Thursday, 19 April 2012

Tales from a Campervan

Well I leave Blogger for a couple of days and it's all changed!!!! Lets hope it's simple otherwise I'm in trouble.
Anyway back to the Campervan adventure.
Wed 14th March 6.30pm collect van from owner in our village. Very convenient but the owner is a fairly odd woman [answers door in silk nightie not a pleasant site] takes a long time to go through paperwork then husband explains workings of van. Also takes a long time and after they have a stand up row as to how many gas bottles we shall need [he says 2 she says 3, he was right but we end up taking 3] and a short test drive it's gone 8.30pm before we get back home. Too late to pack up the van now so we open a bottle of wine instead. Everything we are taking is already packed in boxes so all we shall need to do in the morning is pile everything in and set off. When I say everything I mean half the kitchen appears to be packed up. Kettle, teapot, mugs, tea,coffee, sugar, milk, chopping board, sharp knife, jug, kitchen roll, toilet roll, washing up liquid, eggs, sausages, beans, wine, fruit juice -------------- and of course clothes oh dear!! The list of essentials seemed endless, but French requirements seem limited compared to English ones so we had to be prepared. And we didn't want to be shopping on our first day.
Thurs 15th March 10am and we're off, our French neighbours insisted on waving us off on our adventure. We just hope we have everything. First stop Blanes on the Costa Brava, a spot of 'wild camping', not as you might think parties but parking in a car park just off the beach, not a proper camp site. Friends who own their own campervan had given us lots of advice including places where we could wild camp. This was one of their suggestions.
Arrived Blanes 3.30pm:                                                                                                               246kms.
Walked along the beach front, found a nice cafe/bar and had a sandwich and the first of many beers along the way. Had a wander but there was a cold wind blowing  so back to camper. It seems quite surreal to be showering and changing in a carpark!!  Most of Blanes was closed by the evening so a mediocre meal in a very quiet restaurant followed by an early night we were both exhausted. Again a rather weird sensation to be sleeping in a carpark. Our first day over.
Frid  16th March 10am leave Blanes heading for Peniscola on the Costa del Azahar took the only section of Motorway for the whole trip to avoid Barcelona. We were sticking to the coast roads wherever possible. Got lost round Tarragona, eventually arrived in Peniscola at a regular campsite [one of only two that we stayed at] only 10 euros so very good value.4.00pm                                                    318kms                     Cycled into town for a couple of beers, as it was too far to walk back in for the evening we decided to eat in the campervan. My first attempt at cooking in the van, not exactly coedon bleu but it filled us up. Next morning OH's main job of the whole trip is to empty the 'cassette' [chemical toilet needs emptying every two days] and fill up water tank. Then we drove into Peniscola parked the van next to the fishing port and fish market and wandered round the old town. A fortified hill town, rather touristy but as it's early in the season, fairly quiet and very pretty. We would be happy to visit this town again.
Sat 17th March 11.00am we left Peniscola heading for Valencia.
Who needs GPS? Well actually we might not have got lost if we had known how to use the GPS in the van, but that's a story for another day!!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Back to miserable weather!!

3 weeks of warm sunny weather in Spain and we have returned to cold wet gloomy days. Today I can even see snow on the hills. And I managed to come back with a nasty little cold and sore throat, luckily on it's way now but i felt quite poorly last week. Having only just recovered from the New Year bug it seemed a bit unfair to pick something else up.
We thoroughly enjoyed our mini adventure, 3100 kms in 3 weeks, and we got as far as Grenada, which had been our aim. Before I write up some of the places we visited here is a list of the books I managed to read[on my kindle]:
Anita Shreve: A change in altitude and Resistance
Diane Chamberlain: The bay at midnight
Rose Tremain: Trespass
Sadie Jones: Small wars
Sohie Hannah: The truth tellers lies
Jodi Picoult: Second Glance
and a real book David Mitchell: The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet. You can't beat the feel of a real book, it has a lovely cover too.

I particularly enjoyed the last two, very different books but I do like to feel as if I'm learning something new when I read. Second Glance mixes ghosts with Abenaki Indians and the Vermont Eugenics progamme of the 1930's, rather difficult to follow at times with the interwoven stories and characters, but worth the effort. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is set in Japan at the turn of the 18th century and is centred on the Dutch East Indies Company trading base on a tiny man made island in the bay of Nagasaki. Beautifully written and a wealth of fascinating facts about Japan at that time plus a good story.

Must go away more often with no internet, television or other distractions from reading good books.
Next post will be about Spain, lots of photos, and Tapas, such a civilised way of eating.