Sawday's in Spain - an inspection trip
Alex Skinner, our main man for Spain, sends news from his inspection trip
I'm on an enormous trip, travelling from Malaga to Madrid to Segovía to Castile y Leon, to Asturias, Barcelona, Murcia and Valencia.
Inspection trips are always full of surprises, and the first one for me was the size of my hire car. A Smart car. Not so smart for a chap of six-foot-five-inches to end up with one of these.
So I'm touring Spain in a car of comical proportions. But, at the risk of sounding like a car advertisement, it's surprisingly roomy inside, and fine once I found out
how to change gear - by using paddles on the steering wheel. (And, when I got lost in Crespià and the streets in the village became narrower and narrower I was pleased to be in a dinky toy.)
My first visit was to the Palacio Blanco, whose owners, Nick and Lesley, will be inspecting for us. Then I had a beautifully sunny drive along the coast, then up through snowy mountains. In Segovía I visited the Posada del Acebo - Ramón, the owner, sent his Mum up to greet me. That's her below, beneath a portal with an inscription that dates the building to 1792. I would have asked someone to take a picture of both of us but the streets were deserted at siesta time.
I was stopped in my tracks at sunset by murmuring starlings. Quite a spectacle (apparently the Somerset Levels, very close to the office, is one of the best places to watch huge flocks of starlings swarm).
I also saw vultures on the long and dramatic drive to meet the lovely Javier at
Posada Molino del Canto - every ridge and peak is home to them. Javier's restored millworker's home is 13th century; the mill next door is a thousand years old apparently.
On the bird theme (it is, after all, a big RSPB birdwatch weekend), I've seen lots of storks, too, They seem to fly just above the cars and follow the roads. Maybe they're coasting on the thermals...?
I have a few more new places to see in the next few days, including a camp for our sister glamping company Canopy & Stars. My little car has a challenge ahead as I'm off to see a little hotel in a very lofty position in Charrara at the head of the Rambla Benito. The owners' driving instructions say "If you have a GPS, just turn it off or throw it out of the window. It will take you cross country through small villages and dirt tracks which is probably not a good idea on your first trip and will make you argue with your passenger which is not good". At least I have their own instructions and no one to argue with.