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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Miranda du Douro..... (1 Viewer)


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That's it.


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And finally…..

We travelled Bham to Porto by Ryanair at just under 70 quid each which I thought good value - this was booked about 6 weeks prior to the flight. For those that don’t use Ryanair their CEO Michael O’Leary is forever making booking challenging by goalpost moving so fine detail has too be checked with regard to luggage etc at every stage in the ticket booking process. You now have to pay for the formally standard carry-on bag. It’s not much and it means you get ‘priority’ when boarding. That just means you are in front of the queue nothing more. A small ‘man’ bag goes gratis - lucky us! It does mean, however, that they don’t tend to hassle you with either size or weight of your paid for bag but ensure that it will go in the overhead locker otherwise it will be put in the hold and charged accordingly. The only glitch was the confiscation of my specialised Brompton tool kit at Brum airport. In case of bike hire I wanted to be able to change a tyre etc but NO it was not on the approved list. I said what do you think I am going to do - run around and tighten things up! (Or untighten as someone said) They said they could hold it until I get back or ‘dispose’ of it for me. I pointed out that it cost more than the flight. It was duly bagged and I had to pay 11 quid to get it back. I did get my own revenge on the security at Porto though. When in the Med I always acquire a walking stick made from Giant Fennel (same family but no relation). At the end of the flowering season it turns woody and can be snapped off and reduced to the required length. It is incredibly light and strong in compression and traditionally used as a walking stick by shepherds etc. At 65 I do not need a stick but do find one useful for moving spiky vegetation out of the way and a a 3rd foot for descending steep slopes. Despite negative comments from the Bride and several attempts to confiscate at Porto I told them I need it to walk and that was it. It did go thru the scanner and now awaits varnishing and a shotgun cartridge for the base - I win…..

We averaged just over 45 euros a night for accommodation as the Bride insists on our own room and en-suite ablutions. Neither of those bother me. If you are in a proper hostel then both should be available otherwise you are in a hotel. They are just somewhere to hang my hat as long as it is clean and secure I am fine. I prefer a common room and a shared balcony for a chat and a beer personally. Our billet in Miranda included breakfast and en-suite hence 50 Euros as opposed to 40 in Porto.

A 2 hour train journey from Porto half way up the Douro was 13.50 Euros each then a 1.5 hour coach to Miranda 9 each. The long coach back works out slightly cheaper at £18 each. To me travelling is part of the trip and I never baulk at it. Neither of us drive and I sometimes take a Brompton when price and logistics allow. New vistas means new birds. 27 hours from Agadir to Dakhla is challenging but hey you are virtually in Mauretania with the Blue men of the Sahara!

Local wines particularly House are excellent value and the Lager whether Superbock or whatever is 5% Eurofizz at about 2.50 a pint average. I find Portuguese food tasty and ruderal I.e. lacking the variety of Spain but most ingredients are regionally sourced - no strawberries from Mexico here.

What next? I intend to travel 3-4 times a year to make up for lost time. Let’s face it - the travel ban was only for the great unwashed in order to make us spend our money supporting Sunak. If you had a ‘holiday home to maintain’ in Greece like Johnson’s Dad then that was fine. The EU, particularly Portugal and Spain, are still making us jump thru hoops, I.e. more punishment for Brexit so check your vaccine validity…..until we all have to have one for Monkey pox or whichever one they try and scare us with next.

September is just around the corner and for me Batumi beckons. Wizzair need to pull their finger out with direct Luton to Kutaisi flights otherwise it is plan B. Fly to either Istanbul and an overnight coach (£11!) around the Black Sea or fly to Dalyman and a coach over the Anatolian plateau to Batumi - either way it will be done! Looking slightly further ahead and as long as Israel is not still jabbing anything that moves for the umpteenth time then my Eilat ‘bucket trip’ for a month next mid-March to mid-April will finally be realised. Now that flights are reasonably available to the new Eilat 2.0 airport at Ramon things might just come together. One of the Bromptons (I have 3 now) will definitely accompany me and it will be shared hostel etc.

Good birding -

Laurie -

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