Week 87

Friday 1st November 2019 to Thursday 7th November 2019

As the place where I was having my MRI scan at was a good distance away and as the weather’s been a bit unpredictable lately we hired a car for the week. I really didn’t fancy doing 100 miles on Zippy in the rain.

Most of the week I’ve been sitting around with an ice pack strapped to my back but it’s slowly working its magic and I can walk 100 yards without any real pain now. After that it starts to nag a little and I can’t walk more than 200 yards without sitting down for 5 minutes but it is getting better; I even managed a few games of boules this week.

Our French neighbours left this week taking Es-es with them

I’m going to miss her barking at everything that passes passes their pitch, what a fearless warrior!

To stave off the boredom of sitting around I’ve been doing a lot of reading; Elton John’s autobiography ‘Me’ and Peter Crouch’s ‘How to be a footballer’. Elton John is a strange fish, being a footballer sounds great fun.

Obviously I’ve been following the election build up. It seems to me it’s been so long since we had a proper socialist government that the electorate have forgotten that socialists very quickly run out of money and that chaos quickly follows.

As for the politicians themselves I think they are almost all middle management wannabes who are completely clueless as to the reality of what life is really like for ordinary working people in the UK.

came across this little fellow near our pitch 😀

 

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Week 86

Friday 25th October 2019 to Thursday 31st October 2019

A week of sitting around the van with an ice-pack strapped to my back 🙁

Most of the week my trapped nerve was causing me too much pain to walk further than the shower block but today, Thursday, it is much better. It’s by no means pain free but I managed to walk the 200 yards to reception which was a huge improvement on even Monday.

The chiropractor says it is will be being caused by a herniated disc causing inflammation of the nerve and it will probably take 6 weeks to settle down completely. I’m having an MRI scan next week to see the extent of the damage to the disc.

So I am looking at least another 3 or 4 weeks before it is sorted. It’s a good job I am a naturally patient person 😉

.

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Week 85

Friday 18th October 2019 to Thursday 24th October 2019

The week started off wet & overcast and my back was a tiny bit better but I still couldn’t walk upright.

I managed to put the chateau back up but it was a real struggle, took hours and was extremely painful. The next day, Friday, my back was very bad again and it deteriorated over the weekend until come Monday I could hardly move.

Monday lunchtime I went to the local chiropractor and he was good. He’s an English bloke who has moved here from Australia. There was no messing about; he had a go at resetting my whole back. Not all of the joints would release and he told me to ice my lower back for an hour, give it some movement for an hour and repeat ad infinitum to get the inflammation of soft tissue down so that he could release the rest of the joints. He says he wants to see me all this week. I like it when there’s a plan!

My back was so much better when I left his clinic and it was great to have a plan to get it pain free but on Tuesday it was bad again; pain in a small muscle at the top of my arse and pain down the front & side of my right leg, a trapped nerve.

I carried on with the icing and visited the chiropractor on Tuesday afternoon and even though he had a go at resetting everything again there were still joints that wouldn’t release so I still had all the pain 🙁

This is exactly how it was a few years ago when I had 8 weeks off work, The only thing that fixed it then was gentle traction.

Wednesday morning when I got up it was just as bad as Tuesday but I had decided this was going to be a day of gentle traction, just supporting myself on my locked arms and letting the weight of my legs pull my lower vertebrae apart. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes till I got a result 😀

Although it was still a little tender after being tweaked for a week the nerve was released and I could walk again!!!!

But, just like a few years ago, the fix didn’t last long. At least I now know I am not too far away from sorting the issue.

Thursday morning I managed to re-release it again and I was pain free for a longer period. I kept up the icing and visited the chiropractor again on Thursday afternoon. He reckons everything is now released and as the inflammation continues to go down I should see a big improvement.

I have to say this chiropractor is in a different league to the ones I’ve seen in the UK.

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Week 84

Friday 11th October 2019 to Thursday 17th October 2019

a cloudy start to the week, a welcome break from the dizzying sun

We made the most of the cooler weather and had a trip to Salema

they have a lot of feral cats in Salema

and some dinosaur footprints

On Tuesday I had to take down and pack up the chateau so we could go and get the fridge sorted in Loulé. Lifting it all into the garage I did my back in, badly. I can’t walk more than half a dozen steps and I can’t sit or lie comfortably either.  To make matters worse I discovered Julie had eaten the last kit-kat!

The fridge is a 3 way fridge; it’s not working on mains so it would eat our 18l gas bottle in about 4  weeks or so. To get at the gubbins you have to go in via the plastic vents. Typically the vent we needed to go in by had been sikaflexed in so it didn’t survive being removed. So not only did I have to pay for a new heater element I had to pay for a new hole to be cut and a new vent.

Surprisingly the job only cost £150.

My back is still bad, still can’t walk a dozen steps 🙁

 

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Week 83

Friday 4th October 2019 to Thursday 10th October 2019

Still banging hot here.

We get any chores or shopping done in the morning before it gets too hot then relax in the shade by the pool in the afternoon. My skin damage sun tan is coming along fine.

Cfor is fully in the swing of things now; sleeping in the aircon all day then out and about at night.

This is next door’s dog, Es-es. She’s got something to say about absolutely everything

The only thing of note to happen this week is the fridges’s AC element failed so next week we ‘ll have to empty the chateau, pack it all up and drive 50 miles along the coast to Loulé and the nearest Thetford service centre. Because of the size of the fridge and the way it is shoehorned into the van it’s not going to be an easy job and I think I’ll be lucky if it cost me less than £300 but you can’t put a price on ice cold lager or well chilled rosé 😀

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Week 82

Friday 27th September to Thursday 3rd October to 2019

early morning Portugal

We changed to a better pitch on Saturday and are now settled in for the the winter

The new pitch is bigger than the old one and we get dappled shade until late afternoon

Once the sun gets properly high though it’s baking hot here…

Come the afternoon it’s far too hot to do anything but relax by the pool

Cfor’s spent most of the week sleeping in the van, He was chased by a dog last week so he might still be frightened. There again he may just have become an aircon addict!

What a poser!

I’ve started my couch to 5k again…

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Week 81

Day 555 – Friday 20th September 2019

Had a bit of lie-in then we hit the road for Salamanca about 180 miles further south.

The Spanish interior, it’s big and it’s pretty empty

We arrived at the campsite just after lunch and guess what, it’s another typically scruffy little unloved Spanish site.

Of course Cfor loves the site…

He went completely loopy rubbing his head on the base of this tree, some dog must have pissed on it.

After a Pot Noodle apiece we hopped on a bus into town… for a Spanish town Salamanca is  alright. It’s clean enough and lively. It also has two cathedrals…

The old cathedral viewed from the bell tower of the new cathedral

… it has a very big square

Plazza Mayor, I’m guessing they sell a lot of ham here

and a Roman bridge but I couldn’t be bothered seeking that out; after nearly 3 weeks on the road I’m all touristed out and just want to put my feet up in the sun.

Spain – any sandwich you want as long as it is ham!

Day 556 – Saturday 21st September 2019

On to Cáceres , (pronounced Cath-er-rus with a Spanish lisp on the Cath) a town I’d never heard of before and about 125 miles further south.

The campsite is great; it’s terraced so the pitches are level,

each pitch has it’s own toilet block with a nice shower, toilet & hand basin; luxury!

and there is a near Olympic size swimming pool all for €18 a night.

It rained pretty much none stop all afternoon so we were stuck in the van, I may run out of crisps & Madeleines!

In a break from the rain I went for a wander and discovered why the campsite is so good for a Spanish site…

half of it is paid for by Brussels, they’ve had over €150k in EU grants to promote tourism!

Day 557 – Sunday 22nd September 2019

Worst night’s sleep ever. Someone’s alarm malfunctioned at 4am and they couldn’t get it stopped for yonks. Then Cfor decided he really needed to go out!

In the morning we visited the town of Cáceres.

very considerate of them to make this match Julie’s coat

It has a large medieval quarter

it’s a UNESCO world heritage site which probably qualifies them for a grant or two

we were early so there were no tourists to ruin Julie’s photos

I think the town had about 4 cathedrals

Cáceres along with Salamanca is on the via de la Plata which is a camino to Santiago de Compostela. Plata means silver in Spanish, this was the silver route  from northern Spain to the Med in Roman times.

being on a camino there are plenty of scallop shells in town

Day 558 – Monday 23rd September 2019

Up early and off to El Rocio about 200 miles further south. The journey was uneventful and the campsite is okay but it’s absolutely baking.

Cfor loves the site but I don’t think he’s met the camp dog yet.

In rural Spain and Portugal they routinely kick their dogs out in the morning, hence all the dog shit

The streets of El Rocio are made out of sand so Zippy was a no no and I had to walk to the local supermarket.

with the sandy streets and blazing sun it was all a bit For a Few Dollars More

Thank god the site has a lovely cold pool 😀

Day 559 – Tuesday 24th September 2019

A baking hot day so a very lazy day.

The only place to be

Day 560 – Wednesday 25th September 2019

Up early and packed up ready to go but we had to wait a few hours for Cfor to return from his morning inspections!

The little swine is pretty fearless now and it’s becoming a bit of a problem on sites with permanent caravans, there is just too much interesting feral stuff going on under them.

Portugal 😀

On the journey Doris seemed a little confused at times and it took 4 hours; the normal roads in Portugal are okay for cars but going through towns is not easy in an 8m motorhome.

It was fabulous to arrive at Touriscampo

Our pitch is a little small but we  managed to fit on it. The Chateau took a while to put up because I’ve never put it up in anger before.

The chateau

Day 561 – Thursday 26th September 2019

Another fabulous cloudless day. It doesn’t really get baking until mid-day so we spent the morning getting all the stuff in the Chateau just right then after lunch had a relax by the pool.

it’s great to have fuck all to do 😀

 

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Week 80

Day 548 – Friday 13th September 2019

A banging hot day. Too hot really. Mid morning we hopped on Zippy and went into La Rochelle for a nose about.

La Rochelle is an old fortified port and nowadays it has a lot of sailing yachts. Unlike down in the Med the French round here actually seem to like taking them out to sea!

These boats are here to take part in a race to Martinique in the West Indies

The fortifications

We paid to go up the Saint Nicolas Tower (the one on the right) for a view of the town.

Tower done we grabbed lunch from a stall but there was so much bread involved in my cheese roll that I couldn’t really move afterwards

well it is a port full of sailors

The day was just too hot, one of those days when you stick to the shady side of the street and if you see you have to go in the sun you look for the quickest way back to the shade.

Back at the campsite I cracked on the aircon then went and had a dip in the site’s pool. Half way down the tube slide I thought I was going to be seriously injured and never have I been so grateful to land in 3ft of cold water! I wonder if I can con Julie into having a go 😀

Day 549 – Saturday 14th September 2019

up early

Not quite as hot as yesterday but still needed the aircon on. Next time I am moaning about being stuck in the UK in July & August I need to remember just how hot it gets in Southern Europe in the summer.

Back down to the pool…

a bigger splash

Cfor loves this site, he loves rolling around in the dust

Day 550 – Sunday 15th September 2019

A beautiful sunny morning. We were fully packed up to move on but Cfor was nowhere to be seen!

He’d gone out about 08:30 as he normally does after breakfast but he only ever wants a quick look see before he settles down to sleep through the day on the dashboard. Today was different, he didn’t come back.

Cfor loves this hedge because…

it leads to under this chalet where I suspect all kinds of interesting feral things go on…

This site is very busy and while I don’t mind him going out at night or having a quick stroll early in the morning it’s not on for him to be out and about between 0930 & noon as people are up and have there chalet doors while they have breakfast and car doors open while they pack up to leave. Curiosity killed the cat and Cfor can be a very curious cat.

Julie and I were more than a little concerned when he hadn’t come back by 10am. We both suspected he was in a locker on some van on his way to Bordeaux and a new life. I went round all the adjacent pitches asking people to check for him.

Thankfully about 11am the little swine strolled back onto our pitch.

I’m back, everyone can relax!

Cfor on board we set off 2 hours late for a place called Bidart about 240 miles further south, nearly in Spain. It was a long hot and sticky journey but that leaves us just 750 miles to Praia da Luz which I intend to cover in 5 or 6 hops.

Of course when we parked up on our new pitch who followed me out of the door…

Day 551 – Monday 16th September 2019

Another very hot & sticky day. After lunch we went into the town of Bidart.

We’re near the Pyrenees, so the buildings look quite Alpine

It’s yet another immaculately kept French town. Everything is perfect and not a fag dimp in sight.

The French work bloody hard to make these towns and villages so immaculate, they put us to shame.

The beach was beautiful too

it was a naturist beach too!

I kept me clothes on

Taxman has told me he owes me £2,369.80 from last year 😀

Day 552 – Tuesday 17th September 2019

A hot but thankfully not a sticky day today. We motored into Biarritz on Zippy.

Biarritz really is a beautiful town. Everything is so fucking well done.

the Grand Plage, still full of sunbathers

the place is very popular with surfers

The Hôtel du Palais, where the recent G7 was held

Hard to imagine Boris Johnson having a street in France named after him 😀

Me flying the flag

The Phare

Day 553 – Wednesday 18th September 2019

An overcast start to the day, perfect for travelling. All aboard we motored down into Spain to a town called Burgos. The campsite is a scruffy little place but it’s very busy as it’s on the quick route south to the Costsa.

Cfor was out of the van before me!

when in Spain

There was a bit of a kerfuffle in the van when Julie spotted than Cfor had caught a mouse and brought in! This is the first time ever he’d brought anything home. Julie bravely trapped it under a pot

I let it go 50m from the van, I doubt it lived but better to die in peace than in Cfor’s mouth

Day 554 – Thursday 19th September 2019

Into Burgos.

Touring round Europe you can get all cathedralled-out and nowadays I generally refuse to look inside them but I made an exception for the Santa Iglesia Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Santa María de Burgos.

the camera on a Samsung J5 can’t really do it any justice

This cathedral is a magnet for walkers on the very popular French Camino to Santiago de Compostela.

It’s big and it’s very ornate. There is tons of this stuff in dozens of different chapels

Heaven knows how many millions of hours of stone & wood carving and metal beating went in to this place or where they got the dosh to pay for it all

The tomb of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid to his mates

In Burgois I had terrible trouble getting anything to eat; the Spanish put ham on everything. The waiter suggest I have sandwich no.7 which he said was vegetarian, good job I check cause it had bloody tuna in it. Factor in the run down state of the place and the couldn’t care if it doesn’t work attitude and Spain is my least favourite country in Europe.

Hopefully we will be in Portugal this time next week.

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Week 79

Day 541 – Friday 6th September 2019

A cold start to the day but the sun soon came out so we hopped on Zippy to visit Les Alignments. 

There are some 3000 standing stones (Menhirs) in and around Carnac

You see them all over this part of Brittany; at the side of the road, littered about the countryside and in people’s front gardens.

Julie in someone’s front garden

You can see why they’re called Les Alignments

Some of these boulders weigh well over 20 tons so what I find remarkable about Les Alignments is the physical effort involved in putting these enormous boulders in place. Especially when you consider how sparse the population must have been in 4,000BC and the fact they must have spent a fair bit of their waking lives either looking for food or generally trying to survive. The big stones would’ve take dozens of men to move. I don’t buy all this rolling them along on logs. Most logs are neither round nor straight they tend to be a bit bent & bumpy and very little ground is anything like flat. They didn’t have osteopaths in them days either.

At Les Alignments they do a tour in English on Mondays and Wednesdays but having taken it some years ago I can do it for you now;

There are about 3,000 Menhires in Les Alignments. They are thought to be from about 4,000BC and even though there are lots of theories about why they were created nobody really knows the fuck why. They were probably rolled into place on logs.

That’ll be €15 each merci beaucoup 😀

We took Zippy into the town of Quiberon and ate lunch

Quiberon is at the end of a peninsular and its west side of the peninsular is battered by the Atlantic giving it the look of Cornwall.

plenty of rugged rocks…

… beautiful beaches…

… and you can always find something dodgy to climb…

It was bloody windy up there!

In some shock news this Blog’s photographer has resigned her post over artistic differences!!!

Day 542 – Saturday 7th September 2019

It rained last night but it’s very sunny this morning. In the morning we did all the boring chores and after lunch went for a nose around La Trinité-sur-Mer.

La Trinité-sur-Mer is about half a mile in from the Atlantic on the Rivière de Crac’h and is a harbour for small yachts & boats

The old Blog photographer seems to have got herself some freelance work

After a nose about we went down to the Pointe de Kerbihan,

The new blog photographer is slowly getting the hang of things

Pointe de Kerbihan

A French Banksy?

Day 543 – Sunday 8th September 2019

A sunny intervals sort of day.

In the morning we visited the market at Carnac

It wouldn’t be a French market without the knife stall.

Market over we took Zippy to Auray

Port Saint-Goustan, Auray.

The old photographer has got her job back!

Day 544 – Monday 9th September 2019

A not warm but wet day. I cooked a monster Dhal and we binge watched some TV and played cards. We play a game called Spite & Malice. Tonight Julie lost and I have never witnessed such poor sportsmanship; she made Roy Keane look well balanced,.

Day 545 – Tuesday 10th September 2019

A better day. Still a little chilly but at least it was dry.

We hopped on Zippy and went to Locmariaquer, a little town on the Gulf de Morbihan for a nose about.

Locmariaquer,

Day 546 – Wednesday 11th September 2019

Another sunny intervals sort of day. Up early and on the road to La Rochelle. It was an uneventful journey, we had a bit of trouble finding a site, the one we wanted was completely full which considering it’s the middle of September surprised me.

Cfor making himself at home on the new site

I took a couple of spins about on Zippy to get the lay of the land. La Rochelle is a lot bigger than I imagined.

A sunflower head drying in the late afternoon sun

Day 547 – Thursday 12th September 2019

Overcast start to the day but the clouds soon cleared and it was a beautiful afternoon.

Last night Cfor went out about 10pm, he loves the dark. About 15 minutes later he came in all hissing, something obviously  really spooked him.

today he is taking things easy

We visited the local towns of Angoulins & Chatelaillon-Plage in the afternoon.

Walking along the gravel track back from the beach tonight a van sped passed me then about 20m later it suddenly swerved onto the gravel track then quickly got back onto the road. The driver must have been fucking about with his phone.

No one is ever too far from sudden death

 

 

 

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Week 78

Day 534 – Friday 30th August 2019

A bright day.

As we are off to France tomorrow Julie spent the day putting all her things in the van and generally fussing about getting everything just so. I can’t complain, God knows what the van would look like if I was left in charge of the internal storage.

Finally fully loaded

I busied myself with my hedges.

Day 535 – Saturday 31st August 2019

A sunny morning and up early and off to Dover to catch the ferry.

This is how Cfor decided to travel today

Britain, what can you say? It’s certainly a lot livelier now with Boris in charge, I just hope it’s still here when we get back 😀

Once off the ferry we headed to a campsite just outside Wimereux near Boulogne for the weekend. After we’d settled in and had lunch we went in to the town for a nose about.

It’s fabulous to be back in France 😀

I love France. The Belgians make great beer and the Germans make great cars but the French know how to make great towns and villages and know how to look after them; we could learn a lot from them.

I see Guy Verhofstadt is visiting the town

Back at the campsite Cfor had a good look about before venturing out

Once he’d got his courage up the little swine was in and out of the van all evening

Sunset at Wimereux

Day 536 – Sunday 1st September 2019

A beautiful day

Early morning bathers, they must be completely mad

After a stroll on the beach we had lunch and then went to Boulogne and had a walk around the old town which is beautiful.

we came across some Morris dancers from Essex

Boulogne cathedral

Day 537 – Monday 2nd September 2019

A beautiful day. We packed up and set off for Mers-les-Bains about 80 miles further along the coast.  As we approached the campsite Doris decided to send us into the town itself and then around a tight narrow one way system. I could feel Julie’s blood pressure rising in the passenger seat:-D

Cfor loves looking at the traffic. I’ve told him when he’s old enough to get his provisional licence I’ll teach him how to drive.

The campsite at Mers-les-Bains is great; lovely and quiet and we have a big green pitch

Cfor loves it…

especially the long grass

Mers-les-Bains is a nice little seaside town with an unspoilt front and a stony beach packed with huts.

The French never waste a hilltop, the Notre Dame statue on the cliff overlooking Mers-les-Bains

Day 538 – Tuesday 3rd September 2019

A bright morning.

After Cfor had had his morning walk about we set off for Fecamp.

Just over halfway there Doris thought it’d be fun if we did 20 odd miles on twisty back roads rather than sticking to the main road. Julie was non too pleased.

At Fecamp the campsite itself was on a cliff overlooking the town and its approach was steep and narrow. It started off with a 150 degree turn uphill which it took us a couple of attempts then the road got decidedly narrower. After being softened up by Doris’ earlier back roads detour this really did for Julie’s nerves.

The site itself was very hilly so after all that palaver we hightailed it back down the hill and went on to Etretat.

The site at Etretat is municipal but very well looked after.

It’s also full which makes me think it’d be wise to start ringing up to book sites.

Etretat town from the Falaise d’Etratat

the Falaise d’Etratat (the arch on the right)

Day 539 – Wednesday 4th September 2019

A dull start to the day and light rain is forecast so we I decided we would give HonFleur a miss this trip and head straight down to Dinan. Doris behaved herself and we landed at the site just after lunchtime.

Pont de Normandie

Cfor was out the door and exploring the moment the engine was turned off

Dinan is a beautiful old Town.

It has a wonky clock tower dating from about 1500 and  it’s only €4 to climb the 158 steps.

It was a bit windy but there was a great view of the town

this bell scared the bejasus out of me

The town has around 1,300 half timbered buildings

Like all wooden buildings occasionally they burn down

The old part of the town is car free and immaculately looked after. The only litter I saw all day was a solitary Fish O Fillet box from bloody McDonald’s

Found a Santiago de Compostela badge, that’s a bloody long way to walk from here.

Day 540 – Thursday 5th September 2019

An overcast start to the day which was okay as we are travelling down to Carnac today.

Before we set off we popped into Dinan to have a butchers at the market

On the road after 10 minutes of fun and games with Doris and her imaginary weight limits we had a peaceful enough journey into Brittany.

The campsite that I rang up yesterday and checked had enough room for us was closed for the winter! Luckily there are dozens of campsites in the area and we were soon settled into our new pitch.

Cfor did his usual site inspection then spent the rest of the day asleep on the dashboard.

We are going to have a few boring days looking at standing stones generally relaxing like retirees should do.

The shore at Beaumer

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