Reunions in Spain for Cloud, Dory and Kurco, and we enjoy a night on the Camino de Santiago

Animalcouriers spent the night just outside the southern French town of Narbonne, where the dogs enjoyed countryside walks.

Cloud enjoying a morning walk in Narbonne

Cloud enjoying a morning walk in Narbonne

Dory also enjoyed a morning walk alongside a vineyard

Dory also enjoyed a morning walk alongside a vineyard

Misty gets a cuddle from courier M

Misty gets a cuddle from courier M

Here's Kurco with an exceptionally waggy tail!

Here’s Kurco with an exceptionally waggy tail!

After walks and breakfast, we set off for the north-western Spanish city of Santander, to reunite little Westie Cloud with Jose.

A very happy Cloud, with an equally happy Jose

A very happy Cloud, with an equally happy Jose

We then headed to Vigo, where Patrick and Saehee very kindly met us at the airport, which made delivering Dory a much quicker and easier experience for us. Patrick is very interested in this part of Spain and is here to write thrillers. We’re sure he’ll have plenty of stimulating moments as he explores the area.

Saehee and Patrick delighted to have Dory back with them

Saehee and Patrick delighted to have Dory back with them

Special neck nuzzles for Saehee

Special neck nuzzles for Saehee

We spent the night at Allariz in Galicia, where we enjoyed a magnificent view and found ourselves close to the end of the Camino de Santiago — the pilgrimage route from France to the shrine of St James the Great, in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

A castle poking its head out of the mist

A castle poking its head out of the mist

In the distance, the Vilanova bridge, which has carried pilgrims since it was built in the 12th century. We walked a little way along it and discovered a way stone, piles of other stones with icons etched into them, a magnificent flagged pathway and the parish church. No doubt a welcome resting place for tired feet, as pilgrims will have walked 128,930 kms by this point!

In the distance, the Vilanova bridge, which has carried pilgrims since it was built in the 12th century. We walked a little way along it and discovered a way stone, piles of other stones with icons etched into them, a magnificent flagged pathway and the parish church. No doubt a welcome resting place for tired feet, as pilgrims will have walked 128,930 kms by this point!

The Vilanova bridge crosses the Arnoia river, and the parish church is just behind

The Vilanova bridge crosses the Arnoia river, and the parish church is just behind

You can just make out the steps up to the top of the bell tower of the church for whoever has to ring the bell

You can just make out the steps up to the top of the bell tower of the church for whoever has to ring the bell

The pilgrim trail heading down to the river

The pilgrim trail heading down to the river

An elevated food store, designed to protect the contents from rodents feasting on winter supplies

An elevated food store, designed to protect the contents from rodents feasting on winter supplies

All in all, a perfect spot for dog walking — here's courier M with Kurco

All in all, a perfect spot for dog walking — here’s courier M with Kurco

A reminder about clearing up after your dog

A reminder about clearing up after your dog

Today we continued on to Plasencia in Extremadura, a province in western Spain, to deliver Kurco to his grandma. Now it’s full steam ahead to Almada in Portugal.

Kurco and his abuela were over the moon at seeing each other

Kurco and his abuela were over the moon at seeing each other

UK reunions for Honey from Italy; and Buddy and Lucy from Greece

Before we set off on our next trip to southern Europe, we thought we’d share some happy UK reunion stories.

Honey travelled with Animalcouriers from Italy, where she lived with Julia, to her new home in Nottingham with Julia’s friends Pauline and Steve, and their dog Rollo. Pauline wrote to tell us how it’s going:

“Honey has settled in well with Rollo, who has accepted her with good grace (I think Honey might just be very slightly ‘top dog’). She and Rollo walk well together, and have met up with some of our other doggy friends! They haven’t fallen out and Honey loves the bone box, taking 6 bones to her bed yesterday. Rollo doesn’t bother with bones normally, but they are having a great game pinching bones from each other! We think she is a Staffie/Terrier cross, whereas Rollo is a Staffie/Lab cross — both being the same colour. Honey actually reminds me of Rollo when he was a pup!

We just wanted to thank you all at Animalcouriers for the great job you did in transporting her to England. I spoke to Julia in Italy yesterday and she is delighted Honey has settled in well and so soon — the best move for us all. I shall certainly recommend you to anyone who in the future might need your services, and will continue to watch your blogs with interest.”

Honey in her bed

Honey in her bed

Honey with her new friend Rollo

Honey with her new friend Rollo

Honey loves a fuss

Honey loves a fuss

Buddy travelled with us from Greece, where this stray pup had the good fortune to be adopted by Amy, who had gone to help with the refugee crisis on Lesvos. Making Buddy’s trip to the UK happen so swiftly was down to many people: Amy doing all her paperwork quickly and efficiently; the ‘can do’ attitude of Rebecca from Lesvos Stray Dog and Cat Adoptions and her vet; and Christine from Chris’s Animal Hotel in Athens, who boarded Buddy the night before his flight and helped courier J at the airport.

In what must be record time, by the time courier J boarded her easyJet flight to Athens, everything was perfectly in place for Buddy to travel. Amy wrote to say:

“Just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you guys did to get Buddy back to me in amazing time! You have no idea how happy me and my son are!”

Buddy with Amy's son (the new dog bed is obviously very comfy!)

Buddy with Amy’s son (the new dog bed is obviously very comfy!)

Lucy also travelled with us from Lesvos, on our most recent road trip from Greece. This lovely girl’s new home had fallen through, but thanks to our friend Jenny Fox, an animal behaviourist, who publicised Lucy’s story via her Facebook page, Lucy now has a lovely new home on Guernsey with Michelle, Tony and Sophie.

Courier J was due to accompany Lucy to Guernsey last weekend, but stormy seas meant the trip had to be postponed. Condor kindly transported Lucy’s travel box from Guernsey for free and looked after it until Lucy could travel. Yesterday was the big day. Courier J and Lucy travelled by Condor Seacat and were met by Michelle and her daughter Sophie, and Jayne, an old friend of Animalcouriers.

Lucy waiting patiently for the crossing

Lucy waiting patiently for the crossing

Being greeted by (L to R) Michelle, Sophie and Jayne

Being greeted by (L to R) Michelle, Sophie and Jayne

Lucy making sure she explores her new home thoroughly

Lucy making sure she explores her new home thoroughly

Michelle asking Lucy what she thinks of it all

Michelle asking Lucy what she thinks of it all

Lucy with Tony

Lucy with Tony

Lucy looking very relaxed

Lucy looking very relaxed

Zigg, Rikki, Shelley and Louis join our trip; and we enjoy an authentic Portuguese dining experience with old friends

In Faro Animalcouriers met up with Nuno and his dog Zigg. Nuno’s girlfriend has already moved to London, and now it’s Zigg’s turn to make the journey. Nuno will follow on soon. Both Nuno and his girlfriend are moving for work.

We were pleased to have the chance to call in on Heather and Alan, old friends of ours who run Barking Mad Kennels near Lagos. They’ve been looking after Rikki, a holiday romance for Sandy. Sandy found stray Rikki while on holiday in the area — she’d been injured in an accident. Sandy decided to adopt Rikki, and asked Heather and Alan to look after her until she was well enough to travel, and her passport was ready.

We enjoyed a real treat that evening, when we joined Heather and Alan for a meal at a little local bar-restaurant — not at all the sort of place you’d usually stumble on as a tourist. It was in the delightfully unspoilt village of Barao, which has become a popular haunt for a community of arty folk. As a result, various murals, statues and other artworks have popped up around the village. The restaurant served an inexpensive, delicious meal which included fishy starters and a main course of wild boar and beans, rather like a cassoulet. The experience gave us an interesting insight into Portuguese village life.

While in the Algarve we collected Yellow Lab Shelley, who belongs to Louise and her daughter Rebecca. Originally from Belfast, they’re now leaving the Algarve, as Rebecca has a place at Loughborough university to study sport. Rebecca is very excited about going back to the UK. Shelley being a Labrador is calmly taking it all in her stride.

We then crossed the border into Spain, where we hooked up with Lorna at the La Canada shopping centre in Marbella. Her Poodle Louis is a frequent Animalcouriers traveller, but usually goes by air. This is his first road trip with us. So far, he seems to be enjoying it.

Zigg in the arms of Nuno

Zigg in the arms of Nuno

Zigg looks out from his bedroom

Zigg looks out from his bedroom

Zigg is a lively fellow, who likes to think he's in charge of everything that goes on in the dog area of our van!

Zigg is a lively fellow, who likes to think he’s in charge of everything that goes on in the dog area of our van!

He's also a very affectionate hound who loves a cuddle

He’s also a very affectionate hound who loves a cuddle

 Heather from Barking Mad Kennels with her dog Pixie. Heather rescued Pixie after an accident, had her patched up, and decided to keep her. Then last year Pixie ate one (or more) of those terrible caterpillars and nearly died. She spent three days on a drip with a swollen tongue, but fortunately recovered and is once more in perfect health.

Heather from Barking Mad Kennels with her dog Pixie. Heather rescued Pixie after an accident, had her patched up, and decided to keep her. Then last year Pixie ate one (or more) of those terrible caterpillars and nearly died. She spent three days on a drip with a swollen tongue, but fortunately recovered and is once more in perfect health.

Heather with our passenger Molly, who belongs to Fran

Heather with our passenger Molly, who belongs to Fran

Heather and Alan with Rikki, who's had the good fortune to be adopted by Sandy in the UK

Heather and Alan with Rikki, who’s had the good fortune to be adopted by Sandy in the UK

Rikki walks beautifully on the lead

Rikki walks beautifully on the lead

We stayed at a very nice guesthouse in Barao, Lagos, called Monte Rosa. We enjoyed watching the resident hens enjoying their breakfast, not long after we'd enjoyed our own breakfast of fresh eggs.

We stayed at a very nice guesthouse in Barao, Lagos, called Monte Rosa. We enjoyed watching the resident hens enjoying their breakfast, not long after we’d enjoyed our own breakfast of fresh eggs.

The doorway to the little restaurant in Barao where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner

The doorway to the little restaurant in Barao where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner

One of the murals in Barao — a bit whimsical maybe but does give a sense of the overall feel of the place

One of the murals in Barao — a bit whimsical maybe but does give a sense of the overall feel of the place

Out on the tiles! Another interesting artwork in Barao! Perhaps the sculptor intended it as a warning to cat owners to have their pets neutered! If so, it hasn't worked, judging by the number of cats we saw in the village.

Out on the tiles! Another interesting artwork in Barao! Perhaps the sculptor intended it as a warning to cat owners to have their pets neutered! If so, it hasn’t worked, judging by the number of cats we saw in the village.

Louise and Rebecca with their lovely Lab Shelley

Louise and Rebecca with their lovely Lab Shelley

The mark on Shelley's back is a tick wound. Many people don't realise how serious these can be for dogs, so it's a good job her owners realised what had happened. Shelley's on antibiotics, supplemented by cream. Being a Lab, it's not affecting her appetite at all!

The mark on Shelley’s back is a tick wound. Many people don’t realise how serious these can be for dogs, so it’s a good job her owners realised what had happened. Shelley’s on antibiotics, supplemented by cream. Being a Lab, it’s not affecting her appetite at all!

Evidence of our final egg custard tart opportunity before leaving Portugal

Evidence of our final egg custard tart opportunity before leaving Portugal

Louis gets a goodbye hug from Lorna

Louis gets a goodbye hug from Lorna

Gentle Louis enjoying his morning walk

Gentle Louis enjoying his morning walk

Leaving the UK with Myrtle, Oscar, Smokey, Izzie, Tinks, Aslan, Dexter, JJ, Penny, Leonard, Lola, Spike, Muppet and Boo — and learning all about prunes and Armagnac

Animalcouriers left the UK with a fine set of passengers on board, all heading to mainland European destinations.

Fiona and Nicholas have moved from Winchester to the Bergerac area of France. They went on ahead and left their glamorous black Pug, Myrtle, in the tender car of Nell Parry at Willowmead Cottage Kennels, which is where we collected her for the journey.

Friendly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Oscar is travelling with us to Torrox in Spain. This Geordie fellow has set himself up as the one-man welcoming committee for all the other pets joining our trip, greeting everyone with a tail wag.

Much loved cats Smokey and Izzie are journeying with us from Stourport-on-Severn to southern Spain. Smokey is very interested in everything that’s going on, and keeps a bold eye on us from the front of their compartment. Little Izzie is bit less sure and has decided to watch carefully from behind her bed for now.

Family of four Tinks, Aslan, Dexter and JJ are relocating from Welwyn Garden City to sunny Portugal with Tara and family. It was our first-ever visit to Welwyn, which is a fascinating piece of town planning. It will be quite a contrast for them in the rural Portuguese countryside, where people still farm with real horsepower.

You may recognise the Penny and Leonard as the names of two characters from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on TV. Nicola and Rafael are big fans of the show, so when they adopted two kittens from a rescue organisation, they named them for their favourite characters. However, Leonard has a secret — she turned out to be a girl! The name had stuck, however, so they decided not to change it. Perhaps TV show Leonard will have a sex change at some point in the future to put it all right!

Lovable Lola, a little bundle of fun, is travelling from the historic city of York to live in the south of Spain. Her owner Jo is already in Spain so we collected Lola from Jo’s daughter Emma, just before she set off to join her Mum and sister in the sun.

English Bull Terrier Spike travelled from Spain to Northern Ireland with Animalcouriers a few months ago. Now owner Fernando is returning to Spain, and his beloved Spike is travelling with us once again. He’s a very companionable dog who loves his dinner and going for walks.

Muppet and Boo belong to the O’Neills, who’ve relocated from Northumberland to France, near Poutet. We originally met these two cats when they moved in the opposite direction, from France to Northumberland, a few years ago.

Myrtle in Nell's arms

Myrtle in Nell’s arms

Myrtle showing off her very long tongue. Nell says she can drink a bowl of water at immense speed.

Myrtle showing off her very long tongue. Nell says she can drink a bowl of water at immense speed.

Myrtle gets a warm welcome on a hot afternoon from Robin and Lee at Chenil Les Hirondelles. Situated in Lauzun, this lovely kennels gives a very personal service, as Robin and Lee take only a few dogs at a time.

Myrtle gets a warm welcome on a hot afternoon from Robin and Lee at Chenil Les Hirondelles. Situated in Lauzun, this lovely kennels gives a very personal service, as Robin and Lee take only a few dogs at a time.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Oscar

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Oscar

Oscar has the most expressive face and eyes. It was proving difficult to photograph him on the walk, we ended up picking him up. Here he's saying, OK let's get it over and done with, so I can get back to sniffing around the undergrowth

Oscar has the most expressive face and eyes. It was proving difficult to photograph him on the walk, we ended up picking him up. Here he’s saying, OK let’s get it over and done with, so I can get back to sniffing around the undergrowth

Tabby cat Izzie, travelling with…

Tabby cat Izzie, travelling with…

…Smokey — waving them off was difficult for their owners, but they'll soon be reunited

…Smokey — waving them off was difficult for their owners, but they’ll soon be reunited

Tinks has the look of a cat who takes no nonsense. Living with three dogs means she long ago learnt to stick up for herself!

Tinks has the look of a cat who takes no nonsense. Living with three dogs means she long ago learnt to stick up for herself!

Aslan (back), JJ (left) and Dexter (right) size up the Animalcouriers van

Aslan (back), JJ (left) and Dexter (right) size up the Animalcouriers van

Choccy Lab JJ, good enough to eat

Choccy Lab JJ, good enough to eat

Aslan enjoying the sea air at Ouistreham as we walked in the park

Aslan enjoying the sea air at Ouistreham as we walked in the park

14-year-old Yellow Lab Dexter is the senior passenger on the trip and quite arthritic, so he's travelling with a special comfy bed

14-year-old Yellow Lab Dexter is the senior passenger on the trip and quite arthritic, so he’s travelling with a special comfy bed

Dexter enjoying his morning walk. Despite his stiff legs, he still enjoys a gentle stroll and a good sniff about.

Dexter enjoying his morning walk. Despite his stiff legs, he still enjoys a gentle stroll and a good sniff about.

Penny giving Rafael an adoring look

Penny giving Rafael an adoring look

A winsome look from Leonard

A winsome look from Leonard

Penny and Leonard ready for the off

Penny and Leonard ready for the off

Lola with Emma

Lola with Emma

Lola keeping a watchful eye on things from the sanctuary of her bed

Lola keeping a watchful eye on things from the sanctuary of her bed

A closer look at Lola's fab ears

A closer look at Lola’s fab ears

Lola prefers to take her morning walk tucked under an arm, but we made sure she took a few steps as well!

Lola prefers to take her morning walk tucked under an arm, but we made sure she took a few steps as well!

Handsome hunk Spike

Handsome hunk Spike

Tabby-and-white Muppet

Tabby-and-white Muppet

Dark grey- and -white Boo

Dark grey- and -white Boo

Just in case we weren't sure — a sign directing us to Muppet and Boo's new French home

Just in case we weren’t sure — a sign directing us to Muppet and Boo’s new French home

So neatly written, it looks quite official!

So neatly written, it looks quite official!

A very chilled-out pair, Muppet and Boo headed straight for their supper which was laid out ready and waiting for them

A very chilled-out pair, Muppet and Boo headed straight for their supper which was laid out ready and waiting for them

Driving through Gascony, we spotted another sign, this one more discreet, saying 'Armagnac'. It turned out to be a little cave where Monsieur and Madame make their own Armagnac.

Driving through Gascony, we spotted another sign, this one more discreet, saying ‘Armagnac’. It turned out to be a little cave where Monsieur and Madame make their own Armagnac.

Inside the cave where, once the raisins are soaked, fermented and distilled by the couple, the resulting liquid is left to ferment — it all takes place in this tiny damp little shed.

Inside the cave where, once the raisins are soaked, fermented and distilled by the couple, the resulting liquid is left to ferment — it all takes place in this tiny damp little shed.

The various ages of Armagnac

The various ages of Armagnac

Agen prunes, considered by many to be the tastiest in Europe

Agen prunes, considered by many to be the tastiest in Europe

Mi-cuit prunes — halfway between a plum and a prune, and utterly delicious!

Mi-cuit prunes — halfway between a plum and a prune, and utterly delicious!

Collecting Billie, Sammy, Demetri, Randall and Hector on Lesvos

To collect the first passengers for our UK-bound trip, Animalcouriers took the ferry to the island of Lesvos, where we had a very interesting visit to the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production in Agia Paraskevi.

The museum was originally a cooperative oil mill set up in 1911, under communitarian principles, to help small olive oil producers. The olives were pressed and the oil handed back to the growers, who could then go to market and could compete with the big boys and get a fair price for their small amount of oil. The mill was eventually closed down in 1967 by a right-wing dictatorship who arrested and exiled the community leaders, and left the small producers unable to get their oil to market.

In the afternoon we made our way to Mytilini port to await our passengers. The winds were high as we watched the refugees, who’d made their way to the island on inflatable boats, try and hang on to their little tents pitched along the shoreline. It’s a sight that makes us very aware of the humanitarian crisis Europe (and the world) is facing.

Soon Rebecca arrived with five gorgeous dogs who are on their way to wonderful new homes in the UK. Their families are very excited and have been in regular contact with us. Rebecca and her volunteer colleagues at Lesvos animal friends look after and rehome many unwanted dogs and cats on Lesvos. They’ve teamed up with Wild at Heart to organise the rehoming of five dogs between them. Each dog is travelling on a separate Traces certificate as each is going to a separate address.

From the Lesvos team:

Billie is a mixed breed dog, who has been with the Lesvos rehoming group for a while. She’s on her way to Joanne in Sheffield.

Sammy is another mixed breed whose new home is the Brighton Rocks Restaurant and Bar in Brighton, with Jane and her family. En route, we’ll be teaching Sammy how to take orders and how to make a Brighton Rock Sundae!

Demetri is off to live with Jules and Kate in Northampton, who say: “We are very excited about getting Demetri finally ‘home’ It’s been a while since we saw him in Lesvos — hope he hasn’t grown too big!!!”

And from Wild at Heart:

Randall is going to Ali and her husband who, like all good owners, wanted to know how the journey works and are looking forward to seeing photos of Randall along the way.

Hector (to be renamed Ben) is on his way to Jonathan in Reigate, just a few miles from courier J, so maybe we’ll meet out walking!

You can see photos of Randall and Hector, and other lovely dogs looking for new homes, on the Wild at Heart adoption page — these two are at the foot of the page.

After a slight concern that we wouldn’t get kennels for the dogs on the ferry to the mainland, we were finally allowed on board and were allocated three big kennels. With Rebecca’s help, we got all the dogs organised and then we were ready for the off.

Christos negotiating with the freight department to get a good rate for our van on the ferry to Lesvos. We rely on Christos and Panos of Hellas Ferries to help with all our ferry needs between Italy and Greece, and around the Greek islands.

Christos negotiating with the freight department to get a good rate for our van on the ferry to Lesvos. We rely on Christos and Panos of Hellas Ferries to help with all our ferry needs between Italy and Greece, and around the Greek islands.

The former olive oil mill, now a beautifully restored working museum of oil production on Lesvos

The former olive oil mill, now a beautifully restored working museum of oil production on Lesvos

Olives are roughly crushed in the mill, and the resulting pulp is sewn into sacks and taken to the press

Olives are roughly crushed in the mill, and the resulting pulp is sewn into sacks and taken to the press

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

The sacks of pulp are pressed…

…and the resulting oil drains into the settlement tanks, the sediment sinking to the bottom

…and the resulting oil drains into the settlement tanks, the sediment sinking to the bottom

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

The oil is then put through the centrifuge for final clarification

Storage facilities at the oil mill

Storage facilities at the oil mill

Courier J heads into an interesting-looking shop — she came out bearing olive oil, Lesvos honey and olive oil soap

Courier J heads into an interesting-looking shop — she came out bearing olive oil, Lesvos honey and olive oil soap

Refugees' tents at Mytilini

Refugees’ tents at Mytilini

Some of the boats they arrived in

Some of the boats they arrived in

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca with Randall and Hector

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

Rebecca puts name tags on Billie and Demetri

Medallions to be attached to the dogs' collars, said to ward off the evil eye

Medallions to be attached to the dogs’ collars, said to ward off the evil eye

Our van driving up the gangplank

Our van driving up the gangplank

Courier M and Rebecca getting our charges settled in for the crossing, including topping up water bowls

Courier M and Rebecca getting our charges settled in for the crossing, including topping up water bowls

Randall and Hector sharing a room

Randall and Hector sharing a room

A cute look from Demetri

A cute look from Demetri

Collecting UK-bound pets in Portugal and Spain: Rafa, Meiow Meiow, Ziollo and Q

Having reunited all the pets who travelled with us from the UK with their owners, Animalcouriers turned around and set off on the UK-bound leg of the trip.

The first passenger to get on board was Rafa, who’s been living near Faro in Portugal with his owner Rosemary. Now it’s time for them both to go back to the UK. Rafa is going on ahead, and will stay with friends in Cornwall until Rosemary arrives.

In Spain we met up with Meiow Meiow and Ziollo just outside the cement works at Manilva. Owner Sue has gone on ahead to the UK and is excitedly waiting for them in Hove. They’ve been in the care of Kirstie and Mark, who told us they will very much miss their walks with Ziollo.

In Nueva Andalucia we called in on Margot to collect her suave black-and-white puss Q — so named because her son is a big fan of that character from James Bond. Q and Margot are relocating to Cheltenham in Surrey — and will perhaps ultimately move to the Netherlands, which is where Margot comes from.

Rosemary with her handsome hound Rafa

Rosemary with her handsome hound Rafa

Rafa all ready for the off

Rafa all ready for the off

Anyone who lives near to, or travels in and out of, Faro airport will be familiar with these fabulous figures peering up at the sky from the roundabout. Called 'The Plane Watchers', these roughly hewn stone sculptures are by Teresa Paulino. They make us smile every time we see them.

Anyone who lives near to, or travels in and out of, Faro airport will be familiar with these fabulous figures peering up at the sky from the roundabout. Called ‘The Plane Watchers’, these roughly hewn stone sculptures are by Teresa Paulino. They make us smile every time we see them.

Fortification at the Spanish town of Ayamonte, built to cover the river separating Spain and Portugal

Fortification at the Spanish town of Ayamonte, built to cover the river separating Spain and Portugal

View of the top of the 15th century San Salvador church tower in Ayamonte

View of the top of the 15th century San Salvador church tower in Ayamonte

Giant asparagus anyone? This succulent throws up a 10m high flower stalk!

Giant asparagus anyone? This succulent throws up a 10m high flower stalk!

Rafa spotted some sheep on his morning walk and seemed keen to do some shepherding… but realised he wasn't really sure how to go about it!

Rafa spotted some sheep on his morning walk and seemed keen to do some shepherding… but realised he wasn’t really sure how to go about it!

Mark with Meiow Meiow and Ziollo

Mark with Meiow Meiow and Ziollo

Kirstie and Mark, who've been taking care of Sue's pets since she left for the UK

Kirstie and Mark, who’ve been taking care of Sue’s pets since she left for the UK

Kirstie says goodbye to Meiow Meiow

Kirstie says goodbye to Meiow Meiow

Ziollo is a real smiler

 

Margot with Q outside their apartment block

Margot with Q outside their apartment block

The name's Q…

The name’s Q…

Along the way we've been enjoying all sorts of beautiful spring flowers, many of which are completely unfamiliar to us. We'd really love to know what this one is — any ideas?

Along the way we’ve been enjoying all sorts of beautiful spring flowers, many of which are completely unfamiliar to us. We’d really love to know what this one is — any ideas?

Courier M had a field day, here are some of his finds… (click on a photo to enter the slideshow)

This marvellous painting appears on wall at the entrance to a tunnel north of Malaga. There are two more at the other end.

This marvellous painting appears on wall at the entrance to a tunnel north of Malaga. There are two more at the other end.

Ginger-and-white Whiskey from Rome joins our journey to the UK

Animalcouriers drove from Athens to the port of Igoumenitsa to catch the ferry to the Italian port of Brindisi.

We then headed to Rome to meet Gennaro and his cat Whiskey. Gennaro has lived all his life around Rome and Naples but now, at 90 years young, is off to live with his son and his partner, Irene, in the UK. Whiskey is going on ahead, and will be waiting to greet Gennaro when he arrives.

Whiskey was all ready for the off when we called in to collect him from Gennaro

Whiskey was all ready for the off when we called in to collect him from Gennaro

A closer look at handsome Whiskey

A closer look at handsome Whiskey

Gennaro came out to our van to oversee Whiskey's settling in

Gennaro came out to our van to oversee Whiskey’s settling in

Gennaro told us he was pleased that Whiskey had a 'nice cage' for his journey

Gennaro told us he was pleased that Whiskey had a ‘nice cage’ for his journey

Boxoh having a bit of a bad hair day on a windy walk

Boxoh having a bit of a bad hair day on a windy walk

Zarly completely understands the problem. Very snug in her little jumper, though. And what a smart collar tag!

Zarly completely understands the problem. Very snug in her little jumper, though. And what a smart collar tag!

Hector is so annoyed about being on this journey that he doesn't want to look at us. But he still goes stoically on his walks.

Hector is so annoyed about being on this journey that he doesn’t want to look at us. But he still goes stoically on his walks.

Hector finally deigns to have a chat with courier M about what life in London will be like…

Hector finally deigns to have a chat with courier M about what life in London will be like…

…And even shows us his best side for a photo

…And even shows us his best side for a photo

Bilia spots Jason and would like to play…

Bilia spots Jason and would like to play…

But Jason has other plans. Did I see boats over there?

But Jason has other plans. Did I see boats over there?

Pretty Pouca manages to leap about very gracefully on her three legs. Eugenia tells us that Pouca was found, aged two months, having been hit by a car and left to die. The girl who found her took her to the vet, who did the surgery to amputate her leg and tail, and nursed her back to health, free of charge. When Eugenia took her dog to the vet, she saw Pouca, heard her story, and immediately offered to adopt her.

Pretty Pouca manages to leap about very gracefully on her three legs. Eugenia tells us that Pouca was found, aged two months, having been hit by a car and left to die. The girl who found her took her to the vet, who did the surgery to amputate her leg and tail, and nursed her back to health, free of charge. When Eugenia took her dog to the vet, she saw Pouca, heard her story, and immediately offered to adopt her.

Beautiful flowers spotted on the Greek mainland as we passed the Ionian islands

Beautiful flowers spotted on the Greek mainland as we passed the Ionian islands

A closer look reveals honey bees, hard at work

A closer look reveals honey bees, hard at work

The hives were just across the other side of the road. We're intrigued by these wonderfully colourful hives which are dotted all over Greece. Perhaps if bees are driven by the colours of flowers, this is some kind of clever colour-coding?

The hives were just across the other side of the road. We’re intrigued by these wonderfully colourful hives which are dotted all over Greece. Perhaps if bees are driven by the colours of flowers, this is some kind of clever colour-coding?

Ladybirds were also out, enjoying the spring sunshine

Ladybirds were also out, enjoying the spring sunshine

We passed this perfectly happy dog on the way to Igoumenitsa, but don't think we'll be adopting this style of transport any time soon!

We passed this perfectly happy dog on the way to Igoumenitsa, but don’t think we’ll be adopting this style of transport any time soon!

Must be a nightmare trying to build anything in Greece. You only have to dig your spade in and up pops another ruin!

Must be a nightmare trying to build anything in Greece. You only have to dig your spade in and up pops another ruin!

News of Jim, who travelled from London to France with us. Faith tells us: "The sun shone at lunchtime and we were able to sit on my sheltered terrace and sunbathe while Jim helped with me with some mending. He's slotted back in to French village life effortlessly..."

News of Jim, who travelled from London to France with us. Faith tells us: “The sun shone at lunchtime and we were able to sit on my sheltered terrace and sunbathe while Jim helped with me with some mending. He’s slotted back in to French village life effortlessly…”

From reunions in Stoupa to Athens, to meet Pouca the cat

When Animalcouriers reached Greece by ferry from Italy, our first stop was Stoupa, to reunite cats Mr Pickles and Douglas, and dogs Murphy and Twiglet with Sharon. Overnight accommodation in the area is a bit sparse at this time of year but we were lucky enough to end up in a rather nice little cottage.

With the weather howling and storming outside, we took advantage of the open fire which had been laid ready for us. Along with the firewood was a plastic bag full of amazingly effective firelighters — pieces of cardboard soaked in olive oil. Sacrilege! we hear you cry, using Kalamata extra virgin oil in this way. But the smell suggested the oil had already been used for cooking. So in fact, an excellent approach to recycling and less grease down the drains.

From Stoupa we drove through the hills towards Athens via Kalamata. We stopped for coffee in a small mountain village between Kalamata and Athens to look around a tiny church that caught our eye. A local lady passed us with her flock of ewes and their lambs, bringing traffic to a halt while she chatted with a number of villagers before guiding her flock off the road.

In Athens we headed to the port to meet up with Eugenia’s cat Pouca. This dear little tortie girl was brought to us by boat by a friend of Eugenia’s. Pouca seemed quite unfazed by her journey and simply ready for cuddles and supper!

Our olive-oil firelighters. Courier M says he uses something similar at home — kitchen roll used to wipe out the frying pan. But Mrs M objects somewhat to the smell of fried bacon and onion!

Our olive-oil firelighters. Courier M says he uses something similar at home — kitchen roll used to wipe out the frying pan. But Mrs M objects somewhat to the smell of fried bacon and onion!

We are very aware of the difficult lives led by stray cats around dustbins. As we left Stoupa we spotted a group of 12 or more round this bin. Even though we approached very slowly, most of them scuttled away over the wall, leaving just a handful on guard. Who were rewarded with some cat treats.

We are very aware of the difficult lives led by stray cats around dustbins. As we left Stoupa we spotted a group of 12 or more round this bin. Even though we approached very slowly, most of them scuttled away over the wall, leaving just a handful on guard. Who were rewarded with some cat treats.

Driving through the hills behind Stoupa en route for Kalamata, we passed many beautiful wild flowers. We think these may be orchids.

Driving through the hills behind Stoupa en route for Kalamata, we passed many beautiful wild flowers. We think these may be orchids.

Wonderfully bright poppies

Wonderfully bright poppies

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Daisies are hard to beat for that spring-time feeling

Wish we knew what these striking flowerheads are. Any ideas?

Wish we knew what these striking flowerheads are. Any ideas?

Mimosa (we think)

Mimosa (we think)

Traffic jam in the mountains

Traffic jam in the mountains

We thought this little church was derelict when we first caught sight of it…

We thought this little church was derelict when we first caught sight of it…

…but on pressing our noses to the glass in the door, we saw its marvellous tiny interior

…but on pressing our noses to the glass in the door, we saw its marvellous tiny interior

Ancient-looking paintings inside

Ancient-looking paintings inside

Some paintings were made directly on the stonework

Some paintings were made directly on the stonework

Graffiti at the church's entranceway

Graffiti at the church’s entranceway

Eugenia's friend arrives with Pouca

Eugenia’s friend arrives with Pouca

Pouca peeping out, keen to know what's going on

Pouca peeping out, keen to know what’s going on

Pouca is such a pretty little girl! We discovered she's missing a leg and part of her tail. She's cuddly, purrs loudly, and loves eating!

Pouca is such a pretty little girl! We discovered she’s missing a leg and part of her tail. She’s cuddly, purrs loudly, and loves eating!

Collecting Blair and Putin in Germany for their trip to the UK

At much the same time as couriers J and M reached Greece, courier S found herself in rather exalted company in Berlin.

Blair and Putin have been living in this fine capital city for a couple of months while their passports and travel arrangements were finalised. With promises of a large garden and fresh west country air to look forward to at their new UK home, these two cats are anticipating good times ahead.

They’re proving the perfect travel companions, sharing a hotel room with courier S last night and everyone enjoying snacks in bed. This morning they’ll cross to the UK by Eurotunnel, and spend the night in Surrey before being reunited with their owners tomorrow.

Handsome black-and-white Blair

Handsome black-and-white Blair

Gorgeous Russian Blue Putin

Gorgeous Russian Blue Putin

Like the Swiss, the Germans are also lucky enough to have Easter egg trees!

Like the Swiss, the Germans are also lucky enough to have Easter egg trees!

A colourful sight that brightens up a somewhat grey day

A colourful sight that brightens up a somewhat grey day

Bibi and Odin are reunited in Switzerland, and Ruben, Hugo, Red and Jim arrive in France

After reuniting cats Fleur and Mittens with their owners, Mike and Debbie, in Normandy, we drove into Switzerland to deliver Bibi and Odin to Alan and his family. It was hard to say who was more excited at the reunion — humans or dogs!

Then it was back into France to drop handsome trio Ruben, Hugo and Red at Le Jardin des Chats, a super cattery in the Montpellier area, where they’ll have a short stay until their owner Susan catches up with them. And we left Gentleman Jim with mutual friends, for collection by his owner Faith.

The next day, with Mr Pickles, Douglas, Twiglet and Murphy still on board, we motored on to Italy, staying the night in Florence before heading to the port to catch the overnight ferry to Greece.

Bibi and Odin were so excited at being back with Alan and his wife that they quite forgot all their good manners for a few moments!

Bibi and Odin were so excited at being back with Alan and his wife that they quite forgot all their good manners for a few moments!

But it really didn't take long for all that training to kick back in

But it really didn’t take long for all that training to kick back in

Proof that in Switzerland Easter eggs actually grow on trees

Proof that in Switzerland Easter eggs actually grow on trees

Easter bunnies collect the eggs and deliver them to all the boys and girls (and grown-ups!) who've been good so far this year

Easter bunnies collect the eggs and deliver them to all the boys and girls (and grown-ups!) who’ve been good so far this year

Mr Pickles (top) and Douglas are just about the nosiest pair of cats who've ever travelled with us!

Mr Pickles (top) and Douglas are just about the nosiest pair of cats who’ve ever travelled with us!