PPS. And here’s  B smiling

 

Until next time….

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