Week 53

Day 365 – Friday 8th March 2019

A lovely sunny morning in Peñíscola.

Today it is one year since I retired; I had a late breakfast with Rob Bristow then walked out of Swanwick for the last time.

Have I missed work? I miss the great people I worked with. I really enjoyed my stints on C & D watch and on the original A watch and my time on the EOS team; I miss all the banter but I don’t miss the actual work.

Don’t get me wrong I love sorting out a tricky fault and I think that’s what NATS paid me to do but I’d had enough of the same niggley faults, the ones that crop up week after week; issues that should have been fixed years ago. It didn’t really help that the local management gave us a series of crappy but apparently really expensive tools to manage the workload.

I think the best way to get any company working smarter is to regularly sack a few useless managers. The workers all know who the useless ones are and imho they should be given an annual vote every Christmas; give everyone something to look forward to throughout to the dark days of December 😀

Anyway I digress. Into Peñíscola for a nose around and some lunch.

Peñíscola has a 14th century castle which was added to in 1960 when some of El Cid was filmed there.

More recently it has been used in season 6 of Game of Thrones

shit, I’ve given away the ending!! 😀

The town has a really huge sandy bay

After the sightseeing we repaired to Bayarri for lunch. It was the only place in on the front doing chips

I ate so much I was in pain…

I needed a lie down

Day 366 – Saturday 8th March 2019

Another sunny day in Peñíscola. We packed up and headed for Barcelona.

The 3 Estrellas is the closest campsite to Barcelona and thankfully it does not seem as bad as its reviews.

We have a nice big pitch by the beach which Cfor likes. So everything is fine.

Even if we are at the end of El Prat’s runway.

Day 367 – Sunday 9th March 2019

A very sunny day and we hopped on a bus into the city centre..

First stop

Next stop, Europe’s oldest building site. Luckily all the tickets were sold out.

I have my suspicions that they’ll never finish La Sagrada Familia because once it’s open to the public as a church they won’t be able to charge people £15 to have a gander round a fuckin’ building site.

I suddenly felt ill at lunch. Really ill. Aching all-over, organs shutting down & dying ill. Don’t know how I made it back to the campsite.

Spent the rest of the day in bed.

Day 368 – Monday 10th March 2019

An overcast start to the day but it soon got sunny. Still ill. Spent the day in bed, dozing in the sun or sat on the bog; real eye of a needle stuff.

Day 369 – Tuesday 11th March 2019

A really bad night last night. Spent half the time on the bog. At one point I woke up literally drenched in sweat but I actually feel better this morning. Spent the day dozing in chairs and drinking rehydration fluids.

Day 370 – Wednesday 12th March 2019

Woke up feeling a whole lot better. Actually felt hungry so had some beans on toast which made me feel slightly worse. Overcast day and cold. Spent the day sitting quietly with my rehydration fluids..

Day 371 – Thursday 13th March 2019

A beautiful sunny day 🙂 Woke up feeling great 😀 Julie needed some persuading that I was fit enough to go into Barca but we set off on the bus about 10ish and headed for Las Rambla.

I’d already crossed the trip to the Nou Camp stadium & museum off the list of things to do as paying €30 each to look some old Messi & Cruyff shirts seemed a little expensive as I could probably buy them along with a Neymar shirt in town and still have change for a beer, some tapas and coffee.

Las Rambla is a main drag in Barcelona; a tourist and therefore a pickpocket mecca.

These are Caganers, Shitters. They are little figurines of famous people doing a dump – there is a brown coil behind each one – and they are part of the Christmas tradition in Catalonia. Placed with the nativity scene they are supposed to bring luck and prosperity as the dump fertilizes the soil.

Julie wanted to see some Gaudi architecture so we headed over to the Park Güell.

Park Güell is a nice park but it’s a lot more crowded than when I last visited some 10 or 11 years ago.

I was surprised to see that you now had to pay to see the decorative Gaudi tiling.

Well I say surprised but like everything in Spain it was an unfinished building site and the Spanish have been getting away with charging people to stay in building sites since the 1960s.

Yeah I know Spain is broke. I can see that everywhere but charging €8.50 to go around a crowded building site is a fuckin’ joke. I blame the millennials and our Chinese friends. These places get added to bucket lists and these sheep are then prepared to shell out good money for shite. All today’s tickets were sold out, I was disappointed for Julie.

My very favourite site in Barcelona… the Magic Fountain.

Fountains are meant to be happy joyous things and this one delivers in spades. What’s more it’s free… for now!

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Julie’s Year

Julie:  I can not believe it has been a year since Tom and I retired, and we set off on our travels around Europe in our beloved Hymer Motorhome called Nelly, and with the little Honda Motorbike called Zippy. The year has just gone so quickly. My 12 year old Cat called Cfor came along too.

Nelly

Julie:  We have travelled through France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar and Spain.

Tom has asked me for my highlights for the blog to celebrate our first year of travelling. I’ve chosen some of my favourite photos to show the gorgeous places we have visited.

So we set off very excitedly on Friday 9th March 2018,  we drove to Dover to catch the Ferry to Calais. While on board the Ferry Tom received a message from a friend it said “Your adventures start today. Have a wonderful time, try everything and regret nothing” those words have stayed with me for our entire journey. I’ve tried to do so everyday.

Our journey from Calais to The South of France was lovely. The highlight for me was the beautiful little villages we stayed in. Parfondeval, Mirmande and Oingt.

Parfondeval

Mirmande

Julie:  Then to the charming town of Avignon, really loved the ‘Pont Saint Benezet’ a really sweet little bridge with a Chapel built on it.  Aix-en Provence was lovely too.

Avignon

Julie:  Then on to Antibes, we both loved it. Lovely town and very swanky harbour with splendid superyachts. The campsite was really good, we had a large pitch and the site was very cat friendly.

Antibes

Julie :  While in Antibes we saw the superyacht called Sailing Yacht A, it is owned by a Russian billionaire and is worth £360 million. It started my obsession with spotting superyachts, but this is still my favourite.

Sailing Yacht A

Julie:  Antibes is between Cannes and Nice. Nice is absolutely gorgeous too, actually all the Cote d’Azur is just perfect.

Antibes

Nice

Julie:  Nice has a Hard Rock Cafe (an obsession of mine) My son Darren and his girlfriend Lucy took me to my first Hard Rock Cafe in 2007 in Times Square in New York where I bought my first T-Shirt. Ever since then I get very excited when I find another Hard Rock Cafe and I just have to buy another T-Shirt for my collection.

We travelled on to Italy. We had many scares in Nelly on very narrow roads which Tom has covered in detail in his blog. But it was all worth it to arrive at La Spezia and from there by boat we visited ‘The Cinque Terre Villages’  Portovenere, Riomaggiore and Vernazza. So very beautiful.

Portovenere

Riomaggiore

Vernazza

Julie:  In April we visited Pisa and the famous leaning tower. It was far more beautiful than I imagined it would be. The Cathedral and the Battistero were extraordinary too.

Pisa

Julie:  We then went on to Barberino val d’Elsa in the Chianti region of Tuscany and from there we visited Florence and Siena both wonderful, really enjoyed both, but got very excited in Florence as it has a Hard Rock Cafe.

Florence

Siena

Julie:  In April we headed back to The South of France and to Antibes, Nice and Villefranche-sur-mer. Very picturesque, sweet little harbour and old town.

#ILoveNice

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Julie:  We visited Cannes which I loved but Tom didn’t enjoy all the designer shops and expensive cafes and bars all along La Croisette, that is the boulevard along the bay of Cannes. But I got very excited seeing the red carpet on the steps outside the Theatre for the Cannes Film Festival. The Red Bull Air Race was about to start so a real buzz about the place.

Cannes

Julie:  We went on to Port Grimaud a gorgeous little port, we took a boat trip around the Marina just fabulous! The Campsite here was very good too, good facilities and right on the beach with amazing views.

Port Grimaud

Julie:  The real highlight of the Cote d’azur for me is Saint Tropez. I can’t find the words to describe how beautiful this old little fishing port is. I just totally fell in love with everything about it. The surrounding little villages Ramatuelle and Gassin are lovely too.

Saint Tropez

Saint Tropez

Julie:  We were in Saint Tropez for ‘Les Bravades Festival’ The whole town dress for the occasion and we saw the ‘Benediction des Armes’ marching bands, gun shooting and the carrying of The Saint Tropez through the town. It was spectacular.

Saint Tropez Festival Day

Julie:  We just couldn’t miss going to Pampelonne beach and the very famous Club 55 frequented by Joan Collins and all the Celebrities when they are in Saint Tropez.

Pampelone Jetty for Club 55

Julie: In May we went to Monaco the F1 race was there. What an absolutely amazing experience. Went to the Fanzone and met six F1 drivers and got their autographs! Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas from The Mercedes Team, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin from The Williams Team, and Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen from The Haas Team. We walked around the entire track, just the most incredible day! I’m a big F1 Superfan!

Lewis Hamilton

Monaco

Julie:  In June we went to Eze, a delightful little village very high on a mountain top. The garden at the very top was beautiful with amazing views.

Eze

Julie:  Our journey then began heading North. We travelled back through Avignon and Macon to Freiburg in Germany.

Stopped by the bank of The River Constance at Friedrichshafen, so picturesque very beautiful.

Friedrichshafen

Julie:  As we were close to the border with Austria we went over and visited a town called Bregenz.

Next was Munich back in Germany. I loved it, okay so it also had a Hard Rock Cafe but I loved the famous beer tavern  called ‘Hofbrauhaus’ as well. The English garden was lovely too.

Munich

Julie:  We then visited Prague in The Czech Republic. The main square, castle and cathedral all splendid, and I found another Hard Rock Cafe how fortunate.

Prague

Julie:  Back into Germany and to Berlin. The Alexanderplatz TV Tower was impressive. We also saw The Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and The Brandenburg Gate. All very iconic.

View from Berlin TV Tower

Julie:  We visited Poland briefly then headed back home via Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France.

In August we celebrated Tom’s 60th Birthday with his daughters Lily and Elizabeth, my son Darren and his girlfriend Lucy.

Elizabeth, Tom and Lily.

Julie:  Late August we set off again through France to Belgium. We visited Ghent and Bruges both gorgeous. It truly feels like stepping back in time, the buildings are so old and just beautiful.

Ghent

Bruges

I have a painting of this view of Bruges at home.

Julie:  In September we went to Amsterdam. Such an amazing place, I didn’t know what to expect I’d heard so many horrid things, but it is gorgeous and yes okay it has a Hard Rock Cafe, but so much more too. Loved the Van Gogh Museum and we had a tour at Coster Diamonds and of course we went on a Canal Cruise. The Micropia Museum and the Brouwerij ‘t IJ Brewery were great as well.

Amsterdam

Julie:  In October we travelled through the West Coast of France. I loved Bordeaux. To my surprise the beaches near were lovely. Biarritz was nice too.

Bordeaux

Julie:  Then through Northern Spain. We went to San Sebastian and Bilbao. I loved the Guggenheim Museum Building it was extraordinary. I really enjoyed Santiago de Compostela and seeing the ‘Centro Internacional de Acogida al Peregrino’ where all the pilgrims collect their certificates.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

The Guggenheim in Bilbao

Julie:  Then on to Portugal. I loved Porto. Yes it did have a Hard Rock Cafe, but I really enjoyed our boat trip down the River Douro, walking across the Ponte de Dom Luis Bridge, and our tour and tasting at the famous ‘Taylor’s Port’ and a ride on the Funicula Rail.

Ponte de Dom Luis Bridge in Porto

The View from the Ponte de Dom Luis Bridge in Porto

Julie:  Really enjoyed Lisbon too. The Elevador de Santa Justa was very scary at the top but amazing views! Loved the yellow trams very iconic of Lisbon. Visited the Hard Rock Cafe, but the Rock Shop was so small it didn’t have any T-Shirts that I didn’t already have! This obsession is getting serious. I bought a beautiful scarf and bracelet.

Lisbon

The iconic yellow tram

Julie: On the 24th of October we arrived at Lagos in The Algarve. Fabulous campsite the best we have stayed in. The site is immaculate, with fantastic facilities including outdoor pool, heated indoor pool with aqua aerobic classes. Also outdoor jacuzzi and fabulous indoor jacuzzi. A new gym and spa. All sorts of sports and games including petanque, badminton, yoga, tai chi, table tennis, and archery. It also had a nice restaurant, bar, and a good little supermarket. The gardens were beautiful and the Mediterranean plant called Bougainvillea was so pretty everywhere. It had lovely bungalows and some even had hot tubs.  All the Staff were so welcoming and friendly, it is just a wonderful site.

The swimming pool

The indoor pool

Julie:  Lagos is lovely, The coastline at Ponta da Piedade is just stunningly beautiful. We were near Praia da Luz and that has a lovely beach.

Ponta da Piedade in Lagos

Praia da Luz

Julie: We loved Lagos so much we stayed until January. The highlight for me was my son Darren and his girlfriend Lucy coming to stay on the site in a bungalow just before Christmas. When they arrived we took them to Lagos Marina and to Lazy Jacks Restaurant for a superb Sunday Roast Lunch.

Lagos Marina

Julie:  Then we went to the coastline at Ponta da Piedade. We all played Venn card game in the evening. I actually won a game, I really don’t know how that happened!

Darren & Lucy at Ponta da Piedade

Julie:  The next day we all went Go Karting at The Kartodromo and then onto Benagil Beach. The Go Karting was fantastic fun, really enjoyed it.

Darren Go Karting

Lucy, Darren and Me on Benagil Beach

Julie:  The following morning, we went swimming in the pools and went in the indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, great fun. We had lunch at The Galley Restaurant overlooking the beach at Praia da Luz. After lunch we went to Praia da Salema and to Lagos early evening to see the Christmas lights.

Praia da Luz

Julie:  The next day we took a boat trip to the magnificent Carvalho and Benagil  Caves and we had a lovely lunch in at Sereia Seafood Restaurant in Alvor. It was such a special time,  just wonderful having them here for a few days.

The famous Benagil Caves

Alvor

Julie:  Late December we went to Tiffany’s Riding School for a 90 minutes beginners lesson. We went through the beautiful countryside, it was an amazing experience, I absolutely loved it. My horse was delightful so gentle.

Tiffany’s Riding School

Julie:  So in January we left Lagos and Portugal and headed to Spain. The plan is to travel up the Spanish coast to Barcelona and then The South of France.

The highlight for me was going to Seville. I really loved Seville. The Plaza de Espana was absolutely stunning. The giant mushroom wooden structure called Las Setas de Sevilla was fun, and Seville also had a Hard Rock Cafe, another T-Shirt added to the collection.

Seville

Julie:  Then on to a little town called El Rocio, an amazing place, it looked like a film set of a Spaghetti Western. The Church was gorgeous and the El Rocio Shrine was the most beautiful Altar I’ve ever seen, all gold, absolutely stunning. Every year thousands attend the Pilgrimage of El Rocio it must be amazing.

El Rocio

The Altar

Julie:  We moved on to Tarifa, the Kitesurfing capital of the world. It is very windy there which is obviously good for Kitesurfing.  While we were there we went on a day trip excursion to Tangiers in Morocco, it was amazing! Everything I imagined and more. We had a tour guide who showed us all the tourist attractions but the highlight was riding a camel and visiting The Kasbah it was truly an awesome experience I shall never forget.

My ride on a Camel

Julie:  Continuing up the Spanish coast we went to Gibraltar, the highlight was meeting the famous Monkeys fabulous!

Cheeky little monkeys

Julie:  In February we continued along the Spanish coast and the next stop was Marbella and Puerto Banus. Guess what I found in Puerto Banus, a Hard Rock Cafe, marvellous.

Puerto Banus

Julie:  We travelled on to Granada. We climbed up the narrow steep little paths through the old town were we had amazing views. I was surprised by The Alhambra it was truly magnificent.

Granada

Julie:  I was really looking forward to visiting Valencia and I was not disappointed. First destination was the Hard Rock Cafe, then the Placa de l’Ajuntament (the town hall square) for the Mascleta. It is a very loud firecracker and firework display, part of the Las Fallas Festival.

The next day we visited La Ciutat des les Arts i les Ciències (The City of Arts and Sciences) it was extraordinary. It is a complex of amazing buildings with very modern architecture.

La Ciutat des les Arts i les Ciències

  Julie: The following day we visited the Historic Centre. I really enjoyed the Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) the Torres de Quart (Old City Gate) The Cathedral and the Basilica.

Basilica de Nuestra Senora

Julie:  Now it is March and we have been travelling for one year! It has been an extraordinary year. I’ve had so many wonderful experiences, I know how very lucky I am to have had the opportunity to do this. Thank you Tom for everything.

The famous Senequier Cafe in Saint Tropez

Julie:  I must just mention my darling little cat ‘Cfor’ he has been incredible. He has adapted so well to life on the road. Tom would say Cfor has adapted better than I have! He loves exploring his new environment and always comes back on board Nelly when Tom calls him in, it is so sweet. He has been so good.

Cfor

Julie:  The second year of our Motorhome travels starts now, so much to look forward to, so many new places to discover and many places to return to that we loved first time around. I’ll tell you all about our new adventures / Hard Rock Cafe tour this time next year.

#HardRockCafe

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Week 52

Day 358 – Friday 1st March 2019

A lovely sunny morning.

We want to spend April & May on the French Riviera and I’ve spent the best part of two days emailing a French campsite about a booking. You can’t book with them online or over the phone. Everything has to be printed out, photographed and emailed back to them. Quel putain de palabre!

This morning I finally managed to extract a confirmation of booking out of them! What’s more we are very nearly on the pitch we requested!!

It seems I’m not the only one fed up of negotiating with Europeans

Unless you like all day shirtless drinking in the sun with dreadful karaoke thrown in there’s not too much to do in Benidorm during the day so I spent the afternoon relaxing on the site.

As did Cfor

Day 359 – Saturday 2nd March 2019

A sunny day in Benidorm.

After lunch we ventured into town for Benidorm Classic in the Sun 2019.

I dressed especially for the occasion

Julie’s game was much improved….

but there can only ever be one winner at crazy golf!

While we were here we couldn’t leave town without a go on the Bucking Bull, I lasted about 8 seconds.

Julie struggled to even get on the damned thing….

Has she been drinking?

Finally after a leg up Julie poses for the camera.

Saturday afternoon in town and there are groups of shirtless Brits on the front flaunting their fat and bad tatts and being generally yobbish. Embarrassing really.

I pity their kids.

To Sinatra’s for the United game.

Benidorm is a little stuck in the 80s. You hear Tears For Fears, OMD & Wet Wet Wet during the day in every bar & café. 80’s music is the soundtrack to their customer’s lives but the real crimes against music happen at night with the tribute acts…..

The addition of Shaky makes this a little frightening

It gets worse…

The Rodfather, a favourite at Sinatra’s on a Saturday night

You think it couldn’t get much worse

but you’d be wrong.

very wrong!

Day 360 – Sunday 3rd March 2019

A lovely sunny morning as we packed up and headed to Valencia. For some reason Doris didn’t send us via the simple coastal road she routed us back to Alicante and then inland.

Camping Devesa Gardens is set in the parc Natural de Albufera and is surrounded by paddy fields. I bet from April onwards this is mosquito hell.

It was a banging hot afternoon and we needed to put the aircon on. Was reading about Storm Freya closing the M4 back in the UK!

Later I had a little explore on Zippy, Valencia town centre only 15 minutes down a straight road.

Day 361 – Monday 4th March 2019

An overcast morning with strong winds. After an early lunch we set off on Zippy for Valencia town centre.

Valencia is a very nice town.

Of course our first stop was the Hard Rock Café to satisfy Julie’s addiction.

The girl behind the counter asked if we were here for Las Fallas, Valencia’s near 3 week fire festival and suggested we go to the Mascleta, a firework display about to start just across the way.

So we joined the crowds in the square outside the Town Hall for the Mascleta

I was surprised there were so many first aiders knocking about. This was one of about 8 stations.

It started at 2pm and lasted just under 7 minutes. These weren’t the showy fireworks you see at New Year’s Eve or bonfire night, these were all about noise and what a noise.

They started off loud and gradually got louder and louder till you hoped something hadn’t gone wrong. The ground shook, you could feel the sound waves on your chest and it was all a little disorienting.

Below is a video of the last minute and a half of the Mascleta. It would have been better if they’d have been a blue sky but  you get a fair idea of the noise.

Later I had a tool around the coast south of the campsite on Zippy.

Everyday you ride a motorbike in Spain you come across a new idiocy, it’s like they are in a competition and the winner gets a trip to a bodyshop/hospital. Today on a country road another motorbike undertook me using the cycle lane and when he tried to do the same to the car in front of me it moved over to squeeze him towards the dirt. It was just senseless on both their parts.

Day 362 – Tuesday 5th March 2019

An overcast day but at least the wind had died down.

In Benidorm we had been given a pitch with a large Pine tree on it so it was time to clean the roof of the van.

4 days worth of Collar Dove shit; I’m glad we didn’t stay for a week.

There were Red Squirrels in the tree too. The joys of owning a motorhome.

Roof clean we hopped on Zippy and went into Valencia. While we were trying to get to the Torres de Quart a car clipped Julie’s leg as it squeezed past us try to fill up my breaking space. Just senseless.

Naturally Julie was upset so we parked up and had a stroll along part of the 7 km Turia park which runs right through the town along a former river bed. It’s one of Valencia’s biggest tourist attractions.

To the south of the park they have their City of Arts and Sciences

It’s all very futuristic

I was unsure how much fun these’d be so gave them a miss.

the Umbracle

The Opera House, the roof ‘thing’ doesn’t actually make contact with the main building. It’s just hangs there

Day 363 – Wednesday 6th March 2019

An overcast morning and it was quite cold. Spent a couple of hours trying to contact Lily. She’d changed her phone number and not thought to tell me or her sister which is just so Lily.

Into Valencia on Zippy. Naturally I was very cautious but Spanish city traffic is still a little unnerving for Julie sat on the back.

Today we visited the old part of town, the area around the Central Market and cathedral. It’s full of old stuff

The Torre de Quart

And of course tapas bars

You can always tell a good tapas bar by the number of people spilling out onto the street.

The Turia fountain in the Plaza de la Virgen

I couldn’t visit Valencia and not have a paella.

They take their paella very seriously in Valencia.

Day 364 – Thursday 7th March 2019

There was a bit of a storm during the night but it was dry this morning. We packed up and set off for Peñíscola.

No idea how this French owner gets this Yamaha Wave Rider off the back of his pickup but he told me it does 116 km/h that’s 72mph. I want one!

Camping  Sol D’Or is a little run down but the pitches are big and Cfor has his own tree to explore.

I went for a ride into the local town…

I think I might know the mayor!

Tomorrow is the 1st anniversary of me retiring 😀

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Week 51

Day 351 – Friday 22nd February 2019

Another sunny day in Andalusia and a morning walk on the beach.

There’s mountains over there but you can’t see them for the haze which is created by the dust which coats everything round here.

After lunch I took Julie to the Faro Cabo de Gata for a look at the jagged coastline.

Not quite Ponta da Piedade but a a nice ride on Zippy

Day 352 – Saturday 23rd February 2019

A very sunny day, mainly sat around in the sun.

The sparrows are fearless round here…. I taut I taw a puddy tat

He did but Biscuit Boy was, as per usual during the day, asleep

Day 353 – Sunday 24th February 2019

Sunny morning and off early to Camping Lo Monte about 150 miles along the coast.

Cfor has really enjoyed this site. The little swine was usually out until 1am!

Lo Monte, a very nice campsite but unfortunately the pitched they’d reserved for us was too small for Nelly to fit on.

A quick check on CamperContact and we were on our way to La Marina Camping who fortunately had a spare pitch we could fit on.

The site is very very well done and is choc-a-block with Germans, Swiss & Scandinavians. The toilet and shower block is absolutely 5* 😀

There are a lot of dogs around our pitch so I think Cfor will be spending all his time sleeping in the van.

Helvetic One, there’s a smart car in the boot! My favorite bit, the roof terrace!

Day 354 – Monday 25th February 2019

Boiling hot day.

A 9.5% increase in sales to UK residents last year; Project Fear clearly hasn’t been a great success

Stocked upon Bombay Bad Boys at the local Iceland/Waitrose and went exploring on Zippy in the afternoon.

El Pinet

The old castle at Santa Pola

It was blowing a gale across the Santa Pola salt pans on the way home, great fun 😀

Day 355 – Tuesday 26th February 2019

Absolutely boiling day today. Off out on Zippy exploring

Torrevieja

A typical day driving a scooter in Spain; someone reversed out of a parking space straight in front of me and a post office van tried to undertake me as I was getting off a roundabout.

an Osborne Bull

Sat in the late afternoon topping up me tan 🙂

Day 356 – Wednesday 27th February 2019

Another glorious day. I have really enjoyed this campsite and I wouldn’t mind spending a month or so here this winter before going on to Portugal.

Onwards to Benidorm.

Wow this is the business. Benidorm is unashamedly chavvy and we love it!

There’s no getting away from it Benidorm is full of old people and a lot of them drink too much and don’t wear sunblock.

People ride around on Limo mobility scooters

No need to go to the Harvard Business School for your Benidorm business plan. Just plaster the the front of your bar with Union Jacks and it’ll soon fill up with overweight, over tattooed sunburnt Brits

Just outside the camp is a chippy and an Indian; heaven.

Came across a 3 shell con game in action. You have to bet €50 and it’s dead easy to win. You get two dodgy €50 notes back as a prize! Most of the people in the crowd are shills; they feed the dodgy €50 notes into the game by losing and they are given the sucker’s real €50 notes when they win. The 3 shells were scooped out potatoes so if the police descended on them the evidence could easily be eaten and the shills in the crowd would just melt away with the money. At most the guy running the scam would have a couple of dodgy €50 notes on him and he’d be unlucky to get prosecuted for that. Very clever really.

Day 357 – Thursday 28th February 2019

Another boiling day. Went for breakfast in town and had a nose about in the afternoon.

The beach front is actually quite restrained compared to the back streets of town.

Fantastic if you like to drink pints in the sun and listen to karaoke.

At the Balcon del Mediterraneo, away from all the din.

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Week 50

Day 344 – Friday 15th February 2019

A sunny morning and we packed up for the short drive to the next site.

Camping Mar Azul is an absolutely fabulous campsite.

It has a boules

a pool… it was a lot colder than it looked!

a bar and restaurant

The entire site is laid with gravel and you can watch Netflix on the free WiFi.

Camping Mar Azul is a little piece of paradise….

set in a sea of polytunnels, they come right up to fence!

In this part of Spain wherever there is a spare piece of flat land they’ll put up greenhouse made out of polythene.

Once settled in to Camping Mar Azul I took Zippy out to explore the local town.

Balerma town centre

There’s not a lot going on in the Balemra. In fact most of it looks empty and is for sale but as per usual in Spain that doesn’t stop them half building more apartment blocks.

Looks like Banksy got here before me

I imagine the problem with towns like Balemra is there are very few high quality jobs round here. You either pick fruit & veg for minimum wage or get out of town and it looks like most have chosen to get out of town.

Sadly it’s hard to see anything saving towns like Balemra

 Day 345 – Saturday 16th February 2019

A beautiful sunny day but blowing an absolute gale. Far too windy for Julie to be on the back of Zippy. It was even too windy for Cfor to go out.

We binge watched Dirty John on Netflix. 

Day 346 – Sunday 17th February 2019

Lots of sunshine and no wind today. We hopped on Zippy and set off for Almerimar.

I’m going to guess there wasn’t a lot at Almerimar before the 1980s.

Almerimar has a fairly big marina with some people actually on the boats!

Some of the original town remains

The town is now nearly all holiday apartments, thousands of them all shuttered up until July & August.

The road from Balemra to Almerimar is lined with plastic green houses.

rough as arseholes, in typical Spanish anything will do style

Of course plastic doesn’t last long in the Spanish sun, never mind…

just dump it by the beach

where as it degrades the wind will eventually blow it in to the Med.

Of course all this is done with the help of EU money.

Day 347 – Monday 18th February 2019

A nice sunny morning at Camping Mar Azul. Packed up and off to Cabo de Gata some 50 miles further east along the coast.

Camping Cabo de Gato

The site is pretty well done but in the middle of nowhere so we should be in for a nice relaxing time.

Cfor likes it here.

Went for an explore on Zippy and it was horrendously windy along the coast. Back at the van I settled in to watch Top Gear and eat too many biscuits and nachos.

Day 348 – Tuesday 19th February 2019

A hazy morning but the wind has died down a little. Had a very sneezy day.

Walked to the beach, came across a nice little nature reserve on the way

Downloaded and watched the United Chelsea game, a lazy afternoon.

Day 349 – Wednesday 20th February 2019

Lovely sunny day with almost no wind. I took Zippy to the Faro de Cabo de Gata

Great coast road, narrow & twisty with a couple of blind bends 😀

After lunch we set off for Almeria.

They grow a lot of tomatoes round here

There’s nothing particularly great about the town itself but perched on San Cristobal Hill is the Alcazaba of Almeria a huge centuries old fortress.

the Alcazaba of Almeria

If this was in Granada no doubt they’d want a tenner to get in and the queues would be round the block.

The rooftop gardens of Almeria’s old town

It’s funny the things you see in Spain…

well if the Hacienda Club can be in Manchester….

Day 350 – Thursday 21st February 2019

A very sunny day and a very relaxing day.

Did little apart from feed the sparrows

Later on while I was dozing in the sun one landed on my leg and a couple even hopped inside the van; Cfor thought it was his birthday but being such a Biscuit Boy he had no chance of catching them.

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Week 49

Day 337 – Friday 8th February 2019

Yet another beautiful day in Andalusia. Off on Zippy to Nerja.

For some reason I’d got it in my head that Nerja was a beautiful old historic medieval town; not so. It’s a pleasant enough place and it’s full of cafes, bars and restaurants for the visitors but it’s not too obvious to me what the town’s attractions are.

A quick gander at TripAdvisor and I’m told the No.1 thing to do in Nerja was to visit the Cueva de Nerja; sorry I’m all caved out.

No.2 was looking at a river.

No.3 was the Balcon de Europa. Nice views but….

No.4 was Burriana Beach which, in this view taken from the Balcon de Europa, is somewhere over there

No.5 was some beach miles and miles away famous for scuba diving and No.6 was a church,

No.6 Church of El Salvador

We settled for some lunch in a cafe opposite the church in the town square and then had a potter about the shops.

Came across this, the Fountain of Europe. Commissioned to celebrate Spain joining the EEC in 1986 it is made up from stones from the other member states including England!

The fountain used to be on the Balcon de Europa but they moved it in 2015 and haven’t yet been arsed plumbing it in. How very Spanish. Come the end of March I might email the town’s Mayor and ask for our stone back!

If you’re ever in Spain and wonder why your internet keeps dropping out….

Day 338 – Saturday 9th February 2019

Another lovely day. Packed up and set off to Granada, about an hour and a half way.

Granada is up by the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The site in Granada itself doesn’t get great reviews but for me it’s ideal; easy access, gravel pitches, electricity, clean toilets, good showers & WiFi for €1 a day. I can live without everything else.

Cfor liked the site too…

until till he met all the campsite cats, now he’s not so sure

Day 339 – Sunday 10th February 2019

Overcast morning and quite cold. I shadowed Cfor round the site for an hour or so while he explored the nearby pitches then we went into Granada on the bus for a nose about.

We found a cafe that looked popular with the locals

Eventually we made our way up the hill to the Alhambra. I’] have to say I am not a big fan of UNESCO world heritage sites; usually I find them expensive and a little dull.

there was a nice park on the way up the hill

Some good views of the city as you climb the hill

After walking all the way to the Alhambra, it was a hike, we found all the tickets for the day had sold out.

What a pity

the Sierra Nevadas in the distance

Day 340 – Monday 11th February 2019

The sun is back!!!!! An early lunch then into town for a wander about.

We walked through the old part of town up a hill to the Mirador San Nicolas to take some photos of the Alhambra.

I like a nice simple flowchart

At the Mirador we took some photos…

The sun was sat right over the Alhambra so getting a decent shot on a phone camera was impossible

On the way back down the hill I did get an almost half decent shot of part of it

Back down in the old town I decided we couldn’t come to Granada for 4 days and not have a butchers at the Alhambra so we set off up that bloody hill again.

The weather was great, nice and cool in the shade and boiling in the sun. I really don’t how they cope down here in summer.

We needed an emergency ice cream

At the top we went to buy tickets but the ticket office was cordoned off.

There were about 10 people in the ticket office. The guard pointed to the end of a queue across the road so we went and stood in it.

the queue to get into the ticket office

After about 10 minutes in which no one had either entered or left the ticket office. I went and asked the guard how long it’d be before the queue started to move. This was met with a shrug of the shoulders. I went and stood back in the queue.

Then just before 2pm they announced all the tickets for the Alhambra for the day had been sold but you could still buy tickets for the bit nobody really wanted to see, the Generalife.

Later when I checked the official website the general admission tickets were sold out for weeks in advance.

Faced with a queue to get in the ticket office, a queue inside the ticket office and then a queue to actually enter the bit no one really wanted to see we gave up.

Once you had your tickets you still had to queue up to get in

As we were leaving I told the guard all the queuing to get in was an absolute shambles. She spoke good English and told me this was Spain not London!

Granada

Day 341 – Tuesday 12th February 2019

Quite a lot of cloud about; I believe the technical description of today’s weather was sunny intervals.

We hoped on a bus into Granada for a stroll around. Definitely not going anywhere near the Alhambra today.

Pomegranates used to be known as the ‘apples of Granada’ and they are all over the city

Pomegranate fountain

Pomegranate bollard

in the shops

We had a stroll around the old town

Julie copped

we ended the day in a café having one of the local pastries, a pionono, delicious!

Day 342 – Wednesday 13th February 2019

A bright morning in Granada but a frosty one! Up and away back to the coast.

Motril was only an hour south of Granada but it took us just as long to get parked up on the site.

For some reason whoever designed this campsite thought it’d be a good idea to define every corner with a concrete post or tree making it very difficult to get all 8m of Nelly to her allotted bay.

Never mind we made it in the end after providing some much needed entertainment to other campers.

Cfor absolutely loves it here.

Day 343 – Thursday 14th February 2019

Beautiful sunny day, had a zip around the seafront on Zippy other than that nice a restful day.

We are not having much joy finding sites to spend next winter at. In over a month in Spain we have only really found one campsite we’d go back to. Most have tight pitches and a lot, like this one, have access issues. Also I’ve not been bowled over by Spanish sanitation either. I’m not expecting things to improve as we get to the real Costas.

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Week 48

Day 330 – Friday 1st February 2019

Woke up to a howling wind and heavy rain but it’d cleared up by lunchtime and we took a ride on Zippy into Marbella.

Marbs

The old town part of Marbella is quite small but pretty enough.

Marbella Old Town

The seafront is anything but small and the promenade is lined with restaurants and cafes and Africans selling luxury goods at remarkably discounted prices.

Marbella seafront

The boats in the marina are pretty modest

The Marbella of TOWIE fame is down the A7 in Puerto Banús.

I imagine this is how everyone from Essex dresses but obviously in XXXXL size

With it’s expensive and fashionable shops it’s looks like it’s trying to be Cannes. Definitely a market for a Millets though.

The marina at Puerto Banús

Day 331 – Saturday 2nd February 2019

Sunny but cold in the wind. Bit of a lazy day.

A walk on the local beach was as energetic as the day got

Day 332 – Sunday 3rd February 2019

A gloriously sunny day. A Sunday lie-in then off on Zippy to have a look around the town of Ojén in the hills behind Marbella.

Ojén

Ojén

Back to Marbella old town for lunch

A lot less wind today and the front was pretty packed. This place must be crazy in summer.

Julie bought a Louis Vuitton scarf at a real bargain price from one of the African gentlemen on the front.

Day 333 – Monday 4th February 2019

Lovely day. Did bits and bobs and the day disappeared.

After a little apprehension and a dust up with another cat Cfor quite likes exploring the site, watching the pigeons and eating grass

Day 334 – Tuesday 5th February 2019

Another beautiful day and after a walk to the beach and lunch we set off for an afternoon’s stroll around Puerto Banús & Marbella.

Always amazes me how little these gin palaces get used

None of the staff in the Louis Vuitton shop noticed Julie’s scalf wasn’t quite kosher.

I don’t know why Louis Vuitton don’t move their sales operation down to the prom at Marbs; these guys shift tons more stuff than they do in that stuffy shop.

We’ve enjoyed our time in Marbella but I have to say the standard of driving in the town is truly appalling and I think I’m  pretty lucky not to have had a scrape of some sort.

Day 335 – Wednesday 6th February 2019

Yet another beautiful day in Andalusia. We packed up and set off for Camping Valle Niza 50 miles along the coast between Malaga & Torre del Mar.

The site is okay.  Mind you when the weather is this good even Redhill would look quite nice.

Cfor settled in in a matter of minutes

I get the impression most of the people here have been here for months getting slowly frazzled during the day and sozzled during the afternoon and evening. The guy opposite was on the vino at 4pm and another bloke had to be helped back to his van at 6:30pm.

I went for an explore on Zippy. Not much open this time of the year round here.

Day 336 – Thursday 7th February 2019

Beautiful day. The German at the back of us is complaining about Cfor going on his pitch; he is allergic to cats. What a coincidence, I am allergic to twats. There are at least 4 other cats wandering around the site why pick on Cfor!

After lunch we headed into Torres del Mar. Not really a lot to see.

They have a huge promenade, probably paid for by the EU, but not a lot else.

Eric Cantona had his yacht in the bay

Tomorrow we are off to Nerja on Zippy

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Week 47

Day 323 – Friday 25th January 2019

Another sunny day in Andalusia. Today we’re moving on to Tarifa, the southernmost point on mainland Spain.

It was only a short trip to Camping Torre de la Pena.

The lady at reception told me to go and see if there was a suitable pitch for the van. There was but I knew Julie wasn’t going to enjoy getting to it; the site is on the side of a hill and the access is steep & narrow with a couple of hairpin bends.

A couple of Julie panic attacks later we were nicely parked up

It has to be said Cfor has adapted wonderfully to the traveling life. He hardly complains when we are driving along and when we arrive somewhere he jumps down the steps and has a nose around for a while before exploring further afield. And he absolutely loves going out a night.

Cfor spots the dog next door

The perfect end to the day, a sunset to go with a bottle of cold beer

Day 324 – Saturday 26th January 2019

An overcast start to the day with a sea mist thrown in. It had cleared up by lunchtime and we motored into Tarifa to have a look around and book an excursion to Tangiers.

Not too much in town; just the old town walls and a castle.

Tarifa from the old town’s walls

The castle at Tarifa

In Tarifa Castle

Trying to crouch down a few inches I’m actually in some agony here

Day 325 – Sunday 27th January 2019

Up early and into Tarifa to catch the ferry to Tangier. It was an overcast and breezy day. The ferry was supposed to leave at 9am and the journey was supposed to take only 35 minutes but we hadn’t even set sail by 09:35. That was all down to the sheer amount of luggage all the Moroccans had brought.

Every last bloody piece had to be scanned

When we finally arrived in Tangier we were met by Rashid a man who spoke excellent English but who wasn’t a great advert for Moroccan dentistry.

The tour started with a minibus trip to the lighthouse where the Atlantic ocean met the Mediterranean sea.

A photo op

Next stop was the obligatory camel ride; €2 for 2 minutes.

Gizz a kiss

Then we stopped off at the caves of Hercules.

The more caves I see the less impressed I am.

I was impressed however with the argument Rashid had with a security guard over one of the party being asked for €1 to use a toilet. It sounded like Rashid might just self-combust and he gave the young guard a fearful bollocking.

Next we were dropped off in Tangier itself and Rashid led us through a souk and some backstreets to a restaurant for lunch.

A souk. In Spain we were warned told to keep our money in our front pockets because of pickpockets. So just like Barcelona then.

Everything is a bit basic in the backstreets of Tangier

Some of the backstreets we walked through were decidedly dodgy and I certainly wouldn’t have walked down them alone but Rashid seemed to know everyone in Tangier.

While walking around I bought a tee shirt for €10. I didn’t really have time to bargain and later in the day when I tried to brush off a tee shirt seller away by saying I already had one he said I could have another for just €5!

At lunch I was surprised to find the waiters knew what a vegetarian was. that’s one up on Spain, Portugal & France.

The food was okay but nothing spectacular

the house band added to the atmosphere, for a couple of Euros.

After lunch we were shown round the old parts of the town and we were led into various shops and even a museum. I got the impression Rashid had arrangements with these shops.

ChipAdvisor; these were top chips from a little café that was very popular with the locals. They cost me half a Euro 5/5

Ray Charly – the only place to eat in Tangier

I’ve been in two minds about whether to spend a few weeks next winter in Morocco but after just 8 hours I’ve had enough of the place. I’m looking to relax, I just don’t need the stress that comes with a 3rd world country.

Day 326 – Monday 28th January 2019

A beautiful morning. Had a lazy day.

After yesterday a walk on the beach was more than enough excitement for the day

Day 327 – Tuesday 29th January 2019

An overcast and very windy day. Up early and packed, heading for Gibraltar.

Cfor has been very happy here

Doris kept insisting the campsite at San Roque was 140km away when Google has it at about 40km. Eventually we decided to ignore Doris and headed for Algeciras then on to San Roque. It was about 40km.

Camping La Casita is a bit scruffy and quite a few euros over priced but it has decent wifi by the reception so I can download some TV.

Off into Gibraltar after lunch.

I was last here 35 years ago and it’s changed a bit and not for the better.

The traffic is terrible. There are an enormous number of scooters on the streets and they wiz about the crowded narrow streets as if they were all Italians.

We had a walk down Main Street, I wasn’t impressed. I googled best fish chips Gibraltar. It came up with Roy’s Fish & Chips, just at the end of Main Street.

ChipAdvisor; oh dear. Some were hot, some were cold, some were over cooked, some were nearly raw but all were greasy. 0/5

Later we tried to get to see the apes but the road up the rock is restricted these days and tourists can’t drive up there now. It’s a nature reserve nowadays and  you have to either take a tour or a taxi or walk and they charge you £5 for that privilege. It was cold and it’d been a long day so we headed back to camp.

Day 328 – Wednesday 30th January 2019

A wet start to the day and Julie’s and my weather apps disagreed about the forecast. Waterproofs on and back into Gib.

Getting a scooter to the start of the nature reserve at Moorish Castle was a bit of a challenge. These steep little roads were made for horses and mules not little motorbikes and cars.

Warning, monkeys bite!

There are about 240 Barbary macaques on Gibraltar

The security guard by the feeding station showed Julie how to get an ape to climb on her shoulder.

The trouble is once an ape is on your shoulder other apes think there must be food involved so they climb on too.

The victor of the ensuing fight took a fancy to Julie’s hat.

The runway with La Linea in the background

One of these flags is coming down in a few weeks and the locals are expecting some fun and games.

Day 329 Thursday 31st January 2019

The day started eventfully as the campsite cat came to visit Cfor in our van at about 8am. Cue lots of unholy screeching. It was a wet morning and we set off for Marbella.

It didn’t take too long to reach Camping La Bungavilla and I set off on Zippy to explore Marbella itself.

It was blowing a bloody gale down at the front.

After a hectic week I am looking to relax for a few days

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Week 46

Day 316 – Friday 18th January 2019

A cold start to the day in Seville. Once we’d packed up and Cfor had had a run about we set off for El Rocío.

One last roll in the lovely Andalusian dirt

The campsite at El Rocío is great; the toilet block is good and you can watch Netflix on the free wifi.

El Rocío is a strange town. There is no tarmac in the town the roads are all sand & dust and people ride horses and drive buggies about.

The bars will even serve you food & drink while you sit on your horse

They have a huge festival here every year, the Festival of the Virgin, and the town is mobbed as hermandades, brotherhoods, from all over Spain descend on the town on horseback and in costume for 3 days of religion and partying. They reckon around a million people attend the festival every year.

Santuario de Nuestra Senora del Rocio where the statue of the Virgin of El Rocío is kept

At festival time the Virgin of El Rocío is paraded through the crowded streets of the town. I think they do something very similar with the town virgin in Cardiff.

The nearly 100 hermandades all have their own hostels, topped with a bell, to stay in. These are empty most of the year so the town feels a little abandoned.

Day 317 – Saturday 19th January 2019

It rained a little during the night and it’s overcast this morning. The campsite roads being compacted dirt have a half inch of sludge on them.

a street in El Rocío after 10 minutes rain

A lazy day.

Day 318 – Sunday 20th January 2019

It hammered down last night and it’s overcast this morning. Packed up and set off for the campsite at El Puerto de Santa María near Cádiz.

On arrival, a few seconds after I stepped out of the van to weigh up the pitch, a German who I’d played petange with back in Luz stepped up to greet me. Small world.

By the time we arrived at the site it was a beautiful day.

Before I’d finished getting the table and chairs out a Swiss woman who recognised Cfor from Luz said hello. Later in reception a British woman I’d met on the site in Seville asked me about Cfor.

He’s getting an international fan club

Day 319 – Monday 21st January 2019

A beautiful morning. Here in Cádiz we are further west than Land’s End and because Spain is on Central European Standard Time it doesn’t get light till gone 8am. Even Madrid is further west than London so why they are not on GMT is a mystery.

 

To Cádiz on the ferry.

San Juan de Dios square

The town of Cádiz is not that large at all. We had a wander around the historic part, visited the Roman amphitheatre.

Cádiz Cathedral is a bargain at only €6 in!

Cathedrals seem to be big business in Spain. I gave Cádiz Cathedral a miss and would like to say I spent the money I saved on some top tapas but the bars and cafes in Cadiz don’t really cater for tourists, there are no menus in English. Everything is in Spanish on chalkboards which makes it next to impossible to translate. I had to settle for a couple of pastries which I shared with some pigeons.

It was hot today. The BBC weather app said it was 14°C but it felt like a summer’s day in the sun and I was bitten by a bloody mosquito. When I Googled mosquito season it said the little bastards are active when the temp is consistently 10°C or above.

Day 320 – Tuesday 22nd January 2019

A beautiful morning.

Cfor isn’t spending too long outside at this campsite, too many barky dogs!

They sell these baby aubergines stuffed with red pepper at the local market. Delicious.

Had another lazy day.

Day 321 – Wednesday 23rd January 2019

Beautiful if windy morning in El Puerto de Santa María. packed up and off about an hour further east along the coast checking out a campsite for next winter.

Pinar San Jose is a great campsite; the toilet block is good, there’s plenty of hot water & the site has fairly fast free wifi

I had a blast on Zippy to suss out the area. Apart from some good beaches there isn’t a tremendous amount to do round here.

Playa Zahora with the Faro de Trafalgar in the distance

The only town near here is a port called Barbate.

What a load of anchors

The campsite is fairly empty and after being largely confined to the van for the past few days Cfor took the opportunity to go out in the dark and explore the site. God knows what he gets up to.

Day 322 – Thursday 24th January 2019

Lovely morning and we headed to the Faro de Trafalgar.

Pity it’s not open to the public.

The beach at Faro de Trafalgar

With the great campsite and the peaceful beaches we are definitely going to put this place on the list of places to stay next winter.

Tomorrow we head to a campsite near the most southern point in Spain.

As always a big thank you to Julie for all her pictures.

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Week 45

Day 309 – Friday 11th January 2019

Another sunny day, a little chilly in the breeze but beautiful nonetheless.  As it’s our last full day in Portugal after lunch we went on a ride in the countryside on Zippy.

Almond blossom

Ended up at a lovely deserted beach, Praia de Figueira

Back at the camp I said bye to Juan Carlos & Marco the lads who organise all the activities

Day 310 – Saturday 12th January 2019

Another sunny day, up early and off to Spain.

Ready to roll

In theory the route to Isla Cristina in Spain is fairly easy; just motor along the N125 for a couple of hours.  Doris however sent us on a detour into the Algarve hills.

The historic town of Silves. Very pretty but well out of our way

Getting back on route along the IC1 a question leapt into my mind… How bad does a Portuguese road have to be before they resurface it? The answer, if the IC1 is anything to go by, is very fuckin’ bad indeed.

They grow a lot of oranges in Portugal; they sell them dirt cheap at the side of the road.

there’s no excuse for getting scurvy in Portugal

As soon as we crossed the border into Spain the polytunnels appeared, miles and miles of them.

Camping Playa Taray gets a fair write up on most review sights but it’s not a patch on the site at Luz. I fear we’ve been spoilt rotten for the last 10 weeks.

The consolation is there is a very large beach here

We’ve had a few worries about Cfor; what will he think when he looks out the door and the little world he has become used to over the past 10 weeks has all changed?

At first he was a little wary but he ventured out soon enough and it wasn’t long before the little swine was off about the site.

Cfor investigates.

At Luz we were so far from the road we let him out at night. He loved it. Here however we are less than 50m from 2 main roads so he’s under curfew. He will not be happy.

Day 311 – Sunday 13th January 2019

 A sunny morning if a little cold in the shade.

We are here by Isla Cristina because I want to find places where we can spend part of next winter. This winter we had nearly 3 months in Luz and I’d like a little more variety next winter.

Isla Cristina is the first of many places we’re looking at. Why Isla Cristina? Because if sounded good and the campsite got good reviews, ‘under new ownership and improving!’

Well the campsite still has a lot of improving to do. The toilet block is okay but the pitches are just dirt.

Any rain and this place would instantly be a quagmire for days

There are also a lot of permanent caravan placements here so half the site has the air of a refugee camp.

As for the free wifi, it’s useless. Can’t even load up the Guardian on it let alone watch a program on Netflix. It’d be far better for them to get a fibre connection, some good aerials and charge a couple of euros a day for a decent connection.

Having said all that there are a dozen or so smart German vans and caravans clearly dug-in for the winter.

The town of Isla Cristina isn’t any great shakes either. It’s an ordinary provincial working town and like a lot of working towns in Southern Europe it has suffered hard times.

Plaza San Francisco, Isla Cristina

The tourist development along this part of the coast is 7km away at a purpose built place called Islantilla. It’s a bit quiet at this time of year but it has a smart shopping area with plenty of restaurants and a great sandy beach.

The beach at Islantilla

We won’t be spending any of next winter in Isla Cristina.

Day 312 – Monday 14th January 2019

Another sunny day but it was properly cold riding Zippy early this morning. After we had packed up we drove to Camping Villsom in Seville. The campsite is alright, toilets and showers are a little dated but clean. Cracking wifi speeds though.

After a quick lunch we hopped on the bus into town and were dropped off by the impressive Plaza de España.

Plaza de España. It’s big and ornate. Too big for a phone camera to do it proper justice

Spanish tourist tat, fridge magnets, key rings, fans, little spanish guitars, parasols; everything you don’t need.

Hola Sevilla

Seville’s number 2 tourist attraction done we set off to find Seville’s Hardrock Café so Julie could add a tee shirt to her collection.

Only another 202 to go!

One sight I wanted to see was the Setas de Sevilla, the Mushrooms of Seville. Supposedly the largest wooden structure in the world.

Bizarre

For €3 you can have a walk around the top of them.

See the sights of the city

and peer into people’s apartments

Day 313 – Tuesday 15th January 2019

An overcast start to the day. Into Seville for lunch. I’d Googled vegetarian tapas and had come up with a place called Alameda Rock that was highly recommended. Alameda is not a tourist area and was a bit of a yomp from the town centre. It turned out to be closed as they were moving premises. Apparently it was on their Facebook page but in Spanish. Brilliant.

Starving and to avoid a mutiny from Julie we sat down at a café in Plaza Alameda and had some top nosh.

Julie plumped for the Pork in Sherry sauce

I went for the more pig friendly Patatas Bravas & Espinacas con Garbanzos

After lunch I started to sneeze which was probably due to the chilli in the Patatas Bravas sauce; it didn’t stop until about 10pm.

Day 314 – Wednesday 16th January 2019

Thin cloud cover this morning so it was a little chilly. I wrapped up warm so I didn’t start sneezing again and we took the bus into Seville for a nose about.

Behind the cathedral we stumbled across the Santa Cruz district which is the old part of town. Full of narrow alleyways nowadays it’s mainly boutique hotels and tapas bars.

Santa Cruz

Seville Bullring. A few people might argue that meat isn’t murder but I don’t think anyone could dispute that bullfighting is animal torture for public entertainment. How the EU can bang on about animal rights and still allow bullfighting is beyond me.

After lunch we tried some Churros y Chocolate

Not for me but Julie had no problem finishing them off even though she gave up sweet things for New Year!

Saville has the world’s 3rd biggest cathedral and at €9 to get in and even more if you want to get on the roof it might be the most profitable. I’m not religious and as I only ever take a couple of snaps I decided not today.

besides nothing could compare to the church roof at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on a windy day

Back at the campsite Cfor made the most of the late sunshine

Day 315 – Thursday 17th January 2019

Yet another overcast morning. Richard Ayoade said this place was the frying pan of Europe but I’m not so sure. A lazy morning before getting the bus into town for lunch.

The Bodega Santa Cruz looked the busiest tapas bar in town so I presumed it was the best

Lunch

Fried aubergines with honey, tortilla, patatas bravas, pig cheeks in sauce, calamari, a couple of cold beers & a glass of wine. Tasty stuff and when you consider it cost less than the price of admission to the cathedral a complete bargain.

Tomorrow we move on to El Rocio, cowboy town.

 

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