Simian Circles The adventure begins when the unplanned starts en Thu, 14 Sep 2023 05:48:30 GMT Farewell and Amen In 2011 I decided to get back on the road for a spell and headed for Spain in 2013. I had written my own blog software, found a decent backpack and took off. Being retired meant I didn't have to worry about finances, just be careful because my pension is meager. Thu, 14 Sep 2023 05:48:29 GMT Graffiti as I roam A couple of posts on this blog have graffiti as the theme. With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to see what scribblings and sprays are encountered while I'm on the road. The idea hit me as I walked through a pedestrian underpass of a main road on the very outskirts of Pamplona. Sun, 13 Aug 2023 20:25:09 GMT That time waiting While waiting for someone I know to have an operation, I found myself sitting amongst a variety of folk doing the same thing. Hanging around clinics or hospitals is not on my list of favourite things to do. My mind wandered a little, considering the subject of waiting. What was I during the wait? Writing this... Sun, 02 Jul 2023 08:53:41 GMT Spring 2023 Most Springs I am in good shape, this one I'm recovering from an operation. As usual the Spring post will be done, but over a longer period of time. Nature seems to be having a difficult time weatherwise as periods of cold were interspersed with warmer times and a very dry February. March had record rain came down, so there's no telling how this season will develop. Sat, 22 Apr 2023 12:11:56 GMT Convalescent trek It was the First of March and I was in hospital. I had wanted the operation to be on a Wednesday morning and that is exactly what happened. Wednesday morning 10 AM is the best time of the week for any job to be done well, people are at their peak. Mondays are a disaster, Fridays everyone is tired and the weekend pending. So there I was. Should I consider this an adventure? Fri, 31 Mar 2023 10:57:27 GMT Carob cookies I was bored, sitting around waiting for an op to be scheduled. Something had to be done, so I decided to make some cookies. For those of you who have done this before, you'll just have to bear with me, because I have never made a cookie in my life. My Grandma in the States used to make them and taught my mother as well. Other than that, the things are simply bought and dealt with in my mouth. Mon, 20 Mar 2023 12:23:33 GMT An afternoon in Tudela The boys were gathered in a circle, some yards from where I stood. Wandering over to them, I wanted to see just what was it was that they were so interested in. Standing on the upper lever where few were also seated, I saw their feet were all in the middle of the circle and the young lads were measuring them to see who had the largest feet. All of them wore white--because Tudela was having a festival. Thu, 02 Mar 2023 18:33:49 GMT Temporary refocus He sat on the top step, his battered old hat slightly down over his eyes and a bit cockeyed as though he had thrown it on his head without thinking. His right shoulder was in contact with the weathered concrete support to the doorway as he leaned against it. An old, somewhat threadbare, coat covered his upper body with two of its buttons missing, giving him little protection against the chilly breeze. Yet his eyes were sharp, not missing anything on the street or pavements. They shifted this way and that, as though he was expecting someone or something to appear. Mon, 27 Feb 2023 08:49:19 GMT A strange dangling thing There are times when history can catch up with you. It wasn't planned that way and other circumstances seemed to point in a different direction. Originally it seemed to have levelled out even though there were restrictions, but you managed. Then something happened and... Wed, 01 Feb 2023 08:34:48 GMT A Basque farewell Since 2013 I have spent a lot of time in the Basque Country, staying in Iruña (Pamplona) and using it as a travel hub. With Covid travel restrictions relaxing, I had put aside some time to consider what to do during the summer. One thing which appealed to me was to get into the mountains and enjoy the pollution free air. There are many small towns there which can only be reached by foot or car. Take a bus to a small hub and fan out from there. The decision was made to book my flight. In reflection, I have decided to include much of the time into one post. Read on... Mon, 28 Nov 2022 09:26:45 GMT San Fermin 2022 Around the world, the Covid Pandemic has brought about many changes. Some are needed, others not so. A lot of businesses went down, events cancelled and travelling had almost ground to a halt. With the Omicron version on us, the virus is a lot like the common cold, so things are laxing up somewhat. One aspect is that I can now fly, albeit more expensive, and the San Fermin can once again take place. Seeing that Pamplona has not held one for two years, this one is expected to be just a little bit crazy with 537 events and I am going to get in on some of it. Mon, 01 Aug 2022 14:10:33 GMT A bit too long in Legarda It took four days to find a room in Pamplona for the next three months. Oddly enough it is in the same set of apartments where I have usually stayed but on the next floor. My friends place was full, but Mike's mother contacted some folk on my behalf. One nice aspect is my room is on the interior, so the noise from the San Fermin will not keep me awake at nights. Once that was settled, I needed something to do before moving in a week later. Tue, 28 Jun 2022 18:54:46 GMT Back on the road With the lifting of a lot of restrictions, I spent some time looking at flight costs. Nearly all the airlines have gone crazy with their prices. Before the pandemic I could fly to Bilbao for around 50 UKP. Now it's nearly 600 Pounds with a 10 to 16 hour layover in Madrid. As a result it worked out a lot cheaper by booking a direct flight to Madrid and taking it from there. Mon, 06 Jun 2022 19:58:25 GMT Periwinkles and butterflies The thought of doing a Spring post the days just before the season hit seemed like a good idea, then the weather changed and I had to wait. A lot depends on location for this because there are regions where all kinds of flowers have already bloomed. The south of London has its various parks and commons, I have a nature reserve a few stops down the line and often go there, so did. It was a month later, the full season has not quite arrived yet Fri, 15 Apr 2022 19:05:24 GMT Not the usual sort of thing We go places and take photographs of the regular type of stuff, but not everything is in that category. Occasionally something is seen which is out of the ordinary. Thu, 24 Feb 2022 09:41:51 GMT Finally a lightweight laptop I began writing up my travel experiences over ten years ago. There were not all that many bloggers around doing such back then and some of us relate to each other. There are two things common to us all, a camera and laptop. Due to a spinal injury decades before, I cannot carry a heavy backpack. The heaviest item in mine has been my laptop. A few times that has been left at home and a tablet used in conjunction with a smartphone, to make things easier. Sun, 19 Dec 2021 08:52:19 GMT The last page is missing Imagine reading a book which page by page yields good stuff, then you come to the end and that page is not there, so you don't know how it finishes. Since 2013 I have been going to the Basque Country and staying in the city of Pamplona. Sat, 16 Oct 2021 21:58:04 GMT Some asides This is just a few little things that I'm doing during the lockdown and some changes. Sort of like catching up on stuff, keeping myself amused and coming to terms with some of the kit I travel with. Sat, 02 Oct 2021 16:57:21 GMT Madrid memory This year marks the tenth anniversary of running this blog. As I sat in my studio going over the decade there was one place I had mentioned, but didn't really write down much about it. For the first twenty-one months travels were taken in England, nearly all those posts have been removed because it's one serious rip off and not worth the effort. In 2013 I got back on the road outside it. The one place I wanted to go was Madrid, Spain. It was there I took a wrong turn decades before and I decided to go back to the city. Wed, 01 Sep 2021 07:20:24 GMT You' re gonna love California My father told me to go out and make some friends. I stood on a small front lawn of the little 3 bedroom house with the thought that all my life I'd been told not to and didn't know how. After Dad got out of the intelligence game and went full time military, we ended up at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Washington. In September I would enter my tenth school as a Sophomore at nearby Medical Lake High School, a ropey little place which always makes me think of swimming in a pond of cough syrup. An entirely new episode of life lay before me. I had no bodyguards, no one was trying to kidnap or kill me and I honestly hadn't a clue of what to do with a bit of freedom. Thu, 01 Jul 2021 09:35:19 GMT About those ego travellers There are times when I'm off the road that I get bored and want to do something different. Such was the case, before the pandemic, it was time to go a tourist watching. Normally I leave the camera at home, this time I took some photo's. Tue, 01 Jun 2021 07:36:13 GMT Unplanned and unwanted I awoke early, just before 7am, got up and put the kettle on for a cup of coffee. The heating does not begin until 8am, so I put something warm on and went onto the balcony. A heavy frost had occurred during the night and everything was covered with the resulting white crystals. Shivering is not my idea of fun so went back in, did the usual email check and see what garbage the main stream news media were spouting. Then, after a while of doing a few bits and pieces on the hobby side of things, I thought a quick wash would be nice, that's when the adventure began and I'm not even on the road. Sat, 16 Jan 2021 21:06:32 GMT Those astonishing circumstances Occasionally you end up in a strange situation. It happens almost naturally and when you're in the middle of it, astonishment takes over and you wonder how on earth it all took place. This probably happens to some of us, we wander along quite innocently and then, there it is. You've suddenly made a discovery: full of awe, thinking along the lines of impending death, or both. Thu, 03 Dec 2020 11:27:55 GMT Sitting and staring One thing I notice when out and about, particularly in touristy places, are people rushing about from venue to another. The selfie sticks are out as members of the horde jostle for position in hopes of grabbing themselves in a photo with some building, which everyone must of course see, behind their faces. If it's not that, their smartphones are doing the same or some poor iPhone lemming is lost to the world as she fingers out, I'm in front of the Eiffel Tower right now, etc-etc. I even see some when I'm out hiking. Thu, 17 Sep 2020 20:49:50 GMT King of traffic jams London is huge. Like very big with an attitude. Every town and city have rush hours, but here we are talking 3+ hours each way. The workers come by train, tram, bus, car, truck, coach, motorcycle, bicycle and foot, millions of them each day. So you get used to it. The road I live on is near the edge of the megalopolis. It normally has a bit of traffic in the morning and evening, but not a huge amount. Some time before the lockdown, I got up and looked out the window. There was the usual amount of traffic, so I thought. Sun, 05 Jul 2020 23:02:38 GMT Finding things to do when you can' t get on the road We ain't going nowhere. The current situation has put a clamp on just about everything, especially those of us who are travel writers. Many of you are locked down in one country or another and are having to take some new steps in regards to money or try to keep from going stir crazy. Thu, 23 Apr 2020 14:00:57 GMT Water and bloom Spring has officially arrived and it looks like we are, finally, about to have some good weather. Waterlogged ground, floods and other little nasties have been hitting us since the end of September last year. That's almost 6 months of wet and miserable with maybe a few days of sun, plus, yet another Chinese Virus. Normally I wait until late April or May to write up my Spring post, but decided to do it differently this year. Sat, 21 Mar 2020 14:04:52 GMT Stay home Normally I am not one to let outside things hold me back from being on the road. Heck, I've been doing that most of my life. Sitting quietly on my balcony, watching the same old stuff go by is about as boring as it can get. The sky was grey and the ground wet, but the thought came, I'm going to have to get used to this for a while, like it or not. Sat, 14 Mar 2020 10:45:45 GMT Pamplona without the leaves The day previously: airports, some trains and other public transportation had been shut down due a storm which was three mile per hour short of a hurricane. I had decided not to reschedule my flight and took the chance it might fly as the train bore me to the airport. Departure time was 0825, but upon arrival found that to be delayed for half an hour, which became longer. England was still recovering from the messy weather. Eventually we taxied out to the end of the runway around 0940. The wind was still having a field day with strong gusts shaking the aircraft. Take off was interesting as we bounced around the sky until reaching a quiet altitude, I was finally on my way to Bilbao. Sun, 01 Mar 2020 07:40:55 GMT A winnowing in the offing Last summer in the Basque Country saw me only visit two towns, one of which was worthwhile. The rest of the time I got to know more people and keep up with the ones I previously knew. It was enjoyable in a different way than before and now things are going to be approached from another angle. Wed, 22 Jan 2020 20:30:45 GMT Don' t I wish It was just an ordinary ride on a local bus. When the temperature is pretending to be the Titantic and sinking rapidly, it's much nicer to be warm than freeze my tuchus off walking the half mile or so to the supermarket. A lady behind me was chatting to her friend and mentioning how she wished she had done something many years ago, but didn't. Wed, 01 Jan 2020 08:17:57 GMT Sometimes you just need a laugh With all the seriousness in epidemic mode around the world, there needs to be some kind of relief every now and then. I don't recall what set my mind in motion about what happened many years ago, but I managed a good chuckle about a couple of the things a friend and I got up to during and after our senior year in high school. Sat, 02 Nov 2019 00:59:39 GMT A festival and change of plans I discovered this year in Pamplona that there are Street festivals for many of the streets in the old town. These take place during the summer months at various times. Some are small, others are quite large. Thu, 03 Oct 2019 12:37:39 GMT 3 hours in Artajona The nights are getting quite cool now in Pamplona, so I grabbed a bus to a big store some distance away and bought a fleece. For the last month I've been wearing sandals, not something I normally do. The heels were hard and my right knee began to hurt. I like the sandals, but reckoned they are not worth a damaged knee and trashed them. It was nice to wear gel-heeled shoes again and the fleece was coming in handy. The weather on the day I chose to check out the town of Artajona was forecast to be on the cool side, so slung it into my small pack and grabbed a bus. Sun, 01 Sep 2019 14:47:37 GMT Durango The sheriff of Durango caught the outlaws and slung them in jail. At least that's the way we think of it. The name of the town conjures images of cowboys and the wild west. Indeed, it used to be just that. Kind of like Yuma and Deadwood. Many western movies were shot in Durango, Colorado and also the Mexican town of the same name. There's even a narrow gauge railroad named the Durango and Silverton which runs steam trains left over from the old Colorado mountain railroads, such as the Denver and Rio Grande Western. Okay, that's fine, but where does the name come from? Thu, 15 Aug 2019 19:29:32 GMT Buses and a concrete artist I find it interesting how pricing changes for flights. The use of companies which do all the booking for you is, basically, one serious rip off. I manage my own with the airlines direct and nearly always save hundreds of dollars by doing so. This trip to Pamplona saw even the airlines pricing jump around all over the place. From 189 UKP to 60 UKP, for the same flight no less. Obviously I chose the latter and did that only a few days before I left. Sat, 20 Jul 2019 17:53:37 GMT The Kilmer connection He watched carefully as the patrol moved. The G98 was raised slowly and the sniper picked his target. A soldier slightly off to one side. The shooter adjusted the sight and as the man slowed down a little, pulled the trigger. It was the First World War, a man named Joyce Kilmer received that bullet and died. He was a poet and one of his poems fits into the category of over used, or does it? Fri, 05 Jul 2019 09:38:14 GMT Cutting it down and fixing it up In an earlier post I mentioned the new pack I'd bought to use for my Israel trip and other shorter journeys. It's a 20 Litre Gonex, weighs 6.5 ounces, is well made and in a downpour one day, everything stayed dry inside. Greg asked if I'd do a write up about the total weight and how I did that. So here it is. Thu, 28 Feb 2019 16:03:23 GMT Once upon a time in the Negev Even though it's winter, the sun is higher in the sky than I'm used to. In a way that's a good thing because my eyes were spared the near horizon glare of our star. Stepping off the road onto the sand produced a sound I haven't heard since leaving Southern California many years ago. The familiar crunch brought memories back to my mind as I proceeded into Israel's Negev Desert. Tue, 15 Jan 2019 23:08:12 GMT Charles When in Porto a few years ago, I noticed a lot of homeless people all over the place. It was an early afternoon and I had only been there a few days, still looking for a room to rent. I crossed the main street and this guy came up to me begging. His clothes were a bit tattered and his English wasn't too bad. I gave him some Euros and reckoned that I wouldn't see him again. Sat, 06 Oct 2018 10:25:49 GMT About those Expats I stood in amazement as this white, middle class, Englishman ranted on to me, with various obscene expletives, about how stupid everyone was who came to Florence and wanted to see the David statue. Only he was correct, not anyone else, because he thought art was defined purely by himself. The locals called him, "the crazy Englishman". They couldn't stand the idiot and I totally agreed with them. He is an Expat. Sat, 15 Sep 2018 11:00:17 GMT Three hours to kill in Paris Crossing a major city from one train terminal to another is always a trial, especially if you don't speak the language. There they are, streets denoted by signs with strange symbols on, buildings different than what you are used to seeing and unusual aromas. At first a small wow factor arises, only to be followed by some expletive announcing your complete frustration and beginnings of panic realizing you might have gotten lost, wondering if you'll ever find your way back to the terminal you emerged from so you could start over and not miss the train at the other station. Paris is no exception and their Metro leaves a few things to be desired. A change in departure day from London, a while back, saw me save 140 UK Pounds to get to Biarritz, plus I would have a decent layover on the way. Mon, 13 Aug 2018 23:25:09 GMT Tossa de Mar The Costa Brava is one of those places I usually give a miss. Mile upon mile of package holiday beaches and a whole bunch of de Mars. My friend Catalán liked to get out and stroll the beaches. One day we all bundled into the car and drove, a fair way, to a town that was quite different. Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:31:13 GMT Seven and then Going from a to b in London, at any time, is a pain in the butt. Doing that at 2am is a nightmare. There are night buses, but being dropped off in Trafalgar Square at 3 am is dicey. The place is full of low life and I just didn't want the hassle and then pay a black cab's exorbitant after midnight fare only to have found the train from Paddington station to Heathrow had been changed from 4am to 5am--I wanted to check in at that time. Thu, 05 Jul 2018 11:30:16 GMT Faces of the San Fermin One of the things about large festivals, is the number of people and what they look like. The San Fermin attracts millions of visitors from around the world to it's 9 days of merrymaking in Pamplona. As I was looking through a bunch of my old shots and those of Greg Rodgers, the thought occurred to do a post about the faces of the party. Fri, 04 May 2018 08:18:24 GMT