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IbNat Summit - Catalonia October 2009

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Simon

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« on: June 08, 2009, 19:20 PM »
The idea of this post is to summarise the activities that I am planning for the 3rd Iberianature Forum 'Summit'.

These Summits are a light hearted gatherings of like minded people who are contributors to the Iberianature Forum. The first was held in the Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucia, in April 2008. The second took place in the Picos de Europa, Cantabria, in April/May 2009, where several attendees expressed a wish to hold yet another Summit in the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees. Since rising the the bait it has emerged that next Spring there are too few puntes (Bank holiday weekends) for many folks to get away, so I've hit on the idea of holding the Pre-Pyrenees Summit this autumn over the Puente de Pilar: October 9 - 12th. This date offers three great advantages: to visit the area during the best time to observe the autumn tints, to see the red deer on the Serra de Boumort during the tail end of the rutting season, and finally to take advantage of the autumn gastronomic mushroom season!

I'm putting highlight details on this post and will revise it accordingly over time, so that all readers can readily get updates as to how it's all going. The three headings are, a) the locality and accommodation, b) potential visits and activities, and c) potential and confirmed 'Summites', i.e. participants. NB Some of the links will be familiar from the IBNatCat 2010 topic, but I'm adding new ines ans and when I get time!

Locality and Accommodation:

The Conca de Tremp

North you have the 'Alpine' Pyrenees, so that trips there can be from as near as a twenty minute drive (from Tremp). Star turns there are obviously the Parc Natural d'Aigüestotrees i Llac de Sant Maurici - it's important to consider that each part of the park is quite different, and worth separate visits if time allows.

South you have the Serra de Montsec, which is high enough to attract some Alpine species but is far enough away from the main massif to allow a Mediterranean climate. The star of the Montsec is the Congost de Montrebei ravine.

East and west of Tremp, and surrounding it to from the Conca, are the Serra de Boumort and the La Terreta (the term refers to a series of sierras) These are both Parcs Naturals and are famous for their vulture populations, (La Terreta has a special vulture reserve), as well as the Boumort hosting a large, and I believe in Catalonia unique, population of red deer.

The Conca itself is a world famous site for studying geology, and Tremp hosts a Science Museum dedicated to this. The univeristies of London and Utrecht have laboratories there.

Our accommodation would be at Cal Navarre, a Casa de Pages in my village, Fígols de Tremp. The owners are good neighbours and friends of mine over the past twenty-five years or so and have offered us exclusive use of the house during the Puente de Pilar. The deal is very good as it is based on a per/person/per/night, as long as well have a 'quorum', which I suggest should be ten people (maximum 14, see below) for at least the three nights of the puente, i.e. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, this gives us the option of having some of us make a longer stay whilst not penalising those unlucky enough to have to go back to work. The deal is €20 p.p.n. The accommodation is as follows:

Three rooms with double and single beds, i.e. for 3 persons
One room with double bed.
'Les golfes'; the 'attic' floor has been converted almost to being a self contained flat, with one double and one twin bedroom. At present the 'flat' is short of doors, so sleep talker/walkers beware!
The 'mystery' fourteenth bed is a put-u-up that can be assembled in any room!

Some, if not all, of the rooms have en suite, and there are plenty of bathrooms for the others (it's hard to keep up with developments at Cal Navarre as I only get up to Fígols at weekends when the rooms are in use). There is a colossal dining table and two lounges, as ell as the flat. We would have a kitchen with all mod cons (we can supply herbs and spices from our own house) as well as a traditional Llar de foc (room with a large open fireplace suitable for cooking) and a large outside BBQ in the 'corral'.

Bearing in mind that during the puente the shops will be closed in Tremp, and on the Saturday they will be heaving with folks up from Barcelona for the weekend, Mrs S has agreed to do the logistics and the donkeywork on the catering from, i.e. staying at base to do the main shopping, make packed lunches and  KP duties in general, leaving our own maestros to get on with their own culinary masterpieces in the evenings! We will have to agree a 'kitty' for this, however, but I guess that around €10 pp per day would be OK.

The other issue is transport. I gather that the Picos group came up with the sensible idea of hiring a 9 seater minibus for the duration. I can look into this but we'd have to bear in mind the need to have more than one driver registered. The nearest place to rent would be at Lleida and I'm just a bit worried that the drivers would have to appear in person to sign for the insurance, etc. The other issue is that Mrs S may need our car at times, mainly n the Saturday, to collect the shopping. So maybe a pool of cars would be better - it would certainly save money!

Visits and activities:
Naturally there has to be some consensus, but here are a few examples:
Either or both sides of the Parc Nacional d'Aigüestores i estany de Sant Maurici - a 'must see' experience!
Walk through the Congost de Montrebei
Deer spot in the Serra de Boumort (NB the rut may be closing by then)

Birding at various locations:
Wetlands; Estanys de Basturs (lowlying karstic lake surrounded by open meadow and alzina), Panta de Cellers (silted up reservoir never emptied with extensive reedbeds) and Llac de Montcortes (karstic lake at med/high altitude, i.e. around 1,00 metres, surrounded by beechwood)
Riverbanks: the Congost (ravine) de Montrebei and, at water level, the Congost de Collegats
Cliffs, the Serra de Boumort, Congost de Montrebei, and the Terrata vulture reserve
Woodland: Boumort (pine), Terrata (beech)
Heath: Serra de Montllobat (immediately above Fígols and around Fígols itself (see our own birdlist)

Places of interest:
Guided visit to the Castell de Mur and its associated collegiate church; the castle is a unique example of XII century military architecture as it passed to the church before being modified with changing practises. The collegiate church has recently had its Romanesque frescoes restored following grant aid from UNESCO - guess who did the translation for the bid!

Guided visit to the Catalan National Butterfly Museum; this may seem a little strange for a 'summit' based around field observations, but it's an incredible place and an amazing resource for examples and help with ID. Not only that but the curators are serious scientists and have actually discovered and gone through the process of naming anew species of butterfly, Heodes virgaureae pyraeneicola mariateresa, which makes an interesting and inspiring story!

Events:
We may coincide with one of the Jornades Micologiques, a series of event based on mushroom hunting. These vary from serious scientific lectures on a wide variety of issue surrounding fungi plus guided tours, culinary workshops, etc. as I write is too early for this year's program to be announced but in any event we can have a good time in the forest 'hunting' for our supper one night!

Thant's all for now on the itinerary front. There's loads more but it's still early days. Meanwhile we need to get organised. I've agreed with cal Navarre that we should confirm by the end of this month, June, or a few weeks into July at the very latest. After all, they have a business to run and time is marching on - we can't expect them to turn down 'proper' bookings while we pontificate. So far the Forummies that have expressed a firm interest in the October Summit are:

Technopat plus two, Mrs T and Technopatlet #2 I guess
Glennie & Mrs Glennie
'Elvis' aka Elvina, & partner

Those who have been keen to come to  Pre-Pyrenean Summit in principle:
Nick
Lucy
Lisa

Plus me and Mrs S, of course, and perhaps a friend of ours who is a Catalan cook par excellence - but that's fair too early to say!

Cheers

Simon
« Last Edit: June 10, 2009, 22:56 PM by Simon »

Offline glennie

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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 21:29 PM »
Glennie and Mrs Glennie, if all goes to plan, will attend.
Only three days unfortunately, though would be nice to get up on the Friday... not sure how.

Simon

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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2009, 08:26 AM »
Hi Glennie,

Thanks for being so positive! It will be great to meet you, and the missus!

It would be a great shame not to get there in time for Sturday morning. Have you thought about the AVE to Lérida? I could pick you up from the station there, or you could try to connect to the branch line train, which leaves at 20.30. In fact if we do hire a minibus that would be on my 'itinerary' anyway!

Regs

Simon

Offline glennie

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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2009, 08:55 AM »
Hi Glennie,

Thanks for being so positive! It will be great to meet you, and the missus!

It would be a great shame not to get there in time for Sturday morning. Have you thought about the AVE to Lérida? I could pick you up from the station there, or you could try to connect to the branch line train, which leaves at 20.30. In fact if we do hire a minibus that would be on my 'itinerary' anyway!

Regs

Simon

Many thanks Simon. Will bear all those possibilities in mind.

Simon

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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 10:23 AM »
Hello everyone,

Time is moving on a bit if we want to have a Summit this autumn. I spoke to my neighbour in Cal Navarre last weekend and promised that I'd have a definitive idea whether we can book the house for the Puente de Pilar (October 10 - 12 inclusive) by this weekend. The following weekend would have to be a very last deadline. Otherwise we'll have to take pot luck.

Nick and Mónica were up there with us the other weekend, and despite some atrocious weather we managed to have a good explore, including locating the nearest badger's set, 150 metres from the village, in a place where I could set up a hide. Nick has promised a trip report so I'll leave the finer details to him. But I would like to get plans for day's out, etc. as my time is very limited these days, especially up there do check things on the ground, access for normal cars, etc.

So could everyone who is interested have a think - remember that we pulled the Summit forward as so many people won't have any puente weekends next year and the year after Cal Navarre may not be available either at all or at favourable terms.

Cheers

Simon

Offline nick

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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 10:34 AM »
Yes, I must do that report. Suffice to say the area is excellent and Polly and Simon know it like the back of their hands.

Perhaps we could call this a mini-summit as it comes so quickly after the Picos one. We could have smaller regional meets whenever it suits and cordinate the fulll summits with everybody.

So who's up for it?

Simon, Polly?, Nick, Mónica...

Roll up, roll up
Nick
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Simon

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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 11:20 AM »

Hi,

Thanks for that Nick. Meanwhile, I forgot to mention that I've now seen the 'attic' flat, which is not normally part of the Casa de Pages. It's basically a huge (80m2) room with a double and two single beds arranged in 'niches'  off a main living area. This 'flat' has its own en-suite shower w.c. so I guess it would best suite a family of four who don't mind mucking in together.

I think to be fair on my neighbour we need to have quorum of occupying at least four rooms, in any combination. And remember the price is per-person per-night, so folks who can't stay the whole weekend won't get penalised. If there are more people, we can put down extra matresses on the floor - at no extra cost at all - which might come in handy if there is any kind of an overlap. But at the moment I think our problem will be shortage of Summiteers rather than an overabundance!

Another housekeeping issue: Polly is happy to spend the majority of her time being OiC logistics, that is; doing the shopping, making sandwiches, and if not actually cooking (as requsted by Glennie, Nick's famous curry, etc., etc.) then at least doing the KP-ing while we're all out naturalising. Apart from other considerations she'll be dog-bound. As it's a puente we'd have to do more-or-less all of the shoppng beforehand and we'd have to agree spome sort of a kitty, but that's a detail for later I guess.

In the meantime I learned a great deal from Nick's experience in organising trips, so will plan itineraries accordingly!

More soon

Simon

Offline lisa

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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2009, 14:48 PM »
Hi Simon, I'd been waiting for my brother to confirm a visit (from N.Z. so it only seemed polite  :) ) but on top of that it now looks like Mike's going to be away that month. I would have enjoyed staking out the badgers too  >:(
I'll let you know if anything changes.
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Offline glennie

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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2009, 17:27 PM »
Myself and Elena still very much on for it.  :)

Offline lucy

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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2009, 19:52 PM »
Hi Simon,  It's too early for me to know.  I might be away that weekend.

Offline Clive

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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2009, 19:54 PM »
Hi Simon,

October isn't possible for us I am afraid.... Sounds like you are going to have a great time though.... Be waiting for some pictures on the gallery... Do you want me to create a category for it now so you can post up some pre summit photos?

Clive (Sue and Sam)
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2009, 05:49 AM »
Mornin' all,

Thanks for all this. I'll speak to Carmen and Juan this weekend. It looks like we have a goer, especially if we get a full turn-out from the Madrid contingent. I imagine that as it stands we can make it provisional ++ for the time being.

Sorry you can't make it Lucy, Lisa and Clive, Sue + Sam. I'd pretty much taken that as read Clive but didn't bank on it - I've known some amazingly portable babies, given a little ingenuity! Sorry too Lucy, Bath beckons? But you could come up sometime when we are installed in Casa Rafela. Likewise Lisa, I knew you should have stopped by on your Catalunya tour last year! Meanwhile, we're off to the north coast next week; I'm not sure we'll get as far west as Cantabria, but you never know!

More soon.

Simon

Offline Clive

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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2009, 16:32 PM »
Quote
Clive, Sue + Sam. I'd pretty much taken that as read Clive but didn't bank on it - I've known some amazingly portable babies, given a little ingenuity!

Nothing to do with ingenuity or lack of... :) It's just that Samuel promised to treat his parents to a trip to Morocco in October so time, work and finance is the reason we can't come up to your neck of the woods.....

Did you want the gallery creating for this summit so you can post a few enticing pictures?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 16:34 PM by Clive »
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The beautiful town of Ronda, the City of Dreams?

The spectacular Caminito del Rey, El Chorro and Guadalhorce reservoirs El Camino del Rey

Simon

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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2009, 01:20 AM »
Morocco sounds interesting Clive! Yes, a gallery does sound a good idea, I took some images of Cal Navarre last weekend and of couse there's more still of the resgion.

Cheers

Simon

Offline Clive

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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2009, 10:34 AM »
The category is created, just click the gallery link at the top and scroll to the very bottom... It's below the picos summit gallery
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

The beautiful town of Ronda, the City of Dreams?

The spectacular Caminito del Rey, El Chorro and Guadalhorce reservoirs El Camino del Rey

Simon

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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2009, 03:39 AM »
Hi Guys and Gals,

Well, the deadline for booking Cal Navarre is here, and there are more ‘Nays’ than ‘Yeas’. So that’s it, no Summit this autumn. Remember that we are dealing with good people who are earning a living, so any spats and schisms within the Forum have no relevance whatsoever to them. As I’ve already pointed out on the IbNatCat 2010 blog, springtime is off as no one has a ‘puente’, and in any case my schedule is now totally full for spring. Furthermore, as I also mentioned, the owners of Cal Navarre have told me that they are coming up to retirement, so there’s basically no further chance of our staying there.

After a long life of organising events and people towards gathering consensus I know that this is pretty much par for the course. I have no time whatsoever for post-mortems but I do feel rather let down to say the least. I had no part in the discussion during the Cantabria bash in which the Pre-Pyrenees were posited as a venue for the next Summit, so I have no idea who was actually interested. I fully realize that those several Forummies who have declined have genuine reasons for doing so, and I’m very sorry to disappoint those of you, especially Glennie, who did want to come (all of you are welcome to come and stay with us individually at Casa Rafela, that is to say, ‘off Forum’), but having given over a not inconsiderable amount of my time and energy, a precious commodity these days, and involved my dear friends and neighbours in these machinations, I wonder whether there really is any point is committing oneself to such ephemera.

So, I therefore declare the topic of IbNat Catalonia ’09 closed. As far as I can see there is no way this will be repeated, as the facilities are simply not going to be available in future.

Simon

Offline Dave

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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2009, 09:41 AM »
Hi Simon
I am really sorry you are disappointed, but I do remember that after the first Summit, Lisa tried to arrange the Picos summit for the same year, but finally decided that expense wise, it was perhaps best to limit the summits to one a year, certainly two summits would be too expensive for me with my pension low this year due to the strong Euro, also October is a bad month as we have to travel to France to celebrate my daughters birthday, and my brother is coming over to see us shortly afterwards. I really do hope that you try again in the future, I certainly would love to travel to that part of Spain, so fingers crossed for the future.
Regards
Dave

Simon

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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2009, 09:54 AM »
Thanks Dave. I fully take your point about the finance, we are very badly hit by the exchange ourselves, and perhaps two Summits per year is too much. Maybe it's a case of pleasing some of the people all of the time or pleasing all of the people some of the time . . .

I'm most disappointed because I was looking forward so much to hosting the event - I really am proud of my little corner i¡of Iberia, and wanted to share it with everyone - but as I say, the facility may not be available in the future. maybe we could all go camping*?

Regs

Simon

* or as they say here, fer Kumbaya - there's a post wating on that story, which will quite surprise some people!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 21:56 PM by Simon »

Offline Bob M

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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2009, 18:03 PM »
Sorry it didn't work out.  I must admit that I had been putting off making a comment as I wasn't sure what I (and more importantly my wife) would be up to at that point.   It had seemed to me that saying "maybe" would not be particularly useful.

But perhaps now I should have spoken up. Oh, the the perils of indecision and the pain it inflicts on those good people who try to organise things.

Simon

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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2009, 20:36 PM »
Hi Bob,

Thanks for this very supportive post. At the risk of repetition I think the problem is having to work around a clear financial commitment on our part. All of us have commitments, of course, and needless to say, should we all decide to do it nearer the time, and Cal Navarre is available, perhaps we're on to something, but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, and on a brighter note; we're off to the Navarran Pyrenees this weekend and then to the Basque coast as of Saturday week, so how about a micro-summit during that weekend? Send me a PM with your mobile (no roving Internet for a fuddy-duddy like me) and maybe we could meet up - but beware, my wolves are apt to tear the throats out of thier rivals (that's a joke, but it is a issue!)

Cheers

Simon