Archive for Spain

Wind…what’s going on!?

Posted in Cooking, Fun, Photographs, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , on February 22, 2010 by maidofmettle

It seems the med is seeing a pretty bad winter. The area of Spain we are currently in has seen enough rainfall to last 3 years resulting in major floods and landslides. Velez itself has suffered a bit; the men’s toilet building overturned onto the path by the beach and a few trees fell in a big wind shortly after we arrived.

We have seen a bit of sunshine but the Easterly wind we need to get to Gibraltar and our date with the monkeys is remaining illusive so consequently we are still here. It has been a good opportunity to rest, explore and look into starting some of the jobs that need doing.

We have now experimented a bit with a horizontal lift system for a man (or woman) overboard. Using the smallest sail we have, you can create a sort of whole body sling that in theory scoops the casualty up out of the water using the winches on the mast. We are yet to try it in the water but it looks like it could work well. Given a few waves and the weight of the water we’ll have to see how it works on a sea trial when it gets warm enough for a swim.

Our friend Axel popped by the other day with his hire car and we had a lovely day exploring inland, including a picnic in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada (ski resort) and the gardens of the Moorish Palace the Alhambra. We didn’t like to think that it was only England who was enjoying all the snow.

In the mountains

Our snow creation

Due to popular demand and cries of “what do you cook whilst on board?” For an introductory bargain price of absolutely nothing per month (usual price £24.99 per month) we are proud to present part I of:

Cooking With MOM

– Your guide to making anything with an oven that wouldn’t cook a roasted quail.

Pete’s not very hot (but yummy) Tesco’s hot curry powder curry




Tinned tomatoes


Tesco’s hot curry powder (small quantity of)



“It was the [second] time that we met…Barcelona!”

Posted in Fun, Photographs, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , on January 21, 2010 by maidofmettle

Contrary to the words of Freddie mercury back in 1992 when the city was host to the olympics, Chris and I were lucky enough to come to Barcelona in the summer last year so we have enjoyed seeing some of our favourite sites for a second time and acting as tour guides (a bit) for Pete.

We did a few days of motoring (and occasional sailing) mostly in no wind to get here and in the absence of a great forecast for moving on (and the fact we wanted to stay for at least a day) we have had plenty of time to see things and relax a bit.  It can be a bit difficult knowing from day to day what you’re going to be do and if you are still going to be somewhere because our lives are dictated somewhat by what the weather chooses to do.  The uncertainty is going to have to be something to get used to even if it is a struggle.

On the way in to Barcelona

About 3 miles from our intended port in Barcelona a motor boat came from nowhere out of the mist and head directly towards us…we moved, they moved…we moved again, they moved.  Hmmm we thought, what on earth are they doing maintaining a deliberate collision course?!  It was only when they got a little closer that we realised they were in fact the Spanish police on the look out for boats so they could check our passports, the boat’s papers and have a quick look around the boat presumably to check for drugs.  I suppose they might have wondered why anyone would be out in the misty, damp and slightly cold Mediterranean winter so were pulling boats in to the nearest port, which then added at least an hour on to our original journey plan.  The police let us go having checked everything and then refused Chris’ kind offer to take their photograph…one of the three claiming he was too shy and the other two looking slightly scary at the prospect of having their photos taken!  Anyway, we got one of their boat instead.

The guardia with another boat

It’s a little quieter than when we were here but the city still has appeal in the form of a lots of giant things… a giant fish,  a giant gherkin,  a woolly mammoth and you guessed it…the giant ostentatious cathedral courtesy of Gaudi who never actually finished making it in his lifetime.  The people of Barcelona are still finishing it but even now it is incredibly impressive and resembles a scene out of melted wax on one side and angular on the other.  I like it.

Just one of the giant things in Barcelona

The unfinished cathedral

We’ve eaten out a couple of times, both of which were very nice.  We bravely tried “carpaccio of beef”, which on its arrival turned out to be very thin slices of raw beef with a salad.  I had wrongly thought it might be some kind of beef wrapped in pastry parcels…still we have learned now and it was actually surprisingly good if a little disturbing.

Today, walking down the main tourist street Las Ramblas we spotted someone who likes vegetables even more than Pete does…

Anyone for garlic?

Viva Espagne

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Mediterranean Sea with tags , , on January 13, 2010 by maidofmettle

I’d love to say we had an amazing sail for the 100 or so nautical miles from Port de Bouc to L’Escala in Spain.  Although in reality I was excited to see land for many more reasons other than it being a different country to explore!

The sailing started out quite nicely with calm water and a reasonable amount of wind.  We’d had an excellent looking forecast for 48 hours that would be more than enough to cover the journey across the Gulf de Lion that separated us from Spain.

In fact it wasn’t all bad at first…I practised a few things such as plotting navigation markers on the chart, reefing the main-sail to make it small enough to use as the wind increased and generally gaining confidence with crawling around on deck whilst on the move.  Our new crew member “Horace” the Hydrovane (self steering device) got its first outing and was impressive, encouraging the real crew to be more rested and concentrate a bit more on navigation and so on.

We saw the sun set and with some trepidation continued sailing into the night.  I was particularly dreading going into the cabin to get to sleep after feeling slightly off colour since the afternoon.

Sunset before the waves came up

The night was uncomfortable to say the least.  None of us expected the waves to be breaking (occasionally jumping over the side and landing on the poor people in the cockpit) and though it wasn’t too bad, the sea did seem a little rougher than I expected from the forecast.

Having said that, both Chris and I had our minds put off the waves by feeling horrendously ill for the whole night.  Sea sickness is not fun and whoever thought it would be Chris who succumbed to it first!  Luckily Pete seemed to be oblivious to the rocking motion of the boat in the waves and appeared as if by magic to carry on as normal.  Anyone who can go into the cabin and act normally by reading charts and managing to do anything without any ill effects is amazing if you ask me.   Needless to say we got through the night but it was difficult to sleep and pretty cold outside too.  The choice between being cold and being ill is a tricky one especially when there is a chance of being both when you’re outside in the dark without a clear view of the horizon…yay!

The night sailing did have some advantages.  We got an amazing view of the stars and some glowing phospherescence in the water.  Lots of little bits of green something or other that looked like little glow-worms flicking about in our wake and occasional breaking waves of green.

Almost as soon as it had picked up the wind died down again to almost nothing in the morning which meant we had to get the motor back on to make sure we didn’t have another night at sea.

After about 30 hours of sailing we arrived extremely tired into L’Escala and negotiated some tricky mooring…just what you need when all you want to do is go to sleep.

This morning we took a well earned lie in and then explored a bit.

beach and copper boy at L'Escala

It’s nice here and we found our first beaches since Calais.  Need to pick up some Spanish.  Between us I think we can say hello, thank you, two beers please and can I have the bill.  It’s bizarre too that it would be now that we start thinking in French and dropping in French phrases by accident.