Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Quick Trip Back To The UK

Before we get to the UK trip a quick recap of last week.

My 60th birthday was on the 18th of Feb but our friends down the pub didn't know when we would be back from the UK so, to be on the safe side, they had organised a surprise party for me on Monday 22nd Feb.  Elaine had been in on it and suggested that we go down the pub as she fancied a beer!!!  No questions from me I am always up for a drink!

When we walked in the door this was the big surprise.....what a shock!  The crowd of them jumped out from around the corner with a 'surprise' ... which it was!  It was amazing.  The pub had been decorated, the girls had made an amazing buffet and they had even organised a famous local singer to play for an hour!!!

What can I say, a truly amazing community ... I had already had a birthday dinner a few days earlier I suggested to the main organiser that it would be nice to share the do with Elaine, as her birthday had been when we were in the UK and she wasn't up for very much of celebration a the time!  They quickly went to the shops and a much earlier number appeared on the cake ...

What a lovely, generous bunch ...

The Trip To The UK

So why did I head back to the UK so soon? 

Well, we have the motorhome here, which is great, but what isn't great is using it for everyday transport!  It is just too big to drive up and down the winding track to the villa ... every now and again is OK but a few times a day isn't on.

I did look at buying a local Spanish car but to buy anything half decent you are looking at about 5000-6000 euros.  Back in the UK sat our little Citroen, which owes us nothing, and  is virtually worthless in the UK but I know it is a great reliable little car. I got a year's MOT on it a couple of weeks ago plus got it insured with 365 days in European cover.  I reckoned it was going to cost me about £400-£450 to bring it back so to me it was a no-brainer.

So, last Wednesday I left our lovely villa and set off on yet another adventure ...

I caught the airport shuttle on Wednesday morning and jumped on a Monarch flight to Manchester.

It was a nice clear day flying over the Pyrenees ...

From Manchester I caught a train to Macclesfield.

I picked up the car from Elaine's brothers house and went out and bought some bits and pieces for Elaine and the dogs (as requested!).

I went out with some friends on Wednesday night and spent the night at Elaine's dad's house.

On Thursday morning I drove to my mum's place in Milton Keynes and loaded the car up with more of our stuff ...

At night time I went out with some of my family.

On Friday I drove down to Portsmouth and caught the ferry to St Malo in France.  I couldn't get on the Spanish ferry, they were all full!

I even had my own VIP parking spot! 

It's a 12 hour crossing so I had a nice little cabin and after dinner and a bottle of red slept like a baby ...

The ferry docked at 08.15 and it took about half an hour to disembark, then we were off for the drive home.

People often say they don't fancy driving on the continent ... all I can say is it's a piece of cake and with roads  like this and virtually no traffic apart from around major towns what is there not to like? 

Last night I made it to Biarritz, which is very close to the Spanish border.  There are heaps of hotels along the route so I don't bother to book as I would rather drive until I have had enough then stop.

Last night it was room service of a pizza and a bottle of Bordeaux!

I managed to watch the England v Ireland rugby match then it was bed time for me.

I made an early start this morning (before 08.00).  The weather was a bit crappy at first but with so little traffic it didn't slow me down.  I went on a different route this time skirting around Madrid.

There was a fair amount of snow just before Madrid ...

I kept myself awake by stopping every two hours and blasting good music from the ipod ...

I arrived home at 20.00 after a really good day's drive.  The little car performed faultlessly and my co pilot Major Tom Tom did a sterling job.

There is even room in the garage to park the little car and the motorbike ...

1560 miles (2510ks) at an average of 40 mpg!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Spanish Sticks

We have been quite busy the last couple of days, unpacking the van, sorting out the villa and catching up with friends from Mojacar and boaty friends from the UK escaping the winter.

In saying that it has felt like winter down here the last few days, it has been very cold and windy.

Elaine and Sue posing on the windswept prom.

This morning we went to the Villaricos Sunday market, we loaded up with fruit and veg for about 7 euros. 

Sunday afternoon we went with a few Mojacar friends to a bar up the mountains inland of Mojacar, it was way out in sticksville. 

We went to see a fantastic blues group, well duo to be exact. 

It was a terrific afternoon with good music, beer and tapas. 

The owners Viv and Wayne have only had the bar for about 5 weeks they are both from the UK Viv was an ambo and Wayne was a fisherman out of Newlyn (Cornwall) 

I think they are going to find the life very different in the little village of El Marchal

Good luck to them in their new venture, its a lovely drive to get there so we will certainly check it out again.

Friday, February 19, 2016

60th Birthday

We had a great night out celebrating my 60 th birthday.

We went to a local Spanish Chinese restaurant.

Great food and great company.

Sue supplied the surprise cake.

The girls were fighting over the bill, Elaine won! 

After the chinky we retired to the Emerald Isle for a few drinks 

It was pretty crowded as there was a farewell party for a couple of locals going on. 

I really enjoyed my 60th, and to be honest I feel about 30!!

Other happenings.......

We have had wifi installed in the villa.

 I have booked a flight back to the UK for next Wednesday and am booked the ferry to come back on the following Friday. The Portsmouth-Spain ferry was fully booked so I am going on the Portsmouth-St Malo route, so there will be a little less driving through France.

We are still unpacking the van, I cant believe how much stuff we have stashed away in it.

Its great being back in Mojacar, but it is freezing!! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Happy Birthday Paulie x

El here - at 5 am on Thursday morning!  (I think I have jet lag ... been up for hours!)

We reached our home back in Mojacar just in time for my darlingest hubbie to celebrate his 60th Birthday!

So here is his Birthday tribute from yours truly ....

Happy Birthday Darling xxx

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Home Sweet Home.

It was a very pleasant but cold morning when we left the Aire near Bordeaux on Tuesday morning.

I took the doggies for a walk around the vineyard next to the Aire ..

And off we went once again dodging the toll roads ...

I  never get bored driving through the constantly changing scenery ... 

We stopped for a break as we headed up the Pyrenees Mountains ...

Stunning building near Urdos ...

The snowploughs had been busy keeping the road clear ...

There is an 8 kilometre tunnel through the mountain range that connects France and Spain ...

When we came out of the Spanish side this is what greeted us ...

Wall to wall sunshine ...

Bombo was so happy to be back in Spain he put his happy hat on ...

We stopped for the night after passing through the city of Zarogoza.

We stopped at a truck stop and later on we were completely surrounded by trucks! 

It was a freezing night, the outside temp was -8!  I kept the heater going all night so we were toasty inside the van.

When we got up this morning the trucks had all gone and a digger was digging up the carpark around us!

We were on the road this morning at 8.30, which is very early for us!

We have passed this airport at Teruel  before.  It seems it is an aircraft storage site ... the weather being perfect for it, as in dry with no humidity ...

It is now packed with planes, apparently they can store 225 aircraft!

The bull on the hill welcomed us back to Almeria ...

17.20 and we got home!

2031 kilometres from Calais.  
28.20 hours of driving over the four days.
Average speed of 72km/h.
Average fuel consumption of 10.80 l/100km or 26.15 MPG.

Elaine handled the drive a lot better than the trip back to the UK 5 weeks ago.  She is so glad to be back but is feeling very tired.

Tomorrow we will unpack the van and get the villa in some sort of order, it is also my birthday tomorrow......60!!!! Yikes!

Very soon I will fly back to the UK and drive the little Citroen back here ... it's a good job that I like driving!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Joy Of Motorhoming

When we left Spain a month ago we had to rush back to England as quick as possible and if there had been a space available we would have gone on the Santander (Spain) to Portmouth ferry to save time. As it was we used the tolls which basically are boring as bat shit but fantastic if you are in a hurry!

We are on a bit of a mission this trip to get back to the villa, but not as urgent as on our last trip, so we are taking the scenic route and avoiding the tolls.

This is motorhoming at its best ... uncrowded roads, magical scenery and plenty of time to sit back, relax and enjoy the passing scenery from the comfort of our lovely leather cruising armchairs. 

 On this section of the trip we passed an armoured car and a few soldiers having a smoko ...

Lots of flooded rivers ...

Plenty of deserted roads ...

A multitude of magical towns ...

Very many quiet villages ...

I just love it. 

As usual the photos don't do the changing landscape justice ...

We finally moored for the night at a tiny village 20 ks north of Bordeaux ...

This is a typical Aire site, free water, waste and elsan disposal ...

Parking next to the sports ground, we have now been joined by a French and Dutch motorhome ...

I went for a quick walk around the village when we arrived.  Like a lot of French villages and towns they remind me of a second world war film set ...

I half expect to see a German tank coming up the hill ...

Tomorrow we should enter northern Spain.

Hopefully it will be as lovely as today!