Time spent in Sheffield is always very pleasant, days on the grit with good friends and all the comforts of my 'stuff' around me. Despite that it feels less and less like home the more time we spend away - which is hardly surprising I guess. Kalymnos and Ariège have become the latest "homes from home", and so seven months after we slipped away in the early morning light we were back for some more island life. As if to emphasis the welcome, Mike Kardoulis was waiting for us on the harbour front in Pothia with our our little blue hire car and Babis left a small 'something' in our apartment. It is great to be back!
The Blanca trip was a job that needed doing and it was satisfying to get it sorted in the time-frame we had allotted. It was unpleasantly hot for much of the time (30C+) and shockingly busy, though Sherri managed to rustle up some superb places to stop, all with air-conditioning which made it bearable. We used to love Spain, but there is no doubt our tastes have changed over the years, I think it is called 'getting old'; peace and quiet have climbed up to the top of the list of 'must haves'. The Ariège guide is handed over and has recieved positive comments from 'the team', it should be out by the end of the year. The Blanca will be hot on its heels, so that will be three books published in 12 months. I figure I deserve a bit of 'me-time' so Kalymnos beckons!
Leaving Ariège always feels like a bit of a wrench - but there is work to do - so hay-ho, we are heading southwards! We started with a couple of nights at Castelldefels close to Barcelona - busy, busy, busy. Then it was south again, just over four hours to Finestrat, where we spent five excellent days at La Plantacion hotel. Highlights included a late evening visit to Sella to photo the Wildside and a full day trip down to Leyva. The hire car we collected in Barcelona (a nearly new Renault Fluence) began to die on the long hills up to Guadalest, by the time we got home in the evening the clutch was completely cooked - we had to push it part of the way as its hill-climbing power was reduced to zero. Sixt did well though, a tow-truck arrived within the hour to remove the dead Renault and close to midnight a replacement (Opel Insignia) arrived on a flat-bed. Friday we moved to Calpe and were astonished how busy the place was - our hotel of choice was full so Sherri did a bit of snooping and got us a smart bungalow close to the beach.
So - back to where it all began - 25 years ago! Full circle I guess.