Monday, 29 September 2014

Where’s Noah when you need him?

On Monday we very regrettably left Alegria Campsite in Benicarlo.  We had really enjoyed the campsite and will definitely visit again. 

As you will have seen from my last post, the heavens had opened  in the early hours of Monday morning and we had to pack up and leave.  I had taken the precaution of taking the towels in and putting the buggy under the van but we really didn’t expect this.  Most of the campsite was flooded and it was still chucking it down.  The owner was out digging channels and putting a pump on.  The water was being pumped over the wall yet still the awning mats were floating and it was about 4 inches or more deep in places. We would have stayed put but in my infinite wisdom I had booked us into Eden from today and with a hefty deposit paid there was no way we weren’t going to pitch up.

Inside was only a little better.  I had woken up to find the bottom corner of the bed wet and cold, was it the dog? had one of us not made it to the loo in the night?  Then we noticed that the skylight had been open during the night and the rain had been coming in.  The carpet in the lounge and bedroom was wet.  We know that in heavy rain we get some water ingress somewhere around the slide-outs, but we’ve never worked out how this comes UP into the carpet.  The rug was soaking where the skylight had been open in the lounge – I even had to move the power supply for the laptop because it was sitting in a puddle.  Needless to say the dog wasn’t going anywhere – it’s amazing that she can get me up in the night to go out, but if it’s raining chicken licken might not go out until midday. 

The dogs buggy was sodden inside and out and the bikes had to be loaded.  Everything had to come inside and was immediately dumped in the shower where it could drip dry(er). It takes a good half an hour to load the bikes and we would normally load them the night before leaving but as the pitch was small we could not put the bike rack back on until we moved the van.  So this had to be done in the driving rain.

It could have been worse, we could have been in a tent and at least it wasn’t cold.

Once we were nearly ready, we waded over to say goodbye to June and Brian and found that their awning mat was literally floating.  They were staying firmly indoors – very sensible.

We had two choices to get to Peniscola, the short way along the seafront road or the long way on the N322.  Having come the short way, I chose to go that way back.  Then Iain reminded me about the road that was liable to flood, but we had to go that way anyway.  We approached it slowly, at least we had been that way before and knew there weren’t any great holes in it, and also we are quite high off the road so I thought it would be ok.  We got through safely.  When we came out of the other side of Benicarlo we saw the supermarkets that I said in my previous post didn’t exist.  The satnag said to turn right – only we couldn’t turn right because the road was closed – because it was flooded.  We pulled over and re-assessed the situation.  There really was no choice, we had to go straight on, down the narrow service road with bollards each side. There were no signs of nothing over 3.5 tonnes over the bridge, nor were there any other signs to stop us, so we proceeded with caution (don’t the police say that?).  The road was indeed very narrow, we had to watch both sides, a cobbled street with bollards.  I had about 6 inches clearance each side so there was no room for error.  Slow and steady keeps us sane, sorry to all those behind us.


I forgot to mention that the other day I asked Iain if he felt more confident with my driving these days and the conversation went like this:-

Me: “Do you feel more confident with my driving these days?”

Iain: “If you mean, do I think that one day my life with end with a heart attack while sat in the passenger seat, then that is what I think”.

Me: “Mmm – I think the same sometimes and I’m driving”.

About 10 minutes later we arrived at Eden – for the second time.  This time we knew we wouldn’t be turned away as we had booked.  I had such high expectations of this campsite. Wow, people had told us that they crammed them in down there and they weren’t wrong.  The first pitch they offered us was a lovely big pitch, only we couldn’t get onto it lengthways and there was a bloody tree in the middle of it, so we couldn’t have got on widthways either.  Ok so we had a second choice (I think these were the only two pitches available) and we chose the long, narrow pitch.  Narrow isn’t the word, we can’t even get our awning out all the way and we have to move the table and chairs every time we want to get to the back of the van. There’s hardly any sun on our pitch, we get 45 minutes a day, which you really need early in the morning this time of year before the warmth has arrived.  We went for a walk along the seafront and I had a real grump on.  I said to Iain, it isn’t the rain, it isn’t the small pitch, it’s isn’t that I can’t find the gym or that the swimming pool is closed, it is just that this doesn’t live up to expectations and I wish we hadn’t booked in for two weeks and if this was my only two weeks holiday I would have wanted to go home.

But the next day the sun shone, so all was well again.

It is a lovely site though, and close to the beach and shops.  The swimming pool is massive and very deep. Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worse and is much cooler than we expected for this time of year.  A lady told me she had been here this time last year and it was still in the 30’s C.  However there seems to be a lot of rain all over Spain at the moment which is keeping the temperature down to around 25C.  This is not really hot enough for me to need the pool so we could have gone straight to Albir.  The gym I insisted on is small and how is boot camp going – not very well I’m afraid.  Full of good intentions but nothing getting me there yet.  But we have had a good walk or cycle ride every day and I have been in the pool a couple of times so at least we’re doing something.  The people seem to be quite “cliquey” and even the English don’t seem to want to know, the most personal thing about the site is the toilet blocks which  have opaque glass doors and panels so you can see the outline of anyone in close proximity. Ridiculous design. Nothing like as friendly as Alegria in Benicarlo.

We chose Peniscola because it had a castle and an old town which is always something worth having a walk around and we were not disappointed.  There are miles of sandy beaches here and between the main beach and the small beach there is a rock and the castle and old town are on top of the rock.  They seem to have loved building on big rocks overlooking the sea in Spain and we have come across a lot of these such as Benidorm, Tarragona.  I always think that I wouldn’t want to live on the side of a rock but the buildings have been there for hundreds of years, so it must be ok. The castle gardens looked very inviting, but unfortunately they weren’t inviting us in unless we parted with some cash, so we just perused them from outside.



View of Peniscola from the castle gardens along the coast as far as you can see

Papa Luna – doesn’t look very happy
The Spanish like building on top of rocks


Typical narrow streets full of tourist tat shops

Back to the campsite, now I said that the pitch was narrow and I wasn’t exaggerating.  To save tying Connie up, all we had to do was to string some green netting from the wheel to the tree.  All she needs is a visible boundary (we’ve done it with just a row of stones before) and people think it’s hilarious that she stands the other side spinning wildly whenever any dog passes, but she knows not to cross the boundary.  We have always been careful not to let the dog get too hot and she does seem to have acclimatised to the warmer weather as the other morning she was shivering so much that her teeth were chattering and it was only about 20C so not that cold.

We should have called her Jenny because of all the spinning that she does
She’s spun so much that she’s now banana shaped and can’t go the other way round
Of course an alternative name would be Taz – after the Tazmanian Devil – she certainly was a devil dog when we got her. Just look at those eyes - actually it’s the cataracts reflecting the flash, I don’t think she sees too well these days. Sporting her new fluorescent orange collar that I made her while we were here.


At the back of the campsite there is some marsh land, this area actually has a lot of natural water and this is a bit of a nature reserve.  But it makes great dog walking and you can walk right into town and then make a circular walk coming back along the seafront.


There is a very nice park area in town with lots of water and ducks and fish and stuff.  Other than that and the old town, it’s basically a concrete tourist destination.  Loads of bars, restaurants, hotels and tat shops.  The beach is fantastic though and if you like the touristy sort of holiday it would make a great place.  We ventured out the other evening and I tasted cuttlefish for the first time.  It was lovely, I’m a bit of a fish fan and love calamari and this was very similar (go on some smart arse, enlighten me and say it’s the same thing – it may be).  We went back to the same restaurant last night and had paella and I have to admit it was the best paella that we have ever had. I would certainly recommend Mr. Rabbit’s (strange name for a restaurant) for their food.

The weather is not very good for Spain in September, a bit of rain but the temperature is ok, staying around 25C.  If only the sun would come out it would be lovely.  We’ve been watching the weather forecast all over Spain and it seems to be the same, so we’ve decided to cut short our stay in Peniscola and will be moving on on Thursday 2nd October to Albir where we will stay for the winter. Jo and James are also heading for Albir from the other direction and Jo emailed me to say they are also fed up of the rain, I wonder who will get there first.

Unfortunately the boot camp hasn’t got off the ground (another reason to move on) but I’ve been keeping myself busy with some crafty things with recycled plastic bottles and tins and I’ll post some of my creations next time when I have decorated our winter pitch. I think Iain is getting embarrassed with my “bin diving” for unusual plastic bottles and I’m sure that French man down the road is beating me to all the good ones. It’s getting quite competitive. Meanwhile Iain keeps asking me if he’s drinking fast enough to keep me supplied with cans!!!!!

Will we come back to Eden and Peniscola – probably not – it’s nice, but hardly paradise.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cast out of Eden

In my last post I said we were off to Peniscola to Eden for my bootcamp, where I would transform myself into a sylph-like fitness goddess – perhaps that’s a bit much to ask in two weeks. This was one of the rare occasions that I got to choose the campsite and I chose it for it’s luxury. No shopping to get as we would be close to the town and hooray, no LPG to get either.  This would be a doddle of a drive.

Well we trotted off on the short drive, only 80 miles, that day and arrived at Peniscola around lunch time to find that they were FULL, COMPLET, no space at the inn. We couldn’t believe it, that had never happened to us before out of season.  What next then? Well the girl on reception told us to come back tomorrow at 8am as they might have some leavers, but that there would probably be other people doing the same.  It was nearly 30 C so I really didn’t fancy wild camping.  Now I don’t mind when you can sit inside, but it was far too hot for that.  This meant that if we found another campsite for the night we would have to get up early and be away by 7.30am – another not very appealing idea.  This scenario could also go on for days as there was no promise of vacancies.

We sat in their arrivals area and perused the ACSI book to find an alternative, but I really had set my heart on Eden.  There were a few campsites in Benicassim, about 30 miles south that were interesting and a couple around the Beniscola area, only 5 miles away.  I soon realised that if we went further south now to Benicassim there would be no way that we would come back again so we decided Beniscola was the better option.

However before leaving, I had another thought.  Why not actually book to get into Eden the following week.  So I went back into reception and made a booking for the first day she could guarantee availability which was for the following Monday – 5 nights to fill then – whoah, 5 nights reprieve until boot camp begins.

So off we went to find another campsite.  I said I didn’t care where it was as long as it had a pool as the weather was still hot.  Just a short 5 mile or so drive to Benicarlo and we arrived at Camping Alegria.  There were some very narrow lanes leading up to it, one the book said was prone to flooding  and I was very glad that we didn’t meet anything else coming the other way. We pulled in, hopefully, and were greeted by a lovely English girl at reception.  “Of course we’ll manage to fit you in somewhere” she said, it was such a relief, I do hate going from campsite to campsite hoping that we might get in, to be turned away like disappointed idiots with our tail between our legs for not booking ahead. As we were parked up at reception waiting for the paperwork, a couple came up to us and said hello.  Then we realised that it was June and Brian, who had been our neighbours in Lloret de Mar.  Now this was a real coincidence as we had no plans to stay at this campsite, and neither had they. 

I have to say, this campsite is a bit of a jewel, very friendly, small family run campsite.  I think the family consists of a couple, their 4 daughters and respective husbands and possibly some other family members thrown in as well.  There is a bar and a reasonable restaurant, a necessary swimming pool and the beach (although shingle) only 50 metres away. It’s actually very nice here. There’s also a small shop to get essential supplies, such as beer!!!!!  And it’s got very good internet (2 Euros a day) and you can even connect to their satellite to get English TV for 2 Euros a day.  We didn’t bother with the TV though.

The first morning we cycled into town (only about 15 minutes by bike) which whilst fairly small and uncommercialised, rather than being a pretty town is pretty uninteresting.  There is a small harbour which seems to be a working harbour and a maze of small streets.  We haven’t yet managed to find a decent sized supermarket but that’s not too important as we’re back into Spanish eating out prices so I haven’t actually cooked since we have been here. People who long-term on this site have told me that with the town, what you see is what you get and it stays like that all year round. I was disappointed though to see how many shops and restaurants were closed.  Was it because we were now officially out of season, or was it because they had closed down through lack of trade?  I don’t know, but it did give the town a sad appearance.

I was desperate for a hair-cut so whilst in town found a hair dresser and made an appointment for manana. The girl didn’t speak any English so I thought this might be a bit of a challenge, but hey, it’ll grow again. The next day I actually cycled into town on my own to get my hair cut.  Iain and I do get on well,  but it was lovely to have a bit of time to myself and it meant that I didn’t have to trail the buggy around.  I had forgotten how much easier it was to cycle without dragging 30kg behind me, plus any shopping.  At last I could actually free-wheel along the flat, instead of peddling all the time.  I even managed to get back to the campsite almost all the way in top gears, normally I’m struggling with anything more than the slightest incline in the lowest gears.  I was early so I had a little cycle around the town but there really wasn’t much to see. When I got into the hair dressers I had a quick look through the books to find the sort of style I wanted, I thought a picture would be the easiest thing to do.  Of course now I keep my hair short, there’s hardly scope for a full make-over, but I have to admit that I had taken the scissors to my barnet a couple of weeks ago and whilst I’m actually pretty good at stopping myself looking like a shaggy dog, I can’t do the back, so I didn’t want just an all-over trim.  Now I’ve always been proud of having very thick hair and I hate two things when I have my hair cut NO THINNING SCISSORS AND NO RAZOR CUTTING.  What did I get – BOTH.  I just sat back and let her do her worst, after all we couldn’t understand a word each other said.  It looks ok and as I said – it will grow again.  It’s no good being precious about your hair cut when you can’t go to a regular hair dressers. Iain wasn’t expecting me back until 1pm as I thought I’d have a mooch around the shops, but I was back by 11.45 – so that just shows how uninteresting the place is.  Mind you Iain had already done a load of housework and was now relaxing with a well-earned (he says) – EARLY  beer – CAUGHT YOU!!!

Last night I took the dog out for a late night wee walk and between here and the beach is some scrub land.  It was lovely to hear the noise of the crickets in the scrub, it really reminded me of my family holidays in Spain as a child where there was very little of the built-up areas that tourists now commonly visit and at night you could just hear the chirping of the crickets . 

This morning, Iain went off on his own to get some cash.  When he left, June was talking to me and she was still there when he got back, she can really talk, that woman and you can’t get a word in edgeways so it’s a one-way conversation.  Iain reported on his return that he had seen a coffee and brandy at 10.30am.  That’s earlier than in Albir, but I suppose it was Sunday and they were probably on their way to church. Sunday afternoon was F1 at Singapore so while Iain watched from the bar, I took Connie for a walk around the lanes.  It was ok, very quiet, but as I walked past one house, I suddenly saw the guard dogs, they had smelled Connie and were barking furiously and rushing towards us.  Now I like dogs and have very little fear, but I was terrified.  You always worry that this will be the first time they will jump the fence, or break it down. I’m sure they would have ripped her apart and probably me with her.  Connie was dragging me away and I have to admit, I did run.  The worst thing was that they had put all guard dogs in the area on full alert. No sooner had we left their enclave another one was barking and jumping up the fence at us. Then as we turned the corner back to the campsite, another deep woof and the whole fence started shaking.  I was so glad to get back to the safety of the campsite and never went down that way again.

As I said, this campsite is a jewel and as I’ve no pictures, here’s a link to their website .  It is a very friendly place.  We had a few drinks with June and Brian and another evening with another couple who live in Spain called John and Sandra.  As fellow motorhomers we swapped a few stories and I have to admit that we all seem to terrify ourselves when on the road, but the lifestyle does make up for it.  Brian shared a story about having gone down a sandy road and had to turn around at the bottom, only to find that his front-wheel drive van would not grip on the sand on the way up and they were just sliding into the wall of a house.  They had to be pulled out by a very kind Spanish man with a digger who just happened to be working further down the road.  June was crying, but it seems that she does that a lot.  John and Sandra shared a story about their awning.  While they were on a site they had a problem rolling away their awning and so asked the campsite owner if they knew of anyone who could sort it out for them.  The campsite said they knew a man who specialised in Fiamma awnings (his make) and gave him a call. The man came out and examined the awning, he struggled for a while and then took out a stanley knife and cut the whole canopy off. John said he was absolutely stunned.  There they were with no canopy at all, he could have done that himself.  The man then left, left them to dismantle all the poles etc in a state of shock.  He even had the cheek to charge them 35 Euros for his expertise. These things cost hundreds of pounds and he simply cut it off.

We are off in the morning and I’m up early again – but this time I was dreaming some strange dream of some electrical works going on in my bedroom while I was asleep.  The workmen kept saying that they couldn’t believe that I could sleep through all that noise.  Then I woke up and discovered that actually I couldn’t sleep through all that noise.  During the night a thunderstorm had started and the wind had picked up.  We have never left our awning out all night before coming here – I am paranoid that this very expensive appendage to our van will be ripped to shreds during the night and we will end up with holes ripped out of the side of our van. The weather had been very still every night before and the main reason we had left the awning out was because of low branches of trees on our pitch.  It was obvious that when our awning would be retracted we would be wrapping a couple of branches up with us. So here we were, 4.30 am and our awning banging and crashing.  Iain says I make such a fuss, it’s designed to bang.  But if I can’t sleep through it then neither will our neighbours.  So I got him up to help me put it away.  I think I was right as the Frenchman opposite was also out, probably sent out by his wife to investigate the noise.  So awning away, towels in and the buggy dismantled and folded and put under the van, I have settled down with a cup of tea, initially sitting outside watching the electric storm and since it started raining, sitting inside, updating my blog.

I’ve been very lazy with my camera this week, mainly because I’ve been uninspired, so here’s what we woke up to on the day we were leaving.




Chicken Licken says she’s not going out there –
the sky’s falling down

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Tarragona–14th September

Having only done about 100 miles and not needing gas or shopping – yippeeeeeee, we arrived in Tarragona at the Las Palermas Campsite by lunchtime.  We had chosen Tarragona as a stop over because the Rough Guide said it was a place worth visiting and this campsite was the nearest ACSI site to the town. The ACSI book said that it was suitable for larger motorhomes even though it also said there was a low bridge at the entrance so we thought we’d give it a go. When we got there we found it was a 3.5m clearance. No problems, we’ve been under one of those before – just. You do always wonder if the measurement is correct though but I don’t suppose they want to be sued if it’s wrong, so you just have to trust the sign.  It must have been quite a sight seeing us emerge from underneath the railway line.

As for the campsite, it’s supposed to be 4**** but that leaves a bit to be desired.  Compared to our last site, it is run down, not enough toilet and shower blocks and you need a bike just to go to the loo.  You also have to like trains as the line runs right along the back of the site. It’s so noisy that you have to stop talking when the trains go by.


The train is the white thing with the red stripe – just behind the caravan

The one thing is does have though is it’s own beach, which is lovely soft sand.  I do love to see the sea and the beach and I like to walk along it but we’re really not the sort of people who want to sit on it.  However if that’s your thing then this is a fantastic place. I did take a dip yesterday but I’m a bit squeamish about the things that might be in the water, so I don’t tend to swim in the sea.

Looking to the left
Looking to the right
Tarragona from the campsite
Campsite, which actually looks really pretty at night, all lit up

The Wifi is again ridiculously expensive at 5 Euros a day, but at least the man was honest and said it was slow and then gave me 30 minutes free to try it out.  So that’s what I’m going to use to do my posting tomorrow morning. We’re not on a tight budget but I do balk at paying that much.

Last night we had the most spectacular electric storm.  It just went on and on.  Iain had already gone to bed and slept through the lot.  Then the rain started (it seems to have followed us since we left England over a month ago).  I sat on the step of the motorhome just watching it, it was fascinating.

This morning was clear and hot and sunny so we took a cycle ride into Tarragona, about 4 miles away.  We knew that the town was over 500ft above sea level so we were ready for some hills.  The only way into town was along a fairly busy main road with a 70kph speed limit, but at least they do have a wide “hard shoulder” that you can use.  I did manage to get up most of the hills towards town. I kept going until my legs turned to jelly.  We tied up our bikes and buggy and walked the rest of the way. I must stop worrying about things like, I wonder if the bikes will get stolen. I just have to accept that they either will be there when we get back, or they won’t.  That’s another reason why we don’t have expensive bikes, at least ours are old and tatty and no one is likely to want them.

The town is well worth a visit. It’s an old Roman walled city but surprisingly enough very small.  Historically it is very important as it contains some of the best Roman remains in Spain.  Outside the city wall, down by the beach is an amphitheatre, although we saw it from a distance we didn’t go down to see it close at hand as we were well aware that we had a lot of walking and cycling to do.

Amphitheatre – from the road
a-roman tower
Roman Tower
a-roman arches
Roman Arches
Of course there’s the Cathedral
Narrow shady streets
And no sightseeing trip would be complete without a picture of ---- the pink bag

Everything within the city is very close together and we had a really enjoyable visit.  It is such a shame that our visit was spoiled by having the worst lunch we have ever encountered.  It was just a tapas but the chicken wasn’t cooked.  I sent it back and they re-delivered – a bit more cooked, but not enough.  The dog ate most of it, I wish she hadn’t now and I wish I hadn’t eaten any either – now I’m not a fussy eater but we were appalled.  I’m afraid that whenever I think of Tarragona I will always remember that lunch.

Tarragona has wifi hotspots so with the campsite wifi being expensive, we took the tablet into town with the intention of getting our emails.  Unfortunately for some reason I was unable to get past the point of accepting the security certificate so we failed miserably.  Also I managed to delete all my trusted sites so I don’t know what might happen next.  Give me a laptop any day, at least you have a chance of finding out what has gone wrong.  These tablets seem to do everything themselves and you don’t stand a chance.  Oh well, I’ll just have to wait until I get good internet and I’ll have a look at it.

We had the long cycle back and I only had to stop 3 times, but as the dog had had a good walk, she wasn’t inclined to get out of the buggy and walk herself.  Such a princess in her carriage. She and I both had a snooze in the afternoon.

Tuesday 16th.

Last night we ate in the restaurant which was ok and reasonably priced.  The service was very good.  I decided to put a dress on as the evening was warm and then we wanted to cycle to the restaurant (I said it was a long way to anywhere on this site).  So there I was with my dress tucked in my knickers, cycling up to the restaurant.  I must admit I was a bit wobbly on the way back after a Soberano.

Today they have forecast rain and although the clouds came over a little while ago, they have dispersed and so far there is no sign of it.  However the dog isn’t well today, she was ill in the night and has been sleeping all morning without any breakfast.  I think it might be the awful chicken from yesterday.  I haven’t eaten either and feel a bit dodgy – so fingers crossed.

I don’t suppose there will be anything interesting to post about Tarragona now, so I’ll get Iain some lunch and use my free half hour of wifi to post my blog and get my emails.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are off to Peniscola, a short 80 mile drive and to boot camp where the diet starts.  I have high expectations of the campsite there and I’ve actually got my way for once on the choice of campsite, which is called Eden.  We’re planning to stay there for at least 2 weeks and then our next stop will be winter in Albir. I wonder who will get there first, us or Jo and James.

I’ll be back when I have something interesting to share.

PS something I’ve been forgetting to share about travelling in Germany.  There seems to be some incentive to recycle plastic bottles and all the supermarkets we visited have recycling machines.  If you take your bottles back (do not crush them) you get 25 Euro Cents for each one – regardless of size.  You get a credit slip to spend in the supermarket, or you can donate it to charity. Therefore if you buy 6 bottles of beer for 1.69 Euros you get 1.50 Euros back on the recycling. Therefore it costs 0.19 Euros for 3 litres of beer.  I also remember reading on someone’s blog that if you buy water at 0.19 Euros you get 0.25 Euros back on the recycling – so they are actually paying you to buy bottled water.  It must be a government incentive.  Honestly this is real, not a wind up.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lloret de Mar part 2

Well I said I’d finish my post on Lloret de Mar but there really isn’t much to say.  I may be doing it an injustice but it really wasn’t anything to write home about.  Just a load of apartments with some hotels and some unfinished, abandoned ones.  We did find a small bar down the road with free wifi which we frequented every evening to pick up mail.  On the second day we were obviously considered regulars as we were upgraded to some crisps with our drinks, by the third night it was free tapas.

The campsite however more than made up for the grotty town.  It was lovely.  Great services, a bar and restaurant with good service and although I don’t often eat pizza, I had the best pizza ever there.  It was not over-priced and the service was very good.  We avoided the discos and the karaoke but we did go down on the Saturday night when there was a magician act which was very good, except that stupidly I’d forgotten to take my glasses so I didn’t get to see much detail. 


I do try to add some pictures to make my blog a bit more interesting so here’s a very rare picture of us both, having dinner at the campsite restaurant

There was a lovely swimming pool with a jacuzzi and childrens pool and slide.  In the afternoon there was aquarobics and although I didn’t take part, I did go down for a swim while it was going on and I was amazed that the aerobic instructors were 6 smurfs.  All painted up in bright blue, wearing white smurf hats.  I went down the following afternoon to get some photos, only to find that they had changed the act.  Most disappointed.

The supermarket was a short walk away and we went down one day to be accosted by a German girl and her boyfriend who were begging for money to buy food.  They told us that they had gone to Lloret for work as they had done the previous year but the season had been slow and the boss laid them off at the end of August.  Now I don’t like to type-cast people but I would not have thought it was a German characteristic to choose to beg (sorry Olly and Danina) and I said that I wouldn’t give them any money but I would buy them some food.  She did seem genuine and was very polite and had a lovely smile. They must have needed it because they hung around for over an hour for us to come back from our shopping just on a promise that we would come back.  I gave them a bag of bread, cheese, ham, tomatoes, apples, milk and a beer each and she had such a beaming smile and thanked us profusely.  I hope they were genuine, but if they were not then that’s on their conscience, not mine.  We saw them again as we were leaving in the van and they gave us a big wave and another lovely smile. 

A token picture of a cove-beach not far from the campsite


On the Sunday morning it was time to leave and just for once we didn’t need to get any shopping or any LPG – hoorrayyyy.  At least we wouldn’t be going on any wild-goose chase this time.

When we left, we thought we’d drive along the coast road to a bit north of Barcelona and then head inland to pick up the Barcelona ring road.  However the drive was so boring and uninteresting that we picked up the motorway almost immediately.  We won’t be returning in any hurry to Lloret de Mar and it’s surrounding areas. Sorry if there is anyone out there who loves the place we must have missed that bit.

Driving the Barcelona ring road was quite interesting.  We got a glimpse of the huge cruise ships in port, you know the ones that look top-heavy with about 7 decks – I really don’t think that would be my idea of a holiday in the med.  We also got to see a very unusual cemetery.  It was built into the hills and all the graves seemed to be stacked one on top of the other.  It was weird and I suppose a bit macabre, but worth a mention, I would have got Iain to take a shot but we were past it in no time.

We had planned our route and were happy with the sat nag’s choice but we saw a big blue motorway sign with Tarragona on it and that was good enough for us.  However this did take us quite a long way out of our way.

Never mind, approximately 100 miles after leaving Lloret de Mar, we arrived in Tarragona.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Lloret de Mar – Back in Spain - 8th September 2014

We arrived at the campsite Tucan and booked in for 3 nights.  The weather is hot hot hot and we’ve got a swimming pool – yippeeeeeeeeee!   It’s quite quiet here now as we are at the tail end of the season, but the activities are still being held, although we have not partaken in any yet.
The wifi is really a rip off – 1 Euro for 1 hour, 5 Euros a day, or 15 for the week.  I did get 1 Euro the other day to check our emails but since then we have found a bar a short distance away and we go there every evening on our way back from walking the dog, of course, only to pick up emails on our my tablet.  Obviously I don’t “lug” my laptop down there so I have not been posting my blog.  I might treat myself to another Euro before we move off.  Of course we’ve moved countries again so Gmail has blocked my emails again, I know that they mean well, but I’ve had to unblock it 5 times in the last month.  it’s such a pain when you only have 1 hour in the internet and have a lot to do.

Lloret de Mar seems to be split into two areas situated around  two main beaches with a very hilly bit in between. This campsite must be in the “cheap seats” as what we have seen so far is really not very attractive.  We had thought that it would be the “Benidorm of the Costa Brava” but it just doesn’t have the atmosphere. At least however it doesn’t have the high-rise blocks either. Based on what we have seen, we can’t even get enthused enough to go the 5km to the other part. I really don’t think I’ll have many pictures of this place, it’s just so uninteresting.
We’ve now decided to stay a week as it’s still quite hot further south.  So it’s a chance to top up the tan, catch up on my blog, catch up with emails and to do some “me” stuff.  By which I mean some crafting.  Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.  It does make Iain smile as this sort of thing just leaves him cold. This is a pair of beige nubuck fit-flops that I bought off e-bay a couple of years ago for £7.50 (fit-flops are actually over £50 new and are the most comfortable flip flops you can buy).  I gave them a good scrub and decorated them with some stick-on crystals.  However the hot weather last year made the tacky glue melt and quite a few fell off.  So I removed the remaining ones (and here’s one for Debbie in Ireland), coated them with pva glue, sprinkled them liberally in glitter, and then when dry, gave them a coating of watered down pva glue to seal the glitter.  I think Iain was hoping against hope that we wouldn’t have glitter all over the van.  And voila (I don’t know the equivalent in Spanish), here they are. I’m actually pretty pleased with myself and the result.  PVA glue rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m even thinking of doing my toe-nails to match for special occasions – ha ha.

No my feet aren’t dirty – that’s a tan line from my walking sandals
We’re moving on tomorrow (Sunday 14th) to Tarragona so I’ll finish my post on Lloret de Mar then.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sur le Pont d’Avignon–8th September 2014

I hope that you enjoy reading my blog, I do tend to ramble on about thoughts and stuff as well as our travels, but I must admit that the thing I miss most about being on the road is people to talk to.  We do get on very well, which is  a must when you spend so much time just the two of you, but I do enjoy a good natter and when it’s just us it’s not the same.  I suppose that’s why I like being in one place for a while and meeting up with people.   My blog is my way of chatting, it’s also my diary (I don’t share everything though) and perhaps one day I’ll look back and read it all again.
We’re moving on today, heading south to Spain.  We’ll be arriving in Spain about a month before we had originally planned, but there are several reasons for that.  We had expected the weather in northern Europe in August to be much nicer than it was, August was a wash-out and looking at the weather forecasts there seemed to be no happy medium and we are fed up of feeling wet and cold.  It was either cool and rainy or further south very hot and sunny.  So we have settled for the very hot and sunny.  Also before we get back to Albir sometime in October I really need to get into some sort of fitness and diet regime.  I’m hoping that if I can get into the habit then I’ll keep it going when we get to our winter site, instead of getting full into the social scene and just slobbing around. 
I had a bit of a blood pressure scare before we left England and we spent the last few days running back and forward to the doctors.  It did get back to a reasonable level and I think the problem was mainly caused by the lies I was telling the doctor as to why I needed 6 months supply of HRT (actually I needed more but I wasn’t going to push my luck).  I had run out some 3 months before and had hoped that I could stop taking it, but it was fast becoming apparent that I should not stop!!!! So there I was thinking that if the doctor said no, it would be a whole year before I could get any more and neither of us wanted to face that. Not much wonder that pushed up my blood pressure. So losing weight and getting fitter should help.
I had intended to do that last winter, but we were late arriving in Spain,  not getting there until the new year, it was all new and unusual and still felt like a holiday. The first 2 months were messed up with trips back to England and then we both had flu.  Added to that I started smoking again.  It was all just too easy, sitting outside instead of inside bars with everyone smoking, the temptation was just too great.  I had been struggling to resist for a while and Iain had been particularly obnoxious one night and had gone to bed – well I wasn’t going to say anything to him, we had just come back from his daughter’s funeral and I was feeling pretty low too.  It was just too easy to roll a cigarette (not very successfully)  and smoke it.  And for anyone who has given up smoking that once was all it needed.  I know that I can do it again, I’ve done it loads of times before, however I do think that I’ll never be a non-smoker, just a smoker who doesn’t for long periods of time.  In my early 30’s I gave up for 6 years and then started again for 10.  Then I gave up for 5 years and started again for 1, then the last time I managed 14 months and I’ve been smoking for the last 7 so I really do need to make the effort.  I don’t even like it very much, the thought of a cigarette is much nicer than the smoking of it.  So now I’ve admitted it on my blog then perhaps that will give me the drive I need to try again.  So the fitness regime has to begin, and begin it will next week soon.
So we’ve got a stop over for a few days in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Blanca and then we’re moving onto Peniscola where I’ve chosen a luxury site for my “holiday”. Or is that a boot camp? I said to Iain it has a swimming pool and gym, it’s only a mile from town and the town has a castle for him to enjoy so that’s ok. Now we’re in the heat, a swimming pool is a must and we don’t want to get to Albir too early because the campsite doesn’t have a pool. It’s a fairly basic site but the main attraction is the location, location, location.
Before I move on to tell you about Avignon, which is worth a visit I must say, my darling husband had been perplexed about why he sounds such an ogre in my blog posts. I am a bit unfair on him I suppose.  He is actually the most intelligent, caring, thoughtful and considerate person I know, then of course he is organised, decisive, tidy and oh I forgot – always right.  The problem is that he expects everyone to be the same, except they always have to be wrong.  He must be almost perfect, we’ve been married 10 years this December and neither of my other two husbands got to two years before I’d had enough. I do have to aquiesce a lot so that I don’t wreak the wrath of Iain so I  vent my angst in my blog. 


The campsite we stayed on was on an island in the Rhone and very close to town.  The campsite was very very basic and could do with a massive make-over.  The shower blocks were very tired and dated, but they were clean.  The pitches were a good size but we only just manage to get on in length and had a bit of an overhang.  We were certainly concerned when a coach reversed up the roadway and thought we might lose some of our lovely chrome on the front of our van.  The worst thing about the campsite was the dust.  There was not even an attempt at any flooring to the pitches and the dust got everywhere. 

Lovely old gnarled trees all over the campsite
We only just fitted on

I would stay there again and there’s nothing wrong with the site but for me it’s just a passing through place and I’m glad we didn’t stay there more than 3 nights. As I say it’s location, location, location.
The view of the city from just outside the campsite was pretty amazing.  The city is a World Heritage Site so you would expect it to be good.  Just a short walk across the bridge and you are there in about 10 minutes. We had a walk around, up to the Pope’s Palace and the cathedral, through what must have been the original town square with impressive buildings such as the theatre and then took a walk down to the infamous bridge.

Just a short 10 minute walk into town

The Cathedral which can be seen from afar

19th Century addition of the Madonna on the top of the Cathedral – Iain said “Somewhat gaudy, a show of ostentation and wealth” – but it was still pretty impressive
The gold was stunning, but I rather liked the view with the sun directly behind her

b-pope palace
The Pope’s palace, from the days when there were 2 Popes, one in the Vatican and one in Avignon

You have to look up the alleyways to see some of the splendour at the back of the buildings

The Theatre in the town square

Did we go “sur le pont”? No we didn’t.  We did want to see the dog go “tout arond” as she is inclined to do but 1.  No dogs allowed and 2. it was 5 Euros each.  Iain said there was no way he was going to pay 5 Euros to walk on an old bridge that doesn’t even go all the way across.  So we had to settle for some pictures from below instead.  Of course there was one of those photo moments, there is a fantastic view of the bridge from the other side which would have made a lovely photo but 1. I forgot my camera, 2. I would go back when the light was right and 3.  I forgot, so these were the only ones we got.
Must remember not to go that way when we leave.  It’s only a 3m clearance

Sur le Pont d’Avignon
Avignon was well worth the visit, but not quite “up there” for me compared to Toledo

Unusual outfits

Before I leave Avignon, there were a couple of outfits worth a photo.  If you want to see more from our travels click the tab above “Unusual outfits”.
This one was more “old” than unusual – it had wood panelling inside – I don’t think it goes very far though.
Now this was really cool, the complete tent enclosed in a top box, it just seems to pop out.  Still only a tent though

The LPG saga continues

When we arrived in Avignon we were desperate for LPG, the red reserve light had gone out and all the green lights were now flashing, so yet again we needed to get LPG as our first priority.  We had two choices fairly nearby in Avignon, but both took us out of our way in opposite directions.  We settled on Carrefour as we also needed to get “stocking up” shopping and it was only about 3 miles away and didn’t take us through Avignon.  So off we go, down some narrow lanes and following the signs we found that Carrefour was on the top of a hill.  But never mind we got there ok having actually run out of LPG on the way, only to find a notice on the LPG pump that they no longer do LPG and will not do so in the future.  Mmmmm my stress levels were starting to rise, I was fed up of this stupid van that’s too big for small lanes and runs on LPG, why couldn’t we have got a smaller, diesel one?  Our van is definitely one for living in not for touring in.  We needed shopping so we moved out of the gas station towards the supermarket.  I asked Iain if this was the right way to go as I, as usual, was concentrating on the narrow, bumpy, roadway I was on and not the way that I need to go.  As you can imagine, the clever response of “I don’t know darling, I’ve never been here before.” did not go down well.  “I’ve never bloody well been here before either and that wasn’t being very helpful” was my response.    I was not a happy bunny, I was cross at this clever-dick statement.  I do love living in the van but I just hate the travelling bit.  Even as a kid I used to hate “going out for the day” as it meant an hour or more drive to somewhere, 20 minutes running around and then the drive back.  I used to think that I could have gone to my local park or beach and had all afternoon running around.  Flying, I’ve been as far as the States, South Africa and China and to me the travelling is always just a means of getting somewhere and something to be endured.  Of course this lifestyle has a lot of “endurance” for me, which is why I like staying put so much. But at least it gives me something to write about.
So having re-vittled we then headed off to the motorway to see if we could get fuel.  There it was, only about 10 miles from Carrefour and on the motorway – an Esso garage, with LPG and NO height barrier.  I finally cheered up and we laughed at our good providence, until, of course we could not connect.  For those of you who don’t know about LPG, you have to get an air-tight connection to be able to get gas.  Any gap and the gas just wooshes out and more is wasted than goes into the tank.  That of course, apart from a waste of money, LPG being a combustible gas is not very safe.  Anyway I went in to seek assistance.  This time with a little better French – “Bonjour madam, aides moi pour l’Autogas s’il vous plait?”  When she looked at me blankly I said “Autogas, woosh, woosh, woosh” and she seemed to get the message this time.  A very nice young girl came out to aides moi and she tried both nozzles and neither would connect so there we were off again in search.
The next fuel station was about 15 miles away and we pulled in to find yet another height barrier.  I had posted on motorhome365 about the height barriers and one kind person had replied that their experience was the same and as long as the barrier check system doesn’t look too solid they just drive through, very slowly and all they had ever experienced was the tinkling of the hanging poles on the roof and no damage was ever caused.  So I thought I’d give it a go.  I drove very slowly through the barrier and we didn’t hear anything – great I thought.  Then I discovered that in my eagerness to try out this new found confidence, I’d actually gone through the wrong height barrier and we were now in the service station, not the fuel station.  So I had to go out again and come back in through the RIGHT height barrier.  Again no tinkling so we knew there was no damage.  Lesson learned – the height barrier checkers seem to be higher than stated on the signs.
Ok we were now at the fuel pump and lo and behold we failed yet again to get a tight connection.  This time Iain just told me to reverse up and we filled up with Petrol.  Iain had had enough of this game and we were to run the 200 miles or so into Spain on petrol.  A vast expense I know but we were both pretty fed up with the problem by then and we weren’t about to stop at every fuel station to try again and end up moving on.
The sat nag told me that there was LPG to be found only about 10 miles over the Spanish border although it did mean coming off the motorway.  It’s also 20 euro cents a litre cheaper in Spain so that would save us about £30 on a fill up anyway. Sorry to all you diesel people we know as diesel is actually more expensive in Spain than it is in France right now.
Hooray, finally across the border into Spain we headed off to find the LPG filling station and guess what – yep you guessed it – a height barrier.  This time it looked pretty solid, a thick steel bar hanging horizontally from a gantry.  I think the comment started with a B and ended with an S and had 6 letters in between.  We drove around a bit looking for another way in and Iain said, ok let’s go, but I was being a bit more determined and wasn’t going to give in that easily.  I finally saw a little gap with some bollards that had been lowered and I wriggled (not easy when you are over 8m long) my way through and there I was safely in the fuel station.  I remarked that Iain was a defeatist and he then went into an immediate sulk.  But yes, the Spanish connector fitted perfectly.  Refuelled we were on our way south. 
Just before I go, I thought I’d mention that at the filling station there was a big lorry park.  We supposed that this is because there is a ban on lorry movements in France on a Sunday and as this is the last turn-off of the motorway before the border for those going into France, the lorry drivers park up on a Saturday night and wait until they can move off on a Monday morning.  Well nearby there was a sex shop and wandering around was the most blatant prostitute I have ever seen.  She was literally wandering around in the road plying her trade in shoes that must have had 6 inch high clear plastic platform soles and heels.  Although she was having trouble walking in them she actually looked like she was floating (very disgracefully in both senses) above the road.  Funny, I was looking at her shoes, but there were a lot of other people looking at more than that.
Onward and southwards – next stop Lloret de Mar …………………………………………….

Saturday, 6 September 2014

France–4th September 2014– Life’s so much better in shorts

We have now arrived in Mersault, just south of Dijon for a couple of nights stay. At last we are back in shorts and sandals after what can only be described as a miserable August, weather wise. We only chose this as a stop over on our way south and I must say we are not disappointed. This morning we walked about 10 minutes into town and it is very picturesque. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera and regretted it so much that we are going back into town later this afternoon to take some pictures.The view from the campsite which is slightly raised from the town and terraced is beautiful. We couldn't believe it when we arrived yesterday afternoon and the site was nearly full, with about 6 vans pulling in immediately behind us. This morning it is empty and we are the only van on our terrace. a-empty

Was it something we said?

I've decided to write my notes more regularly as I forget to write down some of the strange and funny things that we come across when I'm on catch-up. 

So a couple of things dog related that I forgot to mention before.When we were in Ermelo and Meerke and Nol were taking us out, Connie came with us, she sat in the back of the hatch-back but wouldn't lie on the floor, she just had to lie on the top of the spare wheel where she often fell off, I do love my dog but she's pretty stupid at times. On the first day I thought she was a really stinky dog and was embarrassed at the smell, she's just a dog, she hadn't been rolling in anything nasty, but wet dogs can be pretty smelly; so when she accompanied us on our second day out she went out smothered in Calvin Klein. It did the trick.

Another dog related item I forgot about when we were in Oberwessel and one evening we went out to a pizzeria for dinner and there was a man there with an enormous dog. Now this dog was the size of a shetland pony. He said it was a turkish sheep dog and was only a puppy – an 80kg puppy. He said it would grow to approximately 120kg and currently he ate 6kg of food a day. This thing stood up to my hips at the shoulder, much larger and heavier than a great dane. He explained that there are two types of sheepdog, one which runs around the flock barking at anything threatening and this type which doesn't bark, but is just a silent killer and when alerted by the barking one, stealthily hunts down the intruder and goes for the kill, whether it be a wolf or a bear. Our dog weighs 10kg so he eats 3/5 th of our princess' weight per day. Now I don't like to be crude but think of all the poo it would create and you would have to pick up, and imagine travelling with that in a motorhome, especially with the old dutch woman who screamed at me “Off the Camping, Off the Camping” when my dog did what dogs do in the road. Yes of course I removed the offending c**p.
Kangal – Turkish sheep minder

Back onto our current travels. We are back on the road again and I'd forgotten just how much fun it can be finding LPG. We were on 4 flashing lights at this time, which means that you have used up all the gas, and the reserve and now it is just gasping for breath so this was to be our first priority of the day. Actually in this case we had no trouble finding it, we just couldn't get to it. We left our campsite in Nancy and the nearest lpg was just over a mile away, so that was our first destination to Le Clerc. 

The satnag directions seemed a bit higgledy piggledy and of course we went the wrong way, but only once that was enough. Then we wanted to turn left but it was nothing over 3.5 tonnes except buses. Iain then suggested that we do a “U” turn on the dual carriageway and as I was already half way across the road and there didn't seem much of an alternative, I thought it might be a good idea. Well it might have been, but it wasn't. I got stuck half-way across the road and had to do a bit of a 3 point turn to get round. Great! traffic coming at me from all directions.Back in the right direction, as soon as we found Le Clerc, we headed towards it. Just as I was about to go into the entrance, Iain shrieked, “STOP” and it was then that I saw the 2.3 m height barrier. Luckily I wasn't past the point of no return so pulled into a car park on the retail park to re-assess. 

This was the wrong Le Clerc, we could see the right one so we then headed towards it only to find when we drove in that there was another height restriction of 3 m this time. Still not enough to get under. A quick drive around the petrol station and we were off again to our next choice.Fantastic, here we were, no height barrier, in a town with lpg available. It's much cheaper in towns than on motorways by about 15 euro cents and with a 200 litre tank completely empty that makes quite a difference on the fill cost. Plus we needed petrol as well. But NO, the connector wouldn't connect and Iain in exasperation said lets go, we'll get some on the motorway. That was the third failed attempt to get lpg, in hindsight we should have sought assistance as you will find out. Now these connectors are different in all countries so you have to carry all the types you will need, it can be a real pain. We have only ever had problems connecting in France, everywhere else seems to be ok.

As we approached the motorway, on the slip road I put my foot down to get onto the motorway before a huge lorry and there was an alarm going off and the momentary splutter and mis-fire as the van goes over to petrol. At least this time it was only a momentary splutter, not like the time when we were going up the 7% incline and hair-pin bend in Zarultz in Spain. So anyway, with a quarter of a tank of petrol we knew we could get about 70 miles – if only we could find a petrol station without a height barrier in time.

Our first services were about 15 miles away and we pulled in only to find a 3.4m height barrier, so I followed the lorry signs. This was my first mistake – the lorry refuelling stations only have diesel – the one thing we didn't need. I reversed about 100m back to the entrance of the petrol station. We know we can get under 3.5 m, we did that in Spain too. So I inched forward to the barrier checkpoint and Iain walked ahead looking at the roof. It wasn't long before he gesticulated wildly that there was no way that we would fit. So I had to reverse back from that entrance and of course by this time I had someone right up my backside.We drove off through the lorry refuelling station and back onto the motorway. 

By now this was getting serious. As long as we've got petrol it doesn't matter if we don't have gas, but we only had a quarter of a tank and these height barriers were fast becoming a problem. This was the fourth aborted attempt to get gas.The satnag said there was another lpg fuel station about 15 and then 45 miles further, but of course we didn't know if we would come upon the same problem so we set off in hope, me driving as economically as possible and keeping an eye on how much petrol we were consuming.

So 11 miles later we pulled into the next service station – oh look there's another height barrier, this time 3.35m, even lower. A four letter expletive was heard to come out of my mouth, preceded by an “oh” . But I was determined. The height of the area of the pumps looked plenty high enough to accommodate us and I had spotted a gap in the wall. Iain said I'd never get through there and I said “Just watch me”. So I inched my way through, having to do a bit of manipulation and reversing back and forth and hey we were through.

Height restriction barriers everywhere
Just watch me!!!!

Guess what – the connector wouldn't connect – again. This time I marched into the service station and I said “Bonjour madame, assistance por l'autogas s'il vous plait”. I must have been desperate as normally even though I know the words, when I open my mouth it still comes out in English. I know this isn’t good French, but it was enough. 

Out trots the swaggering male attendant to show the stupid Englishman how to do it and low and behold, he mimed the instructions and connected the gas and woosh woosh woosh, it was doing the same thing. Houston we had a problem. So he promptly wiped out the inside of our connector and tried again. Eureka no wooshing and we had connected, we would soon be happily on the road again. The attendant then stood there holding the button for Iain, very kind of him as we were refuelling the engine tank and not the habitation tank – which meant he had to stand there for about 20 minutes – poor guy I felt really sorry for him.

So lpg topped up, petrol to half a tank and we left the garage 250 euros lighter. What with shopping, campsite fees and payage to pay and the fuel this was to be an expensive day. I always have fun at the payage, I have to get as close as possible, minding my wing mirror, then have to put the van in park, take off my seatbelt, open the door and then and only then if I'm lucky I can reach the slot to put my ticket in, and then of course the credit card. So I did all this and put in the Caxton card, knowing that it may be rejected (it's not always accepted at toll booths), and the machine spat it out immediately. I then put in our visa credit card and this was also spat out immediately. What next? Suddenly Iain noticed that we had a green light and the barrier was up so I hurredly went through. I just hope that at 40 euros we weren't charged twice.

Anyway as I said earlier we arrived at a very pretty campsite in Mersault. This seems to be a mainly transitional site, probably the time of year but the town is well worth the visit. Having walked into town in the morning, the sun was shining and it was pretty warm, for the first day in ages, so we just sat around all afternoon chatting and enjoying the warmth. We laughed when we realised that we had managed to while away half an hour on the topic of “What is the best time of the day to have a shower?” But it is important. Shower blocks can be a bit chilly in the mornings. By the afternoon you are getting pretty hot so it's a case of timing it correctly, not too early or you will be all sweaty again soon after, but don't leave it too late or it is getting cool again in the shower block. Oh joy of joys, is that all we have to worry about these days? Sometimes we really struggle to know what day of the week it is and I have to check on the computer calendar.

So showers had we walked into town again, just to get some photos which I'll share with you here. It was a shame that the sun was by now in the wrong place as it rather ruined some of the lovely photos I would have got in the morning. But these give you an idea of how pretty the town is. We would certainly recommend Grappe d'or in Mersault as a great stop-over or even a couple of days. It is also right on the Grand Cru Route if you want to visit the region.

Town Hall, I’m just sorry I didn’t get the morning picture with the sun on the roof

So here’s a bit with the sun on – it was striking

You might just make out the painting of the old lady in the window

How about this for a county retreat?

And then there were the views from the campsite:-a-view1a-view2We spent a very pleasant evening with a couple next door to us called Pat and Raymond who live in France and had just come back from touring the Czech Republic. They were also fans of touring Croatia and it's a shame that we couldn't be around longer to find out more as those are a couple of places that we intend to visit. They were a sprightly couple and it turned out that Pat's daughter was only a year younger than us. As I've said before, these older people we meet are truly inspirational. This was the first time since Somerset that we'd actually been able to sit out in the evening, albeit that we did need jumpers. 
Who put that tree there overnight?

So this morning it's a quick update before we pack up again and set off. A longer journey today of about 250 miles to Avignon, so we want to get an early start. I won't be posting until we get some internet, I absolutely refused to pay 13 euros for just two days internet – and that was the best deal. The previous campsite had been 6 euros a day, but they gave it free if you stayed more than one night. But 13 euros – that's just taking the ****. So hopefully no one has been frantically trying to get hold of us over the last couple of days.

When we are travelling, I like to take photos of different and unusual campers and caravans that we come across.  I’ll set up a separate page for them but here’s a couple that took my interest on this campsite:-
This was really cool – a Knaus with a young single German man – He was quite tasty too

Another Knaus but nowhere near as cool

It's nice this year, although we are doing long trips, at least unlike last year, I'm not frantically trying to pick up email every morning, just in case we have already been called back to the UK, which as you may know, the call actually came just 5 days after we arrived in Spain.

Somehow we actually managed to get off before 9.30 which is quite an achievement for us. I like to have the bulk of the journey completed by lunchtime, saving no more than 100 miles for the afternoon.Actually our journey didn't bring any trauma for a change. We found more of those height barriers and Iain checked each motorway services as we went past and they all had those dreaded height barriers. Of course with a journey of 250 miles we would need to refuel the LPG, but at least we had half a tank of petrol just in case. I think sometimes there is a sneaky way in and sometimes there are barriers that can be lifted, but we just made the decision to keep going and if we ran out then so be it. We haven't experienced this problem before – does anyone know if it's a new thing in France or just in this region?We'd just have to get some lpg in Avignon, before getting back on the motorway. We thought by the time we had pulled into every service station on the way just to check, we'd probably use up 20 miles of gas just doing so. The amazing thing is we got to Avignon and although the tank was gasping for gas and all the lights were flashing, we actually didn't run out.

We're staying in Avignon for 3 nights, this morning, when I've finished "playing" with the computer (as Iain puts it) we're going to have a walk into town.  It's forecast to be 31C this afternoon so we don't want to be walking the dog around in that heat.  Of course by staying 3 nights that will give us a chance to do the same walk tomorrow to take the photos - because I'm always forgetting the camera.

Sorry about the jumpy pictures. I've just discovered Microsoft Live Writer which means that I can do all my blogging off-line including pictures and then post in one go.  I have always known I could do off-line blogging with my tablet, but I prefer a proper keyboard and do it all on the laptop. So I'm experimenting with it at the moment and it's not exactly perfect - but practice might make it better.