Monsaraz to Manta Rota, Portugal

2nd January 2019

We have now been in Portugal for one calendar month and have only travelled a few 100Kms at best and visiting very few new places.  We entered the country in the Alentejo, a region we have explored several times before several, however despite this our first stop was at historic walled hilltop town Monsaraz, a place we have not been to. Monsaraz sits high on a hillside and is known for having some amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the Barragem de Alquera (reservoir/lake).  So it was to our disappointment that on the day we arrived the place was covered with a duvet of fog!

20181203_123203

Walking along the walls of Monsaraz where we had to use our imagination about the views

20181203_124549

Inside the town walls there was a really well put together set of sculptures that represented the Nativity.

Due to the lack of visibility we decided to drive around the near by area a little, discovering two megalithic stone structures and a sunken village. The first stone structure, Cromeleque de Xerez, was a complete circle, like a mini Stone Henge but the place lacked it’s special aura once we had found out that the stone circle was moved from it’s original location due to the flooding of the reservoir.  The second stone, still in it’s intended place on the Telheiro to Outeiro road, was a phallic type stone that stood by itself and apparently had a number of carvings around it’s diametre, maybe it was the fog but we struggled to see them!

20181203_132742

Sharon adds scale to the phallic shaped stone.  This stone is called Menhir de Bulhoa and was placed here in the Neolithic period, circa 4500 BC.

Following these stone age wonders, we did a drive by of recently rebuilt and relocated Luz, a village that was flooded around the late 1990s, to make way for the reservoir.  We found this story intriguing and we were slightly put out when we found the museum closed for the day, especially as it was only 2 euro per person to enter.  Our place for the night turned out to be Estrela, a very small village on the foot of the Barragem de Alquera, which proved a perfect setting to our relatively busy day of sight seeing

20181203_150107

Parked up lake side at Estrella, Barragem de Alquera

On the next day we drove to a place called Pomerao, a location that has caught my eye now on Camper Contact for a few years.  It is located next to the river Guardiana and was once a prosperous and busy mining port.  With the mining days now gone, it seems Pomerao is surviving by gentle and discrete tourism, in the forms of motorhomers during the winter and a smattering of overseas second home residents.

20181205_101227

We met a stampede of sheep enroute to Pomerao

20181204_144842

Using the old mining dock, Pomerao is a popular stop for motorhomes (mid left of photo)

These places described above conclude the new places visited as once we had left the Alentejo after Pomerao we went to Alcoutim, Sao Bras, Cabanas de Tavira, Altura, Vila Real, Pereiro and then finally Manta Rota, places we have been to before and some more than once.

The highlights therefore of this series of repeat visits has been meeting a couple called Nick and Emma in Alcoutim and then combining to meet with them again in Pereiro for a barbeque.  Emma and Nick were travelling around in a converted ‘film location’ hire mini bus which was certainly different from all the white plastic fanastics (i.e. the type of motorhome we own!).  We had many things in common, including a love of Portugal, our ages and dare I say it red wine……………….I will leave that there!?!

20181217_135130

Emma and Nick’s ‘digibus’ and our white swan neck in the distance parked up at Pereiro.  “Cheers guys, we hope you continue to enjoy your travels, see you on the road”

In between Alcoutim and Pereiro we completed stays at Sao Bras, Cabanas and Vila Real de St. Antonio.  Sao Bras was a milestone visit as we were taking Rita back to the vets that originally completed all her health checks and sterilisation after she had been found and was under the care of Marie (www.2ndhand4footers.com).  We had made an appointment earlier in the week and we were relieved when we were greeted by a really friendly and gentle receptionist and vet called Carlos.  In summary for all you ‘Rita’ followers, she is well and the vet even described her as being ‘muscular’, which I have interpreted as a positive as she has put on a little weight over the last few months and visually she appears to be bigger and stronger, she is now 13.8 kgs compared to 12.2 kgs when we had her.

20181127_0917311.jpg

Vet Torrejao near Loule provided an excellent service, contact details above

20181224_111621

Vila Real seemed to be quite seasonal hosting a small arts market and Christmas street lights

A while ago now we had arranged to meet up with my friends Kevin and Gio, who spend a lot of time at their at their villa in Spain, in Portugal.  We had decided upon Tavira as the location, but also a campsite as they were driving across and would be staying in a tent.  We were quite shocked then when we were turned away from the Tavira campsite as we had a dog, so quickly we formed plan B which was Cabanas de Tavira, a small fishing village 4 kms east of Tavira.  We had a great few days combining sightseeing,  including walking to Tavira, driving to Olhao and St Luzia, with eating out and in.  It is so brilliant to be able to meet up with friends and family once we are on the road and yet again, similar to earlier in the year when my parents visited Faro, with a little creativity and flexibility from both sides, it can be possible.

20181210_201717

As Kev was the official photographer for our mini holiday I have very few in my possession of them together and this one is blurry!  Kev and Gio in Cabanas.  Note:  we have learnt that you have to be very careful if you choose to serve Cappuccino or pizza to an Italian!!!!!

20181212_153706

We spent two nights at Altura where we passed an enjoyable evening with Jackie and Richard, who were also our age.  What is happening to the winter motorhome scene?

That takes us to Praia da Manta Rota where we have been since the 18th of December.  If you would have said to us on our first trip in 2016 that we would be spending several weeks at Manta Rota we would have been chilled to the bone.  In fact we did stay here early on in our travels spending only a few nights as we were taken back by how many motorhomes are here: 100 of them lined up head to foot using all of the nine metres allocated to each one.  Back then we were more determined to find the off the beaten track places and wanted to experience the freedom and the ‘dream’ of motohoming. Now, three years in, we have softened and can see the advantages of staying at places like this as it is safe, an authorised municipal fee paying motorhome stop over and has all the amenities on the door step and of course is right beside one of the best beaches in the East Algarve (in our opinion of course).  Upon reflection about this view point change, it could be that we are morphing away from travelling around the Algarve into something more like living here temporarily.

20181222_170356

Due to it’s orientation, Manta Rota gets amazing sun rises and sets.

So over the years we have been staying longer and longer at this location and currently as I write this we have been here a total of sixteen days, a stay that has included Christmas and New Year.  It has been a chance for us to relax, enjoying long walks with Rita on the beach and bike riding on the ‘blue’ route that runs parallel to the coast line. We also have tied up with Mick and Sheila (our old managers back at Normans Bay) who live near by and they even kindly chauffeured us in their Volkswagen camper over to Ayamonte (Spain) for the day to complete some last minute Christmas shopping.  So that brings us to 2019, now that all the seasonal festivities are over, which hopefully will be an exciting year for us where who knows what is around the corner……….Happy New Year everyone, we wish you all health and happiness.

20181225_091455.jpg

Our nod towards camper Christmas decorations was this bin bag.

20181222_120500

Whilst on the topic of rubbish, a group of motorhomers did a beach clean and collected all this which I was really impressed with

20181225_093711

Sharon walking on the beach on Christmas day, Manta Rota

20181225_095015

Rita also loves the beach here and most mornings we walk to the old fort at nearby Cacela Velha

 

Advertisements

Everywhere in Spain but the North West Coast.

14 November to 3rd December 2018

20181115_175443

Entering Spain via Catalonia we were greeted with hundreds, maybe thousands, of yellow ribbons.  These are signs of support for the freedom of the imprisoned pro-independence leaders.  

My preconceptions of the Costa Brava, held mostly from a teenage coach holiday to beach resort Santa Susana, were not too good in terms of memorable natural scenery.  In fact my memories conjured up black boards advertising English breakfasts and beach fronts filled with 2 for 1 bars and nightclubs. When I was seventeen this was the ‘wildlife’ I was searching for and a few smiles did return as I replayed the weeks holiday back through my mind, but now at the grand age of 42 maybe we were looking for something different, more authentic maybe.  Therefore this time we spent our Costa Brava visit slightly further north on the Park Natural del Cap de Creus which is a small nub that sticks out directly east of Figueres.  Selecting fishing village El Port de la Selva as our over night destination meant that we experienced both the inland and coastal sections of the national park.  The coastal road was especially impressive, high rocky cliffs dotted with green pine trees made for a dramatic and picturesque backdrop.  Funnily enough it was not unlike the North Spanish coast that we had forfeited earlier on in the trip.  This lesser visited part of the Costa Brava really is an area of natural beauty and definitely deserves it’s 7th position in the league table of Spanish highlights in our newly purchased Marco Polo Spain and Portugal road atlas.

20181114_164242

The bay at El Port de la Selva, Costa Brava.  The region made an excellent substitute for the north west Spanish coast.

20181114_190730

The local fisherman’s association bar had a viewing window of the fish auction hall.  We were there when the shrimp trawlers arrived back to shore.  We could not work out how the system worked but it was interesting to see the local restaurateurs haggling over the prices.  El Port de la Selva.

Keen to get past and to avoid the Barcelona road network, on the next day we swerved slightly inland and stayed at El Catllar, 70 km west of the Catalan capital.  The highlights from this fortified town were the amazing Co-Operative shop which sold almost everything from Cava to tractor engine oil.  I mention the Cava as we purchased some as this of course is Cava county and we actually intend to keep the bottle until Xmas day (editors note: well we will see how that goes!)  The other memory was keeping tabs on the local marijuana seller’s movements and activities which seemed to be focused in the area surrounding the free motorhome aire.

20181115_162810

El Catllar was an historic town…….

20181116_094425

…….even if the area where the aire was situated was a little rough and ready with some unusual, but nonthreatening, night time activities.

With Barcelona now out of the way we wandered back towards the coast staying at El Grau de Castellon, in the Valencian region, which is essentially the port area for Castellon de la Plana.  We were really pleased with this choice as it was completely different to the other coastal towns in this region that we have visited/travelled through before.  First of all, in El Grau itself, tourism certainly seems on the low side and instead the large commercial port supplies the heart beat of the town.  On a discovery town walk we found out we had just missed the weekly market, what we did see however were local people sifting through the fruit and vegetables that had been discarded by the traders on the kerb side.  We wondered if this action of discarding was on purpose, the traders knowing that perhaps the poorer ends of the local society will benefit from product that was not quite good enough to sell, who knows hey?  Another thing worth mentioning is the free aire at El Grau is absolutely fantastic, lying beach side, and even sports washing up sinks and an immaculately clean toilet.  The beach even has it’s own designated dog area, complete with doggy shower, where Rita was allowed to run completely free from her lead.  On our second day here we ventured further afield and walked the 4.5 Km to neighbouring Castellon de la Plana.  The walk was really easy as it entailed walking along the main road, which is dead straight, that links the two towns.  At Castellon we were greeted with lots of activity as it seemed the whole town was out drinking Cruzcampos in the street and on the terraces of the many small bars.  Obviously we joined them taking a few drinks plus some seafood tapas.  Again we had got our timing right which was fortunate and we later learned it was a local holiday which made sense as we thought that this could not be a normal Saturday lunch time.

20181116_143917

El Grau has some intriguing architecture

20181117_144426

The main square in ‘de la Plana’ was bustling.

Now that we had managed to join all the coastal dots that we missed off back in 2016, meaning that we have pretty much travelled all of the Spanish coast from Ayamonte (Andalucia/Portuguese border) up to top of the Costa Brava bordering France, it was time to venture inland again.  Previously we had combined a meeting point with our motorhome friends Rick and Mary at Sanlucar de Barremeda, Andulucia and therefore it seemed to make sense to drive an inland curve over to Sanlucar.  This part of the journey we covered over three nights staying at Uteil (Valencian Community), Don Quixote town Argamasilla de Alba in the La Mancha and Andulucian Pedro Abad.

20181119_145849

We stopped at a lake castle near Argamasilla.  Fictional Don Quixote and his side kick roved these terrains.  

By 21 November we had reached Sanlucar revisiting La Jara Motorhome Park and more importantly rendezvousing with Rick and Mary.  La Jara was chosen as there is plenty of space, BBQs are allowed, as is camping behaviour such as sitting outside.  In total we spent 9 nights there, 5 with Rick and Mary, where we chilled out, enjoyed food and drinks out and in, bike riding to Chipiona and further afield to Rota.  We had a really good time and therefore when it was time for Rick and Mary to drive on, Morocco bound, sad farewells were voiced all round.

20181129_154523

Manzanilla is the local tipple in Sanlucar.  This bottle we sampled in a beach bar, hence the shell table top, that stands between La Jara and Chipiona.

The slightly extended stay at La Jara was due to a loose solar panel, something that has been dogging this trip, as my temporary fixes administered in Normans Bay and several times enroute so far had not managed to sustain.  Therefore on Friday 30th November we headed for business Caravanas Sevilla for an appointment with their fitter that was made earlier in the week by phone in Spanish(!)  Therefore I was quite surprised once we arrived there that they were expecting us.   The receptionist introduced me to the workshop team where we proceeded together to agree, using a combination of hand signals and my improvised Portunhol, on a simple solution involving some special made metal brackets securing firmly the solar panel back onto the roof.  55 Euros for the 1.5 hours labour later we were back on the road heading towards hill top town Jerez de los Caballeros in the Extremadura.

20181130_112847.jpg

The team from ‘Caravanas Sevilla’ start to attack the Suntor 

Jerez de la Caballeros was a great find as not only did it have a aire with free electricity but also an interesting historical town which had spectacular views from the south east side of town across the vast Extremadura countryside.  It was on this edge of town where we choose to have lunch outside a popular restaurant situated in a small park on top of the town’s walls.  The views were stunning as was the food.  It was not the plan to have lunch but the enthusiastic owner/waiting kept coming over to us and describing the house specialities for the day and we finally settled on a cod, egg and potato dish and a plate of pork fillet and serrano ham served with bread, fried potato slices topped off with fried eggs: after all this is pig county and on the drive over to here we passed many free grazing black pigs and of course the accompanying abattoirs and meat factories.  During our extended lunch, the activity in the restaurant was steadily increasing, as it turned out the local foraging group had met up for one of it’s social events and they were cooking a massive communal risotto made from foraged mushrooms.  It was a shame then that we were completely stuffed as they came round to every table and deposited a plate of the risotto for the customers to try, needles to say we rammed it down aided by a bottle of local red wine.

20181201_124014

Sharon and Rita wandering the old town, Jerez de la Caballeros

20181201_145846[1]

The pork medallions on top of the bread were the best tasting we have had.  Cafe Florida, Jerez de la Caballeros.  The views were ‘on top of the world’ too.

20181201_150454[1]

Dessert was foraged mushroom risotto.

In all we stayed three nights in Jerez de la Caballeros stalling our inevitable entry into Portugal until the 3rd of December.  The ongoing theme of our most recent spell in Spain has been the tapas.  In the past we have not really had good experiences with tapas and that has arisen by not really knowing what to order and ending up with safe ‘albondigas’ or on the other hand been given a free tapa of something that we would not normally enjoy eating (pigs ear in Palencia, cold blood and fat soft sausage in Jerez and room temperature sea snails in the Basque).  This time we just ordered some things hoping that we had translated correctly and with this our confidence grew stumbling on tortillitas de camarones (shrimp fritter), chocos (fried cuttlefish) and bacalao pil pil (baked cod with chilli) meaning that on several occasions we lunched out inexpensively on a couple of tapas and associated drinks, an experience that hopefully we will continue next time we visit.

20181125_143334[1]

We persevered more with tapas, with some success.  The white dish that looks like a dessert was actually cod, cream and balsamic dressing.

20181125_1428211.jpg

We did’nt always know what we eating though.  We guessed this was a ‘seaweed mixed with some other unknown ocean quantity’ deep fried ball.

20181126_103557[1]

Whilst we were experimenting with tapas, Rita became curious about cats.  In La Jara, these three rubbed along together quite well.

The Motorhome World is a Small One

Vila Nova de Cacela, Portugal 19-02-18.

A chain of events happened today which gave me the opportunity to see something that has made me smile.  So when I should actually be writing about our journey through Spain and our last couple of weeks in Portugal instead and I am going to jot down this memory.  The normal trip web waffle will be updated later on!

This morning I cycled into the nearest town, Vila Nova de Cacela so that I could print out some documents.  I chose to lock my bike to the railing inside the porch of the local internet centre (Punto de Internet).  Once my printing was done I decided to leave my bike there whilst I ran a few errands in the town, principally going to the pharmacy.  Upon my return to the Punto de Internet my bike had been locked inside the porch by a metal gate as the place had closed for it’s lunch time meaning I could not access my bike to go home.  Therefore I killed some time walking around the town.  Just after 2pm my bike was released once the employees returned and from there I cycled to a large general store that sells everything from small tractors to wine.  It was here that I wanted to purchase some new bike tyres but by the time I had arrived it too had closed for lunch meaning at that moment I entered the N125 main road to go home.  It was at this instance a beige Unimog camper on Dutch plates rumbled past in the opposite direction and sure enough Dave and Mathilda were in the cab.  We met this young Dutch couple back in March 2016 at Valdequeros just outside Tarifa.  In fact it was one of those nights that ended up in the Suntor drinking together with another Dutch Astrid and Burt.  Furthermore it was Astrid that informed us that in motorhoming you always see people twice.  So there you are, petite monde!

Dave and Mathilda

Back in March 2016, parked up with Dave and Mathilda at Valdequeros beach.  They were embarking on a four year around the world tour.  They are still on the road as I saw them again in December 2018.  “Good luck guys, travel safe”

France in the sunshine

6th November to 14th November 2018

We went into this trip with a rough plan which involved driving through France and then onto the Spanish north coast, to enable us to travel where we missed last year, covering the area west of Santander.  The route then would involve driving down Portugal arriving in it’s southern parts by Christmas.  There would be an element of change for the route through France as even though our routes are never quite the same they have always only covered the regions considerably west of Paris and always seem to include a drive by of Rouen and Bordeaux when driving south.   Determined to do something different this year we decided to draw a line vertically down from Adinkirke in Belgium, where we would stop by briefly to pick up tobacco, through the entire country of France. This imaginary line took in Paris, Limoges and ending in Toulouse where once we had reached the Toulouse area’s capital city we would veer west to San Sebastian, our gate way to the north Spanish coast.

Atlas france

Having a new road atlas for this trip didn’t prevent us going way off target!

Therefore it was a surprise to even us that after almost one week on the road we found ourselves just north of Montpelier meaning our entry in Spain would be from the north east coast into the Costa Brava which in geographical terms was the complete opposite of our initial plans. This had happened due to number of decisions made whilst driving, the first being that we chose to circle Paris by it’s eastern road net work. The second thing which bumped us more east than we expected was to avoid a toll road which was the direct route south to Toulouse, instead choosing to head south east on toll free roads at around Cahors.

Maybe it was the draw of new places which encouraged us to deviate so considerably, but one thing we both agree on was that it was one our better trips through France for reasons beyond seeing something different; and that was the weather.  Normally the French part of our travels involve rain and biting cold, but this year we have enjoyed on the majority autumn sunshine which has been a pleasant surprise and has allowed us to hold out a little longer than usual and not giving in to the allure of warmer climes.

Our journey started at Grand Fort Philippe just north of Calais and this place is becoming our favourite Calais stop over.  The free aire lies just outside a simple French harbour town and alongside a coastal walkway which goes south west to Oye Plage, a walk completed by Rita and I on our first morning.

20181107_091115

Early morning on Oye Plage looking back at the estuary harbour of Grand Fort Philippe.  It was vast and very empty when we visited.

We then headed south from our quick Belgium stop and ended up at Doullens near the Somme.  It seemed quite timely to have stayed here as we were approaching the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One and this was very apparent in Doullens town centre which had a street exhibition demonstrating how international the war was showing many black and white photos of North Africans fighting on side of the allies.

20181109_101325

Milly -la- Foret had a bustling centre surrounding the old wooden market canopy. 

From Doullens we aimed to get past Paris, stopping over at market town Milly-la-Foret where we imagined a place where commuters travelling into Paris to work would live. Keeping with the southern direction our third night was spent at a very small village called Fromental, in the Limousin region. We were drawn to this location by the camper contact reviews which described a village community shop above and beyond being a rural village, it is strange as to what attracts us to certain places!! The village certainly had a community hub, which incorporated a library, post office and shop that sold almost everything at reasonable prices.  The whole hub was staffed by one person from the village, we did not enquire to the set up but it was certain that the community wanted to keep hold of some local amenities and service.  In support of their community and to say a little thanks for the free over night parking we purchased a bottle of red wine, frozen oven chips and tin of peas to the assumed amusement of the staff member as she probably thought ‘typical Anglais!!’

20181109_132701

We lunched at one of the many roadside chateau’s en-route to Fromental.

20181109_173648[1].jpg

Fromental had a sense of community and the village Chateaux’s grounds were open to the public to walk around.  Rita enjoyed squirrel hunting here…….

South of Limoges our next stop was Uzerche, a walled town that sits high above the river Vezere whose skyline seems dominated with turrets and towers.  It was here where we joined the 11th of November remembrance parade which was an assemble of representatives from the local emergency services and people from the town.  It was interesting to note that it seemed a one minute silence is not observed in France, instead on the 11 o’clock chime of the near by Elise St Pierre the party, led by the three smart elderly town’s men holding large flags, processioned down the town’s one street to the war memorial where a series of readings were voiced.

20181111_102234.jpg

WW1 memorial at Uzerche

20181111_123431.jpg

Uzerche is described by the Lonely Planet as one of Limonsin’s prettiest hill top hamlets.  We stumbled by this wonder by mistake really as it had a free aire!

20181111_114348.jpg

We completed the river side circular walk which starts and ends from the old railway station car park, the location of the motorhome aire.

In the afternoon we drove a little further ending up at a small village south east of Cahors called Arcambal.  This was a perfect one night stop over as it had free services, local bakery and a bar restaurant.  The later we visited for a sunset aperitif and the friendly owner kept the place open a little longer than usual for us to enjoy a second round.  Almost immediately after our second drink was served a mini bus pulled up full with teenagers.  A man, who later we learnt was a vicar, entered the bar and enquired whether it was open and the owner must have replied, ‘normally I would be closed by now if not for the couple outside’, and therefore chose to accommodate the large party. The vicar was so pleased that they were able to find a refreshment pit stop on a Sunday evening in the countryside that he even bought us our third round!

20181111_182143

The minibus with it’s refreshed teenagers and Vicar driver heading home after their day trip, Arcambel

Since now we were tumbling south east, for Monday night we reached as far as Salasc in the Parc National Regional du Haut-Languedoc.  Salasc was a tiny rural village which photos can describe better than my words. Our memory will be the 4km walk we completed in the surrounding hillside which we all including Rita really relished. The weather was still treating us well, in fact on this walk we stripped down to our t-shirts.

20181113_104330

We completed this walk at Salasc.  It was hard work as it was within the hillside that surrounded the small village.

20181113_085722.jpg

Set deep in the National Parc, Salasc had a back in time feel

So now we were truly off our intended route and it was when we turned off at Cahors all of our intentions vanished regarding travelling back west to San Sebastian.  Now we were making plans to visit the French Mediterranean coast, north west of Montpelier, as this was a part of coast that we missed on our 2016 tour where we joined the sea side at Montpelier from Andorra and then proceeded to move east towards Italy.  The chosen coastal town for our visit was Gruissan which proved to be good choice.  Not only had the aire stopped charging 9 euros per night during the winter months but also the town itself was quite charming and unique with it’s harbour, castle and heavily curved promenade and proved to be a pleasant place to while away an afternoon.  It was also a popular stop over for motorhomers, some evidently staying for long periods, and in total there were 87 motorhomes there!  Could this be a sign of things to come??

20181113_162100

As we enjoyed our drinks at the town centre PMU bar we noticed this cat, who seemed frustrated that the fishmonger below was closed for the day.  Gruissan

20181114_105038.jpg

Our waterside parking at Gruissan.  The aire was much fuller than this photo suggests, it was only an area of damp sand next to us that put other motorhomes off from parking next to us (we think!!!!)

That concludes part one of our French trip as obviously we will be back here in late March 2019 if everything goes to plan.  Overall we have really enjoyed ourselves.  It was really refreshing to discover or revisit some different regions en-route to Spain and we have really felt to have been travelling again and not just commuting.   Plus the weather has been fairly mild meaning several times we have been caught sitting outside enjoying a drink in a cafe.  So for a while it is au revoir France and buenas dias Spain as upon leaving the Languedoc region we will be entering the Costa Brava.

20181129_164342[1].jpg

Not forgetting our Rita.  She has been enjoying herself we think and we have made sure we have spent time out of moving along to make sure she has her fun too. 

Roving South.

6th November 2018

RV Sunset

From today we are out on the open road again!!

The time has finally arrived for us to jump into the van and start making our way south.  We have plenty of time this year too, almost 5 months to be exact.  This extended period is a key point, after all this could be our last tour of Europe as EU citizens and we want to make the most of our current privilege of unrestricted travel and time within the EU zone.

We don’t really have a plan as per usual and initially our travel plans will depend on the weather and potential meet up points with fellow motorhoming friends.  Portugal will definitely feature and therefore France and Spain will have to be enjoyed as we travel through, but the mix of time spent in these countries will be made up as we go along.

All we can say at this point is that we are both very excited to get out on tour again, to feel the freedom of the open road where who knows what lies around the next corner………

Brexit

Who knows what the future holds for us.  Maybe this will be the last time we enjoy all the benefits of being EU citizens.

“If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a rover
And if the road was not for me
Then I would choose another
Across mountains and valleys deep
I would take these weary feet
If I could choose the life I pleased
Then I would be a rover……”*

*lyrics by the Levellers

Leaving Normans Bay.

October 2018

It is funny how you end up at and consequently get to know places.  A little while ago I had never heard of Pevensey, never mind Normans Bay and now looking back over the last two summers it has been a place where we have termed as home.  So as the title of this post suggests after two summer sessions of working on ‘The Bay’ it is time to move on.  We are not just moving on to the normal winter sun travels either but moving on completely as next summer we will be working elsewhere in the country.

20180507_141259

This photo does not do the great weather justice.  Summer 2018 was a scorcher and it was brilliant to see people, locals and holiday makers alike, enjoying the beach at Normans Bay.  This was early on in the season too, May bank holiday.

20180530_163932

The wild flowers on the beach were in force during the summer months

100_3328 (2)

The sun rises, especially at low tide, made for some excellent photo opportunities.  

100_3321

Silhouette of the nearby Martello tower

20180813_183141

Sharon and Rita walking along the groins on Normans Bay beach.  Dog walking has enabled us to meet some of the locals from Normans Bay village too, notably Annette, who managed to arrange access to a piece of local private land called the Ballast Hole which certainly Rita has enjoyed immensely as it is inhabited by many rabbits and local foxes.

20180407_171546

Whilst beach combing I found this fisherman’s ice box which I re-purposed to become the tractors tool tray.  The box had washed up from a trawler originating from Port Bessin, France

20180608_140232

The land in and around Beachy Head became one of our regular day trips

20180703_192528

#BOTB, you know who you are!!  World Cup 2018 added a little spice to post work drinks

20180704_125906

Touching on work, you can not forget all the weird and wonderful campers that have visited Normans Bay.  This one was an old Swiss post office truck.

20180722_182205

Summer 2018 was the best weather since 1976.  Sharon and Rita dropping me and Kev off in Bexhill-on-Sea, enroute to see the Levellers.

maryann beach

Walking down the beach 2km to the local shops and pubs will always be one of my lasting memories.

As these photos suggest, being so close to the sea has been the major highlight of this location, we are literally 50 metres from the beach.   Living coast side is a unique experience, one that we hope to repeat some time in the future.  We will hold fond memories of Normans Bay in all aspects from the goings on of the camp site, getting to know the local area and working/living with our colleagues to more over arching aspects such as the great south east coast weather.

So, over the next few days we will be bidding our good byes to Normans Bay…….it has been fun getting to know you……..So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight, so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu……….

 

Visits and Visitors, Summer 2018

As we were to be working in the same place two summers in a row we had set ourselves the target of getting off site as much as we could to visit some of the many interesting places that are nearby in Sussex and Kent.

This objective started well as we did manage an overnight stop over at Crowborough back in May, however after this things went a little bit awry……Summer 2018 in Normans Bay will definitely be remembered not for our visits away but for all the visitors we had.  Not a bad thing at all, in fact it has been a pleasure to catch up with some old and new friends whilst we have been here.

So in visiting order from April to September……..

Crowborough

We spent a pleasant night away at Crowborough visiting Joy in the local hospital, walking in the Ashdown forest and of course we stayed on the Club’s site.

Motleys

In April we had Mike and Mandy pass by for a night of catching up with our travels on their return back to the UK.  Their travel blog can be found at http://www.motleysmagicalmysterytour.wordpress.com.

20180418_150308

We visited the Midlands passing by both our folks.  Rita and my Dad enjoying the spring sunshine.  Was that to be an early sign of a good summer?

Scott 2

In June Scott, Irene, Iris and Fynn visited.  It was great spending some time with one of my best friends and his family.  My memory will be the BBQ on the beach.

Otis and Rita

June also saw Mick and Sheila, now retired Normans Bay managers, pass by the site in their Volkswagen camper.  Otis and Rita got along like a house (camper?) on fire.

20180628_161814

Now annual visitors, Chris, Pete and Al came back to the Bay.  This time we did a pub crawl within the local area taking in the ancient church at Westham village.

20180614_193337

By June the weather had really heated up.  We spent several evenings with Joy and Tracy at their home in Uckfield.

20180702_092018.jpg

Also in June we had a flying visit from Tim and Martha who we met earlier in the year in France.  It was superb that we met up again and hopefully we will see them all back out on the road at some point.

20180705_110349

My parents visited us in July and this photo was taken at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne.  The weather was still fantastic.

20180722_183817

Kev also visited in July and we went to see the Levellers play ‘We the Collective’ at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.

20180717_230233

Late July we had a visit from our old neighbours Janet and Elize and her friend Scarlet.  They managed to complete the Seven Sisters walk whilst they were here, something that we have not completed yet.  Our time is now ticking.

20180801_210141.jpg

In early August a last minute visit of Joy and Tracey’s friends Jo and Debbie was organised.  A night of dancing and drinking ensued to celebrate Jo’s birthday.

20180813_103856

Our old Normans Bay colleagues Frank and Rosie revisited for one night in August.  It is always fun to meet up with them.

20180824_115916

We visited the Camping Unplugged team and friends Katie and Pete at Lordswood Forest in Kent.  Here they are operating and developing an ecological campsite and we thought it was a special place off the beaten track.  http://www.campingunplaugged.com

Steve and Maryann

Sharon’s brother Steve and his wife Maryann visited us late August for a fun evening spent in the Bay.  Since ‘Eurosuntor’ hit the road we have managed several meet ups with Steve and Maryann spanning four countries in all:  Switzerland, Germany (for a total of 30 minutes!) France and of course the UK.  Where will we meet up next?

20180906_152149[1]

We left the site again in September visiting both sets of our families.  My parents were on the Shropshire canal which made for a different meet up location.

Finally, Karla and Tony, Sharon’s sister and husband visited us last Friday for a relaxed day spent around the Bay.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph of us all together messing up completely this theme.  Never mind, there is talk about a London visit in October as Jodie, their daughter, is arranging a birthday party so hopefully we can get an up to date photograph then to complete this post.  The socialising is not over yet though as October also brings Joy and Tracey’s wedding……………