Day one (again)

Counter reset as we embark on a new trip. Day one, to Louroux de Bouble. A longer than usual leg for us on this first day, with a shopping trip in Montlucon along the way to fetch goodies from Grand Frais.

In honesty, a shorter trip would have been better. Dusty came in last night for a change (it was raining) and spent most of the night on our bed, frequently waking us up for attention.

He is of course now complaining that he has been kept in for /weeks/.

Noisy little beggar.

We are making good time on a familiar route, with low volume traffic. I am thankful that it is not too taxing for a tired driver.

Another half an hour to Montlucon then perhaps a further forty minutes to tonight’s CCP Aire. Should be parked up by afternoon coffee time if all continues well.

This is a test of post by mail
Perhaps it will serve us better than the failing IG: IFTTT posting method.

No pic with this.

#livereportingfromtheroaf

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.

A little ambition

We cycled to Vila do Bispo again today. This time we went out and back by the cycle route on the old road that runs alongside the new one. It’s not bad. I mean, it’s way better than the back road that we used last time, being tarmac. Mostly tarmac, anyway. Much of the road surface is missing and a careful eye is needed in order to avoid the more dangerous potholes. But it is quiet, a direct route and not too hilly.

As we pedalled we were musing upon the possibility of having a cycling holiday or several. There are many long distance routes in France and Spain. I was fancying the one that runs along the Loire valley – especially when tents were ruled out and B&B ruled in!

Mr Snail reckoned that better/more suitable bikes would be needed and I said that we (meaning, I) would need a degree of training first. I agreed that it would be fun to try it before we get too old.

We arrived at Lidl and went to the bike rack to park, to find a couple of rather more serious cyclists than us engaged in a puncture repair. As I dismounted with an audible "ouch" they asked if we had come far. I had to be honest and say "no". Mr Snail revealed the embarrassing truth: "just from Sagres, about 8 kilometres."

My bike app says it is 8.8 km.

It’s a /bumpy/ 8.8k. That’s my excuse!

Perhaps cycling the Loire is just a tad ambitious at this stage of the game?

Lidl provided pork tenderloin, pesto-stuffed gnocchi, tomato sauce and fresh salad… and a rather good wine. We dined well. The pork roasted in 15 minutes in the air fryer, plenty of time to assemble a salad and boil the gnocchi whilst simultaneously verifying the quality of the wine. The tenderloin is a wheeze that I need to remember for future van dining.

Stationary

Taking advantage of the fact that we are going nowhere today, or any time soon, and catching up on some mundane stuff.

Mr Snail walked the dog and I did some cleaning in the van, two days’ worth of washing up, and a laundry load. When they returned before I had finished, he knuckled down to the water filling and waste emptying. I am in no hurry to complete my tasks and will tackle things piecemeal over the coming days. That being so, we have the table and chairs out and are soaking up some rays. 18°C today, windless, and feels far warmer in the sun.

Dusty hasn’t been out for a walk yet today, nor did he walk yesterday. It doesn’t seem to be bothering him at all and he is peaceful at night. He eats his breakfast and then tucks himself away in the parcel shelf and snoozes some more. It seems wrong to force him awake to go for a walk with us. We planned yesterday to take him out when we returned from a late lunch but the sun was almost down when we returned. He seems to be content to be out on the end of his line for a few hours on this very peaceful campsite (during the day, at least. It is somewhat busier when the surfers come home from the beach at dusk) and apparently enjoys playing in the sand. His line is long enough to allow him to scamper halfway up a pine tree when he feels like it but he has yet to fully understand the length of his line and it brings him up short occasionally.

There was a slight kerfuffle when we found ourselves on one side of the fence and the cat on the other. He had found a hole in the wire that we hadn’t spotted. It took a bit of effort to haul him back through in safety but we managed it and then I went off to secure a brick that I had seen yesterday. The brick turned out to be a rectangular block of concrete and was quite heavy. I staggered back with it until Mr Snail spotted my plight and came to my rescue. Hole now plugged. How long until Dusty works out that he could easily dig his way under? We may need to move his attachment point further away from the fence but he needs to be close enough that he can pop into the van when he needs to. Today’s alarming incidents included an oil tanker delivering to the toilet block… and a herd of goats outside the site.

After yesterday’s disappointment with Terra being closed we have decided that today we shall walk down to Holi Diwali for a curry. I anticipate that again we will be home too late to walk the cat. If he is fretful tonight then we will stir him into life tomorrow morning and ensure he gets a few kilometres in before we get on with our day. He needs it in order to keep his weight in check, I feel.