Haarlem & Amsterdam – The Netherlands

11th April 2019 – 17th April 2019

First stop after waking up in France was to buy a pillow as I had left mine behind. Not a good start but could have been worse. We then made our way to our first destination Antwerp. I have probably mentioned before that being in a Motorhome it is not easy to park near any big cities, therefore we headed to Brasschaat a beautiful upmarket town where we could catch a bus into Antwerp. However, when we arrived at a stop over, entry was barred by red tape and barriers. Motorhomes were parked and when I asked, there was a weekend Belgian Motorhome Rally and basically no room at the inn. Luckily we were allowed in to stay overnight as it was quite late, but had to leave the next morning when all the motorhomes were arriving. That completely ruined plans to visit Antwerp as there was no other safe parking nearby. New plans were swiftly made, the famous Bloemencorso 2019 or Flower Parade was taking place at the weekend and it was on route. We found a perfect place to stay near Haarlem. The lovely owners told us roughly when and what time the parade would be passing that afternoon near where we were staying. We had visited the famous Keukenhof Gardens last year and when the parade weekend is on, the whole area attracts thousands of visitors. The procession consists of about twenty floats and over forty luxurious and special vehicles richly decorated with flowers. Several bands play within the procession to give it a real carnival atmosphere. As the parade was not until the afternoon we cycled into Haarlem in the morning. A beautiful city which has several museums including The Teylers Museum which is the oldest in The Netherlands. We love The Netherlands, the people, the architecture, stylish gardens, their love of everything cycling and the houseboats which David and I swooned over. In the afternoon we headed off to Bennebroek with the procession passing according to the owner of the site at approx 4pm. We cycled like mad thinking we would be late; we arrive with my heart pounding to find all very, very quiet. Had we missed it ? David then finds out that the procession will not be passing until 6pm. So, what do we do, curse the owner of the site and then start cycling towards the procession as we did know the route. We met two nice Russians on the way, also looking for the procession and then we start seeing more and more people. We catch up to the procession at Hilleom. To say I was knackered is an understatement. The procession started to arrive 15 minutes later and it was so amazing. The designs, the flowers, oh the flowers and the beautiful smell. How did they grow them all and the time it must take to put the designs together, it was just fantastic. Poor David on the other hand was standing back and continually sneezing from all the pollen. He must love me. The brass bands gave it such a carnival feel. Although the weather was bitterly cold, people were out on the streets with table and chairs, food and drink and enjoying the festivities. By the time we had cycled back to the van we had cycled 30 miles and my legs knew it ! So, what do we do the next day, we cycle some more. On the Sunday all the floats are displayed in Haarlem and as if I didn’t have enough we cycle into the city once again. It was so, so worth it and I said to David ‘A day for the memory book’ It was lovely to see the floats close up, all the detail and even more beautiful smells. There was street entertainment, food stalls and musicians and although it was really busy, the whole area just had such a lovely carnival feel to it. We ate our first herrings and they were delicious, drunk the most expensive coffee and cake on our whole adventure to date, getting us prepared for Norway !

After resting my legs for a day, we caught the bus and train into Amsterdam. This was David’s third visit and my first. Like any large city it was busy and as we had left Chloe behind we knew we had to do a whistle stop tour. We boarded a tour boat that took us around the city’s canals which gave us a great flavour of the city. An hour later we headed on foot to the old town. A beautiful lunch outside overlooking the canal, how do they make a simple sandwich taste so good?. We watched and laughed at a group of young people with glazed eyes and legs that didn’t seem to take them in the direction they wanted to go and belly laughing. It was so funny to watch and obviously they had made use of the all that Amsterdam has on offer. Cities like Amsterdam need a full weekend to immerse yourselves and it’s on the growing list of cities we hope to return to. After 5 nights we headed off to the town Urk.

New Adventures

10th April 2019

We are still alive and back for another adventure or Part 4 ! Where has the time gone since we last updated our Blog. Well, we arrived back in the UK at the end of December just in time for Christmas. My Mum greeted us with a complete look of shock on her face when she opened the door, as she was expecting us the following day ! Luckily, the spare room was free and we all disembarked with mountains of washing. I think Mum must feel like it is my student days again. It was lovely to be home, to spend Christmas with loved ones. The previous Christmas we spent in Portugal and it’s not the same. Don’t get me wrong, walking on the beach on Christmas Day and the sunshine is gorgeous, but most people who we have met along the way do seem to fly back to the U.K. for Christmas. For us this is not an option as we have Chloe. Hence the drive back, but we also had a special birthday to celebrate and boarded a plane for the first time in two years at the end of January to celebrate David’s Sister 50th in Fueurteventura. We saw quite afew Motorhomes when we were there, mainly surfers enjoying the freedom and the waves.

Our destination for this trip is Norway. Therefore we decided against leaving too early as it’s no fun when it is cold and wet in a Motorhome. We are travelling through The Netherlands stopping at Antwerp, Amsterdam, Urk. Heading through the top of Germany into Denmark and Sweden. Finally we will then get into Norway. We are so excited to see this amazing Country, the scenery, the wild camping and the herrings ! I read that we should take a fishing rod to catch our dinner, something that David wasn’t too keen on. However, after some congealing we visited a fishing tackle shop and kitted ourselves out. Rod, Reel, Line and weights purchased, we are ready to go. We have never fished before, but we are going to give it a go. So, with the van MOT and service complete, haircuts, dentists, food shop, visit to the vets for Chloe we are off again to make ‘Once in a Lifetime’ memories.

Vilamoura, Santa Luzia & Tavira – Portugal

29th November 2018 – 9th December 2018

We left Lagos after 7 amazing weeks. Meeting up with old friends, making new ones and it was hard to say goodbye. Being on the road, it is lovely to stay in one place for a period of time. The Campsite is the best we have ever stayed in, in all our time of travelling to date. I got to go to yoga, we joined the gym, started our fitness regime, which was hindered by the Saturday Supper Club, but so worth it. Chloe was chauffeured to the beach every day and I could have stayed longer. We had our final supper at the amazing Pizza restaurant in Espiche, with Keith, Jane, Paul & Stephen. A group photo taken by the Christmas tree in the village, by a poor Portuguese boy that we bombarded and made memories to treasure. We are heading home this year for Christmas to spend time with our precious family and it coincides with a family holiday in January to celebrate David’s sister 50th Birthday. Before we set off for the long drive North, we felt that we should venture further across the Algarve to visit some places that we had been recommended. However, the weather was amazing and we only went 20 minutes up the road and parked right on the beach in Alvor and didn’t move for the next 4 days. What was brilliant, we had a visit from Keith, Jane & their dog Beurre (that dog can run !) and then Paul, Stephen and their dog Archie came the next day to see us. It was brilliant for Paul, as Alvor has a wooden boardwalk that runs the length of the beach, so Paul can drive his little mobility scooter all the way along. Archie was in his element, running into the sea, a wave took him out but he just shrugged it off and he carried on running. Alvor is a beautiful place to visit, a scattering of restaurants looking over the estuary and a beach running as far as the eye can see the other side. We also found a lovely little cafe which we first stopped off for coffee. The Portuguese lady that ran it reminded me of my Nan in mannerisms. The place was spotless and she spoke very good English, asking where we came from and when we told her, she got so excited saying she loved M&S, shopping in London, the best shops she said. You could tell this cafe was her life. She knew all the people that passed, chatting to all nationalities. We think she must of been in her mid 70’s and I so admired her, her happiness just radiated. We were leaving the next day but she was advertising a mouth watering breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans etc and I said to David, lets pop down in the morning and have a breakfast before we leave. We walked in, she said 2 white coffees, now that’s what I call customer service. Her breakfast hit the spot aswell, delicious. With full bellies we left for Vilamoura. We have visited Vilamoura before and found a spot again near the beach, as the weather has been glorious (sorry!). We celebrated David’s birthday on the 2nd December with lunch looking over the marina in Vilamoura and a bit of sunbathing in the afternoon. What could be better. We meandered further along the coast to Santa Luzia, a small fishing town famous for Octopus. We decided to catch the bus into Tavira, read the timetable and arrived in plenty of time. Did the bus turn up, of course not. The reason had nothing to do with the poor service, it was a Friday and we were reading the Saturday timetable ! We had arranged to meet Keith and Jane for lunch. Luckily they came to us and sampled the famous Octopus for the first time. The next day we thought we would try again to reach Tavira. We read the timetable correctly, got the right day and sat and waited for the bus again. Guess what, it didn’t turn up. Out came the bikes and we cycled in. We found the Municipal Market, filled with the freshest fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. It was packed with people, families out with their children, sitting having coffee and cakes, buying their groceries. As David and I walk around, we are filled with sadness that we no longer have this in the UK. Demand for cheaper, more convenient food has killed the markets at home, it is such a shame. We loaded up our panions on the bikes with fruit and vegetables and headed into the centre of Tavira. It is such a beautiful traditional town, we have never visited before and found it to be one of the best preserved towns in the Algarve. Cobbled streets, little bridges over the river, a traditional bandstand and a square edged with cafes. We meandered around the shops, had coffee, had lunch before a slow cycle back to the van. Just a short walk from Santa Luzia, there is a little old train that will take you across the marshes to a little island and the most heavenly beach we have ever seen. We had staked it our before and it said no dogs were allowed on lots of signs and so Chloe was left behind. We decided to walk over to the island and low and behold there were people with their dogs. I am not sure if people just ignore the signs out of season, but I was really gutted as the beach was as near to perfect as you could get. In the dunes there is a cemetery of anchors which were bizarre scene, we sat for a while taking in the beauty of it all and caught the train back (we could have walked quicker). The next day we decided to head off to spend our last day on the beach before heading North into Spain.

Lagos Algarve Portugal Part 2

12th November 2018 – 28th November 2018

Now I am starting to hallucinate about chocolate. The other night all I kept thinking about was a toblerone that I saw at the checkout in the Intermarche. Normally, I would buy it, eat it and get rid of the wrapper before I had put the shopping in the car. David and I, well really me, have spent quite a long time talking about chocolate. Walnut Whips, Snickers, Quality Street and the largest Ferraro Rocher display we have ever seen (checkout our Facebook page for the video) But, I am really proud that I have not succumbed to the chocolate devil in me. We are on a fitness regime Couch to 5k. Which is a great phone app to encourage even the non runners which is certainly me, to get off my bum and run. We are lucky to have all the time in the world and a very posh gym at the Campsite to start the campaign. Now, I absolutely hate running, but this app is brilliant to build up the run times between a brisk walk and even I am managing to stick to it, albeit I did have a dodgy start, but I am now on a roll. I would like to ask any runners out there though, what do you think about when you are running, as all my mind thinks about is OMG when is this going to end and I certainly do not enjoy it. Will this change, will I want to run more and even contemplate a marathon (hang on, my keyboard got carried away !). Anyway, I do feel good when I finish my 30 minutes. We also have a weigh in at the local chemist on their machine and everytime I get on it, the little print out pops out, stating I have put on weight ! How does that work !. We have settled into campsite life and continued with our Saturday Supper Club with Stephen & Paul. We had the most amazing Indian and Jane & Keith joined us as well. Now I was a little dubious of eating an Indian in Portugal, as after our Chinese experience where we felt ill for a couple of days, I was not holding out much hope. However, it was delicious and as a lover of a Naan bread, it was the best I have ever tasted. So if you find yourself in the Algarve of Portugal near Espiche, check out the Indian, you will not be disappointed. We could write a book about all the restaurants, having found an excellent Sunday Roast in Praia Da Luz, with Paul eating the ‘Big Boy Roast’. We tried the Boavista Golf & Spa Resort for Sunday Lunch and the best part was the entertainment in the form of Wesley. Now we had heard Wesley busking in Lagos in the main square and he sent goose bumps down my arms them and he created the same feeling at Sunday Lunch. He has the most amazing voice, obviously not to everyone’s taste but he sang Hallelujah and I had tears in my eyes and then he sang Raise me up and Stephen had tears in his eyes, so a very happy lunch was had by all. It turns out Wesley is French and sung on ‘The Voice’ in France, got to the final, sung with Kylie Minogue but sadly has ended up busking in Portugal. Anyway, I bought a CD. However, we have nothing to play it on ! We have packed quite a lot into our stay this time, visiting the Monchique Mountains with Steve & Margaret who again we met last year and tasted some very nice ‘Boar Stew’ in an amazing restaurant with a fantastic view over the mountains, if only it hadn’t been raining. This is far off the tourist trail and full of Portuguese so you know it is going to be good place to eat. The weather has not been brilliant, don’t get me wrong, warmer than the UK but lots of rain. Margaret and Steve also invited us to the Theatre in Lagoa to watch The Algarveans Experimental Theatre Group. Now, David and I couldn’t remember what we were going to see and it turns out that it was quite a thought provoking story ‘Whose Life is it Anyway’. There was at total of 10 actors for the 2 hour production and it was brilliant. The standard of acting would not have been out of place on a London Stage. David has continued to preen his beard, after everyone asking is he applying for the role of Father Christmas, we find a barbers in Lagos to shape the beard. It amazes me how long men spend in the barbers now, things have certainly changed. First of all the paper collar is fixed, then the cape is wrapped around his body and a steaming hot towel applied to his face. Then the artistry begins, 45 minutes later. Yes, I said 45 minutes it looks like the barber is happy with his work. David then gets to have a shampoo to polish his head and finally he is released. The cost is €10 unbelievable. Finally our friends from France came to stay for the weekend. We did a whistle stop tour of a little of the Algarve as Gaz had never been and Debs had last been with me when we were in our late teens (not so long ago!) Luckily after forecasting rain, it held off for the weekend. I learnt the rules of Chess, will certainly need a lot of practise. We laughed, we ate, we ate again, made great memories and have set a date for next year.

Lagos Algarve Portugal

13th October 2018 – 11th November 2018

We finally made it into Lagos in the Algarve and had decided to stay at the same site as last year. When we went to check in, we never book, they asked how many days would you like to stay and we said 7 weeks ! This is a couple of weeks longer than last year and we have arrived nearly a month earlier than last year. The reason for staying in one place for so long is that friends are visiting at the end of November and here at the site it has little static homes that you can rent and this is where our friends are staying. We haven’t told them yet but we could be de camping with them as it sleeps 5 and some have a jacuzzi !. The best pitches have of course been taken by the long termers, who book 5 years in advance for the same pitch (if only we were this organised !) but we chose a nice large area with sun and settled in like pros. Now, the weather, don’t get me wrong it is certainly warm averaging 20 degrees but compared to last year the sun has decided not to show it self as often and the rain clouds have been emptying themselves more often over us. In normal circumstances we would have probably have chased the sun but we are here until the end of the month until our friends arrive. We have hired a little car whilst we are here, not a trendy white Fiat 500 but a VW Polo which in Chloe’s world is still the perfect transport for the beach. Whenever we are getting ready to go out, she sits patiently by the back door of the car waiting for it to be opened and then chauffeured to the numerous lovely sandy beaches which we decide to visit for the daily walk. Portugal does have the most beautiful of sandy beaches in our opinion. Some stretch for miles and with the changeable weather there have been some stunning waves for the surfers to ride. What we have noticed this year arriving a full 4 weeks earlier is that there are still lots of holidaymakers about. The towns are bustling, all the shops and restaurants are open and they have a great vibe about them. It has been school half term week or two in some cases and we or should I say ‘I’ was so excited to find my cousin’s son coming for a weeks holiday to Lagos with Sarah his girlfriend, who is a teacher. I am sure they didn’t want two ‘old ones’ cramping their style, but I did ask and they said they would love to and so we picked them up from their hotel and took them to Alvor for lunch. We had such a lovely time together and we had something very special to celebrate after Nathan’s Mum, my cousin, had just heard the news the previous day that she was cancer free. I wish sometimes that I could time travel just to hug people, as I so wanted to hug Elaine. I sent a hug home with Nathan though. We have met up with some old friends and have made some lovely new ones as well. Margaret & Steve who we met last year have bought a lovely villa in Praia da Luz and we visited for lunch. A lovely traditional villa with views of the sea. Now Margaret and Steve put us to shame as they are avid walkers and cyclists and have 10 years on us. Steve says, would you like to walk from Lagos to Praia da Luz with us only 8 miles ! Of course how could we refuse, I did say to David if I got too tired I would call a cab ! God, I am weak. Anyway, we had the most amazing walk along the cliff tops, the weather was perfect and we saw parts of Portugal that we have never seen before. It was a glorious walk and we were so pleased we went and I didn’t need to call a cab ! We have met up with Keith & Jane and their beautiful dog named Beurre. We first met them last year on the West Coast of Portugal. We were sitting outside and suddenly this dog appeared and David & I did a double take as Beurre is really distinctive with two different coloured eyes and we thought, we’ve seen him somewhere before and then Keith appears round the corner. It is lovely to catch up on their travels and spend time with them. We have also met some new special friends Paul and Stephen from Jersey and their dog Archie who is the most gorgeous Black Spaniel. We formed the ‘Saturday Dinner’ club and our first outing was to a great Pizza restaurant in Espiche that they recommended and wow the pizzas. David ordered a 51cm pizza as did Paul & Stephen and when they arrived at our table everyone was looking at us ! They were delicious and one is to share between two and it was the day that David & I did our 8 mile walk, so I didn’t feel too bad and we were starving. We ate the whole lot between us but were rolling out the restaurant by the end of it ! A South African restaurant followed and next on the ‘Saturday Dinner’ club is an Indian Restaurant. Poor Chloe has had a visit to the vets with a sore bum. €45 later and some cream which obviously I have to administer we left. After a week she is much better more to the relief of me not having to use the cream I think ! We are now concentrating on perfecting our sun dance to make sure the weather is good for when our friends arrive in a couple of weeks.

Porto & Nazaré Portugal

7th October 2018 – 12th October 2018

Well what can we say. We absolutely loved Porto, it is second only to Paris in our opinion. It is a place we could have stayed much longer as there is so much to explore and just to immerse yourself into. Some cities we visit have a great vibe, it is just a feeling but Porto certainly had it. Porto is one of the oldest European cities and it’s historical core proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Our first trip in, a bus ride away from where we were staying. We left Chloe sleeping in the van and luckily the van sheltered by trees and the weather not too hot so we knew we could leave her for afew hours. Now the buses in Portugal are a law unto themselves, standing literally in the middle of the road and waving my arms like a mad woman for the bus to stop, the bugger just drives on past. Swearing and shouting and saying, what are we going to do do now and not wanting to wait another hour until the next one, we were contemplating our options when another bus comes thundering along the road and with my mad woman actions again, it stops. 30 minutes later we are in Porto. It is Sunday and the sun is out and we stop firstly for coffee and a gorgeous Pastel de Nata oh how we love these custard tarts. You can just wander the streets for hours, just enjoying the City. Some of the shops were open and I wandered into one and to my complete and utter excitement I see a cushion that had an illustration of ‘Mona’. ‘Mona’ you ask, yes the famous ‘Mona’ created by my talented friend Sonia Holleyman. Sonia is a illustrator of childrens books and created ‘Mona’ into a series of books followed by a TV series and film. I ran out of the shop shouting to David and showed him the cushion, told the shop owner hoping he would give me the cushion, but alas no. We found the main railway station to see the amazing tiles inside the main hall, Clerigos Church and Tower with it’s stunning blue and white tiles and the Livraria Lello. The famous bookshop and inspiration for JK Rowling. We did not get to go inside on this trip. The queue to get in was way too long. After a lovely lunch over looking the Douro river we headed back to the van for a siesta. The next day we were due to leave but we decided to stay another day to visit Porto again. This time we crossed over the famous Ponte de Dom Luis bridge and then got a cable car to the quayside. We meandered up to the famous Taylor’s Port House, had my photo taken but unfortunately David felt unwell and we cut the rest of the day short, headed back to the van where David spent the rest of the afternoon in bed and I visit the zoo. (He’s fine now). We could spend a whole week in Porto and will be back, we loved it. The next day David was well enough and we set off South. We stopped at Nazaré famous for the tallest wave ever recorded being surfed and a mecca for surfers due to the the presence of the underwater Nazaré Canyon which creates the height of the waves making them much larger on this stretch of the coast. It is also famous as a fishing village and the old tradition of drying the day’s catch on the beach is still visible with the older ladies in their traditional clothes, selling the dried fish. The next day after afew hours drive we stayed in Tornada e Samir do Porto, Chloe enjoying a long evening walk on the beach into the little town where we enjoyed a beer and a cider and watched the sun go down. Our final destination before we hit the Algarve was Alcacer do Sal, we stayed here last year and it is a lovely traditional Portuguese town. What I had missed on our last visit though was the most wonderful shop, yes another shop ! But this shop sold everything you could possible require for a horse and it’s rider. Beautiful leather saddles, leather clothing, reins, boots. Oh if only I could buy something, but no room in the van ! Not sure what I would have bought though, I don’t own a horse !

Al Coruna & Santiago de Compostela Spain

04th October 2018 – 6th October 2018

The next destination west and the most westly point we are going on this trip is to Al Coruna. We parked in the marina, walking distance into the city and the perfect weather, sunny but not too hot for Chloe. It’s all about Chloe in our world ! Al Coruna is a busy port and a destination for cruise ships, with one docked whilst we were there. How huge are they, never fancied a cruise myself but never say never. A Coruna was the site of the battle of Corunna in which British troops fought against the French to cover the embarkation of the British troops after their retreat. In this battle Sir John Moore was killed, also known as Moore of Corunna. His body lies in a beautiful park overlooking the harbour. When we found the park, there were hundreds of screaming children running round, not the most peaceful of settings. The city hall is an amazing building, the roof dazzling in the sunshine situated in the Maria Pita Square. We meandered around the streets, got up early in the morning to visit the fresh food market, but a huge disappointment. We were hoping to find an amazing market like Cadiz but alias no. The Plaza del Humour is a great little hidden gem, a small square in the old part of of A Coruna. Cartoons are depicted on the pavement, with sculptures sitting on benches, there is Groucho chasing the unobtainable. May West flouting her feminine wiles and Laurel & Hardy doing goofy things. Well worth finding if you are ever in A Coruna. After a couple of days we started to head South and to the Pilgrim’s destination of Santiago de Compostela. The city has it’s origin in the shrine of Saint James the Great, now the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the city’s old town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year from points all over Europe and other parts of the world. The city was heaving with people of all nationalities, a large group of children cheering as they had reached their destination and cyclists having their photos taken outside the Cathedral. Many follow the route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It had a real buzz and to get into the spirit of it all I bought a scallop shell to go round my neck. I didn’t have a clue what this shell symbolised but everyone had one and as I love a shop, even a tacky tourist shop, of which there are many, I bought one. Later to read that the shell is an emblem of St James. The Cathedral is amazing but with so, so many people we retreated. One hi-light was Barberia Milenio, now David has been growing his beard since we left and now it is quite long and needs shaping. Not having a clue on how to shape beards, although I did try. But the look David was giving me as I trimmed away with a pair of dog scissors told me that I should maybe leave it to a professional. So, we made an appointment and braved the Spanish barbers. It was pot luck but the barber, young, dark haired and with a great shaped beard himself told us that this guy knew what he was doing. In the chair David goes, collar round his neck and cape over his body. The next minute he is horizontal in the chair with a hot towel over his face. I see his head go redder and redder, as another Spanish customer tells me he once lived in Milton Keynes ! I was hoping David wasn’t going to pass out. Luckily he didn’t and 30 minutes later with a very well trimmed beard costing all of €10 we left. David was very happy and so will his Mum be, as she’s not been too keen on the growing beard.

Hidden Gems of Spain

24th September – 3rd October 2018

I am writing this sitting in the van looking out onto a beautiful estuary in the small town of Foz in Northern Spain. It is a truly amazing view and a pinch yourself moment of the beauty of it. Northern Spain has so far been a real eye opener and although we touched a small part of it when we set of last year we have ventured further west into new territory. It is stunning here and we ask ourselves why the majority of people head to Southern Spain when you have the most amazing beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see and pure white sand that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. This part of Spain is of course a surfer’s paradise. Our first stopover was the town of Ondarroa. Now here I thought my luck had changed, we stayed at a secluded campsite in the forest and as I went to the reception I was wolf whistled ! Happy days I thought, at my age I felt quite elated until I realised where the whistle was coming from, a parrot ! There he sat on the upstairs balcony and for the next couple of days as I walked passed and to be honest when anyone walked passed they were greeted with a wolf whistle. We walked into the small town with it’s amazing beach, relaxed over a coffee with the locals, but sadly for Chloe no beach, as most of the beaches in towns have a ‘No Dogs’ policy. The climb back up to the campsite took some work, which could only mean one thing to get over it, a siesta ! We meandered further west and stayed at a campsite near Loredo, that we visited last year with the best beach to date. It holds such special memories, just for the shear size of it, the perfect beach for surfers and we broke the rules and got Chloe on the beach, albeit in the evening. Now, heaven know why, and at my age, but seeing all the surfers last year I thought I need to have a go. I thought surfing might be a little too difficult but bodyboarding, I thought may be this is something we could both do. To be honest, I knew the waters were nothing like the warmth of Greece but our lovely friends Gaz & Debs had lent us their wetsuits and bodyboards and so there was no excuse. All fired up, squeezing into our suits we set off looking like we knew what we were doing. We get into the water and realise that we don’t have a clue, can’t stop laughing but had one of the best times ever. Such fun and if we did it often enough, our bodies in our dreams may look like the fit surfers sculptured, no fat on them bodies. The next day took us to Barrio Juncalada and the beach there was another surfer’s paradise. We cycled into the town, bought the largest peaches we have ever seen and a sun hat for me and cycled home. The trouble was, I didn’t get all the way home as I fell off my bike, because I wasn’t looking where I was going and ended up splattered on the road, two grazed hands and a bloody knee. Poor David, I am not the best patient in the world.

After afew days resting, we set off again to Oviedo with it’s beautiful Cathedral of San Salvador and it’s famous Cider. Now the pouring of Cider is also of great importance in Spain. The liquid is poured from a great height allowing lots of bubbles into the drink. Only one or two gulps are poured at once into the glass and then the pouring process begins again, This allows the drinker to enjoy the full flavour of the drink apparently. Gutted I never tried any. The next day and just through recommendation we went to Foz. We had such a great view from the van window, one night turned into two after we met a lovely older Spanish resident out on his daily walk. He stopped to chat, perfect English after living in Balham and still having a house there (rich Spaniard) and challenged David to a game of ping pong, but David wasn’t so keen. Told us all about his Skudo games and left one for David to complete. He also recommended a restaurant to eat lunch, which we did. Three courses, a bottle of wine, beer and coffee all for €12 each and that could only mean one thing after that another siesta. Feeling guilty about all these siestas, we have decided to do Couch to 5K to try and get a little bit fit. So the next morning in all our running gear, yes we have all the gear but never run. We set off on our day 1 of the challenge. Let me tell you I am not a runner, will never be a runner and I don’t like running but I am going to give it a go. Watch this space.

We’re Back.

13th September 2018 – 24th September 2018

We are back on the road. Having left the UK after afew weeks home. I say home, but now I feel that the van is my home and it is. It is strange how your life can change in a year, never would I think I would call a Motorhome home. We have all the home comforts that David will allow me to bring always saying ‘there’s no room’ but I secretly get to sneak them in. The fairy lights, the room fresheners, the pots of face creams filling the bathroom cupboard, leaving no room for David’s small toiletries and the medicine cabinet that would put Boots to shame. I no longer need the psoriasis cream, which tells me that I must be a lot more relaxed and less stressed. I still stress, just about different things, like the van not fitting down the road and processionary caterpillars attacking Chloe. What really brings it home though, is when you see friends when we were back and my friend Sonia saying to me ‘when you smile your eyes smile with you’. Such a lovely thing to say and other friends that we hadn’t seen for a year saying David looked so much younger (nothing about me!). So, the life changing decision is obviously working. How long we will continue, who knows, where we end up putting our roots, who knows. What we do know is that we have set off again heading to Portugal, via France and then Spain.

This is quite a well trodden route for us, as we headed to Portugal last year. This time we are going through France, into Northern Spain along the rest of the Northern coast that we never reached last year and down a different route into Portugal. We travel on non toll roads through France, as we don’t have to get anywhere fast. We stopped off at a couple of aires, the free parking areas for Motorhomes in France and then at the weekend stayed with friends near Limoges. We had a lovely weekend with them, David watch Gaz play in his band, something I would loved to have done but my migraine had other ideas. We laid out in the middle of the night covered in blankets, watching the stars. It is pitch black where Debs and Gaz live and with the clear night sky we saw the Milky Way, I felt like Patrick Moore. The next day we visited La Rochefoucauld Chateaux, entrance was all of €2 and we came face to face with the Marquess la Rochefoucauld who still resides at the chateau. She came bowling over to us looking at Chloe and in French (luckily our friends were with us) told us to make sure Chloe did not S**t in her courtyard ! That said, it is well worth a visit and there is the most amazing chocolate shop at the foot of the Chateau which of course we visited and bought some to feed our expanding waistlines.

We left our friends and headed South stopping at Aubeterre Sur Dronne. It is officially listed as ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’ with the underground Monolithic Church of Saint Jean of Aubeterre. I went in, David stayed outside with Chloe (obviously all Churched out !) As I came out David was saying that a group of 6 English people went to go in and was told that they are shutting for lunch for 3 hours and to come back later. Not impressed they walked off saying, that this is the biggest attraction in this small village and they shut for lunch ! Not sure they have been to France before, heaven help them if they ever go to Spain ! We stayed a couple of days and then made our way to our other friends near Duras. Chloe loved it with her friend Tilly, a gorgeous golden labrador especially with the trip to the lake where Chloe went swimming. As always we had the most wonderful time, ate lots of beautiful food, laughed and David & Dennis talked Arsenal.

Our last stop before hitting Spain was the beautiful little town of Saint Paul les Dax. It’s beautiful lake and Thermo Spa. I kept seeing all these older people walking around with a blue shoulder bag and wet hair and wondered where they had come from. If we had more time I would have joined them. But alias no, we want to head to the coast and learn to bodyboard ! Yes, I did say bodyboard !

Homeward Bound

02 August 2018 – 5th August 2018

We had booked our crossing on the Euro Tunnel and needed to get Chloe to the vet for her pet passport check, stamping and worming tablet and to be ripped off by a vet. We stayed overnight in a small village right by a beautiful river but we were baked again by the sun as there was no shade. The next day we set off the find the vet, David being his brilliant self had booked the appointment and googled the area to make sure we could get there with the van. We went strolling in the vets and strolled out again in less than 10 minutes at a cost of €48, the dearest to date. We should ask the cost when we book but we never do !. It was no surprise at these prices that the vets was closing for a 2 week holiday after we left.

We found a pretty place to stop for a couple of days by a lake to recover from the vet’s fee and we were in complete shade so as the temperature was hitting 37 degrees we were able to cope. As we left to continued our travels North David suddenly said a ‘I fancy a McDonalds’. I said, if you could have one what would you have and he reeled off his Big Mac, Fries and a Milkshake. I said, that to be honest I was all baguette out and I quite fancy a cheeseburger myself ! Then out of the blue as if our prayers had been answered on the side of an old building I saw an advertisement for a McDonald’s, 7km away. We trundled on trying to remember the last time we had eaten a McDonald’s. Suddenly on the roundabout and being able to park close by we had our first burger in over 8 months, so we didn’t feel too bad !

As we continued North the weather was cooling and it was lovely to be honest. We stayed close by the Euro Tunnel on our last night as we had an early crossing in the morning. We have learnt to time our crossing now all about when we hit the M25 in the U.K. as we can travel thousands of miles across Europe and never have a hold up and then you suddenly hit the M25 and you are in the longest queue know to man.

Time now to see as many family and friends as we can fit in. To get dressed up for my cousin’s Wedding, to hug another cousin tightly who is fighting a big health battle and to complete the dreaded tax return.

To say we have had an amazing time on this part of our adventure is an understatement. Greece took our hearts and we met some special people who have become life long friends. The Motorhome has become our home and we are so, very, very lucky to have the chance to experience this amazing life. We will be back in afew weeks, this time chasing the sun and looking for pitches with no shade !