Category: Flowers

Lido de Camaiore for Tirreno-Adriatico ITT

Leaving the aire before 8:00 we headed north towards Lido de Camaiore, stopping along the way for a fabulous cappuccino at a highway rest stop.

We got to Camaiore in good time and drove along the Lido, passing several of the team buses in the best parking areas.

Most of the parking areas were taped off for the teams and other race officials but we came to a perfect place near the Hotel Joseph.

There were some other campervans there already so we figured it was a good place to stop.

After a bite to eat we went for a walk back towards the start of tomorrow’s ITT – it was a bit of a ways and there were no cafes open or anything.  We did enjoy the excercise and fresh air, however.

There are several teams staying at the Hotel Joseph, and the mechanics, etc. are all in process of washing the time trial bikes and everything.

There are all sorts of sculptures and art pieces along the Lido – some of them are quite nice and some of them a bit puzzling.

Also, because we’re so close to Carrara there’s lots of marble – some of the sidewalks are actually made of it!

After a very early night and a good quiet sleep we were up early again.  Wanting a cappuccino we walked north this time along the Lido, eventually asking a policeman where a cafe might be found.  

Following his directions we shortly were seated outside a very nice, and increasingly busy cafe at one end of a large plaza.

Across from the plaza were more sculptures, and a lovely long pier that was very well made with stainless steel handrails – quite impressive.

There was a fellow playing the harp partway down – I think I even recognized the song he was playing which was something Italian and classical that I don’t know the name of.  

The beach here looks excellent – very wide and flat with fine white sand.

For a few hours in the late morning most of the riders were doing re-con of the course, then the police motos and photo motos took their turns.

The first racer left around 2:00 – it’s a straight north ride for almost 7 km, then a hairpin turn and back south to the finish, so each rider passes us twice, once in each direction.  I got the Cav…

…a heli – what??  They’re alway sneaking into my shots…

…someone coming from the beach who didn’t care at all about the race…

…Alaphilippe…

As some of the riders finished they slowly rode back to their hotels – sometimes on the race road and sometime on the sidewalk.  At one point I looked up and coming towards me was Richie Porte!  I waved and smiled (not having time to take a photo) and he smiled back and said ‘Hi’! – almost the highlight of my day.  I also got Ganna…

…Evenepoel…

…and Pogacar…

A very fine day of race watching, followed by another very early night.

Mellowing in Mansle

Since our return from Spain things have been pretty quiet for us and we haven’t done a whole lot, with a few exceptions.

First, and quite important – we went to a clinic so Colin could get his ‘vaccine passport’ and I could arrange for my second shot.  They weren’t sure what to do with me – they don’t vaccinate ‘tourists’ but we managed to convey that I wasn’t really just a tourist, and they really wanted to help me so they gave in.

The very nice lady doctor (that spoke pretty good english) told me that since my first shot was about four months ago it was too old and I’d have to get two more from them.  Disappointing as it would mean delaying our return to Italy, but I made an appointment for the first one two days from then.

When we arrived for my appointment the first thing the same doctor said was ‘why don’t we do an antibody test just in case – if you have antibodies then we may only have to give you one shot’.  They took a bit of blood from a finger prick, then gave me a shot.  While I waited my 15 minutes the test result came in and I did have enough antibodies – they presented me with a vaccine certificate!!  They still didn’t know what to do about billing me so just let me go.

The first thing we did when we got back to Mansle was go to the bar, but Edith had to break the news to me that I had to wait a week before I was ‘legal’ – oh well, back home we went.

The second, and very enjoyable thing was that we had Tony and Joyce over for dinner.  It was a lovely evening so we sat outside for the appetizers before coming inside for the main meal.  There was good wine, and excellent conversation, and the food seemed to go over well – an extremely nice evening.

We had lunch one day near Luxe at the ‘lake’ – they’d stocked it with 300 kilos of live trout and there were dozens of fishermen and women sitting in the rain along the shore.

One old fellow caught two good sized ones while we ate.

We had several nice bike rides, with the last one being over 40 km – we stopped in Aigre for lunch then managed to make it home before the rain hit.

Colin took the campervan to the place he bought it from in Ruffec to get all of the small things sorted out – we’re going to Italy in the car so won’t be needing the campervan again for a while.

I’ve learned to make a proper pie crust and have made a couple of very tasty quiches – next up steak and mushroom pie.

There’s been a couple of very important races that we watched on tv this year rather than being there.  First the world championships in Belgium, which would have been awesome to see live – a thrilling race won for the second year in a row by Julian Alaphilippe.

The second one two days ago was Paris-Roubaix, which normally takes place in April, and is the first time it’s been held since we saw it live in 2019.  This year it was rain and mud all the way, and was won with a thrilling sprint to the finish by three riders – the winner by a few inches was Italian Sonny Colbrelli.

Having missed both of those races we’re really looking forward to going to the last big one of the year – il Lombardia – on our way back to Papiano.

Roast Lamb, Friends in Logrono, back to France

The campground’s pit-roasted lamb dinner was every bit as delicious as we remembered – a joint of lamb brought sizzling in a pan and carved by the chef at our table, accompanied by green olives, lovely crusty bread, fries and salad.

I ate as much as I could and still had plenty to take away for tomorrow’s meals – a really excellent birthday dinner.

The next morning we weren’t in any great hurry to leave so took a nice long walk along the main street of the town.

As usual in this area it’s all about the Camino, with auberges all over the place, as well as a nice plaza and some cafe/bars.

We did get away right around noon, stopping to say goodbye to the owners and letting them know how much we enjoyed staying there – and the dinner last night – and promising to return.

The drive to Logrono didn’t take that long, and we found the aire no problem – we’d been there two years ago.  It’s just on the north edge of the city in an area chock-full of sports fields and activities.  Nice and flat with lots of trees, very near the river.

In the morning we took a walk to the river, then east along the lovely pathway to the large pedestrian bridge, passing a skateboard park along the way.

We only came to the town to see Ricardo (Richard) and to pick up three cases of Rioja to take back to France – he was able to meet with us a bit early, along with his daughter Lucy.  

It was so nice to see them again, especially as we’d not been able to come to Spain last year.  We took another walk with them, this time to a cafe where we sat outside and chatted for a bit.

Lucy has grown up so much – she was only 12 or so when we first met her, and now she’s in her final year of school before entering university next year – a very lovely and beautiful young lady.

When we told them where we’d been the last couple of days they were so surprised – it’s the place that Richard’s father was born and grew up in – he still has cousins and other family there.  I showed them the photos I’d taken and they recognized almost every place.

Right after Richard and Lucy left we also got under way, deciding to go all the way back to Mansle rather than stopping partway.  We made a stop very near the French border to pickup a couple more things and once again crossed over without even a question, only knowing we’d crossed the border when we passed the sign saying ‘France’. 

Bonar, Barrio de Las Olas and Barky Dogs

It absolutely poured with rain during the night, and Mo, as usual, tried to out-bark the thunder.  We’ve noticed that the campground has made several improvements from the last time we were here.  The bathrooms, including the sinks and showers all seem new and they’ve spiffed up other things as well.

The one thing that hadn’t changed was that no one was at the office when we wanted to leave.  The last time we’d just left some cash in an envelope and put it thru the door slot, but this time we left a note that we’d be back later.

We had to go up to Lugo to try to get a couple of things fixed in the campervan.  Not only had the solar battery/electrics failed but the sink plug had sprung a leak – for the second time!  Adria:  we love the new campervan and many things about it, but some of the little things are just crap!

We made it to Lugo and the place we’d picked was very good – we got a replacement sink drain/fixture and one of their guys had a look at the battery.  He wasn’t an expert and couldn’t determine what was wrong so didn’t charge us anything, although Colin gave him some cash anyway.

We headed southeast back to the campground where we paid up, then further east past Leon, stopping at the edge of the town of Sahechores where we saw a bunch of campervans parked in a field.  It was quite pleasant, with a very nice restaurant/bar as well.

We were enjoying a nice beverage when a woman at a table near us lit a cigarette.  As this was very smelly, and I know isn’t allowed I motioned for her to put it out – no doing.  She gave me the evil eye until Colin went in to pay, then I went to her table and apologized for my response to her smoking, telling her that my mother had died due to cigarettes and it just made me sad.  She accepted my apology very contritely.

We had a nice quiet night – with…ta-da!  – full power on the battery in the morning.  We took a short walk – there’s a huge stork’s nest atop the chimney of a church, and a rock that looks like a frog (according to Colin) – a bit of imagination can be used, then I get it.

We got going before noon back to Leon to stock up again and then off northeast to the town of Bonar.  It’s in a lovely area and the aire is right on the river – 3 euros a night including electrics.

The aire is right across from the community swimming pool/recreation area and as it was Saturday they were having a party.  

Hundreds of people started to arrive and the music was blaring – we feared no sleep would be had until well after midnight.

We took a walk in to the town and had a nice drink at one of several cafe/bars.  

On the walk back two ladies looking out their window smiled as I waved at them then took their photo.

We were very pleasantly surprised when the music at the party across the road stopped at around 9:00 and we were able to get an early, peaceful night.

There were about 25 campervans in the place overnight but many left during the day.  We assume this is the last weekend of holidays in Spain and everyone has to get back to work or school.

There are several hiking and mountain-biking trails around here, as well as skiing in the winter.  We took a walk along a trail that was meant to take us to a waterfall, but it wasn’t well marked and we went about a kilometre the wrong way before backtracking.

It was still a nice walk, though, and we went back along the road rather than the trail.  There was more than one house with guard dogs, and one in particular had several large, loud ones.

Another walk into the town, and another refreshing beverage, this time with a couple of tapas.

On the walk back the sun was coming thru the clouds in brilliant rays – a lovely evening.

This morning we went for another walk, this time following the road rather than the unmarked trail.  It was easy walking until we came to the ‘dog house’.  This time there were no fewer than six very large dogs just hurling themselves at their gate to get at us so we hustled past.

Then a lone dog – a ridge-back, Colin thought – came after us up the road.  There was a fat old lady yelling at it to come back but it just kept coming at us.  I scooped Mo up in my arms and the dog went past us and on to Colin and Henry.  Colin gave it a light kick and it retreated back a bit, allowing us to pass.

I yelled at the old lady – even though it wasn’t in Spanish I’m sure she understood ‘get control of your f’ing dog!’.

I must say something about the dogs here – there are dogs everywhere, but here in Spain it seems the owners don’t care as much about having them on a leash and it can be quite frightening, especially when we have two fairly small dogs – always on their leads, of course.  

We continued on up to the nearby small village of Barrio de Las Ollas – unfortunately there wasn’t even a cafe, and several of the houses were for sale.

It wasn’t deserted or anything, in fact restoration work was being done on more than one place.

Not feeling very energetic we declined to go to town for a drink, opting instead to sit in the chairs outside and take it easy.

There are only four or five campervans here now and it’s very quiet.

The recreation area across the road had a bit of music as usual, but again it ended nice and early.

Exploring Galicia – Foz to Razo, and Places in Between

We had a couple of fairly quiet days, with nice walks along the shore trails.

The weather was a bit crappish so we didn’t go far, and never even bothered to get out the bikes.

One morning there was a man that was teaching his son to surf – and the little fellow seemed to like it.

After a couple of days of rest we decided to head a bit inland again, and ended up in an aire at the edge of the lovely village of Castro de Rei.  It even had free electric.

We got parked, then took a walk into the village, where we encountered an elderly couple that were just leaving their garden and crossing the road to their house.  They took a great interest in the dogs, especially Henry.  We managed to converse a bit, even with my very poor spanish, and they were so sweet – wanting to know the doggies names, and also where we were staying.

We then walked back a bit and stopped at the bar to have a drink, and then a couple of very small tapas.  The bill for a really nice glass of rioja, a beer and two tapas was a grand total of three euros!

On the way back to the campervan I tried to take some photos of the almost-full moon – I was fairly disappointed with the results…it was much more colourful than I seemed able to capture.

We left Castro de Rei mid-morning the next day and continued on the short distance to A Feira Do Monte, which was also very nice, although quite a bit larger town.  The aire, however, was in a really beautiful area right next to a bird sanctuary.

It was a fairly busy parking area actually, with lots of cars coming and going – there are several nice trails going around the ‘lake’ and to various places in the town.

We took a lovely long walk around the ‘lake’ – it has many informative kiosks as well as a few strategically placed bird watching towers.

(No – this is not a real bird!)

The next morning we took a short walk along one of the many paved trails – it eventually led to a museum in the town but we didn’t follow it to the end, opting to get going to our next stop instead. I must say they’ve done a really good job with the trails and info in this area – very nice to see.

We went a couple hours almost straight west to what we thought was going to be an isolated beach aire on the coast near the small village of Razo.

It was a beautiful place, but not what we’d expected.  It was just bustling – mostly with surfers, but at least it had a couple of nice bars and restaurants.  We parked for the afternoon right across from the beach – directed by some fellows that looked fairly official, but we weren’t asked for any money.  We squeaked into a space, slightly scraping the canopy holder on the side of the campervan on a sign on the way in.

After a nice walk above the beach – no dogs allowed on the actual beach – we tried to order a drink at a bar, but no luck.  They were incredibly busy but didn’t seem to have nearly enough staff to service half of the folks.  Two people at the table next to us were able to order some of what they wanted but then the waitress pretty much ran away without taking our order.  When I said ‘well…maybe tomorrow!’ the two laughed and said ‘she’s very stressed’ but we’d waited long enough and left for another place.

At the second place we ended up not only having drinks – a very nice bottle of Rioja – but also lunch.

We relocated where we parked a couple of times to find the right place to spend the night, ending up on a large paved area at the edge of town, again right across from the ocean.

The sunset was beautiful.

Back to Rio de Luna

A beautiful morning greeted us at the little aire – such a lovely place.

The drive to Rio Luna was pretty flat and a bit boring, at least until we passed Leon and got into the foothills of the mountains.

The dam at the end of the reservoir didn’t look like it’s letting any water out and the lake does look higher than when we were last here.  There were lots of boats out and the marina was pretty full.

The campground was much busier than it was two years ago, but we ended up on the exact same pitch.  First thing I did was shower, and did the hot water ever feel good!

Down at the campground’s bar we had a nice conversation with a british couple that now live in southern Spain and are up here for a vacation.  As with most brits we talk with they are frustrated by England’s ever changing covid rules – visitors are hesitant to come over as rules may change while they’re here and they’ll have a huge hassle getting back to England.

One afternoon we looked up and there was a rainbow in the clouds – no rain at all, in fact most of the sky was bright blue – a hot and sunny day.

We’re having a little vacation here before heading to the north coast.  The first ride we took was on Wednesday into San Emiliano where we saw the fabulous horse fair two years ago.

We had a coffee at one of the cafes and I asked the waitress if the horse fair was going to be on at the end of the month – I showed her some photos I’d taken two years ago and she said, very sadly that no, the fair was off because of covid.  Darn!  We were really looking forward to it.

I then went into the small supermarket to get some cheese for the pasta to go with my bolognese sauce, and a local interpreted for me and sent me to the proper area of the store to get the best cheese – made just down the road.  Unfortunately I’ve let my Spanish lessons slide a bit in favour of Italian and haven’t brushed up enough – I’ll have to do better!

The little ones were pretty good in their chariot on our first ride into San Emiliano, but the second ride when we went up to Abelgas wasn’t so pleasant – at least for me. 

They’re sharing one chariot as Colin’s bike doesn’t have the proper connection, and both dogs did nothing but bark and howl the entire time up and down to the village.  At one point on the way back we were chased for quite a while by a big dog – that was something I just didn’t want to deal with!

It gets quite cold here at night – just above freezing, but by mid-afternoon we want to hide in the shade.  Yet it’s not nearly as hot as some places – it reached 48.8 in Sicily yesterday, and the fires back home are so bad.  We feel very fortunate, and don’t take anything for granted.

Even though the campground seems pretty packed and there are a lot of kids, it’s very quiet, especially in the mornings.  We had a very late sleep in this morning and didn’t arise until 9:30 – quite unusual.

We did take the doggies for a nice walk on the trail behind the campground – we’d followed it all the way around 2 years ago but turned back partway this time as it was getting hot.

When I downloaded my photos and then compared them to the ones I took last time I wasn’t too surprised to see that some of them are almost identical between the two years.  I like what I like!

They had recently cut the weeds, etc along the path and right around a new thistle were dozens of tiny blue butterflies – you can’t see them that well in my photo but they were awesome.

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 5

Another excellent sleep at another lovely aire – Spain has this down!

The drive to our spot to watch the final stage was not far, and we were the first ones there.  There’s a fairly large area right before the summit of the second climb of the day and we had our choice of spots.

We’re right beside a memorial of some sort – beautiful fresh flowers, some inside a heart-shaped rock formation.

Not long after we arrived the fellows came along to paint the summit line.

Slowly but surely more cars arrived, including several team cars.  The one that pulled in right beside us was Ineos, and they were friendly and both spoke very good english.  Without even having to ask they offered us each a bidon – Yates’s!  They set about loading their rider’s musettes with bottles and power bars, etc. 

At one point a car pulled in and the driver got our and added two more lovely floral arrangements to the memorial.  A while later a couple of the cars had to shuffle around to let two cars through and up the road – it wasn’t so much a pullout as it was a very wide entrance to a side road and the other cars were, in fact, blocking it.

A breakaway of six arrived about five minutes before the peloton.

Once again they passed as one large group, with only a few stragglers.  The team cars in our pullout were very accommodating – I asked the Astana guy for a bidon and he gave me a full musette.  And Colin got an EF bidon thrown by a rider.

Since we hadn’t put any flags up it was quick and easy to get on our way.  We drove generally west to Ampudia, just north of Valladolid to find yet another lovely aire for the night.

There was some sort of outdoor opera happening in the town but we were too tired to go down and investigate, opting instead to just have dinner and an early night.

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 3

Another bright looking morning – sunny but not yet too hot.  After some nice tea we left the lovely aire and headed to our next destination a little bit northeast just outside the village of Cereceda.

We picked a spot just past the summit of the climb in one of the only pullouts available.

We had lunch as other vehicles started to come along looking for spots to park – there weren’t that many but some cars did venture onto the verge, as well as some motorbikes.

The area around here reminds me of home.

We put up one flagpole with three flags and they did fly well although it became extremely windy.  We had to put an extra bungee at the bottom to keep them from tilting – we wouldn’t want to be those ‘stupid fans’ that let something fall in the path of the riders!

There was a breakaway of four to the top of the Alto la Varga and was taken uncontested by a young rider from Caja Rural.

I still smile and wave at almost everyone that comes past – campervans, team cars, motos, police – and so many of them either wave back or at least toot their horns.  

One moto cop stopped at the line for a couple of minutes and chatted a bit – the peloton was 2 km behind and would take a couple more minutes to arrive.  He gave a big smile and went on his way.

The peloton arrived about seven minutes after the breakaway, and I got a photo of both of the Yates twins – now riding for different teams – near the back of the pack.

After the race had passed and we’d taken down the flags we were on our way again – this time back south past Burgos to get somewhere along the route of stage 4.

Olympic news:  Damian Warner has won the gold for Canada in the decathlon!!  Way to go!!  And Andre de Grasse has won the gold in the 200 metres!  Way to go Canada!

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 2

After yet another rain storm during the night we woke to fairly pleasant weather.  In no particular hurry we had breakfast then headed northeast to the village of Monasterio de Rodilla.

We once again followed the route for a ways in the opposite direction, then turned around and went back to a spot we’d passed by.  It was a decent sized pullout with good views back along the road.

Again there was a breakaway of five riders, and again all from local teams.

The peloton was only about three minutes behind this time.

After the last racer passed one of the team cars – Qhubeka – pulled to the side of the road almost across from us.  He flagged down the ambulance and had a word with them.

They turned around just ahead of us and went back the other way – we assumed that a rider had crashed and the ambulance had to go back for him.  We hope he’s alright.

We got going quickly and scooted up to today’s finishing city of Briviesca, where there was another lovely free aire.  

After getting organized we took the doggies out for the short walk down to the finishing area.

There was a nice bench just waiting for us about 250 metres from the line so we sat down and relaxed for the short wait – and guess what?  We’re on the Camino again – imagine that!

The peloton had caught the breakaway, as expected, and they all tore around the corner just below us and blazed past as one big bunch.

Some of the locals were watching from their apartments across the street…

Walking back to the campervan we passed the place where all the police motos had lined up – they thought it was quite funny I was taking a photo of their parked BMW’s.

We stopped at an outside table at a bar along the way and got a refreshing beverage, then on back to the aire to relax and have a light dinner.

Vuelta a Burgos Stage 1

After trying out the oven for the first time – roast chicken! – we treated ourselves the next night to a meal in the campground’s restaurant.  We had a lovely smoked salmon and asparagus salad for a starter and both chose the veal with potatoes as a main.  I don’t often opt for veal but it was pretty good.

The water seems to stop at least once or twice a day – there’s been a tanker truck filling up the pool and other things to compensate for the shortage.

On Tuesday morning we got going at a decent time to find a place on the route for the first day of the Vuelta a Burgos – another of our favourite races.  We were accredited photographers two years ago and had applied again this year, but due to covid restrictions were regretfully turned down this year.

We headed southwest from the campground and picked up the route in the reverse direction.

After passing Santa Maria del Campo we turned around and backtracked to Pampliega, a picturesque town on a river where we decided to stay and watch/photograph from.

As we had some time we took the doggies for a walk around the village – uphill to the main part of town.

After asking a local fellow where a cafe/bar was – in Spanish! – we found the place we were directed to and stopped for refreshments, then on to the church that overlooks everything.

The door was open so I went inside – the stained glass windows weren’t that great but everything else was outstanding.  I got ready to take my first photo but a fellow inside immediately said ‘no photos’, and pointed to a sign on the wall that I hadn’t seen.

It was a shame I couldn’t take photos – it was by far the most interesting church I’ve been in for a long time.  Like in many churches the ceilings soar and are vaulted and the walls are covered in sculptures.  But they also had a ‘wing’ with priests’ vestments behind glass – a whole bunch of them.  Some looked like they were embroidered in gold thread and lots of silk.  Also a display case that contained some relics, including some very old-looking scrolls.

Returning to the campervan we re-conned some possible spots to shoot from.  There’s a fairly sharp turn before the riders get onto the bridge and we hoped that would slow them down a bit.

The river, along with the lovely park and walkways was a great attraction and thoughout the morning more and more locals arrived to swim and fish.  They also opened both of the kiosks at each end of the park area and must have done a good business.

There was a good crowd gathered, and the race arrived with five in the breakaway – I got a pretty good shot of them coming across the bridge.

They were all from local Spanish teams and had been allowed to get a seven minute gap on the peloton.

I didn’t recognize too many riders in my photos but there are a lot of big-name racers here.  It’s a good warmup race for the Vuelta a Espana later this month.

After the racers had all passed we took our time going back to Santa Maria del Campo where there was a very nice free aire for the night.

Colin got his drone up for the first time but the strong wind made it difficult to nagivate – it ended up in a tree, but we did manage to retrieve it safely and without damage.