Where were we?

I mean it; where were we?

Dusting off the blog today, doing necessary security updates etc. and was planning to put some flesh on the bones of our recent trips. What do I find but that a complete six week trip has gone missing, with both the Evernote location notes and the IG photo updates not having come through to here.

It looks as though I have a great deal of work to do!

In the meantime, you can find the short versions that should have copied across to this blog right here>>> https://www.instagram.com/twosnailsontour/

The location notes are simply vapour and I shall need to write up the entire itinerary.

Bridge over the Vienne at Availles-Limouzine

Just to fill in a bit: our latest jaunt was two nights in Availles-Limouzine (28/29 July) – more of which soon.

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.

Leaving (not on a jet plane)

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!