Monday, 28 August 2017

The Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen. in Summer.

Another ride out to an old favourite.

Sunday saw us heading into the hills again, Our destination was the Ponderosa Cafe on the Horseshoe Pass, above Llangollen.

As it is Bank Holiday weekend as I write this, we decided to change our usual route down the A5 trunk road - the old historic coach route from London to Holyhead on Anglesey for the ferry to Ireland. Instead we turned the other way, heading northwards towards the town of Mold - Yr Wyddgrug in Welsh - on the River Alyn. 

Reaching Pontblyddyn we turned off the road to take the Corwen Road. This part of the journey is so beautiful as you travel through quiet villages and roads bordered by leafy trees. Rising higher the road opens out as you reach the Llandegla moors. Being a fine day, there were many motorbikers about, leaning themselves and their powerful machines to the bends in the road, zooming along as they enjoyed the freedom of being at one with the world. An experience enjoyed by bikers.

Reaching the top of the moors we soon came to the Ponderosa Cafe at the summit of the Horseshoe Pass. As expected the car park was thronged with bikers but we were astonished to also see a great number of cars - more than usual. Many opt to eat outside with the take-away food, even a full Sunday Lunch, but we opted for the comfort of an inside seat. As Allen paid for  our sandwich and cold drinks I found an empty table inside and we waited for our Gold Wing biker friend from way back. This meeting is usually a monthly arrangement.

I took the opportunity to browse in well-stocked Shop in the Clouds gift shop where i bought two tea-towels relating to Wales. After putting the world to rights we made our way through the packed car park that was buzzing with machines of all types and their riders who were enjoying the sunshine. To one side, the footpaths lead into the hills, where many wander off to see more. On the other side, the valley falls away in a rich pattern of lush green fields and sweeping folds in the mountains. We decided to turn left out of the car park and head towards Llangollen, taking a chance that we wouldn't be held up too much in what would undoubtedly be a packed Llangollen. I never fail to be uplifted by the view across the valley as we head towards and down the Horseshoe Pass. It is truly beautiful and one of the many unforgettable scenes in this beautiful world of ours.

Llangollen was festive with colourful bunting straddling the ancient, narrow bridge over the River Dee; it flowed down from its source at the Horseshoe Falls, twisting, turning,racing over and around the many rocks found in various parts as it babbled its way to Chester and eventual  release into the sea. The bridge was also decked with huge tubs of colourful flowers as were many of the surrounding buildings. Passing the bridge, I could see that Castle Street was thronged with visitors.

All in all, another satisfying foray into the hills.

The Horseshoe Pass has many faces. In the winter, it is just as beautiful and dramatic.Below is a view from the Ponderosa after the snows.


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Getting Closer. This Week - Introducing Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria, another jewel in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

As with other Canary Islands, the island lies in the Gulf Stream off the west coast of Africa, but between Fuerteventura to the north-east and Tenerife to the north-west. It is rounder in shape than the others with all the valleys and rivers flowing out from the mountains high in the centre of the island. This makes for some dramatic scenery.

We have visited twice, both times art the end of March when the temperatures were bearable. On our first visit, we took advantage of the Island Tour, which opened up to us the whole of the island. here is a flavour. . .

The mountains rose high as we traversed valleys along switchback roads. Las Palmas was visible in the distance from our viewpoints. Teror is a typical Canarian village with those fantastic ornate wooden balconies. Finding a gift shop, I browsed happily into the far reaches of the building while my husband waited outside in the fresh air and shade.
Tejeda and Ayacata.
The roads wound higher and higher providing an ever-changing scene. At some viewing points of nearly one thousand five hundred feet high you could clearly see Las Palmas. Heading south towardsAyacata, the Roque Nubio in the distance towered high into the sky. If it had been a clear day, our guide told us, we would have been able to see Mount Teide which dominates Tenerife.

San Bartolome de Tirajana and the coast.
It was getting cooler now in the mountains when we made our last comfort stop. Then, our route took us south to San Bartolome as, gradually, we made a hair-raising, stunning, and spectacular descent down the mountains to the motorway, the coast and our hotel. What a brilliant day we had had."

This shows that it is well worth leaving   a sunbed to explore and that there is more to Gran Canaria than at first meets the eye.
And then there is Puerto Mogan. But I won't spoil it for you just yet. It is all in the pages of Island Interludes along with five maps and twenty-five photographs.

Promotional Launch Offers. 50% off eBook at GooglePlay (ePub) and Smashwords store (download ePub,mobi for Kindle and more) 
eBook offers go global from Sunday Aug. 27th

copyright Rosalie Marsh.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Day Draws Nearer. Introducing Lanzarote

18 days to the release of Island Interludes on Tuesday September 5th

I have to admit that I am getting excited. The research, writing, revisions, and production hard work is now finalised.This weeks 'peek between the covers' is to introduce the island of Lanzarote.

Google image courtesy
"There is much to choose from among the Canary Islands but Lanzarote, lying just off the west coast of Africa, has a certain appeal. It is north of Fuerteventura and the closest to Africa, being east of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The islands also lie south of Madeira which we have visited in the last chapter. Although Fuerteventura is known for being windy we had not expected there to be so much wind in Lanzarote.
An island of contrasts, with the terrain completely different to Tenerife, Lanzarote is dominated by the Timanfaya National Park and the ‘Fire Mountain’ – where the temperature in the ground reaches three hundred and eighty-eight degrees Celsius. It was such fun to see the experiments and cooking. I was also fascinated to see how camels got down onto the ground as they rested lazily after shedding their load of tourists.

Island tour.

The usual included trip took us on a day-long tour of the island which included the Timanfaya National Park and Fire Mountain. My initial impression on our first visit, was that the countryside uninspiring, flat and the land scrubby. The villages consisted mainly of non-descript low buildings. ( An impression that was soon dispelled -author)
Climbing higher, the landscape became more lunar; it felt quite eerie. More ..."

We have found that a Island Tour is the best way to be introduced to what an island is really like away from the beaches. It also encourages you to go a little further independently on a future visit.

 Global distribution. Go to Rosalie's Bookstore for links.

Amazon Kindle - is delayed until October but in the meantime you can download mobi files from the Smashwords Store.

**Take advantage of launch offer and pre-order at Smashwords with coupon code FM43D
 Price: $6.99 $3.50 USD Use the code FM43D at checkout for 50% off. 
Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf lrf pdb html
(Offer good through Sep. 10, 2017
Island Interludes eBook is illustrated with 30 images - 5 colour maps and 25 colour photographs. 
It is also  good reference book as is The Long Leg of Italy.

Copyright Rosalie Marsh 2016

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Launch Offers now live - Countdown 24 days to September 5th

This Week - Introducing Fuerteventura and the camels.

Clearly visible, as the plane circled its descent over the sea, was the outline of the island of Fuerteventura with its long sandy beaches and low mountains spread out below. What a perfect retreat from the hurly burly of daily life and the harshness of a British winter.
This current escape in November had been a last-minute decision. Having visited Fuerteventura before, it was one we knew we would not regret.

Caleta de Fuste.

Fuerteventura – one of the Canary Islands – lies south of Lanzarote off the west coast of Africa. Our destination was again the small resort of Caleta de Fuste on the east coast of the island. This is a modern resort built around an old fishing village that has a marvellous sandy beach in the curved bay.
With two lazy camels watching as they waited for passengers, we passed along the yellow sands and sun beds of the curved bay before reaching the old fort or ‘Castillo de la Caleta de Fuste’ and the Puerto Castillo Yacht Harbour in the old centre of the village. If you want to be a little more adventurous you can have a guided session playing with sea lions in the harbour or take part in other underwater activities on offer.
Continuing north around the headland, the scenery changes dramatically as the sea crashes over the rocks which form this part of the coast; here, if you are very quiet and still, you might see chipmunks as they scurry over the rocks stopping only to catch the peanuts which tourists feed them.

Now, I could tell you all about the Island Tour, the Aloe Vera Factory,and even our adventure into mountains on a Boom Trike . . . Oh, and goats . . .

Now live. . . Half Price Launch Offers until Sunday September 10th

Google Play link (ePub) No coupon code needed.

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Smashwords link download ePub, Mobi for Kindle, Pdf etc. Quote Coupon Code  FM43D at checkout.


PS.(All titles will be back on Amazon Kindle in October when Amazon’s criteria for changing distributors to Ingram Spark from Kindle Direct Publishing has been fulfilled.)

Friday, 4 August 2017

32 days to Island Interludes. Introducing Malta.

Another day, another place, another island. 

"What is it that draws us to the islands with their varied history, cultures, and geographical interests? Is it because we are from an island race?"
Malta lies in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily (which is where our story starts). A tiny island it is though, a brave island.
There are many places to explore on the island from craft centres, to ancient cities such as Mosta and Mdina, to bustling harbours to name a few. Valletta is the capital of Malta; it has seen many battles over the centuries. 

Fascinating Valletta.

A short excerpt: "‘We are now in Valletta.’
A horse-drawn carriage was patiently waiting by an archway for customers – a good way to get

A view of Valletta from across the harbour. It looks like it is on an island.around the city. Well, the horse was waiting patiently. The horse-drawn carriages are called ‘Karozzin’ which was the Maltese traditional mode of transport.
Our first impression of the city was how mellow and untouched the buildings looked. We learned that after the bombing and destruction during the Second World War where it was almost razed to the ground, it was rebuilt to look like its former self.
On the bus, we had turned in towards the sea, passing through Floriana before reaching Valletta. Valletta juts out from the coast with many creeks and bays on either side. It is a fortress city and ‘built on the rock of Mount Sciberras Peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours; the Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour.’ A triple archway led to the busy streets of the city. Strolling through the Valletta City Gate a banner on an archway proclaimed:
VALLETTA. Belt ta’ Patrimonju Dinji
A World Heritage City.
Valletta Rehabilitation Project.
The Triton Fountain is found at the entrance of the city gate." 

St Julian's Bay.

A view through an archway of boats in Portomaso Marina, Malta.

Our base was a hotel at the tip of Spinola Bay overlooking St.Julian's Bay from where we watched all the comings and goings of life across to the busy resort of Sliema and further out to sea. . . . Around the corner was the smart and cosmopolitan Marina - a complete contrast to the rich history of Valletta.

Of course, no visit to Malta is complete without a tour around the Grand Harbour of Valletta and the Three Cities. . .

Author note. I have two Maltese friends who kindly checked over my chapter to verify and clarify facts. Thank you Marthese and Joseph for your time and input.Watch out for the postman next month.

Island Interludes is illustrated with twenty-six photographs and four maps.

Copyright Rosalie Marsh 2017. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Diverse Face of Spain.

Reflections on the Diversity of Spain. 

  • We have spent many happy hours exploring our beloved Andalucia. 
  • We have ridden down the coast to Nerja and Ronda on our motorbike before returning through the centre of Spain via Aranjuez, Zaragoza, and Pamplona to Donostia-San Sebastian.
  • We have toured that north westerly corner of Spain that is enchanting Galicia with its rugged coast interspersed with many inlets; the moving sight of all the pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela and the awe-inspiring Botafumeiro (Thurible) being swung up to the roof Cathedral, while a nun with the voice of a bird sings; La Coruna on the coast with its many glass-covered balconies on the buildings.

Until last year we had not, however, explored the interior of the more northern and central parts of Spain. With a family member settling in a remote part of Central Portugal, we found ourselves on a mission to take stuff that they needed. I mean tools etc that my husband no longer needed or could use - but they could as they set up their infrastructure on their land.

a car heading to a tunnel entrance in Spain.Travelling through France, we crossed the Pyrenees into the Basque country. Towering viaducts spanned the gorges and wound around the verdant mountains. I did wonder what the journey would have been like on a horse! This part of Spain is spectacular . Dropping down towards Burgos, we found ourselves in the middle of the city. My husband had simply input 'Burgos' into the satnav. We wanted a hotel in Rubena a few km outside. It was also rush hour . . .

Heading down to Salamanca and Valladolid in central Spain on the motorways we found that we were on the high plateau with only the tops of windmills for company. Dropping further down to Plasencia we noticed that the terrain and nature of the countryside was changing. It was more deserted, and even though on a motorway, service stations were few and far between; sometimes the sign pointed into the distance which mean a nearby village, somewhere.
Banks of yellow flowering broom on the motorways in Spain.At one of these we happened upon a small cafe/bar serving simple bar food. We devoured this to the chatter of locals at the bar. The restaurant (newly built?) was closed but no doubt it was open for coach parties. It was all delicious and clean. 

Around this area, many bushes
of flowering yellow broom brightened the centre reservations of the roads. Heading west towards the Portuguese border our route was shortened by the extension and improvements in local roads. With three overnight stops from the UK via France the journey was uneventful and very pleasant.

This year we did the journey again. The heat was in intolerable - 45 degrees in Portugal and not much less on the return journey. This year we returned across the centre of Spain via Madrid to stay overnight in the centre of Zaragoza.
Zaragoza is very old and, to me, has a romantic ring to it. For once, I did thank the satnav as we would never have found our hotel, especially not down the back streets that it directed us down. The reason for the change of return route was two-fold.

  • One - to see something of the areas that we had ridden by on our Honda Gold Wing motorbike all those years ago.
  • Two - to head over the Pyrenees to Lourdes which made Zaragoza a convenient stop.

In truth, we really ought to have factored in an extra night as the leg from the border of Portugal to Zaragoza in one day was really too much. Especially when the air-conditioning in our almost new car failed. It was a hot 1000 miles home in more ways than one. But that is another story. Suffice to say that July has been just a little fraught.