Pedalos and planes. It is all Greek to me 4. Zante 2015

Pedalos Zante

I am still getting through my photos from Zante, Greece.  You can read these earlier posts by clicking the links below:

It is all Greek to me 1, Zante Dawn.

It is all Greek to me 2, Jump in the pool.

It is all Greek to me 3, Banana Beach.

DimExcuses Zante

I still have a load of photos to go. These are taken on Kalamaki Beach when we hired some pedalos.

Kalamaki Beach

As mentioned in the Zante Dawn post, this beach is just before where the planes land, so you often see them flying overhead.

Kalamaki Plane

It is quite surreal as you pedal about and dive in the water to see the planes soaring over you so close.

Plane & Pedalo

I wonder if they could look down and see us snorkeling by our pedallo?

Plane Zante

Snorkeling here is great fun, but you won’t see much in this bay at this time of year, unless you come down really early and catch the turtles hatching.

Underwater Zante

I am sure in this photo Sharon is trying to run me over with the pedalo. It makes for one of my most unusual selfies! That look on my face is all about being twice out of my depth and the camera I am holding doesn’t float!

In water selfie

Sharon insisted on a pedalo with a sun shade, probably wise in this sun.

Parasol Pedalo

We let the kids with us roast in the sun.

Pedalo Zante 2015

Snorkeling done and all pedaled out, it was time to try out the beach bar on Kalamaki Beach…

Kalamaki Beach Bar

…and catch one last plane shot.

Plane Kalamaki

This Mediterranean life was starting to suit me.

DimExcuses Beach Life

Next we went and snorkeled in some more wildlife populated parts of the coast, but that is a whole different post that I will upload soon, DimExcuses.

 

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Banana Beach, Greece, DimExcuses Beach Guide. It is all Greek to me 3. Zante 2015.

Banana Beach Zante

This is my third post in my it is all Greek to me series, documenting my recent time on the Ionian island Zakynthos otherwise known as Zante, Greece. You can read posts one (Dawn Rocks) and two (Jump in the Pool) here.

Casa Playa Banana Beach

Banana Beach is the first international beach to feature in my DimExcuses beach guides.

Banana Beach

Banana Beach is to the north of the island in a traditionally Greek village called Vassilikos. You need to get the free bus that collects from the tourist centers of Kalamaki and Laganas, which then takes you on a secluded road cutting through a pine forest before taking you straight to Casa Playa, the large beach bar that dominates Banana Beach.

Casa Playa

Banana Beach is 12 kilometers from the airport and 10 kilometers from Zante Town. It is a blue flag standard beach, described as having “golden silky sand that is certain to deliver that relaxing paradise you’ve been dreaming about” by Casa Playa Beach Bar.

Palm Beach Zante Style

They don’t exaggerate, it is fantastic, total luxury. The bars plays the best blissed out Ibiza tunes over the boardwalk keeping your feet off the hot white sand. You can then rent a sunbed under a straw sunshade as you order cocktails via waiter service. Or you could just go the whole hog and get a four poster double sunbed!

Banana Beach Sunbed

The sea is the closest the Mediterranean comes to surf with a tiny swell making bathing fun. Banana Beach is water sports central and you can end up doing all sorts of crazy things tied to the back of a speed boat. We risked spinal injury in a big rubber ring, but walked away laughing.

Surf Zante

The water is very clear on the whole of Zante, but it was even clearer at Banana Beach.

Banana Beach from the Sea

This Beach is all about the luxury laze. It is a far cry from the wind swept Gower walks Molly, Sharon and I usually get up to, though Sharon wasn’t complaining.

Sharon Banana Beach

Casa Playa is the perfect dream bar, and provides showers and toilets, so no need to worry about any alfresco rest stops.  I could stay there all day and time flies when you are relaxing, but the return bus pick up is 4 pm.

Boardwalk

I could get used to this luxury lifestyle.

DimExcuses Banana Beach

Danielle I think was starting to call it her spiritual home.

Danielle Banana Beach

I love the orange sunbeds under the straw sunshades.

Banana Beach Sunbeds

I loved this beach and its Casa Playa beach bar.

Casa Playa

Pure chilled out luxury. It was the real highlight of our trip, which was literally all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Jump in the Pool! Zante 2015. It is all Greek to me 2.

Jump in the pool Zante 2015

So there I was in the middle of the Mediterranean. I had seen the sunrise on the beach (It is all Greek to me 1), and I was signed up for two weeks sun & snorkeling with friends in Zante, Greece.

Swim Zante

We were staying in Hotel Denny’s Inn, which was a great Hotel, with a nice restaurant, lovely bar, fantastic staff, but most importantly an awesome pool.

Denny's Inn Pool

The pool was essential as temperatures were rising to 35C in the shade. It was suggested ‘in that case you should try and stay out of the shade’.

DimExcuses on Tour

A cooling dip was needed on the hour every hour, and this pool even had a deep end (As demonstrated by Lewis here). You don’t see that in UK hotel pools much anymore.

Lewis of the Deep

I was amazed by these little birds that were always dipping in the water and pottering around us at the edge of the pool.

Pool Birds

They had plans to eat the insects that had plans to eat me, so welcome pool buddies.

Dipping

More nature and tourism together.

Pool Buddies

I also saw a lot of bats at night, unusually close to the sea, probably due to the unlimited mosquito food source.

Zante Birds

Our party was a little less tranquil around the pool.

Ready to launch

With the lads making the most of Denny’s Inn keeping the pool stocked up with inflatables.

Zante 2015

Charge!

Charge

Sharon and I took a shades on underwater selfie amidst the shenanigans.

Underwater Shades On Selfie

It was a lovely pool and a good base for the rest of my Greece adventures, where I saw more wildlife than just the pool birds…

Zante Birds

I have some more Zante posts to come, but basically it is all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Dawn Rocks! Zante, 2015. It is all Greek to me 1.

Zante Dawn

So there I was, deep in the Mediterranean enjoying the morning sunrise and examining the geology. The #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year was going so well a month ago, and then I developed a large abscess under my arm (go to @DimExcuses twitter for the gory detail). A trip to A&E and some emergency surgery under a general aesthetic, I was left with a big hole under my arm that would need weeks of healing, and definitely no surfing (DimSurfing).

Sunrise Zante

So it was rather lucky that we were set for two weeks R&R in Zante, Greece, for our friends Nic and Mark to renew their wedding vows.

Empty Zante Beach

Sun, sand and cocktails by the pool was just what the doctor ordered.

Zante Landing

We stayed in Kalamaki, right by Zakynthos airport, where the planes land close over the beach. Really close over the beach.

Fly Zante

I could watch the in flight movie as this one passed.

Beach Plane

Sunrises and planes aside, the reason I was on the beach was because people had been telling me about a glass like rock formation in the bay. I was brought a piece back and identified it as Muscovite Mica. Mica is usually the little reflective bits that but the sparkle in Granite Worktops.

Muscovite Mica by the Sea

To see it in a large crystal outcrop would be quite interesting for a Geologist like me. Note the water bottle for scale, always a Geologist.

Muscovite Mica

There were some other striking rock formations…

Greek Rock Formation

…and also the shear awe that people can be so ignorant to the hazard of this potential rockfall. I saw some people lying under it for shade!

Potential Rockfall

The Zante coast is so very picturesque.

Pedalo Dawn

It really does have a bit of an edge on Wales in terms of sun and warm weather, and has a rather awesome sideline in turtle conservation.  They fence the nests off like this to protect the hatch-lings.

Turtle Nest

Great to see nature and tourism developing side by side, the tagline for these pedalos was ‘Rent a Pedalo, see a Turtle’.

Pedalo Dawn

A great morning and a good start to the holiday.  I have four more posts from Zante, and it is all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Some like it hot! Gower Chilli Festival 2015.

Gower Chilli Festival

The sun finally came out for the first day of Gower Chilli Festival 2015. This two day event runs 18th & 19th July 2015 at South Gower Sports Club, Scurlage, Gower (SA3 1BA). So what is Gower Chilli Festival?

Chilli Festival

It is a loosely specialist food festival based around chillies and chilli based foods, that incorporates food & craft tents, BBQ completions, a chilli cookoff, gormet food stalls, family activities, bands and a bar. Here is their website.

Cool Heat

It is based in South Gower Sports Ground so includes access to their bar and clubhouse. There was a bit of chaos as the only real ale, the legendary Gower Gold was off on one pump and foaming on the other leading to a queue at the bar. But no one minded in the relaxed atmosphere and there was plenty of food to destract and engage you.

Relaxed Chilli Festival

It is free to park but costs £5 to get in (£8 for both days).

Cool Heat, Gower Chilli Festival

There are sauces to try for every pallet from smokey BBQ, limes and pickles to nuclear tastebud disabling red hot chilli sauces. When there say XXX hot here they mean it!

Estelle's Gower Goodies

So did I get anything? Of course I did, and as this was Gower Chilli Festival, I had to get some Gower sauces. ‘The Gower Scorpion’ and ‘Under Neath The Counter’ from Estelle’s Gower Goodies’ stall pictured above. You can find out all about her sauces at the Estelle’s Gower Goodies’ website here.  I am a little bit nervous about using the ‘Under Neath the Counter’ it looks like a tongue battering firestarter!

Gower Scorpion

Gower Chilli Festival was a relaxing and tastebud tingling day out today, and there is still a second day tomorrow for you to go to, DimExcuses.

#MyGreenSpace is Yellow Today, Kenfig National Nature Reserve, June 2015.

Kenfig NNR

In Bridgend we are well into the #MyGreenSpace campaign, helping people discover and share the green spaces important to them. So with a sunny day in June I find myself in Bridgend’s jewel in the crown green space, Kenfig National Nature Reserve.

Keeper of the Dunes

It is a massive sand dune reserve, with spectacular lake, salt marsh and expansive beach. Even the lake has a little beach too, “Hey girls, you are on Molly’s Beach, watch out for the bulldog”!

Molly's Beach

But as I was accompanied by the frenzied frenchton Molly, apparently it was about the massive field of buttercups you can find there at the moment.

Buttercup Molly

A very yellow #MyGreenSpace. So why not go to the #MyGreenSpace section of our Natural Neighbourhoods Website to discover and share your favourite Bridgend Green Space, DimExcuses.

Clyne in Bloom, May 2015. #MyGreenSpace

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Yesterday saw the start of the #MyGreenSpace campaign to encourage people to discover great outdoor places. So today Molly and I thought we would help you discover a world class green space, Clyne Gardens in Swansea.

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This is the best time to see the gardens in their full glory, Clyne in Bloom. The #MyGreenSpace campaign is based in Bridgend County Borough and uses their Natural Neighbourhoods website to help you discover green spaces and things to do outdoors. But there is no reason people outside Bridgend (like Molly and I in Swansea) can’t get involved and discover great green spaces and share them using #MyGreenSpace. Just like I am doing here with Clyne in Bloom. Last week I discovered white bluebells and today I was pleased to find there is no shortage of them in Clyne (below) or in their traditional blue (above).

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At the moment Clyne Gardens has spectacular flowering bushes contrasted by wild species in equal bloom like this wild garlic. The aroma is incredible too.

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The colours are so vivid and varied.
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Molly the French Bulldog couldn’t believe all the colours, smells and textures all around her.

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Molly and I visited Clyne in Bloom last year and we especially like the giant rhubarb like Gunnera plants. We visited Clyne in the middle of winter and saw the Gunnera wilted away and rotted down, but I am glad to say our favorite giant rhubarb was back in full bloom in my green space.

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I know it is not related to Rhubarb by the way.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera

Just don’t tell Molly, who was keeping it calm and keeping casual under the giant rhubarb.

#MyGreenSpace Molly and the Giant Rhubarb

It is quite a magnificent plant.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera Clyne

Molly was more interested in the flowers.

#MyGreenSpace Molly

And what a range of flowers you can see at Clyne in Bloom.

#MyGreenSpace Clyne Flowers

What better way to get involved with the #MyGreenSpace campaign than discovering the great green space of Clyne Gardens, Swansea? Why not get out and photograph your favorite green spaces and tag them #MyGreenSpace for someone else to discover on social media? Get involved, DimExcuses.

 

The Dog Ban and Gower Beaches, all you need to know.

High Tide Pobbles Bulldog

From 1st May to 30th September there are restrictions for dogs on Gower beaches and certain seafronts. In the winter my french bulldog cross Molly and I are constantly found checking out the winter swells at Langland and Caswell. With the arrival of May we have to leave our beach winter wonderland, but don’t worry there are great Gower beaches open to dogs all year. Here is a guide to where they are and all you need to know about the Gower beach dog bans.

Molly Cave Explorer

From May 1st to Sept 30th here is a list of beaches where dogs are not allowed:

  • Swansea Bay – from the River Tawe to the slip opposite Victoria Park and from the beach access at Sketty Lane to the northern edge of the slip at the West Cross Inn
  • Bracelet Bay
  • Limeslade Bay
  • Rotherslade Bay
  • Langland Bay
  • Caswell Bay
  • Port Eynon beach – from the eastern edge of the steps to Port Eynon beach to the eastern edge of Horton beach access.

Strike a Pose

So that is where you and your canine best friend can’t go in Gower from May 1st. But don’t panic here are the beaches Molly and I recommend that are open to dogs all year, or what we call our endless summer.

Frenchton and Ball

Dogs are limited on these beaches:

  • Swansea Bay – from the slip opposite Victoria Park to the beach access at Sketty Lane
  • Horton – from the lifeguard station east towards Oxwich
  • Port Eynon (from the main steps west to the Salt House

But DimExcuses don’t restrict your dog, go wild on these great Gower beaches all summer:

Pobbles

Talk to the bum cause the face ain't listening

Three Cliffs

Molly is the Queen of Three Cliffs

Tor Bay
Oxwich
Mewslade

Rhossili

Molly the shipwreck hunter

Llangennith
Broughton
Whiteford Sands

Swansea Council require that you keep your dog on a lead on the following paths.

  • The entire promenade at Swansea Bay (from the River Tawe to the Knab Rock car park, Mumbles)
  • The promenades at Langland Bay and Rotherslade
  • The promenade at Caswell Bay.

Molly Langland

I interpret these bylaws being enforced in the same 1st May to 30th September dog ban season as the beaches, but don’t take my word for that as I am no lawyer, and Swansea Council threaten a £500 fine for breaching the dog ban and £200 for breaching the lead rules. Molly says she can’t see how that could be enforceable for any visitor committing an offence out of ignorance, but again she too isn’t a lawyer and is also a bulldog. But with the information above you will be able to exercise your dog on Gower within the law with no worries, DimExcuses.

Long spring evenings when you get Pobbles Bay to yourself. 17th April 2015.

Spring evenings when you get the beach to yourself.

Spring is here and the longer light is coaxing the sunny days to come in behind it. I made the effort to get Molly the bulldog and I straight down Pobbles Bay, Gower after work today, and it paid off as we had the bay at high tide to ourselves.

Spring Evening Pobbles Bay Gower

There was little wind, some gentle clouds and a perfect spring evening to be enjoyed.

Perfect Spring Evening

Arriving at high tide meant the view was fantastic…

High Tide Pobbles

…but no beach for us.

Lookout Molly

There are places you can go at Pobbles, if you know your cliff paths, but as always know your limitations and take care of yourselves. The cliffs and boulders Molly and I explore require agility and a lot of local knowledge.

High Tide Pobbles Bulldog

But it does give you some very different views of Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay.

Pobbles

The high tide and evening light really made the bay atmospheric for just Molly and I to take in on our own.

Molly Pobbles

We caught the bay at a great light for when the tide was so high.

Moody Spring Evening Pobbles

Molly was happy exploring the cliff paths.

Molly Cliff Exploring

The views really were fantastic.

Spring Evening Gower

But this was a quick visit, we were there and back in an hour and a half. Yet Molly still found the only muddy puddle.

In every muddy puddle

Pennard gossip alert! On the way home I noticed someone is seriously doing up the Three Cliffs overlooking dream house Shirecombe.

Shirecombe

Molly had her serious face on at accusations of being in muddy puddles, but apparently ‘it was a similar looking dog’…

Muddy Molly

So the lesson is, make the most of your spring evenings and score those empty Gower beaches to yourself, DimExcuses.

Mentro 1. Newgale, Pembrokeshire, Easter Sunday 2015.

Newgale Pebbles

I have a project this year to get in the water surfing at least 21 times. I am calling this project Mentro 21, with mentro being Welsh for ‘to venture’. With a sunny Easter Sunday and a small wave predicted, where better to start the first surf (Mentro 1) than Newgale Bay in Pembrokeshire.

Newgale

We arrived to a lovely small one foot wave, but this tailed off towards the falling tide as midday went into afternoon.

Perfect Right

With a lack of surf adventure Molly was happy to step in for some action shots.

Baywatch Molly

She even brought some friends…

Molly, Leader of the Pack

…and made some new ones.

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The sand level was very low and the low tide was exposing some quite bizarre sand banks. The children were finding these sandbanks get new lands to conquer.

Sandbanks

The dogs were more interested in the rivers the sandbanks were creating.

New Rivers

Molly supervising Eddie here in some serious bobbing for pebbles.

Pebble Bobbing

We put Molly in the van for five minutes, to try and get her to take a break from charging up and down the beach with her mates.

VW Molly

She wasn’t happy.

Moody Bulldog

And was soon nosing out the window.

Nosing out the Window

So we let her back out on the beach…

Molly Newgale

…and in those sandbank rivers.

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Those who had struck when the iron was hot, and got in on the early tide had been rewarded with a lovely little wave.

Morning Surf

By the evening I was in less luck, but there was no way I wasn’t going to ‘mentro allan’ (venture out) for the first surf of the year. So I was a lonesome figure as I walked into the ripples.  That is me tiny on the right (Get your reading glasses on).

Evening Ripples

Here I am in the line up.

Evening Line Up

Well basically I was the line up, but I got some small waves and got my hair wet for the first time this year. It wasn’t too cold even though the water temperature is nine degrees at the moment.

Newgale

Mentro 1, the first surf of the year done. The next 20 hopefully will have a bit more action, like Molly here.

Splash

Whatever happens you can’t beat Newgale when the sun is shining like that and it was great see friends and family down on the beach enjoying it too.  We had left home at 9.30 am and we got home at 11 pm. One seriously great sunny day.

Newgale Beach

With a fantastic Easter Sunday in the bag, we are now looking at a sunnier Bank Holiday Monday. Molly is in a bit of an adventure coma, so I think a simple day at Oxwich, Gower for us today. You should get out too, DimExcuses.