july 2012: spain / portugal

The grandparents Rowney visited. We drove around Galicia. Dale flew to Australia for ten days. Willow and I remained in Spain under house arrest. The grandparents Meldrum visited. We drove to Portugal. It was a big month for photos…


LIFE. Marikita moved in. We love her, so do flies.

LIFE. In A Coruna, the weather is atrocious and we are not that into the food – too much oil, salt and jamon for our unsophisticated predominately vegetarian tastes, though I do dearly love the pulpo al feira, gazpaco, empanada de atun, oysters and prawns – nevertheless, the parks are fabulous…

…as are the shopping trolleys…

…there are loads of festivals that far surpass anything that we Australians seem able to muster, for example, the Feira Medieval — the only downside was that it began warming up at 8pm, Willow was well and truly past her best…

…and when the sun shines at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon, everyone goes to the beach — on siesta? unemployed? not working hard enough?


…Maria Pita Square.

…The Atlantic Ocean from Monte San Pedro.

…New friend from Cuba.

…New jewels by Olivia.

…Helping Pa prepare his surfboard.

…Good to go.

…Australian nanas are much more fun at the park than Spanish nanas are. Australian nanas push harder on the swings…

…and they help you up the slides the wrong way.

…Chilling with Pa.

…Games with Nana.


…Torre de Hercules. The oldest Roman lighthouse in use today. Willow climbed most of the 242 steps to the top…

…and was wobbly and tired for the remainder of the day.

…Dinner is more delicious when lounging on Nana’s lap being spoon fed by GrandJohn. We have work to do with Willow now that all of the grandparents have gone home.

…La Marina Parque.

…Art with Nana.

…Blocks with GrandJohn. “Like this GrandJohn. You do know that my daddy is an engineer. He has taught me things.”

…Cuddles everywhere.


SIGHTSEEING. The walking and cycling pilgrim paths of Saint James — the most popular being a 780 kilometer journey from France — converge on Santiago de Compostela. It is a magical place, abuzz with ecstatic, and surprisingly sprightly, pilgrims. I am inspired. I have visited three times — twice by car, once by train. Next time, I would love to arrive by bike. Dale says: no way. I will have to wait a few years until Willow can join me. She seems keen.

…Here’s hoping that she can ride a bike. It is unlikely that she will go to the Olympics for running. She runs like a girl.


…Pilgrims. I want to “arrive” too.

…Spot the impious imposters.

…The line to hug the statue (Saint James?) was long.

ON TOUR WITH THE GRANDPARENTS ROWNEY. It is said that Santiago de Compostela is at its most beautiful in the rain.

…Father-Son-Father-Daughter. All best buddies.

ON TOUR WITH THE GRANDPARENTS MELDRUM. Willow stayed at home with the babysitter. It was my favourite visit to Santiago de Compostela. Even the restaurants are ornate. The pulpo al feira was delicious.


ON TOUR WITH THE GRANDPARENTS ROWNEY. Castles, lighthouses, pre-Christian Celtic ritual places, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, surf — but unfortunately not on this visit. Willow’s latest obsession is to walk on high narrow platforms. She wanted to walk the length of this broadwalk railing at Soesto Beach.

…With a few stumbles, and some fancy foot work,…

…she made it. She was satisfied with her performance.


ON TOUR WITH THE GRANDPARENTS MELDRUM. Porto is a delight. Completely charming. Riberia, the main riverside area has a lazy summer sunday afternoon atmosphere.

…Praca da Batalha. Chasing pigeons and dodging trams.

…As Dale says, at times I can play the part of hysterical mother to a tee — “Willow, there are trams! Trams! Watch out for the trams! The trams!”

…The coffee mugs are bigger in Portugal than they are in Spain, but Dale still complained.

…Lunch at Praia do Ourigo. Very large delicious oysters were cheap (9 Euros for 1/2 dozen). Very small stale sandwiches were expensive (7 Euros).

…Eiffel’s bridge that was not Effiel’s bridge, but rather, Effiel’s understudy’s bridge. A replica with an additional ugly under-slung roadway. Dale was confused and suspicious. He was correct. Eiffel’s bridge is up river.


LIFE. Frustrations.



…Fingers in nostrils.

…It is doing our heads in. Perhaps it is because I love to kiss and cuddle dogs?


LIFE. So our three months in Spain are coming to an end. Where to next?


…OK then.