Paraje Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce

Paraje Natural Desembocadura del Guadalhorce
(The Guadalhorce River Estuary Natural Area)

Just after the new year, I noticed that the Junta de Andalucía was publicising the fact that it was to promote the continuance and completion of the Malaga Coastal Path. Also see: Senda Litoral de Malaga. Part of this continuance/completion was to be a bridge over the Guadalhorce Estuary.

framed-guadlehorceLater that week I was talking to Michael and Sheila, in Los Boliches and became aware that this area (the Guadalhorce Estuary) was especially good for birdlife and that there were a number of excellent walks in the vicinity. We’d never really heard of it before.

Further research showed that …

The [Guadalhorce] river branches off into two sections just before joining the Mediterranean, creating a swathe of land that is one of the most ecologically varied in Andalucia. (1)

… and as we had previously walked along various stretches of the coastal path, thought it would be a good idea to check it out.

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Sky View

So, on Monday we set off with a picnic, to explore the area.

From the west, it’s easy to find if you’re driving; simply follow the signs for the airport and then, just as you leave the MA20 (for the airport) take the Guadalmar exit. At the first roundabout, turn immediately right into the Guadalmar estate and then turn immediately left on the next, smaller roundabout.  Park outside the church you see here. Or, instead of turning left at the roundabout, take the second exit and follow signs to the river mouth, where there is more parking, close to the beach. Access to the reserve is via the beach or via a bridge higher up the river, nearer to the church.

The road that runs parallel to the river down from the church is one-way (the wrong way).

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Aerial View

We tried both areas and chose, at first to use the beach area parking. I’d read that the nature reserve was criss-crossed with paths ideal for cycling, so assumed (silly me) that we would be ok exploring on our scooters. So, we parked, decided to leave the picnic in the boot while we explored and set off scootering along the river side.  It took us about two minutes to realise that what is a good surface for walking and cycling is not a good surface for scootering.  The pea gravel surface made it difficult for us, so we returned to the car and moved on up to the previously mentioned church.IMG_1200

From this point, we were able to easily access the bridge over the river and into the reserve.  Again, as we were not sure of facilities or distances, we left the picnic in the boot and set off once again, this time on foot, to explore.

We didn’t do the reserve justice in any shape or form as we only gave ourselves an hour and on foot, that simply isn’t enough time. We walked down the central pathway and found a hide, from where we could view all manner of water birds in a fairly small lagoon.

If we had had the time to explore more of the site, we know that there are several other hides and several other lagoons to find. Circular walks are possible and if you feel adventurous, you can try the beach – which might just be a nudist beach. We can’t be certain, because from where we were on our first ‘set-off’ on the scooters, we could see onto the beach, over the river. The sight of two naked men was surprising but not entirely convincing. Because of the distance (and the reluctance to use the binoculars to check) it was difficult to see for any degree of certainty, whether they were wearing trunks.

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So, we’ll come again and maybe next time we’ll record some birds that we recognise – the web sites suggest flamingos and all sorts of exotica – but for now, Moorhens, Coots and Mandarin-type ducks were seen. And a bird of prey that acted like a kestrel but wasn’t a kestrel.

We eventually had lunch on the rocks, with friends, outside the chiringuito on the Safo Beach side of Guadalmar Beach.

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Friends

Information:

https://www.spain-holiday.com/Malaga-city/articles/guadalhorce-river-estuary-natural-area-malaga  (1)

http://www.andalucia.org/en/natural-spaces/nature-site/desembocadura-del-guadalhorce/

http://www.andalucia.com/environment/protect/guadalhorce.htm

Aerial View picture credit:

http://www.malagaturismo.com/en/tourist-resources/detail/natural-area-of-the-estuary-of-the-guadalhorce/461

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Africa

Some of the greatest things to experience whilst out here in Spain at this time of year, are the fabulous sunsets.

You can pretty much tell the time by the way in which the sun heads towards and then disappears behind the mountains behind us.  At Christmas, the sun finally disappears just before six o’clock and now, towards the end of January, its creeping past half past six. (That’s probably still a good couple of hours after it disappears at home.) It’s not yet dark, but the sun had ‘gone’.img_1018

There follows a fabulous golden glow all across the horizon which, over about half an hour, turns a glorious deep russet red – and then gradually fades. When the atmospheric conditions are correct, and if there no clouds about, we get some fabulous views of the north African coast way over the other side of the sea. Africa must be 60-80 miles away, as the crow flies.

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That is just too far to get anything like a decent photo of what we can see with the naked eye. Last night though, the African coast was brought into even clearer context as one of the many ships that pass along the Mediterranean had managed to catch some of the dying sun and it shone like it was on fire.  This bright mid-point gave us a much clearer second focal point and made the distant coast seem even closer.

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Fabulous.

Netflix

13942782618113Due to an offer at Carrefour-Mijas being too good to miss, we now own a Smart T.V. that interrogates the WiFi better than we ever thought possible. Our internet signal here is not great (6 mbps) and watching English language T.V. stations through our 32” Sony Bravia, via other attachments (and the resulting variety of wires) was the best we could do.

We don’t have satellite here in Spain, so watching English terrestrial T.V. stations via a Virtual Private Network VPN on the computer was the only real way we could do that. This often meant downloading a programme overnight when the local internet traffic was lighter, as watching live is (still) nigh on impossible.

appletvAlso, since September, we have had an Apple T.V. which gave us access to whatever U.K. online offers were allowed in Spain. It still needed a variety of wires though as the router doesn’t seem able to cope with transferring programmes wirelessly from the Apple T.V. without buffering.

Now, with our new telly, we can access Netflix via the T.V. itself, making the Apple T.V. and the computers redundant for that purpose. However, we can still only access UK main channels via a VPN on the computer, which then needs to be HDMI’d to the T.V.

Such fun.

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But, what fun!  We have now invested in an international, online VPN (previously the one we used, was set-up in the U.K.) and as a result we can now also access American Netflix, which has so much more content. We’re finally catching up on The Blacklist; something we started several watching (via probably illegal jailbroken attempts) on our now defunct FireStick.

Anyone want a perfectly viewable 32” Sony Bravia T.V. (approx. 6 years old)? Best offer: buyer collects.

Christmas & New Year ’18

Since my last post I’ve blogged another ‘Spain’ issue elsewhere and Christmas has come and gone, along with New Year and Three Kings.

It’s been such a busy fortnight.

David and Gail joined us on Christmas day, for a nicely relaxing Christmas meal interspersed with watching the final episodes of BBC’s Professional Masterchef, which I’d managed to download for offline viewing. e9b9dc11-259c-4a2c-a0a2-df832ed3cde4David and Gail provided a starter of jamón and queso along with a delightful fish course made of mixed fish topped with sauce, a pancake and then baked. Delicious.  I’d made a Beef Bourguignonne the same way I always do.  It was tasty and well-cooked but somehow lacked the depth of flavour it has had before. Perhaps the red-wine remnants I freeze and then use (at home) are more flavour packed than fresh Rioja? This was accompanied by Daupinoise potatoes, creamed potatoes and some beautiful haricot beans. Sharon provided a sticky toffee pudding and sauce to round things off.  We’d been to Marleen’s with David and Gail the previous evening, but as it was music night I’d not heard much of what anyone said, so it was nice to have time to talk and relax in good company. 

A lovely day.

Betony and Josh arrived in Malaga, with Chester late on 29th December.

Because we didn’t know what room they would need in the car, I went alone to pick them up. The boot was magnificent (the car is just a tiny Corsa, so it did well) but failed to take the pushchair (packed up as it was) and this had to sit along the rear seat backs until we arrived back at the apartment. This is contrary to their departure, when daylight, experience and some organisation allowed us to fit everything in the boot AND to fit Sharon in the back seat with Betony and the baby. Lol.1bdc7bc1-e2dc-49ca-b1b1-6651f475c62b

We looked after Chester a few times, to allow B and J to visit here and there but we also had a few trips together – the main one being to the bank in Marbella (see other post). On our way back, we took time to have a stroll around the old town of Marbella and along its promenade. We then had lunch in Cala de Mijas, following a short walk along the boardwalk. We also visited Mijas itself one day but it was bitterly cold that day, so we didn’t stay too long.

img_0659Sharon and I went to see the Three Kings Parade in Fuengirola on Saturday (5th). This is a big thing in Spain and traditionally it’s the evening that children get their ‘Christmas’ presents. It’s also a day of parades and most major towns and cities have one. Here, in Fuengirola, it consists of a variety of floats (mainly cinema-film themed) touring a given route and throwing tons (actual tons) of sweets around for the children lining the streets. The procession of floats takes approximately 45-60 minutes to pass any one point!

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygw55918WcQ

Now the family have gone back home, Sharon has some work to catch up with and we still have the bank to sort out (hopefully, later today). And, the car has developed an intermittent fault, which I hope to get fixed next week, having found a ‘British’ mechanic locally. We’ll see how that goes.

Happy New Year.

Birthday Surprise

We’ve been here well over a week now, but there doesn’t seem to have been any time to write.

IMG_0978Alison and Andy were here when we arrived on the first Wednesday and we joined them at Bar Casa Pepe for dinner, just on the road from our apartment. They left on the Thursday and we set-to cleaning and sorting the apartment out, ready for when Betony, Josh and Chester arrive just before New Year.  I cannot remember what we did on Friday, but on Saturday we drove up to Mijas and spent a good bit of time mooching around up there and eating lunch at Bar Alarcon. We ate in the bar this time (and ordered too much).  We then had a stroll down and along the front on Sunday, walking back up to Alessandra via the new valley-path.

Monday was spent helping Marleen and Sheila put up Christmas decorations in the restaurant. I re-ordered the book shelves – after a fashion.  David and Gail arrived on Monday too and we joined them in the evening at Pepe’s, (along the road). That’s twice in a week – sometimes I only go there twice in a year!

Tuesday saw the beginning of my three-day, two-night birthday treat to a secret venue.IMG_0983 copy

Just after we set off, I was surprised to see David and Gail sat on suitcases at the side of the road.  Apparently, they had been added to the itinerary just a couple of days before – so that was surprise #1 for me.  Surprise #3 was that Sharon had booked a hotel for us all in Benahavis, which is inland from Marbella/Estapona and where I did my canyoning last June.  That was a surprise in its own right, as I had no idea what was planned or where we were going – but surprise #2 came first – a walk around and lunch in Puerto Sotogrande. This is a very rich port where yachts the like of which I haven’t seen since visiting St. Tropez are lined up side by side.

At this point, I thought we must be going to Gibraltar, Alcaidesa or La Linea, as Michelle and James live just a few miles away – but no, we’d overshot the turning to Benahavis by some considerable way.  Hey ho – Sharon is lovely, but geographically challenged nevertheless.IMG_1012 copy

The hotel cost less than €90 per couple, for two nights and included breakfasts. During most of the year, we would be lucky to get the same room for less than €150 per night, with breakfast extra @ €15 per person, per day! Well done Sharon xxxx

We unpacked and went for a walk around the town.  Benahavis is not huge, but it does have a fabulous reputation for gourmet food and people come from miles around to sample that food. Sadly, for us, the place we’d wanted to visit most, Los Abanicos, was closed for the season.

We looked around and eventually decided upon one of the restaurants that were open. Luckily (for it) I cannot remember the restaurant name and Google Maps’ Street-view, is no help as it looks to have changed hands/name since 2016. Three of us had wanted the seasonally traditional suckling pig and this dish was high up on their menu. However, the meat we were served was stringy and tough; very poor fayre. We’d been told that a good suckling pig can be sliced with the edge of a plate!  What we had couldn’t be sliced with the steak knife we had at our disposal. Sharon however, had a delightful risotto and smirked her way through the meal.

We told them we were not happy, but they didn’t care (or understand us?).

The following day, after our sumptuous breakfast, we made our way to Marbella, to take a walk around the pueblo Viejo (old town). Sharon and I had been before, but David and Gail had not.  We found much more of it than we had found before and even saw scores of school children performing songs in the square outside the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation, on Calle Trinidad. After a coffee in the Plaza de los naranjos we came back to Benahavis and went for a walk around town and down to where I did my abseiling in June, at the head of the canyon I traversed.

 

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Our meal that second evening was a much better affair. We’d decided that our meal would be a choice between two that seemed to have good reviews and which were open.

We called at a bar for a drink first; we’d seen it the night before but it was closed, and whilst chatting to people we told them of our two choices. Everyone suggested and recommended Restaurant La Escalera – so that’s where we went. James had once told me that this is where he had eaten the best chateaubriand ever. We had a lovely meal.  Sharon and David both had fillet steak – they asked for medium rare, but were advised to order medium, which was lucky because the centre of their (huge) steaks was quite rare. Nevertheless, both steaks were very much enjoyed. Gail had a fish dish that she enjoyed and I had ‘Solomillo de cerdo de la abuela con salsa de ajo’ – which was delicious, although a tad too much (I can make a pork fillet do for two [often three] people, but this was one just for me!). We shared starters of mixed iberico meats and manchego cheese, but think that we should have had the iberico jamon instead – never mind. To finish we were given bottles of pacharán, limoncello and something else we didn’t try (see pic).

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Following another sumptuous breakfast, we set off back to Torreblanca, where Sharon and I waited for and then met Michelle and James, who came up from Gibraltar to see us and to deliver a travel cot, for Chester to use when the Sutcliffe’s come later this month.

Today, Christmas Eve, I’m preparing for tomorrow – but more of that later.

October

We had a busy few days after returning from the dog-sit in Frigiliana. (link)

IMG_0644On the first Saturday, we walked up the hill behind us and over to Benalmádena Pueblo.

Because we’d set off early, we had breakfast up there before walking back down and catching the train at Torremuelle.  We then caught the newly instigated weekend-bus service back to the apartment, from Los Boliches. This new service had been much sought after by Torreblanca residents. Well done them.

Carol arrived on Tuesday and was transferred from the airport by James and Michelle. Later that day, Mike arrived too.  Carol was here for just over a week, to join in with the celebrations of James’ final Dining Out night on Friday evening.  That would be James’ final ‘army’ function.

Mike was here for just two days, to attend an interview, also in Gibraltar.

All except Mike, who hadn’t arrived by the time we set off, spent Tuesday walking on the front to Fuengirola and eating (a not very impressive) lunch there.  We walked back and had a coffee in Granier before coming back up the hill and meeting Mike.  We didn’t do anything that evening as Carol was tired and Mike had to prepare for an early start on Wednesday.

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On Wednesday, we visited Monumento Castillo Colomares. This is a sort of folly, built by an American doctor, with the help of local builders. It was designed to tell the story of Christopher Columbus’ discovery (sic) of the Americas.  We had a tapas lunch in Benalmádena Pueblo before returning home.

We drove down to La Alcaidesa on Thursday, after sorting out all of Mike’s laundry. He’d left at 04:00am that morning to catch his flight home.

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Sharon and Carol on our Ardales walk

We stayed at James and Michelle’s place on Thursday evening, before moving on to Gibraltar on Friday.  I cooked an evening meal of Chicken and Chorizo Paella, which we ate when Michelle got back from work.  We’d foraged for this on the way, at La Cañada, near Marbella. We’d called there to buy an Apple T.V. for us to use in Spain.  Our MacBook Pro’s deal with the internet better than the T.V. here (or the Amazon Fire Stick we’d initially tried), so buying one for here means that we don’t have to bring ours from the U.K. every time we visit.

On Friday we were joined in Gibraltar by Debbie, who was also to attend the dinner that evening.

We were all staying at the Holiday Inn Express on Devil’s Tower Road.

The hotel hasn’t been open long (I think it opened earlier this year) and is reasonably priced, for Gibraltar. The rooms were comfortable, the staff were good and the breakfast was delightful.

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We all then met for coffee at Cheers, where much of James’ family meet on Fridays. Here, we had brunch too.

We all met again that evening on the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s Devil Tower Camp, where we were entertained to a three-course meal with unlimited wine and port.

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A good part of the following day, Saturday, was spent on the beach at Sandy Bay – trying our hands (and balance) at paddle boarding. Tapas I achieved my goal of standing up a couple of times – creating forward motion rather than falling off, will be my next goal. Lol.  Sharon however, did manage to not only stand up and paddle, but to create a forward motion (before falling off). Carol, Debbie, Sharon and I shared a couple of snacks at The Lord Nelson before returning to the hotel to relax before meeting Michelle, James and Ewan for tapas in La Linea. (I’m not sure which we visited – but the food around here is tremendous).

Debbie flew back to the U.K. on Sunday morning and the three of us made a steady return to Torreblanca.

Feria#4Once back, we caught the train into Fuengirola, where, they were two days in to their six day Feria Del Rosario

This is one of the most prestigious festivals held in Andalucía. There is much dressing up in traditional costume and riding horses – most of which we missed, but we certainly got the atmosphere. I will have to plan better in futre.

We had a late lunch at Bar Pepe.

On Monday, we drove back up to the area around Ardales and spent a nice day walking, swimming in the lake (well, I did) and being attacked by wasps (well, Sharon was).

Campo de Frigiliana – 3

Tuesday was a much easier day, as we’d decided that the next time we drove up that road, would be our last; on our way out and home to Los Boliches.

On Tuesday we both worked in-between dips in the pool and meal times.  The dogs had been much easier to walk in the morning as there were no distractions and they had possibly got more used to us.  Their evening walk was the full-on walk we’d been shown and despite the clouds coming down and threatening rain, by the end of it we were all hot and knackered.  So, the dogs had treats and then collapsed in their room while we cooled down in the pool! Lovely.IMG_0625

Because we had no idea what to expect food wise when we got here, we’d decided to take enough provisions for the Saturday evening and all-day Sunday – then to review the situation.  There is a lovely, well equipped kitchen that is sort of ‘lived in’.  The five-burner, gas hob works perfectly well but the oven door is held closed by a piece of string tied from its handle to the hob’s pan support.  I was easily able to make a tortilla (potato and onion) on Saturday evening and we had thin slices of pork, fried and served with ratatouille (both defrosted from home), boiled new potatoes and tomato/cucumber salad on Sunday.

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On Monday, we had bought a cooked chicken from Mercadona.  Now there’s a treat if you’ve never had one.

For Cena on Monday therefore, I made a stew of chicken thigh/drumstick, with onion, garlic, left-over ratatouille and chickpeas, and then served all that with sauté potatoes. Tuesday evening was chicken breast salad, with avocado from the garden, fresh tomato with basil and more sauté potatoes.  We still had chicken breast (and lots of salad stuff) left for lunch on Wednesday.

We will leave this evening, after the dogs have had their second walk – so I’ve ordered a pizza for 21:00pm from Restaurante Montemare. Sojourn over.

Reflections

The dogs were lovely dogs, they really were. Their only problem was that they are quite undisciplined when it comes to moving traffic and other dogs.

They are kept in overnight because there are wild boars and other wildlife roaming the area, but during the day they are free to roam the property.  A simple noise from across the valley will have Leo off and half way up the other side, chasing whatever it is he’s seen.  Lucy (the youngest, takes part in these activities but I noticed that she was the first to return when called) 42516214_10155534233026109_833941198430273536_nwants to play all the time, which is nice.  Pixel, is the older dog. Most of the day he just lounges about and when on walks he slowly follows everyone else until a car or scooter appears and then he’s off!  He leads the charge quicker than you’d think him capable of.

All in all, we had a good time, despite all the mosquito (or whatever) bites.