This was one of my favourite Beach Boys songs, going back to the 60s when their harmonies created the surfing sound for which they became legendary. I remember my old pal Robin Grimmond telling me he was going to see them live somewhere in Scotland about 15 years ago and I enquired as to whether it was the original line-up. Robin was quick to point out that it was the original Beach Boys but he didn’t think the guy who was dead would be there! Robin’s humour always was on the dry side of Death Valley.

We got up for breakfast this morning just after Paul’s 2 kids went off to school and he headed for the gym. I exercised with a bowl of cereal, a cup of tea and a slice of toast. It was enjoyable sharing some time with Marie and Ian on their own and we fully appreciated the lovely compliments they paid us regarding how we looked and sounded. I was especially grateful for Ian’s most encouraging words as regards Socrates the Snail and the possibility of turning that part of this blog into a commercial book.

Fortunately we were able to have another hour with our hosts, Paul and Gillian, before Paul drove his Mum and Dad off up the autovia to the Don Pablo Hotel in Torremolinos. We said our farewells to Gillian and drove into San Roque where we quickly found the station and parked the Audi. We made the train to Ronda with seconds to spare thanks to a typically reluctant ticket salesperson who let us wait at the window for nigh on 20 minutes before asking us what we wanted just as the train from Algeciras pulled in. She had the nerve to eventually give us our tickets then tell us to run!

Having read that the train journey up through the valleys from San Roque on the coast to Ronda in the hills was one of the most beautiful in Europe, we settled down and let the scenery speak for itself for the next hour and a half. Nothing we had read had been an exaggeration and we found some of the countryside quite stunning, especially halfway through the journey when the train squeezed its way through a gap in the solid rock to emerge onto a high plain leading to Ronda further up the valley.

On the way

On the way

On our arrival at our destination for the day, we cleverly followed a group of Germans and their guide who led us through the town and down to the spot has which made Ronda famous for centuries….. its toilets! Sorry, only kidding! It is of course the gorge at the top of which the town was built. We sat just yards from the edge of the cliff and had a makeshift lunch of cheese and ham on baguette washed down with Coke and Fanta (but not both). A period of photograph taking then followed before we strolled through a lovely park and round to Ronda’s famous Bullring, reputedly the first in the whole of Spain.

Outside the bullring

Outside the bullring

The famous bullring

The famous bullring

El Cordobes?

El Cordobes?

This arena was quite similar to ones we had visited before in Arles and Saintes, both in France. We had even seen some real Bull-running in the arena at Arles a couple of years ago, a much kinder sport than actual bull-fighting – kinder for the bull anyway! The running refers to the contestants trying to pluck tokens from the space between the bull’s horns without getting gored to death in their efforts. It was great fun, nobody got hurt and we discovered just how high those bulls can jump when a couple of them leapt the perimeter wall and chased a competitor further than he would have wished.

The perimeter

The perimeter

The museum and stables at the bullring were also quite interesting but we kept a watch on our time as the train back was at 16.15 only two and three-quarter hours after we’d arrived. Typically we returned to the station a wee bit early (at about 15.45) to discover the train was nearly half an hour behind schedule – probably due to the driver and guard discussing this week’s Champions’ League matches – so a cuppa in the station café was required. The journey home was equally enjoyable and I finally managed to snap the dozens of eagles we’d spotted on the way up. Only they weren’t eagles at all: they were storks! The clue was the huge round nests on the tops of nearly every telegraph pole in the vicinity. We really love stork, but can’t tell it from butter!

Stork - Can you tell the difference?

Stork – Can you tell the difference?

Back at the campsite I watched Man Utd win the Premiership again on a live stream and we had a nice chin-wag via Facetime on the i-Pad with Gavin. He’s a good boy you know so please God let his new car be one that actually goes! Poor Gavin has the Midas touch in reverse when it comes to cars: every car he buys falls apart as soon as it has left the showroom. I hope the latest one ends his run of bad luck.

It’s a moving day tomorrow, north to Cadiz. That’ll be another place Columbus left from to discover America!

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