Rain, rain go away… come back another day!!!

MiSte Anne campsite in Villegly was a lovely pretty little circle of a campsite with very good sized daisy covered grass pitches, with more rows of pitches cutting across the midsection of the camp, and spotlessly clean facilities… On arrival the owners also supply you with a welcome pack filled with info on local tourist attractions you may wish to visit during your stay, the place was peaceful the site has a bar, restaurant and a very refreshing swimming pool… nearby is a bakery and a few other small local shops just a short walk from the site.

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The surrounding areas are very picturesque and we walked up a small hill to the windmill and then down past flowing fields full of growing grape vines and then up into a wooded area where we found the dumped rusty skeletal remains of an old Citroen 2CV which was by now almost buried in the undergrowth, which Pete found great pleasure in exploring… along with the dog who followed and jumped right in after him into the overgrown bushes, and by doing so then proceeded to pick up a few of those pesky ticks who were just waiting to be picked up…

Toffi had a lovely long stroll that day but she gets very concerned when one of us is out of view… she then has to go find the lost one and herd them back into her view, she got most concerned when she noticed Pete had dropped behind on our walk and was out of her sight… so while Pete was busy taking pictures… Toffi was busy looking for him…

The weather was a mixed bag with some sunny, beautiful and pretty hot days… on the hot days you could find me and Toffi being cooled by the fan and hiding from the heat of the day…

But alas the weather didn’t last and we had days of really heavy constant downpours of rain and thunderstorms, the heaviest of the rain fell on our last two days of being there and being on a grass pitch both Pete and I started to sweat about whether we would be able to drive off the pitch without hassle…. and when our time was up there, yep… we were stuck on the pitch and unable to move without some help as the tyres just couldn’t get any grip (we had purchased some grip strips for when we found ourselves in such a situation but they turned out to be a complete waste of time and money, they are also a risk of injury or damage as they fly out the back of the wheels the instant any traction is made whilst also ripping up the turf as they do so!!!), so we called on help from the campsite owners (Magali and Antoine who were by the way also very lovely people and they brought us up some mattress protector material to put under the tyres to help give the tyres grip on the slippery grass and to be fair… it worked!!!) our dutch neighbour also pitched in with a helping hand to get us off the pitch so with 3 of us also pushing the motorhome and the material placed, we managed after a few minutes to get off, we did churn a small patch of the turf up which we felt really bad about!!! We apologised for the turf mishap but the owner was very patient, told us not to worry it was the weathers fault and told us they had the campsite for the past 18 years and this was the wettest start to the season they had seen and apparently we were the second vehicle that had struggled with a pull off that day… the site itself though is very well cared for with everything tended too really nicely and it’s a very pretty and attractive place to visit we stayed 7 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it…

We estimated we had another 100km to the next site we’d planned to visit and with me dreading it would take us another 6 hours travelling we were relieved to find it took just 3 hours, we stopped briefly for coffee and to fill up with diesel as we were nearly running on empty and although we had passed a few stations the height of the roofs over the fore courts were all too low for us to enter safely, we finally arrived at Campsite Le Botanic in Fabregues just after 3pm on the 14th May, the day was rainy, grey and miserable, the ground was very wet still and the camp was soggy with some of the pitches clearly waterlogged due to the sheer amount of rainfall France has had in the last few days… reception was friendly and welcoming, and allowed us to locate a suitable pitch we liked, we were advised to go to certain areas in the campsite as they may be better and less water logged but they’d failed to mention the map of the campsite was wrong and we ended up taking a turning which according to the camp map should have had a way out, but this had now been fenced off and become a dead end!!! we ended up having to unhitch the trailer and try to turn our big vehicle back around somehow in a small car size turning space while also navigating around a palm tree that was planted smack bang in the middle of that turning space… eventually 10 minutes later and after getting ourselves out of that muddle, we decided it was a better idea for us to go on foot around the campsite to find a pitch… something we should have done in the first place!!!

We couldn’t find anything that suited us or that wasn’t really overly waterlogged and too soft for the weight/size of our vehicle to be parked on in the area we were directed to… but we found another pitch at the other end of the site… this pitch has a slight decline to the entrance/exit and more felt more solid, stoney and stable under foot, although there are some rather large swaying trees over us… so here is where we are pitched, and although the weather reports say the weather was supposed to be improving… once our levelling ramps are removed we should be able to just roll forward gently on this pitch to get off should there be much more rain!!! There are frogs here and at night they come out to play and if outside all you can hear is there throaty, bellowing chorus of their calls…

The next day the weather started to clear although it was slightly breezy the sun was shining, everything was drying out and all was starting to be good in the world again, we decided to take a stroll into the town, the camp reception had told us of a route we could walk down which was a much quieter and a much safer route than walking down the main road, and they were right it was a really lovely quiet route to walk along, the old town was great, with really quaint looking streets and buildings and although there were posters advertising a fete that day we unfortunately failed to find it…

But we did however find the Intermarche supermarket and Pete went in to buy some salad, fresh veg and fruit, while Toffi and I found somewhere shaded and quiet to await for his return… and although I had said not to buy too much as I could ride back in with the bike and doggy hut for more supplies and as we had to get the stuff back on foot… he returned to us 30 minutes later weighted down with a heavy rucksack and with over a 2.5 mile walk ahead

back to camp carrying it all, the poor bloke was knackered by the time we got back (please note I had offered multiple times to help and take turns to carry the backpack back during our trip back to camp but Pete declined my offers due to him not wanting me to hurt my poorly shoulders and back… such a gentleman!!!)

Well better get out there and enjoy the surroundings while the sun is still shining…

Take care

Donna x

campsite Le Moulin de Ste Anne GPS N43°16’59” E2°26’29” €17 per night total spend €127 including tax

Let’s avoid the motorways… he says!!!

On the 7th May and after a 7 night stay it was time to move on from Campsite Las Casteillets which had been our hideaway and retreat, for the past week we’d enjoyed the beautiful views of the mountains and chilled out there with the donkeys as company, we took just a couple of short walks, even though the place had plenty of walks we just didn’t have the energy to really explore much and found we just needed the time to recharge, but when we did finally venture out we found the the small nearby town to be thriving, with a busy bakery, greengrocers and medical centre plus Chemist…

We definitely needed the chemist as Pete had managed to get himself into a pickle with a dose of athletes foot, I had brought with us medical supplies for treating such ailments and we were armed with Daktarin cream in case one of us ever got the dreaded foot rot, this should have solved the problem and although Pete had been using this cream for nearly a week he was adamant that he would continue to wear these nasty flip flop sandal type things he’d brought along and had been wearing for months… these shoes were material based and were not water proof but he had got them soaking wet so many times they were now giving the bloke a dose of trench foot… this in turn meant that each time he put these nasty shoes back on his feet he was reinfecting his feet despite his medically treating them… the chemist was by now first on my list of shops to visit so armed with google translate… in I went… determined to solve Pete’s rotten trench foot situation… and for a whopping €20 I managed to get him a one step treatment and finally persuaded (nagged) him to part ways with that nasty pair of flip flops before we both ended up needing treatment (I have been teasing him like crazy ever since about his diseased rotting, trench foot ridden feet) hopefully they will now start recovering…

Note the importance of using clean waterproof flip flops or such when using communal shower areas and also the sensible walking shoes you need to bring with you on trips like this… Pete was amazed when we set off at just how many pairs of various walking shoes, even walking shoe sandals and flip flops etc I had brought with me at the start of this trip but I am a firm believer for the health of your feet you should try not to wear the same shoes everyday and to be fair I have managed to get through 4 pairs of the 5 pairs of walking shoes (1 pair were found to be faulty and had to be binned after the heal support began shearing into the back of my foot leaving me with a nasty cut and blisters) and I have also gone through 3 of the 6 pairs flip flops I brought with me so far… I think Pete may well need to go shopping for sensible shoes as soon as his feet heal that is…

We set off from Campsite Las Casteillets on the 7th May at 10.30am Monday morning and headed for the Intermarche which was just a mile down the road to get food shopping, there was also a Camping RV shop nearby and we needed to top up with toilet chemicals, finally we had everything we needed to last us for hopefully at least the next couple of weeks just over an hr later and nearly €300 lighter…

After putting in the coords for the next campsite we were now ready for the off… 3.15 hours the satnav promised for just approx 100 kms… so with Pete insisting the satnav be set at avoiding all toll roads, we should get to the next camp just after 2pm… 5pm we rolled into the next camp a whopping 6 hrs later, we had driven all that way in temperatures of 28° to 30° and we were all sweating like pigs on a spit by the time we got to our destination… we had been taken by the satnav along the very scenic Route of the wines (Route de vins – “Route 20” along the D9) this route though very scenic was very, very long… the first city we hit and passed through was Perpignan and with that we were thinking the sat nav would then take us along the coast and then over inland to avoid any tolls… nope… boy were we wrong… it took us alongside countless vine fields and up through the mountainous region of Corbieres Minervois… we have 3 motorway settings on the Noza tec truck sat nav, motorways are ticked good to go… but then a further 2 settings one to avoid toll roads which is set to avoid as the tolls are quite costly in France… and Pete wanted me to set that as a definite off… but then there’s one more setting which I really should look into for pay per use roads… which I think is the setting getting us into trouble and making our routes much longer as it will avoid all payment roads some of which I think the satnav gets mixed up with toll roads and thus avoids the routes and sometimes we may need to join onto/cross some of the different motorways and some don’t actually need you to pay on those parts (I think), I noticed it did this on the route from Portugal into Spain…

On some parts of this drive through the mountains the roads we were on were pretty much single track roads, although they were in good condition and were well tarmacked roads… but some parts had sheer drops off down the mountain side, so with me clenching the side of the seat with one hand and holding tight to the door handrail with the other and pretty much by now close to re-seeing whatever I’d had for breakfast that morning… and Pete’s there declaring what lovely views of the valleys below us and also of the lovely sights of the mountains we were getting, whilst going along these winding, twisty, narrow roads and how he thought that I should be taking photo’s… even though by this point I could barely glance out the windows without getting dizzy with fear or taking on a lovely shade of grey/green with the colour quickly fading from my usually rosy coloured cheeks… I really do not do well with heights or if there are sheer drops down the sides of roads I turn a lovely shade of green/grey just going over the tall viaducts in Spain, I have serious height fear issue and I simply must look straight ahead or close my eyes, if I catch sight of the sheer drops my body tends to go into panic mode… although I did manage a few pictures when the road safety had improved and the drops weren’t quite as bad and of course once I had managed to prise my hands off the aforementioned objects…

 

 

 

We thought about stopping at an Aire we’d found along the road in the mountains and we pulled in but decided not to stay here as the next day was a French holiday and this week being slightly odd in the French calender as the French have 2 bank holiday days in one week so we were a little concerned as to whether we would be able to book into somewhere the next day being one of these mentioned days so instead stopped for lunch on a mountain pullover and then once refreshed we continued along our journey finally managing to get onto some better roads, where we just had to navigate down some narrow streets when passing through some of the towns, but these streets although narrow at some points were sign posted as suitable for 15 tonnes so we made it through…

 

 

 

We had a slight delay in one of the towns we were passing through where a lorry was making a delivery and blocking the road, but after about 10 minutes we were on our way again…

 

We knew we were very near our destination when we passed the city of Carcassonne… if you have never been to Carcassonne I would highly recommend visiting the place… you will find in the old part of the city the most wonderful ancient walled city with streets like mazes, filled with restaurants, cafes and bars the place is a well deserved world heritage site and one that my passing photo does no justice too!! nearby is the canal du midi which is another of France’s beautiful attractions and another must for the list if you are healthy enough or get the opportunity to go and rent a canal boat, take a slow meandering trip down along the canal as it passes through some magnificent places and wine making villages and towns these are also worth mooring up along the canal to go take visits…

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We were lucky enough to have had at least 2 canal boat holidays down along the canal du Midi in the past where we witnessed wine running down the streets, eaten some fabulous food and had fun mooring up along the banks, enjoyed exploring places and also entertainingly maneuvering into and back out of the stunning locks, it’s certainly something for the list of holidays and adventures!!!

It’s the morning of May 8th as I write this and we can hear the remembrance celebrations at the statue in the nearby town Villegly marking the Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day, it was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. … It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe… and is celebrated to this day… We shall go take a look, I’m all for celebrating peace over a cuppa!!!

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We arrived at Campsite Le Moulin de Ste Anne at about 5pm and managed to pitch up and enjoy an hour or 2 before a predicted Thunderstorm hit and boy was there loud claps of thunder and lightning, but to be fair the air really needed cooling as the heat and closeness was intense in the hours beforehand…

 

When we woke this morning we decided to stretch our legs and check out the local village & also the grounds of the local Chateau… there was a statue in the grounds which Toffi clearly thought this was a real person in distress and was very concerned for it… bless her!!! and then the beautiful medieval bridge in the middle of the gardens where once the stream had ran underneath this however was long ago diverted to make the gardens larger…

 

 

 

 

Well enjoy folks till next time take care of yourselves, happy safe travels…

Donna x

 

Campsite Le Moulin de Ste Anne, France GPS N43°16’59”  E2°26’29”  €17 per night free wifi

Campsite Las Casteillets, France GPS N42°30’36”  E2°46’59”   €13 per night €5 per week for wifi   Total spend €93 (including 3 x wifi passes each for a week)

Notre retour en France!!!

 

Our first few days and nights at Camping Ametlla were good, we enjoyed some lovely weather and relaxed in the sun, got all the washing up to date etc, and managed to get some nice walks in, the nearest beach is not far from the campsite and through a wooded area where Toffi got to enjoy some wandering about time and also got to enjoy the beach all to herself, although it was a pebble beach which isn’t actually her favourite (but she’s not one to say no to a romp in the sea whatever the case), we then found a car park down the road on another of our walks, we were tempted to wild camp after our stay at the campsite, it had an amazing view from there looking right out to sea…

we also found yet another unfinished housing project on the outskirts of town where all the pavements were laid, drainage, lampposts and electric points installed, sadly now trashed and overgrown, long forgotten by the failed developers… apparently there are over 3.5 million empty, part built estates, or unfinished houses in Spain… mind you looking at some of the build quality of the unfinished and abandoned houses here, I am really not surprised they failed!!!  but these areas make great places for dog walking!!!

Sadly the once peaceful campsite turned into something similar to Butlins as soon as the weekend approached, we stayed from Monday 30th April 2008 and Pete had booked us in for 7 nights, but on the Friday it started to get pretty busy on site and in the evening at a whopping 11pm a campervan turned up next to us, ok, we thought, fair enough, perhaps a long journey had made them run late etc, but taking Toffi for a walk or even trying to sit outside of the motorhome turned into an adventure from hell from then on in, as the campers that had turned up late Friday also had a Staffordshire bull terrier with them, not a problem in itself, but they were not overly willing to keep an eye on it or even put it on a lead or keep proper control of it… and Toffi reacts badly with other Staffy’s!!! Although I must admit once they saw Toffi was 3 times the size of their dog and not a force to be taken lightly they did start show a token effort of control by grabbing hold of theirs… occasionally…

Well after the Friday night things just went from bad to worse… the campsite went from having approx 10-15 motorhomes on it to being almost completely full including most of the once empty hundreds of cabins, so from maybe having 30 people on site it then went to having many hundreds of people on site!!!  We came back from a leisurely stroll with the dog on the Saturday morning to find people queuing up outside the reception to book in, Not really my idea of a peaceful place to stay once it got busy, although the site would be great for families as there were tonnes of activities for them and 3 swimming pools, I think it was the equivalent of a bank holiday weekend in Spain… and the Spanish as we now know love to gather at a good old campsite!!! As is usual on bank holidays in the UK the poor Spanish unfortunately had thunderstorms and rain mostly throughout their holiday weekend too!!!

Our Journey to this campsite was pretty off putting as well to be fair, when the sat nav took us through streets we had no real business even driving down at all (some marked as 3 tonne max, our motorhome is 3.5 tonne!!!) and streets with no entry signs or that are now one way only forcing us down yet more less suitable streets again and again, and once in the town it was far too late to even attempt to turn around or go back, (plus there seemed no other way through it!!!) and it was pretty much the same experience on the outbound journey right back through the town and back down through the narrow and unforgiving streets with overhead balconies perilously sticking out, electric and telephone cables hanging down overhead between buildings and with parked cars either side of the already very narrow roads, this continued virtually all the way through until we finally escaped the madness… then there are the other type of spanish roads, the dirt track roads that run adjacent to the motorways here, which we found on our walks these are used plenty by the locals to get to their houses… apparently these are marked up and signed posted as suitable for 12 tonne trucks, yeah these signs did make me chuckle… I guess the pot holed dirt tracks are brilliant if you’re driving a tank, tractor or four wheel drive vehicle, but as you can see even a tank or tractor would struggle getting through the 2nd tunnel pictured below due to its height which they fail to give mention off or sign post along the road (not sure I know of any 12 tonne vehicle that could possibly fit under and through that 2nd tunnel, just in behind the first tunnel you can just make out in the picture)

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I have to also mention the road noise we endured while on the site which although wasn’t very apparent during the daytime it was extremely apparent in the quiet of night, and heavily present on at least five nights out of the seven nights of our stay, I presume this is down to wind direction and also the fact that the motorway was just a mere 300 metres away!!! even though you have to take a massive vehicle back through the nearest town to get back onto it… would we go back… no chance, would we recommend you to go??? well it depends what you want of a site, the facilities were fine and the staff pleasant so if you wish a family holiday with plenty for the kids to do, then fine… but sadly I wouldn’t recommend the site if you are after a quiet stay over…

As mentioned earlier we did look at doing a couple of nights wild camping in a park up just down the road from the camp, but by then I was mentally and physically exhausted and really needed to find some peace and tranquility to recharge, and we both needed a good night’s sleep without worrying if we may be disturbed or get moved on so we decided in the end to just not bother!!!

We had planned to stop one more time in Spain near Barcelona but again by this time we both just wanted out… someone had said to me in conversation over the last few weeks that “if the days grow long and tiring you know it’s time to move on” this really rang true for me by now… so we made our escape through the Pyrenees and back into France it was a good 4-5 hr drive when we finally arrived at our planned destination… Campsite Les Casteillets in the South of France… We found a great plot and pitched up, the facilities here are basic but clean, with hot water for showers, we are booked in here for a week, and so far it has been so very quiet, the view from our pitch is one of the Pyrenees Mountains in the background where again we are watching as the different weather systems move in around us… here there is total peace and silence with no road noise or people noise at night… with just 4 donkeys enjoying the lush green grass in the adjacent field, birdsong in the trees and the sound of crickets in the long grass…

Along our journey we saw plenty of other motorhomes, but sadly we saw one of them who had failed to put down their satellite dish going along the motorway without even realising, I did laugh as it is probably something I would do… we now check things before moving off (fridge doors locked? aerial down? cupboard doors locked? outside hab/garage doors locked? electric cable away? gas turned off? electrics turned over to 12 volt? trailer locked, secured and lights working? skylights down and locked? well the list goes on and on… but well I hope they made it safely to their destination without the thing flying off the roof and causing an accident… although I doubt very much it will ever work again by the time they get to wherever they were going!!!

Well enough of my ramblings for this week, I’m off to enjoy what France has to offer us… I’d forgotten just how much friendlier the French people seem compared to the sometimes seemingly impatient and brash Spanish, and so far I have had so many French trying to chat politely with me, it’s embarrassing that my French is still so poor… but it’s always humorous when my first words are “Pardon my French” and they seem to forgive me for at least making an effort with them and always being friendly back… even the children and teenagers are polite and respectful towards others here… always with a friendly “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” in passing…some British kids could definitely benefit from being taught this way of life!!!

Au revoir pour le moment,

Donna x

Campsite Las Casteillets, France GPS N42°30’36”  E2°46’59”   €13 per night €5 per week for wifi

Camping Ametlla, Spain GPS N40°51’54”  E0°46’43” €15 per night total spent €105 free wifi

 

 

 

 

From Bonterra to Ametlla Camping…

Well Bonterra Park came highly recommended by our friends Anne and David and I must admit it really did not disappoint us, and we would also highly recommend stopping here if you get the chance its €19 per night on ACSI in off season with 4kw electric free each day… and well worth the money!!! If in a taller/bigger motorhome or towing cars/trailers etc like ourselves we would advise going to the pitches near the top of the campsite if possible as it will be much easier to maneuver into and out of the pitches (otherwise you will find that in a motorhome you will need to either reverse (impossible if towing without unattaching) into the alleys or reverse back out of them after your stay, they were pretty narrow camp alleyways, plus with the pretty Mulberry tree branches over head to navigate through to reach a pitch (lovely if you don’t have a bulkhead height to think about!!!), we were on pitch D9-5 in the newer area with small freshly planted small young trees and shrubbery, the pitch was a superior pitch with ehu, water and drainage all on pitch and at no extra cost, just the €19 per night, then for a weeks wifi which was very adequate and worked fine which cost us another €12 and it is €18 for a months wifi connection which seems reasonable… the facilities and bathrooms are being freshly renovated the facility block which we used in the middle of the camp was superb clean and fresh, with plenty of hot water, the site also has good washing machines at €4 a load, we unfortunately didn’t get to use the restaurant as each time we did try the tables were all reserved, but it looked superb and was very popular.

 

 

The campsite was extremely busy yet still had an air of peaceful calm and tranquil quiet about it, the site is extremely well maintained and the Mulberry trees in the campsite aisles which were mostly tall enough and well trimmed all looked extremely pretty with branches sweeping and arching above and across to each other…

 

The surrounding areas were great to explore and you could just go on forever, the town was a fantastic place as was the beach nearby, it looked fantastic and very inviting, but no dogs allowed which was a total tease for Toffi who wanted nothing more than to romp in and out of the waves…

 

When we arrived and booked in we were given the camp rules for having a dog with us which were to be fair pretty strict and we were advised that under no circumstances was the dog to toilet anywhere inside the campsite, there was just a zero tolerance (I am not sure if they expect people to put a cork in their animals… but sometimes accidents do happen… if you accept animals on site then at least have an adequate sized area for pets, please sites be a little more tolerant and just then ask that you be responsible of course, I do not mean owners should allow their dogs to go do their business just anywhere or on other peoples pitches etc but be aware that, sometimes, if you gotta go you… just gotta go!!!… I have no problem clearing and cleaning up after my dog if an accident or business does occur and we always do), but sticking to the camp rules Toffi did really well and managed to cross her little legs and get by, luckily for us we were also very close to the dog exit gate which leads to the outside of the campsite, I’m not sure she would have made it so well had we have been in the mid section of camp, We were also expected to put down a €5 deposit for a key to gain access to this pet exit as it was locked from 7pm in the evening until 7 or 8am…

We stayed here for 7 nights, there were a lot of British people on site here overwintering or just passing through, everyone we met were welcoming and friendly, we were pitched next to a lovely British couple Billy and Sophia (I hope I have remembered their names correctly because Pete said the ladies name was Sylvia which has made me doubt myself now!!) well anyway they had a superbly behaved and lovely looking Saint Bernard dog named Polly with them… what an awesome and cute dog she was!!! while there, we were approached on our pitches by a man who was selling Oranges and jars of Marmalade at a whopping €5 a jar, both Sophia and myself were shocked at that price and Sophia said she really missed and they’d really wanted Marmalade, so Pete and I  gave the neighbours a jar of our home made Marmalade and strawberry Jam instead (after all Pete alone was never going to get through all the jars I had made), the lovely couple we had met at Camping El Tranquilo, Karen and Gary had also posted that they were enjoying their jar of marmalade I had given them the week before and so it had been given the thumbs up… yay… high fives all round!!!  Enjoy the marmalade everyone!!!

It was soon time to move on from Bonterra Park and our next stop was about 90 miles to a campsite called Ametlla Cat 1 eco camp at €15 per night, we travelled most of this via a traffic free toll road which cost us €12.65 for 60+ of those miles, after leaving the toll road the journey got a little more… well interesting, when the sat nav took us into the narrow streets of the nearby town around tight corners with cars parked at the corners either side, I almost navigated us up a no entry road trying to avoid a tight right turn at one point but noticed and stopped us just at the last minute, at which point I then had to exit the vehicle and help Pete reverse a few foot back, we had a short queue of cars and luckily very tolerant drivers behind us… who allowed us space to turn the corner, a lady in one of the cars who had parked too close to the corner had a look of concerned panic on her face as she realised her mistake of parking there while watching us taking the corner pretty closely between her car and another on the other side of the road!!!… After a few more of these tight town corner turns we managed to miss a turn and reached a main road which then took us up back around and finally we came to an unmade road way and headed to the campsite… I am pretty sure we went the wrong way to approach this site as in more recent ACSI reviews it does state that they have had a new roadway built to alleviate having to navigate some parts but our sat nav was never updated before we left the UK… so oups!!! but we made it… finally!!!

Pete booked us in and paid for 7 nights all before we had even taken a look, I think he is already secretly dreading my fantastic navigating skills getting us back through and out of the town again, when we finally disembark the area!!! so after walking around the site, we chose pitch A-9, and settled ourselves in, and once we’d pitched up we allowed ourselves a well deserved beer… after this we took a walk to check the place out, I am thankfully glad to report the facilities are immaculate, again with plentiful hot water, there are even cubicles here with a toilet, shower and wash basins in them or there are separate cubicles if you’d prefer for each job!!! (oh the luxuries of a camping life!!!) the site itself is set in a nature reserve and has lots of fantastic coastal walks nearby, the site has a restaurant, large supermarket, cafe, 2 lovely looking swimming pools along with tennis, football and basketball courts, Theatre/cinema entertainment areas for the children and what seemed like hundreds of lovely but mostly empty holiday cabins… everything looks good so far here, the only thing I can grumble a little about was although it is lovely and quiet during the day, really quiet and peaceful, the quiet of the evenings seem to magnify the noise from a busy road nearby… although this may be down to any wind direction perhaps… it was only our first night here so we will see…

 

For some reason I was expecting the site to be rather small but it’s fairly large, there’s also another camping area available with bigger pitches with water and drainage on pitch for an extra €3 per night but the pitch we have is adequate in size to take the motorhome, trailer and give us space for outside lounging and give a table area!!! When we arrived Pete asked reception about dog walking and dog rules etc they handed him a roll of doggy bags, each with the wording “poop happens” on them, and was told it’s all good its a woodland area, with plenty of walks, all we ask if that she is kept under control and that you are responsible and clear up after her!!! as said before, we always clean up after her anyway and keep a very close eye on her at all times, so that’s definitely the way a camp should respond, and look… just how cool are these???!!!

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What a busy week and so much accomplished, well for us it was anyway… I knew I had to do my tax return this year and needed to declare the rent income from the house rental plus whatever I had earned in the first 8 months of last year at work, but how awkward can the taxman make it really… first you have to register for a user ID which they then post to you (can take upto 28 days!) then you have to login with that and register for a UTR number which again you have to wait for also via post (again can take upto 28 days!) I am just glad we had started with the procedure in advance and given ourselves plenty of time to get these things sorted, and of course thanks to my employers for making a total balls up with taxes for employees this year (yeah that was helpful… but we forgive you!!!) and we are also eternally and humbly utterly grateful to our  beautiful and wonderful relatives Karen and Graham for their acceptance of the mundane responsibility of looking after our snail mail and notifying us of or forwarding whatever we needed… we really are grateful to you both…

Well tax return done and fingers crossed a small refund due our way, as the tax I had already paid in those first 5 months of the working tax year of 2017 was way plenty to cover the taxes and lack of earnings for the rest of the outstanding tax year… yay go me!!!  Now just to sort out National Insurance status for the year and the year ahead well to be honest I have already been assured on this as well when I telephoned the helpline last year… hopefully I will gain protected NI contributions status via tax declarations due to low earnings for now, I think after paying them for the last 28 years non stop I am due a break in paying out over £120 a week out of my wages/earnings per week!!! plus the current British government can suck my bollards…. I begrudge and I don’t actually want to pay into the system at present!!!

We also managed to get a campsite booked called Dolbeare a 5* camping park for our return… it was the closest to Plymouth we could achieve as Riverside camp site in Plymouth was already completely booked solid and I didn’t really want to camp in B&Q’s car park (although thinking about it, it could have perhaps been great advertising for them if they chucked in some free equipment ie garden chairs, loungers, BBQ, sun umbrellas and tables etc… we could have had a fenced off part of the car park and shown all their kit in full use for them!!!), but I think B&Q might have taken offence to us just rolling on up, parking and making ourselves at home, they’d probably have towed us off or fined us after all they have a max parking of about a 2 hr restricted  limit… so Dolbeare campsite it is… it’s near Saltash just 4 miles the other side of the Tamar Bridge!!! we are booked in there from the 12th August 2018, the site is definitely not cheap at nearly £200 per week!!! Roll on the end of the summer campsite rated/pricing  fee season!!!

All that is left now to organise for our return journey to the UK is the dog’s welfare she has to be seen by a vet who then check her innoculations and papers are up to date, her microchip is correct and that she is deemed fit and well for travel and be given the worming treatment between 5 days and 24 hrs before entering back into the UK and get through the customs who again check her chip and paperwork!!!

Well time for lunch and more adventures!!!

Take care all

Donna x

 

Campsite Bonterra Park Cat 1, GPS Coords N40°3’25”  E0°4’28”   €19 per night ACSI with 4kw electric free per day. wifi €12 per week, camp fee total paid €135 + wifi

Camping Ametlla Cat 1, GPS Coords N40°51’54” E0°46’43”   €15 per night ACSI (7nights for price of 6) plus with free wifi.      total camp fee total paid €97 including tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Benicassim…

Next Stop Bonterra Park, Benicassim.

 

We left Camping El Tranquilo at 11am on the 16th April 2018 after saying our goodbyes to all the lovely people on site we were off and were headed to Benicassim, after a faff around with the satnav finding a satellite signal we were on our way, but then we thought “oh, perhaps we should fill up with Diesel first down the road in the town where there is a repsol garage” so off we set, diesel obtained we were off again interestingly the sat nav wanted to take us back up the road on a left turn instead of a right turn… well ok we thought let’s give it the benefit of doubt and try it, see where it takes us (with knowledge from previous experience if we deviate from the original route set on the sat nav to shop or get diesel the blinking thing goes mad on us!!!) Well again it didn’t fail to disappoint us…

The first 35 minutes of our journey was spent doing a complete circuit of pot holed and gravel stone back roads which were only just big enough for one vehicle and then to our utter astonishment brought us right back to the road we had turned off and almost at the campsite we started off from!!! and straight back down the road where we should have just turned right anyway… these sat navs are sent to try us I am sure of it!!!

So again knowing we were already headed now in the correct direction the sat nav started trying to turn us back around again, god only knows why, sat nav madness was ensuing, but we decided to ignore it until it kept on trying to turn us at any given chance… I messed around with the settings while trying to get the thing to behave… I tried taking the motorway/toll roads setting off and got an arrival time of 12 hours 46 minutes… wow… just wow… these things are really magical… when they work correctly… I then had to input the coords and reset road settings once again to get it to behave correctly and to get the damn thing to agree we were actually already taking the correct route with an arrival time of now just under 4 hours, even though by this time we’d already been wasting time driving for about 45 minutes!!!

We passed some enchanting looking towns on route, I managed a few snaps along the journey…

 

 

Well all was good with the world again and with the sat nav now behaving correctly we carried on driving towards Benicassim, it was a fairly windy day which has become almost the norm for us over here, we have grown to expect it now, the motorways were super busy this day with tonnes of Lorries in convoy on parts of the route… which is fine, I have the utmost respect for Lorry drivers… they are mostly some of the best drivers on the road and have to put up with some real idiot car drivers on the roads almost constantly!!!  With that said I highlight the word “mostly” after we had such an unnerving experience this day, a high sided, double trailered Lorry decided to over take… why?? who knows, we were all keeping up with traffic (ie all going with the traffic flow and in convoy)… Well this guy almost took us out completely after he skipped back into lane after only his first trailer had got past us, his second trailer forced us into the half car width sized hard shoulder as the trailer was by now literally making contact with our wing mirror and his canvas Lorry ties were all hitting along the side of our motorhome as he continued pulling over into the lane we were currently driving in, without Pete heading the van into the hard shoulder he would have made full contact with us, the guy was seemingly pulling in way too soon!!! had he forgotten he had a second trailer??? Or had the wind whipped badly against his second trailer??… just what was going on… well he had made contact with our wing mirror several times and totally bent it forward by this time but thanks to Pete’s quick thinking we managed to avoid any further carnage!!! luckily those lorries behind us had also seen what was happening and had slowed to a real safe distance… and then… not 30 seconds to a minute after this incident the lorry a couple of vehicles in front of this guy had a tyre blow out!!! tyre shreds flew everywhere… we all managed to slow and thankfully this guy got off into the hard shoulder safely too!!! with the double trailer Lorry that had made contact with us now in front and us giving him plenty of space between us, we watched him sway all over the place and nearly crash at least twice more from a much safer distance further back he was just all over the place, he still had not even realised his second trailer had made contact with us!!! the other Lorries were also now keeping a real safe distance from the guy bravely staying behind us!!!

 

 

We pulled off at the next service station a little shaken up and to survey any damage and if possible to put the wing mirror back somewhat into a useful angle, luckily these wing mirrors are designed to bend both ways so with a few scrapes to the wing mirror cover we seemed to have escaped relatively unscathed from the ordeal, I just wished I had videod this guys driving or even remembered we actually have a dashcam and could have saved the footage, I did however get some pictures of the van and gain the licence plate number of the CZ registered plate 4AE 8410 if anyone successfully traces that registration number to a company for me… I would be eternally grateful… and I would then track down the driver and reward him/her with a couple of black eyes for nearly killing us and almost causing a major mess behind him on the motorway… and all without even noticing it!!! Pete later described the incident as being bum twerking… and to be fair I think that best describes it!!!

Well we finally arrived at Bonterra Park in Benicassim at 4pm and booked into reception, there were 12 plots left to choose from… so off we headed on foot to find which plot we wanted, most of the plots were at the far end of each of the individual campsite dead end lanes and for bigger vehicles these would be slightly awkward to get into and out off due to space and tree branches, but luckily after the day we had had we found a great plot up at the top of the campsite which was much easier for us to just reverse into… and with the added bonus of the dog walking gate nearby,  Bonterra park is very popular with over 300 camp pitches plus 41 chalets, we can certainly see why the place is busy, its well kept with 3 shower blocks, the shower block we used was in the middle of the camp and was lovely, spotlessly clean and newly renovated, there are industrial washing machines at €4 a wash, the site has a bar and restaurant with meals at a very reasonable €6 each, there’s also lovely looking swimming pools and the campsite has the added bonus of supermarkets on its doorstep (Mercadona is just outside the campsite)…

 

There’s lots to do in the area, with a great cycle path spanning the entire outskirts of town with the beach and a lovely promenade just a few streets away,  although Toffi was pretty disappointed to see the no dog allowed signs at the beach…

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We booked in for just 3 days but soon changed that for at least a week!!! The weather has certainly turned out for the best and the sun has been shining brightly with beautiful blue skies so after waiting for the main heat of the day to pass we took a stroll down to the beach and Promenade, along the promenade there are some fabulous Villas that were built in the early 1900’s by middle class families, but these Villas were taken over by the anti fascists and used as public buildings such as hospitals etc during the Spanish civil war… the Villas are split into two groups depending on their history and are dubbed as either heaven or hell Villas… apparently Ernest Hemingway lived in one of these Villas during the civil war…

 

 

We had tried to book the campsite in Plymouth for our return in August… and to our horror we were informed the site is already fully booked… Looks like we are going to struggle finding a site to stay at when we get back… so if anyone has any ideas or has a large driveway we could borrow please let us know otherwise we may end up camping out in B&Q’s car park!!!

Until next time take care

Donna x

Camping El Tranquilo, Pinoso, Alicante. GPS Coords N38°24’34” W1°5’13”   €13 per night on ACSI with 4kw electric free per day.  camp fees total paid €93

Campsite Bonterra Park GPS Coords N40°3’25”  E0°4’28”   €19 per night ACSI with 4kw electric free per day. wifi €12 per week, camp fee total paid €135 + wifi

 

 

 

Marmalade making in Pinoso

We ended up staying at El Tranquilo for 10 nights we are leaving on Monday 16th, when we will then head to Benicassim and hopefully into Bonterra campsite recommended by friends Anne and David, we had planned for only 7 days but the weather wasn’t too good on many of the days that week with cold winds and rain. Once the poor weather had finally abated I decided I needed to get my bike out and explore the town of El Pinos a little, I’d had enough of being cooped up so Pete headed off with the dog to a local reservoir while I headed off to do my own thing…

The town itself is a few miles from the campsite there’s several ways of getting there to be fair either a shorter route of 3.6 km down the main road, or other much quieter gravel pathways or roadways, but the routes are longer, there are local shops and squares to explore and a weekly market place, the walks around the area are great with many hills or if you prefer plenty of flatter pathways and roads to walk alongside the fields of Almond trees and grapevines…

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I’d taken my bike, but knew I hadn’t charged that battery for what seemed like ages (bike batteries take hours to charge fully but then last a long time!) so I gave it a quick boost of about 30 mins on the charger hoping it would get me there and back… Not a chance the bike was fine on the way the there, but of course I’d taken a backpack and decided that while I was there I’d stock up on a few items from the supermarket as I was intent on making some Marmalade with the Oranges and lemons that Carolina had told us to help ourselves too… With a heavy backpack loaded with some food supplies including a couple of bags of sugar from the supermarket and also several jam jars purchased from the China shop in the town, I went to make my way home only to find the battery as dead as a doormat!!!

Now those of you with Electric bikes will sympathise or perhaps laugh at my utter stupidity and fully understand the situation I now found myself in, miles away from camp and now carrying the extra weight of a heavy backpack also a now massively heavy almost useless bike weighing another 35kgs with no battery power… trust me peddling alone even in the lowest gear I could, I was still sweating like a pig on a spit roast with the afternoon sunshine really not making it any easier… I’d made it almost all the way back and had got myself finally to the turning off of the main road and was now at the bottom of the small hill near the end of my journey, when I finally caved and phoned Pete asking him to please come to my rescue and carry the backpack the rest of the way, to be fair by the time he reached me I was nearly back at camp, but jeez my shoulders and the base of my back had truly given out by then and have been a bit tender ever since, my own fault for not charging the battery of course and for taking a blasted backpack to boot… lesson well learnt!!!

Well the next day I’d decided to have a cooking day and the Marmalade was made along with some sugared fruit sweets too!!! I have no idea if the marmalade is any good taste wise as ironically I can’t stand the stuff… but Pete did say it was a little sharp (due mainly to the type of oranges used, Carolina had said they were a mix of Oranges and Lemons and had called them “Lemanges”!!!) but the marmalade should be perfectly fine for on toast, or at least I hope so, I gave a jar of the sweets and a Jar of Marmalade away so Pete now has 2 jars of this Marmalade to get through… first time I’d made Marmalade so I didn’t think it was bad for my first attempt!!!

We have had a couple of nights at the bar with meals, although Pete is currently recovering from last night’s episode after having rather a lot to drink, He has been hiding away in bed all day it’s nearly 2.30 pm, I think he has a rather sore head… Last nights drinking shenanigans for Pete included a rather large gin and tonic (in fact it was the largest gin and tonic I have ever seen in my life!!!) followed by a whole bottle of white wine to himself and then some glasses of whiskeys to follow…

We hadn’t even noticed the time and didn’t leave the bar till nearly 1am, which was when I was finally able to entice Pete to leave and stop drinking, but on his way back to the motorhome he proceeded to fall down twice making a right old racket (bumping his head and grazing his eyebrow and forehead), I managed both times after a huge struggle to finally get him back up on his feet and help him walk the length of the campsite to near where our motorhome was parked, which was when he then decided to drunkenly aggravate the big Bull Mastiff guard dog probably aptly named something along the lines of “Rocky” whom the neighbours keep in the garden just opposite the campsite fence… Yes, Pete was actually barking at the dog hence a barking match between them then ensued, I grabbed the keys and left him to it by now I had had enough, and he was on his own… but here’s where things got even noisier after thinking I had muted the van alarm… the alarm siren then went off, Pete hadn’t bothered setting the alarm… so I had then accidently turned the blooming thing on thinking I had just turned it off and then triggered all the alarm motion sensors by getting inside the vehicle… What a Palava, it was like some sort of comedy sitcom, I can only apologise to those on the site for the lack of a decent night’s sleep, for Pete’s outrageous drunken behaviour and again my stupidity for the alarm noise late last night!!! trust me Pete has paid a heavy price for it today, not even getting out of bed till way gone 2pm!!!!

Well the campsite El Tranquilo here is great… We’ve met some lovely people here… friendly long termers Anna and Mark, then Karen and Gary, the owners Carolina and Terry, Steve and Sarah (not sure if I have that name correct), along with another older couple whose names also currently escape me (I am really terrible with names so if incorrect then… oups… sorry!!!)… the facilities here are spotless, the site has only been open for 13 months so everything is new, the owners Terry and Carolina have worked extremely hard getting the site to where it is now, it is definitely worth while having a visit with them, there are not many campsites of this standard that we have found in Europe, and we would definitely come back if ever we are in the area, so we wish them the best of luck for the future!!!

Off to start clearing things away ready for our next road trip to Benicassim tomorrow have fun!!

Happy safe travels everyone!!!

Donna x

Camping El Tranquilo, Pinoso, Alicante. GPS Coords N38°24’34” W1°5’13”   €13 per night on ACSI with 4kw electric free per day.

 

Off to Alicante…

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Most of the long termers staying at Camping Cuevas Mar campsite started to pack up and leave for their journeys back to their own countries until their next overwintering season, when most will then return to their favoured spots and campsites some even leaving their caravans on site… There was an older Irish couple next to us in a motorhome who left the campsite a day or so before us… To be honest I didn’t catch their names… They were nice enough people, but mentioned several times they are not dog people and don’t really like dogs around them, but apparently they thought Toffi was very well behaved!!! They even went onto give us advice on how to train our dog using a “rolled up newspaper method” to stop the dog barking at any time… I did tell them I didn’t really think it would work on such a highly strung dog such as Toffi… But shamelessly offered (dared them even) to feel free to give it a go, but I did pre-warn them that it’d be their own fault our course if she tears that newspaper up or at worst she bites them for swiping around her with a rolled up newspaper!!! They also mentioned if we were to come back next year we should look for a much better more private and much more sunny spot… I think they may have been dropping a polite hint that they’d rather us not be in the pitch next door to theirs… It did make me chuckle… the pitch we were on was pretty sunny from midday onwards… so much so that we had to put up a small tent to give the dog a nice cool shaded area to retreat too!!!  we were thinking of popping back over in October for a few days and taking the same pitch just in time for our neighbours return and tease them by telling them we were there for the 6 months maybe borrow a few more dog’s just for the trip!!!

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we stayed at Camping Cuevas Mar for 28 days in total due to some storms and also to enjoy the good weather afterwards, plus waiting for the religious Easter holidays to pass and for most of our stay we had marvelous weather apart from a few storms but on bad weather days I was starting to get restless and bored… I purchased a pack of cards and asked Pete to teach me some card games, unfortunately for me he didn’t know any!!! so I taught myself Poker online for free, I am thinking of taking this hobby up professionally as so far I have only lost 30,000 out of 60,000 in poker chips all this week while teaching myself the game from scratch… I didn’t think it was bad for a total beginner as my large losing streak has started to drop significantly over the past few days… I am after all a good fast learner… so I think I am ready to play with the big guns now!!!

Towards the end of our stay I even made Pete get my bike out for me (yep we had been that lazy that even the bikes stayed in the trailer till the last week we were there), I took a couple of nice rides just to the shops and enjoyed the surroundings to be fair there were some lovely places nearby to this campsite and it seems to be in an excellent position with local towns nearby, supermarkets, plus weekly markets and the lovely beach all on its doorstep.

After chatting to one of the other regulars at the site I managed to find out what the deal was with a lot of the other male travellers having weight benches and weights with them on their travels, I was curious mainly because it’s not really the sort of equipment you would normally find motorhomers using up valuable weight allowance for, it turned out one of the regulars Ian used to be a professional weight lifter and entertainingly it seemed he’d got them all into lifting weights, I’ll be honest with you though and say most if not all of those new to their weight lifting regimes didn’t really seem to be reeping any benefit from it…. yet!!!

After saying our goodbyes to the lovely people we had met during our time there we left Cuevas Mar on the morning of the 6th April 2018… the final bill was a whopping €479 for the 28 days, the advertised 10-15% discount for longer stays was never applied to us and when Pete enquired the grumpy manager came up with some excuse or other, plus we also paid another whopping €40 on top for wifi during that time which also should have been discounted for as it was priced €10 for a week, €15 for a fortnight and just €25 for a month, seems he wanted to charge on a week by week basis only… Pity really as we could well have been returning customers, but once bitten as the saying goes!!!

I’d also felt rather deflated last week when Pete booked our return journey back to the UK via the Channel Tunnel our departure date from Europe being in the 2nd week of August as the MOT for the motorhome is due around then, also its Pete’s birthday mid August and my sabbatical if I recall rightly ends in September… disappointingly we had planned on visiting far more countries than we have managed so far on our trip, but this has been mainly down to bad winter weather conditions across most of Europe this year, not helped by the fact that we do not have winter tyres on the motorhome so we couldn’t go into some countries over the winter months, and we also carry no snow chains etc so this has kept us limited to much warmer parts, amateur mistake on our part perhaps as we had to pass through France to get to Pyrenees mountains to access Portugal & Spain whilst avoiding the snow season in said mountains on the way… which we did achieve luckily with just a mere 3 days to spare before the mountains were then struck down with snowfall… but to replace the tyres twice along our 12 month journey would have been far too costly and would have added approx £1,000 to travelling costs hence our decision not too!!!

But we now have just over 4 months left of this trip to enjoy so I think it maybe a busy 4 months as we aim to make up for this lack of countries visited so far, we will travel back up to France and across hopefully into Italy and by then the winter weather should fingers crossed be fully over and dependant on conditions, we may get to the see some of the other countries we had hoped to travel too on this adventure, if not we shall have to plan another expedition perhaps!!! even the English who over winter here in Spain every year, along with the Spanish nationals have all confirmed it’s been their worse winter weather wise for over a 100 years (although some of these people were only about 30-60 years old so I hope they are speaking from past weather records and not just from personal experience) Typical of us to choose an odd year!!!

We travelled on up to the Alicante region the drive should have only taken us 2-3 hours but took us 4 hours after we had stopped at the supermarket to get shopping, the satnav then thought it would mix things up for us and take us on a bit of a trek of a journey, but other than passing through one busy city the roads were then almost empty the whole way, we arrived somewhere slightly inland Spain at a site called El Tranquillo in Pinoso late afternoon…

 

Our views for the week are of Mountains in the distance and of rolling Spanish farmed countryside beneath them, these fields rolled on for as far as the eyes can see, the campsite so far is living up to its name and is extremely tranquil, with a peaceful quiet to the place, we are booked in here for 7 nights, @ €13 per night,  the campsite is situated near to the town of Pinoso, so we shall explore the surroundings, the weather this week is due to be a bit hit and miss but to be fair it may make getting out and about easier and be much cooler for walking than in the last week of 20-27° temperatures, we took a short walk the day after we arrived before the weather drew in, and sat sheltered in the van for a few hours while a thunderstorm rolled in on over the mountains…

 

We received a warm welcome at Camping El Tranquilo, the owners a British couple Terry and Carolina were very helpful, the site is fairly new and has only been open just over a year, the shrubbery planted here is just starting to take hold so once matured it will give campers visiting here plentiful privacy, the pitch sizes are massive here allowing larger motorhomes and each camper their own space without the feeling of being hemmed in, the facilities are spotlessly clean with lovely hot showers, homemade bread and even freshly cooked breakfasts and evening meals are available to pre-order, the site is adult only which to some may seem unfair but to be honest having lived full time on campsites for the last 7 months you get to savour the sites you find with no children allowed (as much as it is lovely to see and hear children enjoying themselves, sometimes when they are kicking balls or even stones and rocks at your pride and joy motorhome, while mum and dad look on, it can make your blood boil!!!)

Well must go now have a game of poker waiting for me… plus a lovely jug of Sangria to consume just to help me win of course!!!

Have fun Take good care of yourselves

Love to all

Donna x

GPS Coords, Camping Cuevas Mar, Palomares N37°14’16”  W1°47’56”  €17 per night + paid for wifi €10 per week

GPS Coords Camping El Tranquilo, Pinoso, Alicante N38°24′ 34″ W1°5’13”  €13 per night 4kw electric free anything over is charged for, free wifi is available only at the bar area.

 

The Wandering Tortoise

We are still at Palomares, we managed to sit through “Cyclone Hugo” and survived to tell the tale “twas a tad windy” we stayed inside the van and waited for it to pass, while being rocked about and anxiously wondering if the next gust of wind would manage to blow us over…

While staying here I ordered some more Internet on legs sims for our mifi unit from Amazon and at £30 a sim for 12gb of data they most definitely are not cheap, but we were running low and although we have data on our mifi contract and our phones etc its all limited as we are outside of the UK for over 2 months, we have campsite wifi while here but are only allowed to use that on one item of technology at any given time, also I like to make sure we will not get stranded somewhere else along our journey without mifi, mainly because we plan our next stops as we go along using the internet and not every campsite has wifi… I expected the postage to take a little longer than it did and was amazed at how quickly they turned up and the nice camp warden even brought the post down to us, I hadn’t mentioned to them that we were even expecting post and had meant to let them know later that day thinking it would still take a few more days to arrive…

We have lounged around enjoying the lovely sunshine that is once the cyclone was over and we’ve just been terribly lazy for much of the time here apart from Toffi’s beach visits, shopping and the windscreen repair we just hadn’t really ventured far from the campsite in the past week or so until today when lounging around finally got too boring and I became restless and wanted to explore, we found another abandoned urbanization project nearby it was massive and went on and on with roads, pathways and cycle paths all laid but leading to absolutely no where…

Walking these places is to me and of course for Toffi marvelous, not only because it’s such easy walking with the paths and tarmacked roads but other than the odd person here and there, they are just abandoned places, there’s also no traffic as the roads are shut off which make them so peaceful…  It’s somewhat like walking through the aftermath of some apocalypse with weeds growing up through the paving etc, I have such an overactive imagination it runs wild and I half expect the film set of the walking dead to appear and any minute we’ll have to start fighting Zombies off, I absolutely love it!!! Then we came across a skeleton of some sort which again obviously really helped with my imagination!!!

It’s just amazing to see all of these unfinished projects that are just left rotting away where development plans have either failed or been put on hold for one reason or another, In one place we visited a month or so ago there was what we named the “stairway to nowhere”, another half finished and abandoned development with huge lovely patterned paved stone steps which we of course wandered and climbed up to the top of, only to find they led to… yep… “nowhere” but it did have a lovely view from the top!!!

While slowly wandering today along the unfinished housing project we found a rough stony path off of the tarmac road that actually led to a type of natural reed bed and a spring water oasis with the water meandering its way down to it from the nearby hills and mountains, we climbed down to the spring and stood listening to the wildlife around us, I was saddened to think of how much of their habitat the abandoned project must have taken from them, and then we came across a Tortoise, I really didn’t expect to see it and Toffi had never seen one before and must have thought it was just a rock until this “rock” suddenly moved, amusingly it scared the living daylights out of her, she then frightened the poor thing back into its shell by barking incessantly at it… After taking a couple of pictures we left it in peace again… The tortoises here are a protected species, well who knew!!

Happy Easter holidays to everyone, enjoy!!!

Oh and finally a little get well message for a friend of ours who had a bit of a nasty accident this week, Debbie B we hope you recuperate and recover quickly, take care and put your feet up for a while, get better soon xx

Until next time

Take care

Donna x

GPS Coords, Camping Cuevas Mar Palomares N37°14’16”  W1°47’56”  €17 per night + paid for wifi €10 per week

Palomares

We are currently at the campsite in Palomares called camping Cuevas Mar we have been here since 9th March 2018, we are considering staying here until Easter is done and dusted as we are not sure if the other campsites will be packed solid in Spain for those few days… Plus I had to order some more Internet on legs sims for the Mifi unit, so we shall wait for them to be delivered and make up our minds from there… The site pitches are large and sunny so it’s nice to be able to stretch out and relax…

The area has also been good for us to explore and take walks along the coast and beach, we also visited the local market on Wednesday morning which was up in the town a couple of km’s away, we purchased some fresh fruit for just €3, we got a new pair of slippers each at €5 a pair, I got a lovely blue cotton top for €20 and a lovely bracelet for another €5, exhausted after all that shopping we sat outside a cafe and enjoyed a coffee and watched the world go by, before a leisurely stroll back to the campsite…

We’ve had some fantastic weather here with temperatures hitting a good 18-23°, while we’ve waited for the insurance company to source out a place to get our windscreen replaced, we had told them there was no rush the screen would hold out for a few days anyway and we were currently parked up comfortably…

After a couple of days our insurance had us booked in and even had an English man named Tom contact us and give us all the details with detailed instructions of how to get there from the campsite, we would have to pay the €83 excess for the insurance screen cover policy, so on the Friday we drove to a company called Glass drive… A small garage type workshop that repairs and replaces windscreens… The look of sheer horror on the poor blokes face was hilarious as we turned into the tiny 2 car parking area just outside his low roofed repair workshop (I think he was expecting a much smaller and low profile motorhome, than a big one with a bulkhead) but he had the correct screen waiting and informed us it would take 2-3 hours for fitting and adhesive to be set enough for us to drive off, he offered for us to wait in the workshop if we wanted or said it would be fine for us to venture the area and come back in a couple of hours…

Of course we opted to venture into the town called Vera, anxiously leaving our home on wheels behind, we strolled along the main road and stumbled upon an all British supermarket… Iceland’s which sold all the English products that you get to miss while over here long term… Clover margarine amongst some other favourites, so I took the opportunity to top up on some decent t-bags buying 3 x big 240 bag boxes (the teabags over here are mainly herbal or fruit flavoured and around €3 for about 10 classic tea bags of which I have actually found red tea mites in!!! nasty!!!) plus I bought some Bisto gravy too… I was in heaven!!! I have informed Pete we shall need to revisit this shop on our exit out of the area and top up of any other things I think of in the meantime… Plus side is they are also selling chocolate Easter eggs there too!!!…. There is a Mercadona supermarket in Vera too, and there’s also a Consum supermarket just a mile from the campsite which is handy…

While waiting for the screen repair we had a couple of coffees and a hamburger each for lunch in cafes along the high streets of Vera, all for €8 before heading back to collect the motorhome and take ourselves back to camp, we had decided to stay at the campsite for at least another week to make sure the windscreen is fine so it should be well and truly set before we take off on any longer journeys… but we are waiting on post now and wondering still whether to stay here while Easter gets out of the way…

The campsite at Palomares is in the province of the Tabernas Desert which is apparently one of Europe’s semi-deserts, located within Spain’s southeastern province of Almería which could explain why the weather has been so great!!!

We spoke with our friends David and Anne who were making their way back to the UK last week, the weather at the top of Spain on their journey was bad and driving conditions were poor for them, their ferry company had told them of a delay for their ferry so they had extra time, so no hurry… or so they thought!… But as they turned up to Santander they watched as their ferry was just leaving the dock!!! The ferry company had forgotten to tell them the ferry had got back on an earlier schedule… They then had to travel to Bilbao and catch the ferry from there the next day!!! The joys of travelling!!! With a rough journey on the ferry and a longer drive through the UK at the other end,  they thankfully made it home safely… and all in time to enjoy the snow!!!

Toffi has loved her stay here so far, with walks and runs on the beach, although she keeps chasing and eating any wasps and bees that get unlucky enough to be in her range (she has managed to eat 4 wasps today alone and is unsurprisingly now feeling a tad bit sorry for herself!!! but this is now a regular occurrence and she seems to be upping her tolerance level to them each day!!) We’ve also been feeding the local small flock of finches with biscuit crumbs, so everyday they come by and see what goodies are around for them…

There are some lovely people on the site here opposite us we have a couple called Louise and Ian with a lovely little terrier called Bracken (Toffi and Bracken seem to have a love/hate relationship going on so they have a barking match everytime they see each other… It must be love!!), then there’s another lovely couple Mickey and I didn’t catch his wife’s name (grrr… my bad!!!) they have a lovely doberman, and almost everyone else says hello in passing… Although Pete did say one of the blokes on reception was a bit miserable and sharp with him, so it was left to me to go in there the next time and he seemed ok with me… So… what can I say!!!

I try not to be a judgemental person… after all I have tattoos and own one of those so called “devil dogs” in the form of a Toffi, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier… but I would give you my last £ if you needed it, and am trained in first aid so that could be useful at some point, but anyway I am hardly the person to judge you, unless of course I feel I am being judged… Then that’s a whole new ball game!!!

So for example a long termer came up to our pitch the other morning stood right next to me as I was hanging some washing on an airer and stole the washing line hanging from the poles on our pitch… (now ok that’s fine, it’s not like I own the line that was taken, but it’s on our pitch, he could have at least asked if I might be using it in the very near future!!! I had actually used it the day before!!), but while I just smiled and said hi while quizzically looking at him in a way that universally said, what you up to bud?… he again just looked at me like I had 2 frigging heads, then handed the line to another bloke to use, now that was it… geezer that’s well cheeky and all whilst giving me the stink eye!!! (but then I was like… ok keep the peace but actually… this is game on!!!)

So here’s what I tend to do… instead of causing a stink which indeed I am actually quite capable of doing, instead I keep my mouth shut and I just give suitable nicknames to any unfriendly or annoying people I meet along the way… just of course for my own entertainment value and its probably better than being arrested over a washing line, right?… I have a lot of time on my hands now to think up some real good and suitable nicknames… so…. said geezer is now Worzel Gummidge and said geezer’s wife (who also didn’t smile when I said hi to her a few days ago)… is now known as the artists Beryl Cook’s bikini beach model…. both for pretty self explanatory reasons!!! and to be honest when it’s the next time for me to wash and dry my big items such as my knickers or bedding I am thinking of just going and hanging them on the washing lines that they themselves use situated on a spare pitch just behind their motorhome!!!

Now this is also a new one on me and it’s the first time I have seen it in the 6 months we have been travelling… I’ve seen people with parrots on their shoulders, canaries in cages, cats in baby holsters and some on leads etc but just who brings a weight bench and weights along with you in a motorhome??? seriously it must take them way over their weight allowance on said motorhomes… but there are at least 2 blokes currently here with weight benches (yep… worzels one…) and neither of them are big strapping muscle men, the blokes only doing a whole 4 lifts a day… is it worth hauling all that equipment around with you? to me that’s just crazy!!! surely you could just lift a large full water carrier up a few times a day instead…

Oh and finally we figured out we can stream English TV here, only as long as the campsites internet isn’t too bad otherwise it swallows mifi data like crazy… we are using easyview.EU so instead of having to download a film or stream from Netflix, I can now watch Corrie & Emmerdale… yay… yes of course Pete’s well chuffed with that!!!

Well enough of my entertaining banter for now…

Take care all,

Donna x

GPS Coords, Camping Cuevas Mar Palomares N37°14’16”  W1°47’56”  €17 per night + paid for wifi €10 per week

Six months on the road

While we were still at Mar Azul, Balerma we took a long walk alongside the nasty polluted beach to a nearby castle type building up on the top of a hill (we assumed this building was the advertised Roman ruins but can’t be sure… as it wasn’t actually a ruin!!!)

We moved on from Camping Mar Azul after 3 nights and left on Friday 9th March, we travelled about 120 km on to Palomares and onto a site called Cuevas Mar priced at €17 a night we booked for 3 nights originally but are considering staying 7 instead but we will explore the surroundings and make a decision from there…

The site at Palomares has large pitches with plenty of sunshine, the other long term campers here have been friendly, facilities are clean and have plenty of hot water in the showers, the campsite itself is situated near to a beach and has a couple of towns nearby with plenty of walks to take for the dog and ourselves to enjoy…

 

After Pete had finished relaxing and trying his hardest to top up his tan, we took a stroll to see the surroundings and were pleased to find the massive beach was in good condition and Toffi enjoyed herself chasing the waves…

 

There are a lot of motorhomes wild camping down at the beach, we were thinking of joining them after our stay here… but on one of our walks there they were all getting told to move on and being given fines by the civil police, pretty disappointed as we really wanted to wild there just a night or two beside the beach to enjoy the view and listen to the waves crashing in, the car park there is massive, but to be fair it’s not worth a hefty fine for a couple of nights, we were also amazed by a cladded van who arrived and parked up while we were there, it was a mobile pool and sauna van… of course us campers cannot possibly go without the luxury’s!!!

 

We’ve just noticed we have been on the road full time living in a motorhome now for over 6 months, well 6 months and 13 days to be exact… and we’ve survived… just Wow… time really flies!!!

What an adventure it’s been so far… we have visited over 30 different campsites as we’ve toured down through France, Portugal and we’re already nearly halfway through Spain. We’ve seen and done things we would never have done in the UK, and yes of course things go wrong… right now we need to get a new windscreen as ours has a crack caused by a stone hitting the screen… but it can be fixed as soon as we find a company capable that is…

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We have walked for miles today, Toffi had a lovely time again on the beach but its chill out time now and time for us to rest our weary feet, there are some great cycling paths also around here which makes a change… Oh and I hear it’s local market day tomorrow (wednesday) morning and I really fancy taking a stroll up there just to be nosey… I will let you know of any weird or wonderful things I find and also if I find any bargains!!

Enjoy the pics

Take Care

Donna x

GPS Coords, Camping Cuevas Mar Palomares N37°14’16”  W1°47’56”  €17 per night + paid for wifi €10 per week