Jewels in the Park

Saturday 28th April

Cathy posting,

We are parked at Auto-Camp Korana inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park and we are 5kms from the main park entrance and today that’s where we are heading, we were up early again! 7.30 am and made our picnic lunch for later. We got the free coach at 9am from the site to the park entrances choosing to get off at Entrance 2.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is made up of 16 terraced lakes, the highest lake is 693 metres above sea level they are all  linked by beautiful cascading waterfalls, the vegetation is lush and so many shades of green, there are Beech, Fir and Pine trees and the walkways consist of mainly wooden boardwalks with little gaps that you can see the water running below your feet, these take you from one lake to the other and from one heavenly site to the next.

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water so clear you can see the trees buried in the water

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Jewel like colours

We arrived on the free site run bus alighting at entrance No.2 as advised by Lonely Planet, on arrival be bought our tickets to the park and caught the bendy shuttle bus which took us to the top of the upper lakes from here you can choose a trail to walk down or hike further up, we chose to walk down on trail H,  8.9 kms in total, this route took us back down to the shore of Kozjak the parks largest lake at 4km length and from here we caught the electric boat down to the lower lakes, this boat ride was so serene and quiet no noise at all! We really enjoyed it, there was a nice picnic area and loos there, so we stopped for our picnic. After a little rest we realised it was getting really busy as most visitors arrive at entrance 1 and do the lower lakes first, we were glad we did it our way, off we set picking trail H up again to the largest waterfall in the park called Veliki Slap which is 78m high, firstly we viewed it from the top as we watched it literally falling from our feet! We then climbed up the pathways crossing a boardwalk over for some more views from the other side, we then continued upwards on trail H seeing more and more unbelievable sights and some of these areas had massive drops and no barriers, just signs warning you of the danger, this however was only for a short distance, we arrived at bus stop No 2 but we are too early for the free bus back to the site so the Hotel orders us a taxi €15, it had taken us approx. 4.5 hours in total.P1040481P1040495P1040505

The Upper lakes lie in a Dolomite valley, the lower lakes are shallower and mostly they are fed by the black and white rivers Crna and Bijela but are also fed by undergrounds springs and we saw several holes where water disappears this is created by porous limestone and it reappears elsewhere and all of it empties into the Korana river, this river runs alongside the campsite Autocamp Korana which we are staying on.

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Veliki Slap looking down from the mid way section

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The stunning beauty of the lakes has come about because the natural processes and deposits of calcium and travertine means that the landscape is forever changing and has continued undisturbed since the last ice age! The colours of the water are turquoise but sometimes appear Jade green like a jewel, depending on the mineral content and the changing light.

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The National Park boundaries were set in 1951 and until the civil war started on 31st March 1991 when rebel Serbs took control of the parks headquarters it was a major tourist attraction, the Croatian army re-took it in 1995 restoring the facilities. In 1997 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site.

We are glad we came in spring as the waterfalls were spectacular and gushing and the number of people was not too bad, in Summer we can imagine it would be less enjoyable due to the sheer volume of people, we also recommend coming as early in the morning as you can.

We’ve had a fantastic day and I believe the photos and camera lens cannot do justice to what the human lens saw, this has been a truly unforgettable experience.

Cathy

Beachside Musings

Friday 28th April 18

Beachside Writer.

Cathy posting,

Today we got paid! Not earned income but the rent from our house has come through, it felt strange receiving it but great too! as this is mostly what is allowing us to have this great experience. We are up early about 7am and after some muesli and tea we head down to the beach area, they have very nice stone Continue reading

Krk Town – Krk Island

Krk Island

25th & 26th April 2018

Dave posting,

We are going to Camping Krk on the Island of Krk about 1-20 kms south from here, it’s only a short distance but we fancy a change of scenery, we see the usual yellow, blue and red advertising board for LIDL, it looks brand new, it’s 1km from the site, and we need supplies, 570 kn later we have stashed the goodies away and arrive at Camping Krk.

What a site this is, everything and everywhere is of such Continue reading

Paradise by the harbour lights

Klimno, Soline Bay, Krk,

Saturday 21st April 2018

Cathy posting,

Here we are at Camp Slamni, we think we are paying €17 for this superior pitch with sea views of the bay, but it could be less if we get the discount promised to us (with our ASCI card, link here) on arrival. We’re not sure if was €17 and then discount or €17 with discount, we don’t really mind as it’s a superb site, Continue reading

Arrivederci Italy!

Thursday 19th April 2018

Dave posting,

Very warm again here this morning at Al Bateo Agricampeggio, Punta Sabbioni, we are wondering where to go next as we are leaving this site today as we head towards Croatia, we are not in a rush at all and we are feeling very relaxed without a schedule or timetable, it’s a wonderful way to live at the moment. Once again, we don’t want to travel too far, short little hops suits us fine!

Cathy is on Google maps and spots a marina where she thinks we could wild camp a little south of Monfalcone, from the views it seems to have plenty of parking and it’s near a beach, we decide to head there and take a look, if it’s not suitable then we will move on and find an alternative.

Once again, we decide to use the toll road, and another guess at how much it will cost? The trip is about 145 kms and 110 kms is on the toll. No problems this time, we used the toll booth lane that was manned, €6.80 paid (not on a pre-paid credit card this time – thanks Joanne!) and we are through!

Marina Julia is our destination and when we arrive it looks suitable, no signs forbidding motorhomes, although there was one forbidding caravans, there is a large grassy, sandy parking area, no markings, park where you want kind of place. There’s a small shopping precinct nearby and it’s peaceful.

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Marina Julia, this will do nicely!

We park in a shady spot near some trees and we go for a stroll, and we are surprised by the view, a naturally beautiful coastline, the sea gentle lapping up to the tide line, lots of driftwood and no litter or plastics. Most of the cafes and beach bars are closed, we think that we can see Croatia across this part of the Adriatic.

We see a café beach bar nearby and we walk over for a drink, 2 bottles of Moretti and we are just staring at the views and beauty in front of us, the freedom to make choices and change things dependent on how we feel is fantastic. The café has music on quietly in the background and Abba comes on, it can’t get any better for me right at this moment! Cathy pulls a face; all the family know I like Abba!  Cathy doesn’t especially when I start singing along!

Our stroll takes us northerly towards a very large camping village and further on out of site a dockyard, where we can see the top of a huge cruise liner above the tree line, we tried to go and take a look at it, but the path ended.

Returning to Pogo we move away from the shady little bay in the trees, the bugs and mozzies are about, and it looks like some people have been using this little hidden space as a loo from all the dried-up tissues we can see, it annoys us as we leave no trace behind wherever we stay not even dish-washing water.

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Across the Adriatic towards Croatia

We tried to do a blog last night, but we have run out of data, we have used 12GB in 26 days! We need to reign ourselves back in with the data consumption, Cathy has closed some Facebook motor-home groups that she was following in the UK and will return to once we’re back home, we’ve altered some settings on our iPhone’s and iPad’s, we’ve accidentally left the MIFI on a couple of nights with the iPad refreshing pages in the background, we’ve learned our lesson at a cost.

We are getting closer to Croatia and it’s a place where Cathy and I have always wanted to go!

Dave

Island Hopping

Wednesday 18th April 2018

Cathy posting,

So today we decided to go back to Venice as we wanted to go up the San Marco Campanile tower in St. Mark’s Square and look at the views over Venice. We used our 2 day €30 each ticket, it covers the ferry over, the Grand Canal water bus and trips to any islands.

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St Marks Campanile

The tower dates back to the 9th century, is 98 metres high and was used as a watchtower and lighthouse. It collapsed in 1902 due to dodgy construction and was rebuilt in 1912 and it is one of the most recognised symbols of Venice.

It was €8 each which seems pretty expensive, there are no stairs, just a lift and there was a queue, we waited 30 mins for our turn, but the views were fantastic, sometimes things are worth paying for and we’re glad we went up.

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

 

P1040109Ok, that’s done now, we decided to visit the small island of Burano which is actually four little islands connected by bridges and it’s said to resemble a mini Venice, we may go to the island of Murano also.

We got the No 4.1 water bus from San Marco and 30 mins later we transfer at Fondamonte Nove on to water bus No. 12 for Burano, this however took 41 mins, I hoped I wouldn’t be ill but no, I was ok, can’t tell you how happy I am about my new “sea legs!”

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Beautiful Burano

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Burano is so pretty every little fisherman’s cottage is a different colour, bright colours of yellow, vivid green, blue and pink. Burano is well known for its lace making as Murano another island is known for its glass, we may go there later also.

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We wandered around the little streets enjoying the sun for an hour or so and then stopped for lunch, no picnic today as we think it will be cheaper here, Dave had seafood spaghetti and I had my favourite, tuna, tomato, mozzarella and sweetcorn salad, both were delicious and of course there was a beer and a Prosecco!

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Watching the world go by………

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Great use of space

We walked around Burano for another hour or so over the little bridges Dave taking photos and me admiring the lovely little houses, some had made a garden with little partitions with plants growing up them & a bench outside just the sort of thing I would do, you had to admire their use of space. We stopped at a shop which sold Murano glass jewellery and I decided to treat myself to a necklace and earring set in a lovely azure blue, we probably won’t go to Murano now, so I’ll get something here.

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It was really hot so we stopped for an iced coffee for me and a grapefruit juice and lemonade for Dave, sat in the shade it was lovely and watching people passing by, however the locals still had their coats on! We are really relaxed and can’t believe we are having this long holiday, we are not at all concerned about our house being lived in by other people and in fact we don’t even think about it we are just loving this nomadic life!

We’d done Burano so set off for the ferry, but we had 25 mins to wait, so Dave decided it was time to try the famous Stracciatella ice cream, we had a small cone each (only €1.50 each) and it was very creamy with irregular dark chocolate shavings and chunks.

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It only took 30 mins back to Punta Sabbioni and I fell asleep again! Once back at Pogo I made Thai green salmon curry with sticky rice, we wrote some blog and off to bed early, we don’t know where we are going tomorrow but its in the direction of Croatia……

Cathy

Sea Legs!

Tuesday 17th April

Cathy posting,

Even at 6.30 am we can feel the heat of the day, Dave makes 2 cups of tea and I get another 20 minutes in bed whilst it’s brewing, I love my tea and normally have 2 cups but not today Venice beckons and I’m excited! As we’re walking towards the ferry stop about 300 metres away I start to feel anxious about the boat journey as it’s 30-40 minutes and I hope I won’t be ill, I have a box of Boots travel calms and as I walk along I take one with a mouthful of water, it says 20 mins before travelling so I’m ok, then I notice I’d put some stugeron in the same box and I’ve taken one of them, I think they need an hour? feel a bit panicky now, we step onto the ferry and I’m worried there are no outside seats only inside and I want space and a quick exit just in case! We sit down and I’m relieved that we set off immediately, after 5 minutes I feel ok, fingers crossed then, it’s quite smooth sailing and after 20 minutes I’m actually enjoying it, I’ve grown sea legs – Hooray!

After 35 minutes we pull into San Marco and we marvel at the water colour and the early morning air is fresh, none of the reported pong! We can just see the start of the Grand Canal now and I can’t wait to get on another boat and go up it. We hop off the ferry and go to find Vaporetta No 1 to take us up there, we wandered around for a bit and got a bit lost few for a few minutes, we didn’t have a street map yet, it was only just 9am and the streets were so quiet and empty, not what I was expecting at all, St Marks square was empty! No tables or chairs out yet. We stumbled upon a coffee shop set up in another small square and decided to buy a map €3.50 from the stall opposite and get a caffeine fix before our adventure begins, €7 for 2 coffees, not bad eh for Venice.

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Our first sight of Venice from the water bus

We find the Vaporetta No.1 stop and now it’s really happening WOW! What a joy it was, we stood outside between the seated areas with the breeze blowing on our faces and marvelled at the views, Dave was taking copious photos, we enjoyed it so much we stayed on until they chucked us off near the train station stop, but we hopped back on and went back to St Marco.

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Doges Palace to the right

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St Marks Basilica in the rear with the Palace to the right

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bit wonky that , I’ll stick with the Vaporetta

First off we decide to see St Marks Basilica, it’s free to enter and you have to drop your bag off at a holding area around the corner, we marvelled at the amount of Gold on every surface, it was dark inside but apparently they put the lights on for one hour and they came on just as we entered, just a few mind and lots of little candles lit by people for prayers,  no photos it says but lots of people in guided tours were taking them on their iPhones so Dave got a sneaky one towards the end before our quick exit, even though it was lovely inside I preferred the architecture of the exterior and could have looked at it all day.

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sneaky iPhone pics inside the Basilica

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iPhone again inside the Basilica

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Stunning St Marks Basilica

Next we decided it’s lunch time although it’s only 11.30 we’ve been up since 6.30 and already been in Venice for 3 hours so we find a bench between St Marks square and the Vaporetto No 1 stop it’s next to a little park on the canal front but it’s closed, there were a few trees for shade and benches looking out onto the canal, there are artists all around us starting their watercolours of the day and tat shops behind us selling their Vegas style diamond Venice caps, they’re everywhere although we didn’t see anyone wearing them.

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We got our sandwiches out that we had made the night before and our flask of coffee, we had the stone bench to ourselves but Dave spotted an older Italian couple sat on a step near us so I beckoned them over to share our picnic spot, I loved watching them make their sandwiches from scratch, out came the bread rolls which she passed to him then the cheese and next some fine looking Parma ham, they squished them together. We all ate in silence enjoying our superb picnic spot.

It’s getting hotter now it’s nearly 1 pm so it seems like a good time to visit the Doge Palace, it’s €20 each to visit and €2 extra to view the John Ruskin exhibition which is on for 3 months, we decide that this is a must do also as he was a leading English art critic of the Victorian era 1819-1900 he was a water colourist and amongst many other things he was a visionary of his time,  his desire was to move away from Capitalism and to open peoples eyes to the beauty free to all and all around them, there are many quotes attributed to him but I like this one ‘’ There is no wealth but life’’

He lived at Brantwood overlooking Lake Coniston in Cumbria, he was passionate about the English Lake district and you can visit the house today, and it’s 250 acres estate.

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Room with a view from Doges Palace

Once we’d finished the exhibition which we enjoyed as there were also Turner paintings too, an artist whom Ruskin knew and admired, we wandered through the various rooms of the Doge Palace, they are huge like State rooms I would expect to see in the likes of Buckingham Palace, you almost fall over trying to look up at the ceilings every inch painted with artworks, it was almost too much to take in, it’s a masterpiece of Gothic art from 14th and 15th Centuries and in 17th C it was the seat of Government and housed the Prison, in 1996 it became part of the Civic Museum of Venice network.

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One of the many rooms at the Doges Palace

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Incredible colours and art

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It’s a superb exterior too – Doges Palace, I loved the cream and pink marble and stone exterior.

We wandered around the first-floor terraces looking down into the courtyard below then make our way down and down and down to the prisons below, we’ve been in many castles dungeons and prison vaults, some Medieval in UK and many in Europe on our motorbiking tour, but none have given me the creeps like this one did!  From the prison you walk along a passageway and you are inside the ‘’ Bridge of Sighs’’ and through a small aperture you can see people on the bridge opposite at San Marco taking photos of the bridge and we are inside it!

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From inside the Bridge of Sighs

After all that culture we need a beer! We’re feeling hot and stuffy so off we go with a plan of walking towards the Rialto bridge but get mixed up in the labyrinth of streets and end up at a bar near a small canal and a bit off the beaten track so we reckon it might not be too pricey? We take a seat and a grumpy waiter appears, we say Bon Journo and before we can say anything else  ‘’Drinks or food !‘’ he barks at us, we order 2 x 40 cl beers, they mostly come in sizes of 20, 40 and 50 cl, 40cl will do as we don’t want to get drowsy in the heat of the day. Mr Grumpy appears and plonks down the beers after firstly picking up the napkins and utensils and throwing them onto the table next to us! I kid you not! We take a sip it’s cool if not a bit flat but it’s fine we’re thirsty, next thing some workman start up their drills and get busy with a hammer, we’re not enjoying this spot at all, we drink up quickly but not before Dave notices something floating at the bottom of his glass, looks like breadcrumbs? Yuk, we pay up €7 each, it’s what we expected but not for that service.

We walk to the Rialto bridge which we’d built up in our imagination but neither of us is that impressed by, sorry! It’s got lots of little archways all boarded in black as there are shops inside, it might have the history but not the looks for us anyway.

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We go for a wander following our noses left and right around and around and find another square in the Castello area opposite Campo Giavanni e Paolo one of the largest churches in the City and has the status of a minor Basilica and apparently 25 Doges are buried in the church,  it’s a lovely square with a small canal, gondolas passing to one side and this huge church and what looks like another attached to it, ( found out it’s the hospital) completely different periods from the look too! Dave decided he wanted something to make up for the flat beer with the floaters yuk!  so we ordered 2 Aperol Spritz, the local Italian drink it seems as everyone has one, we get a table in the sun it’s OK  I have my new hat! Which is when Dave realises he has left his cap at the noisy, flat beer bar, it’s his favourite cap and he got it in Costa Rica for our 25th Wedding anniversary holiday so he’s off with his phone and GPS to find it as we’ve been going around in circles! 8 minutes later he returns with the favourite cap which has the words ‘’Pura Vida’’ on the front which means ‘’ Pure life or simple life’’ and he would have been very upset to lose it, he’s hot and sweaty and that Aperol Spritz went down fast! We enjoyed an hour watching the local kids playing football up against the Church façade, no one batted an eyelid it looks like this is their spot the 2 goals being beside each other under some marble square cut outs, they had to be like this as the other end of the pitch was the canal! And the ball did go wayward a couple of times as the defence weakened, they were very good players though and showing some skills says Dave, one goalie was very good, maybe we were watching the next Buffon (Italian Team Goalkeeper)

 

 

P1040077It’s cooling down now as it’s 5.30 pm and we decide we are done for today, so we start to walk back in the direction of St Marks square to get our ferry back, in one little street we spot a little shop window of a tiny bar the sign says Cicchetti €1.80 , we saw little slices of baguette each with a different and interesting topping, tuna and some type of gherkin, parma ham and sun-dried tomatoes, salami and artichoke we ordered 4 of them and 2 glasses of Rose frizzante, it’s 6 hours since our picnic and we do like a little tapas style snack! We fancied 1 more each so Dave got the tuna and I ordered something like radish cream with finely minced/sliced dried ham it was delicious! I asked the guy afterwards what the meat was, and he made a little impression of riding a horse! Oh dear, but it was tasty. Chiccetti are small snack or side dishes an Italian version of our favourite tapas.

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ooops! the tasty horse snack

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No horse here!

We got the No 14 Water bus back from St Marco to Punta Sabbionni, we’re exhausted and I fell asleep on Dave’s shoulder, we alight the bus and walk the short distance back, Dave chops all the vegetables in the fridge I want to make something with it before it goes off so a hot veggie curry it is with tinned potatoes (great for Moho’s) we decided to drink the bottle of Pink Champagne which we had bought in the Champagne area to celebrate Venice, Cheers! Hic !

Just about to go to bed and Dave exclaims, ”Cathy I’ve got an egg on mi ed! ” Translation of which is

‘’Cathy can you come and take a look at this small lump developing on my head?’’

He has indeed got 2 largish lumps on his head we think something climbed inside his cap when he left it at the bar, he’s not happy! He never ever gets bitten! He hates that bar lol!

Cheers and goodnight

Cathy

Just One Cornetto!

Monday 16th April 2018

Cathy posting,

We’re off to Venice! Yippee! we’ve really been looking forward to this, the sun is shining and it’s only 60kms to Punta Sabbioni from last nights parking and sleeping spot in treviso, it’s also a lagoon on the north east side of Venice, it looks a nice place in its own right but we are staying there because of the easy access to Venice and it’s many islands, it’s €23 per night to include water, waste ,EHU and showers. We arrive late afternoon and set off straight away to walk the 300 metres to the ferry/Vaperetto/water bus! it has that many names!  we suss out the timetable for the morning.

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Al Bateo Agricampeggio, a great spot for Venice

 

I want to arrive by water in Venice which is strange in that I don’t like boats and have felt ill on almost every single one I’ve been on! We check the times to San Marco and they run every 35 minutes, €20 for 24 hours or €30 for 48 hours, (unlimited uses on the Grand canal and can visit any islands too) we decided on the 48 hours as we may want to go to Murano island is known for its glass making, it’s where the Pandora and other brands of beads and charms are made and I have some bracelets and quite fancy buying a new glass bead.

At the Ferry Stop at Punta Sabbioni, I spotted a tourist shop selling the usual caps and hats and the ubiquitous flip flop! I quite fancied a new hat as I’ve only brought a cap along, it’s a very fine Toronto Blue Jays cap but I’d like a stylish hat for Venice, I spotted just the one and at €9 I was happy.

We strolled back to the site in the warm evening sun and bought some supplies from another campsite that had a bigger shop! We had some chilli in our ice box so we had that with Dave’s bargain purchase of 6 x 660 ml Moretti for €8 he was a happy boy.

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Cheaper than at home!

We sat outside with the Chilli and the Moretti and then made use of the campsite showers which were huge and nice and hot even if we did have to press the button every 15 seconds for water.

Out came the maps and Dave did some research even though we already have some ideas, St Marks Basillica and the Doge’s palace are on the to do list and he made a list of other things we are interested to see. We set our alarms for 6.30 a.m!

Cathy