Thursday, 14 October 2010

26 Finally - respite from the rain

Wednesday 13th
Another 12 hour rain session. 7pm to 7am. What a long night !
At about midday the sun finally started to filter through so decided to go for a cycle ride into town.
I uncovered the pushbikes and saw that the sea air had rusted the discs very badly. I spent about an hour cleaning the rust off and then we rode into town in our shorts and T shirts.
The promenade was under several inches of sand that had been thrown up by the surf and the diggers were shovelling it back into the sea.

We rode around in the weak sunshine eventually found a place to eat on the promenade.
We had just got our food and guess what, it started to rain......luverly. Fortunately we were under a canopy.
We then rode home whilst stopping off at a bar en route.
On arrival at the campsite, it was in complete darkness. All the communal lighting had been turned off. Fortunately we have lights on our bikes but we are the only people on the campsite and there are a lot of empty caravans still  here - some wrapped in clingfilm or under tarpaulins for the winter.
It is very spooky, all we can hear is the crashing of waves on the beach - not as loud as previously fortunately. The weather report is good for tomorrow but in all honesty, their forecasters are crap compared to those in the UK.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

25 When is it going to end...

Tue 12th. 
Another long night of rain pelting down on Lizzys roof being driven horizontal by gale force winds.
The Surf has calmed down somewhat so the flooding is at least fresh water (mixed in with salt spray).

This is a piccy of the weather system as photographed by our friendly robots named "Geo" and "Stationary" up high in the sky where Neptune and Thor have no influence. 

We are sat at the point of the arrow and that large white blob that surrounds us has been going around and around over our heads for 3 days so far. 

What I cannot figure out is, what did we do to deserve this ?

Everywhere we go to chase some sunshine, the opposite happens. Everywhere we have been rained on in this photo is currently basking in sunshine. 

For Gods sake - we are in Spain - what the f--- is going on ?????

Thor, when I get up there we are gonna have serious words !

Monday, 11 October 2010

24 We love bad weather - at least God thinks we do...

The last 3 days Sat/Sun/Mon 9th to 11th have been a bit damp. We have had a tropical tornado pass slowly by. 

Sat 9th. 
The weather was not too bad but we just sat in Lizzy, read books and played on the computers and just generally took life easy. That night we had a mother and father of a storm with lightning and thuinder crashing all around us. It was quite surreal in Lizzy with the whole place lighting up beside the blinds being down and the thunder claps felt like trees landing on the roof.

Sun 10th. 
The next morning the place was awash and the beach (to our right) starting to suffer....

The quiet, serene, setting on the previous post had gone and the sea was starting to get rough.
 This is just in front of Lizzy.

The beach (to our left) was realy being eroded....

  We are parked on this beach !

Mon 11th. 
The next morning we were starting to get concerned.....
The weather was improving fast but the eye of the storm was now in the Med and the sea was getting rougher.
The beach had eroded for about 10m on our right. The plumbing was all exposed and King Neptune had taken the fence for his garden and presumably some of the pipework for his new toilet.

Some of the waves had reached to within 3m of Lizzy, see the grass pushed between the kerbs.

Unpreterbed by the potential of King Neptune adding Lizzy to his expanding garden, we showered and jumped on Wallace and drove through the sea flooded campsite and off to a small place called Lloret de Mar, where we had one of our first holidays some 10 odd years ago.
By now the weather had changed to bright warm sunshine and we rode to Lloret in our shorts and T shirts.
On arrival we had a nostalgic walk around and came accross this pretty looking church.

Karen found a palm print of her late hero, Colim McRae, in a paving slab next to the beach. This was from when he won the Rally Catalunya in 2000.

My hero,he is the reason I am a petrol head.

We then decided to do what we do best and found a bar on the beach for a little lubrication.

Karen then decided it would be a good idea to go for a paddle. I decided to let her, thinking that paddling on a 4 feet surf just isn't going to work.
I was right (for a change I hear you think).
Karen was doing all right in the lee of the surf. Things changed when the first wave came in. I missed the shot but even I got wet - she got soaked, even her bra got wet - it was going to be a cold ride home.
I chuckled - a lot.

We then decided to go find some grub and went for a short stroll around with Karen dripping wet (he he). We found a small Tapas bar. The food was simple but tasted great. 
It was then time for home so we fired up Wallace and headed for home with a stop at the supermaket on the way. 

On arrival at home we saw this...the camping sight to our right was disapearing fast. Our campsite owners had the foresight to place large rocks as breakers in front of their bit of beach. We may keep Lizzy yet.

Friday, 8 October 2010

23 Into Spain

Friday 8th
We all slept well again, and were ready to move on reasonably early.  Ray had been intrigued by an old coach, which was turned into a MH with a large trailer on the back, and in true Ray form, he ended up speaking to the German man who owned it.  I will let Ray tell all.

Purpose built bus/motorhome and odd looking trailer

(Ray) It’s a funny fact of life, but what realy makes us what we are are the differences and the similarities between us. Today I met a similar (read worse) nut case to myself. As Karen states above I spoke to a guy in what I thought was a converted coach but turned out to be a purpose, one of conversion by the coach manufacturer, “Setra”, who make lots of European buses. This German guy, called Frank for short,  drives this bus all over Europe as a home and a toy hauler. On the back he had a very odd looking trailer (see pic) that intrigued a moron such as myself. Whilst I was putting out the rubbish he was out in his dressing gown and me being the nosey little sod that I am asked him what he had in it.
Frank replied, “Guess”, OK…”sports car”, “Quad bikes”, “Jet skiis”. No was the reply, you will never get it. How about a helicopter, ……or more correctly a gyrocopter.  A WHAAAAT…..yep…. a gyrocopter. Being the nosey little sh!t that I am I asked for a look. He opened up one side door on the trailer and sure as James Bond is 007, there it was, a bright yellow gyrocopter.

I have never seen one in the flesh and was intrigued. We spent the next half an hour talking about flying licences, take off speeds and all sorts of anorack stuff that I like. He made me laugh with his comment to Karen (when I dragged her over for a look) about boys never growing up and their toys getting more expensive (pointing at Wallace hanging off ther back of Lizzy). The man was a an old bearded nut case and I loved him.

We were in Spain pretty much for lunch time, and the ladies of the night were back out on the road.

We were trying to get a picture of them for the blogg and I was being very discreet as Ray did a little detour off themain road, (he wasn’t supposed to but tomtom keeps getting it wrong), anyway, there I am camera almost hidden and we come to a stop at a stop line right infront of them, the fact that we’ve stopped makes them look up, and then the flash went off, we stayed there waiting to get into the main road again, but by now the whole world and his wife were travelling, in separate cars, so we were there for ages, and I could see them discussing something, I’m sure it was something similar to “ we could be in for something kinky with these two and flash photography, or quick call the police and take their index number,” Whichever it was, I couldn’t get under the dash board quick enough.  What we do to entertain you…..
Bad photo. We spent about a minute waiting to get out of a junction whilst she was watching us having seen our flash go off. Karen was trying to climb into the footwell to hide her embarrassment.

We eventually found a lovely campsite on the beach in Blanes, pronounced Blahness.  It is near Llorett de mar which is one of the first places Ray and I went on holiday together, aahh.
It doesent get much better than this...

Leon is starting to settle down now and has started to go outside but not very far at present.
Karen says I can't call him "Stumpy" but I can think it can't |I.
We are set to stay here for a week, just so we can let Leon, and ourselves to some extent, recoup and do housework on the   MH.  And guess what, here we are in sunny Spain, and it’s forcast to rain for the next three days, yeah. Today is warm and windy, but we took out the pedal cycles and cycled around the town.

This one is for Mum - a hairdressers in town (Karens Mums name)

Most of it is shut for the season, but we managed to get some food cooked by a Glaswegian. Having been the only people in our site when we arrived, on returning after our trip it is full of Spanish people, all out for some fiesta which will last till Tuesday. Quiet it isn’t.

(Ray) Er ...actually ...No.. all we can hear is the crashing of waves on the beach 10m away. He  he he

22 A better day

Thursday 7th

From now on all posts by Ray will be in blue - unless we cock it up that is ;-)

Strangely enough, both Ray and I had slept.  We were up early and showered and stowed away ready to go and collect our boy.

 (Ray – Karen found the French unisex shower cubicles interesting – showering next to a Dutch guy in the same room.)
We were in a good spot on the campsite, but unfortunately for us and the size of Lizzy, we were stuck fast on the mud.  We spent ages with me running around putting non slip mats in front of the wheels and Ray desperately trying to get onto the path, unfortunately when we did get to the path, we had perfect slick tyres so we ended up going nowhere, much to the amusement of some of the other MH people.  (Theirs were little MH's and boring,.... and they have to sit outside on their deck chairs in the bad weather) that's my opinion anyway, but as it turned out, the guy behind us who was from Holland (Ray – Karens new shower buddy !), moved out and I supervised, whilst Ray reversed, maneuvered, did tree surgery and kicked mud, ready for new grass seeds to be planted, (we are always happy to assist) we finally got free to go and rescue Leon.

Down back in town, we were back in the supermarket car park.  Ray and I got faster and faster on the walk to the surgery, to see hopefully if  we could pick him up.  The receptionist, as we stated that we were here to collect him, did that "oh, raise the eyebrow, scare me to death", type of look, now I'm expecting bad news look, that both Ray and I thought the worst, however after a couple of minutes the vet came out and took us through to see our boy.  (Girls this is a note for you, this man was gorgeous, French, I know, but he looked after Leon, (tall dark, handsome, with an accent), Magnifique......ohheohheohee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow will do.

(Ray – Whaaaat ?)

Anyway from the previous comments you will know by now that Leon, was good.  He didn't like my new choice of hero, but he was looking loads better. He hissed and tried to look really tough as the vet picked him up, but once he realized Ray and I were there, he completely changed. Whatever the translation, they looked after Leon brilliantly, he came back to Lizzy, and straight away he had a little bit of food and a pee and slept.  Although he looks a bit different, and it is shocking, he is still beautiful and he was back looking to get outside by the end of the day.  The three musketeers are back on the road again.

On a couple of hairpin bends, they had to undercut the cliff face to make enough space....
 (Ray) We drove for hours.  At 7pm we are just past Perpignan parked up in a civilized service area. By civilized, I mean one that actually welcomes you to stay overnight and accommodates accordingly. For example, an area specially set out just for caravans/motor homes to park up in peace away from the transiting cars and lorries and picnic style tables and chairs all laid out inviting you to eat your own food if desired. I have to say that as a Brit, I have always been the stereo typical "we all hate the French" type of ignoramus, but now, after only a few days of having been treated very well and also seeing how the French treat their own people, kind of like everyone looking after each other, I have changed my opinion. Am I finally growing up, God I hope not.

Leon surprised us both, he was subdued when we collected him but as soon as he got back into the familiar surroundings of  Lizzy, he sharpened up and immediately took some food and had a pee. Whilst at the vets, he had not eaten at all. He slept most of the journey up in the loft above the driving seat and when we finally parked up he came out of Lizzy for a short walk with us. He is still very, unsurprisingly, nervous of the outside world, we do not know what actually happened to him and can only speculate between being run over (unlikely due to the location) or being attacked by another animal. He has not yet got used to his 1” tail, instead of the previous steady swish, it now twitches from side to side. I suppose it will settle down when he gets used to it.
Anyway, 10km to the Spanish border, we intend to find a campsite at a place called Blanes on the Mediterranean sea, it’s just past Lorret del mar and 50km north of Barcelona, for those of you that know that area. We have found (in the camping book) a place that is open all year and will likely spend a week there and if we like it, we may stay longer.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

21 Austria, Italy and France

Monday 4th
We started off towards Austria. Neither   of us could walk, so we made the best of the driving.  In Austria we had to get Vignette, which is a little box which cost us 80 Euros but we needed it to travel with the size of our vehicle if we went on the motorways.
Leon and friend, chillin...

Ray found an alternative route and we didn’t use any of our credit up and on into Italy.  All went well until we reached a route that took us up over the mountains towards Livigno.  The first hair pin took us by surprise.  Not a good idea to take a 28 foot MH with a trailer on that road.  I will let Ray take over the tale.  Suffice to say, my nerves were shot and I was not driving.

(Ray). Today I completely scared the crap out of myself. We reached a hairpin bend that took us by surprise and I could not get round it. I remember thinking ...Sh!t...I cannot turn around, I cannot reverse  any distance with this trailer and now I cannot go forward. We are stuck !!!!
I managed to reverse back a bit and on my second attempt, we got round. We negociated three more hairpins and decided at the next one that had a bit of space to turn around. We changed a 30km journey into a 230km one. We changed our minds about going to Livigno.

We eventually camped up in a campsite at about 7pm just North of Lake Garda.  The rain had just started and then continued solidly for the next 12 hours.   Neither of us got much sleep. We actually wondered as the campsite was grass, if we would be able to get out of there the following morning.
It is said that for every positive, there is a negative, and after our scares yesterday, all 3 of us were in for a lot more today.

Tuesday 5th
We were on the road by about 7.30am with the intention of getting as far through Italy towards France as we could, so we knew we had a lot of driving to do again.
The wierd mist on Lake Garda

Ray started us off, and again we  ended  up  going  back down a mountain pass, which was okay when we just met cars coming the opposite direction, but unluckily for us, we met three large tourist buses in the narrowest part of a tunnel.  We were so close to the rock face, and then we heard the horrible crunching sound as the side of the MH dragged along the rock. Everyone was trying to reverse so that we could all get through, which we did, but it was really frightening and Ray did brilliantly.  At the bottom of the pass, we pulled over, and although upset that we had damaged the vehicle, were grateful that it was only the awning cover that had been scratched and the end cover pulled off.  We carried on and stopped for coffee, after that I took over the driving, and although the roads were narrow, I got the easy bit.  We were quite surprised on route through the little towns, that at cross roads and roundabouts, and railway crossings, we kept seeing   women at the side of the road.  It turned out that these were “ladies of the night”, out in the daytime.  For one of them, obviously business was slow as she had brought along her own chair and was sitting quite happily on the roundabout.  Further along, all the railway workers had stopped for “lunch”. We saw girls being dropped off and lots of the little white work vans parked up. 
We needed to get some fuel for the vehicle, and pulled into one of the garages. They are all self service, and that means that you pay the machine and then you can get your fuel.   Ray put 50 Euros into the machine, and when he tried the pump, nothing happened.  There are no attendants or anyone to ask, and after the day we were having, we were both set to start swearing and throw a hissy fit each.  I luckily, realized that it was a game of “spot the pump which was lit up” and after some more maneuvering, we got our fuel. 

Cute road blocks

We stopped again and let Leon have a little stroll on the mountain and drove right on through till about 7 again.
Leon strolling around beside a mad hairpin bend that we stopped at.
Awesome scenery

We had been looking for campsites, but most were closed for the season, however in France, which was where we were by now, there are public car parks where you can stay overnight for free, so we pulled in.  The setting was lovely again with the mountains all around us and a little river.
 We were in a place called   L’Argentiere, and Leon liked it, had a little stroll again and then we all settled for the night.
The view from Lizzy at L'Argentirre

Just before bedtime, it has become custom for Leon to have a quick walk before we close down for the night, and tonight was no exception.  He had been gone a wee while, and when I called him, there was no response.  I got my torch out and went searching for him, still with no luck and got Ray involved as well.  We had been completely alone in this park, but whilst searching I came across a bloke who had a large Rottweiler  type dog with him, sitting down the side of a car which was hidden from our view.  The dog was pretty vocal when I got close, and in my limited French asked if he had seen a small cat.  He responded in the negative, so I turned round to return to the MH and saw Leon just climbing into it.  I had been starting to get a bit fraught, because it was so unlike him, and called to Ray and went to tell the wee man he was grounded.  I looked into the MH and can only tell you the horror I felt when I looked at Leon.  His tail was hanging on by a thread, and his left eye was weeping.  I screamed to Ray to come and help, and basically I became the most useless person on the planet.   Ray sparked into action and we had to take off the tail.  Leon was going into a bit of shock, and I was in total shock.  He is my little boy and I couldn’t stand to see him in such a state.  We bandaged it up and in our limited French we tried all possible ways to get an emergency vet on the phone.  It was 11pm, French time and eventually spoke to a vet who spoke no English but said we could come to him.  We looked out his address and although we thought it would take us only 20 minutes to get to him, it turned out that it would be nearer and hour.  Ray phoned him to let him know and he told us he couldn’t help, that was too long.   Leon was very quiet and I was really upset.  We cleaned him up and decided that the best thing to do would be to drive to the next big town, which was Gap and take him to a vet first thing in the morning, if he survived.  Gap was over 60K’s away and it was the longest journey we had made.  I knew that I wouldn’t get any sleep when we got there,  or  until we got help for Leon.  In Gap we headed to the center of town to find the tourist information office, in the hope that there would be some information about a vet, and as I sat with Leon, Ray was actually approached by some French Police Officers.  Ray explained our situation and they did no more than told us to follow them and they took us to the Police Station.  There, they phoned a 24 hour vet, and told us again to follow them, they would take us to the vet, who would be with us in ten minutes.  It was a very surreal situation. We were in our 28 foot MH with trailer, speeding after a Police car through the deserted streets of Gap at 2.30 in the morning, one very sick cat, and one very red swollen eyed female, still sobbing her heart out.  30 years in the force, did not help me deal with that.  True to their word, they took us to the vets, and he arrived in less than 10 minutes.   He took one look at Leon and stated that he would need  what was left of his tail amputated, checked his eye and stated that it was shock and small trauma, it would be alright.  Large doses of antibiotics and iodine later, Leon was kept in for his operation the following morning, and Ray and I parked up in the car park of a local supermarket so that we could get back to him about 11am.  It was a long night for me.
Wednesday 6th
We were at the vets by 11.  The Vet has been lovely and showed us Leon.  Poor soul was still under the anesthetic so we were told to come back between five and six.  Needless to say, we were there at five on the dot and again were shown Leon.  He was still very dazed and the vet told us that because he is an older cat, his temperature had dropped and he was not responding as quickly as a younger cat would.  He wanted to keep Leon in another day, and that’s where we are at the moment.  For me it is another  long  night and I am really struggling with being positive about it.    We are both just trying to keep busy.

On a positive note, we can’t thank the Police and the vet enough for all their help.

20 Garmish Partenkirchen

Saturday 2nd
Upped sticks again, we had played with the idea that we would go to Magny Cours in France for the last round of the World Super Bikes, but it was over 900 kilometers away and we felt that it was too much for one day. Plus we couldn't face the look on Leon’s face after the day before, when we'd driven over 500 k.  So we had a look at the map and decided we would have another couple of days in Germany with more curry wurst and found a lovely little campsite just outside Garmisch Partenkirkchen.  A couple of hours later there we were in beautiful sunshine, mountains in front and behind our Lizzie and loads of space for Leon to explore. I think we are forgiven.

En-route, our first sight of the Alps

Ray setting up
The view in the other direction
Leon being taken for a walk

We went into the town, which is really beautiful.  It is like stepping back in time and guess what, they were having their own Oktober Fest.  We obviously had to join in and there we were eating Wurst and drinking beer, singing along to a German Folk band and having the time of our lives.  I must say at this time, they really do know how to enjoy life, and the number of people who have taken the time to dress up in the German National costume, is amazing.  It was the same at Munich, all the girls in their costumes which are mostly checked dresses over lacy tops which manage to enhance the bosom, and aprons, all varying lengths, and the guys in lederhosen.... I'll leave it there.
Back to the town, all the buildings are beautifully painted and all the shops look far more enticing with their displays.  We loved every minute, but we are a little bit biased.
Pig head.....!
That box is actually a musical instrument !

We returned back to Lizzie with a view of coming back out in the evening, (see piccy of beautiful sunset) but we were shattered and ended up having an early night. As it turned out, that was a really good idea, especially when I discovered what Ray had in store for me the next day.

Sunday 3rd

Woke up to beautiful sunshine and warmth, lovely, and a cup of tea in bed, should have got suspicious then.....only joking, I'm very lucky in that it is a daily treat from my husband. (It's a costly treat I have to tell you in the long term). 
We had seen that on the mountain in front of our Lizzie, were a couple of platforms that came out of the mountain and were hanging over the cliff.  It is called The AlpspiX Viewing Platform, and is two platforms, one above the other, that cross each other in mid air and poke out above the cliff 25 feet, over an abyss. We drove to the bottom of the the Zugspitze mountain and bought one way tickets on the cable car.  Ray thought it would be great to walk down, I agreed, god some days I don't know what I'm thinking.
The journey up was fantastic and we could see Lizzie in the valley below.  We are used to going up in cable cars, but normally everything is white. (Skiing, for those that didn't get that).
Lizzy is thr big white van in the centre above the road

At the top curry wurst, pomme frits (fat sausage and chips, with curry sauce)  and water later,(yes I know it really was water) we set off to go to the platform.
We should have chosen this route down.

I can only speak for myself here, I was fine as I stepped out onto it but when the kids started rocking it I felt very scared. I could look down through the grill I was standing on and I could see the rocks down below, in my head I knew I was safe, but my body was screaming get off. I would be brilliant in a disaster movie.

(Ray) My take on it was: I, despite my dubious past, cannot stand heights. To stand out on a wobbly platform full of screaming kids was my nemesis. We needed to take some more photos, so I decided it would be a good idea to send Karen back out so I could take the photos, whilst I was on terra firma. I'm not as daft as I make out!

With bellies full and shattered nerves recovering, we decided to make a move for the bottom. I looked at the very confusing wall map for routes back down and guessed that it would take 2-3 hours to get back down. We set off and the path started very steep, so much so that every step was slow and deliberate. We thought quite incorrectly that it would level out somewhat. It went down and down and down and seemed to go on forever.
Ray remebered the keys this time. These are Stinkhorns.

We had one stop and a restaurant for a beer about half way, but bloody hell it was hard. My humungous legs were knackered, I could only guess how Karen felt, her knee gave up at about 3/4 distance and she gained some huge blisters on her big toes. However, despite the fact that her problems slowed her down, she kept her dogged determination up and struggled on to the end. About 5 hours after setting off, we arrived at Wallace and Karen said she had never been so pleased to see a motorcycle.
5 minutes later, helmets on, I threw my leg over the bike and almost fell straight off, much to the amusement of a group of passing Germans. We then drove back to Lizzy and collapsed with only enough energy to drink beer whilst writing this blog.
Tomorrow, we are off to Italy via Austria, so its pack up time with Wallace on his trailer and all the other bits sorted and off to bed to try to gain some use of our legs for the 250km drive in the morning.