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Journey To A Dream

In May 2002 my wife and I journeyed from Huddersfield in England's industrial north to rural Galicia. Join us on our journey and immerse your senses in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this remote and little known region of Spain.

Tales from the Riverbank
30 April 2014

Saturday afternoon is always a great time to visit our nearest town, Monforte de Lemos. Unlike most town centres across the UK, the only retail activity comes from national supermarket chains and cheap Chinese bazaars. I can’t think of a better time to take the wife into town. Shop windows and locked doors; a Yorkshireman’s dream.

The Parador of Monforte de Lemos

It took some getting used to after the hustle and bustle of Huddersfield’s high streets. However; like many lifestyle changes associated with migrating to a foreign country, once we’d made the adjustment the benefits far outweighed the drawbacks and I’m not just talking about the savings. Take last Saturday for example.

In terms of the weather, we hadn’t had the best spring week ever but on Saturday afternoon the clouds parted and bright sunshine lit up the countryside.

‘Do you fancy a stroll along the river in Monforte?’ I asked.

I’d wanted to take a few snaps of the town centre Parador and for one reason or another hadn’t got round to it. Besides which, our hound Slawit would be pestering for her afternoon stroll anytime soon. So that was that; and off we went.

Within ten minutes of leaving home we were pulling up next to the river. During the week this stretch of road becomes primetime parking but not at the weekend. We parked opposite the new pedestrian bridge: an attractive piece of modern architecture made entirely from wood.

I lifted open the rear tailgate and Slawit jumped out, more in relief than excitement. After two and a half years of training, she still hates travelling in the car. Once on terra firma, her mood quickly changed: nose to the ground and tail in the air.

We crossed the footbridge over the Rio Cabe and began our walk along the recently renovated embankment footpath. From here we had an excellent view of the 16th century Romanesque bridge. As we ambled down the footpath, two ducks glided past us closely followed by two tiny ducklings struggling to keep up. On the opposite bank Snow geese and Greylag geese were basking in the warm sunshine.

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We continued along the footpath, passed the Romanesque bridge and up onto the main road bridge connecting the two halves of the town. From here we had a good view of El Escolapius, the 16th century Jesuit College and the architectural jewel in Monforte’s crown.

We crossed the bridge and headed back to the car. Slawit seemed oblivious to the water fowl paddling up and down the river. Mind you, when it comes to likes and dislikes, a body of water runs a very close second to a journey in the car: she won’t even wade through a puddle.

Back at the Romanesque bridge we had two options: continue along the footpath where a gaggle of geese lay in wait or climb the steps at the side of the bridge and amble down the pavement. I had my reservations but Melanie insisted on finishing off our walk along the riverbank. Visions of spitting geese, chasing us back down the footpath flashed through my mind. Nothing could have been further from reality: slowly and without drama our feathered friends waddled their way toward the river.

We arrived home just in time to see the footie results, Huddersfield Town 0 - Leicester City 2. Never mind, at least we had a good result, Peace and Quiet 3 – Hustle and Bustle 0.

Vine Watch – week 4

The vines received their first pesticide treatment of the year. From now on they’ll need spraying every ten days or after a downpour: whichever comes first. Keep your fingers crossed it’s the former.

Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs

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To find out more about a stay at Campo Verde and Galicia in general, visit our website getaway-galicia

Craig’s book, Journey To A Dream, is available exclusively from Amazon, to purchase your copy click here for your national Amazon store.

Find out more about Craig, and Galicia or look him up on Facebook



Like 0        Published at 10:58   Comments (0)


Rather Me than You
24 April 2014

A busy week ended on Easter Sunday with a lunch invitation from friends. Our opinion was sought on one of my favourite pastimes, wine selection. We were charged with the serious responsibility of choosing a suitable wine for the wedding reception of their eldest daughter, later in the year. After sampling four of the region’s finest, Val da Lenda emerged as the clear favourite. Given its young age, it is remarkably smooth, mellow and sophisticated. Come August, those wedding guests are in for a real treat.

The week had started on a high note: literally. Visiting friends from California invited us to a music concert at the Auditorio Muncipal in the town of Quiroga. Star of the show was Maria do Ceo, a Fado singer from Portugal, who now resides in Galicia. As the date approached our apprehension grew. Friends had greeted our announcement with curious facial expressions. The type of expression that says, “rather you than me”.

A sparsely attended concert hall did nothing to allay our fears. Portuguese Fado music has a reputation for being mournful and dower; nothing could have been further from the truth. Two musicians took to the stage. The auditorium fell silent as the lights dimmed. Moments later Maria glided in, wearing a black, satin evening dress with a long, dark shawl draped over her shoulders.

The musicians began to play: a Portuguese guitarist accompanied by a traditional classical guitar. Lively melodies filled the theatre and then Maria began to sing. Perfect pitch and passionate tones, each ballad told a story of life gained or love lost. The performance was flawless, far exceeding our expectations. Fado is one genre we’ll be looking out for in the future and Maria do Ceo in particular.

It hardly came as a surprise that the glorious weather came to an abrupt end the moment the Easter holidays began. But we had no intention of letting a little rain spoil our weekend.

Saturday saw the start of the two day Medieval Festival in Monforte de Lemos. Reading through the packed schedule, we decided to time our visit to coincide with the parade of contestants dressed in medieval costume and street entertainment of jesters, minstrels, and knights.

With usual gusto the local town’s folk, along with many holiday week visitors, immersed themselves in the occasion. Hundreds of people wandered around the streets dressed in all manor of medieval costumes: from kings and queens to blacksmiths and milkmaids. Participants in the costume contest climbed the stone steps in Plaza España, paid homage to the king and queen while the massed crowd applauded their efforts.

Afterwards we made our way up the narrow lanes heading towards the castle. Medieval themed market stalls lined the route and the sound of Galician bagpipes (gaitas) drifted through the crowd. On our return to the square, a large crowd had gathered around a group of street entertainers.

Two, twelve foot tall jesters danced on stilts urging onlookers to follow their motley crew through the streets of Monforte. Supporting their flamboyant act were a band of noisy drummers and a group of excited dancers, escorted around the town by a troop of medieval soldiers.

We finished our Easter weekend at our favourite pizza restaurant Bohemia, in the nearby town of Chantada: pizza and pasta cooked to perfection.

Vine Watch – week 3

Hidden within the fresh green foliage are miniature bunches of grapes. This year’s crop is beginning to show its face.

Copyright © 2014 Craig Briggs

*************************************************************************

To find out more about a stay at Campo Verde and Galicia in general, visit our website getaway-galicia

Craig’s book, Journey To A Dream, is available exclusively from Amazon, to purchase your copy click here for your national Amazon store.

Find out more about Craig, and Galicia or look him up on Facebook



Like 0        Published at 11:35   Comments (2)


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