OUR TRAVELS!

Part Three

Already I realise that I’ve placed these posts in slightly the wrong order – I knew I should have started writing this blog earlier!

No matter – just to say that it was Peñiscola from whence we made our ‘escape’ through Cataluña into France, not from our overnight stay at Bodega Flors. Quickly to point out, again, that all our travelling has been undertaken abiding by all Covid 19 rules/laws/protocols – it wasn’t an ‘escape’.

On speaking to Dutch, French and Norwegian campers in Peñiscola (a few days after Claire’s amazing busking beneath the iconic castle) we learned that campevans were allowed to cross the Valencia/Cataluña border as long as we didn’t stop overnight, making it into France, with an address to go to once there. Of course, we checked this with the appropriate authorities.

This we arrived in a rather quiet, frankly disappointing St. Cyprien, France at a campsite which we were informed was open over Winter. It was, but that was about it. We recharged our batteries (ours, not Campy’s as she was fine!) for two nights, leaving next for Avignon – Le Pont, of course, plus another wonderful experience, including a fabulous busking session from the lovely Claire!

Avignon has become one of my favourite ever cities! We were camped virtually on the banks of the Rhône, with the iconic bridge and beautiful city but a lengthy angler’s cast away.

As night fell I took this photo of the Papal Palace, the ancient walls etc – really, a wonderfully evocative place (though photographers amongst you will lament the quality of the shot, I know!).

We took several trips into the city on Scoots (yes, sad I know, but that’s our ace Peugot 125i scooter’s name!) visiting the excellent indoor market, viewing the outside (all museums Covid closed, malheureusement!) of the time-aged historical buildings, admiring the wonderful architecture and simply drinking-in the history of the old city. Magnificent!

We were also wondering where Claire might do some singing – by the palace, in front of the market, at one of the gates through the city walls? However, a walk one sunny Saturday from the campsite along the Rhône towards the Pont d’Avignon showed us where it had to be! There were lots of people sitting on grass and tree stumps alongside the river, walking the dog, exercising, chatting, enjoying picnics etc. It was really beautiful, and nicely busy.

Here an inquisitive girl stops her bike-ride to listen to one of Claire’s first songs – soon there was a well socially-distanced crowd gathering! A couple of ladies danced, everybody clapped each song, Claire’s hat almost ranneth over. Another truly moving, wonderful and beautiful event.

To see some of Claire’s video’s (shot by me, so don’t expect Hollywood!) of her singing please click here https://www.facebook.com/clairemarie.soprano.7

Also, you may want to visit this very brief video of the two of us dancing, not sur le pont, but sous le pont (as one old story would have us believe was actually the case, but this time largely because the pont was closed!) – please visit https://www.facebook.com/100009478376720/videos/2916674995325084/, when you have the chance!

So, that concludes Part Three of Our Travels!

All comments very welcome – we hope you enjoyed reading and viewing!

Colin and the lovely Claire!

OUR TRAVELS!

Part Two

22/02/2021

Well, thank you so much for all the positive comments you’ve sent me regarding the revival of my Blog, telling of our adventures on our travels! It really is appreciated!

Although aiming for Italy, we also wanted to see some of the parts of Valencia that we didn’t know. Also, of course, we had to take account of the changing Covid rules etc. So, when we left Benicàssim we were delighted to have been invited to visit Bodega Flors, a leading winery of the IGP Castelló.

This all came about via a Tweet I posted asking wine friends to recommend a winery to visit not far from where we were. Three respondents recommended the same bodega – photo above!

I contacted the winery and spoke to founder and owner, Vicente Flors, who wasn’t at all fazed by my asking: a) for a visit and tasting , b) for an overnight stay – in our campervan, c), if possible the use of a toilet overnight (I’ll be in trouble from Claire for including that!), and d) maybe to plug in our electricity! Yes, I know – I’ve got a cheek!

Well what a character Vicente is! The three of us hit it off harmoniously, rather like a fine blended wine! We tasted several wines, all real quality, with Vicente telling us the story of how he left banking to take over and completely change the family wine business, from local bulk wine producer, to fine quality bottled wines – served in Gourmet and Michelin starred restaurants!

You can read the story of our visit and the story of the bodega on the 5Barricas articles page on this site – please do, the wines are well worth seeking out. Plus, when life returns to normality you may well want to take advantage of the special dinners he arranges at Bodega Flors, accompanied by his wines, of course, with music, and finally – an astronomer who guides us through the sky at night!

We really want to attend one of these wonderful, unique events!

Look out for Bodega Flors wines – and you can order online. I recommend you do!

Many thanks for reading Part Two – all comments are most welcome!

Ciao (that gives you an idea of where we are right now!)

OUR TRAVELS!

Sat. 13/02/2021

Hola, Bonjour, Ciao, Hello!

A mixture of languages because we are, as many will know, travelling, in our splendid Campervan, affectionately known as Campy! Initially in Europe – from Spain to France (where we are now – Côte d’Azure) and very soon to Italy, and then who knows.

And it’s our experiences in la belle France that have inspired me to resurrect my Blog to which, as you can see below, I last contributed a whole two years ago, coincidentally almost to the day. The wonderful time we spent last week, was a highlight of an already excellent trip and I wanted to make sure it was recorded somewhere for people who are interested to follow.

This thought made me realise that there are likely to be other amazing experiences during our, what, two/three year adventure, in which people may also be interested. Hence, the revival of my Blog.

This will not be a day-to-day entry, diary style – this would perhaps be interesting to us in the future, but boring to most. So, my idea is to note exceptional experiences, visits, and so on, for readers to delve into as and when the whim takes them.

That said, a brief (I promise!) intro to our trip, including our experiences in Spain before we arrived in France would, I think, be useful as well as paying tribute to one remarkable visit we enjoyed so much in the north of the Valencia region as well as the first of many special ‘events’.

At this point I think it also important to state that we have been, and will continue to be observing all Covid 19 protocols, rules, laws and indeed common sense measures, in all areas of all countries we visit. Irresponsible, we are not!

So, to quickly conclude this, the first entry, let me say that we left our rented accommodation (in Cumbre del Sol, Benitachell) on the last day of 2020 (now there’s a year to forget!), starting our new year the following day in Benicássim, where we were delighted to meet up with Claire’s Uncle David – (Hola David, if you are reading!)

Several days later we moved to Peñiscola (where not only El Cíd, with Charlton Heston, was filmed, but also, new to me, Game of Thrones – not that I’ve seen any of it); and Benicarló, camped equidistant from both. It was in the former town where Claire-Marie Soprano performed her first street concert (busking gig) in a charming square beneath the walls of the majestic castle.

And what a success – the locals (not many [any?] tourists) absolutely loved it! The high-point for us was when 6 burly, leather-clad, multiply tattooed bikers, parked their huge hogs just in front of Claire’s ‘stage’, sitting with absolute respect on their bikes waiting for her to finish the song. They loved it so much, each contributing to Claire’s ‘cap’, that they stayed for more songs before walking off. When they returned they were just about to start their engines when Claire started ‘Ave Maria’, apparently the favourite of one of the bikers, who insisted they all wait until she finished, before revving off into the sunset! Priceless!

Next post soon – telling of our visit to the wonderful Bodega Flors, IGP Castelló, where we started something of a tradition, as you’ll see when/if(?) you continue to follow this Blog.

Many thanks for your time!

Alimentaria Anecdotes Day Two

Alimentaria Anecdotes – continued, Day Two!

Well, Alimentaria, and the exhibitors present will be pleased with the second day of the large* wine/food fair held every two years in Barcelona. The number of visitors has increased from the first day and the aren look busy!

However, the * above will help keep feet on the ground! I’ve substituted the word ‘Huge’, used in the fist Anecdote, preferring instead the word – ‘large’. It seems to be related to the law of diminishing returns!

My blog yesterday was about how there were fewer exhibitors than in previous years – this has been highlighted again today by a further trip around the Intervin Hall today. Too much unused space (therefore revenue-less!) and too many extraneous stands which, really should be in the food halls. I wonder why.

Well, having asked others – it seems I got it right yesterday. It’s too expensive to exhibit and the demand for stands at Fenavin, the competition may well exceed the space available. A source said, “It’s [Alimentaria] dying!”, for these reasons.

Disappointing.

But it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. VinorumThink – is an excellent innovation, as I said yesterday. High profile speakers are presenting tastings of high quality, and they are all organised very professionally. Plus, those exhibitors who have arrived are very pleased to talk and present their wares.

I went to two Vinorum presentations on Day Two. The first was ‘The Best Wines in Spain’ according to the Proensa Guide. This followed yesterday’s final presentation, which I also attended, with the same name –  but according to Guia Peñin! So who’s right?

Well, it’s not really like that – each publication has its highest pointers and the presenters selected 9 for us to taste – there could have been more, of course, and I think there had been a deliberate attempt to make sure that wines were not used in both tastings, despite their probably figuring in each guide. Sensible – and better for the tasters who attended both!

There was some controversy, in my book at least, re the Proensa tasting. I follow this guide, if not like the Bible, at least very closely. But I’d take issue with Señor Proensa’s declaration, for example, ‘To talk about natural wines means that all that we have tasted today are unnatural.’ And, for another example – ‘Bio-dynamic production is just a marketing argument.’

I also went to Victor de la Serna and Juancho Asenjo’s presentation ‘ The evolution of Spanish Wines’ – as perceived by their magazine El Mundo Vino. This was an excellent opportunity to taste super wines from various different locations – including, near to my base, Utiel-Requena and Alicante!

I also like to attend here the tastings organised by Cataluña – smaller, but alwyas interesting and well planned, with good speakers too.

Tomorrow the final day – with more reflections, more anecdotes!

Photos from all three days to follow!