Sunday 24 September 2017

Menorca again......

Mentions of mistiness in my last posting were not intended for the ears of my Consultant Ophthalmologist.  Regardless, his latest corticosteroid injection to my Rt eye on  25th August produced so much milkiness and floating crystals I was unable to run safely for more than a week.  I was relieved to survive a run round Castle Hill eight days later without falling all over the place.
Getting back into my stride  (Click to enlarge pictures)
My house has been in turmoil too as plumbers, plasterers, electricians, painters and tilers went about their various duties tearing out my old bathroom  and fitting a brand new one.
It puts the rest of the house to shame! 
Work in progress
However, you can't keep a good man down and throughout September I've been making up for lost time in wild and wonderful places.
Putting in the mileage before Menorca
Long trails over local hills with hundreds of feet of ascent were all part of my preparation for a two week holiday in a favourite corner of the world, the beautiful island of Menorca.
The Xuroy in its beautiful setting
Once again we were booked in at the Xuroy, a wonderful little family run hotel that sits with its feet in the water by the old fishing village of Alcaufar.  
Snorkeling in the warm waters by the hotel
Residents can step out the door and plunge straight into the warm sea to swim, swish, swirl and snorkel among the shoals of fish - or maybe shake hands with a visiting octopus.  I never had the privilege of the latter...
Dawn erupting outside our window
Delightful dawn skies lured us from our beds each morning to don our studs and run for miles along the undulating trails, mainly on sections of the Cami de Cavalls (Way of Horses), a long distance trail that encircles the island.
Sunrise on the Punta Prima run
Sadly, unlike in May, there were no nightingales to serenade us as we greeted the sun on an inland trail towards Punta Prima.  The land we ran on is private but we only ever met one man exercising his dogs and I'd guess he was trespassing too.
Rough running along the Cami de Cavalls 
We'd return along the Cami de Cavalls, a much rougher trail of pitted and spiky limestone that calls for sure footedness and a certain amount of concentration to avoid catastrophes. I'm rather good at the latter and have a few good scars to prove it!
After the storm, a flooded trail
Overall the weather was good, sunny with temperatures reaching low 80's, but we'd a couple of rogue thunderstorms that flooded the trail and made it very muddy in parts.  On the plus side, grass began to shoot and patches of green emerged.
Running the Rafalet Vell route
On other mornings we headed northwards on dawn runs, again braving the precarious underfoot conditions of the Cami de Cavalls as far as a farmstead at Rafalet Vell.  
Wild tortoise
On previous occasions we'd invariably encounter many wild tortoises, the main attraction of this route for us, but this time we saw only one. We wondered if some unscrupulous person was collecting them for commercial purposes?
Rafalet rooster
The posse of little piggies that previously entertained us at Rafalet Vell were conspicuous by their absence. We surmised they'd all gone to market or sliced up to embellish the breakfast plates of an estimated 22,000 visitors that passed through Menorca's airport each day the previous month.  Instead of their cheery little grunts a brightly coloured rooster crowed from over the wall.
Wild Horses  (I love this song, click to listen)
Occasionally we met cows, some with evil looking horns and some with calves.  None of them bothered us but on one occasion we turned tail as they eyed us with a little too much attention.  This time it was horses that blocked our path but we patted them aside and they let us pass without ado.
My favourite swimming pool
 Cala Rafalet is one of Menorca's hidden gems, a secluded little cove of clear, deep water surrounded by magnificent limestone cliffs that trap the sun and make this a delectable place to swim.
As rough as it gets
On one of our longer runs we ran the Cami de Cavalls as far as Cala de Sant Esteve, a section that's as rough as it gets.  The final ¼ mile is a delight for masochistic runners who delight in extreme off-road fun.  Like me...
Across limestone slabs at Cala de Sant Esteve
The delights continued as we ran across an expanse of limestone slabs.
On the coast path to Cala Rafalet
Then a little climb out to join a gravel cliff path with a curious cave formation.
Pock-marked cave
From thereon the trail was thin on the ground requiring the mind and expertise of an Indian tracker to stay on route.  But we congratulated ourselves on reaching our objective without once referring to the guide book.
Cooling off at Cala Rafalet
We'd deliberately dressed in running gear that doubled as swimwear so were able to wash the sweat from our bodies after an almost vertical descent down the rocks for another exquisite bathe in the sparkling waters of Cala Rafalet.  
Celebrating our morning's activities
It was two very happy bunnies that jogged the last mile back to our hotel where we showered and changed before a celebratory meal at the stylish restaurant of Piccolo Mundo in Alcaufar. 
Talayot Curnia Nu where excavations are still taking place
Our holiday wasn't all running and swimming.  We did lots of walking too, notably to a couple of archaeological sites and a trek from Son Bou to San Tomas, and back, to suss out a hotel, the Lord Nelson, where we plan to celebrate my 86th birthday next May.
San Tomas - our destination next May
 We discovered it's 4* and a little too posh for the likes of me.  Among the many residents we encountered, we didn't notice any wearing tracksters or trainers.  I may have to update my wardrobe.  And buy some shoes!
A 'Happy hour' picture taken on our last evening at Xuroy
We fitted an awful lot into our fortnight holiday, so many things my old brain can't recall them all.  But at the end of each day as the sun was setting I well remember our 'Happy hours' relaxed with a beer, or wine, on a terrace beside the lapping sea with heads full of wonderful memories of each day's activities.
Holidays don't come better than that...


  1. Looks incredible! How I long to run there too...!

    1. It's rough going Karien, but it keeps us strong in our dotage...

  2. It's a hard life - but someone has to do it!
    I have to visit Florida twice a year (not my favourite place), usually March and November to avoid the very high temperatures. Even in those cooler months I find it too warm, pre-sunrise runs are the order of the day.

    1. Cheers JJ, it took me a long time to discover the joys of pre-sunrise runs. Now they've become the norm. Except when it's raining!

  3. Welcome back Old Runningfox , I have missed your post and I am glad that now it is back to normal . Antonio Otley AC.

    1. Normal? No such thing with me Antonio. Hope you're still churning out the miles and putting the young uns to shame. Cheers!

  4. Brings back so many lovely memories of that part of the world. I stayed in Punta Prima 2016 and ran to Alcaufar, had a coffee watching sea and ran back to my hotel. Planning to return in 2018

    I'm off to Orthopaedic consultatnt today to kick off trying to find out what exactly is wrong with my hip / lower back so that I can return to running. It's been 18 months since I was injury free. Good to see things have been well for you sir.

    1. We've been four times to the Xuroy Richard, it's superbly situated, the staff greet us like long lost friends - but the food and meal times could be better.... Next May we're booked in the Lord Nelson at San Tomas for my 86th - but I'm sure we'll be back to the Xuroy. Maybe next September?
      Sorry to hear about your hip and back problems. Hope the Consultant can identify the causes and get you sorted out. Nothing worse than a runner who can't run...
      You'll have noticed, the path between Punta Prima and Alcaufar got rather flooded while we were there, but it didn't stop us!
      Wishing you all the best for today's appointment with your Consultant.

  5. Looks like you had a fabulous time.
    Lovely selection of photographs.

    All the best Jan