Off on our holibobs again!

###I’m having problems uploading my photos to this post at the moment. So they’ll have to follow in an updated edit when I can sort it out! Apologies! !

So,  here we are, away in the van once more after a long stay at home settling in Pixie.  The little puppy has settled in very well, and loves playing with Mutley. She’s now house trained and the only thing I think needs  mastering properly is her use of the dog flap, she can go out, and she can go in, but she’s not yet done it on her own volition. More treats required!

Spring has been interesting this year, as normally we are away so we miss the lovely  sights around Orba of the almond and cherry blossom, and our wisteria which has come on  in leaps and bounds across the front of the house. We have both been busy, Bruce with some gigs and me with my baglets, and so we eventually left home after a May Fayre in Jalon that I had a stall at, and Bruce was playing at. It’s always a lovely event so we wanted to make sure we could do it before we had a break in the motorhome.

Having missed our normal January /February jaunt to Portugal,  we decided that we’d do Portugal now, which means the weather is warmer, and we see a different side with the later evenings setting in. So after leaving home we managed to get to Baza,on the high plain leading to Granada, for the first nights stop, before heading down to Fuengirola for a few days on the Costa del sol. I spent some of the journey shelling peas that Deb and Jim had delivered,  picked fresh from her lovely veg garden – she is my GG – Garden Goddess! 

We spent a week inbetween Fuengirola and Cala Mijas, before moving onto Portugal.  A quick stop in Castro Marim provided the necessary soft Portuguese bread rolls before we parked up at Altura for a couple of nights.


Right Little Diva!

Sorry for the delay in the update, but there’s a little diva in our lives at the moment that is a right little time bandit! If it’s not chasing after her trying to second guess where the next wee or poo will be then it’s having time out with puppy cuddles as she sleeps through some of her many daytime naps!

She’s been with us a for just over a week now, and has settled in really well. She met Mutley the day after we bought her home, and we made sure that all the research I did about introducing a new pup into the house and family has been observed.  Mutley always gets his food first, treats first, talked to first. We’ve asked anyone coming to the house to make a fuss of him and ignore her to start with. It’s important that he doesn’t feel left out. 

Although he was very hesitant at first it was because we’d told him he was getting a cute little sister to join him, not a poodle cross tasmanian devil diva! It’s taken a few days for her to realise she can’t chase his tail just because he wags it, or suddenly grab his legs when she wants to play and he doesn’t.  But seeing their interaction change over the past few days has been lovely. He plays with her, and she rushes around like a mad bunny on speed, Barking like crazy at him. I’m trying to get a decent video of it,  but it’s  proving hard!

She has her next injection at the  vets on 17th February,  so until then she is on house arrest,  or if leaving the house she comes along in one of my  Funky Tote bags! She’s found a wonderful Sheepskin fetish,  which is very apt seeing as I am the bag lady – I cut up an old Sheepskin coat, with the idea of using it for her bed, and she loves that. But even more so,  the longer Sheepskin trim that formed the collar and cuffs which I was going to throw away has become her comforter! She rushes around with the cuffs in her mouth,  and will snuggle up against the other bits when settling down to one of her many daily naps! 

Maltipoo Madness!

Let the fun begin! I have just posted about Pixie, and how we were going to pick her up on 1st February, well that post was actually written a few days ago, at the time that was the story.

However, on Tuesday evening, Bruce came into the kitchen just after 7pm, with a glass of wine, asking what I’d like to do the next day, as the weather had perked up so we should have what we call tourist day, take the day off doing any work and do something nice together. I said that’d be great, but I know there were only a couple of dry days before the rain comes back at the weekend, so if he wanted to cycle that’d be ok, or finish painting the house, I could find enough to keep myself busy. But is there anything I needed he asked, no, came my answer, I think we have everything, except Pixie. … so where would I go in an ideal world he asked, to collect her was my answer…. . .
Unbeknown to me, he had been arranging this for weeks, since we saw her….as he knew I’d not be patient! So…. On Wednesday we drove the whole day up to France, did a bit of shopping on the way, and found a hotel go to stay in Vitrolles.

Then yesterday morning, at 8.30am, we went to collect her! There was an emotional handover, as she has become quite the favourite, but we promised to send photos of her progress. Then we drove the whole way home again , with Pixie! She was a little gem in the car, perfectly behaved, we stopped a few times so she could ‘do her business’, and I fed and watered her, and had lots of cuddles, but she slept really well in her new bed. 

I had taken up a blanket when we met her before, which I had with me, so she had the smell of the litter and her mum and dad with her.

We eventually got home about 6pm, and although she was a little timid to start with and nervous, she soon started to show her true character, and was up and down the stairs quite easily after the first go.
Bruce had arranged with Deb and Jim to have Mutley for us for a couple of nights, so we could get Pixie settled in a bit before meeting him, so he is due back this morning. So because we were alone the firsg evening I made sure that she had a good play before bedtime, and then swaddled her to me for a cuddle while I got a few bits sorted out,before we put her down to bed. We were prepared for alot of crying, but although she gave a little whimper, within about 15 seconds she had stopped and settled. I woke in the night about 3 am, and couldn’t hear anything, thinking maybe something had happened, but when I went to the bathroom, I heard her shake her head,and a movement, then nothing again…. so she had gone back to sleep.
Amazingly she slept for 8 hours, probably exhausted from the trip, and trauma of change. So when I woke just after 6am, I got her up too, and we’ve been building our relationship this morning. She is currently asleep on my chest as I type this out!

So excited!   

Normally this time of year we are away! in Portugal and the south of Spain. However this year we have adapted our plans, as towards the end of the year we thought we might be loosing Mutley, as he had a really bad night, but in the morning when I woke up with him, on the sofa, he was quite perky.
This made us realise his age, 14 in 2017, and also think about how wonderful he has been and how lucky we were to find him.
How to follow in his shadow? Well, we love the poodle side of him he doesn’t shed much hair. He is crazy pup, even at almost 14! If anything I would say something just a tiny bit smaller would be ideal, and even better a bitch that wouldn’t cock her leg at everything she walks past!
As we honestly thought Mutley would be leaving us soon,I started looking around at pups available for adoption, but anything even vaguely along our checklist got snapped up really quickly. So I widened my search to Portugal and France, as we don’t mind travelling for the perfect pup. I found 4 female maltipoo pups looking for homes in the south of France…… So we’re talking a toy poodle crossed with a Maltese. The mum isn’t pedigree maltese, but both parents could be seen, which was perfect.
We sat down and talked,as we’d not really planned on having 2 dogs at the same time, but Bruce said he would like to get her for me and she could be my 10th wedding anniversary present, to complete our family. How romantic!!!
So the mission was on! It wasn’t easy trying to get information considering how bad my French is,but we finally managed it, after a week or so. As we wanted to make sure that we could see both parents, we drove the 954km up to Vitrolles, near Marseille, and it took us 9 hours. We did this on New Years Day, after Bruce had a gig the previous night at the Chinese Buffet.
Crazy times, but that’s what we do….. we stayed overnight in a motel, and met the pups the following morning. They were totally gorgeous, very good condition, with shiny curly coats. Playing well with both parents, who were both in good condition and friendly. There was only one pup left without a home, by the time we got to see them, as we had said we would like to reserve one, so we met Minnie, who has two white back feet, a white bib and a white tip to her tail…. and she caught our hearts!
This story could go into more detail, but the shorter version is that we said we would love to have her in our family, so our Pixie puppy adventure begins! As our life revolves around cartoon characters, Mutley and Mr Ben, we’d talked about a pup being called Pixie…. which suits her very well, more than Minnie mouse!
We arranged to collect her on 1st February, she will be almost 10 weeks old, and will have had her chip and 1st lot of vaccines completed.
She is totally gorgeous, jet black with the little white features , curly coated, probably will be about 2/3rds the size of Mutley when adult, around the 3.5 – 4kg to his 6.8-7kg. She seems very playful and I think she’ll make a great playmate for Mutley, who seems a bit bored lately and playing more with his toys.
Bruce has made a puppy pen to put in the lounge for when we go out, so Mutley has his own space and she will be safe too, and away from my shoes!
On the flip side, Mutley has been fine recently, only seeming down and Oldmanish when the weather here has dramatically failed to be dry and sunny….Which plays up on his arthritis. The past few days we have had everything except a plague of locusts! SNOW, and hail, followed by 4 days of torrential rain which is still going ! So this is the time we thought we might pop away in the van before we collect Pixie….. our new baby! But instead we have been holed up in the house and I doubt we’ll get away now before we pick her up.

Onwards from Venice …

After Venice we decided to chase good weather, as the forecast for that weekend was rain. So we headed west, across the appalling roads that Italy has. After Slovenia they seemed even worse, and the fuel prices varied hugely,being the most expensive we’ve seen with unleaded rising up to 1.61€ a  litre.

We ended up thinking that we’d head for a lake, and as we’d been round one of the larger ones before we thought smaller is better and hopefully less touristy. We also wanted to cross the border into France higher up than we came over, so headed past Turin.

Avigliana it was then, with a couple of small lakes that you can get to easily.  We cycled around one, and around what we could of the other one. It was beautiful and peaceful, and water certainly seems to have been the theme of this trip away. 
Checking the weekend weather again, we decided that with all things considered, with the road conditions, and massive fuel prices although we had planned on seeing more of Italy,  that we’d head for France, and I found a couple of vide greniers to stock up on my bling! We made it to a couple of small ones before a rainstorm kicked in, so took refuge at an aire for the rest of the day. 

I also have to add at this point that on all our trips across borders, we’d never seen much police presence, but this time we noticed quite  few coming into France. We also saw an abandoned van which was being looked at by police, totally full of all sorts of things, piled high with push chairs and bicycles. It seemed to have broken down and just been dumped. 

 From there it became a weather chasing time, and we actually ended up on the south coast of France, the Cote D’Azur, not that far from Marseille. A tiny fishing village called Carro,  has a great motorhome aire right on the beach for about 9€ per night. We thought we’d stay one night and ended up staying for 6! It was just so peaceful, small harbour with a fish market each morning – with horrendously expensive fish so we didn’t buy any. But the area reminded me of Spain,and a run between Calpe and Moraira on the coast road. 

It was aptly named for the Cote, as the beaches were beautiful,  some quite rocky, but clear turquoise seas. We found a snorkeling kit at a local Decathlon store, and saw 100‘s of little fishies in the local cove. It was lovely and hot and we got a couple of swims in, our first time properly in the sea this year! It was also the perfect place for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and most evenings you could people watch everyone rushing for their cameras to capture the scenes of fire red skies over the sea.

With another bad wave of rain and storms due we found some more vide greniers inland slightly not far from Nimes for that weekend, so moved to a town called Beaucaire which we have been to before and has a free aire on a canalside. 

We found I think 6 out of the 7 vides that were listed, which is a good strike rate, and I got lots of new bling for my next brood of Baglets.
We’re due back home on 22nd October,  as sister Sarah and her hubby Tim are out for a week on 25th. So slowly we are making our way back. With a watery themed trip it seemed right that we should get in some of the canal du Midi again,one of our favourites in this part of France. 

We started by joining it near Agde where we stopped on a small private aire near the coast. Agde has a great network of cycle lanes which we have finally sussed out how to find on our Maps.Me apps on our phones. So now we’re basing where we stop around where the best cycle routes are for us. We did cycle up part of the canal at the previous stop,but the wind was horrendous by part of the damn leading up to Avignon, so found a voie verte instead which was a old railway line they had done up as a cycle track, wonderful! ! Flat, tarmac and sheltered!
Bruces birthday was celebrated by cycling from Castelnaudary to Montferrand on the canal. We’d cycled the other way the previous afternoon,and seen loads of ducks, a water rat and also an otter, which we startled and saw a couple of times – a first for us both. 

The birthday cycle was rewarded with sightings of lots more ducks, coypu (found the correct spelling now!), and some of the most stunning scenery on a very quiet canal. 

The last time we were in France in May the season was just starting up, so there were loads of canal  boats being chugged around – Le Boat being a favourite with most as a hire company. Horrendously priced but seemingly very popular! We have hunkered down for 3 nights here at Castelnaudary as the forecast is bad every where and we have electric at the moment and are on good tarmac ground so no risk of getting stuck!

Romantic Venice. 

From Slovenia we had decided that we would stop at Venice. We had planned to do this a few years ago when we came to Italy on a fly drive, but it was impractical to park a hire car up which ws costing us money to ‘do’ Venice. So as we were going past it made sense to stop off at a campsite outside and then scoot in. 

We knew that Venice seems to exist not only as a thing of beauty, but a tool to extract money from tourists, so our plan was to really enjoy ourselves but cheaply! 

The ACSI site cost us 19€ a night which includes electric. So we arrived at lunchtime, and scooted into the city, parking the scooter on the only free bit of parking there with about 200 other scooters and motorbikes! 

But still, sadly, in Plaza San Marco, just a coffee can cost you between 8€ and 12.50€ and that’s before the cover charge or service charge as well. So we saved our money and partook of our flask of coffee which I had made up to go with our picnic lunch. 

It was exhausting walking around taking in the Grand Canal and all the other famous places you’ve seen in films etc. 

We decided that the next day we would buy boat tickets which last the day, as we had a full day, so could make more use of them 20€ per person for 24hrs, (So our running total if you allow a alittle for fuel on and off the island was 80€!). 

Once we has sussed out how to use the boat buses we went down the Grand Canal, then out to Burano Island, then back and around the main island going south.  We were saving the north side for the evening, as we went back to relieve Mutley, who was fabulous through all this. His routine is that he gets along walk each morning which then exhausted him for the rest of the day,being 13 he tends to sleep the whole day anyway! So we went back to see him, and walk  and feed him again before heading back for the evening boat trip, seeing the twinkling lights was great, especially as it meant the grand houses were lit up from inside, showing their plush interiors and very grand chandeliers. 

It is such a romantic place, we sat having a little picnic, listening to a Jazz Quartet at one of the  Grand Cafes just off San Marco and they were amazing. I am so glad we managed to get 2 cracking days of weather there, as the forecast for the coming weekend is really bad, but at least we had an amazing time. I would certainly return, and explore more, probably on foot, as I think you can see more.

Beautiful Bled. 

​We finally managed to get a weather window clear enough to give us a few days at Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj which are in the far north west of Slovenia in the Julian Alps (named after Julius Caesar.

It is a really stunning place, a little touristy,  but if you can rise above that, then you can appreciate it. 

Luckily for us the campsite was at the opposite end to the plethora of hotels,  so we carefully picked our spot and made ourselves comfy for a couple of nights. 

The following morning we made an effort and got up early to go to the Vintgar Gorge, which is a must do if you’re there. About 5 km north of Bled,up quite steep hills, is the gorge, at only 4.5€ to get in, it’s worth getting there early before all the coach loads of tourists get there! The gorge winds down and around with wooden walkways precariously positioned to make the most of the views.

If you get there early then you get less people in your pictures! We walked the whole 1.6km each way,with a little extra at one end to take in the waterfall which is at the finish.

The afternoon saw us scooting at additional 27km or so onto Lake Bohinj. This is a more natural and much less touristy place, and so tranquil. Sadly you can’t get all the way around, but if you wanted you could hire a kayak or boat to take it in from the water.

 The excitement here was that the duck bread I took with me went on the local goat herd! They were all over me, so I stank of goat once they’d cleared the bagful of rather solid stale bread. 

The following morning we had to check out from the campsite,  but  we managed to cycle the other way around the lake and take in a coffee, feeding the ducks some leftover bread. From here we stopped off at Ljubljana again, this time with Spela and Janis for the night, and we had a fabulously late evening, meeting several of their friends and chatting late into the night before heading east to Nova Mesto. 

Janis has recommended a small village called Kostanjevica na Krki, on the Krka river. It’s a stunning little island village, hardly anything there, but that’s what made it so beautiful.  Traveling back we followed a route which went along the Krka Valley,and it really was worth the trip across the country.  

Slovenia is a wonderful country, I’m sure we will return, and the pride that the people have in their houses shows – each one was pristine, with flowers and cut lawns, a stark contrast to some of Italy or Spain.