Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Saturday 5 May 2018 - Soller and Port de Soller

Another rainy day.

We helped Robert and Lyn to clean the apartment as we were all leaving today. They have three nights in a nice B&B to round off their holiday, and today they headed off for a short bike ride along the disused railway line from Artá.

The Berlingo wheeled its way yet again up the road towards Lluc. But instead of the usual bike/bus clogged road, today's tally was just eight bikes and one bus passed on the road to Lluc. Another four bikes were seen later climbing up from Soller.

The rain was persistent. We took refuge in the gallery Can Prunera Museu Modernista. The works of several of Mallorca's finest artists and sculptors are housed in this fine building. A separate entry with more images might follow. I just felt it a shame that the vibrant family home with lovely furniture and immaculate tiled floors had been turned over to museum status.

The staff at Café Soller in the main square were a bit stressed, with a couple of big groups of dripping customers moving chairs so that they could sit together. The brainless oafs didn't realise that by doing this they were blocking access for the waitresses. We chose five different tapas dishes each - they were laid out with numbers by the kitchen, so it was easy to choose what we wanted. It turned out to be a very tasty lunch.

A visit to Port de Soller in the rain followed. The bottom couple of pictures suggest the ambience was not exactly 'summery'; I think it's probably warmer in Timperley just now!

By 4 pm we'd had enough, so we pottered back to OK Rentacar where no problems were encountered and we didn't have to wait very long for a courtesy bus to the airport.

I'm writing from a departure lounge bathed in sunshine. We will be here for some time as our incoming flight from Manchester set off over an hour late.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Friday 4 May 2018 - A Walk Around the S'Albufera de Mallorca Natural Park

14 km, 0 metres ascent, 3.5 hours.

A rainy day.

We stayed in all morning while it drizzled outside. I had a long snooze.

After a bread and cheese lunch, Sue and I headed off towards the Alcudia Peninsula with a 400 metre peak in mind. But the peak was in cloud and the rain fairly robust, so we settled for a walk around the nature reserve. It turned out to be my most energetic outing of a fairly lazy week.

The second picture shows our red route number 3 around the reserve, the principal interest in which is the birds, but there is further interest in the flora, and in fauna - we spied a small rat, and some fat carp.

Birds seen on this ramble include many that we failed to identify, but here's a list including a few others seen this week:

Blackbird
Blackcap - a pair in our garden
Black-winged Stilt
Carrion Crow
Chaffinch
Coot
Eider Duck
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
House Sparrows (very chatty)
Kestrel
Little Egret
Mallard
Marsh Harriers (a pair hunting in the reserve)
Peregrine
Pied Wagtail
Raven
Stonechat
Swifts, Swallows and Martins flocking to grab insects near an observation tower
White Wagtail
Woodpigeon
Wren
Yellow Wagtail
Numerous LBJs and warblers

Our walk was mainly in light drizzle, on a good variety of paths, through woodland and beside reed beds and farmland, but we finished with a rainless hour or so that enabled our waterproofs to dry off nicely. It started raining again as soon as we finished around 5.45.

The Black-winged Stilt has already been featured, so today we have a couple of flower pictures -  a Marsh Orchid (maybe - our flower book is at home), and Orchis apiera which Sue says is a Bee Orchid. We also saw Serapias parviflora but you'll have to wait for a picture.

Robert and Lyn returned to base shortly after us after a soggy bike ride, and we then embarked on a bid to consume all the edibles in the apartment, boosted today by the purchase of a large bag of lamb chops to accompany the rosemary picked up by Sue on Puig Massanella. So it was 'Lamb a la Massanella' for dinner.

Later, after Sue and Lyn had again been thrashed at cards ("it's a game of luck"), we enjoyed a final showing of the 'Weetabix movie' produced by the genius of Chris Fielding. A classic.

We go home tomorrow.

Thursday 3 May 2018 - Dinner at 'Stay' Restaurant

Followers of Robert's 'Brexton Travels' blog (please go to it and leave a comment - it will make his day) will realise that his life is dominated (if not by Lyn) by foodie experiences. He has hollow bones.

So I left it to Robert to record last night's excellent meal at Stay (via Sue's ipad thumbnails).

Home made spaghetti with crisp chicken breast, raisins, apples and curry sauce

Fillets of fresh sardines, aubergines and prawns in batter served with sauce tartare

Stuffed mushrooms 'bonne maman' on wild mushroom sauce, fresh vegetables and potato

Fillet of sea-bream dorade, Majorcan style with white wine sauce, spinach and potato

Special dessert of the day

Long chat with three people behind a glass barrier, one of whom was celebrating a 70th birthday.

Can you tell? It's raining here this morning. ...


Sue's Big Adventure on Puig de Massanella

Here's Sue's report on yesterday's Big Adventure, with some thumbnail images courtesy of her ipad. 

"Puig de Massanella...
.....Is Majorca's highest climbable mountain (due to Puig Major being a military zone) at 1364m. Yesterday's forecast was ideal so the Berlingo and I ran the gauntlet of the mountain road to Soller again, this time slowed up by a Jet2 coach which allowed a cyclist to pass me on the ascent!

I made a 10am start after parking on the road at the Coll de sa Batalla, up a shady track, soon losing the sound of cars, replaced by bird song. A charge of 6 euros was made by a man in a kiosk, who was accompanied by a friendly little dog, Luna. Only ten or so people had already passed through.
It was soon warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt, as the path climbed steadily. A brown broomrape had thrust three stalks out of the soil on the path, and higher up, the rosemary was covered in blue flowers.

Engraved stones helped with route finding, replaced by numerous small cairns on the narrow path through thinning trees. The views grew, of nearby wooded hills, across the southern plain to Palma and the south coast. The trees thinned and around 1160m was a stone staircase leading down to a cave, with two further stone staircases leading to the Font de s'Avenc. A Danish man I'd met earlier had a torch, enabling me to see the font. The water was delicious!

A steep ascent up sharp limestone followed, and gained the plateau below the summit. Stinking helleborines and sage were growing amongst the rocks, accompanied by several brown goats.

The summit ridge was fabulous, with views to the mountains to the west and the blue reservoir, east to the Formentor peninsular and the bay of Alcudia and south to the plains, Palma and the sea. I was the only British person amongst the dozen or so people on the summit.

A very impressively deep snow pit (maybe 80m) about 10m away from the summit made my Danish companion admit his fear of heights.
After lunch at this eyrie, the two of us set off together to find an alternative descent, via the Coll des Prat. The route was easily located, but descended a ridge which couldn't be described as knife-edged, but required care and appeared to be a popular ascent route. An easy path led to the col in an open valley which is traversed by the GR221. 

Just below here was another, shallower, snow pit near the ruins of a farm building. The winding path down the open valley was wide but full of loose stones, but the views ahead were a good distraction. Lower down, the path became a track through woodland and it then wasn't long until I passed the kiosk again. "You were quick" said the man, who I told that I was looking forward to a cup of tea. "I prefer beer" was his reply!

The wooded track shortly returned me to the car at 3.35, and I was back at our Port de Pollenca abode at 4pm, at the same time as Martin, Lyn and Robert, for tea on our sunny veranda.

A fabulous mountain day (and one I'd happily repeat, J&R)."

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Thursday 3 May 2018 - A Circuit from Port de Pollença, via Campanet, Ciamari, Coll de sa Batalla, skirting Lluc, and Pollença

67 km, 1478* metres ascent, 6.5 hours.

A lovely warm, sunny day.

Sue went off to wrestle yet again with the traffic on the Lluc road. This time she had a Big Adventure but managed to reach the 1382 metre summit of Puig Massanella (Cicerone route 27a/27b) and survived with the aid of a Danish man's 1:25000 scale map, our own 1:40000 version having been found wanting.

Robert, Lyn and I set off on our bikes from the apartment and took Lyn's favourite back road, past the church of Sant Miguel, to the outskirts of Campanet. There were lots of cyclists about. There's a café by a right turn, and as we'd done over 20 km I insisted on a coffee break.

We moved on easily to Caimari, where another right turn landed us on the Coll de sa Batalla road, with a climb to over 500 metres. The switchback road is well surfaced and well graded, enabling us to crack the climb without undue exertion in around 45 minutes.

There were what seemed like hundreds of cyclists at the Coll, where somewhat bizarrely there's a petrol station, but plenty of tables free at the Can Gallet restaurant a minute's ride down the hill towards the monastery at Lluc.

Spanish omelettes for Robert and Lyn, and spaghetti carbonara for me. Everyone was very happy.

There were minimal undulations then, before the road swept relentlessly down to Pollença. Hundreds of cyclists were racing down, but I got stuck behind a tractor.

Lots of fine views requiring photo stops that kept letting the tractor get away...

Robert and Lyn eventually caught up with me (but not the tractor) and we sauntered into the centre of Pollença in search of ice creams. The usual stall in the main square was shut, and everyone else we tried had sold out, so we continued along the back lanes to Port de Pollença, where our cravings were satisfied, albeit the flavourings were rather bland.

Sue had returned from her Big Adventure, with more cuts, by the time we pedalled up to the apartment around 4.30. Plenty of time for tea and biscuits before I took my rental bike back to Rent March and we prepared for our one restaurant meal of the trip, at 'Stay'.

*1478 is 'Viewranger speak' - it is far to high.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Wednesday 2 May 2018 - A Circuit from Manacor, via Artá and a Disused Railway

61 km, 785 metres ascent, 6 hours.

Cool but sunny today, though much warmer in the afternoon, when fleeces could be dispensed with.

Sue went off to summit Binifaldo and Menut (Cicerone route 23) and met an orchid man/guide with two clients.

Robert, Lyn and I took the van to Manacor and repeated a lovely route that we enjoyed two years ago.

Pleasing back roads with fine views of the Mallorcan countryside took us some 25 km to Artá in the morning. The first two thirds of this included some gentle ascents - nothing strenuous - followed by a very pleasant descent into Artá.

After a route finding decision we luckily came upon the main thoroughfare and soon settled down for lunch in the breezy courtyard of Café Parisien. We sat at the same mosaic table as we did two years ago, but we chose food other than the tartiflet that Robert recalls me giving a low rating on that previous visit.

Then the disused railway back to Manacor offered a leisurely 29 km of earth and gravel surfaced track with no vehicular traffic. I recall fighting against the wind on our previous visit, but today it was mostly behind us, offering frequent free wheeling opportunities.

The old railway track has been converted to a fine cycling/walking route in the style of the Middlewood Way and the Monsal Trail. It goes quite close to the sea on its undulating journey, offering fine views and many trackside flowers to admire.

A diversion to the centre of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar for ice creams provided entertainment for Lyn when a man nearly as tall as Robert arrived, dressed in Clown Yellow with a hole in the backside of his shorts.

Suitably refreshed, we whizzed the final 10 km back to the van, and by soon after 6 pm we had joined Sue, rehydrating on our patio.

Trout fillets were the stars of tonight's repast. Thanks to Sue for organising that - her day on the hill was shorter than our day on the bikes, although she had to drive at bike speed for much of her way to the start of her walk at Lluc Monastery.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Tuesday 1 May 2018 - A Visit to a Flower Fete in Costitx

A slow morning was enlivened by some fine chocolate croissants from the local Spar shop and a bit more excitement from my current 'read' - Dissolution by C J Sansom.

I tried again to install the Bloggeroid app that I've failed to make work in the past. I failed again, getting as far as drafting a posting but finding no way of actually sending it! The main benefit would be the ability to put photos in the text, rather than have them all at the top of the posting. Never mind.

After elevenses at home we set off in our two separate vehicles to Costitx. The jam of traffic entering the village discouraged the cyclists, Robert and Lyn, so they headed elsewhere. Sue and I battled on and after twenty minutes we were happily parked in a field given over to vehicles for this public holiday fete.

The traffic free streets of the hill top village housed stalls of all descriptions. We queued again for a dubious looking cheese roll, but gave up when the man making the rolls decided only to serve locals. The Spar shop next door wasn't so fussy, so we enjoyed a sparse but adequate lunch on a bench in the children's playground next to the church.

There were flowers strewn everywhere around the village, made from all manner of different materials, from metal to wool to actual real life flowers.

There wasn't a bicycle in sight, even outside the bar where peletons would normally be refuelling.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around, including visits to galleries of not to our taste artwork, and a natural history museum 'stuffed' full of birds and butterflies.

Our drive home at 3.30 took us into a storm that Robert and Lyn managed to avoid on their 20 mile ride. As we drove home the outside temperature plummeted from 19°C to 11°C as we passed numerous bedraggled pedalers on the way into Port Pollença, and our plans to stroll around town with ice creams were shelved until another day.

Dinner tonight, sourced from Lyn's favourite supermarket, Lidl, a place I avoid like the plague, is a take on a traditional Mallorcan dish (Hairy Bikers version) called Tumbet. 

Delicious.

A Mini-Adventure in a Limestone Gorge

Here's Sue's take on her Monday Walk. We have tried to post it as Nallo Lady but can't get that to work. Sorry the images are so small - they are full size as sent by Sue.

"With Martin out cycling with Robert and Lyn, it was a chance for me to do something sporting.

The Berlingo and I were initially challenged on the road across the mountains from Port de Pollença towards Soller, due to the number of cyclists climbing the hairpin-filled road.

Much of the journey was in first gear, awaiting an opportunity to overtake a peloton. It took some time to reach the start, a small car park by Bar Escorca, where my parking skills (on the edge of a precipice) were congratulated by four Germans who were sipping champagne to celebrate a birthday. 

My driving tension was dissipated by a coffee before a 11.45 start.

A sign indicated the dangers of the gorge (the Torrent de Pareis), but my route wasn't taking me all the way down to Sa Calobra.

The initial descent was gradual, next to fields in rocky woodland. I ignored a left hand turn to visit a window in the rock - quite impressive, then resumed the route, now with increased descent gradient and a view to the impressive gorge below. A zigzag path down the rugged hillside had no one else on it, until I reached the river bed at the bottom of the gorge where a group was picnicking. The river bed was full of boulders which made for slow progress, but here it was wide, and I enjoyed listening to the birds.

There were some big drops which were successfully negotiated before I arrived at S'Entreforc, the junction of two rivers. A diversion to Sa Fosca was well worth it, as the ravine narrowed until the rock walls were only a few feet apart, with light entering through just a narrow chink high above. Not fancying the enormous green boulder ahead, I turned round, then continued down the main gorge to a view point after which I suspect the difficulties grew. The limestone cliffs are impressive, with the sea in the distance. 

The silence in the gorge was lovely - just birds as there was not even any wind. I only saw four groups of people all day.

Rather than taking the same route back, I used the path high on the bank of the river, which was, to some extent, easier, but the razor-like grass (carritx) did a good job of slicing the flesh on my legs. This wasn't helped by getting slightly off-track on the return route up the zigzags into an area of carritx, which, of course, I had to reverse. I was cheered though on finding a packet of Viennese biscuits (from an Anglesey B&B) in my rucksack, whilst finding a wipe to remove blood from my knee.

Back at the car at 3.45pm, I was concerned that the return journey could take a while, due to cycle traffic. I needn't have worried, as the descent meant that they were usually going at around 50km/hour. There were two, however, that overtook me, at a speed of 70km/hour, and for quite some time I couldn't keep up with them! I finally did so, about 2km from Pollença!

A trip to Lidl completed my mini-adventure."