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Sunday, 26 July 2015


Cambridge is impressive. It's full of tourists (like us) who have come to see its picturesque old college buildings.
Part of King's
I think this is St John's

Posters everywhere for end-of-term productions
Swans and cygnets

Traffic, bicycles, punts.

Sunday, 12 July 2015


I've been in Winchester for two weeks. Well, not quite Winchester but Sparsholt College, which is out in the Hampshire countryside, about eight km from the city.  Last Sunday, being up and ready, I walked along the narrow lanes to get to the cathedral in time for a ten o'clock service; a really special event where a number of men and women were being ordained as deacons. It was a real pageant of colour and ceremony, in which two  (at least) bishops, an abbot, a lady in a judicial wig took part. The acts included the bishops and abbot washing the feet of the ordinands (people who were being ordained) I've never seen anything quite like it!
Winchester cathedral is rather special. Part is Norman, part Gothic.

This bit is Norman,

with massive columns and rounded arches

Here is some of the Gothic stuff

On the outside, the Norman bit

The Gothic West window
The font has rather familiar carvings:
they are so like the ones we see in the cloister of San Juan de la Peña or the cathedral of Jaca.
the cathedral close

I think this is the old cloister

In Winchester High Street, statue by Anthony Gormley, I think

In Winchester Great Hall, Queen Eleanor's garden.

 I expect it's an Eleanor falcon.
A curiosity I noticed approaching the city

Quite an old postbox. Edward VII

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hoz de Jaca

Today we went for a Sunday afternoon trip. Not very far, to the Tena valley, past Biescas and turning right to cross over to the other side of the Bubal reservoir. Then up a steep, winding road which still had the padding that had been put up for the 10,000 cyclists taking part in the Quebrantahuesos road race the day before. Wow! Strong people!
Anyway, we parked in the village of Hoz de Jaca and walked to a viewpoint over the reservoir. What
 a viewpoint!

There's this amazing platform which sticks out over the void; you walk on a metal grid which you can see through. I could overcome my slight feelings of vertigo but one woman who was there at the same time as us was incapable of stepping onto the grid.
While we were looking out over the reservoir some birds flew quite close to us. There were two bearded vultures, known here as quebrantahuesos or bone-cracker. They are quite rare these days and it was great to see them. The others were Egyptian vultures, known here by the name "alimoche" 

Resultado de imagen de bearded vultureBearded vulture. It's not my photo!Resultado de imagen de egyptian vultureEgyptian vulture. Not mine either.

You can see the platform in the distance.


Pyramidal saxifrage, almost finished.

Tall campanulas

Some kind of stonecrop

Then we found this newish fountain in the village.

You can see some of the mountains behind it.

Monday, 15 June 2015


Gijón by nightAsturias is a long way from Jaca. The itinerary for our first day works out at 591km, broken down into 299 to Castro Urdiales, 153 to Llanes, 46 to Covadonga, 9 to Cangas de Onís and 84 to Gijón.That was on Thursday. On the way home on Sunday, Gijón to Ribadesella, 62 km, another 62 to San Vicente de la Barquera, 56 to Santander, and finally 368km to Jaca. 548 in total. I think the difference between there and back is the Covadonga bit.We were lucky with the weather. It's been very hot, but while we were away it was quite dull and threatening. I know that in Jaca it rained a lot, but we hardly needed the umbrellas and raincoats we'd taken. I say hardly; yes, it rained, but we missed most of it.Well, a quick stop in Castro Urdiales, dinner in Llanes where we had time to go for walks. I remember stopping there many years ago to pick up the keys for the house we were renting in Sobrepiedra, near Cangas de Onís. When we went to the agency office on Saturday it was closed with a sign saying it wouldn´t be open till Monday. What a panic! I remember we went to the local police for some help. Of course the agent turned up after dinner (maybe four or five o'clock) and sent us off with a complicated set of instructions for the back-route to Sobrepiedra. That was where 5-year-old David saw a mouse in the kitchen.Anyway, back to our trip: Next stop, the sanctuary of Covadonga.I like these bottlebrush plants Callistemon citrinus . The church or basilica is behind it. 
There's a well-trodden path down to a shrine in a cave, above a waterfall. There are waterpipes where people can drink down by the waterfall.  
Like many of these "holy" places, it's in an amazing natural environment.
For lack of time and being on a big coach, we didn't stop in Cangas de Onís to see the bridge with the emblematic cross.
Here it is from Google. The cross is the symbol of Asturias.
Ok. Gijón. Hotel. Supper. 14 stories or storeys of rooms. Two lifts, one for two people, the other in theory for six, but when there were six of us in it, it refused to go and had to be reset. Nice long walk after supper onto the seafront. Another nice long walk, a paddle for some, the next morning. I wished I hadn't taken my caghoul.

This was the limit of our walk.
We had dinner in the hotel and in the afternoon set off for Pola de Siero where we were to give the concert.
This is the inside of the parish church San Pedro.
There's a garden at the church and we did some posing for photos...

Unfortunately most of the men were elsewhere so they missed the photos. After the concert we were taken to a centre where our kind hosts fed us and gave us local cider. It has to be presented in a special way:

Holding the bottle as high as possible and the glass low so the cider is "beaten". It's handed to the drinker who tosses it back immediately, leaving a drop in the glass which is used to clean it out and put back on the table for the next drinker.