Week 58

Day 400 – Friday 12th April 2019

An overcast start to the day, not cold but rain is forecast.

Yesterday I read in the Telegraph that a village just up the road is stunning so ignoring the grey skies I set off on Zippy to find Saint Paul de Vence.

Saint Paul de Vence, everything looks better with a blue sky

The Telegraph was half right the narrow streets and alleys are very pretty but…

unfortunately the place is like Eze on steroids; everywhere is an art gallery, a souvenir shop, a fancy restaurant or a purveyor of fine olive oils and soaps. I couldn’t see anywhere where people might actually live.

It was packed too so God knows what it’s like on a sunny summer’s day.

Later I went for a nice peaceful stroll to the local nature reserve, lovely.

Day 401 – Saturday 13th April 2019

A glorious day, loads of sunshine, no wind and warm. We packed up and travelled to Les Mûres, a fantastic campsite near Port Grimaud and just across the bay from St Tropez.

Les Mûres is owned and run by a British family and it’d easily be a 5 star site if only they had seats on the bogs!

Cfor loves it here, there’s lots of dirt for him to roll around in and no campsite cats to harass him

Lunch eaten we hopped on Zippy and sped into St Tropez for a nose about.

St Tropez

I know why the town’s Marie allows great big fuck-off yachts to moor up at the front of the beautiful old harbour – money – but why anyone would want to sit having breakfast or have drinks on the deck of their luxury yacht while a procession of tourists gawp at them is beyond me. Are they really so insecure they need to advertise their wealth?

Day 402 – Sunday 14th April 2019

It started blowing a gale during the night so I had to get up and put the awning straps on in the bloody dark.

A beautiful if windy morning. Off to St Tropez to look at the Bella Strada; a car rally for cars built between 1930 & 1970

The line up

An Aston Martin

It wouldn’t really be a car rally without some last minute repairs to the only Fiat present

Couldn’t have a car rally in the south of France without a few E-Types either

No BMWs or VWs but as you’d expect on the French riviera they have a Selection Committee to weed out the riff raff.

Day 403 – Monday 15th April 2019

A beautiful day. At lunch time we walked along the beach to Port Grimaud.

Walking along the beach from Les Mûres to Port Grimaud you have to pass the Prairies de la Mer village resort.

Prairies de la Mer

Prairies de la Mer is the business. Right on the beach it has about 5 restaurants, a few bars, a shopping complex, children’s entertainment, a huge swimming pool, tennis courts; chockablock with Germans though.

Port Grimaud

I wanted to find a restaurant to eat at for Julie’s birthday on Saturday but none of the 9 or 10 restaurants in the village have anything other than pizza for a vegetarian.

Day 404 – Tuesday 16th April 2019

Woke to the sound of rain on the roof. It didn’t rain for long, had a lazy day, finished off season 3 of Game of thrones.

Day 405 – Wednesday 17th April 2019

The sun is back!!!

We hopped on Zippy and sped to Grimaud.

Grimaud is a fabulous little village set back 5 or 6 miles from the coast; it’s nice and quiet up there. I suspect most of the properties are 2nd homes but it is not commercialised to death. I’d certainly live there.

Peaceful Grimaud

Grimaud from the town’s ruined castle

On the way back we dropped into Cogolin. The ride into the town through the wooded countryside with the sunshine breaking through the trees was fabulous. Cogolin itself is a typical rural French town, not a lot going on but very well looked after.

Came across a pipe maker, it was like stepping back in time

They had literally thousands upon thousands of pipes in their shop, The lady told me they sell to collectors all over the world. Strange world!

Day 406 – Thursday 18th April 2019

A lovely sunny day.

Cfor hiding in the bushes

After lunch we took Zippy into Sainte-Maxime.

Sainte-Maxime

We rounded off the day with a visit to Pointe des Sardinaux a few miles further along the coast.

Pointe des Sardinaux

We’ve really enjoyed being back around St Tropez, the traffic on the coast is just as bad as Antibes & Nice but away from the coast it’s just fabulous France.

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Week 57

Day 393 – Friday 4th April 2019

A lovely day so we hopped on Zippy and rode into Nice to have a picnic lunch. Apart from the seafront Nice has some great parks and gardens where you can sit and watch the world go by.

Fontaine Miroir d’eau on the Prom du Paillon

Fontaine du Soleil

The flower market in Nice

the blue chairs on the Promenade des Anglais have been a feature since the 1950s

Difficult to fall asleep in though.

When aircraft approach Nice airport from the east they fly in off the Cap de Nice and banking to port they head straight for Le Negresco hotel turning just a couple on hundred yards before the beach.

Le Negresco, a great place for plane spotting but probably not so great for a lie-in

Day 394 – Saturday 5th April 2019

A cold overcast day. Binged watched Game of Thrones season 1. Fabulous 😀

Day 395 – Sunday 6th April 2019

The sun was out this morning and Cfor had a visitor!

This was a very friendly cat and Cfor wasn’t the least bit upset in his company.

A lazy morning and a lazy afternoon.

Had a walk to the Baie des Anges to look at how the other half sail

Later we got a new neighbour…

A German in a shed!

Day 396 – Monday 7th April 2019

A beautiful morning, went to Cap d’Antibes and ate our lunch overlooking the sea.

Cap d’Antibes

Day 397 – Tuesday 8th April 2019

Another beautiful sunny day. We hopped on Zippy and went for a wander and picnic at Cap Ferrat.

Like Nice, Antibes & Juan-les-Pins Cap Ferrat has an annual jazz festival

Plage des Fosses

I doubt you’d be able to buy even a very modest house on Cap Ferrat for less than a million or two. It’s one of these places where the swankier the house the more likely it is to be all shuttered up. I guess if people can afford £20m for a holiday home on the French riviera they’ve probably got quite a few homes around the world. I dare say there are even people who own a posh house on Cap Ferrat who also have an apartment 10 miles down the road in Monaco.

The German and his shed left this morning.

Day 398 – Wednesday 9th April 2019

An overcast start to the day and it was cold. After lunch we went for a nose around Biot.

They were doing pavement in this square this time last year.

Day 399 – Thursday 10th April 2019

Another cold morning then it started to rain. Finished off watching season 2 of Game of Thrones.

I see Theresa May has just got a 6 month extension on the Brexit negotiations and the first thing MPs have done is go on 2 weeks holiday citing Brexit fatigue. What a bunch of twats.

In what industry could there be such a major crisis and everyone goes on two weeks fuckin’ holiday? I think everyone in the UK should ring in work sick tomorrow citing the same. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander; the people should only work when MPs do.

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Week 56

Day 386 – Friday 29th March 2019

A beautiful sunny day; to Antibes for a picnic lunch.

Since last year they’ve removed all the raised planters that people could sit on to eat their picnics from the Place Nationale; I don’t think they’ll be happy until the entire square is filled with restaurant tables. Luckily they haven’t yet found a way to engineer away the steps at the foot of the column so we ate have our picnic in the sun there.

the Place Nationale

Then we had a ride out to the Plage de la Garoupe on the Cap d’Antibes.

Plage de la Garoupe

Most of the Plage de la Garoupe is private belonging to two ridiculously expensive restaurants but there is a small public section of beach near to the cheaper restaurant. This is the Cap d’Antibes so cheap is a relative term, omelette, chips and a drink will still cost you north of €20 each.

we had a little walk along the Sentier du Littoral. The whole route takes a couple of hours so that’s for another day.

On the way back we stopped to look at the view of Antibes from La Salis. Claude Monet did a series of paintings of the view of Antibes from the Cap.

Claude Monet 1888 Antibes Seen from the Plateau Notre-Dame

My impression of Antibes from La Salis

Today was supposed to be the UK’s last day in the EU but Theresa May has completely cocked things up.

Day 387 – Saturday 30th March 2019

Lovely sunny day. I went back to Cap d’Antibes on Zippy for a good explore. Managed to find a route to the Phare

Antibes from the Phare.

Found a few roads that lead down to the coast and will give those a try later in the week.

In the afternoon we had lunch with our Norwegian friend Eirin and got mildly sozzled in the sun.

Day 388 – Sunday 31th March 2019

Glorious sunny day; into Antibes for lunch at Les Pimms.

Les Pimms

There were some protesting vegans outside the restaurant. I didn’t know there were any in France! I went over for a chat and they told me off for eating cheese!

It’s hard enough eating in France if you are a vegetarian it must be next to impossible if you are vegan.

After lunch we had a ride to the phare on Cap d’Antibes so Julie could enjoy the view.

Day 389 – Monday 1st April 2019

A milky sky this morning. Julie has a bit of a sore throat so I am going to walk the Sentier du Littoral on the Cap d’Antibes starting and finishing at Plage de la Garoupe.

There’s a fluther of jellyfish at Plage de la Garoupe this morning

The walk is a mix of nicely constructed pathways and steps and rough boulders and ground.

It was quite busy but there were plenty of places to stop and let other walkers disappear.

It took about a leisurely 2 hours to do the circuit.

The southernmost part of the Cap. Can’t walk along the coast to it as it’s all private villas

The end of the coastal walk, the Bay of Antibes Billionaires

All in all a great little walk with plenty of places to stop and have a quiet lunch.

Day 390 – Tuesday 2nd April 2019

Another milky start to the day. Spent the day eating, drinking and playing cards with Eirin 😀

Day 391 – Wednesday 3rd April 2019

It rained on and off all day and it was cold all day. Like a summer’s day in Manchester 😀

Day 392 – Thursday 4th April 2019

Cold start to the day. It absolutely bucketed it down last night. Went for a ride on Zippy this afternoon.

The sun came out and I had a great ride along the coast.

 

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Week 55

Day 379 – Friday 22nd March 2019

A beautiful sunny day in Villeneuve-les-Beziers, we packed up and set off for Aix-en-Provence. It was just a two hour drive and there were no problems on the journey so we were settled into our new pitch by lunchtime.

After lunch we hopped on Zippy and went for a nose around Aix town centre.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix has changed a lot since I first drove through the town enroute to the south of France about 30 years ago. Then I just glanced the Fontaine de la Rotonde as we sped through. Nowadays there’s no speeding through Aix as the town centre has a ton of traffic calming and stripped of nearly all traffic the centre of Aix is a beautiful old French town.

The posh part of the town centre is the Cours Mirabeau

The Fontaine de la Rotonde at the end of the Cours Mirabeau

Day 380 – Saturday 23rd March 2019

Yet another beautiful sunny day. Into Aix to visit the market which stretches the whole length of Cours Mirabeau.

The Saturday Market in Aix-en-Provence

Day 381 – Sunday 24th March 2019

A sunny day and a very lazy day.

We had a little picnic in a local park.

Back at the campsite I had a lovely sleep in the sun 😀

Day 382 – Monday 25th March 2019

Another sunny day. Packed up and set off for Antibes. It was just a quick 2 hour journey on the toll road, uneventful apart from some bloody Spanish lorry driver trying to take our wing mirror off at a toll station!

Booking into the campsite in Antibes wasn’t as difficult as it usually is. I think the woman behind reception must have taken her happy pills today.

After just over 10 weeks of travelling all the way from Praia de Luz we are on the French riviera until the end of May and the idea is to completely relax so if I do anything other than eat, drink, sit in the sun or go for a spin on Zippy then I will have failed in my mission.

Went for a spin on Zippy to the old part of Antibes.

Day 383 – Tuesday 26th March 2019

It rained a little around 6am but it was a nice enough morning if a little breezy. and the sun eventually came out. Bought some new chairs to relax/sleep in then gave them a bloody good soak test.

Day 384 – Wednesday 27th March 2019

An overcast start to the day but the sun soon came out. Off for a spin on Zippy to Cap Ferrat.

The traffic in Nice town centre is a bit of a pain in the arse; the fact they are always doing roadworks and always doing up the old port doesn’t help but outside of Nice the ride along the coast is great.

Cap Ferrat peninsular from Eze

We struggled to find the coast in Cap Ferrat; most of the peninsular is covered with expensive looking private villas with fuck off walls & security but eventually we found a little road that led down to the town of Saint-Jean.

Saint-Jean, sleepy during the day

We had lunch on the Sentier Littoral, the coastside path which allows you to walk most of the peninsular.

Charlie Chaplin and David Niven lived here; I never knew either of them were that way inclined!

Now we have a better idea of how to get around the peninsular we’ll have to come back for a proper explore.

Villefranche-sur-Mer from Cap Ferrat

Day 385 – Thursday 28th March 2019

A sunny start to the day. Had a lazy day sitting in the sun. Got pulled over by the French police for using Zippy in a cycle lane. Thankfully one of them spoke English and he wasn’t looking to hand out a ticket. Apart from telling me unlike Italy in France cycle lanes were for bicycles only they also told me it’s compulsory to wear gloves when riding a motorbike in France.

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Week 54

Day 372 – Friday 15th March 2019

A beautiful sunny day. A little tired after walking round Barca yesterday and I’m nowhere near fully recovered from my illness so had a lazy day sat reading and sleeping in the sun.

The most I managed today was a walk along the beach after lunch.

The beach just outside Barcelona

I think I have perfected the art of sleeping in the sun like a proper old codger; like the ones you see down on the front at Eastbourne. You have to get really well wrapped up against the wind and get settled in a comfortable spot in the full sun. Pretty soon you’ll start to bake and after an hour or so it’s next to impossible to move, it’s like you’ve been nailed to the chair 😀

Day 373 – Saturday 16th March 2019

A lovely start to the day and it turned into a scorcher. Packed up and off to Camping Aquarius which is just a few miles from the French border.

Camping Aquarius is German owned and as you’d expect it is a very good site.

This is the Bay of Roses; named not after the plant but after the local town of Roses.

Day 374 – Sunday 17th March 2019

A sunny day.

Went to the local town of Roses which had a very French feel and reminded both of us of Sainte-Maxime just across the bay from St Tropez.

I’m undecided about Julie’s new look

Day 375 – Monday 18th March 2019

It blew a gale last night and it’s still very windy this morning.

this past week wind in one form or another has been the bane of my life

My weather app says it is currently blowing at 60 mph and isn’t going to calm down until tomorrow. Not really the kind of weather I want to take a motorhome across the Pyrenees in so we’re going to have an extra day in Spain.

Cfor is more than happy to have an extra day in Spain

Day 376 – Tuesday 19th March 2019

A sunny intervals day but more importantly there is a break in the wind until just after lunch. Up early and off to France before 8am.

It was October 9th, Day 215 of my retirement when we left Biarritz in France  for Spain; 161 days ago. Far too long ago imho.

Decided  to use the toll roads down to Béziers; a lot less fuckin’ about than the A roads. The trip over the Pyrenees wasn’t high altitude at all and we were soon at the campsite just outside Béziers.

Coming off the toll road in France the machine wouldn’t accept my ticket. I had to speak to the attendant and she asked where I’d got on so cracked on I had no idea where I’d got on but it wasn’t far away, they ended up only charging me €7. That’s a great result and I might get a magnet to mess with all my toll tickets in future.

The campsite in Villeneuve-lès-Béziers is not 20m from the Canal du Midi.

think this is a muskrat, anyway there’s a family of them here and they hang around the ducks to steal bread

Once settled in we had a walk around the local town.

No one does pretty old towns and villages like the French.

Day 377 – Wednesday 20th March 2019

A beautiful sunny morning but a quite cold start to the day. We hopped on Zippy and drove towards Béziers parking up by the side of the Canal du Midi then had a stroll into town.

Canal du Midi

Béziers is one of France’s oldest towns and the walk through the old winding streets to the cathedral was fabulous.

Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse de Béziers

After a gander round the town we walked on to Les 9 écluses de Fonseranes.

Les 9 écluses de Fonseranes, a UNESCO World Heritage site. If this was Spain you’d have to pay €10 to look at this.

Canard du Midi

Day 378 – Thursday 21st March 2019

A sunny but cold start to the day but later in the afternoon it was proper scorchio. We hopped on Zippy and motored to the coast.

Valras-Plage is a typical French holiday town, it has a harbour, a great beach and plenty of eateries.

and like a lot of French tourist towns spring means lots of public works pedestrianising the place to make it more people friendly.

After scoffing our sarnies and sitting in the sun for a while we headed to Sérignan just inland on the river Orb.

Sérignan, a typically pretty little French town

The Marie of Sérignan is pleased to advertise the 1000+ free parking places in the town. Something you’re unlikely to ever see anywhere in the UK

Tomorrow we head further east and hope to stop in Aix-en-Provence for a few days before settling in Antibes for a few weeks while the Brexit shitshow settles down.

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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 9th 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 10th 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 12th 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 12th 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 13th 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 14th 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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