March has been the month of season change for sure! We started off by having a few days away in the camper and we went up to Toledo, 4 hours from home. It was ccccold! Bright and sunny most of the time but we needed to wrap up for our walks.

We really enjoyed the city which was a very big change from our rural surroundings at home. Built on a hilltop, the old town is accessed by a series of seven outdoor escalators. You get to the top and think, “Phew, glad I didn’t have to climb that hill,” only to find there is yet more climbing to come. But we did it on two consecutive days as there was too much to take in in one trip. The dogs stayed in the camper so we got in a lot of steps on those days as they also needed before and after walks.

The top one of seven escalators
View down from where we had come, the motorhome is in the car park at the top of the picture.

The following set of photos are from our two trips up to the old town, too many to individually caption but I have done a few!

Our first sighting of Toledo Cathedral
The entrance to the ‘old’ hydro-electric plant doesn’t escape Islamic influence
Remains of one of the walls of the Roman chariot racing track built in 1A.D.

The Cathedral from the main square
We were amused by this line of washing drying high on the rooftops next to the Cathedral’
Close up!! I don’t think I’d want to be “pegging out” up there!
The splendid interior
Immaculate and detailed illuminated manuscripts
Choir stalls, every one is different
Splendid carvings in the stalls. The then King of Spain commissioned the carving of a panel to represent each town being ‘liberated’ from Muslim rule.

The Coro
A red Cardinal’s hat hangs above the place where he chose to be buried, it stays here until it rots!
Nigel was disappointed there were no gargoyles to photograph as he has rather a penchant for them, here in Toledo it seems he became fascinated with knobs instead!!!
(I thought the foundry making them had a nipple fixation)
Monasterio de San Juan de Los Reyes
Its exterior is festooned with the chains worn by Christian prisoners from Granada released on the reconquest of their city.

To break up the photofest a little, there are a few more photos from this trip at the end of the blog.

Shortly after we got home from Toledo, our friends Jill and Graham Budd arrived for the weekend in their motorhome to “inspect” a dog who needed a new home. We went with them to see Burt who then came back to ours for a trial overnight. It all went really well and they decided Burt was a keeper. Poco took to him as well and so it was a success all round. The only drawback was that Nigel started with toothache while they were here which rapidly developed into an abscess with immense pain so he and I ended up at an emergency walk in centre in Cartagena on the Saturday night leaving the washing up and the four dogs with Jill and Graham, to get antibiotics and pain killers. Thankfully these kicked in quite quickly and he was soon on the mend.

Poco steals the show, however Graham and Burtie are bonding in their new to them motorhome, Bertie Burstner! All is going well with him I am pleased to report.

This was just few days before we were due to pick up our house sitter who was coming to look after the dogs while we had our trip to the UK. As if this wasn’t enough, we then got the very unwelcome news that our friend Philippa with whom we were going to stay in Cockermouth before going to Bolton, had yet again tested positive for Covid (3rd time). This meant we could not risk staying with her and the very real possibility of passing it on to our family. Kindly, other friends Mary and Martin came to the rescue with the offer of hospitality.

So, we picked up Steve our Australian house sitter in Cartagena on the Monday evening after Jill and Graham had left, spent Tuesday showing him the ropes and then jetted off to Manchester on Wednesday. The flight was delayed owing to weather conditions in Manchester but we eventually landed safely in sleet and proceeded to get the bus to the hire car village to collect our car. We set off in light snow towards Keighley where we were to stay for two nights with Mary and Martin. The next morning we woke to a winter wonderland. We managed to make it to the local pub, The Grouse, for a lunchtime meal and were then glad to get back to the cozy log fire at Wildfell. While we were there I got a facebook memory that said we were there on exactly the same day last year! A pleasant afternoon and evening with wine and gin flowing ensued but outside the snow started coming thick and fast and by the Friday morning when we were due to leave this was the view from the windows!

Mary and Martin’s garden

Kind neighbours cleared the track up to the road so Nigel and Martin set to with brushes and shovels to clear the car. Over breakfast we discussed the options for our route and decided not to risk going back the way we had come over the moors but to go via Keighley, which would be a longer more well used route and therefore less likely to be blocked. I quickly gathered up all the kittens I had given birth to over the last few days and left them in a box and off we went. We had made the right decision as the shorter road we used to get to Oakworth was closed when we got to the other end.

That’s our hire car in the middle!

A very long time since we’ve had to do this….royal “we ” of course!

It was fine, as all the rational people around me had forecast and we arrived in Bolton to meet Andrew and the baby for a quick cuppa before he went on the school run. The children were having swimming lessons that evening so we left them to it and went to check in at our hotel, the Last Drop again, where we had our wedding reception 49 years ago. After a siesta, we went to our old local chippy and bought our tea along with some plastic cutlery and a screw top bottle of wine and then sneaked back into the hotel with the waft of vinegar behind us no doubt, to enjoy a proper Chae’s chippy tea!!

Chae’ s chippy, waiting for the chips to come out of the fryer!

The following morning, rain was forecast so we met in Bolton town centre, went straight to Costa where the children stole the show as they are regulars and very popular with the staff. After a bite to eat and drink we walked through town and spent a couple of hours in the museum and aquarium which was a blast from the past and then went back to Drew and Alana’s for the afternoon and early evening. Much excitement ensued with the Spanish presents we had brought being distributed and little Wilbert (15 months) fighting sleep.

On Sunday, we met the family again at Dunham Massey National Trust park and gardens. It was heaving, the most crowded Drew and Alana have seen it. This was likely because it was the nicest day the North West had had for many weeks. We strolled around, Percy rounding up the many crocodiles he could see in the hedgerows, which took him a long time! After a snack and a rest in the cafe we strolled some more, then headed back to the cars and to a local pub where we had a very nice leisurely meal until it was time to part company. The family said their goodbyes and headed back to Bolton and we made the short journey to the airport hotel and returned the hire car.

There are no pictures of the children at their parents’ request.

All went smoothly for our return flight which was on time and we were met at Murcia Airport by our house sitter who stayed with us another night (and cooked for us) before making his way to Madrid the next day. We went away in winter and returned to summer……the increase in day time temperatures was remarkable, we’ve only had the pellet burner on briefly one evening since we got back.

Looking down onto the two lakes of Torrevieja on our flight home

A quick turnaround of bedding and towels ensued because on Friday we had more friends to stay for the weekend, Pamela and David, boating friends who spend their 90 days in Spain to enjoy the pleasant weather of the cooler months away from their boat in Southern France. We walked, we read, we pottered and we ate and drank and enjoyed each other’s company.

On the way up to the guns, Belle stayed at home but the boys had been the previous week with Steve, the house sitter!
Steve sent me this photo when we were in the UK, we tried to recreate it but the dogs wouldn’t oblige this time!
Nearly there!
David and Pamela at the guns of La Cenizas

David is a keen cook and lent me the benefit of his experience while I salted some lemons from our tree which has produced many little ones over the winter. I’ve made two jars, one for us and one for Richard and Aoife.

I’m glad I have some home cured olives left for them too as they loved them on their last visit. They will be our next visitors in two week’s time. They will be on their second visit and are on a road trip and will be staying with us for about a week. Hoping for good weather while they are here, maybe they will be brave enough to attempt the pool, we have this week removed the winter cover and put the summer one on which acts as a thermal layer.

And here are a few more pics from our Toledo visit to round things off for this month…..

El Greco painting in Santo Tomé, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
Bustling narrow street in the old town
And an empty narrow street!
Another El Greco painting. “View and map of Toledo”.
Close up of map, incredible detail for the time it was drawn.
Tiny section of the map – created by pacing out all the thoroughfares, passageways and ginnels of the city
Where is Don Quixote when you need him????
We stopped at these windmills on the way home and let the dogs stretch their legs.
Poco and me! Not sure where the other two are!
Lithops, living stones in flower.
Heavily pruned fig trees means there will be little shade for the hammock so Nigel has fitted a triangular shade sail above it. You can just see the ice plant flowers opening on Murray Mound behind

Sadly there are a few bare patches this year as the dogs like to chase each other over here!
Newly installed solar powered water feature for the birds to bathe and drink.

We’ve had fresh oranges every day from December to March, we have just finished the last of them and they have been wonderful. Several visitors have said they are the best oranges they have ever tasted. But now we just have to be satisfied with the heady and hypnotic scent of orange blossom which is just opening and already alive with bees and other pollinating insects, promising more to come next winter! We are looking forward to them already but will miss our morning breakfast juice.

Shame no one has invented a scratch and sniff app for screens!

That’s it for this time, more next month, byeeeee!!