Sunday, 28 February 2016

Goan fun continues!

After a few days away in South Goa our ‘adopted’ family, Clare, James, Flossy and Johnny returned to Candolim and Flossy and Johnny just couldn’t wait to carry on our collective exploits.
So, on the same evening as their return, we met them at their hotel ……..
……. then headed off for a meal together. Embarrassingly, but also rather humorously, neither parties had enough money between them to pay for the meal so Doug, with Flossy on the back of the scooter, headed off to the nearest ATM. The bar staff had kindly said it was quite OK to pay the next day (!) but that’s not very British and we paid up before we all left.
The next day the Flossy and Johnny show continued when their mum and dad hired a scooter for themselves and, with three of us on each machine, we headed off into Panjim to collect our new DJs. Doug’s suit was fine but the tailors made a grave error on James’ jacket by trimming it in red instead of blue! A remake is the only way to correct it and we’re starting to run out of time! After the DJ debacle we all headed for our favourite bar, “The End of the Road”, overlooking the Old Patto Bridge for a spot of lunch.
In the afternoon we’d booked to go on a crabbing boat trip but it was not just about catching crabs but also to see some of the wonderful wildlife which India has to offer.
Our skipper was quite an expert on flora and fauna so was able to point out all sorts of wonderful things to us. Our first bit of excitement was the feeding of the eagles and kites. This Black Kite was able to swoop down and take a chicken’s head from the hand of the skipper.
There were huge colonies of Fruit Bats hanging from the trees along the river bank ………..
……. and further on we saw salt being harvested from the salt pans adjacent to the river.
Another Black Kite swoops down and takes a chicken head from the bow of the boat.
There were some very unusual birds to be seen. Clare is a very keen ornithologist and was able to identify most – sadly we’ve forgotten the names of half of them!
Here we are, enjoying a drink before a spot of fishing.
Even James had a go but only caught a crab which he elected to chuck back in to fight another day!
Doug caught a pretty little Puffer fish which was also put back.
Flossy, the best angler of us all, caught a larger Puffer (which was returned) and also this fish which didn’t have the same luck!
At one point in the trip the sky was almost filled with various birds of prey. It was quite a spectacular sight.
Towards the end of the trip the crab nets, which had been set on the way up river, were pulled back up in the hope of something being caught. Johnny, who didn’t have much luck with the fishing, seemed to excel at hauling up the crabs.
Flossy also did very well unlike James, their dad, who didn’t haul up anything much except a tiddler at the end.
Very bravely, both Johnny ………..
……. and Flossy held the biggest crab caught during the trip.
And this is the day’s catch which ………..
…… as the sun went down, and we landed back at Amigo’s bar, ………..
…… the days catch was duly cooked and served to the workforce. All but two of us tucked into delicious crab and chips, which left Flossy and James with egg and chips as a suitable alternative.
Tired after the crabbing trip we all piled back onto the scooters and headed for Candolim Beach to end our glorious day together.
Today (Saturday) our friend Julroy rode over from South Goa to spend the day with us. Julroy wasn’t exactly cold (in the 35 deg heat!) but, yes, he was wearing a scarf and hoody!
He rode over to us on his beautiful Royal Enfield and, with James as his very willing pillion, we took a short ride up to Aguada Fort. However, with little shade, it was too hot (even for Julroy!) so we rode back down into the relative comfort of Candolim. 
Doug wanted a quick pic of himself on Julroy’s Royal Enfield.
Shade at last!
Then onto the beach for an hour of R & R before Julroy left for his return to South Goa. Great to see you again Julroy and thanks for coming all the way to see us.
Well, the Flossy and Johnny show had to come to an end as they fly back home tomorrow but there was just time for them to briefly meet up with some local children on the beach. The kids loved playing with Johnny’s pack of ‘Minion’ playing cards and he very kindly gave the pack to them as a gift at the end of the day.
We’ve had the most amazing time with the Morris family since meeting them on the Jungle trip. They fly home tomorrow and leave us with just two more full days of our own stay in Goa. Thank you James, Clare, Flossy and Johnny for making the last week so very special and we look forward to meeting up again very soon.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Birthday Celebrations–Extraordinaire!

Doug’s birthday celebrations started last Saturday, when we went to see our friend Ashvil take part in the Musclemen Bodybuilding competition in Mapusa


Our friend and taxi driver Naran (2nd from left) came with us for the evening and we met up with our dear friend Julroy (middle) and his friend Vince (the one digging Doug in the ribs!) Their bodybuilding coach is on the left. (the man not the bus!!!!)


A short while before they are due on stage the contestants need to “colour up”. This gold paste causes them to overheat quickly so it’s only applied at the last minute.


Lots of pumping exercises take place before they go on stage ………



……. and then they’re ready! Their friend (and ours!), Nikson helps them prepare backstage.


Then it’s into the limelight! Ashvil 4th from right.


Then each athlete has to go through all sorts of different poses …..


……. and positions for the judges. Sadly, Ashvil didn’t qualify for the final five in his section. Great body Ashvil but better luck next time we hope.


In another weight category another superb athlete who definitely should have won but only came second was this guy. (He thought he should have won as well!)


Just a quick return to normality – by Indian standards anyway. Four young men and a huge block of ice on a scooter. Anything goes in Goa!


Doug’s actual birthday was spent on an Island Tour, which we did last time we were in Goa and which we thoroughly enjoyed. This time we went with six others who we met on the recent jungle experience. Sarah and James (behind Doug) and, on the other side of the boat, James and Clare and their lovely children Johnny and Flossy (next to Doug)


Our friends Dev and Rajaa so very thoughtfully arranged for a chocolate cake to be presented to Doug while we were on the boat and everyone on the trip had a piece of the cake! Thanks so much Dev and Rajaa.


After an hour and a bit at sea, and managing to find some Dolphins to watch on the way, we landed on our island.


We make no apologies for so may pics of these two delightful young people, Flossy and Johnny. They are a real credit to their mum and dad and to themselves. Here they are holding a sea urchin which one of the crew brought up from the seabed to show us.


Doug and Flossy after they went snorkelling.


Johnny and Flossy holding a Sea Cucumber this time.


After swimming, snorkelling, fishing and a wonderful beach BBQ we made our way back to the mainland. Here’s Flossy (Florence really) doing the best Kate Winslett impression she can muster under the circumstances.


Johnny sporting James’ hat (not his dad James, not Doug’s James but Sarah’s James! – hell, it got confusing‘


Back home in Candolim we all met up on the beach for a party. Here’s Dharmz (pronounced Darma) but known as Dave to his mates.


Here’s Sarah giving Doug his birthday pressies – a bottle of Cashew Fenny and green and black nail varnish to match his phone and sunglasses!


Here’s Pundalik (known to his friends as ‘RV’). We’re just about keeping up with all the names and pseudonyms!


Flossy and Johnny painting Doug’s toenails green and black!


The party animals: James (standing) then Flossy, Johnny, Doug, James, Sarah, Clare and James.


The party went on into the evening …….


…….. until it was time for Flossy and Johnny (and mum and dad!)to go back to their hotel. Doug had a terrific time on his birthday and these two super kids (who also made Doug a wonderful card) were his icing on the cake!


Our next experience, and another birthday treat for Doug, was an overnight river trip from Morjim. Relayed by dingy from the bank to the rather lovely houseboat “Laid Back Waters” our surprise and delight continued inside ………


……… where we found the most luxurious bedrooms and en-suite shower rooms.


Like the access passage down the side of the boat, our rooms were open to cool airs of the river. The basin was provided for washing our hands before meals.


The dining area, at the front of the boat, was open on three sides with stairs leading up ………….


………. to an open lounge area.



Here’s one happy bunny relaxing on top deck before dinner. The other happy bunny was behind the camera!


There was plenty of time for anyone who wanted to try steering although we’re much more used to steering from the back of a boat than the front!


While we headed for the mouth of the river at Turtle Beach to watch the sunset James asked if he could have a look at the mechanicals. The staff were more than happy to oblige (even though they were in the middle of preparing dinner!). Surprisingly, the engine isn’t that much bigger than our boat “Chance”.


We anchored at the mouth of the river, got the dingy ashore …….


……. and walked to the sea to watch the sunset.


You really begin to wonder whether it’s actually real or not as you stand and watch this most spectacular of sights.


After the sun had set we got back on board where the “happy bunny” continued to relax!


The six of us enjoyed a simple but very tasty meal after the sun had gone down. The chatter and laughter went on well into the late hours before we all retired to our beds where most of us slept like logs. It’s not very clear but here’s James, Andrew, Doug, Julie, Gary and Jenny.


We all rose early the next morning to watch the sun rise. We crept around very quietly as our crew members were still curled up asleep on the hard wooden floors of the kitchen and passageway.


The stillness and silence of the early morning was broken only by the distant chanting of an early morning prayer meeting coming from the forest.


As we cruised gently up river the sights and sounds of the jungle and river banks were very relaxing.


This White Bellied Sea Eagle obliged us for a photo shoot as we cruised gently past.


In the mirror calm waters the captain pointed out this man free-diving for oysters. He’s just surfaced and is loading his boat with a second net full. The water here is about 5 to 6 meters deep we’re told.


These pics need no real descriptions.



As no one wanted the wheel for very long (if at all!) James’ pleasure was assured for most of the morning! Our captain, standing back on the right, was keeping a weary eye on the proceedings! The stretch in the rope between the wheel and the rudder meant that it was quite a few turns before the rudder responded to left or right. Coupled to that, the boat then took what seemed like ten minutes to respond to the rudder!


One of the five crew members (for six people!), Savio, tried to catch us some fish with Doug to go with lunch but they had no luck. Thanks for trying Savio.


Here’s Doug taking over the steering while James went to the toilet!


There are crocodile in the fresh water parts of the river but it was high tide at this point and not easy to spot them.


These water buffalo seemed fairly happy there weren’t any crocs in the vicinity .


View towards the back of the boat from the upper lounge deck.


The view from our bedroom window (if you leaned out far enough!).


Our five lovely crew: Savio, Gopal, Guru, Babu and Rameshwar (captain) ……


……. and a view out the back of the boat with the trusty dingy trailing behind.

Everything about our short but very sweet stay on the lovely “Laid Back Waters” was superb. It’s pity we didn’t see a crocodile but, never mind, we’ll have to return to try again!