Plans and further plans and possibly some actual planning

Sometimes WordPress just removes my will to live…

I had saved a draft under this heading. It was almost a complete post and simply in need of proofing. I opened it up last night and it was blank!

I wrote this post again but WP would not save it nor would it upload an image. It has taken an hour this morning to set matters right. I hope that we may now move on.

If I remember correctly I had been waffling on about our next Big Trip. It is an unexpected one and seems, like Topsy, to have just growed (and growed and growed…) Events have moved on and so I will address short term plans first.

This one evolved only yesterday. As previously mentioned, we had hoped to go out every week between arriving home from the winter trip and going off to Girona in May. A combination of factors has prevented that so far (Dusty and the vet; Mr Snail and another virus; the bloody awful weather.) We have about another week of rain to come but after that there should be some slightly improved weather and an opportunity to venture forth (if a third virus doesn’t intervene).

We hope to make a three night trip; two nights in Amboise and a further night at Selles-sur-Cher. We will drive up the quick way – motorway to Tours and then along the Loire by the Levée to Amboise. From Selles-sur-Cher we will return by a more meandering route cross-country.

Amboise is known to us, although the previously privately-owned Aire, which had been closed, is now reopened and operating as a CCP site. Selles-sur-Cher is new to us, though we know (and love) the cheese.

Quite a homecoming

You would think would you not, that I might have cracked on with writing up our adventures in the blog once we had arrived home. So, why the radio silence?

We had a difficult week.

We arrived home to find that the battery on the Batmobile had died whilst we were away. The Batmobile turns out to be a very touchy car and accessing it with no life in the battery was very challenging. To keep a very long and fraught story short, it has involved buying jump leads (no success), an intelligent charger (it gave up), a nifty wee booster box (got it started!) and a new battery… which then necessitated further purchases of a Diagnostic Box and a couple of Apps to get things working, Much time has been invested and much staying in for deliveries. We finally had a working vehicle a whole week after we arrived home.

Dusty needed to go to the vet on the Monday morning. A hitherto unrecognised abscess on his leg burst on Sunday evening, the day after we got home.

Five return visits to the vet in L’Isle Jourdain were required. Again, time-consuming – not to mention the mental stress involved in caring for a sick animal.

Aside from the initial servicing of tanks etc. on the day after coming home, the van has been in almost continuous use in lieu of the sick car and has yet to be properly unpacked/repacked.

Our forward plans include a return to Spain in mid-May, to Girona. We had intended to go out every week between coming home and the Spanish trip. Part of that thinking was to get plenty of use out of the van. More importantly we felt that we should keep Dusty used to travelling and to being confined.

Due to our difficult week we did not go off anywhere last week and this week the weather seems to be against us, so it seems that we shan’t be going off until next week. It’s disappointing. However, at least Dusty has been getting plenty of travel/carrier practice in – not to mention having to be kept indoors rather than regain his outdoors habit. Not all bad then.

Looking Forward

In the course of writing this post in dribs and drabs throughout the day (I have been doing a lot of cooking and freezing in readiness for future travels) plans have been morphing. Plans may morph further still but currently we are looking at another long trip of probably around four months duration.

We want to go to Scandinavia to avoid the worst of the summer heat in France.

Now, we could come home from Girona in May, pootle around a little for a while and then head North, but we have reached the conclusion that once we are out, we might as well just keep on going. Bad news for Dusty!

There is a deal of fine dining factored in to this trip. El Celler de Can Roca in Girona in May is to be followed by Noma in Copenhagen in June (Seafood Season menu) and a return to Noma on a date between July and September (Vegetable Season). Between the two Copenhagen stops we will explore as much of Scandinavia as our time allows.

Quite a trip, if it comes off. As always, we remain at least flexible, if not downright fluid.

We need to get Van Nessa in for her first annual service before we go anywhere too far afield or possibly en route if we really do set off in May. There are plenty of Fiat garages in Europe, aren’t there? we’ll find one somewhere.

One thing is for sure, if we do carry out this mad plan, we can convince ourselves that we are genuinely giving Nessa a run for our money.

Will I find time to bring the blog up to date with our Iberian adventures before pack up and head out again? It seems unlikely, doesn’t it. I will do my best to post some highlights and some photo galleries. Every little helps.

Gone agley again

I had been eagerly anticipating a few days in Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site and apparently the Portuguese town with second best quality of life, it also offers some good restaurants. Jolly good.

We planned to take three nights at the Orbitur site there and then extend our stay if we liked it.

In the event, it was all a bit of a disaster. The site is situated close to the outer edge of the ring road. There was nowhere to walk the dog. Mr Snail has injured his back so walking into town for dinner or sight-seeing was off the agenda and getting the bikes out, completely impossible.

It was all a bit of a shock to the system after the peace and quiet at Markádia. The traffic noise was horrible and the air quality not at all good. Nell had to be walked around a derelict building site (again).

We stayed one night and saw nothing of Évora at all.

It wasn’t all bad. When walking Nell we stumbled across a good pet shop, where we were able to purchase Nell a new bed ( her old one being now in a very disreputable state of repair and quite disgustingly malodorous.) She also acquired a bag of three balls to play with.

This morning the weather was atrocious and water was running all over the site. The showers were cold. We just got ourselves off site asap and off to stock up at Pingo Doce, knowing that our next stop was to be miles away from anywhere.

So, we made it back into Spain! We find ourselves the sole guests on what must have once been a very elegant campsite indeed. However, it has been closed for some time. Now reopened but showing all the signs of neglect in the interim.

The man who runs the place has little English but was welcoming and helpful and he lost no time in turning the hot water on for us. Good man. Intriguingly, he handed us our very own toilet roll… Also, very unexpectedly, the restaurant is open daily from 08:00. Who are they serving???

The scenery is awesome, with some wonderful geology and Griffon Vultures flying over the ridge that looks over the campsite.

That ridge does however block signals. We have no WiFi, but some phone signal – hence the emailed post with no images.

Catch up later.

We will probably stay here two nights at least. I have plenty of food on board.

Leaving (not on a jet plane)

Well:
our bikes are packed,
we’re ready to go…

We shall be leaving Vila Nova de Milfontes tomorrow. We have had a good stay at the Orbitur campsite here. It is perhaps not the optimal place to stay for a lengthy period but the weather has been fantastic until now and we have enjoyed cycling out to the shops when necessary (around 16 Km round trip). The walking is of course very good and we walked all the way into town and back one day.

At the beach

The beach at Malhaõ is exceptional and is one of the finest in the whole country.

The riverside Fort at Vila Nova de Milfontes

It has been fun to explore the town a little and we have been much taken with the area along the rivermouth. It is very beautiful.

Panoramic view from the end of the road: click through for large view
Outside the fort – never did find out what this was about…
The Archangel

Shopping has been hit and miss between the holiday period and our lack of local knowledge. We still haven’t managed to visit the market hall but we did cycle out to the monthly market at Brunheiras, which was tremendous fun – if a little disappointing on the food side of things, though we did manage to come home with bread, cheese and meat for a simple supper.

Overall, we have enjoyed ourselves a great deal and the peace and tranquility of the site here is so much better than the encampment down at the beach car park. We counted at least 40 vans at New Year. Quite ridiculous and hardly what you can call “wilding”. Observing individuals going to the toilet in the bushes is not a lot of fun either. Some disgraceful behaviour going on down there. Much better up here, with 70 acres almost entirely to ourselves since the permanent pitch people went home after their holidays (not that there were all that many of them anyway).

One disappointment has been the restaurant on the campsite. It was not as good as we recalled from our previous visit – except on a weekend, when the food is much better than mid-week. We suspect a different cook on duty. We gave the matter some thought and realised that when we were here previously it had been Saturday and Sunday when we ate at the restaurant so that might support our theory.

The great thing about the restaurant here is that the dish of the day is traditional Portuguese food. It tends to be simple (it’s cheap! Bread, Main Course, Dessert and drinks for 9 Euros) but is always interesting (for us, at least.) The days after New Year were pretty poor and we think that we may have been eating leftovers from the New Year’s Eve party. We had decided not to bother again but risked it on the Sunday, when we were served a very good Bacalhau Com Natas – better even than our introduction to that dish here last winter. This Sunday we were served Spare Ribs with Migas, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Migas is a staple made from breadcrumbs and is far nicer than it sounds.

So, a bit hit and miss but worth taking a punt, especially at the weekend. The staff are extremely friendly. They have some English and try hard to explain the dishes but sometimes need a bit of help 🙂 We do this by guessing and seeing if we reach common ground. Meals can still be a little surprising but that’s the fun of it, I think.

The weather having turned cooler, duller and breezier, with showers predicted for today and tomorrow, we packed the bikes away yesterday. This morning we put our tables and chairs away before they get wet and tomorrow we are setting off inland for a remote site by a reservoir. We don’t know how long we shall stay, which will make shopping en route tomorrow something of a conundrum. As I write this I am also constructing meal plans and a shopping list based on a “worst case” scenario.

Our following stop is to be at the World Heritage Site of Évora. I am much looking forward to that.

Now that Image Uploads are working again I hope to do some more writing up of our recent travels. It looks very much like the expected weather might support that aim!

Sagres Swan song

A picnic walk today, saying au revoir to Sagres. A bit over this distance in fact due to forgetting to turn the tracker on. Start point should equal end point.

Moving North with the Sun

Tomorrow we are leaving Sagres. It is difficult to believe that we have been here for a month. I would happily stay for another. However, we turn towards home now and it seems like an appropriate point in time to summarise the trip so far.

FromToOdometerDistance
Home31/10/194629
Lamagdeleine31/10/1901/11/194880251
Tournay01/11/902/11/195134254
SPAIN
Viacamp 02/11/19 03/11/195376242
Ribamar, Alcossebre03/11/1918/11/195645269
Vilargordo del Cabriel18/11/1920/11/195867222
Santa Elena Despenaperros20/11/1921/11/196150283
La Carlota21/11/1923/11/196325175
Valverde del Camino23/11/1925/11/196526201
La Rabida, Huelva25/11/1926/11/19658357
PORTUGAL
Sagres26/11/1926/12/196819236

Home to Sagres = 2,190 Kilometres and 26 days.

56 Days elapsed

10 halts

Going Home

We are in no hurry and we don’t particularly want to be home before the Spring arrives. Having passed the Solstice and knowing that the sun is returning Northward we are happy enough to keep pace, more or less.

Our initial destination is Zambujeira do Mar. We are visiting purely in the spirit of adventure and discovery. Can’t keep returning to the same old places all the time.

Photos

There are photos. Yes, of course there are photos. Unfortunately a recent upgrade to WordPress seems to have broken the photo upload process so we shall have to wait for the images. My apologies for this interruption to normal service.