Friday 21st December 2018: Off we go again on our annual escape to the south to find more sun, although the local forecast is good, it does get cold in the South of France.
After a very busy summer mainly taken up by lease negotiations with potential tenants for our property in the UK, we had the usual scramble to get ready for the winter trip to find the sun. Steve did the service on our motorhome “Jemima” and uncovered some horrors left by the company who serviced it last which took far more time than he had planned and left little time for the necessary improvements. Steve wanted to add a forward facing camera and reversing type bleepers to the front of the motorhome, these were wired in with the rear ones to be switched on at slow speeds for manoeuvring in tight spaces. A bit late unfortunately after a minor collision with a very low wall. The rear of the van swings out quite a bit when turning and Jemima suffered a badly scraped rear end. But with a bit of work, Steve refitted the bent rear panel and polished most of the scratches out so it is not looking as bad as it did. The biggest trouble is going to be matching the two tone metallic paint.
We just managed to do nearly everything in time and our last day was very hectic, first a long Christmas lunch with a men’s lunch group Steve belongs to but Judy drove and she and a couple of her friends came too but they had their own table for a bit of quiet. Then we went to a showing of the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” in English at our super little cinema in the next village, then home to watch the final of “Master Chef” on TV which we had been following. Finally we got to bed for a few hours sleep as we planned to leave by 3:30 am.
The reason for the early start was that we had heard that the “Gillet Jaune” protestors were stopping people at the Spanish boarder and we planned to get through before they woke up! Well, it all went very well we woke at 3am and were away by 3:30 as planned and the protestors were still under their plastic covers when we arrived at the Toll booths just before the boarder, so, pleased with our success we stopped at la Jonquera just over the boarder for a cup of coffee to keep us awake. Wrong!…. just before Gerona everything stopped and after a little while we realised that we had run into another protest, this time by the Catalan Separatists. So, we turned around and back tracked to the motorway, which we could see was moving. But ten minutes on, all the traffic stopped again and it was another three and a half hours before we were properly moving after being shuffled off the motorway by police. Thank goodness we had “Tom the SatNag” to direct us across to another motorway and get us on our way again, finally. At lease we are in a motorhome with our own loo and we could make a cup of coffee and relax with a book while we sat in the stationary traffic! Others were not so lucky.
We had a very long day’s driving and finally stopped at 7:30 in the evening but had put 640 km behind us. We run our slow cooker from the inverter while driving so immediately had a nice hot meal when we stopped tucked in between the massive trucks in one of the huge parking areas at fuel stops in Spain. We are quite big really at over 7mt long and 3mt high but look like a toy between these guys! We were pretty tired and even the fridge motor on the truck next to us didn’t stop us sleeping.
After filling up with diesel in the morning we headed off, Steve had set a route across the mountains which we had used once before, it was 50km shorter but probably didn’t save much fuel because of the steep hills and slow speed but It was a beautiful drive and luckily not much traffic so we could use all the road to navigate the hundreds of hairpin bends. Our first destination was an LPG station just outside Benidorm to fill up with gas for the week and we arrived exactly at the time the Sat Nag said we should. After filling with gas we arrived at the site we had used last year Armenello N38.54675, W0.10944 and amazingly found the same pitch we had last year was empty so pulled on as it was a nice pitch near enough to the facilities and with water and a drain on the pitch.
Once we had set up and unloaded the scooter Fred & Chris came round and suggested we go into the town to see some friends who were staying in a hotel. The scooter was great and is sure to transform our travels, although we must be careful to keep walking to try to keep fit.
On Christmas Eve we set off on Suzy the scooter for some shopping and to try and buy some shorts for Steve as somehow Judy had not loaded the ones she had sorted out! Again Suzy allowed us to do in a couple of hours what would have taken all day on the bus. Supper was at the China Garden Restaurant which we had been looking forward to for months and finished the evening playing cards with Fred and Chris, a very unusual thing for us but very enjoyable.
Christmas Day 2018: A slow start and gift opening but no breakfast as we had booked Christmas for midday at the Yorkshire Pride Pub with Fred & Chris, which is notorious for its large portions. They were in fact immense, we all agreed that one plate full would have been fine for the four of us and the amount of food wasted throughout the restaurant was a bit upsetting.
The result of the gigantic meal was that the planned walk along the sea front just didn’t happen and we all agreed that a lie down was absolutely necessary. A shame as that finished the day for us all. But we did get up for the evening and Steve managed to reprogram the satellite dish as the frequencies had changed so the dish would not lock on. A question on the forums had revealed no results so it needed some research and a few tries until he found one that worked. But at least now we could watch the news occasionally as we travel.
So…. That’s Christmas done for another year. We hope you all had a great one.
Till Next time. Steve & Judy