The alarm went at 3.15 am!! By 4 o’clock we were on our way to Gatwick for our flight to Gran Canaria. There was much snow everywhere, but the roads were clear and quiet at this time of day. We had a trouble free journey to Gatwick, and the ‘meet and greet’, which we have used a few times now, worked well.
It was the usual long drag through booking-in and security, but all went well, even if my ‘buggy ride’ wasn’t much fun, as the officials showed no interest at all. A lady who now lives with her husband on the Isle of Wight sat next to me, and brightened things by her constant chatter.
Our flight was fine - we had been more than a little concerned, as Heathrow had cancelled many flights yesterday and the day before, and it had snowed hard in this area last night.
We had soon gone into cloud, but I did later catch glimpses of the northern coast of Spain. We both dozed a bit, and were glad of the sandwiches we’d brought with us - the on-board food seemed expensive and uninspired.
We arrived at las Palmas airport, Gran Canaria, at 11.45 - no time change, which was nice. It was warmish, and partly sunny, but also windy.
All went well - we had to wait quite a while at the car hire, but ended up with an ‘upgrade’ - a pleasant blue Fiat Panda.
As we left the airport we were aware of the vegetation - cacti, bougainvillea, geraniums. We took the motorway south, stopping at a large supermarket after we’d turned off. Parking here was very difficult, and shopping wasn’t easy when we just wanted to get to our ‘place’. It was all a bit too much for me!
After that, it was a long, long trail on narrow, winding roads which had been recently re-surfaced, but with a high drop off, to Ingenio de Santa Lucia. We had to park the car, and walk the last little bit to find our place. The owners, Kasi & Gesine, were there to greet us (along with their dog Alma).
They showed us around. The apartment is very simple and rustic, with just one ‘bed-sit room’ and a small kitchen plus a shower room. There is a pleasant patio, with views of the wild hills. Gesine is German/Belgian and Kasi is Polish/Austrian. They’ve lived here 30 years, and have turned the barren hillside into a thriving ‘finca’, growing their vegetables organically. Everything had to be watered - they get very little rain here. Later Kasi picked a fresh lettuce for us. They spoke German, although she spoke quite good English. The evening promised to be chilly, so Kasi brought up a large gasheater for us to use, and Gesine brought some blankets for the bed.
Having collected our luggage, we enjoyed a cup of tea on the patio, surrounded by palms and a yellow datura type plant, and looking out to the steep hills. We tucked into some French bread and cheese, before later eating omelette for supper, with some bubbly, as we couldn’t find any way to open the wine! (in the morning, I found the bottle opener!)
Tuesday 22nd January Further into the hills 101 km
The night hadn’t been cold. We were late getting up, and then enjoyed breakfast on the patio. The sun was just coming up over the hillside.
We left late morning, noticing the many different and attractive flowers in the garden. The two cats had been lingering and the placid dog Alma greeted us.
We stopped up the road at the Mirador de Ingenio before driving on through the palms and cacti to Santa Lucia. We walked to a little store and bought a huge kitchen roll and some washing up liquid. We also bought another large bottle of water and some cheese,which turned out to be good.
We wound on up to the village of San Bartolome. Almond trees were everywhere with their pretty pink blossom. We ate our lunch sitting on seats overlooking the valley at Mirador la Orilla, watched by a mangy Siamese looking cat. Afterwards we walked around the village, stopping at the main square and town hall and the very catholic church, and getting some money from a hole in the wall. There were information signs translated badly into English.
We now drove on through Ayacuta where I took a photo of blossom beside a little chapel. The scenery was very mountainous, and it had rained a bit (like Tenerife, it rains in the north of the island, but the south gets virtually no rain)
Gesine had warned us not to go to the north today, as it was forecast to rain, but it was further south than we’d thought. We now went into cloud, so we had no view of the Roque Nubro, the symbol of the island, or of Pica de las Nievas, the highest point.
Adrian had mistaken the route on the map - an old one - ours ordered from Amazon hadn’t arrived as we’d had no delivery for several days because of the snow. Hence we were on a route which we hadn’t intended to drive today. As we drove south again, through masses of blossom after the pine forests of higher up, we could see the edge of the cloud mass, and the south coast bathing in sunshine. Adrian’s sat-nav had updated the map, and he thought that a newly surfaced narrow road joined up with the Barranca de Guayadeque, but this wasn’t so.
We’d followed the small road to the bottom, where a rough track led to the end of the gorge below. Our road stopped beside a small empty man-made cave . We’d enjoyed the rural setting, but now had to return!
We joined the road down to Ingenio (another one), near the airport, and found the road to the lower end of the Barranca de Guayadeque. We drove up this - a high steep gorge renowned for walking, but too vertiginous for me - as far as the caves, then drove back down to Aguimes. We stopped in this pleasant village, set between sea and hills, and bought some milk (forgotten earlier) from a little supermarket. It was too late to explore the old quarter of the town. This was especially true as the road on from here to Santa Lucia was closed!! so we had to take the longer route via the main road - the last part the same as yesterday’s route - and very winding.
We arrived back just before 6 o’clock and revived with a cup of tea and toasted French bread with the cheese bought earlier.
Later we drove up to Santa Lucia to eat. We had intended eating at Hao, which we had looked in at earlier, but found that it was closed - we had wondered, when the man this morning said 6.00 - that was obviously the closing time.
We continued to Mirador - the place which Gesine had recommended. It was pleasantly situated, with a good view in daytime, but not tonight. We were the only customers (too early it would seem). We decided to try red wine tonight, and the Rioja we had was very good. Adrian had sole, and I asked for octopus, which they said they hadn’t got, so I changed it for squid. However, I seemed to get octopus after all! The bread we asked for was hot and lovely. We were given a liqueur with the bill - a Ron-miel it would seem.
Wednesday 23rd January Glad to be staying up in the hills! 96 Km
It was extremely windy, but we still braved breakfast on the patio. The sun doesn’t get to us until about 9.30, which is a shame, and as we found out later, goes down behind the mountain at 5.40.
We left mid morning taking our rubbish up to the bin beside the mirador. There was a rainbow as we drove up to Santa Lucia. We stopped to buy fresh rolls from the bakers, and pulled in by the Mirador restaurant to see the view that we couldn’t see last night.
At San Bartolome we turned south towards Maspalomas, stopping at another viewpoint where several cyclists had also stopped before they cycled down the steep road which follows the Barranca de Fataga.
Now we began descending the many bends, stopping at the pretty little village of Fataga with its white houses and red tiled roofs. It has apparently become a little tourist spot, with several street cafes and small tourist shops, but it was lovely wandering the little streets in the warm sunshine. It was just a shame about the overhead cables, which spoilt the photo shots.
Further down the valley came Arteara, called Artedara on our old map. This is a site of the ancient burial ground of the Guanche people who lived here in the past.
The burial sites have long gone, but a walkway through the little village leads to a visitors centre telling about them. We didn’t go as far as that, but enjoyed the walk in the warm sun. Information boards, again badly translated, appeared along the route. When we got back to the car, it was time to change into vest/T-shirt & shorts before having lunch sitting on a stone bench beside a little children’s play area. We had to make up our own rolls, but it was lovely and peaceful, with nothing to disturb us.
The road now wove constantly up high above the deep gorge before descending again towards the sea. We stopped at a viewpoint before Mundo Abigen, (where a museum, which we didn’t visit, tells about the ancient Guanche people). The viewpoint was very windy, but afforded superb views down to the sea and back up to the mountains. It was high above the steep, deep gorge, and a bit too vertiginous for me!
Now we drove on down to the miles and miles of apartments of Maspalomas. We drove right down to the end of the road - but couldn’t access the vast sand duney beach which the area is famed for. We stopped and pondered what to do - this was so far removed from the peaceful area where we are staying!
After considering our plans, we drove on to Playa del Ingles, the renowned beach area, but nowhere could we find the price of the car parking. About to give up, we found a ‘blue badge’ space right by the fine sandy beach! We walked across the wide sands, where a few people were sitting on some of the many deckchairs, with large sunshades to stop the wind. It certainly was windy - gustily so. After a quick paddle, we tried sitting on the sand, but the sudden gusts made it quite unpleasant - so that’s why nobody else was sitting on the beach!
We now made our way by car through the conglomeration, turning down to Playa de las Burras, which was much more pleasant, with low rise buildings, and a sandy beach with rocky areas. We had a short walk along the ‘prom’ - it was sunny, but still very windy. It was 3.30 when we continued north-eastwards, passing Playa del Aguila, with a sandy/stony beach with two simple little fishing boats, which I photographed.
We now found ourselves on the motorway by mistake, but turned off to drive down to Castillo de Romeral. Here we found a really local beach, made up of stones, and with no signs of tourism. There were boats around a little harbour, and a few boats on the beach - again we photographed one. Nearby was a huge wind farm. It wouldn’t appear to rain here at all. Instead of pots of flowers lining the road, the pots contained barrel cacti!
A newer map had showed a road linking Aldea Blanca to our road near Santa Lucia, so we made our way to the Canarian town of Aldea Blanca,but discovered that the road was only a rough track at this end. Hence we had to make our way via Vecindario, which had looked really pretty across the dry river bed, with low level white and pastel houses, and then make our way to our usual long and winding route back to Ingenio. We reached it at about 5.20, so had just time to enjoy a cup of tea and pastry before the sun disappeared. I made a nice pasta meal - Adrian had been given another lettuce! We looked out at Orion and an almost full moon - it was really quiet.
Wednesday 24th January Beautiful mountain scenery ‘neath a clear blue sky 153 Km
We left at 10.50 on a sunny morning, stopping at the bakers in Santa Lucia. We had a long wait while the person in front was being served. A group of handicapped adults had been brought to the village - one came into the shop and asked for a can of drink, and was served with it while we waited. We bought some rolls and a palmier, and some ham & chorizo (which was too spicy for us!)
It was 11.10 went we headed further into the hills, past San Bartolome. The clear blue sky gave us staggering views of the barren rocky scenery. We could see across to Mt Teide on Tenerife, and we had views of Roque Bentayga from all angles!
We came to the mountain village of Tejeda, which we walked around in the cool sunshine. It was lunchtime, so we went into a little eating place where we ordered tapas. We thought it too chill to sit outside. The tapas included some small chillies, which weren’t at all hot. When we came out, it seemed warmer. Outside the next cafe were pots of wonderful cacti, all different.
We left here at 1.45 and headed for Artenara, the highest village on Gran Canaria. We now went into pine forest, and the route was extremely vertiginous with constant hairpin bends which merged together on Adrian’s sat-nav.
We had views back to Roque Bentayga, and to Roque Nublo. The steep gorge made us think of the route down to Batopilas in Mexico, as the road wound down amongst the sparsely covered high steep mountain sides. We were amazed again at the number of cyclists who obviously love to cycle up and down these almost vertical roads.
We descended this tortuous route to San Nicholas, a town known for its agriculture. We could see banana plants in the netted ‘greenhouses’. This was not a tourist area - it was the real Canaries.
We continued to Playa de Aldea, which was pebbly, but was in sharp contrast to the over-touristy area of Maspalomas. It was very low-key with just one small fish restaurant. A lady was out swimming in the bay, and a couple of children were playing on the beach. There were a few small boats in the simple harbour. We were glad to have come!
It was 4 o’clock when we left, and after getting some fuel we headed towards Mogan. We travelled high up through barren mountains, noticing the bands of coloured rocks, which were a rival to Alum Bay! The roadside grasses looked lovely with the sun shining through them. The road was a constant bend, with hundreds of hairpins. We had hoped that the road went through, back to Ayacuta, as it wasn’t on our old map, and was shown as unsurfaced on the sat-nav.
We were in luck, as the central part of the road had been recently surfaced, and was in fact very good. We drove up through pine forests, past several reservoirs, and finally to Ayacuta. After that it was the familiar long and winding route back via San Bartolome andSanta Lucia to Finca Los Marteles at Ingenio. We were greeted at 6.20 by Gesine, ‘would you like another lettuce?’
Having had lunch out, it was nice to have ‘tea’ (with lettuce, of course!)
Friday 25th January ] Jardin Canario 134 Km
It was a lovely morning, but we were too early for the sun at breakfast.
We left at 10.20, stopping at Santa Lucia at the bakers for our two rolls. Today a cyclist was buying a coffee.
At San Bartolome we drove through the ‘town’ on the steepest road ever!! It took half an hour to get here, and it was 50 minutes before we reached Ayacate. Ten minutes later we got to Roque Nublo, where the sky was still clear, but it was quite chilly. We walked a short way towards the rock, stopping to eat our palmier with the fantastic view.
Soon afterwards we went into cloud. The scenery had become much greener, with huge eucalyptus trees. As we drove on, the roads were still winding, but it was more inhabited, and the further we went towards Las Palmas, it became more ‘tamed’. We drove through San Mateo to Santa Brigida, and then we found our way toJardin Canario - the botanic gardens.
It was now after 1.00, so after eating lunch in the car (it was drizzling a bit) we went into the gardens.
We left this idyll at 3.20 and headed for the Caldera de Bandama. The road climbed up and up, with the perilously deep caldera far below us. We arrived at the viewpoint at the top, and looked down into the immense crater. We could also see to las Palmas and all around
We drove on to Atalaya, a steep hill village which had formerly been troglodyte homes. We had a walk around the steep village before making our way back via Telde, Ingenio and Aguimes (where the road we wanted was still closed!) to our Ingenio, arriving back at 6 o’clock. The sun had gone down behind the hill, but it was still warm enough to sit outside with our aperitif - there was no wind.
Saturday 26th January Farmers market, Canarian funeral, and a car rally 181 km
We left at 10.45 and took the road down to Vecindario in order to find the farmers market. We had to contend with all the cars coming up from the other direction to go into the mountains.
We got to Vecindario at 11.30, and, following the directions given by Gesine, we found the ‘farmers market’, held in a large unmarked hall.
Everything here is apparently grown in the Canaries, and we bought lots of fruit and vegetables - often there were samples of the cheese etc to try. We sampled a delicious orange.
We then had a difficult time trying to locate the supermarket we had shopped in on the first day, and when we finally found it, Adrian went in alone, as I had wanted the loo, and knew that there wasn’t one in the store, and we hadn’t been able to find one close by. We finally found one (after asking) at a petrol station, and soon afterwards stopped for lunch on a bit of wasteland, where we sat on the edge of the grass to have our lunch.
As it appeared to be raining in las Palmas, we changed our original plan and decided to drive south westwards instead - the weather until now had been fine.
We took the motorway through the extremely arid scenery until past Maspalomas. We saw a lot of motorhomes parked near the rocky shore.
We turned off to Playa de Aquineguin, where we parked and enjoyed this low-key resort where there were just a scattering of people sunbathing on the beach, and a few children playing in the sea. We had a warm paddle and a short sit on rocks on the beach of dark sand. There was luckily a tap to wash our black feet, and even loos!
On from here, the coast was ruined by the horrendous overdevelopment of any coast area. Every cove was filled by a concrete jungle of apartments stretching up to the sky. We drove past Puerto Rico as far as Puerto de Mogan, which is known as ‘Little Venice’, and was quite attractive, but there was nowhere to park on this Saturday afternoon. The scenery was completely barren, brightened only by the brilliant hues of the bougainvillea.
The motorway had been built as far as here, but unfortunately for us, wasn’t open yet. Hence we had to return to Aquinequin, the last little bit by motorway.
We had decided to try the inland route towards Soria, and thence back to Santa Lucia, hoping that it would be surfaced, as we had scant information.
We followed a good road up the valley to Cerrado di Espino where we came across hundreds of people who had just attended a funeral. We had to wait while the myriad of cars descended the narrow road, which soon after became very narrow and steep with constant hairpins through the barren gorge. Eventually we came up to the pine trees and the prolific white shrub which seems here to be called Canarian bugloss. We arrived at the mountain village of El Banquillo Andres and were glad that the surfaced road appeared to go through. Before long we joined the route we had taken from Mogan a couple of days ago.
Our troubles weren’t over now though, as we seemed to be on the route of a classic car rally, and had to keep pulling over to let the cars past! Adrian stopped to view and photograph some of the cars! Added to that, we had several groups of Boy and Girl Scout hikers, and then cyclists!!
We finally got to Ayacate, and then it was the familiar route via San Bartolome and Santa Lucia, and back to Ingenio. It was now 6.30, so a quick sort out and then supper of fish Adrian had bought, and another excellent white Rioja.
Sunday 27th January Our lazy day! 45 Km
We discovered that we only had dappled shade on our patio in the morning, so we finished our breakfast on another sitting area which was sunnier. Afterwards we walked around the ‘finca’, enjoying the different vistas and the many flowering plants, all waiting to be photographed, before having coffee on the ‘other’ patio.
Aspects of our ‘finca’
Then it was time to lie by the pool, but we both decided that the water was too cool for a swim, so sufficed with having showers! We then had lunch on our patio, enjoying having somewhere to sit and put out the lunch things without having to balance everything as on other days.
At 2 o’clock we left by car to drive the road to Temisas, which has been closed on weekdays for resurfacing. This meant that the surface was good, but although it was only 6 miles, the constant bends meant for another slow drive! We drove around the little village, which is set below the road, but couldn’t find anything to stop for. We had left our books behind, but found later that it was the only place on the island which produces olive oil. There are also caves and archaeological remains nearby.
We decided to stay on the road to Aguimes, which we have driven through before, but had not visited the historic quarter. This time we did, driving the narrow paved roads and parking near the imposing stone church of San Sebastian. We wandered the streets a bit, looking at the many modern sculptures, and seeing verses written on the walls of the houses. The wind had got up., and it was chilly out of the sun.
After getting some fuel (from the ‘useful’ petrol station mentioned in our book), we returned by the same route. Gesine had warned of the busy roads today, being Sunday, and on our return journey we certainly came across dozens of motorcyclists - this is obviously one of their routes.
We stopped at the road junction at Santa Lucia, hoping to see Ingenio from the viewpoint, but it appeared to be hidden. There were nice statues here depicting the olive industry, and nearby were dozens of (unmarked) picnic tables.
We were in time for sunshine on our patio on our return, but it was too hot to sit for our cup of tea, but I did enjoy a laze on our sunbed until the sun went down.
We finished with a nice prawn meal.
A very lazy day!
Monday 28th January A long day visiting the north coast 198 Km
We left before 9 o’clock, as we knew that this was going to be a long day. We intended driving to the north west - and as we now know, all roads in the mountains are slow!
We stopped at the bakers in Santa Lucia for rolls before driving on through San Bartolome and Ayacate and Roque Nublo.
It was a beautiful day, so we drove on to Pozo de las Nieves - the viewpoint from the highest spot on the island. We had thought yesterday that we looked up to this from Santa Lucia - it seemed so near, yet took so long to reach. Today was a perfect day, and the views down, and right to Tenerife were fantastic.
We drove on past Cruz de Tejeda, where a stone cross marks the centre of the island (although it isn’t geographically so). It’s obviously a tourist spot, but quiet at this time of day.
It was now midday. We drove on to Puerto de las Nieves, a pretty fishing village where all the single story houses were painted white and blue. The place was famed for its rock formation known as El Dedo de Dios - ‘God’s finger’. This had been lost in 2005 by a tropical storm, but the legend lingers on - as we were leaving, a parking attendant tried to get us to park for ‘God’s Finger’!
Our next viewpoint was Caldera Pinos de Galdar - an impressive barren crater - before we made the long, long descent to Agaete. It was green in the hills, with grass, and red/brown soil, and with sheep about - some on the road. By the coast it was drier.
We walked along by the harbour, hoping to find a loo, but succumbed to going into a fish restaurant, where, after using the loo, we enjoyed a platter of fish. The two uncharismatic middle aged waiters enticed us to have a salad as well. The food was pleasant, and the view of the harbour, beyond the plastic window, was nice.
Afterwards we walked along by the pebbly beach, where there were a few sunbathers. We now found our way through the sea of ‘netted greenhouses’, where bananas and other crops are grown, to Sardina. This was an attractive fishing village beneath barren cliffs. The wind was blowing the waves in, but I had a short paddle from the small sandy beach.
We drove back to the main road at Galdar where we found ourselves on the motorway eastwards along the north coast, and were soon at San Felipe. We turned off, and drove back to look at this Canarian town - no tourism here! It was completely unbuilt up, with a pebbly, rocky shore.
Now it was time to turn inland, and upwards past Arucas, to Teror. This town was larger than we’d imagined, but eventually we were able to park, and find the pedestrian streets up to the Church of Virgen del Pino - a huge stone church with an image of the Virgin Mary inside its stark interior.
The paved roads around the church were pedestrianised, and absolutely quiet today, despite having read of all the little tourist shops. There were delightful wooden balconies - we enjoyed wandering along the almost deserted streets.
As we drove on through Valleseco, we came across another large funeral - the people just seem to walk along beside the hearse, completely blocking the road.
After that, it was the long trek back through familiar mountain terrain - Roque Nublo, San Bartolome and Santa Lucia, and then back to Ingenio, arriving at about 6 o’clock - it had been a long day.
Tuesday 29th January Las Palmas - let me get out! 150 Km
Another lovely day for our last day on Gran Canaria. It was chilly in the shade, but we still ate breakfast outside. Gesine and Kasi were busy in the garden, with their Canarian gardener. Puntito the cat watched us all the time, as always!
We left at 10.00, driving the half hour tortuous route down to Vecindario. We had trouble in finding our way on to the motorway, but did come across an unlikely bakers shop in an industrial estate! We bought excellent rolls and a custard slice, and the good thing was that there was a loo we could use. We should have eaten our cake outside the shop, as we never found anywhere else to stop.
We headed now for Las Palmas, capital of Gran Canaria, but as Adrian said ‘it was my worst nightmare’. We never found anywhere to pull off to see where we were - it was quite horrendous. There is a long beach on the western side, but the road by the sea is pedestrianised, so we could never get to it.
Eventually, at 12.20, we came to a rough bit of land above the north coast at Tintocas, and enjoyed our lunch sitting above the rocky shore, looking back to la Isletta. Occasional spray wafted up from far below.
Our hard won lunch spot
We now made our way cross country through the hills, past the botanic gardens, where we stopped to use the excellent loos.
We then headed for Melenara beach, south of Las Palmas, and were pleasantly surprised by this undeveloped beach of fine dark sand with a play area behind, and just low rise buildings. We had a paddle, and joined others for a short laze, leaving at 3 o’clock.
It took us an hour to get back from here - we then enjoyed tea and our cake, sitting in the shady gazebo as it was too hot on our patio. The couple with two tiny children came into the lower apartment, reminding us of holidaying with Emma and Paul at similar ages.
Then we just enjoyed our last evening at our spot, with aperitifs and later bubbly and a superb minced beef meal, all sitting outside, followed by Gesine’s ‘raw’ cakes.
We sat out until 9.30 in the peace and warmth of our idyllic situation.
Wednesday 30th January Goodbye to Gran Canaria 58 Km
We enjoyed a last breakfast sitting on the patio. We had emailed Simon and Laure to wish them both happy birthday..
We drove into Santa Lucia, and this time stopped to have a look around. We climbed up to the church, which we can see from outside the Finca, and looked inside - it was dark and sombre, with a bright ‘virgin’ statue. At the bakers we bought some rolls for our ‘tea’ and said goodbye to the lady assistant. We then drove around ‘our’ valley - Barranca de Tirajana, but each road we tried was too steep, and became unsurfaced.
We returned to have coffee/tea and cake on the patio before the sun got there to make it too warm. We got cleared up ready to leave, and both had showers before I cooked lunch - again eaten on the patio, finding a bit of shade.
Santa Lucia Church Santa Lucia
Gesine showed us around the other two apartments, then Adrian took a photo of me with her and Kasi. He had been to the village to give treatment to a lady - physiotherapy and ‘healing’, which he seems to have a gift for - wish that we’d know earlier! We had really enjoyed being here, and they had enjoyed having us. Both of them follow a vegan diet, and Kasi particularly seems extremely fit, and always happy. They were keen that I try to follow their ideas, as they’re sure that they work, and had cured Gesine of many ills.
We left at 2.15, driving ‘down the hill’ for the last time. We drove through Vecindario to Pozo de Izquierdo - the ‘beach’ for Santa Lucia, at the place where the Tirajana valley reaches the sea. The last stretch was through an unattractive area of netted greenhouses, some just in ruins. The beach is known for windsurfing and judging by the large number of wind turbines, must often be windy (but not today).
Goodbye to Kasi & Gesine
We came down to a pebbly beach and sat on stone steps, enjoying our last bit of warm Canarian sunshine and blue sky.
Now it was 4.30, and time to make our way to the airport for our 7.15 flight to Gatwick. Returning the car was fine, except that it was very dark in the underground car park, so difficult to know that we’d got everything.
Then was the usual tedious time at the airport - a long wait for ‘bag drop’. It was difficult to think that it would be cold when we arrived at Gatwick, as in Gran Canaria it was the warmest day yet, and we were in shorts, Tshirt and sandals.
Having successfully got through security, we ate the rolls we’d made up, before making our way to the departure lounge. Again there was a long wait, as the plane seemed to be late in arriving, and everyone just stood in the queue. I found a place to sit near all the numerous people with young children.
The plane was late in taking off, but the flight was OK - I dozed quite a bit, and some of the children didn’t settle, but we arrived in good time at 11.30 pm.
All went well at Gatwick - we thought of Simon when it got to midnight, as then it was his 40th birthday. Our ‘meet and greet’ man was there for us, so we didn’t have time to feel the cold! He phoned just after we had left, to apologize for leaving a drinks bottle in the car!
It was a good run home, apart from the dozens of lane and road closures which we had to negotiate - the worst being horrendous road works at the Hermitage mini roundabout. We reached Elm Gable at 2.00 am, and were soon into bed.
In the morning we opened the map we had ordered from Amazon, which had arrived on the day we had left. It would have solved a lot of problems for us!!
We’d had a wonderful 10 days away, loving the blue sky and sunshine, and the fantastic mountain scenery, although I did find the continually winding roads rather a trial!
Total Distance travelled 1156 Km
Difficulties and things we didn’t like
The place was a long way from anywhere, on long constantly winding roads
The sun was late coming up over the mountain, and ‘set’ early
It was dark inside the house, with no windows giving a view
Loo paper had to go in the bin, as water is recycled!!
There was no oven or microwave
No bath, only shower
No car parking, although we were able to park our car by the house (because of my ‘problem’)
We were far away from the concrete jungle of the coast
We were in beautiful surroundings
It was a lovely place, with pleasant, helpful owners
It was very quiet
All this easily outweighed the disadvantages!
As so often in Botanic Gardens, there were not as many flowers as I would have liked, but it was really quiet and peaceful. The high spot for both of us was the cacti and succulent garden which was out of this world. The variety of different cacti and succulents was incredible, each fantastic.