Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Departing Seville, Spain with a population of 700,000 we boarded our Motor Coach and headed for Jerez de la Frontera with a population of 213,000 (estimates via the Internet). This was an interesting change as we travled through the smaller Spanish towns and saw more of the countryside.

Our first adventure in Jerez was a stop at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. We were greeted by a guide who explained the history and goals of the academy. This is a very exclusive school and gaining acceptance is quite competitive. Our group was taken inside a display area where horse carriages were stored and available for inspection.

One horse was tethered nearby for us to admire. Unfortunately, photography was restricted in many areas which proved disappointing. I was hoping to gather a couple of snapshots of horses being trained in the indoor stadium, but this was not permitted.

The guide begrudgingly allowed a few quick photographs of the tack room.

Pictures of the rein training outdoors were allowed.

The saving grace of this stop were the beautiful buildings and grounds. As we were waiting to walk toward the arena, an upward glance revealed an interesting and somewhat surprising sight.

Storks nest in many of the high towers, ridges and chimneys afforded them in and around town. As a matter of fact, we found that storks are an object of pride in Spain (and Portugal) and are encouraged to nest. At one time most of the birds migrated to Africa during the winter months and returned for the warmer seasons, but nowadays less and less of the birds migrate.

It appears that the availability of higher quality water in the wetlands combined with availability of “junk food” has become attractive to the White Storks that now become year-round residents.

You can find more information about the storks in Spain and Portugal HERE and HERE.

I must say that the exhibition hall and arena at the school was quite attractive.

The administration building and headquarters was equally impressive with its old-style elegance.

The area outside the administration building had a very picturesque fountain that added to the splendor of the estate.

After our stop at the Equestrian School, we walked to The House of Sandeman Jerez – producers of fine sherries and port. The traditional Andalusian garb includes a cape and large-brimmed black hat ala Zoro.

I wasn’t too interested in the distillation and preparation of sherry since red wines are about as much as I have on occasion. Our guide, however, did an excellent job of explaining the processes involved and the nuances between the various sherries produced. Of more interest to me was the history and building itself.

Yes indeed, there were barrels upon barrels of sherry being aged as we walked through the distillery (if that is the correct term).

I didn’t understand it all, but the markings on the outside of the the wooden barrels contained important production codes. Naturally, there was a “tasting” with chips and small sandwiches.

These stops did not make my top ten list although I found them somewhat interesting primarily for the few photographic opportunities available.

The Sandeman Sherry Bodega has an excellent website with amusing videos and information. If you enjoy sherry, I think you will appreciate this LINK – click on “OUR STORIES.”

Next stop…Gibraltar!


Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


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Pickleball – Up the Creek Without…

When I first began my pickleball play, there were very few paddles available in brick-and-mortar stores. As a matter of fact, one way I gauged the popularity of pickleball was to take note when sporting good stores began to carry paddles and pickleballs. Now they can be found at many outlets including some Walmart stores.

When asked which paddle I should buy, nobody could give me a solid answer and there were no obvious choices. Do I select wood, composite or graphite? How is one to know which paddle to get? Well…I think I can safely say that the paddle is not my problem no matter which paddle I am using.

I decided to watch those players I considered to be good or very good and I saw that many of them used the Z5 Wide Body Paddle. I thought that if they could play that well with the paddle, it must be good (little did I know that the paddle had no magic!).


A problem that occurs under the above circumstances is that quite a number of players end up using the same paddle. I know at least four players in my PB circuit that use this same paddle in the same color. This may become a problem when paddles are put down; one looks like the other.

To avoid any problems, I took a couple of steps:

[ NOTE – I am not recommending these. I am just putting them out there to generate ideas. One could just as easily change the grip to a specific color, etc.]

I cut my name from an address label and placed it on the right-hand side edge of the handle:


I also took red tape and placed it on the bottom of the paddle with my name on itt


I also wanted a way to locate my paddle no matter what edge was facing me so I put pieces of white tape or pieces of an address label along the edge so I could identify it.


One could write a name on the white tape pictured below prior to placing it on the paddle.


I also have another paddle that I allow other players to use and I put a complete address label on the front of the paddle bottom near the handle.


NOTE – Address is intentionally blurred and is legible on the paddle.

Taking all the above precautions now allows me to easily identify my paddle and if, for some reason, it gets misplaced, the chances of it finding its way back to me are greatly improved.

NOTE – There are rules and regulations issued by the USAPA regarding what is and what is not allowed on paddle surfaces. For your information, I am printing them below so that you can make sure any modifications you make will comply with official USAPA rules and regulations.


2.E.2. Surface. The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball. Paddle roughness is determined using a Starrett SR 100 or its replacement testers such as the Starrett SR160 Surface Roughness Tester. The allowable limits for roughness shall be no greater than 30 micrometers (μm) on the Rz reading (average maximum height, peak to valley), and no greater than 40 micrometers on the Rt reading (maximum height, peak to valley). All readings will be taken in 4 different directions. The paddle hitting surface shall not be adversely reflective, such that it has the potential to obscure the vision of opposing player(s). (revised Apr. 15, 2016)


2.E.5. Alterations. The only alterations that can be made to a commercial paddle are changes to the grip, adding an edge guard, and adding name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face. These decals/markings can extend no farther than 1″ (25.4 mm) above the top of the handle nor more than 1/2″ (12.7 mm) from the outer edge of a paddle, or paddle edge guard if in place. Altered paddles must meet all specifications. Homemade paddles are not permitted. (Effective January 1, 2014)


2.E.6. Prohibited Surface Features and Mechanical Features.
2.E.6.a. Anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber particles, or any material that causes additional spin.
Section 2: Court and Equipment 2.E.6.b. Rubber and synthetic
2.E.6.c. Sandpaper.
2.E.6.d. Moving parts that can increase head momentum.
2.E.6.e. Springs or spring-like material.
2.E.6.f. Flexible membranes or any compressible material that creates a trampoline effect.
2.E.6.g. Electrical, electronic, or mechanical assistance of any sort.

If you have ways to distinguish your paddle that are not mentioned above, leave them in the comments section.