Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A visit to meet our new Dobes mum.

Her name is Gimena and she is adorable. She is still quite young and this is her 2nd litter. The father is Koktebel de Grande Vinco who has an impressive pedigree.

There should be some very nice puppies born on 15th July and ours, a female, will be one of them. Hopefully, a worthy successor to Hona.

All the Dobes here had wonderful temperaments and immediately welcomed us as long, lost friends. They like sitting on your feet as they rest so that they know immediately when you move so they can be with you.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A wedding in the ermita.

It's the big day for our friends Christina and Carlos who are getting married in the ermita.

The ermita is packed full of friends and family for the proceedings.

San Juan oversees the service from his position behind the altar...

...and rings are exchanged.

As Christina and Carlos leave there is the traditional throwing of rice...

...and then drinks are served while the official photographer takes photos of everyone.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

San Juan

The midday mass takes place as usual in the ermita with the statue of San Juan, Saint John the Baptist, often known as Saint John the Forerunner, overseeing the proceedings from behind the altar. Today marks his birthday, 6 months before Christ.

The ermita was packed out, standing room only,...

...and the choir were in fine voice as the musicians gave it their all.

The day is split into 3 parts; the mass, the meal and then the dancing in the camino. Notice Margaret's dress changes!

The meal took place in the polideportivo, (the still unfinished sports hall - at least it provided welcome shade),...

...and consisted of 3 courses, even the wine was specially labelled.

Everyone was in good festive spirit.

Margaret was taking a low profile as it was still only 11 days since her major surgery but she managed to smile throughout.

In the evening people congregated in the camino outside our house next to the ermita...

...where the group played, everyone danced and drank cava and ate cakes.

Our peña wore garlands as we were also celebrating the forthcoming wedding of Christina, 5th from the left in the front row, to Carlos which will take place in the ermita next Saturday, 1st July.

Although it had been quite a hot day the coolness of the evening meant that people could start to enjoy the dancing.

The dancing went on until late and everyone really entered into it.

Certainly a great celebration of San Juan's birthday!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Margaret's operation

It is Tuesday 13th June and we head to the Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet in Zaragoza getting there at 10:40. Margaret checks in and at 14:45 is taken to the operating theatre for the operation on her lower back.

At 20:20 she is returned to her room after spending a while in recovery and she is bright and alert. Three of her lower vertebrae have been secured with 2 titanium plates, one at each side, held in place by 6 screws. This is prevent further degeneration and provide support.

She remains in bed all day Wednesday but on Thursday feels that she wants to get up - she is given permission to sit on her bed which she is able to do for several minutes until she starts to feel a little faint and dizzy.

On Friday she again sits on her bed and in the chair, longer this time and in the afternoon has a slow, short walk.

She has 28 staples holding her wound together as well as 2 tubes which are effectively draining her kidneys into bottles, a catheter tube and bag and a needle into the back of her hand through which she is fed with a calming drip including pain relief 

On Saturday all her tubes are removed and she walks along the hospital corridor at a slightly faster pace. On Sunday she even manages to walk up and down 2 flights of stairs. Monday she is discharged. 

What a recovery! However, now she has to take things easy for a while. I had imagined taking Margaret from the hospital 10 days after the operation in a wheelchair - Margaret imagined at least she would be on crutches. This would be followed by a few months of gradually getting back on her feet and gentle physiotherapy. Today the surgeon said she should take gentle exercise such as walking to the village bar for a coffee - very Spanish! We'll see how it goes, maybe the surgeon doesn't know that our village bar is quite a distance away so we'll start off with a few walks around the garden.

We are just so full of gratitude to the surgeon and the hospital for the fact that the expertise and technology exist to make all this possible.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hacienda Zorita

For the final 2 nights of our extended holiday we headed directly east into Spain to Salamanca then to the Hacienda Zorita.

We were greeted as we parked our car, our luggage was collected and we were presented with a glass of cava as we checked in.

The reception lounge displayed all of the many varieties of wine produced by the group.

The grounds were very interesting with sculptures and various works of art on display.

The estate dates back to the 14th century. In 1485 Christopher Columbus stayed before he set off to discover a route west to China.

The buildings have been restored providing a marvelous atmosphere and a high degree of comfort.

We attended a wine tasting where we sampled 2 red wines, a white wine and a rum produced by the company in the West Indies.

The wine tasting took place at one end of the bodega which housed hundreds of barrels.

One of the features of this holiday from the beginning had been the emphasis placed on food and drink.

The Hacienda Zorita was "the icing on the cake" - a perfect way to finish the quest!

The next morning it was time for a leisurely stroll around the estate...

...and to enjoy the sights...

...and features.

Even the gates had vines represented on them.

Time for a quick sit down before lunch... 

...then back into the restaurant for yet another culinary delight.

Here's Margaret at our bedroom window with the curtained restaurant below...

...and the view from our bedroom window.

Finally, a plate of meats and cheeses to finish off the day.

To see the slideshow/video I have produced of our visit to Hacienda Zorita, click HERE.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Viseu, Seia, Torre, Coimbra

Next stop was the Hotel Urgeiriça near Nelas, 300 km from Estoril northwards and roughly half way across Portugal being around 50 km from the Atlantic ocean. The hotel had been founded by an Englishman and has had strong connections with famous visitors from England.

We enjoyed 3 great days visiting the surrounding area from this location. The first, to the city of Viseu a short distance to the north...

...and, after the hustle and bustle of Lisbon how nice it was to come to a typical Portuguese city which has existed since the Celtic period before Roman times...

...with a genuine laid back, tranquil atmosphere.

The Cathedral de Santa Maria de Viseu is a national monument which started being built in the 12 century and is a mixture of different styles of the period. It stands in a large square opposite the...

...Misericórdia Church of Viseu, originally built in the 16th century and then rebuilt in the 18th.

To say this city is most picturesque is an understatement.

The following day we went to Seia to the Museu Nacional Do Pão, the National Bread Museum,...

...which demonstrated the worldwide importance of this basic food and gave examples of regional variations.

The museum itself is tucked away in a small hilltop corner of the town with great views.

Having learned all about the traditional varieties we had to have a sandwich in their cafe...

...and after, in their shop, found tins of sardines emblazoned with different dates. The one I'm holding is significant - to me at least.

From Seia it was an interesting drive to Torre the highest point in mainland Portugal, 1,993 metres above sea level. In the photo above you can see the 7 metre high structure which marks the exact spot. During the winter months this area is a ski resort.

The excursion on the 3rd day was to the city of Coimbra, the former capital of the country before Lisbon,...

...and to the Portugal dos Pequenitos exhibition...

...which displays scaled down buildings to be found throughout the country as well as demonstrating the history of costume through the ages...

...and shows the importance of the role of the Portuguese around the world.

From there it was a walk up the steep, narrow streets to the University at the top of the hill overlooking the city where Margaret stands next to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, inlaid in the cobblestone pavement.

The University was founded in the 13th century and has parts built on during each of the following centuries - the tower, for example, was built between 1728 and 1733 and replaced the one from the sixteen hundreds.

In the photo above Margaret is standing at the top of the steps of the Via Latina, built 1772-1777, named after the statutory language of the Academia.

Inside Saint Michael's Chapel, built late 15th to early 16th century, the altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Light, the patron saint of students.

One of the most important features of the University is the Old (Joanine) Library first known as the "Book House" commissioned in 1717 by King João V. For some reason no photos are allowed - they don't want you to remember your visit! The original books still exist and are protected by bats which live in the library and eat the insects which would attack the books.

Back to our hotel and the wonderful restaurant...

...for another superb evening meal with a bottle of excellent Portuguese wine.

To see the slideshow/video I made of this part of the holiday, click HERE.