Thoughts on a Year on the Road

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Our first morning on the road outside Auchan at Boulogne-sur-Mer, 17th July 2017

As we begin to settle in our new routine, the time has come for me to reflect on the last 14 months since we left the UK to live full time in our motorhome and travel in mainland Europe.  As one can imagine, there was a bit of everything, from the highs to the lows and from the ridiculous to the sublime, through the scary and the disappointments.  Adonis and I were trying to come up with a list of the best and worst experiences and places we visited and I thought it would be a good idea to write them down and shared them with those who were kind enough to travel with us, if only virtually.  Here they are:

THE HIGHS

Without a shadow of a doubt, we both agree that finding Moissac in the department of Tarn-et-Garonne in southern France was one of the best discoveries of the year, so much so, that we ended up going four times, being our chosen destination to spend Christmas and Easter.  The place is not only pretty as a picture with lots to see and do, not least the marvellous weekend market, but also extremely cheap for the facilities it offers.  We know we will be thinking about it with fondness this autumn (only round the corner) as that was the first time we stopped there in mid October.

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Our first visit to enchanting Moissac: love at first sight!

Wildcamping in Lunas, Haut-Languedoc, pure joy and sense of freedom like no other.  Life at its simplest and most enjoyable.  We felt like Tarzan and Jane!

Navarrosse, north of Biscarrosse, Les Landes, stunning and peaceful, a pine, eucalyptus and oak forest by the beach and where we encountered the first frost and signs of winter.  We shall return!  A special thank you to Mike and Sue, who told us about it whilst at Moissac.

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Our picturesque spot at Navarrosse motorhome aire
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A frosty but gorgeous morning at Navarrosse

 

Valencia, eastern Spain and the region where I was born.  Simply spectacular and amazing, a mixture of the very old and the futuristic. I loved every minute of it, from the old quarter to the ultra modern Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.  It was here we met our fellow motorhoming friends John and Julie at the fantastic Devesa Gardens campsite right in the Albufera, witch made our stay even more special and fun.  We owe them again for the recommendation: thank you both.

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Simply spectacular! La Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias, Valencia

Avignon:  Full of History, culture and charm.  And that song!

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Sur le Pont d’Avignon

Waking up with a view of the Mediterranean Sea in winter at Argelès-sur-Mer.  Suffice to say that for the first time in many years, I did not get the dreaded SAD.

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Waking up to this sight every morning in winter: priceless! Argèles-sur-Mer

The Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam.  What can I say?  Awesome!  A riot of colour in the middle of spring: what’s not to like?  Another big thank you, this time to fellow blogger and friend, Darlene Foster: you inspired me to go and visit this most stunning of gardens.

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A riot of colour at Keukenhof tulip gardens

Lascaux Prehistoric Caves, Dordogne, awe-inspiring and magical and loooong overdue on my bucket list, ever since I first heard about them in school many, many years ago.

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Mind-blowing wall paintings at prehistoric Lascaux Caves

THE LOWS

If you have been following this blog for a while, you may have guessed that one cannot get any lower when travelling in a motorhome than when you actually lose your motorhome.  This happened on our way to Belgium after leaving Lac de l’Uby on 16th April when the engine water cooling system pulley fell out and we had to be rescued by our breakdown cover service.  But even then it worked out all right, as we were able to wait for the new part at lovely motorhome aire at pretty Bernos-Beaulac, only 200 metres from the garage: that was a stroke of good luck.

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Our lowest point: being rescued due to vital part falling out

Cracked windscreen in Peñíscola.  We were all ready to leave when at the last minute we discovered the crack from top to bottom right in front of the driver’s view.  We had to wait 10 days for a new screen to arrive from Germany and to make matters worse, the breakdown insurance did not have fitters in Spain, so we had to find a garage ourselves, the closest one being in Gandía and thus discovering another very pleasant motorhome aire in Daimús, as well as spending extra time in Peñíscola where we were able to see the extraordinary annual Moors and Christians Parade: every cloud…

Dry lake in Caspe As part of Adonis’s recovery from cancer treatment, we had scheduled a few fishing stops and had booked 2 weeks at the charming campsite in Caspe, where we had spent a week in 2016, which didn’t seem enough.  Imagine our disappointment when we got there and the water level in lake was so low that fishing was impossible.  We left the next day.

Benidorm, hell on earth as far as we are concerned.  The least said about it the better.

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Overbuilt Benidorm. Sadly not for us

THE SUBLIME

Breathtaking Lautrec.  The climb up to the windmill and the views all around will stay with me forever.

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Breathtaking landscapes from Lautrec’s Windmill viewpoint

Bewitching and magical Arcade, Rias Baixas, Galicia.  One day wasn’t enough.  I would have liked to stay longer.

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Magical, mythical Arcade, Rias Baixas. Terra Meiga (bewitching), Galicia

THE RIDICULOUS

Argument in launderette at Auch.  It left me longing for my washing machine back home.  First and only time.

Lack of grey water and toilet cassette disposal facilities at very expensive motorhome aire in La Coruña.  This hurt me deeply on a personal level as this is my home town (where I grew up and which I love) and we were here to visit my family.  Visit had to be cut short due to lack of these essential services.  The shame of it!

THE SCARY

I am very pleased to say that we only had one scary experience in all the time away, that being Storm Ana in Vila Nova de Cerveira in northern Portugal when 100 km/h winds made the van rock and creak and I feared we were going to tumble over any minute, but again, luck was on our side and we prevailed sound and safe, van and all!

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The calm after the storm (Storm Ana) at Vila Nova de Cerveira: all safe!

THE DISAPPOINTMENT

It hursts me deeply to have to say that the biggest disappointment of the trip has to be Fatima in Portugal.  I have been wanting to visit this special pilgrimage destination all my life due to my name, but we happened to arrive on The Immaculate Conception Day, 8th December, and the town was heaving with visitors, the motorhome aire full to the brim and finding parking for the day was nigh impossible, so we only managed a couple of hours there and couldn’t stay the night and visit the Basilica properly as I intended.  Sorry, Mum!

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Overcrowded Fatima: no room at the inn for us!

THE PEOPLE

Because a journey is not just about the places we visit or the things we do, but the people we meet along the way, as this can change the whole experience for the better or for the worse.  We have been very fortunate to meet some wonderful people and make new friends and here a few:

John and Julie from Bury: YOU ROCK!

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With John and Julie on the third day of the trip At Bonny-sur-Loire

Mike and Sue from Poole: we hope to see you again soon.  

Darlene Foster: So glad we got to meet in person in Alicante and I hope in won’t be the last time.

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With fellow blogger, lovely and warm Darlene Foster. So happy we finally met in person!  Alicante

Raquel: one of my best friends during my teenage years, whom I hadn’t seen since we were 18.  Thank you for taking the time to come and see me in La Coruña.  It was very special seeing you again.

Guy, Will, Phillippe and the rest of the crowd in Moissac’s aire: thank you for welcoming us and made us feel part of the gang.

Dany, Daniel and Andrée at Lac de l’Uby and Barbotan-les-Thermes: my friend and fellow crocheter, always a pleasure to meet up and exchange ideas and techniques.

Joe and Huggy in Royan and île d’Oléron, our newest friends:  It was a real pleasure to meet you and spend time with you both and we look forward to seeing you again soon.  Belfast sounds good.

The Saysells and the Rosales Naya: There is no-one like family.  Always in our hearts, wherever we are.  Lovely to see you all this year.

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The  Saysells
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The Rosales

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Our friends and colleagues in England:  Your moral support and encouragement is simply invaluable.  Thank you for following our progress and for your kind comments on social media.  So nice to see some of you again recently!  

Vince and Sandra at Slindon Campsite looking after us over the las few weeks, always with a smile on their faces and willing to help.

Fellow Bloggers: you know who you are.  You read and comment on my blog on a regular basis and I love reading yours too.  You have become more than bloggers to me and, although we have never met in person, I consider you my friends.  I love to learn about you and from you and I always value your input.  Please remain in touch: you mean a lot to me.


9 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Year on the Road

  1. This review prompted me to think of all the photos I saw on Facebook and on your blog this past year or so. I’m glad you ended with “sublime” and “people” because as the years go by the good memories will outweigh the ugly. I loved with photo of you and Darlene, my connection to you, I believe. Someday I hope to meet both of you in person!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow that is a beautiful posts rhymes almost like a poem and so many lovely experiences; thanks for sharing them and keeping me part of it. Glad came alone for the ride, until next time on the roads! Welcome to the Morbih

    Liked by 1 person

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