Saturday 29 November 2014

Wonderful cinema in Xabia - Gone Girl

It's turned distinctly minty cool in Xabia the past couple of days with
Spanish poster for Gone Girl 
bursts of heavy rain and some gusty winds that have got our awning into a serious flap. The awning is still standing strong, but it does make a racket, especially at night time when there's no other sounds in competition. I begin to imagine disastrous collapses until peering through the window reveals absolutely nothing to worry about at all!

Hopefully our slow cooker will come into its own if the day temperatures stay similar and I've been thinking of comforting winter foods. Tonight I'm doing a cheat's Chicken Tikka Masala and yesterday I adapted my Rhubarb Crumble to use up some plums we got from the market a couple of weeks ago but that which had resolutely refused to ripen properly. They were delicious once baked.

We've discovered the local cinema in Xabia now, Cine Jayan, and were very impressed with it. The auditorium is easily the size of a smaller Cineworld screen and the high-backed chairs have good viewlines AND are comfortable. I was expecting an enthusiastic but amateur fleapit and arrived in a clean, modern cinema! Four nights a week - Tuesday through Friday - they show subtitled foreign films in their original language. We frequently attended similar evenings at Hailsham Pavilion back home but, of course, here the 'foreign films' are mostly American offerings subtitled in Spanish.

This week's film was Gone Girl, or Perdida in Spanish, based on the Gillian Flynn book which I enjoyed reading last winter (book review here). I tend to avoid films of books I've liked as they usually disappoint. Plus this one stars Ben Affleck who I'm not overkeen on either. However, once I learned that Rosamund Pike was playing Amy Dunne, I changed my mind and we stumped up our six euros each. Pike is a fabulous actress and we were lucky enough to catch her performance in Hedda Gabler at Brighton's Theatre Royal a few years ago. I get that Affleck is the bigger star, but it's irritating that a book named for its female protagonist who is one of the strongest female characters to emerge for years, relies on a male image to sell cinema seats. Grrr! Anyhow, the film is surprisingly good and we both came away from the cinema effusively praising it, especially Pike who is perfect in her role, and Kim Dickens as the police inspector. We've been watching her on DVD in the brilliant Deadwood Ultimate Collection Seasons 1-3 [DVD] over the past few months too.

Sadly, the foreign film for this week coming is something violent and bland starring Liam Neeson so we'll give that a miss, but maybe the week after will be more promising and we can make a second visit?


Tuesday 25 November 2014

The windmills walk above Xabia

A surprising early departure from Camping El Naranjal this morning as
Palm regrowth after the forest
fire, Xabia 
we finally determined that today was The Day to undertake an interesting walking route Dave spotted on the Xabia website (It's shown on the Port Xabia-Montgo pdf link) which goes from Xabia port, up into the hills above, and then back down to the port to finish. The Spanish for windmills is Molins and there are eleven, so we learned, along the La Plana ridge above the town. Originally built between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, their heavy mill stones were used to grind wheat into flour. I think these days all the wheat fields have either been built upon or are growing orange trees. Certainly we've not seen any yet in Spain. There was a huge processing place outside Almenara, Harinera Del Mar, and we bought their flour in the Mercadona for our bread.

We have already walked to the port and back a couple of times - it's about an hour from the campsite - so drove there today instead. There's plenty of free parking there at this time of year. Clear wooden signposts pointed us uphill on a lightly screed rough path which soon turned into a bit of a scramble. Once underway, the route is clearly marked with yellow, red and white stripes on rocks, trees and walls. Bizarrely, the whole area was blackened trees where there had been a wildfire in September. Little palm trees and cacti are already beginning to regrow so there are splashes of green amongst the cinders, but it's eerily quiet without the multitudes of birds we hear elsewhere around town. We continued clambering upwards until the path levelled out at the end of a valley, then turned back on itself with a more gradual slope across the opposing face. Part of the way up was the odd sight of a rusted car come to a halt against a tree part way down the steep slope. We wondered if its plunge from the road above had been the cause of the fire, but it didn't look particularly burned. We carried on ascending and were rewarded at the top from which there is a fantastic view across the port and out to sea.

We had to stick on the road for a kilometre or so as there were clean-up crews working to clear burned trees along the ridge. A couple of Spaniards were also 'helping' by filling their cars with chopped down but unburned wood for their winter stoves. We paused to enjoy another sea view, this time from the Cap de Sant Antoni. Having actually remembered to carry our water bottles this time, we didn't need the water taps at the recreation area nearby, but it is useful to know it's there.

The windmills themselves are each about seven metres high by six metres across and have incredibly thick stone walls. Their shells have been neatly renovated and are lit at night, but there's no machinery inside anymore. The path led back downwards from by the second windmill and, unfortunately, was a similar loose surface to the earlier uphill stretch. I went slowly as I'm rubbish at descents. I'm always convinced I will fall. Once we got to the town outskirts there were some elegant houses and the buildings became less grand as we descended back to sea level. A roundabout we recognised is topped by a full-size white painted boat surrounded by pretty blue flowers.

We got back to the car after just over three and a half hours and were nicely tired despite Dave's tracker app saying we had only walked just under ten kilometres of horizontal distance. I'm proud that our total overall ascent was four hundred and twenty-nine metres. We're getting our walking legs back in shape again!

Thursday 20 November 2014

Xabia and Moraira and apricot cheesecake

After over a week in Camping El Naranjal, we're getting a good feel for
Gazing out to sea from Moraira 
Xabia and have pretty much learnt our way around - even me! We have taken a stroll around the little Marina as well as returning to the Old part of town for a spot of shopping and a lunch. I was delighted to find an Atmosfera shop as I've just about gone through the soles of my New Orleans-bought running shoes so will definitely need a new pair soon in order to continue my current enthusiasm. I tried on a couple of pairs and decided on a snazzy blue pair of Asics. Super-Boyfriend-Davey has got them for me as my Christmas pressie :-)

We set out on a rural walk a couple of days ago which took us out on rough tracks firstly high up overlooking the sea and then steeply down into a shady wooded valley. Most of the high was sandy coloured rock with scrub and shrubs but, according to an informative placard, the area is home to over 400 plant species. A prolific one was wild rosemary and I took the opportunity to purloin a snippet or two which I substituted for the sage in this delicious pork tenderloin recipe courtesy of fellow blogger Linda at With A Blast. The walk route was meant to finish in a cove on the coast but we took much longer than suggested, probably due to my being too slow on the downhill bits which often were just scree, so had to cut short our expedition before its actual end. We didn't want to be out on the hills as dusk fell. We came back along roads which I was initially disappointed about, but cheered up when we had an hour or so wandering around an affluent residential area and gawping at the posh houses and gardens. We also discovered an interesting detail on the official Xabia street map that we had picked up from the campsite reception on arriving last week. Just because a road is on the map doesn't mean that it actually exists. We've seen several Spanish towns with road infrastructure built but no houses yet. Xabia goes one better by not even having the roads yet!

We meant to go for our first long walk-with-picnic today but postponed it due to ominous clouds this morning. Instead we drove to Moraira this afternoon. It's a pretty town fairly nearby and has a nice sandy beach although the sea is probably too cold for swimming by now. We took a quick look at Camping Moraira while we were there - for future reference. I liked the site, especially the showers which are big and all done out in marble. The pitches are dusty earth and completely shaded by pine trees which would be great in summer but would block any chance of sun at this time of the year. A shame as otherwise it has a nice vibe. It even has its own Dotto Train! We stopped for coffee and cake at a lovely Austrian cafe just off the main seafront road. It's called Bonissimo and we can highly recommend the Apricot Cheesecake!

Saturday 15 November 2014

Another day, another beach - now we're in Xabia

Xabia or Javea, however you prefer to spell it and, confusingly,
Wall mural on the edge of the Old Town area of Xabia 
pronounced har-vee-a. This a place about which I have heard a great deal from several friends over the years so I am particularly happy to be here. Our new campsite, Camping El Naranjal, is not one of the pretty ones, but the lack of green trees does mean that we will get every last drop of sunshine - when it shines. There has been Cloud here and also Spots Of Rain. Can you believe it?! The pitches are gravel and big enough but not generous. On the plus side, the shower block is completely enclosed so no uncomfortable drafts! Huge excitement for me in that there is a whole library room here too with many books in English and they're not all Catherine Cookson or John Grisham either! I've already bookcrossed three that I'd finished so expect to discover my new reads over the coming weeks. We found the table tennis table - upon which a woman was washing her dog - and there is a popular little boules court too. I do feel a bit 'on show' here, especially after the secluded pitches at Camping Malvarrosa, but I'm sure we'll get used to it and the advantage of having more in the way of walking and cycling means that we shouldn't be just hanging around the site in the daytime so much. The wifi is good here too and works out at about a euro a day for a month's premium access.

We are just on the edge of the seafront part of the new town, about ten minutes walk from the beach where there are any number of restaurants and cafes to choose from. An Indonesian takeaway, Tapindo, has already tempted our tastebuds and I had a delicious meal of hake in a spicy sauce with coconut vegetables and nasi goreng a couple of nights ago. Having arrived on Tuesday, we have begun exploring but 'gently' as we want to stay for several weeks so not exhaust all our entertainment/walking/cycling opportunities within the first week. There is an OK loop nearby but no perfect jogging route yet. We have hardly seen any joggers either but there must be some somewhere - there always are - just a question of finding them.

Dave voluntarily suggested visiting the weekly market in the old town on Thursday morning. The stunning mural pictured was spotted at the start of this trip. I liked the market and there were various clothes stalls that actually had clothes I could like to buy - if we had any room in the wardrobe. Everything is rather autumny fashionwise which is weird for us still in our shorts and t-shirts. It's easy to identify the tourists in Xabia! The old town has its permanent indoor market too as well as a labyrinth of narrow old streets and lots of different independent shops. I can see me wanting to go back several times for a good wander.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

The Rape Of Nanking by Iris Chang / The Alkahest by Honore de Balzac / Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Although not completely unaware of the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, I knew very little of the details or the scale of this war. Therefore, when I saw Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking on Audible, I thought the book would help to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge. It most certainly does.

The Rape of Nanking is not a book to be taken lightly and is eight hours listening to despicably savage and brutal inhumanity on a truly incredible scale. Anna Fields does an excellent job of the narration and Chang's research was obviously lengthy and thorough to have uncovered such a wealth of detail. I'm sure so much exposure to this level of horror would have turned her mind, even without the harassment she apparently suffered after her book was published.

For me, her most frightening findings are that the events at Nanking, while being perhaps on the largest scale the world has ever seen, are by no means an exclusive result of Japanese culture - a frequent argument I've heard about other WW2 Japanese atrocities. Similar crimes are an all too human failing, as is our ability to remain at a distance and watch rather than instinctively leaping in to protect the victims. I was disappointed but unsurprised by the fact of post-war political shenanigans allowing Japan's government to essentially get away with their actions. Such is the power of money and political paranoia.

I did find it a little odd than the few 'unsung heroes' of Nanking presented by Chang were all white Europeans and Americans. Surely some Chinese must have shown similar bravery? Or perhaps such heroes died before their stories were discovered. I understand that Chang wrote for an American audience, but that gives the book an odd Colonial slant that I found hard to reconcile with her earlier points. Also, I thought the repeated attempts to calculate total numbers were unnecessary and removed me as a listener from the immediacy of the rest of the work. My mind was blown by the initial discussions of between quarter and half a million dead in less than two months. Returning to this numbed me rather than increasing my outrage as presumably was the point.

The Rape of Nanking is a tricky book to evaluate as its subject matter is so horrific and emotive. That it is also still controversial is a bizarre twist. I appreciate Chang's efforts to spread knowledge and open discussions about Nanking. In this, she certainly achieved her aims. However, this is not the strongest written history and, at times, her inexperience shows through. I am sure by now, nearly 20 years later, other historians have taken up her challenge and further titles are out there. I'm not sure that I will be able to cope with returning to the horror in the near future though.

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Books by Iris Chang / War books / Books from America

The Alkahest by Honoré de Balzac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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How I got this book:
Downloaded from ForgottenBooks

I downloaded Balzac's Comedie Humaine novella, The Alkahest, together in a volume with Seraphita, another of his stories. Set in Flemish Belgium, The Alkahest concerns a well-heeled family who are driven to the brink of poverty when the father develops an all-consuming passion for chemistry, specifically alchemy. Perpetually convinced that he is at the threshold of a discovery to bring glory and untold riches to his family, he squanders generations of accumulated wealth and possessions to fund his quest.

Balzac's portrayal of the father, Balthazar, is wonderfully written and convincing throughout. His obsession with science did seem an odd choice to me, but as his behaviour deteriorates, obvious parallels can be seen to drug addictions such as to heroin and I would be interested to know if Balzac had any experience of friends or relatives drawn into addiction because he seems to understand the predicament so well. The actions of Balthazar's wife, Josephine, and eldest daughter, Marguerite, are painful to read but also totally realistic. Initially swept up in his enthusiasm for his project, Josephine schools herself in chemistry in order to understand, but is then repeatedly shattered at being cast aside in favour of the obsession. Marguerite finally gains the strength and financial power to stand between Balthazar and his laboratory, but fails to fully comprehend the insidious hold under which Balthazar exists.

The Alkahest is slow to start and it took me a couple of goes reading the first thirty or so pages before I got into the story proper. Balzac feels he needs to explain the family history and their roots within their community in detail. I got the gist pretty quickly! However, I think it was worth ploughing through all the early description as, once done, the plot continues at at swifter pace and was a good read. Perhaps the repetition of rise and fall of circumstance could have been more tightly edited, but Balzac is not a writer who felt the need to economise on word counts! I was surprised by how relevant The Alkahest is to twenty-first century living and would actually recommend it to a wider readership than Seraphita as it does not mire itself in doctrine and dogma.

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Books by Honore De Balzac / Novellas / Books from France

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women WorldwideHalf the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I guess I have come to the Half The Sky book backwards as I have been an active member of Kiva for a couple of years, more recently joining their Half The Sky team as their goals matched my lending history. I was aware of the gist of the book and have now, finally, gotten around to reading it. The lovely people at ESPH, with whom I worked over the summer, gave me an Amazon voucher on leaving and that funded this book's purchase.

I'm not completely sure how I feel about Half The Sky now having read it. Its aims are obviously admirable and by appealing to such a wide audience and being bought in great numbers, its message will reach many people who might previously been unaware of the plight of many of our world's women. However, I felt a bit awkward at the patronising tone in some places. Written primarily for an affluent American audience, there is very much a 'them and us' feel to the writing. Abuses happen 'elsewhere' and the apparent importance and influence of American political decisions to life and death in other sovereign nations is unnerving. It reminded me of the power of the former British empire and of how many of our decisions were catastrophic to those on the receiving end. Also, the emotional manipulation throughout the text is phenomenal! At least the authors are upfront about this. They discuss how experiments have proved that individuals are more likely to donate, and to donate larger sums, to single named individual than to a country or a general appeal. (On reflection, this is also how Kiva works - by putting forward a series of individuals and their stories.) Before and after having made this point, that is exactly what the Half The Sky authors do. Don't expect much in the way of hard facts and figures, but instead there are dozens of anecdotes: stories of first-named women across Asia and Africa who were all horrifically treated, denied medical care, denied education, simply due to their gender. Reading so many tales is a bit like watching the serious bits of Children in Need or Comic Relief. You know you're being manipulated by clever research and editing, but there is a real need too and, by the end, you're pretty punch drunk and overwhelmed.

I am glad I have read Half The Sky. Similarly to The Rape of Nanking, its success is to get the world talking. It has reinforced my commitment to Kiva and I will now also be searching out other deeper books on the topics raised. Suggestions of other titles will be gratefully received.

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Tuesday 4 November 2014

Oh no! A grey day!

We knew it had to happen eventually and have been lucky enough to
A fishy vending machine 
have pretty much constant sunshine since we left the UK - yes, I'm gloating - but today we have had rain. Disaster!! Dave even had to put his long trousers on because his knees were cold.

Overexaggerating aside, I hope tomorrow is brighter as, even with our little awning, a caravan isn't the best place to be cooped up for too long. Although, after last winter's experience, we are better prepared this year and brought a variety of indoor activities. Today we had an arts and crafts day! Dave has been painting and I have finished stitching a Basque Lauburu symbol onto our flyscreen. A Breton Triskelion is next and I'm hoping to stitch something different to represent everywhere we visit in Bailey. I'm still undecided about country flags though. At the moment, the motifs are monochrome and I am not sure whether adding colour will be a good idea.

In other news, we are continuing our ventures into eating new fish and Dave perfectly baked a delicious rainbow trout for dinner yesterday. Unfortunately he wasn't as impressed with it as I was, but I'm still hoping he might cook it again one day. (The recipe was based around a Jamie Oliver one but don't shout about that!)

The random photo on this post is of something we had never seen before and it's right here in sleepy Almenara. We daftly set off for a walk on Sunday afternoon and forgot our water bottle. Therefore we were pleasantly surprised to spot this vending machine on a side street. We initially overlooked the marine surround which contained the massive clue,  so were baffled that instead of the expected crisps and ice-cold coke cans, it contained lead weights and other small items of fishing paraphernalia. The small polystyrene tubs on the lowest level were presumably bait - not ice cream! The machine must get a significant amount of use. There are people fishing off the beach at all hours of the day, every day, although we're yet to spot the excitement of anyone catching anything. I have noticed a few fish while swimming though so it must happen occasionally.

A final note on a booky theme, especially for those of us who enjoy a good steampunk novel. I reviewed the first part of S C Barrus' The Gin Thief series recently and he is soon to host a one-day Facebook extravaganza with over a dozen authors. To drum up excitement and anticipation for the event, there is a competition to win sixteen steampunk ebooks by the participating authors. You Can Click Here to find out more and to enter the competition. (Last entries: 13th Nov 2014)

Sunday 2 November 2014

The Awakening by Kate Chopin / The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver / The Gin Thief: Becoming Scarlet by S C Barrus

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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The Awakening cropped up as the ForgottenBooks book of the day a few months ago now and, as its synopsis looked interesting, I downloaded it. Set in an upper class American society in the last years on the 19th century, The Awakening attempts to understand, although not to condone, the actions of a woman who finds herself trapped in a domestic life for which she is patently unsuited but, due to the morals of the day, which she has no choice but to endure.
Edna has two children whom she loves and a frequently absent husband who loves 'owning' her. However, Edna is not overtly maternal so when she knows her children to be cared for by nursemaid of their grandmother, she often does not give them a thought from one hour to the next. I got the impression that if she had been allowed the same choice I enjoy over a century later, she would have given motherhood a miss. Unfortunately, she has blindly followed societal expectations. When a summer meeting with a younger man awakens Edna's sense of self, she first tries to bury her emotions as she 'should', but unable to continue the charade, she sets out for a future which is impossible to achieve. Her potential new man will not take the risk to be with her and a bereft Edna cannot return to her previous life.
The illustration of desperation and Edna's inner turmoil is always believable when set against the strictness of the time and I was amazed by the vitriol and spite churned up against the character in other reviews. In her mind, Edna does the right thing. Leaving her husband would permanently stigmatise her children and she would experience serious mental breakdown by staying, so instead fakes accidental drowning while the boys are safely out of the way at their grandmother's.
I liked that Chopin obviously understands her characters completely and manages to set out their lives without actually proffering any as best. Mademoiselle Reisz is fascinating and an interesting choice of confidant for Edna. Leonce is ghastly! Self-important and only out for possessions and social climbing.
The writing style is a little dated now, perhaps too coy for modern tastes, but this softness did not detract from my growing sense of unease as Edna's behaviour becomes both stronger and more erratic.

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

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I read another Barbara Kingsolver book, The Lacuna, a while ago, and was in two minds about it as I enjoyed the depictions of lives and relationships but was then left cold as the second half descended into dry politics. I was concerned that the brick that is The Poisonwood Bible might go the same way, so was delighted to find that it doesn't. The then current situation in The Congo/Zaire is woven around the immediate story of the Price family but its intricacies are not thoroughly explored so if you're hoping for a more factual novel of the country's upheaval, this might not be the one for you.
Instead Kingsolver has created a powerful portrait and caution against the insanity of blind faith and ill-prepared attempts to force one people to the will of another. Her creation of the out-of-their-depth Price family is inspired and I was interested to learn how a Southern 1950s white American family viewed both themselves and their Congolese hosts. Tyrant-father Nathan, believing himself master yet more useless and alienated than anyone due to his refusal to see the Congolese as more than savage children, is the only one whose words we do not directly hear, but his character is rounded out by the five women and girls, his family, existing despite his best efforts(!).
I did find it tricky early on in the novel to remember who was speaking but as each develops her own distinctive voice, the sisters and mother each show their Africa from very different viewpoints and it was interesting to see how their varying skills both allowed some entry to Congolese society but also kept them apart. The pages rushed past as I found this novel impossible to put down and have been thinking over it a lot in the couple of days since I finished. There are so many issues raised - family and friendship, race and colonialism, religion and choice, life and survival - that I think I could read The Poisonwood Bible several times, seeing new detail in it with each read. Perhaps this is one that won't get Bookcrossed too quickly!

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Books by Barbara Kingsolver / Historical fiction / Books from America

The Gin Thief: Episode 1: Becoming Scarlet by S C Barrus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've not tried reading a serialised book as it is published before so am interested to learn whether I will be able to remember all the storylines over a period of time. Generally I read intensively with scarcely a pause until my current novel is finished, immersing myself in it completely. My break with tradition was caused by spotting the Kickstarter campaign for S C Barrus' new creation, The Gin Thief series. Taking a minor set of characters, The Scarlets, from his steampunk novel Discovering Aberration which I previously enjoyed reading, he is now telling their story and particularly that of their now newest recruit, Miss Yevylin Over.
S C's writing style is dense with intricate descriptions of place, costume and character. I appreciate that he takes time to set up scenes without simply rushing to the action and, although this does mean his stories advance at a slower pace than those of other authors, I think the approach suits the imaginative steampunk genre and it also mirrors that of Victorian authors so adds to the 'genuine' atmosphere.
Becoming Scarlet, as the title suggests, recounts how Yevylin meets and tries to join The Scarlets. A plot device of her storytelling for the leader, The Missus, works well to allow us to get to know her while still keeping up pace and I am now eager to download the second installment!

Saturday 1 November 2014

Els Estanys - picnic area or rubbish dump?

A closer to home post today starting with a nearby walk we recently
Bailey and our Conservatory 
did in an area known as Els Estanys. Dave spotted picnic tables whilst out on a bicycle ride and thought the hill beside might be good for walking. We booted up one afternoon and set out but were disappointed on arrival as what we took for the car park was graffitied and desolate. We wandered past the picnic tables, lightly littered from a recent birthday, and the further we got uphill, the worse the littering got. What is it with the Spanish and fly-tipping? Our walk was briefly improved by the aroma of orange blossom whilst passing a grove of the trees, and also by sighting a pair of bright Red Admiral butterflies, but then we were foiled by a sheer cliff and decided to turn back and head towards some marshland we had spotted instead.

What a fortunate choice! One the other side of Els Estanys, where there are yet more picnic tables, a far smarter car park and a restaurant (closed), the Valencia area authority has created a large coarse fishing lake. There is a walkway all around and little deck piers on which the fishers can sit undisturbed. Shrubbery and reeds have grown up to provide shade for people and cover for birds and we particularly liked a vivid purply-blue flowering bindweed. There were lots of carp in the lake - all up the other end from three men fishing of course - and a single cormorant on watch. Two viewing hides allowed birdwatching across a neighbouring wild lake and their walls were decorated with pictures and information about birds we might see (but didn't). Instead, we spent a while watching for individual fish leaping out of the water. It's addictive in the same way as looking for shooting stars. You know another fish will jump soon but can almost guarantee that you'll be looking the wrong way at the time!

Back home, we have just about got our set up perfect now which is good as we think we'll be here for another week or so - if Dave can cope with the noise. It's mostly not excessive but the people on the next pitch have brought a pair of caged parakeets with them and the poor birds screech frequently throughout the day.

In the past we have erected our porch awning over the doorway but have not liked that the near poles were then always over at least one window causing them to stand at a weird angle and decreasing the structure's stability. This time, I thought I would try putting the awning completely behind the doorway and this works much better on several counts. Firstly, of course, we are not blocking any windows. Also, we gain space by not needing to leave a passageway to the outside. Plus Dave likes being able to open the caravan door straight to the great outdoors. We have set up our brilliant Outwell cupboard with our electric hob on the top, and have even got space for our nice garden table as a dining area. The addition of our new Kampa hanging lamp completes our Conservatory!