Wednesday 27 November 2013


It has been soooo windy here overnight ... and that's set to continue for a few days so our tapas lunch  (David's birthday) was eaten indoors rather than outside as the restaurant is right on the seafront.  

We had a great lunch with Mik and Lynne but are resting for a couple of hours now before the next part of David's birthday tonight ......     thought I'd just post a few of the photos I've taken over recent days - just odds & s*ds that appealed to me

First some of the chipmunks (Barbary Ground Squirrels) we fed during our walk yesterday.  In some areas the chipmunks are very tame and will eat from the hand but these live in an area where not many tourists go so although they were curious and came running when we called them, they kept a healthy distance from us.     Don't know why I like them so much as they aren't too much different from the pesky squirrels who plague us at home in whitstable   LOL

I guess its because they live in the rocky terrain on the outskirts of town and don't invade our garden.    There were dozens of them running around

Bananas in a local garden

No idea what these 'fruits' are, they look a little like dark plums when ripe, but they're probably non-edible like so many out here

Autumn ... and all the leaves are falling off the trees LOL

whilst walking along the beach path  recently these are some of the sights that appealed to me in local gardens ...

peed off cat.  Happily enjoying his/her ablutions in a patch of sunshine on a window sill, it wasn't best pleased to hear me calling it ...

what you can't see in this photo is that its left ear (our right as we look at it) has been clipped to show that the cat has been castrated.     Our very good friend Lynne (Catwoman) heads a charity that regularly captures stray cats (without collars or clipped ears) and has them neuteured to ensure that the cat population doesn't become unmanageable and the feral cats that can't be rehomed are kept in small groups that can  be looked after via cat feeding stations around the holiday complexes.

Once neutered the cats have their ears clipped so they are easily identifiable on the streets.
This little girl has no collar and no clipped ear but she does look well cared for so hopefully she isn't a stray.   She has now been reported to Lynne who will keep an eye out to ensure this cat doesn't end up having litters of unwanted kittens.   Cute isn't she?

Ducks in a garden .. they all  had collars on and looked happy enough.   Loved the sign directing them to their own 'pool' although the expression 'out of the frying pan, into the fire .... 'springs to mind

It was a windy walk but nice and bright and I never tire of the views on our 'beach path'

But just look at this monstrosity.   The only 5* hotel in the area has recently built a walkway from from the hotel gardens, across the beach with a 'chill out lounge' and pier for the residents so the well heeled clients don't have to get their feet sandy.  Bless!     In most parts of the resort the powers that be are quite careful not to destroy the integrity of the natural surroundings and are actively preventing destruction of the natural dunes and beaches ... but I guess money talks!

and looks as though they are about to build a second one from the same hotel, further along the beach

OK running out of time so just another couple of things that caught my eye

think the owner of this villa has a warped sense of humour   LOL

and this is probably worthy of a 'caption competition'  .... any ideas for a title?

Lots more photos to come but it takes sooooo long to upload them out here that I can only choose a few each time (you'll be pleased to hear)!

Tuesday 26 November 2013


I have very limited access to internet so apologies for not commenting on fellow Bloggers' posts. I am skimming through them but won't be able to comment till back home in the UK A shopping/cultural complex was built near our house about 5 years ago. It has several alleys with a variety of shops and cafes leading to a central square where you can sit and enjoy wine/beer and tapas and listen to local musicians.


On Saturday the switching on of their Christmas lights was scheduled for 7.30pm, which in Canarian speak means anything between 6.30pm and 8.30pm ... we wandered down to take a look at just after 7pm. There were crowds of locals and tourists there being entertained by choirs of schoolchildren singing traditional Spanish Christmas songs .... but no lights.

not appreciated by all the visitors ... and I must admit it was VERY loud

We waited till after 8pm but David got bored and hungry so we came back home to eat. We heard fireworks going off just after 8.30pm so guess that's when the lights got turned on. anyway, we went back last night and was able to see the lights without having to fight our way through the hoardes.

 Can't be bad, sitting under the Christmas lights in shirt sleeves at 7.30pm!!

Well that's the Christmas Hype out of the way, Bah Humbug!!     As the weather has been variable here (but still in the low/mid 20s in the shade) we've been doing a lot of walking and I've been snapping away with the camera at anything that takes my fancy.  Yesterday was very windy and it got quite chilly as we were walking along a more rugged stretch of the coastline here.       Today the weather was much brighter and hotter (still windy) and we walked away from the sea towards the stark rocky part of the town which is mainly used by dog walker rather than tourists.      We found a colony of chipmunks who came to call so we detoured to a local supermarket to buy some bread  and went back to play with the little critturs.

Hopefully will post some piccies in a day or so.

Tomorrow is David's birthday so we have a tapas lunch planned with friends in Town and then tomorrow evening will be spent with friends at our usual Wednesday night pub quiz venue, Rosie O'Grady's where the 2 lady bosses will provide some light refreshments.   Need to get an early night tonight methinks as tomorrow will be a loooooong day/night

Friday 22 November 2013


Time is flying so quickly here on (not so) sunny Fuerteventura.   The weather has been strange .. lots of white cloud and not much sunshine but it is around 22deg in the shade so I'm certainly not complaining.

We've been out and about meeting friends for lunch etc and just generally catching up with all the changes since our last trip.  There are always bars and restaurants changing hands but thankfully not our top 4 favourite ones which have stood the test of time and been here for many years.   All owner managed and very nice.

One of the seafront bars has changed from a Neil Diamond themed bar (where the owner performed songs by Neil Diamond brilliantly) to a Spanish Bar with Flamenco music and dancing most evenings.

Flamenco dancing originated with Andulusian Gypsies.   Contrary to popular belief castanets and maracas are not normally used in Flamenco dancing where the  'music' is simple hand clapping.  Castanets and maracas are more traditionally used in Latin/American dancing but somehow its all got a bit muddled now and we commonly see pictures/figurines of Flamenco dancers with castanets/maracas. 

I was chuffed to spot a rare maraca tree today and to photograph it against the only blue sky we saw all afternoon.

Once dried and polished the maracas when played properly add the distinctive background sound to many Spanish/Latin American dances/songs.      Nothing like the plastic rattles given to young babies and toddlers to keep them amused.

Here's a demo of what can be done with one's maracas (!!)


(not April 1st yet is it)?

Friday 15 November 2013


I'd set today aside to have a really good house-clean in readiness for our house-sitters when we're away but I kept getting sidetracked.   The squirrels are back so I had to keep checking how they were dealing with the squirrel-resistant seed feeders.  I wanted to see squirrel tantrums but they're just ignoring the new feeders in favour of the two non-squirrel proof ones that survived the last onslaught.  They've just about emptied those so I guess they'll turn their attention to the new ones whilst we are away.   Fingers crossed they won't wreck these quite so quickly.

I also did more work on Lulu (despite my intentions to leave her be till our return)

But I did get all the cleaning done and it transpires the house-sitters will bring their little dog so I needn't have been so thorough anyway .... perhaps the dog will keep the squirrels in check

I'm just trying to catch up on some last minute emails now as I doubt I'll get much access to the computer whilst away as David will be using our (shared) travel laptop to work on some websites he's setting up/managing for friends and colleagues.

So this is Lulu with a bit more hair.   I have a bit of a phobia about drawing hair (in coloured pencil) so have to think of my human subjects as puppies or kittens with long coats and that makes it easier LOL

I will need to deepen some of the colour in the shadowed areas but there are so many colours layered here I thought I should give the picture a light spray with fixative to ensure I don't get the dreaded 'wax bloom' which can give a dull grey finish to coloured pencil work.   The bloom is easily removed by wiping gently with cotton buds but spraying with fixative prevents it occurring.   

I did have to hold my breath though as there are a lot of red tones in Lulu's hair.  I still have nightmares about a double dog portrait I did years ago in coloured pencil.   When finished I gave it a light spray of fixative and one of the spaniels turned magenta pink.     One of the Prismacolor colours had reacted badly to the fixative and it took a few hours to restore the dog back to its proper colour.

Anyway, this doesn't seem to have suffered the same fate.        Now she really will have to wait until we are back from Fuerteventura

I was just sorting out my photos from the Alpaca trek yesterday and thought I'd show you Bertie.  He's a rescue dog living a pampered life on the farm now.     He is a lovely Bassett hound and has really mastered the 'long suffering' look of the breed .... lovely character!


Oops, had hoped to post this yesterday (Thursday) but somehow Friday snuck up on me.

We had a fabulous afternoon 'trekking with alpacas' on Romney Marsh in Kent.   Actually it was a very gentle stroll, rather than a trek, with lots of carrot breaks and grass nibbling breaks (for the 4 legged walkers, not David and me).  We were lucky with the weather as it didn't rain.  We had a really bright, cold day but the wind was icy so we were well padded out with warm coats, hats and gloves  Alpaca Annie at Romney Marsh

We were accompanied by Lara who was absolutely brilliant with the alpacas and llamas and was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the cute little beasties.   I'm so glad we did this, we've learned lots about alpacas and dispelled the myths about them being aggressive, spitting at people etc.   They are very intelligent animals, they aren't tactile and are rather head-shy and don't like being stroked (except on the necks) but Lara has worked with alpacas and llamas for a long time and explained how to handle them and win their trust and we all got along very well.

I walked with a lovely cream alpaca boy called Fennel and David with a mid tan coloured alpaca called Stu Pot (I thought it was spelt Stew Pot till I saw it written down) and I think we were well matched.    Stu Pot (like David) enjoys his food and doesn't like to walk briskly, preferring a slow amble with lots of munching en route.

Just a few of the 150+ photos I took this afternoon .... methinks there may be a drawing or two in the pipeline next year

This is (my alpaca) Fennel, a very superior alpaca who is apparently very protective of the others in the herd, breaks up fights/squabbles, worries when any of  the group is sick and acts as look-out in the field whilst the others graze/play.   He was very wary of me at first but soon accepted me and very gently ate chopped carrots from my hand.  

They are sheared once a year by professional shearers from Australia, they are now sporting the beginnings of their Winter coats.  Their fur doesn't contain lanolin and isn't at all oily/greasy and garments made from alpaca fleeces are hypoallergenic and water repellent.  Apparently its also fire-retardent - you can't set fire to an alpaca (who worked that one out I wonder)?   We learned so many facts about alpacas that I'm still trying to remember everything

I do know I fell in love with these wonderful characters ... we are seeing more and more of them in Kent these days.  Many sheep farmers are introducing alpacas and llamas into their flocks of sheep as they actively challenge foxes and other predators which is immensely useful in lambing season

They have really good long distance vision but poor short vision which makes them a little jumpy about birds suddenly taking flight from the ground near them, or rattling paper bags etc ..... much like horses which I'm far more familiar with

Surprised they can see anything in front of them given the hairstyles ....

David, bonding with Stu Pot.   Stu Pot is still a 'baby' but is very greedy and larger than other alpacas of his age.  Apparently as he is such a lovely specimen he may escape  the big C (castration) in order to produce some little Stu Pots in the future.

Think they're having a little 'man to man' discussion about the future here       LOL

One of the few photos of Stu Pot I got with his head up - mostly he was stuffing grass along the way but here he was gently taking carrots from David's hand

Back at the ranch .... David getting mobbed for carrots.   They really are very gentle though and took the chopped food very delicately from our hands

I think the dark brown alpacas are rather cute as well

Just look at that face

But ...... check out the light brown one on the right ... he appears in several of my photos and has the same (dare I say slightly gormless) smile in each one  .... you know, the sort of character that shows up in the background of wedding group photos and nobody knows who he/she is??

He's on the left of the picture here ....   In the front is one of the llamas that have been introduced into the alpaca groups.    Lara hopes that they will soon have more llamas which will be trained to accept the trekking routine.   The ones they have at the moment are not well socialised so she's working hard to get them to accept/enjoy the company of humans

I could go on and on .... and on.   We had a lovely (but very cold) afternoon and I'm so glad we've done it.     I'd like to go again but maybe when the weather is a little kinder.   Romney Marsh is very exposed and can be quite bleak in the Winter months - but picturesque.

From Romney we drove towards London to visit our Mums before we go off to Fuerteventura for a sunshine break.   Driving along the motorway as the sun went down I took a couple of random shots out of the car window and was amazed at these two photos (bearing in mind we were doing 70 mph on the motorway).   My little camera certainly comes up trumps sometimes

I've done nothing to these ... this is how they came up through the car window at 70 mph - perhaps I should add that I was a passenger, not the driver LOL

So we had a brilliant day, only marred by the fact there was an accident on the way home from visiting our Mums and our journey was slow and very tiring ... but we got home safely, eventually, and that's why I'm so late posting these photos.

I have one day at home tomorrow to get all the boring (housework) stuff done before the house sitters arrive, and then we're back to Fuerte again.   Just a year ago I took this photo (one of many) whilst walking the beach path along the  more volcanic rocky bits which aren't so attractive to tourists.   I still love the rugged volcanic rocky shorelines, the miles of golden sand dunes (blown in from the neighbouring sahara desert) and the ever-changing sea - because of the tides and the famous Fuerte winds we have lots of excellent surfing areas but we also have lots of quiet sandy coves with calm waters where you can walk out into the sea for half a mile before the water reaches waist height .   We love this island

This is one of the more rugged areas about 15 minutes walk from our house 

Just above the horizon, you can just about make out the faint outline of the Lanzarote coastline ... we are just 10 minutes away from our neighbouring island by High Speed Ferry link.

Tuesday 12 November 2013


I've been shorn ..... well, actually I just went to the hairdresser this afternoon and got 'tidied up' - after years of nagging by David who wanted me to abandon the tried and trusted shoulder length bob I had my hair cut semi-short last visit and today was a little more drastic ... I must admit its easier to manage but its still strange to see my reflection in the mirror.

We have a busy few days before flying back to Fuerteventura so I won't get to finish Lulu before we go, which is probably a good thing as I can make all the final adjustments to her, and the gorilla, when I get back having had a break from looking at them.

latest progress pics

I finished the little flowers/butterfly necklace and made a start on her hair.   I added the bottom eyelashes thinking I'd finished tweaking the colours on her face/skin

and straight away, her skintones look less dramatic as her face isn't just surrounded by a white mass ... I may have to rework the skintones and deepen them but for the moment I'm going to be carrying on with her hair.  

She'll probably hate me for this when she's older and won't want to reminded of 'the pout'  

I have to say that she looks much more 'yellow' on Blogger (via Picasa) than she does in my photo albums or in real life but I know Blogger is having problems with its photo uploader at the moment so maybe its something to do with that.   

Monday 11 November 2013

11/11: BOYS & TOYS

David loves cars/buses/trains/aeroplanes - don't most men?   But as soon as we change our car he's looking to get the next one which gets quite boring at times.  As a retired Chartered Accountant he knows it isn't cost effective to keep upgrading to new cars every 2 or 3 years but he can't help himself it seems.

We've had 2 Nissan Qashqai's in succession now and I love them as they are roomy and very easy to drive but he's soooooo bored with them.    A couple of the cars he has test driven and brought home for wifely approval (or otherwise) have been struck off the list because of the sheer number of gadgets on the dashboard.  Some cars look more like airplanes than cars these days.    How do they get the designs past the health and safety people?    I think its bad enough that our current car has a computerised screen on the dashboard with telephone lists, personalised music selections, traffic data etc but the latest Qashqai has this on the dashboard

Not sure if you can read the small print but they boast that the car has upgradeable apps and updates ranging from  social media (Facebook etc)  to fuel prices, flight times, weather, news and sports updates.   How can they justify this stupidity?   Bad enough having drivers eating sandwiches, talking on mobile phones and smoking without having them access their Facebook accounts whilst driving!!

So ... the big new car debate in the Clinker household goes on and no doubt we'll eventually find something we both agree on .... perhaps life was simpler when we had a car each.

Today David went to Surrey to take a look at the new Kent/Surrey/Sussex Air Ambulance helicopter and meet other volunteers at a presentation day.   Their new helicopter contains all the equipment necessary for night-flying (a new concept) and carries an extra pilot, extra fuel and upgraded engines.    The service costs an extra £1million a year to fly at night in addition to the current £5million which has to be raised by volunteers.    

I had an appointment with the physio and as David had the car for the day I decided to brave the windy weather and walk to Whitstable for 'my session'.   Having saved the cost of the taxi he'd suggested I book, I thought I'd put the savings towards some new trousers (as you do) so spent a happy hour or so trying on leggings, jeggings and treggings - haven't actually worked out the difference but I believe jeggings and treggings are more substantial than just leggings.   I wanted something comfortable to wear instead of more formal trousers.   

So mission accomplished I set off to walk home by which time it was raining quite hard.

I remembered that a special Kentish Belle Armistice Day steam train was running a round trip from London Victoria to the Kent coast today and was stopping at Whitstable station to take on water.  It was scheduled to arrive at Whitstable at 2.40pm and leave again at 3pm.    As I walked past the station at 2.50 I thought I'd pop in and have a look .... the train hadn't arrived and I was told by one of the trainspotters there it was held up and would arrive within 20 minutes.   So I waited in order to take photos for David (he doesn't know how lucky he is sometimes) LOL     The 20 minutes stretched to 45 by which time I was very cold and very wet ... but I got some piccies - here are a couple:

There is something special about these old steam engines/trains isn't there?

So after my long walk, session with the physio - shoulder well and truly strapped up again - and my exciting wait at the railway station where I met some lovely people (not all anoraks) I finally got home just as it was getting dark so haven't done any artwork to speak of.

I did photograph the drawing in better light this morning so here she is again