Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Messing About In Boats and the Virgen del Carmen


One of the benefits of riding to Spain is that my wife Jackie and Paul's wife Sarah were able to fly down and we all got to spend a week together in Sotogrande in southern Spain. The flight from London is about 2.5 hours, and the drive to the house is a short one of just about an hour. Of course, Sarah flew with their son, Jack, who must be one of the most happy babies I have ever seen.  He enjoyed the flight and didn’t disturb the other passengers!

Having had great weather all the way through Spain on our ride, we were lucky that the weather continued to be terrific and we basked in glorious sunshine for the week.

We are really lucky that our house is next to the water and we have a small boat that we just love messing about in.  But first, the five of us headed out in a larger boat that belongs to a friend and we went along the coast to Puerto Banus, a well known port along this stretch of the coast. This is Jack looking rather worried about his first boat trip, sitting between Jackie and Sarah just as we were getting ready to leave....





















Jack still looking worried....






















He soon cheered up however when we let him drive the boat!....





















On the way, we were spotted by some Dolphins that decided to play in our wake....






Puerto Banus and some of the boats moored there....





























Jackie and Sarah relaxing while Jack in between them gets down to some serious relaxing!....





















Jack waking up, being cuddled by Jackie....


























We had a wander around the marina and had a good lunch before heading back to Sotogrande. Paul was obviously tired as he was asleep on the back of the boat.....


























On another day we went into the local mountains by train to a small town called Benaojan where we had a leisurely lunch. The train arrives near the restaurant at around 1pm and doesn’t leave again until 4.40pm, so there is ample time to eat! Here we are at the restaurant....



















In trying to match one certain blogger who often posts pictures of his food, here is the salad I ate as a first course. It was delicious!....




















Young Jack, taking it easy after lunch....






















Jack again, being fed by yours truly....






















The second part of this blog post is about a Spanish Festival, called Virgen del Carmen. The virgin icons of the church in Spain are very important and one of these is the Virgen del Carmen who has been adopted as the patron Saint of the sea. On 16th July each year her revered statue is taken from the local church and paraded through the streets and down to the sea. In some towns, the statue is then taken onto a heavily decorated boat and accompanied by other boats, taken for a trip on the sea. Such a festival happens in Sotogrande and we decided to see the parade and join in the flotilla. It was quite a sight!

Here are Jackie and me on our way to see the procession, with the picture courtesy of Paul....





















At the front of the procession were three small girls in fancy Spanish costumes....






















The procession making its way alongside the port....





















The Virgen del Carmen statue, held aloft by the people of Sotogrande....





















The parade is accompanied by fireworks. Not just any fireworks, but the loudest fireworks I have ever heard. Next comes the crazy part. The boats that will make up the flotilla assemble on the water and jostle for position to get a good view of the statue. Having so many boats in one place all moving could produce quite a few insurance claims, but remarkable, we didn’t see any of the boats collide. There were some close calls however....

















The boat carrying the statue is the white one, in the middle of this picture....





















This short video shows the boats following the boat with the statue. Large boats, small boats, overloaded boats and even jet-skis join in....






I cannot believe how many guys were in the small boat on the left....




















The flotilla moves out on the sea, with the Rock of Gibraltar in the background....
















The boats against the setting sun, thankfully all going in the same direction....





















Being Spain, little regard is taken of health and safety. It is actually quite refreshing to see these kids enjoying themselves. Yes I know they might fall in. Yes I know they should have life jackets on....



















It was great fun. As the final picture below shows, it looks absolute chaos, but everyone was being very sensible....
















I love messing about in boats!

8 comments:

Charlie6 said...

I don't know Gary, I think I would have been a nervous wreck with all those boats around me!

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Mat the Rat said...

You know what? Its a bloggers life!!!
great reading Gary & greta photo's
Mat

WooleyBugger said...

You have such a sweet deal going on there. Tell you what, that Jack knows what he wants, what he likes, and probably where he's a headed to like an old soul Skipper already.

Raftnn said...

Awesome post Gary, some great pictures. Looks like you had a fantastic week. Boats and Bikes, two of my favourite things. Living in auckland which is surronded by water and great little islands your post brought back many fond memories of my sailing days. I hope you consider coming to NZ some time, you would love it here.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

my ears are burning . . . what ! only salad ? where's the rest of your meal ?

sometimes I wished I were Jack again. As Dom says, too many boats, too little space

you are so lucky to always have good weather follow you around. Enjoy your vacation

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

B.B. said...

Wow, great pics and videos, but I have to say that little Jack stole that post! :)

bluekat said...

Looks like a wonderful vacation!
You're right, there is something about being on the water. It looks a little scary with all the crowds, but fun too. I'm not sure I'd want to try it in my little kayak though!

Gary France said...

Dom – It was pretty nerve wrecking, but somehow it all went off without any accidents or bumps.

Mat – Yep, riding around the USA and blogging about it was good for me and now I am enjoying reading about you doing the same. Enjoy Sturgis!

Wooley – Young Jack seems to know what he likes and isn’t shy about letting those around him know.

Roger – Boats and bikes are a great combination. Funny you should mention coming to NZ. Jackie and I were talking about exactly that a few days ago and it seems that February 2013 might just be getting pencilled in the diary....!

Bob – Yes, your ears should have been burning! Being Jacks age would be good, but would we really like it? Heck, yes we would!

B.B. – I laughed when I read what you said about little Jack stealing the post, as you were spot on!

bluekat – Being on the water is fabulous. I wouldn’t have fancied your chances in a kayak!