LAGOS AND TRIP TO SPAIN OCTOBER 2009
 

Grey Heron
  A regular visitor to our pontoon is a large Grey Heron. It often fishes close to us, the marina is full of Grey Mullet. When it catches a Mullet it has to swallow it very slowly and you can see the bulge in the Heron's neck move slowly downwards.
 

Dragonfly
  Dragonflies were also regular visitors. They came in various colours, red, pale blue, yellow and striped black/brown. This one is sitting on one of our pegs.
 

Caravela
  I mentioned it took ten people to unfurl and reef the mainsail on the Caravel. The Caravel's crew organised the guest crew (all experienced sailors), woment to port, men to starboard. I am at the far end. We had been warned that we would be expected to help sail the boat.
 

Caravela
  The whole crew. The strange thing about the boat was that normally the helm position is on the Poop deck - the raised deck aft. This gives the helmsman a clear view of the sails and the surrounding sea. The Caravel's helm is under the Poop deck so the helmsman can see nothing. This meant the skipper (bearded on far left) having to shout steering commands whenever a course change was needed.
 

Caravela
  The Caravel Boa Esperança on the dock. You can see the Arab Lateen rig which allows the boat to sail fairly well upwind. This type of rig was in use from the 1400's and probably a long time before that on Egyptian Dhows. The Brits, French, Spanish, Dutch... were using square rigged boats, which go upwind like a dog, until the 1900's. Why?
 

Lagos beach
  Lagos beach about twenty minutes walk from the marina. The beach stretches for miles with lovely soft sand.
 

Seville courtyard
  The 'courtyard' on the first floor of the first hostal that we stayed in in Seville - as I said, a rich man's house originally.
 

Seville cathedral belltower
  Seville cathedral belltower (the Giralda) about three hundred feet high. The original tower was Moorish and the top of the structure has been slightly changed. Note the difference in architecture compared to the Gothic cathedral on the left. We climbed the belltower and it has ramps to each floor rather than steps. The reason is the original Imam didn't want to climb steps, he wanted to ride up on his horse. We wished we'd had horses at the time.
 

Cathedral
  The cathedral looking down from the belltower.
 

Columbus coffin
  The coffin of Christopher Columbus being held aloft in Seville cathedral.
 

Alcazar1
  Just inside the entrance to the Seville Alcazar (Palace) is a beautiful tree.
 

Alcazar painting
  The painting inside the Alcazar room that Queen Isabella used to host the explorers and their crews to pray for fair winds. The Virgin Mary is holding out her cape to protect the sailors. I said it's a very moving room and that's partly because we all know the names of the successful explorers but we will never know the names of those who didn't come home.
 

Alcazar
  Detail of one of the rooms in the Alcazar.
 

Alcazar gardens
  A very very small part of the Alcazar gardens.
 

Horse and coach ride
  Taken at the end of our horse and coach ride we found out that the horse is called Geronimo. We asked our driver how long it takes to train a horse. He said 'about three months to get used to the traffic'. He went on to say that 'if there is any sign that the horse cannot handle traffic then you sell it or you could die'. Geronimo was a sweetie and got lots of neck patting and ear stroking.
 

Grazalena
  Grazalema, the first white village we stopped at, built on a cliff, high in the Sierra.
 

Grazalena
  In the Grazalema town square the original, communal clothes washing facilities are still there.
 

El Bosque
  The view from our hotel window in El Bosque. It was the second white village we visited, still at altitude but in a valley.
 

Arcos de la Frontera
  Arcos de la Frontera, the third white village we stopped at. Although you can see trees this side of the castle it is built on a bare cliff. The de la Frontera name comes from when the Moors ruled Spain. It means the town was situated on the frontier between Moorish and Spanish territory. Jerez's full name, is of course, Jerez de la Frontera.
 

Spanish Imperial eagle
  In the area of the white villages we saw two Spanish Imperial Eagles - an impressive sight. The black wing tips are caused by increased Melatin. Most soaring and migratory birds have black wingtips because the Melatin makes the feathers stronger. You always wanted to know that.
 

Mouse
  A mouse lives in one of the buildings in the Gonzales Byass Bodega. The mouse is viewed to bring luck and thus food and a glass of sherry are left out for it. Note the little ladders.
 

Mouse
  Here's the mouse before they added food. No doubt this picture will attract the attention of Health and Safety, the RSPCA and heaven knows how many other do gooders.
 

Bodega
  One of the roads between the Bodega buildings.
 

Dancing Horses
  The dancing horses. You are not allowed to take pictures in the arena, this was copied from the School's Web site just to give a flavour. Interestingly the site doesn't even show horses in the arena.
 

Sand Dune
  Coto Donana. The green leaves behind me aren't scrub they are the top of semi-submerged pine trees. The dunes are the only dunes in Europe that travel forward, driven by the southwesterly wind. They move around five metres a year so the trees will be totally buried next year. You can see behind me all the trees that will be covered in the future and the next big dune.

The dunes kill the trees but not the cones so new pines will grow. The only trees that survive the dunes' advance are Junipers. They have flexible roots and 'ride' over the dune. We saw some of the roots sticking out the leeward side of the dune. Isn't nature extraordinary?
 

Azure Magpies
  Azure Winged Magpies only live in a narrow band along the south coasts of Portugal and Spain. We've only seen them in the picnic garden at the Coto Donana.
 

zure Magpie
  To attract the Magpies we broke up bread which attracted Sparrows. The Azure Magpies see the Sparrows and fly over. They are significantly smaller than the black and white Magpies seen in the UK.
 

El Rocio
  El Rocio, the cowboy town, looking west.
 

El Rocio
  Looking east with the main square on the right.
 

El Rocio
  Riders and horses outside a bar we had lunch in. You can see the hitching rail.
 

El Rocio
  One of the shops selling horse drawn carriages - don't see that type of shop often! Carriage prices ranged from 900 to 4,500 Euros. There were two such shops plus three shops selling everything needed for a horse - from saddles to chaps to horseshoes and cowboy hats. Two of which we had to buy...
 

El Rocio
  El Rocio church, very pretty and welcoming after seeing so many Gothic monsters (or should I say monstrosities).
 

El Rocio
  The hitching post ouside our hotel's restaurant entrance. It's difficult to believe that a place like El Rocio still exists. It's a 'must visit and stay' place, when you turn into the town off the main road and see what's in front of you it's jaw dropping.
 

El Rocio
  The courtyard where our apartment was after we moved from the hotel.
 

El Rocio
  The view from our hotel room. Every morning the Wild Marsh Horses would appear from the east and graze, leaving after a few hours. Last time we were here all you could see was water and birds.
 

Wild Boar
  Junior Wild Boar seen from one of the hides in the Coto Donana. The foliage is reeds and again this should normally be covered by water.
 

Lynx cubs
  Iberian wild Lynxes are rare, forty per cent of cubs born in the wild die. They've always been indigenous in the Coto Donana and they introduced a captive breeding programme. There is another breeding programme in La Olivilla in Jaén. The visitor's centre in Coto Donana has a screen showing live pictures from inside the breeding centre. These are some of the cubs - little sweeties. The breeding programme is working and the number of Lynxes in the wild in Coto Donana is now 18 territorial females, 4-5 territorial males, 9 sub-adults, 18 cubs, total 50-53 known Lynxes. There are another 180 Lynxes in La Olivilla in Jaén.
 

Wild Boar
  The view from our hotel room in Seville at dusk, the cathedral is prominent. This only shows a small part of what we could see and Mike counted nineteen spires.
 

Black Swan
  Behind the marina is a lagoon and we went to see if anything lived there. There are some Muscovey Ducks and, much to our surprise, a beautiful Black Swan - which we've never seen before. It must have been imported because Black Swans are only indigenous to Australia, although there are now wild Black Swans in New Zealand. Mike has now taken to feeding the Swan and it's very friendly. If it wants more food it screeches for a few seconds and ends with a Goose-like honk.
 

Decorated for Christmas
  Decorated for Christmas, with bows, tinsel and icicle lights hanging under the mizzen boom. You can see the chocolate coloured water, the result of heavy rain.