A chilly time in the Atlas mountains

The Atlas cedar forests. It was so cold our water bottles froze overnight.

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I'm really lichen these forests...

I’m really lichen these forests…

Uh oh..

Uh oh..

Barbary macaques!

Barbary macaques! They were pretty bold, as we stood watching them a bus rolled up and the tourists started handing the monkeys food to get better pictures. 

Baby ones!

Baby ones!

We finally found Christmas!

We finally found Christmas!

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After what feels like months of battling headwinds, finally a strong tailwind sent us zooming across the cleverly named Plateau de l'Arid towards Midelt and the High Atlas.

After what feels like months of battling headwinds, finally a strong tailwind sent us zooming across the aptly named Plateau de l’Arid towards Midelt and the High Atlas.

Climbing up to the High Atlas.

Climbing up to the High Atlas.

Lonely pines

Lonely pines

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The Ziz Gorges

The Ziz Gorges

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Getting Festive in Fes

Fes wasn’t actually very festive (perhaps unsurprisingly) so we abandoned all hopes of a Christmassy time. It was nice though.

A nice door. Lots of tourists were taking pictures of it with enormous cameras so its probably something important but we couldn't work out what.

A beautiful door. Lots of tourists were taking pictures of it with enormous cameras so its probably something important but we couldn’t work out what.

The blue door, one of the many entrances to the Medina...

The blue door, one of the many entrances to the Medina (old city).

Lots of the buildings are being kept up (apart? prevented from collapse?) by elaborate wooden joists.

Lots of the buildings are being kept up (apart? prevented from collapse?) by elaborate wooden joists.

Snails (alive!)

Snails (alive!)

The Medina from Place Rcif

The Medina rooftops and satellite dishes from Place Rcif

Batha Museum garden

Batha Museum garden

The tanneries, we were there on red dye day. You can see the yellow ones drying from the day before. Yellow dye is the most expensive because its made of saffron.

The tanneries, we were there on red dye day. You can see the yellow skins drying from the day before. Yellow dye is the most expensive because its made of saffron. It smelt really bad!

Very narrow streets, particularly good for bicycle navigation...

Very narrow streets, particularly good for bicycle navigation… Fes Medina is a crazy warren, apparently it is the largest car free urban environment in the world! We spent most of our time there getting hopelessly lost. 

Chefchaouen to Moulay Idriss

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The snowy peaks of the Rif mountains

hotel Collage

Bizarre hotel montage #1. The first was like a shabby expat village where the beds had no mattresses, the room had no windows, and the TVs were from the 70s (and didn’t work). The second had strange ‘poo smeared’ marble effect vinyl on the walls and a very smelly sink.

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We found ourselves in a very thick fog trying to find some Roman ruins. It made for slightly dodgy cycling, but at least we could slip past the groups of teenagers who like to shout at us and sometimes throw stones!

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Resident cats of Volubilis, an ancient Roman city (we found it eventually). The black and white one tried to steal our biscuits.

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A crested lark on some Roman stuff.

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A little owl on a Roman pillar.

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The holy city of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun. Seven visits here is equivalent to one visit to Mecca.

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Olives!

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Amazing door in the entrance to Moulay Idriss mausoleum.

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A horse and cart lane!

A horse and cart lane!


Into Morocco!

The road through the mountains to Algeciras. Lots of little towns perched in illogically steep places. The hazy smoke in the distance is from olive harvesters burning broken bits.

The road through the mountains to Algeciras, Spain. Lots of little towns perched in illogically steep places. The hazy smoke in the distance is from olive harvesters burning broken bits. It was very cold!

The best cycle path yet.

The best cycle path yet.

So that's what Gibraltar looks like...

So that’s what Gibraltar looks like…

We have reached Morocco! We didn't take many pictures on the way to Chefchaouen as we were too busy battling a  hurricane. This sign was funny though.

We have reached Morocco! We didn’t take many pictures on the way to Chefchaouen as we were too busy battling a hurricane. And some angry dogs chased us. This sign was funny though.

The blue town of Chefchaouen.

The blue town of Chefchaouen.

Its really blue.

It’s really blue.

And has nice waterfalls.

And has nice waterfalls.

And tasty (and cheap!) breakfast.

And tasty (and cheap!) breakfast.

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A relaxing time in Andalucia

Actually it was a little bit stressful as multiple attempts to get Alice’s wheel fixed went awry (big thanks to John for helping us so much!) Luckily we were staying with Liz on her farm, hanging with the animals and helping out. The wheel still isn’t really fixed, we’re hoping to find a solution at a bike shop in Ronda before crossing into Morocco…

Beautiful Plume

Beautiful Plume

Little Cat, a semi-feral kitten Alice has been taming.

Little Cat, a semi-feral kitten Alice has been taming against its wishes

Building a Hügel bed. Dig a hole, lay bits of wood in it. Lay the turf back on upside down to kill the grass and weeds, then apply layers of manure, compost, old straw, etc. Finally spread with topsoil. We also added cardboard to keep the weeds down until spring. The decomposing wood retains moisture, the composting process provides warmth and improved nutrients. Great.

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Winter woollens...

Winter woollens…

Turkeys are crazy thangs.

The afernoons' labours...

The afternoons’ labours…

Zak crushing some green olives for preserving.

Zak crushing some olives for preserving

Riding Cali!

Riding Cali!

Wood-fired pear and pomegranate crumble

Wood-fired pear and pomegranate crumble. Yeah.

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Dog love with Messi (after the football man..) and Shadow.

Some more critter friends we made on the way up.

Some more critter friends we made.

Iris

On a sunny afternoon we climbed up El Peñón, the slightly rudely named highest point in Sevilla province.

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Zak at the summit of El Peñón...

Zak at the summit

We headed up a nearby mountain called El Peñón, the highest point in Sevilla province. There were lots of sheep who ran away chaotically and peered at us from behind rocks. We were just heading downhill when we heard a tiny 'Baaaa' and looked down to see this fluffy white newborn who definitely wasn't there on the way up! Realising we'd probably inadvertently scared off its mum, we felt very guilty. The lamb however started nuzzling Alice's knees quite happily, seemingly not noticing she was not a sheep, let alone its Mama. Luckily we retired to a safe distance and Mama and baby were quickly reunited amid much happy bleeting.

As we approached the summit there were lots of sheep who ran away chaotically and peered at us from behind rocks. We were just heading downhill when we heard a tiny ‘Baaaa’ and looked down to see this fluffy white newborn who definitely wasn’t there on the way up! Realising we’d inadvertently scared off its mum, we felt very guilty. The lamb however started nuzzling Alice’s knees quite happily, seemingly not noticing she was not a sheep, let alone its Mama. We retired to a safe distance and Mama and baby were quickly reunited with much happy bleeting.