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Spring 2010 (March & April)
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Although we've had the house in Spain for a few years now, we'd never managed to be there for the blossom in Spring. We'd heard all about it and how spectacular it looks so, this year, we decided to spend our longest time ever in a single trip (over 7 weeks) so we could catch the best of it.
And with spectacular timing, we choose the worst Spring that Spain had seen in living memory; and if you've been following us on here so far, you'll realise this is becoming a bit of a pattern! Most locals plan their fuel, which is generally wood burned in open fires or semi-enclosed stoves, to last until the end of February, or maybe into March in a bad year. This year we were all lighting fires, even during the day, well into April and everyone was running out of fuel. The countryside had been scoured and every scrap of burnable wood had been gathered.
And, true to form, about 10 days before we were due to return to the UK, Spring and early Summer arrived with a bang. Temperatures which had struggled into the low teens the week before suddenly hit the mid 20's, the sun cream came out and Stuart even ventured into the pool.
And this is what almond blossom looks like in the Saliente Valley a few hundred metres up the road from ours. And we make no excuses for including three photos of it. But no photo can do them real justice. This is some of the blossom on our land, sadly our trees are not looked after as well as they ought to be (according to the locals!) but they still bloom well.
The weather wasn't all bad though, there were some days such as this. We found a small plaza in a part of Albox we'd not walked around before so we did the Spanish thing and sat a while to watch the world go by. And here, we were enjoying a coffee and tostada outside of our favourite bar in Albox, and needing that sun-shade umbrella. This is the new statue just opposite the aforementioned bar. It's in marble and will look spectacular when it's fully finished.
This is next door's cat, Daisy. Who, as you can see, has made herself well at-home whilst Stuart is trying to do a bit of work! The horticulturists amongst you may know what this is, but we don't. But it grows in our garden and has dozens of blooms like this in the Spring and into the Summer. And we have a yellow one by the pool. If you look carefully you'll see the pipes which are our attempt at a solar heating system for the pool water. It worked of a fashion but needs improving on for the end of the season.
All the rain we had has had one good effect. The valley has never been greener at this time of year and the goats, donkeys, horses etc have never been so well fed in April. This is the view looking down the valley from the front of ours. Next time we see it the height of summer it will be looking decidedly more brown. One day we decided to go for a drive to the Sierra de Maria, a beautiful and protected national park about half-an-hour's drive from us. This is the view from the mountains as you come over the tops into the sierra itself.
And this is the gang that came with us: Gill & William and Sue & Pete. All of whom can be relied upon to turn any day into fun. And here they are, posing by Pete & Sue's car. Ours is in front as, in theory, we knew the way. This is the view back to the mountains from the valley and, no, Pete is not doing what you may think - he was simply lining up a photo of his own.
And we now jump to the end of our stay when we drove diagonally across Spain to get the ferry home for a change. This is the Roman Aqueduct at Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the photo is taken from our hotel bedroom window. Stunning. Stuart trying to be 'arty' and taking a picture from underneath one of the main arches. And again, from the other side, taken on our return after we had been for a walk around the historic town centre which is to the right of the picture and also behind where we are standing.
This is taken whilst walking through the old town and it didn't take much imagination to see all the people from the past 2000 years that will have walked around there. On our way to the Alcazar (of which more below) we past some interesting buildings. This was one which we thought worthy of a photo but have no idea what it is. But this one we can recognise as the cathedral. In a bit of a sorry state actually but in the process of extensive renovation ready for Segovia's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2016.
This is the Alcazar, Segovia's picturesque and well preserved castle. From the front and to the side
This was taken from the gardens at the front of the castle over the top of the city. And to the snow on the hills beyond. Just another example of interesting buildings and views as you stroll around the city This is a view across, from the Alcazar, to the cathedral. To the right is a very steep drop down to the river.
We then moved on to Santander, where we were catching the ferry from but somehow didn't manage to take many pictures of it. This is a sailing ship we happened to see in the bay opposite the hotel. And this is from the ferry next day looking back to the hotel. The idea was that we would put an arrow on to show where we stayed, but you'd never see it from this distance, so we haven't! And I think Darryl's face on this sums it up. A shame to leave but looking forward to catching up with our friends and family back in the UK.

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