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.

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