Monday, 30 April 2012


As well as the native wild flowers in and around Benidorm, we also found many non-natives in full bloom.  The most numerous of which were as always, the Date Palms.  The flowers look feathery and soft but if you touch them, you find they are hard, waxy and feel like they're made of plastic.
On our walks over to La Cala, we passed a couple of ornamental trees with showy, purple flowers and large, dark-green leaves.  New to me, it turned out to be a Wigandia or Purple Nettle, with the wonderful scientific name of Wigandia caracasana.  Coming, as the name suggests, from Central and South America (around Caracas) it makes a fine ornamental.
Another non-native, was a tree planted along the main roads and in full bloom while we were there.  I thought they were Weeping Fig trees as the leaves were exactly like that small tree, but the flowers suggested otherwise and after some searching, they turned out to be Australian natives.  The Lacebark Karrajong (Brachychiton populneus).  Also known as Bottle Trees in the USA.
Lastly a more familiar flower and one which can now be found growing along the south coast of Britain.  The South African native, Hottentot Fig (Carpobrotus edulis).  Covering the lower cliffs of La Cala, they made quite a display in the sunshine.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Hermitage View

Walking away from the main resort towards La Cala once more, you reach an outcrop of rock between Benidorm and La Cala on top of which you will find a small 'Hermitage' dedicated to the Virgin of the Sea.
From this vantage point, you get some great views of Benidorm, dominated by the edifice of the 'Residencia InTempo'.
A metal fence runs around the top of the rock and taking a look straight down, it's a good job too.  It's a long way down there!
Looking the other way, you get a good view of the rock we climbed a few days earlier and the Torre del Aguiló on top.  It was rather windy up here, even on a calm day it's a bit exposed as you can see.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

More Flowers

Yellow was the dominant colour among the flowers opening around Benidorm.  I mentioned the Scorpion Vetch yesterday, but that was just one of many.
Many smaller plants were to be found hugging the rocks, including a rather prickly customer called Pallenis spinosa.  The ring of thorny bracts around the flower head gives the plant it's name 'spinosa'.
Smaller still were the Helianthemum syriacum lifting their faces towards the sun.
Showier than all these had to be the Sea Aster (Astericus maritimus) flowers.  Growing in all the crannies of the rocks they stole the show among the yellow flowers.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Spring Flowers

Spring had sprung in Benidorm - more than it has here - and the flowers were beginning to make things look colourful. Around the Torre del Moro, the verges and cliffs were showing their best, clothed with the purple of Lavandula dentata, the yellow of Rush-like Scorpion Vetch (Coronilla juncea) and the white of the Teucrium pseudochamaepitys.  You might also catch the distant sight of Malcolm in this picture...
Among the 'Bluest' of flowers in the area were the Viper's Bugloss (Echium plantagineum).  A small plant with spiky leaves and stems, but with beautiful flowers.
A member of the cabbage family caught my eye too, the purple flowers of the Cut-leaved Dames Violet (Hesperis laciniata).
Among the biggest flowers are those belonging to the Grey-leaved Cistus which are opening all over the sunny slopes of the area.  Looking like tissue paper, they are pink and crinkly, but rather gorgeous and showy.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Tower 2

Wednesday of last week, saw us taking another long walk, this time to the defencive tower at the other end of the resort.  The Torre del Moro.
Known also as the Castel del Mar, this is a popular place to visit as the walk provides some fantastic views over the sea and, when you get to the tower itself, you get a wonderful view of the cliffs of the Serra Gelada.
Another of the towers which dot this part of the Spanish coast, it was built to defend Spain against pirates and the Moorish invaders of North Africa.
More from this walk, tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tall, Taller, Tallest

In a city known for it's 'skyscrapers', there is a new and yet taller construction taking shape. Along our route to La Cala and the climb to the tower, we passed the construction site of this massive new edifice. What a sight it is too! The 52 floors of the Residencial Intempo...
The building is said to resemble a number 'eleven' and a capital letter M, as a way to remember the victims of Madrid's March 11, 2004 terrorist attack. At 656ft tall, it replaces the Hotel Gran Bali as the tallest building in Benidorm towering another 46ft higher. These two pictures were taken from the back of the building along the main road.
The concrete construction is faced with a golden, glass facade and looks quite something in the sunshine. There is a large cone at the top of the building joining the two 'legs' and making the 'M' complete. From the seafront promenade, it towers over all the other buildings and gives you a stiff neck as you walk along, looking up at it. You also run the risk of falling off the prom while your attention is given to it.
Due to be completed later this year (probably not likely given the speed of Spanish workmen), it should be a fantastic sight when finished. More HERE.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

More Tower Views

Looking away from Benidorm, we got wonderful views over Villajoyosa and off towards the city of Alicante.  A large storm was rumbling away over Alicante at the time.
Malcolm seemed to be enjoying the view and the sunshine while keeping one eye on the dark clouds on the horizon.
The flora was pretty good too. Pine trees and grasses, among others were all green and fresh-looking and there was one rather eye-catching visitor to the flowers on the hill. A couple of European Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilio gorganus) flitted around. An extremely rare sight in Britain these days (indeed, only found in small areas of the Norfolk Broads), Swallowtails are still fairly common on the continent. Beautiful!
Another colourful addition the scene was to be found all around the woodland floor as we descended the hill before starting our 4 mile walk back. Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) were abundant in the dappled shade.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tower of L'Aguiló

The first full day of our holiday saw us taking a long walk from our apartment, to the nearby resort of La Cala - also known as Finistrat.  It was a walk of about 4 miles before we got to the headland where the tower stands and then we faced a difficult climb through the trees to the summit at about 400ft.  Typically, we found the most difficult path first, but we soon got to the tower.
The tower was built between 1525 and 1550 and formed part of the coastal defences, guarding against pirate attacks.  Guardsmen lived and worked in the tower.
Restoration and archaeological digs around the tower have revealed underground storage rooms and a water cistern for the guards.  Most of these defencive fortifications are round towers, but this is of particular interest being square.  The views were certainly spectacular in all directions.  Here, looking over the city of Benidorm towards the Serra Gelada and another, round tower in the distance (we walked to that tower on Tuesday - more of that to come).

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Back again

Malcolm and I returned from a week away in Benidorm, yesterday afternoon.  We stayed in an apartment, well out of the main resort in a quiet, residential area of the city.  Much better than the usual hubbub of the busy centre.
From our balcony, we had good views of the mountains behind the resort.  The most obvious one being the 4,613ft high Puig Campana literally translated, Bell Peak.
The mountain is a well known sight in these parts especially as there seems to be a 'chip' taken out of the lower peaks (as seen from this angle).  In folklore, the 'chip' is said to be the place where the rock which forms Peacock Island, just off the coast of Benidorm, came from.
As always, the apartments were well populated by stray cats.  Every day, one more cat seemed to appear, but they were rather gorgeous, lazing in the sunshine - what cats do best.
More to come over the next few days.

Saturday, 7 April 2012


No walk this morning as we needed some shopping, but instead, a few pictures from previous walks.
I have mentioned before, the Highland Cattle which have recently been introduced to the area by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as part of their land management scheme.  Well, in addition to these wonderful creatures, the trust have also brought in a small flock of Jacob Sheep to a field near Mapperley Reservoir.  Hiding in the long grass, they were difficult to spot and even more difficult to photograph a few days ago.
This breed of sheep has remained almost unchanged by selective breeding by man for many years.  There is mention of a 'piebald' breed of sheep (probably Jacob or something very like it) from the Middle East dating back three thousand years and genetic investigation would suggest that these animals are indeed directly descended from ancient Asian or African sheep rather than other European breeds.  Not in any great peril in the UK these days by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, there are thought to be in excess of 3,000 breeding females in the country.
These few have certainly done their bit for the population as there seemed to be at least four lambs laying in the grass.  Lets hope we get some better views in the weeks to come.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


After a day of enforced sloth due to the dreadful weather yesterday, it was nice to get out and about again this morning.  Still rather chilly, but at least dry again, we set out for a brief walk through Shipley Park, before heading into town.
The trees and bushes have taken a bit of a battering in the strong winds, rain, sleet, snow and cold temperatures, but the Cherry Trees are still putting on a brave show.
At one point, we even noticed a small patch of blue sky, but it didn't last long.
At a lower level, the small, yellow flowers of the Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) are also doing their best to raise the spirits despite the bad weather.  Lets hope things improve again now that yesterday's storm has passed and we're able to get out a bit more.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


with the promise of rather more nasty weather for the next few days, we decided to take another walk around Mapperley Reservoir this morning, before it becomes too muddy to enjoy.  So, it was out along Slack Lane, through Mapperley Wood, round the reservoir before returning through the village and back along Slack Lane. While passing the Highland Cattle's enclosure, my attention was caught by a Buzzard which flew across the path, down the field and settled on a fence post some way off.  Too far to get a good photo, I nevertheless persevered and got a couple of distant shots.
The bird seemed to be eating something on it's perch, but I couldn't make out what from this distance.  Whatever it was, the Buzzard was enjoying it.
Too cloudy for many picture opportunities this morning, so a couple more from our walk around Shipley Hill in the sunshine the other day.  The trees and shrubs are beginning to blossom well, among them was one Rhododendron close to the Derby Lodge.
The pale pink flowers were standing out brilliantly in the dappled shade of the woodland and were nice to see this early in the year.