Going home.

The journey back to UK from the last campsite, Campsite Domaine du Logis ***** was, as usual easy and pleasant. Despite being a day crossing we booked a cabin as Sue is finding sea travel more problematic with each passing year.

The ferry arrived on time and just minutes later we were off the boat, through customs and on the M275 traveling towards our last campsite of the trip Dibles Touring and Residential Site.

The following morning we left early and by mid afternoon were settled at Little Henham Hall Farm site - Adventure number 9 complete.

For the sad : -

Days away                      199 days were spent in mainland Europe.

Distance travelled           12,485 klm (7758 miles)

Fuel used                        1194 litres (262.5 gall)

Economy                         10.26km/l  (29 mpg)*

*  This may seem on the low side but many of those miles were covered towing the caravan, and with that 1.8 tonne lump behind us consumption drops considerably.

Weeks 23, 24 and 25 - Trucking on homeward

26th March - 1st April 2018

It actually was moving day today, as expected the caravan felt no different despite the anti-snake device being no longer connected, but then if the van is correctly loaded . . .

We have moved around 250 km (150 ml) north east to a municipal site in the centre of Vila Real a town that clings to the steep sides of a valley with a river at the very bottom. The site, Camping Vila Real, is built on the side of the valley and quite steeply terraced with the last half kilometre of the approach winding down a narrow one way street past the university, not easy with a rig as big as ours but no problem either if it’s taken slow.

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Vila Real

There is a great deal to see and do in this area - if only it stops raining!!


Wow, a dry day. We had a drive out to Monte Farina which from a distance looks like a typical child’s drawing of a mountain - a perfect cone. The road runs right around in a spiral until it reaches Alto de Senhora da Gracia, a chapel set on the peak with fabulous 360° panoramas.

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Monte Farina

Another reasonable day so making the most, we had another day out visiting first Mirandella where, we were told was a fabulous farmers market selling amongst other delicacies the type of sausage that became known as “alheira”, they were invented by the Jews of Portugal, who were given the choice of either being expelled from the country in 1497 or converting to Christianity. Those who converted but secretly retained their beliefs avoided eating pork, forbidden in Judaism; this put them at risk of being noticed not to hang sausages, traditionally made of pork, in their fumeiros or smokehouses. As a way to avoid attracting the attention of the Portuguese Inquisition or, in rural areas, the Portuguese Christians, they did make sausages, but with other meats, such as poultry and game, mixed with bread for texture. This recipe later spread amongst Christians.

The market was a complete non event but there were many tourist shops selling alheira sausages and other local goodies including delicious “cheap as chips” walnuts.

From Mirandella we continued to Braganca a town we have driven through on several occasions but at which we had never stopped. We were missing out, the old town was very pretty, unfortunately our exploring was interrupted by a rain downpour so we will have to come again another day.

Rain, rain, rain and even more rain.

The GOOD news - it’s not raining - HURRAHHHHHHHHHH 😄.

The BAD news - it’s snowing - BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 😳.

We have had a drive out and watched local children building snowmen some, almost certainly, for the first time as this area is not particularly high above sea level so not prone to snow, indeed some places don’t see rain from one year to the next let alone snow.

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A Snowperson

With so much rain we thought that it would be worth visiting some famous local waterfalls. The first Fisgas de Ermelo was something of a disappointment in that although very high and very dramatic, unless you were a keen walker/climber the closest you could get was simply not close enough. The second, Cascata de Galegos da Serra, much lower and less dramatic was more fun as it was difficult but short walk from the road allowing you to get up close and wet.

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Fisgas de Ermelo - Along way away!

Vila Real is close to the Douro River which as many will know forms the centre line of what is considered by locals not only as the best wine growing area in Portugal but in the entire world and the origin of Port so loved by Brits everywhere. Today we went for a drive along the Douro River to Pinhao partly to see the tiles decorating the railway station and party for a walk along the picturesque riverside.

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One of many tile sets at the Pinhao railway station

After our riverside walk we were driving along the beautiful Douro Valley when we spied the Sandeman Port Lodge, the car turned in (almost) without help from me. There was no English language tour for some hours but the tasting room was open and we were each given several glasses of port wine. The first was 1999 Vintage Port and what a superb tipple it was. For many years I have insisted that when a bottle of port is opened it should be drunk and never re-stoppered and kept, the guy at Sandemans stated that this was almost correct in that vintage ports should be stored flat but the day before being opened put upright in the fridge (he said that by the time it was uncorked, poured and discussed it would be close to room temperature) and after being opened should be consumed within 24 hours although he said if a vacuum stopper was used it MAY be drinkable for a further 24 hours. Ruby, LBV, white and rose ports if kept in the fridge and closed with vacuum stoppers, although best during the first 24 hours, may be drinkable for up to a week. The only exception is tawny port which is oxidised as part of the production process and once opened kept in the fridge (no vacuum stopper required) it may last for up to nine months - like that will ever happen!!

Having tried a number of the excellent ports on offer we were particularly impressed by two, the first the 1999 Vintage Port and the second a twenty year old tawny. we would have liked to buy a box of each but as the one of each we bought cost around €100.00 . . . . . .

2nd - 8th April 2018.

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain  . . . . . .

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain  . . . . . .

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain  . . . . . .

Moving day. When we arrived here the final half mile was down a narrow one way street, the way out was down similar narrow roads but outward bound there are two 90 degree corners. The first is easy but the second (although easy when the University is closed and the students cars are elsewhere) when we arrived was quite impossible with parked cars right up to the turn and on the opposite side of the road we were to turn into. We could do only one thing - unhitch the caravan, drive the car round the corner then use the motor-mover to get the caravan round and reunite it with the car. By the time we had completed the manoeuvre there were some fifteen or so cars queueing behind us but all were so patient one even came to ask if he could help in any way as did a young lady walking past and seeing the situation. What no-one did was to get upset and start leaning on the horn.

Once on the main road the rest of the journey was easy peasy, arriving at Camping El Astral early enough to get a good pitch.

From the site it was a relatively short walk into the town of Tordesillas a small hillside town that was a defensive bastion against Muslim invasion.

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Tordesillas old town centre

Exploring Tordesillas town this morning we happened upon a bodega or wine shop which was advertising tours of their cellars we went it and were greeted by the company owners, two sisters both in their early twenties who explained that the company had been set up by their great, great, great grandfather and they were the fifth generation of the family to own the business, their father having recently retired. The shop was relatively small but had cave cellars underneath (part of the towns ancient defences) were perfect for storing/maturing the wines they made from the grapes grown in their own vine yards. The sisters were unbelievably knowledgable about all aspects of wine it’s production and maturation. After the tour we were given tastings of their best wines, perhaps we should say all their wines as we tasted around 10 different. Deciding to purchase a few we picked out four of our favourites and bought a total of ten bottles, the price list indicated that the cheapest was €5.80 and the dearest €12.50, the bill came to €52.00 - how does that work??

9th - 15th April 2018

Only two weeks to ferry crossing day so its time we started making tracks, OK I know its less than 1200 km (745 ml) to St Malo where we catch the ferry but we want to stop at four sites on the way there and visit Malcom, a pal who, till last year, wintered in Portugal, in his new home in France.

Today we planned to go to Camping Orio Kampina just outside San Sebastion on the Spanish/French border a distance of 357 km (222 ml). As we made our way north the predicted low cloud started dropping rain on us which eventually turned to sleet and before we had even reached the half way mark it was snowing hard, while the temperature had dropped to 0*C and although not settling on the roads, which could be to do with the trucks rushing round at high speed spraying some sort of de-icer, cos it sure was settling every where else.

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Ah - Snow!! Just what we wanted - NOT

The driving conditions were quite unpleasant so instead of by-passing Burgos and continuing we turned off the motorway and went to Camping Fuentes Blancas. Not one of our favourite sites but a welcome refuge for people like us who try not to travel on rainy days let alone snowy ones.

It was a long night, because the ground over the entire site was waterlogged we had, in order to get a less flooded pitch been forced to set up under a tree and which at first protected us from the rain which fell most of the night. After a while it organised the rain into large lumps of water which fell on the caravan roof like pebbles. On stepping out we found virtually the entire site under a couple of inches of water and our caravan entirely surrounded by a moat (complete with not one but two swimming ducks) that was getting deeper by the minute.

With four wheel drive on both the car and caravan (four motor mover) we had no trouble getting either off the soggy ground and onto the road, but as we left the site the sleet and snow started again - oh bugger, that’s all we need.

Fortunately it didn’t last long and despite quite thick snow on the fields and roadsides the roads themselves were clear. Mind you with, as we say, five or six snowplough/antifreeze spray trucks in as many miles perhaps thats no surprise.

We had decided that yesterdays original destination was now too close we determined to head for Urrugne in France.

Camping Larrouleta where we are staying was a very fortunate choice because it is close enough to the border to enable us to pop back into Spain to fill our car’s empty 80 litre tank with diesel and do some food shopping.

At the nearest Spanish fuel station to the French/Spanish border every pump had a three or four car queue which apart from us and one Spaniard comprised exclusively French registered cars. One Frenchman in a van was, as well filling the vehicle tank, filling a variety of cans including a couple of 20 litre jerry cans. Well he was paying €1.07 in Spain while the general price in France is around €1.48. There is a similar differential with many foodstuffs.

While chatting to the campsite receptionist she recommended the campsite restaurant saying they had just replaced the “awful staff with really good ones” so we chanced it. The receptionist was right. It was good. Sue started with house salad which was huge and very tasty while I had pate again delicious, for the main Sue had roasted beef flank while I had squid, delicious. Washed down with a local wine the whole lot came to €52.40 (£45.62) more than we have paid for a meal out in years but still, for France, very good value for money.

We have moved to Campsite La Motte just a few miles from where our pal Malcolm has bought a house. Malcolm had a large American RV in which each autumn he travelled to Camping Alentejo in Portugal where he spent the winter returning to UK each spring until ill health forced the sale of the motorhome and the purchase of a house.

We visited Malcolm today. To say the house is in the back of beyond is not an understatement, there is however a closeness between the few residents and Malcolm’s house, although very much a work in progress, is one of those in which you will always feel comfortable and relaxed.

Malcolm came to ours for dinner, a very pleasant evening.

16th - 22nd April 2018

Every day is market day in the sleepy town of Chalais, the nearest town to Malcolm’s home and which has the most magnificent cheese stall we have come across in a very long time. Everything on the stall was sold at one price and the stall holder was very generous with his cheese samples, mind you we did finish up buying a considerable quantity of it.

After the market we went to Aubeterre-sur-Dronne officially listed as “One of the most beautiful villages in France” OK it was pretty but for us the reason for a visit was The Underground Church, also known as "The Monolithic Church” - quite amazing.

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Lunch at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

We have moved to what will be our last site in France for this trip Campsite Domaine du Logis. A five star site the facilities on the site are second to none, although at this time of year the restaurant and swimming pools are closed. We did visit this site in the spring of 2017 but arrived late afternoon and left early morning the following day.

Todays outing was to Dinan a Brittany town in northwest France. It’s known for its medieval ramparts, cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. Dinan Castle has a 14th-century keep and the Tour du Coëtquen, a 15th-century artillery tower. The grand, Gothic-style Saint-Malo Church has vibrant stained-glass windows.

We set off today to what is probably the most famous tourist site in the area - Mont-Saint-Michel, this holy mount is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is its breathtaking bay. Sadly we were unable to get closer than five kilometres or so before all roads were closed to non-residents and to continue you were forced to park and continue by tourist bus. Unfortunately the signage was the worst we had ever experienced we drove around the outlying roads three times (as did the car in front of us) before we got fed up and drove off deciding, admittedly without a shred of evidence, that the car parking and transport to the mount would be an “arm and leg” job, it seemed that sort of place.

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Mont-Saint-Michel a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Our last drive out today - along the Dinard coast road, a very pretty trip - cos tomorrow is washing day.

Weeks 20, 21 & 22 - and still Raining!

5th - 11th March 2018

Brenda and Dave’s final day and guess what? It’s still Raining!

Sue and I have been coming to the Iberian Peninsular since 1995 thats 23years and since 2011 (ignoring winter 2012/13) have been spending the winter months here, so you would think we would remember that restaurants on the Iberian Peninsular close Mondays so when we went out for lunch all the places we fancied were very firmly closed.

We were forced to leg it to the nearest supermarket and buy some lamb which Sue turned into a delicious dinner, oh well, at least as (permanent) designated driver I was able to enjoy a glass or two of wine with it.

It was still raining when we ran Brenda and Dave back to the airport and waved goodbye but by the time we got back to the house it had stopped, hurahhhhhhhhhh

Wednesday - Sunday
It stayed dry until we had cleared our kit from the house and started back to the caravan when the rain started again and continued raining the rest of the week while we stayed in the caravan and kept dry.

12th - 18th March 2018

Its moving day, not a big move just 71 kilometres to the north, to Camping Tamanco. This was, despite the continuing bad weather, a very pleasant site in an area that although visited in 2011 we had not explored extensively.

The town of Outeiro de Lourical is small but the nearest of any significant size to the campsite and we went there today to see the blue picture tiles in the church of Igreja do Convento do Louriçal. It seems we were poking around not in the church entrance as we thought but the convent entrance when a young woman approached us to explain where the entrance to the church was and offered to give us a tour of the convent museum, which is private and not normally open to the public. We had a very interesting tour in some private parts of the convent, sadly we were able to take photos only in the public areas.

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The church of Igreja do Convento do Louriçal

Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain.

We went out for a drive today looking for Fraga da Pena waterfall that had been recommended thinking that with all the rain it should be looking good and when we reached the car park the rain had stopped. Just as well as the information board showed the waterfall to be at the end of a 2.6 km (1.6 ml) “moderate” walk. We set off but before we had got very far the rain started again and the wind picked up just enough to prevent use of brollies. By the time we had got some way I was soaked through, my waterproof wasn’t, and I was frozen cold and very grumpy. My grumpiness was not helped by a car that drove passed us seemingly going to the waterfall.

That was it, I’d had enough I was going back. Sue wanted to continue so I said I would bring the car as far as I could to pick her up and trudged back. Getting to the car I stripped off my wet jacket and started back the way I had just walked. The road/track ended in a small open area into which you could just get two cars, I parked and wandered off to find Sue. If the path to the waterfall was, as the info board indicated, “moderate” I hate to think how hard a path rated “difficult” would be, Sue had managed to get within 300 metres of the falls before accepting that she could go no further on her own, when I caught up with her we continued and managed to get within 100 metres of the still unseen waterfall before we decided that we were beat - twenty, well thirty years ago we would have made it.

Between showers and bouts of torrential rain we visited the nearest beach Praia Osso da Baleia, today, at the end of a long straight narrow road it is, other than toilets and a small cafe, totally un-commercialised. Nothing but a boardwalk over the dunes and miles of golden beach.

On our arrival back at the site we saw that Brits Vicky and Brian, a couple we had met last November at Haro, had arrived on the site. They had spent the winter at Tourist Campo, a site well loved by snowbirds of many nationalities, and had enjoyed it. We however walked round that site in 2011 and decided we would not stay then or any other time. It is a well run site with a popular restaurant and bar and good reasonable sized pitches, however many return to the same pitch year after year and we found it (even in the short time we were there) very “clicky”. Brian agreed with this assessment and said they would not stay that length of time at one site again, but they are young - early retired - and still organising trips like walking the Spanish St James Way a 800 km (500 ml) “stroll” through Spain starting around 9th April and later this summer a bicycle ride following the 1200 km (750 ml) River Rhine from Lake Constance to Rotterdam, good luck to them. You must do it while you can.

Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain.

As well as providing complimentary coffee each morning the camp site have been advertising a “soup night” tonight so we toddled to the site restaurant along with everyone else, customers and staff alike, to eat a delicious home made vegetable soup with fresh crusty bread, as much as you wanted and all for the princely sum of absolutely nothing. What better way to get to know everyone on the site and learn about whats on offer locally.

Golly gosh hooks, a dryish day, we were forced to spend it doing washing not very exciting but we were virtually out of clean clothes.

Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain.

19th - 25th March

Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain.

Its not raining, wonders will never cease.

Told that the nearby town of Leiria has a good market every Tuesday we toddled off there but were very disappointed. It was as promised it was huge but virtually all large non food stalls just a couple of fruit and veg stalls and absolutely no farmer/smallholder stalls. The disappointment continued when we tried to stop to visit the Leiria castle. There was simply nowhere to park, a situation almost unheard of in Portugal.

Feeling rather flat after two disappointments we drove to Figueira da Foz where we wanted to see the Casa do Paço House. An historic building built in the 17th century by D. João Melo, a Coimbra Diocese Bishop, its facade and tower look to the river but its the interior we had come to see, and first we had to find it. Despite having co-ordinates in the sat nav we drove up and down, up and down trying to find it. We parked and walked up and down with an equal lack of success. With local help we eventually found the entrance in a back street (the ground floor at the front was a row of shops), with a large sign that declared it to be open from 10.00 am till 5.00pm. We approached the door, locked, being a little after 2.00pm we assumed it was lunchtime and looking around for confirmation found a small notice that said please ring bell. We did, it was opened by a young lady who invited us in and took a fee of €1.20 each then asked us to wait while she fetched someone who spoke better English than she. A few minutes later a young man appeared introduced himself as Aleixo and proceeded to treat us to a guided tour of the building interior which contains an excellent collection of Delft tiles, dating from the end of the 17th century. The tiles represent landscape, religious motifs, kings, queens and knights.  Alexio was able to identify and tell a brief life story of a good number of each. The history of the tiles is shrouded in mystery but thought to have been recovered from a Dutch merchant ship that sank in the area during a storm. Equally fascinating was Alexio’s lecture on Portuguese picture tiles and where to see them, but how can a guided tour and lecture for just the two of us and lasting over an hour cost the total sum of just €2.80?

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Casa do Paço House

Rain, rain, rain, rain and more rain.

We had intended to move on today but the weather tomorrow is forecast to be better so we will go then

Moving day. Well that was the theory! we packed everything into its travel place, motor moved the caravan on to the road hitched it to the car plugged in the lights at which point the AlKo ATC, the caravan anti-snake device went through a self test and instead of the LED turning from red to green it stayed red. Its a long time since I’ve read the units owner manual but as far as I could remember if the LED stayed red you should not move the van and get it seen to by an engineer.

Caravan shops are few and far between in Portugal but as luck would have it there was one just 5 km (5 ml) away and explaining the problem the proprietor promised an engineer would visit site around 5.00 pm.

The engineer duly arrived but sadly had never even heard of an AlKo ATC let alone know its purpose and in trying to explain I went onto the AlKo site and started reading the manual description to him. As we got further into the manual it said the van should not be towed with a FLASHING red, a steady red simply meant that the computer error memory was full and the unit disabled. It further stated that the situation was “easily remedied” by plugging into the car for a period of twelve hours. Oh great!! we plugged it in planning to leave on the morrow.

Twelve hours later - still the same red light. I phoned Steve (our UK engineer) who said it was never that easy to clear it and suggested we leave it until we got back and as he had all the AlKo diagnostic software he would check it, clear the memory and get everything working again. His only suggestion was that we did not tow with it active but unplugged its power cable located centrally under the caravan above the front axle.

Even with the front of the van jacked up as far as possible there was no way I was going to get underneath. Fortunately there was a very thin young man working on the site who was able, just, to slide underneath and unplugged the unit for me.

As tonight was free soup night we decided to postpone our move till Monday.

Another day sitting in the van reading and waiting for the rain to stop.

It is not raining, well not much anyway so we have gone to the local village market. We were not expecting much as it is a small town and, like in the UK, Sunday markets here tend to be flea markets, people pretending the junk on their stall is really valuable bygones. We were to be pleasantly surprised the market seemed to cover every street in the town with stalls selling everything from brand new tractors (I kid you not there was a tractor stall) to local homemade cheese, bread, smoked meats and all stations in between. Quite simply the best market we have been to in a very long time.

Week 19 - It’s supposed to be warm and dry here!!!

Monday 27th February 2018
We have hit a serious problem today. Sue’s Aunt Brenda and Uncle David is coming out for a visit so we have moved into a house for nine days.

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The house we rented

That tho’ is not the problem, the problem is they fly from Stansted tomorrow morning and the overnight weather forecast is appalling! Lots of snow is expected, so much that the Stansted/ London train service for tomorrow has already been cancelled and the pundits are suggesting travelling will be a nightmare for the next week or so.

We had a text from Brenda and Dave sent from a, so far, snow free Stansted airport and a follow-up to say the plane was ready for taxi and they must turn the phone off.

Brenda and Dave arrived on time but, sadly, by the time we got back to the house the rain was “persisting” down and as we were to find in the fullness of time it would continue to “persist” for some while. Still better the rain in Portugal than the snow in the UK.

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São Martinho do Porto

Just local visiting today we went to the cliffs above São Martinho do Porto on the north side then drove to the southern side and climbed up to the “mirador” or “view point” pretty but by jabbers very windy. Having been to the São Martinho do Porto high points we had a walk along the river at Salir do Porto the next village to the south.

Our day in the car then took us to nearby Foz do Arelho a holiday town situated where the Lagoa de Óbidos meets the sea, unfortunately although the rain had (temporarily) stopped the wind was blowing a hooley, turning the soft golden sand into an aggressive cutting medium.

After all that excitement we bought some split logs, artificial logs (sawdust glued into log sized lumps) and went back to the house to try and get warm. The central heating so far proving rather ineffective.

The log fire lit quite easily and promised a good warm blaze, unfortunately we soon realised that we had a choice of having a fire or breathing. The smoke refused to go up the chimney. The house stinks of smoke!

Hurrahhhhhhhhhhh. The fabric of the house has warmed up and the central heating is having no trouble keeping the house toasty warm. Just as well as the weather outside is awful. We have never known it rain in Portugal this heavy for so long, of course its my fault as last week I emailed a pal saying what good weather we we had had this winter.

After lunch we settled in front of the telly and watched cartoon films.

Still raining.

We have elected to go to Nazaré and Sitio. In reality they are almost the same place but separated by a cliff and connected by a funicular railway. The main tourist part of Nazaré being at sea level while Sitio is on top of the cliff.

Nazaré is pure and simple a seaside holiday spot and while Sitio still has some tourist tat stalls it is a far more cultural place with a beautiful church decorated with 6,568 tiles by Dutch ceramist Williem Van der Klöet. The town is also famous for a small chapel, the Ermida da Memória, which according to legend marks the spot where the Virgin Mary saved Dom Fusas Roupinus, a local bigwig, and his horse from following a deer that leapt off the cliff shrouded in sea mist in 1182.

Still Raining.

As it is the sabbath (it is the Jewish sabbath) we have been on a religious tour today first to Alcobaça where is Portugals largest church the Mosteirode Santa Maria de Alcobaça, a World Heritage site. We had come to see the graves of Pedro the Cruel and his wife Ines, an amazing story about them can be read HERE. Our guide book tells us that “. . . popular legend says that the king insisted that they face each other so that his first sight on Judgement Day would be of her . . .” but a plaque in the church states that until restoration works carried out in the 1950’s the tombs had been positioned alongside each other. Unfortunately there was a christening in progress so we saw the ceremony but not the tombs.

One of the most spectacular church visits in Portugal is spectacular only in bright sunshine when the sun streams through the stained glass windows of Batalha Abbey, another World Heritage site, on to the abbey pillars in a most special manner.


It’s still raining - no sun!!.

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386, between England and Portugal, is the oldest alliance in the world that is still in force so it is obvious that such old allies learn from each other. Sadly the folks at Batalha have learned from England (York Minster springs to mind) that tourists will pay high prices to visit attractions such as this important and interesting abbey. Perhaps I should have said some tourists, we were unwilling to pay what we considered an exorbitant price for each of the four tickets needed for the four most interesting areas - perhaps if the sun was shining??


It’s still raining!

Many museums and other such attractions are free on Sundays so today we went to the ceramics museum at Caldas da Rainha. Although it contains examples of all the prominent local ceramic artists the main man whose work everyone comes to see and who is well represented is Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro - a ceramics master who even today still influences Portuguese ceramics.

Weeks 11 to 18 - Busy doing nothing, nothing 🎶 🎶

Weeks 11 to 13
Time passed quietly and pleasantly through January.

We went for some longs walks bought some super fish and meat at the local municipal market, lots of very pleasant and very cheap local wine and had some very pleasant evenings with fellow campers Val,John (you would all like John cos’ he was the guy who hosed me down from head to foot with freezing water the first time we met) and Cassie the dog.

Weeks 14 to 17
Moving week.

We had been at Vila Nova de Milfontes for so long we have almost taken root. We have to move south as Sue’s friend and former boss Karen is coming to Portugal’s Algarve for a group golfing holiday and we have arranged to meet up with her so we have moved to Camping Canelas just outside Armação de Pêra on the western end of the Algarve not far from Portimao.

We have been invited to dinner in an Alvor restaurant on Monday evening with Karen and her entire group. Thinking it would be nice not having to drive home we had a look at Camping Alvor, just a short walk from the restaurant. Perhaps driving home would not be such a bad thing!!

We visited Camping Alvor during our first Adventure over the winter 2011/12 when we stayed at the top or sunny end of the site, this time the top or sunny end was packed to bursting while the “dismal” end was virtually empty and very dismal indeed. A Brit that was just leaving said they had been before (to the top end) and enjoyed the site and area so much they had returned and intended to stay a couple of weeks. Two days after arriving they were leaving saying that it was depressing at the bottom end of the site and they had no plans to return.

Not fancying driving back to the campsite after dinner we had a look at local hotels and booked a room at the four star Pestana Alvor Park Hotel. We had a “studio apartment” an air conditioned set of rooms with a little kitchen with tea and coffee making facilities, a complimentary bottle of wine and pack of “pastel de nata” tarts, a good sized bedroom/lounge. Also included was access to a big heated indoor swimming pool and sauna and, most important, it was walking distance to the restaurant and all for just €44.00 per night, thats less than £20.00 per head.

Our night at the restaurant was very enjoyable - good food, good wine (with plenty of it) and good company followed by a night in a real bed in a real room, what more could you want?

We had another afternoon with Karen (when the golf course allowed her to escape) which was pleasant indeed.

After Karen’s visit we had intended to move further east to visit friends Ann and John however the sites at the eastern end of the Algarve seem to be full, almost to bursting so we have decided to stay put and visit by car. If you are prepared to pay the (inexpensive) tolls to travel on the A22 you can get from Sagres in the extreme west of Portugal over to the Spanish border in less than an hour and a half and from Camping Canelas to where Ann and John are staying is under an hour.

Week 18
We have had some very pleasant days and meals with Ann and John including a visit to Praia da Marinha, one of the most emblematic and beautiful beaches of Portugal and listed as one of the 100 best beaches in the world. Of course, like the other 99 countries Portugal lists Praia da Marinha as the absolute number one.

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Praia da Marinha.

Having been at Camping Canelas for around five weeks we really must move on, Sue’s Aunt Brenda and Uncle David are visiting next week so we’ve gone back north to São Martinho do Porto where we will move into a villa for a week leaving the caravan lonely and neglected.

Weeks 6 - 10 - Wandering towards Christmas.

19th - 25th November 2017


We are still in the area of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park and seem to have spent all our time in this region driving around, and, in an area as spectacular as this, that is no surprise. There seem to be few foreign tourists, there were no menus in languages other than Portuguese outside restaurants and those locals we spoke to seemed surprised but pleased to see us. It is a great place to explore particularly if walking or rambling is your thing; the trails are endless and range from very easy to “bloody hell’. It is a place we would want to revisit, but in the spring or autumn, not the winter.

Moving day - southwards towards the warmer weather, we hope, and an unashamed Portuguese seaside holiday area.

We have fetched up at a small seaside town called Vagueira, it is home to a very rare animal indeed, a decent Orbitur campsite. I have moaned about Orbitur before, they are the biggest camping site company in Portugal and have sites in all the best places. Unfortunately Orbitur have never heard the word “maintenance” let alone the two words “planned maintenance”. On our first adventure during the winter 2011/12 we visited an Orbitur site that had just opened a brand new toilet block when we went back three years later although the block was still clean the shower heads were so full of limescale they squirted small amounts of water in all directions, the shower mixers were so in need of re-washering that water, some of it in boiling jets was escaping from every joint, all the loo seats were gone and the place felt thirty not three years old. Camping Park Da Vagueira is the exception that proves the rule, click HERE to read my report.

Wednesday - Sunday
Close to where we are staying is the small seaside town of Costa Nova do Prado, whose two claims to fame are a soft sandy beach and striped houses, that have become a traditional and unique feature of the town.

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The main reason we came to this area was Alveiro - known as the Venice of Portugal.

Alveiro, a university town, has a number of canals running round and through it and a, very in your face, canal boat ride tourism industry. The boats are traditional, a little like the shape of Ventian gondola but larger and propelled by a large outboard motor rather than a big stick. The boat tours are short but interesting and inexpensive. Alveiro is very much an art nouveau town where there are many fine art nouveau buildings and an art nouveau museum that is worth a visit.

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26th November - 3rd December 2017

Monday - Thursday
This week has gently passed us by, we have done the laundry and other household tasks and taken long walks along the seafront, with a quick visit to Arouca where we hoped to visit the convent and its associated museum. Unfortunately for us a Christmas market was being set up so we managed neither objective. We did however find out why sweets and desserts using egg yolks as the prime ingredient are such a speciality of the area. It seems that the nuns habits were kept starched with a concoction made from egg whites which resulted in a great many yolks with no clear purpose, so with lots of sugar and ingenuity the delicious “convent sweets” were invented.

The area is also known as the Arouca Geopark a large natural park where some of the finest fossil specimens have been found. Sadly this is not the season to visit and in any case it is far too big an area for the time we have available but we will be back.

We had intended to spend the weekend here continuing our week of doing nothing very much but a Dutch family arrived yesterday mum, dad, two daughters aged around seven and nine and an old red setter dog. The first thing they did on arrival was turn the dog out where it was left to amuse itself. All was OK until in the wee small hours it got cold and lonely, so it started to bark which turned into a pitiful howl, it went on for the remainder of the night. It was not until the morning that we realised the dog had no bed, no food or water bowls - no nothing, no wonder it was fed up.

Not wanting to get into a row about animal care and certainly not wanting another sleepless night despite our “never move on a Friday” rule we packed up and left.

Fridays are the days the Portuguese and Spanish tend to head for the sites for a weekend of partying, moving on a Friday may mean you having a pitch right in the middle of a two day bar-B-que/street party and as pleasant and hospitable as they are it can be very tiring.

We arrived at Parque de Campismo Baía Azul (Blue Bay Camping) and have set up with a view across the very blue bay of São Martinho do Porto.


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We went for a very pleasant walk around the bay today, no need to use the car, just walk out the gate and turn right. Half way along the prom and one road back is a municipal building that houses the tourist information office at the back of which is a lift that whisks you up four floors to the level of the old town centre - how civilised is that?

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The Lift

4th December - 10th December 2017

São Martinho do Porto is unashamedly a seaside holiday town, far enough from the nearest airport at Lisbon to discourage foreign package tours (although lots of Brits own property round here) but a perfect distance for Lisbon residents. Here the beach is king, there being many miles of unspoiled golden sands and within the town precincts more bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at and at all price levels. While this is great in season, many are closed in the winter but enough stay open, particularly at weekends, to give a very good choice.

We were recommended, by someone on the site, to a tiny cafe in a back alley that turned out to be a little gem, run by a young couple - he the chef, she front of house - on our first visit it was his night off so no food was available, we went back a couple of days later. The menu comprised lots of small plates of Portuguese speciality food designed to be shared. Even taking into account the casual attitude to time of the Portuguese we thought the food took an unreasonable time to reach our table but when it did we realised the amount of care, attention and skill that had gone into each element, for instance the grilled gambons (prawns) had been carefully peeled and the vein removed from the back without removing the head or tail before coating in spices and grilling. Absolutely Fabulous, and the entire meal was cooked to the same standard. By Portuguese standards it was not cheap at €42.00 for the two of us but that did include a bottle of wine and a couple of pints of beer and, we thought, good value for money.

We spent the remainder of the week wandering the beaches and the town with the intention of moving on on Friday until we learned that São Martinho do Porto has a floating Christmas tree. It is the only one in Europe and one of only two in the world, the other being in Brazil, this we had to see, even if it meant staying put until Monday.

The lighting ceremony was scheduled to start at 10.30pm.

Yea right! This is Portugal - midnight is a much more likely time.

The organiser was obviously not Poirtugese, as on the stroke of 10.30 the tree was switched on and a few minutes later the fireworks started. They were superb, the best we can remember at the end of which a band - Hi-Fi, Energy Music - leapt onto a large mobile stage built across the main prom road and started a concert that lasted until 2.30am. We know because we were less than a half mile from the stage with nothing in between to deaden the sound.

It was a great and successful night for the town and on Saturday evening we walked along the prom in a blustery wind to admire the floating tree and its stunning computer controlled light show.

The following morning we again wandered the prom and at first could not understand what was different. Oh yes. No tree.

The wind overnight had been very strong and the tree was now at the bottom of the bay. The company that provided and installed the Christmas light display was already with a “cherry picker” repairing the on land displays but I can’t see how they can recover, repair and replace the floating tree in time for this year. What a shame, a sad and presumably expensive end to a great idea.

11th December - 17th December 2017

Monday is moving day, we have moved further south to Parque de Campismo Alcacer do Sal, it is a small municipal site we planned to stay for around ten days but on arrival were told that the site was to close on Wednesday 13th until further notice for “essential maintenance work”.

Like many sites in Portugal this one has a motorhome/caravan/car cleaning bay, as we wandered around looking for a good pitch I noticed a motorhome with a UK numberplate being cleaned.

I’m sure you can all guess my reaction, I went over and said to the guy “When you’ve practiced on that one I’ve got a caravan that needs doing” he turned to speak unfortunately with the gushing hose in his hand. I was soaked from head to toe. Hells teeth was it cold!!!!!

With just one day we decided to do the washing using the 18kg machine in the supermarket next door to the site - such excitement.

Second move in a week. We are now at Camping Milfontes which will be our base until at least the new year.

18th December - 24th December 2017

Even less to write about this week than last, we have spent our time preparing for Christmas, but for us there is not much planning to do. We bought some wine, some beer and some gin, so my Christmas was sorted but Sue insisted on buying food as well.

One of the reasons we came to this particular site is because we knew from past experience there was a large group of Brits and a large group of members of a German singles group meet up here each Christmas - except it seems this one. Some of the Brits are here but none of the Germans and the atmosphere is very subdued.

I was reading a caravan forum this morning and read a thread on travel timings when towing a caravan. Nothing wrong with that. The opening poster was planning a journey towing a caravan to Devon from Sheffield, again no problem till he said the journey was to take place in July 2018 - ye gods, I thought I was being a bit laid back when we get up in the morning hitch up the van input a lat/long destination into the sat-nav and headed off into Europe with no other planning but to start planing a 250/300 mile trip in UK six months in advance?????????

25th December - 31st December 2017

Christmas came and went with barely a whimper although we did get our traditional Christmas morning paddle. We had a very pleasant dinner, we bought a LARGE turkey leg, removed bone and tendons, then with home made stuffing rolled and roasted it. Served with all the trimmings and a bottle of Portuguese wine - fantabulous.

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The wine was a Christmas gift from the camp site, two bottles of red and a bottle of white in a presentation box. Very nice but we do wonder why they do it, and how recipients are selected as not all campers receive - weird.

The site is still very quiet, there have been no Christmas get togethers and this week has passed almost un-noticed.

Whoa!!! Take back all I said, we have an invite. A New Years Eve party. Not sure who is organising it but we will go for a while later.

Later - We still don’t know who organised the afternoon party but whoever it was could certainly cook. the food was superb. We said our goodbyes around tea time but some were still partying well into the night.

Week 5 - Summer devastation

12th - 18th November 2017

For our last day in Haro we decided to give up on viewing the autumn colours from above and visit a local monastery. The sat-nav took us through the centre of Haro as we left the site and we saw something going on in the main square, tables had been set up around the square displaying something we could not make out as we drove past so we parked to have a nose. It was a display of all things fungus, edible fungus in all its forms is a speciality of the area, and this display showed all of those plus a great number of the deadly variety - fascinating.

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Fungus Art?

The Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Valvanera is high in the hills, (but still no autumn colours) and I confess I found it a little disappointing. There was no information to be had, in any language let alone English and the whole place had a rather forlorn deserted feel to it. We had a short walk about and returned to the caravan to prepare for moving on tomorrow.

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Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Valvanera

There was a great deal of hustle and bustle on the site this morning, virtually everyone is leaving, around half back to UK the other half south to seek the sun.

We have moved around 313 km (195 miles} south west to Camping Olimpia, small site just a few metres from the motorway near Salamanca, a town we visited last year so will give it a miss.

We visited Zamora today what a super town with a most pleasant atmosphere and the strong impression that when someone, a shopkeeper or local in the street said “Hello” they really meant it, it was a joy to wander the attractive medieval streets although sadly the cathedral was closed for lunch - from 1.00 till 4.30. An interesting point to note in this and many other Spanish towns is that we arrived at noon and paid €0.60 for two hours parking, the ticket was valid till 4.00 as parking is not chargeable between 2.00pm and 4.00pm the official lunch hour - weird or what! Perhaps The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan would consider adopting a similar policy with the various vehicle charges in London?

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Zamora cathedral roof

We were told this morning by a Dutch couple that the site restaurant was worth a visit so tonight we ate there. It was good and you can read about the meal HERE

Had a super drive into the country today to the Douro River that for much of its length acts a border between Spain and Portugal and along whose banks grow superb wine grapes. We crossed into Portugal for a minute or two as the road followed over a dam that created one of the reservoirs along the length of the river. We were only there for a minute or two but long enough to get a text from EE welcoming us to Portugal and very shortly after another welcoming us to Spain.

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The Spanish / Portuguese Border

The meal we had in the site restaurant last night was so good we repeated the experience tonight, you can read about that meal HERE.

Moving day, thats twice in a week. Things are getting serious. This time we have crossed into Portugal for a longer stay and fetched up at Quinta das Cegonhas Parque Rural a small Dutch owned site inside the Serra da Estrela Natural Park. I recently refuted a report that Little Henham had a very difficult approach, the guy who wrote the report should never under any circumstances visit this site. The reasons why are explained in my site report.

Friday to Monday
As a holiday destination, Serra da Estrela may not be as well-known as other regions, like the Algarve, mainly because the weather tends to be colder than other places in the country – but it’s nevertheless popular, especially amongst the Portuguese, who often travel here to hike or simply watch the snow fall.

We have spent four days exploring this beautiful area of Portugal. In some ways it is comic in that Torres (Tower) so named by Don João VI in 1817 decided that this, the highest point in mainland Portugal at 1993m was an affront to the country and had a tower built to raise the height by some 7m to over 2000m (it is, obviously, still listed as being 1993m) and in others tragic in that it was part of the area devastated by wildfires this summer (2017) when in central Portugal 64 people were killed and more than 250 others injured. In one incident, flames spread so quickly that some people died after being trapped in their cars as they tried to drive to safety. Some 520,000 hectares of land in Portugal were destroyed by the fires, which is nearly 60% of the total of burnt land in the entire European Union despite Portugal contributing 2.1% of Europe’s total landmass (source - Reuters). It was sad to drive round and see mile after mile of black sooty ground and black upright sticks that just a few months ago were full grown trees.

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To give scale the trees middle left, killed by the fire but still standing are mature pine trees

Right at the summit is a shopping mall, lots of small outlets selling local produce and what often looks like home made slippers, sweaters etc,. The "local produce” consisted mainly of a sheeps cheese and Presunto ham.

Week 4 - On the road again.

5th - 11th November 2017 (plus some bits before)

Week 4, seems strange to call it that as it’s actually week 7 if you count from the start of this adventure. However we have been at home (we call Little Henham home when we are in UK) for three weeks during which time if I listed all the problems we have had, caravan heating packing up, partial electrical failure on the car etc., etc., etc., you would all be in tears it is so tragic.

So we will confine those weeks to the dark, the very darkest, recesses of our memory and week 4 it is, as a bonus I am including bits of the last few days of last week, week 3 or should that be week 6 . . . . . 

We had stayed in the UK later than usual in order to attend the wedding of nephew Mark to Jaquie, a splendid day at the Leez Priory that the couple truly deserved. A great start to what we hope and trust will be a long and happy life together.

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The exchange of rings - photo © R S Ghost

From Little Henham we moved to Chapel Farm CL, it was the closest site to Basildon we could find so that we could unload a few last minute items and then, after a  24 hour delay caused by gridlock on the worlds biggest free car park - the M25 - we set off to Exeter Race Course Camping Club Site where we overnighted before continuing on to Plymouth Ferry Port for our crossing to Santander.

Plymouth Ferry Port is not the easiest to get to as trucks, motorhomes and car/caravans must follow a route that seems to take you through the city via crowded roads requiring frequent lane changes, fine for confident, pushy drivers like me who consider that with a total rig length of 41 ft other drivers should avoid me not ‘tother way round but probably a bit intimidating if you are less confident when towing. The ferry we were booked on was the Pont-Aven, what Brittany Ferries call their “flagship” ferry which was easy and roomy to board after waiting till almost everyone else had been loaded, a pain but, as with most ferries, it is last on first off.

We have been having the more de-lux cabins for crossing over the last year or two, partly because of Sue’s increased susceptibility to seasickness and partly because as we get older we increasingly value the extra comfort. On this occasion we booked a “Commodore class” cabin the poshest yet, a sleeping area with twin beds, a separate sitting area with sofa, small armchairs and desk and best of all a private balcony complete with teak table and chairs and, by chance, on the sunny side of the ship.

One of the main advantages of the cabin didn’t manifest until we approached the dock. In every crossing we have made so far we have been required to vacate the cabin up to an hour before docking, this time although a staff member came and took away all the laundry we were invited to stay in our cabin until the ship was tied up in Santander at which point we walked through a deserted ship, took an empty lift down to the garage deck and within a few minutes of arriving at the car was driving off the ferry - so easy, so civilised and only 195km to our first Spanish campsite Kemping Red De Haro Kemping.

Haro is the capitol town of the district of La Rioja, the most famous wine growing region of Spain. The town has been at the centre of the wine industry for many centuries, indeed it was from Haro that the French wine makers bought vines when in the 1860’s the phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the vineyards for wine grapes in Europe, most notably in France, whilst vines from the Haro area were unaffected until the late 1880’s. It was during this period that French winemakers realised that using French techniques the quality of the wine produced in Rioja could surpass the great vintages of France. Of course being tight we will not spend the dosh necessary to get that quality of wine as so far we have bought just three bottles of Rioja the first at €1.85 (£1.64) and the other two at €1.09 (£0.97) each, and surprise surprise all three were very drinkable.

We visited the Vivanco Winery in Briones. The Vivanco family have been making wine in La Rioja for four generations since the early 1900’s. They have purchased a lot of land and built a number of wineries since the start all of which are still owned and run by the family but the jewel in the crown is the Briones winery modern and built with oak fermenting vessels by a French company and although it has a small number of stainless steel fermenting vessels where it produces white and rose wines the bulk of its production is aged red wine. The two mainstays are a “Crianza”, which must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months, and be two years old before sale, “Reserva” must also be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of a year and a minimum of three years old before sale

Vivanco Winery is the only winery in the region that use only grapes from their own vineyards, they age “Crianza” for 18 months in oak barrels and with a further six months ageing in the bottle and “Reserva” for two and a half years in the oak barrels with another six in the bottle. We tried both in the tasting room after the tour and they were very tasty too!!

Attached to the winery is a large very impressive museum which houses the Vavanco family collection of all things wine. We were told to allow 1.1/2 hours for our visit but stayed the best part of three hours.

It was rather late by the time we left the winery tour so the next day we went back for a few bottles one of which we drank that night with our roast beef dinner - fantabulous!!!

The weather has been pretty awful since we arrived here it has rained for either all or part of every one of the six days. Such a shame because in this area the vines are not pruned immediately after harvest as in some regions. The leaves are left to shed naturally then the pruning done in January so the area now is a huge carpet of green, red, gold and yellow as the vine leaves adopt their autumn colours. We are told it’s a stunning site when looked on from one of the high villages in the mountains that surround the area. We can’t see the mountains or the villages just the low, low cloud, and as for seeing the valleys below them. . .

Got up this morning and although cloudy the rain has stopped so after getting a load of washing done (well Sue did) we set of to visit a local Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, whose main claim to fame is a miracle that involves a roast chicken coming back life not unlike that of the Portuguese legend of the Rooster of Barcelos. In 1350 Pope Clemente VI granted a dispensation to allow live animals to be kept in the church and a hen and a rooster have been kept there ever since (not the same ones of course) in a cage built high in the church. The birds looked happy and in good condition so we must assume the birds we saw are short term internees from a larger free range group.

It was quite pleasant when we left the cathedral, virtually clear blue skies and warm sunshine. We searched our maps and found a circular route around green roads that looked as if they may just take us high enough see the vineyard autumn colours from above. It was a stunning drive, we rose 1862 m (6109 ft) above sea level, thats nearly twice the height of Mount Snowden’s summit. Sadly by the time we started the serious climbing the cloud started to roll back in and by the time we reached the highest point we were enveloped in cloud, all we could do was play in the snow as we could could not see anything of what we are assume were magnificent views all around us.

Week 2 - Boring Boring and Week 3 - Problems Problems.

2nd - 8th October 2017

We have been visiting Lyme Regis many times over the years staying for many years at a Caravan Club CL Green Lane Farm, a CL of the old school, just a tap, black water disposal point. No toilets, no showers and (the reason we no longer stay) no electricity. This visit we have chosen an ACSI site (there are now 47 ACSI sites in UK and more are joining each year) Wood Farm Caravan Site. We came here a couple of years ago and were impressed.

Our first outing in the area was into Lyme Regis to visit the fishmonger “Wetfishshop Ltd”, one of the best, although not the cheapest, fishmonger we have come across. We bought two line caught Dorado - delicious. It was staggering how busy the town was, OK it was the weekend and the sun was (briefly) shinning but we have been there in August when it was quieter.

When we arrived at this site and asked for a pitch for a few days there was a sucking of breath and a long and sigh filled look at the computer before we were allocated a pitch. We thought this a bit of theatre particularly when we arrived at our pitch and saw most in our area were vacant. By the following evening virtually every pitch on the site was occupied, and not an Indian summer in sight. We had a pleasant couple of days revisiting one or two of the old places and would have liked to visit many more - perhaps next time.

We have decided that we need to visit the lock-up again before leaving UK for the winter so rather than heading into Cornwall as planned we have turned north and fetched up at the small Somerset coastal town of Brean, south of Western-Super-Mare. The camp site - Holiday Resort Unity - is unashamedly a Hi de Hi style holiday centre (it was Country and Western week), lots of opportunity for activity and almost as many for inactivity. We spent four rather boring days here, there is little in the immediate area that caught our imagination and the entertainment while we would have liked to attend was so popular there was standing room only, not pleasant for a whole evening and anyway at the advertised time there was no sign of the Dolly Parton tribute band, in fact the warm-up duo had just got on stage. We went back to the caravan and watched telly.

9th - 15th October 2017

Monday is moving day, well it would be if we could get power from the car to the caravan.

Everything was ready, we moved the car to the front of the caravan, hitched up and plugged in the power cable, where normally there is then the noise of the anti snake device doing a self test this time only silence. We spent some time trying to sort it but eventually were forced to ring the ADAC our breakdown service in Germany. As breakdown callouts go the response was quite quick, the AA man (the AA act as ADAC UK agents) was on site just an hour and a half later and soon diagnosed a fault in the socket on the back of the car. He bitched a temporary repair together and at around 1.00pm, around 3hours later than planned we set off on our 230 mile journey north.

I could write at great length about that journey but you would almost certainly end in tears, the normally four hour journey took over seven, traffic jams the whole way - nightmare!!

We arrived in the pitch dark, and discovered we had driven all that way with only indicator lights and a nearside brake light working. The following morning we called in at a local tow bar specialist less than a mile from the campsite and he stopped the job he was on and spent the next two and a half hours wiring a new 13 pin caravan power socket on the back of the car. This did not completely cure the problem so when the chap had finished the job he interrupted when we arrived he called in at the campsite and replaced the power socket on the caravan which was full of water - job now done!

The bill was a bit of an embarrassment, the chap had spent over three hours working on our problem, he supplied a new socket and plug and included a site visit, his invoice totalled £30.00. That means he was working for less than minimum wage, I can’t even see it covering his costs. We gave him £60.00 feeling even that was less than half of what it should have been.

While in t’north we took the opportunity to pop into see old pals Carol and David who live in glorious Cumbria, it was lovely to see them, they are very fond of cruising so we were very lucky to catch them at home and thankfull we had not elected to see them the previous day as there had been so much rain in that 24 hours large parts of Cumbria were cut off by floods, even the day we visited there was a lot of water in fields and low roads.

After spending another day in and out of our lock-up/shipping container we hitched up and set off down the M6 heading for Little Henham Hall Farm, and this time the traffic was kind to us.

Week 1 - The UK Bit.

26th September - 1st October 2017

Well, we have been back from summer Adventure No Eight for a few weeks, both car and caravan have been serviced, our teeth checked and eyes tested so it’s high time we were away again. We had been planning to be on our world tour this winter but this was posponed yet another year to enable us to save some more pennies so, what to do for the coming winter?

Both of us would dearly love to go somewhere new but all our available information tells us that of all European countries with warm winter sun only Spain and Portugal are set up to exploit the “grey pound”. In all the other warm winter European countries camp sites close along with many restaurants and other facilities that us wrinklies desire, so it's back to Spain and Portugal again.

People often ask us if there is any thing new left to see there?  Both are such diverse countries that there is always something new, besides during the last two years we have spent three months of each in the same place so there is, we hope, still much to see.

We have a family wedding to attend at the end of October but not wanting to wait till after that to head off we decided to start moving south through France then fly back for the wedding after which we would fly back and continue with our journey. Well that was the idea.

Having decided the where, we set about sorting the how, setting a route through france to Gerona, the Bay of Roses and Barcelona an area we have yet to visit. Unfortunately come the middle of September France’s campsites, generally, close. We have been told (but are unable to confirm) that site owners face large additional local tax costs if they remain open for more than six months per year. We eventually found some camp sites open till the end of October but then couldn’t find fights back for the wedding. We did eventually find an airport with flights back to UK but at a price we were not prepared to pay.

So! we stay in UK till after the wedding. We have toddled off to Southampton today, not that far down the road just about 150 miles to Hamble le Rice on the River Hamble, just a few miles from Southampton. We would have been happy staying where we were at Little Henham but tend get a bit too comfortable there and if not careful finish up doing nothing and going no where.

The site Riverside Tour. & Hol. Park is pleasant but , at the moment, very wet after the bad weather we have had recently. It seems this is an old problem as the facilities block has been built on stilts and the mobile home type caravans on the higher ground. Only the tourers pitched up in the wet.

We had a walk around Hamble le Rice today, took all of 15 minutes. Pretty village though, I remember in my sailing days eating at The Bugle the main pub in the village. It was very good though expensive, apparently its still the same today.

A place neither of us have visited before is Calshot Spit a long shingle spit that has protected Southampton water since the building of Calshot Castle in Tudor times by Henry IIIV. From 1913 to 1961 Calshot Spit was the home to an RAF flying boat and seaplane station.The huge main hanger remains and is currently used as an activities centre.

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Calshot Castle

Leaving Portsmouth Harbour on a ferry to Spain or Brittany it is impossible not to see and be impressed by the Spinnaker Tower, so while here we decided to go have a closer look. The entrance fee is not particularly cheap at £10.50 for a standard adult ticket (as genuine wrinklies we paid £8.50 per ticket) and if you have the extras, souvenir guide book, photos, etc ., etc., it gets expensive. However the lift whisks you to the top at 4m/sec taking just 30 seconds and all the staff are friendly, knowledgable and all able to make you feel you are the most important visitor they have ever had. Whoever trained them did a great job.

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Spinnaker Tower - Portsmouth

The views from the top are stunning and there were staff available whose entire job is to answer all visitor questions and to help them in anyway possible. It was difficult not to feel like royalty!!

Having spent our four days in Southampton area we were pleased it was time to leave Riverside Tour. & Hol. Park. Although a pleasant site the rain has been fairly relentless the last few day so where the site had simply been soggy when we arrived now it had transformed into a 2” deep paddling pool with a soggy bottom. Very unpleasant and without a 4x4 I’m quite sure that where we were placed we would have been unable to move the car on and off its parking space and although, in normal times, I would have hitched the caravan up and towed it off the pitch, today to save ploughing trenches I 4-wheel motor-moved the caravan onto the tarmac road before hitching up. The drive to our next site, Wood Farm Caravan and Camping Park, was short and sweet, just 85 miles that was done and dusted in not much more than a couple of hours. Now that we have arrived we can batten down the hatches and prepare for the high winds and torrential rain forecast for tomorrow.

© S W Ghost 2017