NEWS FOR JANUARY 2012
A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR.
JOAN AND FRANK WISH YOU ALL THE HAPPINESS THAT THEY ENJOY AND LOOK FORWARD TO WRITING ABOUT THEIR ADVENTURES IN EUROPE, IN THEIR RECENTLY ACQUIRED MOTOR-HOME, DURING 2012.
SUNDAY JANUARY 1st.
Who wants to get up early after a late night, not us, so it was around 10 a.m. before we all surfaced for a coffee and then eventually some breakfast. We had all good intentions to go out for a walk today but the weather is quite lousy around here so we just sat around and read some and watched a film on TV, then planned for dinner for three tonight.
Joan had got everything ready for a meal using our Raclat thingy, were we all cook our own. We had not used this since we arrived in France and once it atarted tripping the electric it was time to get the wok out and do a stir fry.
All the best laid plans etc.
MONDAY JANUARY 2nd.
As Anne is going on to UK tomorrow we had invited Stewart and Barbara to lunch with us today and just to get away from all the meat that we had been eating of late I had bought some cod, some salmon and some prawns to make a fisherman's pie which went down very well. When we had finished dinner we then put on the second half of the Aladdin pantomime, great fun
THURSDAY JANUARY 5th.
Our Motor-Home repair has been completed, nothing serious, only that the speedo had ceased to work. We are lucky that we have a three year guarantee through a company called Auto Protect. With just a single phone call, after the fault was diagnosed, the insurers agreed to the 208 euro cost for a replacement sensor. At least now we will not have to rely on the Sat-Nav to give us the speed.
This evening we spent a very pleasant evening across with Phil and Shelagh. They are going back home to Inverness at the weekend so we will not be seeing them again until Easter probably.
FRIDAY JANUARY 6th.
Went to the doctors today to collect my three monthly perscription to keep blood levels right. You see the Duke is not the only one with a heart stent. Now doc wants me to go to a cardiologist so that the medication levels can be checked., at least he is keeping an eye on things, because he just accepted the medication level that was originally prescribed. Guess also I should be looking up diets and try to get some of this weight down
At least the weather has improved over the last couple of days, so around midday Joan and I went for a nice long walk across the fields and back through the wooded area around here. We have some local walking maps which show areas were you are allowed and these are also marked with colour coded guides on trees and fence posts. It is still necessary to go out in the middle of the day as by about 4 o'clock it starts to get a bit chilly, also it is quite muddy over the fields so we need a good half hour to wash the boots on return. When you are out walking around here you see lots of birds of prey hovering and some are really large. Today we also saw a heard of deer, six in total, which were grazing in amongst the vines, next time I will remember the camera !!
MONDAY JANUARY 9th.
Back to the doctors again today, as now I need a prescription to go to the laboratory in St Fois to get some blood tests done for the cardiologist tomorrow. It is necessary to get used to these things here as you have to make all these arrangements yourself, but the benefit is that the results come out quickly.
TUESDAY JANUARY 10th.
Early bird morning as I wanted to be at the laboratory by 8.30 a.m. and needed to do this before I even had a glass of water this morning, so was happy to get home and have some nice warm croissants and coffee, lovely.
At 3 o'clock we were able to go back to St Fois, collect the blood test results and then go on to Marmande for my appointment with the heart specialist.
Good news from this visit which included an ECG test etc, all is OK and my medication levels are good. Nice to know this just before we head off to Portugal for our winter trip in the motor-home.
THURSDAY JANUARY 12th.
A very cold night with a white ground frost this morning so decided that I should attach the motor-home to the electric and put in a small heater via a timer to keep things above freezing. The alternative is to drain all the water down but this would mean filling everything up agian next week before we go off.
After the trauma of all this event, Joan and I went off to meet Pat and Jeff at Le Cabri, for lunch. Something we had agrred on New Year's eve. Very enjoyable and we had agreed to keep them updated with our travels and see them again when we get back.
FRIDAY 13th JANUARY.
Well now our Smudge is all ready for her big adventure in the motor-home. We took her to the vet this afternoon for her fianl booster injection and now she has her pet passport. We are just going to have to explain to her how she is going to have to travel with us and go out on a lead. Should be fun !!!
SATURDAY 14th JANUARY.
We went out Lauzun this evening with out friends, George and James and met Stewart and Barbara there. One of the regular Haddock and Chips evenings which was as usual very enjoyable.
We also realised that this would be the last time that we would se Barbara as she is off to UK on Monday, to find them some place to live and they will be leaving France on 29th Frbruary for good. so we will be still away in the warmth we hope.
Speaking of warmth. Will be glad when I have had my exercise routine next Thursday as then we can get packed up and ready to go at the weekend.
THURSDAY JANUARY 19th.
Most of this week we have spent getting prepared for our weeks away. This morning however I went to see the specialist again and he put me on a bike, wired me for sound, or something like it and then after about 45 minuted of sweating declared me to be sound and my heart medication to be just grand. Great relief all round.
FRIDAY JANUARY 20th.
Went own to Eymet to have coffee with Kim and paul at their restaurant there and then met Stewart for lonch at Fonroque.This will be our last chance to see Stewart as they are likely to have left by the time we get back.
SUNDAY JANUARY 22ndt
The plan was to get away between 9 and 10 o'clock so the we could get across the border in to Spain before the evening. But we did not count on the cat going AWOL. She went out about 7 a.m and is usually back within the hour, but today just to be bloody minded she came back in at 11.45. Maybe she sensed something was happening.
Whilst Joan and i were sitting around waiting we did some replanning and reckoned we could make it as far as San Sebastion by the evening.
To start with Smudge was most unimpressed with this travelling in a camper but once we had got going Joan let her out of her cage and popped her on her lap. She was clearly not desperately happy but she did eventually settle better.
Because we were late setting off we decided to stay overnight in San Sebastion at a muicipal site which cost 3.05 euros for the night.
MONDAY 23rd JANUARY.
Moved from San Sebastian to Burgos, in Northern Spain, on our route to Portugal. The weather was quite bad almost all the way, horrible drizzle, but cleared up in time for us to settle on to the site.
This site is set among trees and alongside a river must be quite something to see when everything is green. According to the information available this area is renowned for being green and has more woodland acres per population than any other area in Spain.
Our spot on the site. The Bridge that was out
TUESDAY 24th JANUARY.
Smudge tried another walk outside on a harness and lead this morning, she was still very unsure. Joan had also seen another camper were they had a cat out on a lead, so guess she is going to try to make contact with these people for some tips.
In the afternoon we went for a walk in to the town itself and eventually found a supermarket were we could buy some bits of things to eat, like lamb chops and vegetables. We did discover that what we bought was quite a bit cheaper than in France.
We also discovered the reason why our sat-nav went AWOL yesterday, they are busy building a new bridge and approach roads, just were we wanted to be. Anybody who has listened to the infuriating lady saying “recalculating” every two minutes will know what I mean.
Joan did manage to speak to the couple with the other cat, their names are David and Vanessa and they have been travelling in their camper for the last seven months. They originally set off from Jersey and have spent time in France, Spain and Portugal, so apart from learning about the campsites they would recommend we also picked up some useful tips about extra training for Smudge. The second adventure outside for Smudge went a little better, guess it is just going to take a little time, but she seems to be settled to life in a camper.
WEDNESDAY 25th JANUARY.
We were awake quite early this morning because it had actually been freezing and we had not had any night heating on. At around 6 a.m.I was up and putting the heater on and closing the roof vent that we had left open for fresh air. The entire site was white with the grass fairly well covered in frost. We later saw the maintenance guy driving round with his car door open as he was too lazy to clear his windscreen.
This was not the sought of weather we had bargained for and especially when you need to walk about 200 yards to the only block open with showers and loos.
After a fairly late breakfast, once we had thawed out we set off again in a southerly direction, towards Portugal.
We deliberately have chosen to find a site at Carceres, a town which originally started life as a military camp in 25 BC.
We arrived in Caraces around 5 p.m. just nice time to settle in for the night and get ourselves a quick pasta dinner then a wander down to the bar for a drink with another cfouple we met, who had checked in at the same time as us and who were on thier way back from Portugal.
THURSDAY 26th JANUARY.
The site we had chosen was some way, by bus from the old town, but the site itself was very well presented. Tiered parking areas with hook up for electric and individual wet rooms for each pitch. We chose to book in for two nights so that we could spend time exploring Caceres itself.
The main town buildings were started in earnest after 1229 after the Christian conquest. There are some pics above of the buildings and in particular those taken inside the Santa Maria church, which had a magnificent main alter carved in wood, so big that I could not get far enough back to cover the entire thing. Also there was a most beautiful gold side alter which like everything else in the area is wonderfully preserved. The whole was declared a World Heritage Site back in 1986, assuring that the town will remain as a historic monument for many years to come. To see what is worth viewing visit the tourist website on www.turismocaceres.org.
One special feature of this whole area are the Storks. They can be seen nesting on many high buildings often there are metal stands with nesting baskets set out for them to build in.
A strange sight, but at our age nothing to worry about!
We lunched in the Main Square of the town, sitting out in the sun, but discovered that the simple Spanish Omelette and chips was sufficient as a main meal for the day, especially when we went to the site bar in the evening to get a short internet connection only to find that they served some Tapas with every round of drinks.
Speaking of Internet connections, some of these can be dodgy and of course totally insecure as they are public sector sites. This site was quite good as a connection providing I sat in the bar, no comment !
We stayed two nights here and then moved on even further south to a hill top town called Monserez.
FRIDAY 27th JANUARY.
Just take a look at the site were we spent the night. We were perched right on top of the hill on an official parking place, but had to use our on- board facilities, unless you count the loo which was built into the town walls.
Having said all that, the effort to get up here and the walk around the beautiful walled town the next morning was tremendous.There was also a note in our camping guide book about a very good wine shop, we found it and bought 5 litres of local red for 6.95 euros, now that' s what I call a bargain.
SATURDAY 28th JANUARY.
We had been told about a caravan and motor-home site in Tavira. This is in fact only open to the general public from end September until begin June. The site is in fact for use by the Portugese Police during the summer holiday period but for the last two winter seasons they have opened up for winter season campers.
Very cheap, only 8.48 euros per night to include electric hook-up, showers, wi-fi and the use of washing machines for only 2 euros per wash. The site was very uneven so difficult to fine a level place to park up, also the whole is totally uncontrolled so you can park any place you want. The result of course is the selfish, who stay here for months, spread out and take up enough space for about 5 vehicles.
We stayed for two nights and then decided to move on to the Algarve proper.
MONDAY 30th JANUARY.
We drove to the west side of Faro, to a town called Quarteira, where there was recommended site in our ACSI book, giving us, with our club card, all the facilities for 16 euros per night.
All this meant that I needed to get the awning out, the wash line up between some trees and the comfy chairs outside with our table.
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