Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Monsul Beach And San Jose.

Another beautiful fine sunny day today so off we went for another visit to San Jose. It is a very easy drive, with good roads into the Park Natural, and no traffic!

San Jose is the nearest location to access some of the best beaches in Spain, which lie next to each other down a 4km dirt track into the mountains. Monsul is the middle of the three, all are secluded. In fact Monsul is so secluded that most of today's sun worshippers were devoid of any clothes at all, aux natural, making it so difficult to concentrate on the job in hand which was to capture our own images in the exact spot where Indiana Jones, (Harrison Ford), and his father, (Sean Connery), were stood when Connery brought down the WW2 fighter plane using nothing more than his umbrella, (and a flock of seagulls).

After we accomplished our mission, which was made difficult due to the position of the sun, (iPad camera), it was off to visit the village of San Jose itself. At this time of year things are very quiet, but there was a good selection of cafes and restaurants open for business.

With fresh bread and doughnuts purchased from a local bakery, it was off home for lunch with our pristine white car now very dusty. Today's temperature topped 30 degrees at noon.

I think I will join the local tradition of siesta this afternoon.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Settled In To Our Autumn Home.

Last year, after spending another two weeks with our friends who spend their entire Winter here, I vowed I would do something that would allow us to do the same. This area of Spain is the only area of Europe that is officially designated as desert. Consequently you can almost guarantee warm sunshine in the Winter with very little rainfall. My aches and pains just disappear while we are here.

Our long term plan was to tour by motorhome, but we are here in a beautiful apartment this year for our extended stay. This was booked last December before we had any real commitment to owning our own motorhome. So here we are, and the motorhome is stored at home, in the able care of our son.

There are dozens of ex-pats who over-winter here, either in apartments, caravans or motorhomes, and I think we now know them all. It is a small, still mainly Spanish community. If you enjoy all those tacky British bars and take away fish and chip shops, then you wouldn't enjoy it here, and it wouldn't be for you - especially if you also did not like dry and barren countryside, as there is also lots of that here in the form of the Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park. That is not to say there are no truly stunning places to visit around here, such as the wonderfully deserted Monsul beach, the location of the Indiana Jones movie scene where Sean Connery downs a WW2 German fighter plane by shooing seagulls into its path with his umbrella. Our favourite secluded place - it is still secret so don't tell anyone!

I hope to post updates of our travels in the local area as we go.

This year's apartment is just spectacular, and about the same price for double the stay as our hotel just up the road last year. We used Hertz for two weeks car rental last year. This year we have used Europecar, provided as part of our scheduled flight booking for about the same price, but for twice as long, and the car is brand new!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Few Days In York.

We decided to steal a few days away in the motorhome as the weather was consistently good, and ended up in York. We are pitched on the excellent York Beechwood Grange Caravan Club site just 3 miles out of the City with good public transport access.

The day after our arrival we took the bus as planned, and spent a great sunny day out in York. This is what met us as we disembarked our bus in the centre.

York is full of quirky artefacts from the past, and here is the explanation for this one.

No trip to the City of York would be complete without visiting certain attractions, which of course we have done many times. Here is one of the more famous ones.

The Shambles is one of York's oldest trading areas, but what you see today is what remains from the 15th Century and later.

The King's Arms on the banks of the Yorkshire Ouse floods quite regularly, and the business is well prepared for that. A high water mark on the masonry and brickwork can be clearly seen.

York is also the location of the greatest historic railway collection in the world, The National Rail Museum, and is free to enter for an unmissable day out.

This one was built just a couple of miles from our home during the hey day of steam rail travel.

I bet you didn't know that!

And this was the start of modern rail travel as we know it now. This replica is held by the museum, and is cut away on the other side to reveal Stephenson's revolutionary technology.

Another essential York attraction - a visit to the Minster.

York is full of interesting pubs, and this is the Punch Bowl on Stonegate, where we had a sandwich and a pint for lunch. Mine was a pint of Sharpe's Doombar, a great Cornish brew from Rock, and named after a notorious sand bar at the approach to Padstow Harbour in the estuary of the River Camel. A place we have visited many times as my brother owns a home there. Cornwall is my own ancestral home.

And they all seem to be in competition with each other as to who can put on the best flower show. This is the Golden Lion just up the road.

We will continue to explore this great area through the weekend, but it will soon be time to be off to sunny Spain for the Autumn now.

We return to York in November when we visit again, this time off a Compass Rail Tour, Class 47 diesel hauled historic train from our home town and back again. Next time the Christmas Markets will be in full flow.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

India Is Calling Us Again.

We have just booked the flights for another tour of India in Spring 2015. This will be my 3rd visit, and Margaret's 4th, having been in 2011, 2012, 2013 previously. It is a fascinating place to visit.

Our interest has been stirred again by the excellent BBC2 series that is currently showing at 8.00pm on Wednesdays, and features the behind the scenes work of the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, (Bombay). We can't resist using the rest room facilities when we are there - they are just unbelievable! We stayed at another Taj Palace hotel in Jaipur last year - the Rambagh Palace, and that was equally stunning. There is an image below of Margaret and Jill stood in the gardens in front of it. It was once the polo pavilion of the Maharajah, and the lawn was the polo field. We prefer our hotel stays to be a little less formal and low key these days though, so we don't have to always be on our best behaviour!

Today we have booked our flights to provide us with a 3 week bespoke tour of India over the Easter period next year. Again we have used the services of an excellent Indian travel agent, who are willing to provide a bespoke tour itinerary to include whatever choices you like. Our daughter used them extensively while she was working there in 2011. This is our provisional itinerary for the first 10 days of our trip.

We have yet to finalize our hotels. I think we will use the Clarkes at Shimla, as our daughter already knows it, and I think we will replace the suggested Aveda  at Dharamashala with the Chonor House as it is at McLeod Ganj which holds the most interest in that area - again from the experience of our daughter.

From there we fly to Mumbai where we will spend a full week. This is the most expensive part of our trip, even though we won't be using the services of guides and drivers - we all know this city well. We will stay in the Vivanta by Taj President, which we have all stayed in previously, and is the hotel that our daughter lived in for a year while working in the city. It provides an excellent base to return to from the excesses of a day in this very busy city. She will leave us here at the end of our week's stay and return to London. We will fly South to the state of Kerala, and will take the opportunity to further explore Fort Kochi (Cochin).

Last year we stayed in the Vivanta by Taj Malabar and it was just fabulous. However we also saw another great looking hotel which was more central last year, and we are contemplating having a change this time. We are considering booking our 5 days in Cochin this time at The Old Harbour Hotel which is a beautiful old colonial house in the centre of the old town, close to the fishing nets. We will fly from there back to Manchester.

Here are a few random images from our trip last year. The guy stood with me in front of the Tuk Tuk was a random Tuk Tuk driver who took us on a tour of Cochin from our cruise ship in 2012. When we were there again in 2013, simply walking down the street, he ran after us to say he remembered us from last year. He was right - unbelievable! His name is Achu, and he drives "the only Tuk Tuk made by Ferrari" in town.

Old Delhi

Garden terrace Vivanta by Taj Malabar
Cochin old town

The Old Harbour Hotel, Cochin
Mattupetti, Munnar

From the Top Station, Munnar
Sunset over the infinity pool, Vivanta by Taj Kovalam