But first I'll fess up to being economical with the truth, I did have an offer I couldn't refuse that took me far away from blogland, but it wasn't a work project . . . it was a holiday in the sunshine with Cliff :-)
We flew off to . . .
Who said "Lanza Grotty"? I heard you at the back there! And I have to say it's not a place that was on my 'places to see before I die' list, but with the weather grey and chilly at home and craving some guaranteed sunshine that was not too far away, it seemed a good option.
And I'm going to prove that all is not black and white on Lanzarote . . .
. . . well a lot of it is actually black (volcanic lava) and white (flat roofed buildings)
But, away from the main resorts (and this took a little research and exploring by car) we found some dramatic crashing Atlantic waves on near deserted beaches. You see that haze in the distance? It's wind blown sand!
We walked up valleys carpeted with flowers . . .
. . . to majestic cliff tops high above the blue ocean
Of course we went to Timanfaya National Park and did the bus-tour thing, which was very dramatic. But we also found a volcano all to ourselves, Montana de las Lapas del Coerso, it's a perfect volcanic dome with a collapsed roof, that you can walk right inside. See that tiny white dot just to the right of the centre of the picture? that's Cliff sitting on a rock looking at the awesome view
I took that photo from the far end of the crater, where I was exploring and searching for the beautiful wild geraniums that grow in the black volcanic ash in the shelter of the rocks.
On the outskirts of villages I could indulge in my favourite pass-time – looking over garden walls to see what vegetables are being grown. At first the landscape looks barren, sun scorched and wind swept; but the locals know a thing or two about growing crops in inhospitable conditions. The black volcanic ash is used as a thick mulch and the lava boulders are used to build dry stone wall wind-breaks. Neat geometric terraces and plots spill out across the valleys, full of onions, sweetcorn, chickpeas, beans, peas, potatoes, sweet-potatoes, figs, vines and almond trees.
There's a bit of culture too . . . a visit to Cesar Manrique's house was a must-see for me. It's now a museum, but parts are still furnished as it was when Manrique lived there – it's a 'grand design', rooms made in black volcanic lava 'bubbles' connected by tunnels and a sea of swirling lava flowing through the windows into his studio space (now a gallery). Outside the kinetic sculptures whirl in the wind that sweeps over the island on most days.
Oh . . . and we had some scrummy meals in some very nice out of the way little restaurants
. . . and to top it all a little bit of shopping too – I couldn't resist buying myself a fab pair of summer shoes :-) and some other little bits and bobs I may just blog about later.
Phew! that was a busy week . . . we got back very very late last night (in fact it was early this morning!) and I've been replying to all sorts of emails . . . some about interesting little illustration projects which I must start work on right way.
I'll be back soon to tell you who has won the PPP-prizes.