May 292017 Tagged with , , 0 Responses

Onto the Cotswolds and Wisley

Our original travel plans didn’t include England but as my brother’s tiny Philippine island was invaded by terrorists we had to quickly reschedule so as not to lose all our flights.  This gave us six days to fill in and what better way than to call in to stay with the nephew in the Cotswolds! Late May is too early to see the gardens at their best, as we knew.  It’s that time when most of the best of spring has finished and the best of summer has yet to bloom.  However, we were not to be deterred of course and first stop was Wisley – so close to Heathrow too. Neither of us had been to England for nearly twenty years!  Gosh the time has gone so fast.  The Green Door has gobbled it up. Wisley was looking amazing – the borders so full with hints of the spectacular colour that was to come – just peeping through.  The obvious winner was the new Allium Purple Rain.  Phil just couldn’t get enough of it.  It was a bit reminiscent of – “how many pictures of blue Gentians do you need”!  The upright stems carrying the deep purple globes looked fabulous wherever we saw them – through purple foliage of Sage, through bright yellow flowers of Euphorbia.  The key was to have foliage flowing around the stems so that when the Allium flowers were finished the garden wouldn’t be left with an unsightly gap.

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May 292017 Tagged with , , , , 0 Responses

North to Potes, Cantabria

From Montesinho, northern Portugal we moved through the rain to the mountains of Potes.  We couldn’t complain as this was the first rain we had experienced in over a month.

From the sparse mountains of Montesinho, over the border just ten minutes away, we travelled through countryside that looked very much like Waiouru!  Bare with only a few settlements and lots of gorse.  This soon gave way to rivers and green hillsides.

After a hot meal en route we came across fields and fields of wild daffodils just below Riano.   Not just little miniature alpine Daffs like we had seen on our hikes, but quite large ones similar to what we would grow in our gardens at home in New Zealand.  How amazing.  The rain didn’t keep us in the car long!  I’m sure the locals thought we were completely mad – but then that wouldn’t be the first time.

Potes turned out to be all it said in the guide books.  The perfect base for exploring the east side of the Picos.  We were here four nights and could easily have stayed seven if the weather had been better.  Luckily the next morning dawned fine, sunny and slightly warmer.  We drove to the Fuente De chair lift just before 9am – it’s only 20mins drive from Potes – and found ourselves the only ones there apart from the staff.  What a huge bonus.  We were the first on the mountain and had it all to ourselves!  Gentians greeted us the minute we left the buildings and by the time we had completed the short climb to the top the day was perfect and not a breath of wind.  So, so, so lucky.

The next five hours were spent drifting down the mountainside tripping from one patch of alpine flowers to the next, occasionally taking a breath to enjoy the splendour of the soaring peaks around us.

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May 042017 0 Responses

Mini Daffs in the mountains

Lucky us – we found some tiny Daffodils still in flower on the top of the hills en route to Manteigas, Portugal – growing at 1450m in practically pure rock.  Growing with them were tiny alpine bluebells.

It just goes to show that when all the books tell you to put grit underneath your bulbs when planting  – it’s because they really like very good drainage and choose to grow right on PURE grit given the chance!  In NZ the best thing to use in your pots or garden would be small, sharp gravel or pumice.

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Apr 202017 Tagged with , , , 0 Responses

The marble villages of Portugal

We arrived into Madrid after a short flight from Marrakech and quickly picked up our hire car from Euro Lease – this is the second time we’ve used this company.  They are by far the cheapest we’ve found for long term rental I.e. Over a month.  We always get a relatively compact car as the villages we stay in tend to be very small and have some very tight corners!

After a fortnight in the dust of Morocco I had thought we would deserve a treat and had booked us into the very first Parador that was ever renovated (renovation took place in 1930) in Oropesa Castle.  What a treat – for $NZ145 including breakfast you get the most amazing stay.  Paradores are well worth checking out if you are travelling in Spain, and in Portugal they are called Pousadas.  They are all historic buildings – castles, monasteries etc that the Government has purchased to save them from delapidation.

We left there feeling very refreshed and ready to start our journey around Portugal which was only a couple of hours drive away.

The first area of interest to us was the cluster of white marble villages around the beautiful little town of Trujillo.  Elvas, Estremoz (pictured above) are pretty much completely made of marble.  Even the cobbles are marble.  Piled up outside Estremoz where hillocks of marble ready for cutting.  If you’ve ever been through Wales and seen the huge mountains of slag… then this is similar-but in marble.  Amazing.

Whilst in Trujillo we did of course do a fair bit of walking and we where there just in time to see the wild orchids.  They even have an Orchid Trail outside Trujillo where you can easily spot half a dozen different orchids without moving your feet!

We stayed at El Baciyelmo which I would highly recommend.


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