Saturday, 1 February 2014

From Home to Spain

Tuesday 28th January 2014

True to form, we do not get away from home as promptly as planned, but, eventually we are away, on a cold and wet January day.

We have booked our first stop at Folkestone, and a Tunnel crossing, other than that, we have nothing booked. The plan is to follow a route we were given by a chap we met in Portugal, last year. It uses stops en-route which are open at this "off season" time of year.

 Our first overnight stop is Black Horse Farm Caravan Club Site, Folkestone, it has the advantage of having a separate area for Ferry / Tunnel users, so, you can arrive and leave "out of hours". We  arrive in the pouring rain, and dark. The Motorcycle trailer lashings giving a problem, don’t know it at the time, but, I have tied the ratchet buckle incorrectly, so, it is working itself loose as we travel. We eat, sleep, and leave in dark, 5:15 in the morning, to go to the Channel Tunnel.

Wednesday 29th January 2014

Arrive for Le Shuttle, at Channel Tunnel, as you might expect, at 5:30am, it is pretty quiet, check in all very slick this time, machine reads our number plate automatically as we drive in, one click on the screen to confirm our details, and, we are in. Unlike the previous occasion we used it.

Emerge from tunnel, 8:00am French time. A soggy drive south, rain, rain and more rain, signs of flooding all around, and, every river we cross is swollen and bursting its banks.

Our first stop is Montoire-Sur-Le-Loire (N47 45’ 27.5” E0 52’ 10.4”) an Aire with lighting,

waste disposal, Water, Electricity. All Free.

Approximately 300 miles south of Calais, but, we arrive in daylight, which allows me to have a proper look at the scooter on the trailer and correct my faulty threading of the front ratchet strap.

Montoire-sur-Loire is a pleasant and typical small French town, a choice of boulangeries, banks, cafes and bars arranged around the market square.

First port of call is a cash machine, to obtain some Euros, then a friendly looking bar. 

To begin, two beers (typical English choice).

We sit and marvel at the number of people in the bar (it is only 6:00pm), and given the high price of beer (5.60Euro for two small beers), wonder how they can afford it.

But, we notice very few are drinking beer, careful observation while we drink our beer, and we notice some are drinking Pastis and some White Wine. Next round is Pastis and a White Wine, much more reasonable at 3.60Euro for the two. The only problem is, I do not like Pastis, but, perhaps I will acquire a taste for it?

30 January 2014

We fail to set the alarm, and are a little late at getting away in the morning, we have approximately 350 miles to go, to our next planned destination, which is Moliets Plage, Landes (N43 51’ 5.8” W1 23’ 6.7”) an Aire  with no facilities, other than street lighting and a Public toilet.

But, Kathleen has looked up the recommended Aire, and decided, she is not impressed, so, the destination is changed to Lac de Ville St Girons (N43 54.178’ W1 18.572’), which, the Aires Book says has everything, Electricity, Showers, Toilets etc.

Tomorrow is to be our 27th Wedding Anniversay, but, as we leave the A63 motorway, a slight Sat Nav misunderstanding almost ensures we do not make it to our wedding anniversary without a divorce.

At the end of the motorway slip road is a roundabout, we take one exit too early, and are soon driving along a single track road, surrounded by dense pine forest, needless to say, it is pouring with rain.

Three miles of recriminations later, tempers fraying rapidly, the sat nav instructs us to turn right into an even narrower gravel track.

No chance!.

The good news is, there is just enough hard ground at the entrance to the track to turn the van around, but, not complete with trailer of course!

We both emerge into the pouring rain to unhitch the trailer, push it out of the way, so, I can turn the van around in what seems like a ten point turn. Then re-hitch the trailer, and drive back to the point where we went wrong.

There follows nine miles in torrential rain, along narrow roads through the forest.

Kathleen is elated, when, eventually, we emerge onto  a road wide enough to have a white line painted down the middle.

Her joy is short lived, we arrive at the aire to find the entrance road under two feet of water.  

What to do?, it is now dark, the nearest aire we know of is another ten miles or so. 

We decide to park in the deserted car park opposite the adjacent (closed) campsite and settle down to eat and sleep.

It continues to rain for most of the night.

31st January 2014

Today is our 27th wedding anniversary, and we are waking up in a car park. 

Kathleen jokes about it, but, you just know, this will not be forgotten. It is going to be added to the long list of my errors and brought up periodically! Good job I had the forethought to buy a card for her!

After the previous three days marathons of over three hundred miles per day, today is a trifling 230 miles.

We stay on the “free” Route Nationale until we near Bayonne, at which point, past experience dictates it is wise to take the toll road to miss the traffic of Bayonne and Biarritz, not to mention the nightmare that is San Sebastian.

The weather improves, we have sunshine! And the temperature reaches a heady 11C, as we travel across the border into Spain, and, through the mountains. 

As we climb away from the coast, the temperature drops, and soon, we encounter snow on the ground, although, the road is clear and dry.

Once through the mountains, the temperature climbs to a balmy 11C again, on to our next destination, Burgos (N42 20’ 24.5” W3 39’ 20.0”) an ACSI listed Campsite, with of course, all facilities, including a heated Toilet block!

To be honest, if you are staying just one night, there is little advantage in using a camp site, but, today is HWD (hair washing day), which regular readers will understand means full facilities, including electricity are mandatory!

1st February 2014

An early start, we are on the road by 08:30. 

Free motorway for approximately 300 miles.

This is not the Spain most English people know, ie the Costas, we are crossing an enormous plateau, which stretches off into the distance.

Mostly, it appears to be deserted farmland, with every so often a sizeable, and surprisingly industrial town.

The superb motorway is almost empty of traffic, a little disconcerting, given how remote the area appears to be, it also seems to be lacking any emergency telephone points, or cameras along the way. Breakdown here at your peril.

This, of course, is the "plain", of "the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain", fame, and, so it does, today, as we get regular downpours along the way. 

Although the sun is shining, it is very cold, only 6C.

A stop for lunch and fuel, and, we encounter the first Police Patrol we have seen since leaving Burgos. 

Two Gaurdia Civil, standing by their patrol car, faces muffled in scarves, over doing it a little I think! 

Eventually, we drop down from the high plateau we have been travelling across, and run alongside some snow capped mountains, called, Kathleen informs me, after studying the map, Sierra Berger.

By 15:00, we arrive at Caceres (N39 29'19" W6 24'46"), another ACSI listed site. This one of those sites where each pitch has it's own individual toilet, washbasin and shower room on the pitch.

The original route calls for an overnight here, before pressing on, into Portugal via Evora to the Algarve.

We are too feint hearted for that, we decide to stay here for a few days. The sun is shining and, the temperature gauge has crept up to 14C.

Tomorrow is Sunday, there are several churches in town, to satisfy Kathleen's church going tendancies, there is a bus stop outside of the campsite gates. A rest, lunch in town is the plan.

No comments:

Post a Comment