Monday, 27 January 2014

Those best laid schemes - again!!!!

Just over a month since we left the UK and nearly two weeks since my last post…. And a lot has happened.

Iain returned from the UK as things had “settled down” at home and the future was looking a little brighter for the time being.  We got on with things.  The weather has been fantastic, some good days, some not so good days and some very very good days.  For the last couple of days the temperature has risen to 23C which is better than most summer days in the UK.  And this is still January.

The biggest thing that I can’t get my head around is that this is IT. This is the HOKEY COKEY. We are not just on holiday and returning home to the normality of a house and jobs in a couple of weeks, this is now normality. I think we may have been spoiled by picking this campsite though – we are planning to stay here now until after Easter. But more of that another time.

However I won’t say that we are having a fantastic time emotionally because of what has been going on at home. Some of our friends who have been reading our blog already know that Iain’s daughter has been suffering with cancer for some time.  We had to make a decision back in early December whether or not we would actually leave the UK this winter but to stay in Hampshire to be “around”.  We made the decision to continue with our plans as Emma was being well cared for by Stuart and we would probably only add to her stress if she thought we were “hanging around” and changing our plans for her.  After all, it’s not that difficult to get home from Spain if you need to.We even waited until just a few days before leaving to book our ferry in case we were needed to stay. I have already posted that Iain returned to the UK after we had been here only a few days.  

When Iain came back from the UK nearly two weeks ago, the plan was that Emma would leave the hospice and return home and so things did appear to be looking up.  Now though, we have some very sad news. Emma’s condition changed quite rapidly and she passed away on Saturday morning, she was just 34.  We will of course both be returning to the UK for her funeral.

The reason that I am sharing this so publicly on my blog is because my blog is like a diary about changing your life and for us giving up work and living without all that STUFF and to share with those other people out there who are planning to live their dream, whatever their dream may be.  These are the sort of things that have to be considered when you choose to move away from your families and loved ones even if it is just for a few months in the winter.

Had we known a month ago that there was only such a short time left for Emma then no, we would not have left.   However no-one knows how much time anyone has and if we leave things until later or next year and then next year and then next year then you find that life has gone by and your time has run out.

It was actually Emma’s illness that was one of the factors into deciding that life IS for living, not for working and planning and dreaming and waiting and that we don’t need to accumulate chattels and “stuff” to be happy, what we want to do is to enjoy the time we have - for however long that may be - hopefully a long time.

Don’t dream it – JFDI   (just f*****g do it) - while you can.

I don't think I will be posting for a little while - not until I have something happier to share.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Oh she who had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from Fillongley.

A week since my last posting – I don’t want to bore you with the mundane stuff of simply enjoying myself – but as I’ve been on my own it’s been quite interesting.

The weather has been a bit hit and miss over the last couple of days but at the moment there’s not a cloud in the sky so I’m hoping for a bit of sitting outside this afternoon.

Iain’s coming back tonight so I’ve got to do some housework today – well that should take all of about half an hour, not like the day and a half in the house!!!!  I might even get the rugs out and give them a bit of a shake. I’ll also have to do some tidying up as being tidy doesn’t come naturally to me, but in a small space it’s of paramount importance.  I still fail to see how I can lose things in here.  I put them down and they are simply gone.  I’m looking forward to seeing him and it will be nice to have some company again.

I think word has got round that there’s a woman on her own – maybe it’s lock up your husbands – as I was in the supermarket yesterday (picking up some essential supplies like whiskey for Iain’s return) when a couple started talking to me about the dog trailer, I hadn’t a clue who they were but they even knew my name!!!!!

Then yesterday morning a got a telling off from the Dutchman next door, because they had been out and when they came back my van was gone and I hadn’t told them.  He was worried about me and told me not to do that again!!!! I’d only gone to dump and other things (of course women don’t drive big motorhomes like ours on their own), which brings me on to the practicalities:-

Well as you may have worked out by now, motorhomers are obsessed with the tanks being full and empty and in the right order. Well after nearly two weeks on site mine were getting definitely in the wrong order.  The gas however is holding up nicely, still registering full!!!!!! So at this rate the gas will last us months.  I’m restricting the heating to a quick blast in the morning to take off any morning chill and again in the evening if necessary.  I say if necessary because up until 9pm last night I was sitting with the door open and it was 16C which is as nice as most summer evenings in England  and this is mid January and it can only get better.  It was 13C this morning so it only needed a quick blast to make it very comfortable and cosy indeed. Cooking I do mainly using the electricity and the remoska, I don’t really bother with hot water as I wash and wash up at the communal sinks.

Anyway to do the necessary I needed to move the van, and I thought that as I was moving it I would clean it as well – it was filthy, all those winter weeks in the UK before coming here and also the journey, I could hardly see out of the back window so this was not to be a day too soon.  I manoeuvred the van quite well up to the service point and of course some man just has to get involved in see you over the man-hole – I feel like shouting – “ I Can do it on my own”  but instead I just smile sweetly and thank them for their help and advice. After all I only need to get within about 8 feet – I have a pipe, and an extension if I can’t get that close.

Then I decided to visit the car wash on site.  I had checked earlier that it was in working order and roughly how many euro coins I would need and so off I went.  Only to find that the site van had parked across it and of course this was siesta time –don’t we Brits know anything? You have to rest between 2 and 4 pm – even in the winter.  So realising that he wouldn’t be coming back for nearly two hours and I didn’t want to bring the van back up later.  An interjection here – Mr Right has said before he left that it would be really nice if the van was cleaned while he was away – not that he was specifically asking me to do it – but it would be nice.  So Mrs Independent just had to prove a point didn’t she.

Next to the jet wash was another washing area. But this time just a hose and no other stuff.  So, remembering that we did actually have some car wash, a big bucket and a soft inside broom I decided that it was time to improvise.  Velado – a nice clean Jan the Van.   Of course I was then faced with more men trying to help me to reverse around a corner (of course women can’t reverse around corners, certainly not an 8.5m truck) “I can do it myself”, “I have a reversing camera”, “I have fantastic mirrors to use”. “Thanks very much for helping me” I said.

About two hours later, back on the pitch with an empty/full and now clean van, no-one would have known I had moved – except of course the Dutchman next door. Now was the time for a well-earned beer – I was knackered – before taking the dog for a walk and a visit to our nearby hostelry.

Now yesterday was a time when I was grateful for a bit of male intervention.  One of the reasons I had to give us sewing was because I’ve either arthritis or CTS in my hand so it’s not that strong.  I was just off to the shops on my bike, trailer in tow, and the chain came off.  Not normally a problem but it had jammed between the spoke and the frame of the bike and  I couldn’t get it to move. So I unhitched the trailer, turned the bike upside down and Velado – a nice man appeared – this time I was grateful – for the brute force if not the dexterity.

So Iain’s been away for 10 days now and in that time I’ve gone dancing and met Barbara and Ken – they are 80 and 81 respectively and  I hope I’m  still around at that age let alone as fit as Barbara obviously is.
I’ve done a crafting session – but all the women were dutch so I couldn’t communicate at all.
I’ve done 2 spanish lessons – met Hannah from Sweden and Joy (and husband Nick).
I’ve been to the local bar a few times – and met  Gill and Mike, Liz and Catherine amongst others.
Met Dave in the laundry.
Spoken to people who already know my name and I haven’t a clue who they are.
We’ve got two lovely dutch couples either side of us, oh and I forgot to tell you that Iain decided to make friends with the “traveller” family on site the day he left.

So I’ve been building up quite a social life while he’s been away and probably met more people than we would have done if we’d been here as a couple. 

 I have drawn the line and bingo though – even though it’s a dutch version  and not the same as at home – whatever that means. 

Am I enjoying life here - you bet I am!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Those best laid schemes o’ mice and men – as I said before.

I haven’t posted for a few days, I didn’t really think that I would be now that we were settled in one place.  After all it’s the travelling that’s exciting or is that scary and noteworthy. 

We arrived on New year’s eve (Tuesday) which was the actual day that he was released from his shackles of working and by this Monday (6th) Iain has returned home to the UK due to a family illness.  We were sitting relaxing on Saturday morning and planning our day – it was Iain’s birthday on the Sunday so I was going to be let loose shopping on my own to buy him some tat.  Then we received an email and everything changed.

We needed to make a phone call to the UK and guess what – we’d told everyone that we wouldn’t be contactable by phone so we hadn’t even tried to get our English phone to work.  With all  the communication devices that we’d brought with us, laptop, tablet, phone we couldn’t actually communicate in a hurry with England.  There wasn’t a network that we could connect to. Hopeless.  The site hasn’t got a pay phone (well who does these days) so we had to go into town to the phone shop and get a Spanish sim card.  Thanks Ramin for moaning on  facebook  about cycling 30 minutes to get a Spanish sim card and then not being able to buy one because you didn’t have your passport with you.  Without that posting we would never have thought of taking a passport with us.  Anyway with communication in place it was evident that Iain would need to return to the UK.

Now, expecting to spend months away from home, we had planned that this might happen, but we had hoped (for everyone) that it wouldn't  Even while we were travelling down here, we had been checking our emails every day before moving on south just in case we were needed to head back north instead.  However with us only just having been here a few days it was not really practical to spend the next 5 days returning home so it was decided that Iain would return home alone and I would stay here with the dog at least for the near future.

So the flight was booked for Monday morning and the shuttle service for a 7.30am pick up.  Actually the shuttle service was fantastic.  Only 9 Euros and pick you up from your resort to take you to the airport – oh it’s just like a package holiday - thought we'd left them behind us.  But beat the 80 Euros for a taxi.  Worst case scenario I would have had to drive the van to the airport but hey, that’s not such a big a deal.

I don’t know how long Iain will be gone for but we girls can look after ourselves so we’ll be ok.
Anyway before Iain left we did manage to get out to the Three Kings parade in Altea.  Just for once we managed to be in the right place at the right time.  When we went to the Ring of Kerry a couple of years ago we firstly went around the ring the wrong way – you should go North to South because it just gets better and better that way and secondly the Rose of Tralee festival was on,  or rather would be on a couple of days after we left or had already happened.  We just missed everything.

But here they celebrate Epiphany more than Christmas Day.  It’s a real carnival atmosphere with street parades including real camels  (still think the Bournebrook School ones are still the best) and children throwing sweets into the streets. Some of them were a bit over exuberant to say the least and literally chucked them at you.  After the parade, the children then go into the town square and where they receive a gift.  And then it’s time for fireworks – the dog was frightened enough with the bands so we got away before the fireworks started.  It seems to be any excuse over here for fireworks.
He was  pretty impressive

No fights to be the back end here like at school 

 We then went to a very nice Italian restaurant near to the campsite and had a lovely meal, some after dinner drinks (Brandy and Whiskey), really pushing the boat out, after all it was Iain’s birthday and he was returning home the next morning – and the bill still only came to 44 euros.

Well for me, being left here is not exactly a hardship.  There’s nothing I could do to help at home anyway, I’d just be in the way.  The weather is fantastic, I’m getting quite a tan. Only a couple of days now but we’ve already made friends with some of the neighbours and some of the people in the English bar.  Me and the dog go out for a walk late afternoon  and pop into the bar and that’s when I download all the English TV programs that I want to watch later. The broadband on the site is free but it’s a bit slow (takes about an hour to download a 30 minutes program)  in comparison to the bar. 

Now for the motorhomers – you can’t get British TV on broadband if you are not in the UK.  It’s a stupid legal restriction.  But there are ways to do it.  You just need to go through a proxy server in the UK which makes it look like you are in the UK.  There are several schemes that you can join which will allow you  to do this.  Some offer free services such as  (but I usually avoid these as if you are not paying you can’t really expect a reasonable level of service) and some charge a nominal amount.  I have subscribed to which is only £4.95 per month. I’m not saying this is the best, but it works for me.

Today I learned how to weave paper baskets.  I know it sounds sad but it’s something I saw a couple of weeks ago and thought “I’d like to have a go at that”, as you do. So I spend nearly all day messing around with a paper basket and while the result is ok it could be better.  Of course now that I’ve done it I’ll probably never make another one.  It’s a good job I’m not doing it to make a living or on the basis that I messed around with it all day they would cost about 75 quid each to buy!!!!! For a bit of woven magazine that would go soggy in the rain.  Still it stopped me from getting bored.

I really must get into the Spanish lessons though – they do them on site. I have had a look at the Spanish phrase book but my ability for learning languages is just ridiculously bad. I’m not stupid, (others may disagree) but if I can’t write something down I just don’t remember it.  When in France I practiced my speech for booking into a campsite.  It might not have been perfect but it would certainly be ok, I had it in my mind and could say it over and over again but then when in reception I would open my mouth and what would pop out but “Have you got a pitch for the night”.  I just don’t know why I find it so difficult.
Today I sat outside all day, I thought about going shopping but checked the fridge and thought “Manana”. When it started to cool down I trundled off for a shower – we decided years ago that when abroad, the best time to shower is just before the sun goes down as that’s when the shower blocks are the warmest and also the water if it’s heated by the sun. Mornings can be a bit chilly. Although that doesn’t seem to matter so much here as the shower blocks are heated.  

Whilst walking the dog,  I decided to stop at a shop to buy some new headphones for my tablet and couldn’t find anywhere to tie the dog up so left her outside.  She’s usually pretty good and stands and waits – almost patiently – she kept edging into the shop and setting off their pressure pads on their mat so there was an almost constant ding dong going on.  But ok she was waiting – but then she saw a cat was off like lightening.  I saw her go and heard the noise as she charged off dragging the heavy extending dog lead handle with her.  Well I shot out of the shop after her and didn’t even wait for my change.  Luckily the cat had run into a dead end – the cat leapt over the wall and the dog,  who is terrible at jumping was just left pathetically trying to get over the wall, running to and fro trying to find a way over.  Thank goodness the cat didn’t run off into the road – I just don’t know how far she would have given chase for before she came to her senses and stopped.  I think she’s too stupid to find her way back and she would have probably just run and run until she was exhausted and she could have been a long way away by then.  Disaster averted I returned to the shop to pick up my goods and get my change.  They thought it was very amusing.
Dog walked, time to go for a drink.

This bar seems to welcome the dogs more than the owners, everyone knows the names of the regular dogs.  There’s a very nice couple in there, Gill and Mike who live in Albir and have offered to look after Connie for me for a few days if I need to go back to the UK.  That’s very kind of them.  I thought I would probably be able to leave her with someone (she doesn’t do kennels) but I didn’t really want to do that with someone on the campsite in case they moved on before I got back and I lost my dog.

Back to the van for dinner and TV, fell asleep on the sofa (as you do) and both me and the dog were too sleepy to take her out for a last wee of the night so fell into bed.  Unfortunately she got me up at 2.00am to go out – that didn’t surprise me, so I’m now up in the middle of the night writing up my blog.

Last night was a bit cold, (tonight a little less cold) even the dog was shivering so I covered her up with the corner of the quilt and she  soon settled. The proverbial bugs in rugs came to mind – just as long as it’s not flees in the quilt I don’t mind. I won’t put on the gas heating as we have on-board tanks and I would need to go off site to get it refilled. We’re still on full and have been here a week now so I’m sure I can eek it out a few weeks if necessary.  I know that I can get bottles as we have an extend-a-stay fitted but as I don’t like messing about with gas I’m hoping that Iain will return before I have to worry about that.
I don’t mind moving the van to do the necessary dumping but am trying not to use the facilities if I can so that doesn’t have to be done very often.  I might even clean the van when I do move it – now that would be something to do – it could certainly do with a brush up.

Albir at sunset

As for later today, I don’t really have any plans.  Just to chill out and maybe do some shopping or maybe Manana. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Our first full day in Altea

Happy New Year to all our friends and followers 

We awoke late and had enough milk left for tea, but we needed provisions today so we set off for a walk into town in hope that we might find a supermarket open on a bank holiday!!!!! We had seen a map in reception and it didn’t look far and we had the general idea of where we were heading to. We walked and walked and walked and didn’t find anything so we turned around and headed back, then I said, let’s just try up here and if there’s nothing then we’ll go back. Well there it was – the shopping centre – and not that far away, we had turned right too soon.  Unfortunately all the supermarkets and shops were shut – but we did find one shop that sold bread and no milk but they did have BEER – so I bought a large bottle. What did surprise me was the range of different restaurants available, tapas, greek, Italian, Indian, Chinese, even a Romanian one – not sure what that’s going to do for our budget but I’m sure we will give most of them a try at some time.

We came back to the campsite and had lunch and then relaxed for the afternoon.

I had a little walk around the campsite to scout around for a better pitch.  As I said we had a choice of 6 yesterday and only 2 we could fit on.  Some of the pitches here are enormous and people have caravans, awnings, cars and still have enough room for a bit of garden and then others are really tiny that only a VW camper size can fit onto – yet it seems they are all the same price?
Even though a lot of people are here long-term, there does seem to be some transitional people and I saw a few leaving as I was walking around.  I had a chat with Iain who wasn’t enamoured with any of the available pitches except one, but even then he wasn’t sure.  Did we take this pitch or wait and see if a better one comes along another day?  Well while we were making a decision a German couple arrived and took the pitch so that made the decision for us.

Then while Iain was in the shower  I saw a caravan leave – where did that leave from? I asked myself.  Well it was the pitch next to the one we had dithered over.  The German couple were being sorted for the electricity so I asked the attendant if this pitch was available.  He spoke no English at all and I spoke no Spanish. This was going to be difficult.  We then went off on a wild goose chase.  He beckoned me to follow him and he took me off to a pitch that was up a narrow path with overhanging trees and quite frankly I didn’t like the pitch at all.  I’m not sure why he was trying to get me to move onto this pitch so I tried to explain that I would talk to my husband and if we wanted the pitch we would go to reception.  Well he had no idea what I was saying so he again beckoned me to follow. It was pretty obvious that he was now looking for a translator. We then interrupted a very well-dressed woman whom I think was Dutch, she greeted him and me with hugs and kisses and happy new year’s.  She was wearing full make-up and had a perfect set of dentures top and bottom, and appeared to be alone, she was very friendly.  Only one problem – she hadn’t got a clue what I was saying either. So off the three of us went together to find Tom.  This was becoming something like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz,  I should have brought the dog. I haven’t got a clue who Tom was but he was also very friendly and more hugs and kisses. Luckily Tom who I also think was Dutch had a slightly better understanding of English and I think I got my message across – well I thought I had until the guy followed me back to our pitch and started to disconnect our electricity. No, No, No I didn’t want to move – not yet anyway, and I didn’t want the pitch that he wanted to move me to.
Iain returned from the shower just as I managed to guy  to stop disconnecting our electricity and hadn’t got a clue what was going on. The poor bloke was trying to be very helpful, but we just weren’t communicating.   I really must take up those Spanish lessons that they do on the campsite.

Anyway I showed Iain the new pitch I had found and he agreed that it was good and we would just fit on it lengthways.

So I trundled off to reception to ask if we could move – ok was the reply (I think they only allow you to move once) – all was set and she would send the attendant down to sort out the electrics.  This new guy spoke better English.

Our New Pitch - bikes ready

Within 10 minutes we were on our new pitch and this was much more suitable for us.
Well I suppose that reading the above you must be thinking that this place is horrible, I hate it here and can’t wait to go somewhere else.  Well you’re wrong.  I absolutely love it.
The campsite, whilst being basic and doesn’t have a pool has a very clean toilet block and fantastic showers.  It’s right opposite the beach with a long stretch of flat promenade so that we can go for quite a long way with our bikes, it’s right near the bars and we can walk to the supermarkets and town centre (now that we’ve found it).  I had expected the campsite to be filled with Brits, like every other van, but was surprised to find that it’s actually mostly Dutch with some German and surprisingly Norwegians.
Once we had set up our van on our new pitch it was getting towards Beer O’Clock so after my shower we headed off to the bars

Now we’re not really Brits Abroad type of people, you know the ones that seek out the Irish bars or the sports bars showing football, have English breakfast at the same place every day and have to have their Sunday roast, but when you’re new in a place and don’t speak the lingo it’s not a bad place to start.  On our walk around the day before we found a potential bar so we walked in.  What a result, owned by a Brit, allows dogs in and a pint and a half of lager (we’re actually real ale drinkers so will be missing that soon) at 2.50 euros. That’s about £2.  Last September in France we were paying £7 a pint!!!!!!!

We got talking to some English people who live out here and sussed out a few places to go. As I’d wasted so much Beer time moving the van we were quite late, so instead of heading back to the van to cook dinner we decided to try the local Chinese restaurant.  What a result. And so cheap.

We could have gone for the specials but we ordered from the main menu, had a bottle of Faustino Rioja instead of the house wine, coffees and complementary Chinese desert wine and the bill was still only 22 Euros – I suggested that we tip well as we will be coming back.

So we have come here for the weather – in true British fashion we are obsessed about the weather.  Well today it was warm and mostly sunny. Shorts, t-shirt and sandals (just about).  A bit too cool to wear sandals in the evening but I did go out with just a thin cardigan on.  The forecast is to be 20 C by Sunday to that will be very pleasant.

What more could we want?  Not a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

The Arrival

Well we’re here. Cap Blanch, Altea.

We were recommended to come to this site by some people we met in France in September.  We had emailed them a couple of months ago asking to make a reservation and we were told that we couldn’t book a pitch but they would probably be able to accommodate us.

We arrived about 5.00pm which was late for us and yes they had room for us. We could choose our pitch anywhere we liked – from a choice of about 6 pitches, it was packed and we could only fit on two of the pitches.  One was at the very far end of the campsite, surrounded by walls and a million miles from the toilet block.  The other we just about fitted onto but there was no room at the side and we found out the next day that there was no sunshine either.  We shadowed the whole of the side area with our van. They really crammed them in here but that was what we expected.

We set up quickly and then went for a walk. It was new-year’s eve and we really needed a supermarket, especially knowing that it was a bank holiday the next day – could we find one – no! Oh well, we’ll eat out tonight then.

As I said, it was new-year’s eve and we saw a steak house just outside the campsite so we decided we would go there.  Off we trundled about 7pm and oh no! they were fully booked.  Shall we go somewhere else? Well to be honest I couldn’t be bothered, I was shattered from the drive and didn’t really want to see in the new year with a load of people we didn’t know, so we went back to the van and knocked up a simple meal.  We still haven’t used that tin of emergency corned beef that has travelled thousands of miles with us, so we weren’t that desperate.

I fell asleep watching a film and then Iain ushered me off to bed sometime later – probably 9pm.  The dog woke me up at midnight when the fireworks all went off, she was in a panic and terrified – there were a lot of whistles and bangs, so I grabbed her, threw her under the covers of our bed and got back in. That seemed to settle her and we got a few more hours sleep.  

Our last travel day - for a while I hope

As the evening weather wasn't that warm, we did need to use our blown air heating.  Now our dog has never been a hearth dog but she has discovered that not only is her bed in a warm place, but there are even warmer places to find - and it doesn't matter what's in the way. Now that she's getting old she does like the comforts of a warm place to sleep and you can't get much closer to the heat source than this:-

This site was lovely but rather expensive at 26 Euros a night. It was listed in the ACSI book but didn’t do the discount scheme – a bit miffed about that – one to watch out for in the future.  The down side was that it was terraced (pretty but difficult) and a bit far out of town (about 1.5 miles).

We got up early and were ready to go just after daylight at about 8.30am.  I was working myself into a paddy about getting the van off our pitch.  But I kept thinking that there must have been loads of other big vans up here and there was a pretty big caravan up there as well.

We had three choices, two meant going down very steep hills with bends  on a road of sand.  I didn’t like that idea, so decided to go out the way we had come in – on tarmac.

Firstly I really didn’t want to negotiate our exit in reverse, so we  had to turn around and I nearly knocked off the top of the lamppost.  A very tight squeeze but with a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we managed it.  Then the real challenge – there was a dip and turn and horrible twist to negotiate.  I took it very steady – I’d got there in the first place so I was sure I could get back.  I had visions of the van toppling down the hill on it’s side (I said I was a worrier) and slowly was to be the only way, but the angle was just a bit too much and  CRUNCH – Oh NO!  I was grounded!!!!!!

It made a horrible noise and probably woke everyone up but luckily I think it was just the bottom of our tow-bar that had grounded.  The angle was just a bit too much. I had a quick look in the mirror and I had taken out a big chunk of their road.  I didn’t stop and wasn’t sure if it was the hard sand or actually the tarmac. 

After that the descent down the huge hill was a doddle!!!!  But I was glad to get to the bottom safely.  We had a bit of a laugh about that, but then you can when the danger is over.

The lesson to be learned on this site was to stop at reception and walk around to find a pitch. It’s much easier to choose while walking that when driving a huge truck around. In hindsight we would have chosen a pitch much further down on the terracing to make our exit a lot easier but we had committed before we realised how steep this site was.

So it was on the road and for the first time I forgot what side to drive – so the first 30 seconds were interesting as I turned right onto the main road.

The weather was sunny and the road was good and with nearly 400 miles to go we were away before 9.00am.  As I’ve said before we wanted to get south as quickly as possible so were happy to use the paeage all the way.  I think the total cost was probably about £200 but we did save some in France by always pressing the assistance button and telling them that we were a camping car.  Mostly we were downgraded from Class 3 to Class 2 (only 2 refused) so that saved us about 40 Euros. Unfortunately neither of us and ANY  Spanish so we didn’t bother in Spain. Another point for reference is that most of the toll roads won’t take the Caxton card and we had to use our normal credit card.

So most of the way I just put Jan the Van into cruise control at between 60 and 65 mph and we toddled along nicely.

Now we had been warned that LPG is difficult to find in Spain and gas stations are few and far between.  We needed to fill up before we got to Altea, both our main tank and our habitation tank. There was one Autogas station north of Barcelona but we still had ¾ of a tank so there was no point stopping there.  The next one was 170 miles away and we do about 200 miles to a tank of gas. We decided that we should might won’t make it but what was the choice, so we’ll  have to use a bit of petrol.  With over 80 miles to go the gauge was showing red and we were on reserve.

Now I don’t know if anyone else has gas but the gauges are terrible and very unreliable. The lights are so small that I can’t see them with my glasses on but I can’t see to drive without them.  Plus with the bright sunshine they are a nightmare to see and are positioned in a really stupid place.  The gauge goes from 4 green lights down to 1 and then one red light when you go onto reserve.  However when you are REALLY out of gas it doesn’t really know what’s going on and all the lights come on at once.  So for the first time this trip we did actually run out of gas and have to do some miles on petrol – it doesn’t matter that much except that on 9 miles to the gallon you don’t want to do too much on expensive petrol.

The good news when we did fill up was that the gas was only 78 euro cents a litre and it had been 96 in France.

On doing our sums I have worked out that it’s about £1,200 travelling cost for the round trip to Spain and back.  In comparison while writing this I’ve just looked at flight costs and we could have flown here in 2.5 hours for a cost of around £80 each – food for thought.

Nothing exciting or scary to report about the journey itself so I’ll move on.