Tuesday, 27 November 2012

128 La Manga Pt 2

As we are not traveling at present and some days we just chill out and watch telly or plan our America trip, I will only put a date in where it is relevant.

Tuesday 20th Nov
I thought I would post a piccy of our camping plot. We have made the place as comfortable as possible and although the nights can be cold (we put a heater on)the days are by and large pleasant but chilly out of the sun. We are however, not experiencing the floods that the UK is having.
On the next photo you can see a blur just right of centre. This is a deep scratch that is on the lens. How it got there we do not know but it means the camera will need replacing.
Our humble abode.

Wednesday 21st Nov
Below is Dick, the guy that has made  "doing nothing and laziness into an art form". This is him as he always is when the sun is out. We may have our coats and jumpers on but Dick just sunbathes.
A familiar sight

We have kind of taken up tennis. That is the official name for the game that usually involves the bats that we were using, however that is where the similarity ends. We did a good job of setting these photos up though.


It took 4 takes to get this. I had to throw the ball and then take the photo !!

Thursday 22nd Nov
This says it all. Our next door neighbour Joe, has taken pity on Dicks rapidly deteriorating plot and realising that Dick is incapable (mentally, not physically) of doing it himself, has decided to sweep up.

 That night we went out for an Italian with Dick, John and Jackie. It was fantastic and only cost about £16 each.

Me, John, Jackie, Karen and Dick.

Saturday 24th Nov
The view from the bar at the end of the campsite.

Sunday 25th Nov
Today we decided to go to the beach at Callblanque, which is only 1/2 a mile south of us. It was a warm and beautiful day.
The water was clear and inviting.
 One thing that made us laugh was that the locals seemed to turn up and then decided as the weather was so nice, would go for a dip, without getting their clothes wet !

The views were interesting
We decided to sort of join them and went for a paddle.  It was surprisingly warm in the water.

Monday 26th Nov
We intended to go back for a swim today but after we got our act together it started to rain. Ho humm.

Tuesday 27th Nov
A Day planning for the USA. Well, I did, Karen played games all day !!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

127 On to La Manga

Sunday 28th Oct
A pack up day today, pending setting off for La manga tomorrow. After the few days of rain and moving site, this one was a lot more hospitable with a gravel base.
Getting ready to strike camp the next day

It was a nice sunset though.

Monday 29th Oct
A long 330 km trip toward the East side of Granada. It was a long drive and there was loads of these. There were people packing parachutes in the middle of fields, in peoples driveways and beside roads. They were all over the place.
They were everywhere that there were any hills.

More Moorish architecture.
We parked at a campsite just outside Granada at an elevation of 1100m. We were expecting it to be cold but it was OK. Leon had fight with the local ginger tom and lost. We had to rescue him from under a caravan and calm him down till his little ball of sticky up hair (that most cats would call a tail) returned to it's normal size.

Tuesday 30th Oct
Another long driving day, this time 320 km to La Manga. As we set off we saw this. Its the Sierra Nevada mountain range. A fair snow fall for the end of October.

The Sierra Nevada mountains

Autumn was in full swing and there were whole forests of these pretty yellowing trees.
We arrived at La Manga at around 5:30 and were met by Dick Gullen, a guy we had previously  made friends with the last time we were here two years ago. In one of our previous posts, number 28 of Nov 2010 we mentioned that Dick had made "doing nothing and laziness into an art form". Well I have to report that nothing has changed except that now the art form is two years older it has gained in value just like a dodgy painting. Only joking, Dick is priceless and took us out two hours after we arrived to a smashing Italian restaurant where we caught up on the latest gossip in the British enclave of 'Caravaning La Manga'.

Wednesday 31st Oct
We had a trip out to the local Caravan dealers to buy some more chairs as mine was about to collapse under my considerable bulk. Unfortunately the weather has done it's usual trick and the rain has followed us.
The next 2 weeks were abysmal, with every other day, rain running down the gravel road in front of the tent. We spent most of the time hiding in front of the telly. We even bought some headphones and had to use them when it rained to hear the telly. When it was not raining, it was overcast and gloomy or cold. 
I kept asking if we were indeed in Spain. One thing that was funny was that Dick seemed to be going into depression [ ;-) ] for not being able to sunbathe.
We also tried (again)  to get some tyres for the trailer and the bike and we even had a bit of a warning by a cop for it when we were waiting in a petrol station near the tyre shop, for it to open. No joy with the tyres ! To commiserate we went to Paddy Wacks Irish bar for a curry - fantastic.

As for the tent. That was till leaking but not quite so bad. During a lull in the rain I shoved some more glue on the seams and I have finally cured the leaks - Yippee...

Water leaking through the tent seams.

When the sun comes out, so do the line dancers, just the same as they did in 2010 !

Karen enjoying a beer on an rare warm day at the campsite bar

Wednesday 14th Nov
I wanted to go out today. The 14th of November is an important day for me.
We started out doing some much needed shopping in Cartegena, including a new air bed for Karen as her's had sprung a serious leak. We then drove up the coast to Torrevieja for a spot of lunch and a walk along the promenade. It was nice and quiet whereas normally it would be full of Brits and Germans on holiday.
To give you some idea of the weather we have had, this is the Mediterranean and it does not normally do surf except when we are here - remember post 20 in October 2010 when the beach disappeared.

We then drove along the coast and ended up in Brambles bar for a little celebration. 
An idiot abroad !!

Thursday 15th and Friday 16th Nov
We are now starting to plan our trip to America and have spent 2 days poring over maps and guide books. The weather was starting to improve so on Friday was onto Wallace and off back to Brambles for Fish and Chips and it was excellent.

Saturday 17th Nov
The weather today has finally broken. Today it finally warmed up a bit as well as the sun shining. We have noticed that a good indicator of the weather is the sight of Dicks nearly naked body laid out flat in the sunshine. Just how we remember it.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

126 Conil De La Frontera and Cadiz

Wednesday 24th Oct
Rain and storms were forecast all day today. The forecast was correct. The overnight rain was not too bad but the day was horrible. Our pitch had turned into a bog. It was nothing like as bad as it was going to get. It rained hard on and off all day and we just stayed in the tent and hid from it. We discovered that the all singing and dancing replaced tent was leaking badly. I fired off an e-mail to the manufacturers in Australia telling them of my problems with the two tents and inviting them to comment. (at the time of writing no reply had been received)
We had about 30mm of rain in all that day.

Thursday 25th Oct
Todays forecast was for even worse rain. Again it was correct. It started heavy and by 12 O'clock we had to abandon our pitch and find another made up of gravel. We moved during a lessening of the rain (it did not stop) and with the tent now on gravel all we needed to worry about was the rivers under the groundsheets. The tent was covered in mud. We washed the groundsheets by laying them in the road and letting the rain/river do the cleaning - it worked.
We discovered another leak in the tent. Nice - not. Not as bad as the first though. We decided that we needed to get out so we drove into Conil De La Frontera, about 2 km South and decided to do some shopping first. We got to the Mercadona as the rain was very very heavy. We parked almost outside and still got soaked running to the door. About 10 minutes later whislt we were aimlessly towing an unwilling trolley around the store we heard a suddden 'WHOOOSH !', all the shoppers and staff looked up and the shop windows looked as though we were stood outside a glass carwash. Then suddenly the roof drainage was overcome and water just flooded into the shop through the tiles and down the light fittings. In all about 4 places in the store were flooded. We helped where possibe to move stock out of the way but it stopped as quickly as it started. The tannoys started to go off, obviously calling for the mobile squeegy things which the staff came out on singing Weeeeeee! as they rounded up the flooded water. It was surreal but funny at the same time. There was no panic whatsoever and business did not stop at all. I couldn't see that happening in the UK.
Anyway, then we drove to the old town and after parking up Gromit, went to the same beach as we were at 2 days ago.
I can only imagine the Spaniards were a lot lot shorter then !

The whole place was flooded to about 6". Fortunately the restaurant was not but the waiter made us laugh when he came up to our table mimicking swimming to get to us.
The beach road during a lull in the rain

After dinner, with it still raining unbelievably hard, we went back to see if we were flooded. Fortunately not. I had strategically placed a large cereal bowl in the tent and it was just to the brim.
My fiendishly clever anti flood mechanism

Then the rain stopped. As though someone had thrown a switch and the moon came out !
According to the reports, we had about 90mm (yes ninety) of rain in all that day.

Friday 26th Oct
With the weather finally broken we set about trying to dry everything out. It was not wet but with 2 days of 100% humidity it was all very damp.
We set up our Chinese laundry on the fence surrounding the campsite. Nobody seemed to bothered about it. It they were I would have advised them where to go,

Saturday 27th Oct
With the Sun shining and hardly a cloud in the sky we decided to spend the day in Cadiz. On the way there we needed to do some shopping. I wanted 2 new tyres for the trailer. "no Sir, not till Monday" was the best translation for that. We had decided to leave for the direction of La Manga on Monday so that was no use. I also wanted some seam glue for our new and expensive tent so we drove to the Decathlon. Again, no way Jose. I settled for some Aquaseal that is used to repair divers suits.
After that it was a short drive into Cadiz.
We spent the next hour trying to find somewhere to park without luck and just as we had given up and headed for home we saw someone pullout in front of us directly outside the cathedral which was also next to the town square. Nice.
The cathedral also known as Gromit's parking place

We went a roundabout route to the dock area where we saw the fountains dancing to music. Not quite as good as Caesars Palace (in fact, the only connection was the water and the music) but it was pretty never the less. There were many cruise ships in and the one next to us was a Fred Olsen one, Black Watch. Makes you proud doesn't it. We even had a beer to celebrate - we needed an excuse - not.
Ceasars palace it isn't, Black Watch in the background

After that we meandered back toward Gromit and came across the main Square. There was some sort of show in the setup phase with many large animated models being tested.
Er.. a bird

Sleeping giant. Female kind. Best not wake her up.

And the biggest rocking horse since Troy

We asked what time the show was on and decided to wait the 3 hours till 8:30. We killed time with a long walk along the sea wall overlooking the Atlantic and at about 7:30, after watching the Sun disappear, we went back to the square and sat outside a bar to watch the show.
Bloody kids. Whats wrong with graffiti and smashing car windows. Actually a Spanish version of our 'free runners'.

Karen's sunset.

 By the time the show started there was no room for anyone to move. The place was packed and our bar seats were as good as useless except for ordering beer. The show obviously had some theme and the dialogue was incomprehensible (even for the Spaniards I would imagine) but it was very good despite.
She is awake. honest. Its just that her eyes ans my shutter work at different times.

Despite the distance these guys were good.

How good is the horse in the dark, especially with Lady Godiver on its back.

Then came big bird with a passenger

Who then just happened to pick up a passing trapeze artist.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

125 The journey South along the Atlantic

Wednesday 10th Oct
I had a very bad night with sweats and chills but when pack up time came I was reasonably OK.  We set off at about 10 for what turned out to be a long boring driving day. Our basic intention was to take 3 days to drive from the top of Northeast Spain to the Algarve and do some sightseeing in the meantime. Unfortunately that corner of Spain and the associated roads were just long and tedious. On top of that was the fact that the Sat Nav was giving us a lot of duff info as to where we could get some food supplies, not a problem in other countries. On top of this, anyone who has used a Sat Nav in Spain will tell you that the Spanish Government like to keep their hundreds of new EEC financed roads and roundabouts a secret from the likes of Garmin and TomTom. The upshot of this is that you are often driving on roads that the Sat Nav has no knowledge of even if they are 5 years old.
There were lots of houses on stilts. Dunno why.

At about 6pm we crossed over the Portuguese border and it became 5pm. No more late night and late mornings for us then. We drove a further 20km to our target campsite and it started to rain. It was right by the sea but as the weather had closed in we never actually saw it. That night we just chilled out and read our books under a noisy (with rain) awning and then went to bed.

Thursday 11 Oct
The cats and dogs played us several visits during the night. It can be very noisy in the tent when it is raining even lightly as the roof is plastic reinforced material. Karen appears to be becoming an essential part of most of the insect populations life cycle. She has been bitten on the forearm in exactly the same place as 2 weeks ago. The lady ain't happy.
I had a better night but regressed whist packing away so Karen drove all day today. We used the side roads as the motorways are automatic toll roads and we have no clue how to pay them.  We did not want to get caught out like we did in Norway last year. Karen is getting a bit giddy having driven around over 100 roundabouts today.
I was typing this while we were driving and we got caught out by one of the tolls....
We were looking for a supermarket and the Sat Nav (again) gave us confusing data so we were shoved up a motorway. Fortunately this did not appear to be a toll one. Appearances can be deceptive. After 300m and round a convenient corner was a conventional toll booth. This was accompanied by a small sign that although it was not in English meant 'Take a ticket and pay at the other end you cheapskate English moron or camp here till the police nick you'.
Needless to say we took a ticket. 550m later we turned off and was charged 90cents at the machine for the privilege. I paid with the smallest change I had and when the 90c was in, it mumbled something at me that I could not understand. I said "piss off". It said "Obrigado" (thank you).
We dissolved into fits of laughter and eventually found the supermarket.
We eventually stopped at a campsite at Da Foz Do Arelho. We got there just as it was getting dark so did not get to see much of it aside from the toilet block. We know how to live don't we.

Friday 12th October
We were due a short days driving today. We (the Royal WE that is) have done a lot of driving in the past few days so we had a slow start. Fortunately the site had free WiFi so whilst having a lie in I looked up the symptoms of my 'man flu' type illness. I could have kicked myself when I sussed it was tonsillitis. It cheered me up as it is only treated with pain killers till it goes away. On top of this, we were looking at a hospital visit before long, as Florence Nightingale was looking at abandoning me, taking early retirement and taking up golf. I drove today, I am getting better. Karen says she notices because I just get worse (does that make sense ?).
At the end of our short days driving we found a delightful campsite about 500m from an absolutely massive beach. As I was feeling better we ate in the restaurant of the site and then after a few drinks hit the sack.
The sunset was something to behold. Ya gotta love the West coast of anywhere.

Saturday 13th Oct
The final 170km drive to Debbie and Andy's place. With only a short distance to go we took our time decamping. It is a good job we did, as whilst laying the sleeping bags over Wallace to air. I noticed that the divers side trailer tyre was flat as a pancake. Brilliant !!
We had a spare so after about 20 minutes of dragging kit out of Gromit the brand new (as in unused but still 2 years old) tyre was on. We left the site at 11:30 and went the opposite way to the sat navs instructions and straight to the beach 500m away.
To the left is an estuary with a bird sanctuary and in front a sand bar separating the sea from it.

We went for a little paddle in the Atlantic surf and finished up completely soaked and ended in a small bar for a beer and a pizza.
Empty gorgeous beaches.

Is it possible for a drip to get wet ???

We then set off for Debbie and Andy's. About 20km down the road we saw a supermarket and decided to buy some wine etc for our visit. As I got out of Gromit I saw that the trailer tyre I had just put on was looking a bit low. I put this down to lack of checking it and resolved to shove some air in when we had finished shopping. When we came out a guy in a nearby van pointed the tyre out to us as well. When we looked at it, it was completely flat. Oh dear !
We were now in a fix. I set about fixing punctures. On taking the 'new' tube type tyre off the rim (the originals are tubeless !!) I saw a valve cap drop out of the tyre. The plank that put the new tyre on had dropped a valve cap into the tyre and then stuffed the tube in over the top of it. The sudden use and extra pressure had forced the valve cap to cut the tube open. Easily fixed but surprising.
Whilst I was at it I tried a trick from a biker that has ridden several times around the world. I found the hole in the original tubeless tyre put some glue on it and stuck a self tapping screw in it. Its still up and a have a spare again!
After about an hour and a half we were on the road again with the rest of the trip being thankfully uneventful.
On arrival at Debbie and Andy's we were greeted with hugs, kisses, beer and wine. Not a bad combination. After a short while we managed to get Wallace and Gromit parked outside and they stayed there for the duration.

Sunday 14th Oct - Thursday 18th Oct
We had a great week at Debbie and Andys flat. Initially there were two other guests, Roz, a lifelong friend of Debbie's and Maureen Taylor, who lives next door to their pub on the IOM. The two of them returned to the UK after a couple of days.
I was ill, the cat had no excuse.
Andy, Maureen, Roz, Debbie, Karen and big ears

The visit was basically a pub and restaurant crawl with one exception.
Andy got us to have a go a golf on the driving range. I had told him earlier that I had no ball coordination, a small fact that he skillfully ignored. Anyway there we were playing bat and ball with long bats and small balls. I hate to say it but Karen was better than me at it and although I could hit the ball a lot harder, hitting it with the edge of the bat made it limp about 10 feet in front of us. Karen had the best hit at about 120 yards and mine was about 80.
I have to say it was an eye opener as to just how hard it is to play. Andy is all but pro status and can hit a ball wherever he wants.
As part of the apartment complex, there is a swimming pool which has a bar attached to it. It doesn't get any better than this.

Friday 19th Oct
It was all up early as Debbie and Andy had a plane to catch so just after first light we said our goodbyes and departed with a promise of a skiing trip in February. We set off for a 370km drive into Spain to stay at a place near Cadiz, still on the Atlantic coast.
The Spanish border. Weather does not look good. Ha, so what, the diesel is a lot cheaper ;-)

After the long drive via Seville, which we did not stop at as we have been there before, we arrived at the camp site which was about 500m from the sea but very pleasant never the less. There are a lot of Brits here too, some for the winter. I was still feeling rough so we decided to chill out for a couple of days to allow me to recover.

Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st Oct
I spent both  days in and out of bed feeling drained and tired. By this time Karen had reached 100% on the Florence tolerance scale so I promised to see a doctor in the morning.

Monday 22nd Oct
We got up slowly and whilst doing so Karen made up a list of my ailments using the Spanish dictionary just in case no one spoke English. We arrived at the medical centre and it was like a typical North London war zone also known as a casualty department. There were people and cops milling around all over the place. After getting several NOs to our do you speak English question we finally figured out that we needed a number ticket.
When our number was called we went to the desk to be confronted with another NO, but a request for our EHIC card. Its the card that, issued in the UK by the DSS, allows you to receive free health care in the EU. Fortunately, this time we were armed and it was handed over and photocopied. The name on the card said "HALL, RAYMOND KENNETH WILLIAM". We were booked in and sat down again.
10 minutes later a nurse came out of an office shouting WILLIAM, WILLIAM. Its not a easy name for Spaniards and everyone in the waiting room pointed at us two. We were that obvious !!
After another NO, we showed the nurse our crib sheet, which incidentally started out with "I need to see a Doctor who speaks English". She allocated us a doctor and indicted to a numbered consulting room upstairs.
Up we went, found the room and waited outside. When our turn came, we again asked "Hablas Inglais", "NO", "Excellente" was my reply to which the doctor laughed. We showed him our ailment crib sheet and I said "Comprende". He replied "Si..   Errrrr....Antibiotic". "Si" was my reply and 2 minutes later we were on our way to the chemist armed with a prescription.
I'd just like to add the doctor also prescribed codine based medicine which actually spaced him out more than he already was.
I have to thank Karen for her forethought on the crib sheet. We would have been there for days otherwise.  (My Spanish was brilliant considering he has "gripe de hombre!...man flu))
I was feeling a bit better after the chemist so we went for a bite beside the beach and a paddle in the sea.
"Is it dead Mum". "Don't touch it son, it's horrible either way"

Florence Nightingale letting off steam

Tuesday 23rd Oct
I woke up brighter today so we went back to the beach and this time we had swimmers on and went out to play in the surf. It was a bit chilly but we soon got used to it and spent an hour or so failing to body surf. Then it was a couple of hours snoring (only Ray!) whist sunbathing and then to a restaurant for a bite. A much better day all round.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

124 Motos Picos Bike rally, Santander

Tuesday 2nd Oct
The campsite at Navarrete, near Logrono was a pleasant and quiet place but unbeknown to us was popular with wine drinkers as it is at the centre of the Rioja wine producing region and is surrounded by 'bodegas' which are the wine producing factories. One English couple near us, told us of a particular one that was famous for its design. Apparently with a wave like titanium roof designed by a Brit. After getting the washing done we decided to pay it a visit but unfortunately it was by booking only and they were full up for the day. Sounds familiar doesn't it. Anyway we took some pics of it and in protest did not buy any of their wine.
The bodega with the titanium roof
Another Bodega we found on the way

We rode back to Navarrete and found a nice little bar and watched the hoards of little tractors pulling trailers full of next years wine stock.
If you look closely, he is driving 'hands free' for our pleasure

It was then back to the campsite where we found that a very pleasant Dutch couple had moved in beside us and were besotted with Leon and the fact that he traveled with us without running off. Another early night and up to bed.

Wednesday 3rd Oct
A shorter day today, only 130 miles or so, so we took it steady.
We stopped at a large lay-by for spot of lunch and hawk-eye Karen spotted some large soaring birds.
Our lunch stop. Hawk-eye in the foreground, security detail in the passenger footwell.

We ummed and ahhed about what they were initially thinking they were eagles but they were far too big for that. We eventually agreed they were Griffon Vultures. They were massive with a wingspan of about 2.7m.
A cropped photo of the Griffon Vulture. It gives no perspective of it's huge size.

We arrived in Suances, a suburb of Santander at about 4pm. We found our annexe hotel, the hotel Roiz. It was only about 50m up the hill from the nasty evil one that would not take Leon. It was run by a father and son who spoke English as good as we spoke Spanish but they were both such characters that each encounter left us all laughing. The father would greet us with "Comment allee vous" which is French for 'how are you'. The son had a pet dog like a large Yorkshire terrier and a pet parrot that would allow the dog to lick it. They were bonkers. The dog spent most of its time chasing Leon about and Leon reciprocated by beating the dog up.
We settled in to a room that would have accommodated a foot ball team in luxury (exaggeration alert). It had 4 beds, 14 chairs of various descriptions, a bath (something to keep Karen happy) and a funny extra toilet for cleaning your feet. It was only spoiled by the fact that we could not open the door more than half way due to the floor tiles being laid at a slope. This was OK until we tried to carry our bags into the room!
The Hotel Roiz. We were in another building out the back.
The inside was absolutely massive.

One other small problem was, that despite the room being booked, it had not been paid for Doh! They took my passport and told me I would get it back when they were paid.
We waited for the boat from Portsmouth to deliver its live cargo of what later turned out to be psychotic bikers. They turned up at about 7:30pm and we went to greet them. There were 8 in all, in our group. Jon Elvidge (who had told us about the trip), his local mate from Ware, Steve, (who turned out to be one of the nicest blokes you could meet and we hope to see him again when in the UK) Graham, a Police driving school teacher, Gordon, an ex racer (more on him later), another Steve, a youngster (compared to us) called Colin and two brothers Craig and Dean.
After a quick reception it was down in the basement of the main hotel for grub. I managed to find the organizers representative and when I informed him of the non payment problem I was met with blank looks. It was all sorted in the end which was good as I was ready to eat somebody.

Thursday 4th Oct
This is where the fun begins (ish). I set off with all the other bikers at 9am expecting a nice ride through the scenic mountains, stopping every now and then to take pictures. What actually happened was more akin to racing the TT circuit at the Isle of Man. Gordon, (the ex racer,) set the pace at the front and I had to ride well out of my comfort zone to keep up. He was psychotic. The last time I had ridden like this I was about 20. For the first 4 hours I was absolutely crapping myself. Only then did I relax somewhat when I appreciated how good Wallace was when shod with off road knobbly tyres when everyone else had sports bikes (except Jon) and sticky tyres. 
The evil Gorgon (left). Only joking. He is another of the worlds gentlemen. He has a passion for biking that I can only admire. He is so good that I never want to ride like him ;-).  Jon having just removed his thumb from somewhere is on the right. 

In the afternoon my confidence had increased and I started to enjoy the roller coaster that the others called a ride.
In fairness, it was actually very exiting. I had never seen mountain roads so twisty and smooth.
Karen spent the day browsing the shops and climbing up and down the hill that  the town was built on.
It had to be in here somewhere... a rare stop (stress break for me)

Jon and I at a viewpoint. Note my dirt tyres and his road ones. This was the best excuse I could come up with.

Back: Gordon, me, Steve, Graham and john. Front: Dean (nearest), Colin, Craig and Steve2

Friday 5th Oct
Another lunatic day. More of the same and by now I was keeping up with similar powered bikes. Graham and Gordon were on 157hp BMWs so they were in a different league but I was holding my own - just. The only problem I could not address was my 'Monkey butt'. The reddening of the lower regions that resembles a baboons rear aspect.
The town square at our lunch break place. I have no idea where it was, I was more concerned with staying on my bike.
The view of a resevior during a fuel stop. Have you noticed these are the only times photos are taken ? 

Karen spent the day removing as many white bits as possible on the very pleasant beach.

Saturday 6th Oct
I took Karen out on the bike today. At last I was able to have a stress free ride. I tried to put into practice some of the tips the other more experienced riders had given me. Whilst I thought I was doing very well, Karen did not notice !
We stopped at a place called Fuente De and rode the cable car to the top of the mountain. The view was very impressive and more huge vultures were spotted, along with some Black Kites. Despite the temperature down below it was very windy and quite cold.
It was blowing hoolie up here.

Despite my previous careers, I am s**t scared of heights. For me this was a long trip down.
Once back on Wallace it was a quick 12km run to a lunch spot at a hotel called Hotel Del Oso, which means Hotel of the Bears. It was very pleasant and there were already a lot of bikers there. Bikers in Spain are treated with respect - its nice.
Lunch at the Hotel Del Oso. Hotel of the bear.
The views were amazing. He had just driven up this valley.

One of our two traffic jams. The other was horses.

We then drove the mountains for the rest of the day and by the time we got back to the Hotel my monkey butt (sore red bottom to those non bikers out there) was glowing nicely. It was then back into the bar with the others before a late return to bed.

Sunday 7th Oct
I hardly slept at all last night and woke up with flu like symptoms. I decide not to go out riding today and went back to bed once dosed up with tablets. I got up at about 1pm and we drove Gromit into Santander for some lunch. It took ages to find somewhere to park. Evidently, all the Spaniards, get into their Sunday best and go into town to the bars and restaurants. When we did eventually get parked we did the same. It was very pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. We then went back to the hotel and I went back to bed to try and sort myself out. Fortunately, I was not ill enough to stop us going to the bar with the guys again ;-)

Monday 8th Oct
All good things must come to an end and it was pack up time again. with Wallace on the trailer, all our bags backed in Gromit and all but one of our pairs of sunglasses (Doh!) removed from the hotel room we drove the 50m or so down to the main hotel to say our goodbyes to the guys and a big thank-you to Jon for inviting us along.
We then set off on our long trek to the Portuguese Algarve via the North coast of Spain. My flu thing was paying its toll and I only drove for about an hour when Karen took over to stop me driving Gromit into a motorway barrier. On Gordons recommendation we stopped in a lovely little town called Llanes. Again, it was not easy to park but this time it was our fault, we had Wallace on the trailer. The town was as Gordon had said, beautiful. We had lunch in a bar by the river/marina. It was very quaint and friendly as we have come to expect from this part of the world.
We were heading for a campsite on the coast near a place called Valdes. It reminded me of a  brilliant  1971 Western film starring Burt Lancaster, "Valdez is Coming". Age is sometimes a useful thing. Anyway enough of the ramblings of a boring old fart..
We needed to get some bread for us and prawns for Leon (no, he is not spoiled). Finding anywhere that sells food, let alone a supermarket where we do not have to ask for each item in Spanish was proving a bit difficult. We ended up traveling a further 50km round trip for the privilege of buying food. Where do there people shop ?
Once we arrived at  the camp site we were offered a pitch by the sea. It was magic and overlooked cliffs about 30m high. The next thing North was Ireland. We went to bed early (again ! - Karen wishes this man flu thing would pass quickly). Once in the roof tent we listened to the sound of waves crashing on the small beach below us.

Tuesday 9th Oct
Another admin/easy day. I was still feigning being ill and Karen was still feigning being sympathetic. We make a good couple. We got some washing done and generally had a chill out day. Hawk-eye Karen was at it again and spotted a Peregrin Falcon perched on the rocks only about 30m from Gromit. As is the norm in nature, 5 seconds before the photo could be taken, he flew off. It is truly a magnificent bird.
So, another early night and hopefully (for both of us !) I will be firing on all cylinders tomorrow.