Sleepless in France’nSpain

Rosemary is doing fantastically well. Her latest X-ray showed plenty of new bone growth and she is now allowed two weight bearing steps on transfers – bed to chair etc. Rehab should start after her next appointment at the beginning of August. I am redundant!

The first couple of nights back on the road did not pass peacefully. Anyone who has been to rural Spain will be aware of the Spanish love of dogs – not Daisy-type cosseted house dogs, these dogs are left outside day and night and, no matter the size of the garden they are protecting, they are usually extremely and aggressively vocal towards any sound or movement. This is the start of a chain reaction, by the time your ears have registered the first bark the nearest 10 or so dogs have joined in. Added to this you have the “campo dogs” – these are dogs that have been dumped and roam around looking for food and as dogs do, they form packs and happily join in the general commotion.The first Aire at Pensacola, somewhat overpriced, backed on to a sparsely inhabited tract,  sparsely inhabited by anything other than plenty of both dog types. With overnight temperatures in the high twenties it was a choice of broil or be deafened – the windows remained open. It was a long night.

I’ve got a bit bored with the eastern France/Spain border crossing so just before Barcelona I diverted inland for a slightly more westerly route over the (real) eastern Pyrenees. The journey did not disappoint. The border at Puigcerde was right in the middle of the town and I managed to top up with diesel at a Spanish filling station not 50 yards before the crossing, saving 20 cents per litre! The road on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees is a gentle-ish rise and then I was driving along a green plateau full of wild flowers and bore a remarkable resemblance to photos of Switzerland. The overnight stop was at Mont Louis an old, star-shaped fortress town. I have no idea of the altitude it sits at but overnight it was 15℃ colder than the previous night – about 12ish I pulled the bedspread over me. At 1am Daisy didn’t take too much persuasion to snuggle up close. At 3am I put trousers and a jumper on over my pyjamas. At 5am I dropped the spare bed down, retrieved the duvet and stomped sulkily back to bed – sulkily because I hadn’t had the common sense to get the damn thing at midnight!

Mont Louis and the Pyrenees

I started to realise that the altitude was a tad high when it took 45 minutes of steep, bendy driving, to get down out of the mountains. Loved every minute!

Now at Gordes in Provence I shall find out tomorrow if there is any lavender left unharvested.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Travels with a Daisy in the Cévennes …

with apologies to RLS (see column right)

My regular reader will have noticed I haven’t mentioned driving wriggly, winding, steep lines this trip. Well, I didn’t want to bore myself, let alone you my faithful reader (but I’ve been grinning – lots and lots and lots over the past few days).

Today I travelled a different route from Florac towards Ales. I went along the N106 in both directions, (so) last year. Today I drove via the Cévennes and the views were much better, and had more stopping places for the all important photo ops. So lets hear it for the D9. Poor Daize found my frequent oohs, aahs and wows quite disconcerting.

The D9 through the Cévennes

On arrival at lunchtime the road to the Aire was closed as it was market day, so we had a wander round. I bought some olives and artisan bread for lunch and ate them with cold meats, parked by the side of the D9 waiting for the road to open at 14.00 hrs. 14.05 found R0X1 parked in another great Aire, in St Jean-du-Gard. The Smart One might be interested to know we are in the car park of a steam railway station. I might even indulge myself in a little treat tomorrow …

St Jean-du-Gard

It’s still very hot …

🙂 🙂 🙂

I’ve moved mountains

Have I said I’m well chuffed with the new tyres? Sunday into Monday it rained all night, and heavily, I thought the new anti-skid mats were going to be put to use to get off the grass pitch, but no, the 4 season tyres coped admirably and have shown how sh1t the old ones were. Off we toddled from Les Vosges Mts to Besançon, €7 stopover in a fairly uninteresting city, but well served with trams and rain.



Then this morning motoring up through the Haute Jura mountains in cats and dogs weather I was even more pleased I’d bought them  – almost sorry there’s no snow! So no, I haven’t moved the actual mountains, I’ve moved to a different range, and today passed the sources of a river or two, both well in spate from the overnight and continuing deluge.

Full spate

Les Rousses, altitude 1107m, and tonight’s free stop, is so close to the Swiss border I’m not totally convinced I haven’t strayed over; Swiss chalet style houses, cows with bells on and cuckoo clocks for sale in the souvenir shops.

Les Rousses, small ski resort.

🙂 🙂 🙂

This Maggie IS for turning …

We waited and we waited for confirmation of our tickets to visit El Caminito del Rey on Tuesday. By end of the business day we still hadn’t heard so we opened a bottle of wine and held a planning meeting. Simon said he would pass on the walk as he doesn’t do heights and 300ft up a gorge classes as a height but he was more than happy to Daisy sit as some of the surfaces didn’t look good for paws. Rose thought that the forecast weather temps were too low to expose oneself on the side of a gorge halfway up a mountain and I concurred, so we’d already decided to nix the walk and head for Granada a day early when email confirmation of our reservation finally arrived at 8pm CET.

By the next morning we’d all had time to think about the even lower temperatures forecast for Granada and Cordoba over the next few days and had independently come to the same conclusion; come down from the mountains they may be beautiful but we’re too old (well Rose and I are, Simon isn’t even a pensioner yet) to endure the cold for long. Everywhere in the hinterland is forecast to remain cold for the next 3-4 weeks so Daisy and I, awakening to another freezing morning, had a brief pillow talk and, although the remainder of our trip had been finalised, I made the decision, and Daize didn’t veto it, to nix all points inland, turn towards the coast and make my way back up through Spain on a similar route to our trip down.

So both vans sped down the “autovia” past the snow covered Nevadas to Malaga, turned northward and are by the beach, somewhat warmer this evening than last – by several degrees. We have planned another planning meeting tomorrow morning, with coffee and pain-au-chocolat, to decide where our next stop will be – I’m game for anywhere the warm side of the mountains!


My itinerary for touring central Spain will be used at a later and warmer season …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Found – the Lonely Goatherd

What a difference a few days makes – having seen an updated weather forecast we returned to Plan A and went to a campsite that appeared to be the nearest to El Chorro, at Pizzara. Run by a British couple the site is magnificently placed with fantastic views and absolute peace and tranquillity, the owners are very friendly and welcoming but it’s not the best place for tourers as, the main part of their business appearing to be catering for statics, motorhome facilities leave a bit to be desired. We spent a day driving round the reservoirs (levels very low) and checking out the twistiness of the mountain roads (they passed muster) and we are now further up the road a bit waiting to walk the gorge at El Chorro on Tuesday. 

BUT, winter has arrived. I am this evening wearing full winter gear, lined trousers and 3 layers of tops,  and as well as the electric radiator the heating is belting out on setting 3. We’ve had several torrential hailstorms and gale force winds, poor Daize, recovering from a nasty ear infection and a visit to a Spanish vet, didn’t think much of it at all, we were out walking the woods when the first hailstorm hit  …

I have however seen the Lonely Goatherd; he’s alive (getting on a bit tho’), appears well and herding near Pizarro. He gave me a lovely wave as he and his dog moved his goats up to fresher pastures yesterday. The Goatbell Symphony sounded superb echoing around the mountains as about 50 of the beasties wandered up the slopes. Can’t believe, given today’s weather, that only yesterday I was picking mimosa blossom and verbena …

Tonight we have been toasting in cava, the safe arrival of a baby boy to Rose’s daughter Vicky. Long life, health and happiness young Jacob!

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wassup do(c)g?

Daisy is having a mope, not sure what it’s about or even if I should be concerned considering what a drama queen she is. She accompanied me on a mountain hike yesterday and nothing of note occurred, no fall or trip we could sue over. She trotted along apparently happily, yes the terrain was pretty rough but the ascents and descents weren’t overly taxing; did her usual plonk down right in front of me when burrs or twigs got caught on her legs and gave me a refusal until I removed the offending article(s) (her union forbids her from trying to remove them herself).

After we got back to the site and I’d had some refreshment and we’d returned to the van, she suddenly became distressed whimpering and whining, some sharp cries as if she were in pain and clingy or what …  After lots of cuddles I felt her all over, examined the paws for cuts, grazes and foreign bodies but couldn’t elicit any objections to my probing. I decided a bit later that as there had been no refusal of tea (fat chance) and she’d managed a short walk for the necessaries without problem there was no need to worry overly much. I’m letting her take it easy today, she’s not whingeing as much but remains listless with the occasional yelp and still clingy. Perhaps yesterday’s hike was a bit rough underpaw, an ascent, a descent or a dry river gully too far for someone with even shorter legs than mine …

😦 😦 😦

Garage door envy.

I finally got round to dragging myself away from Campell today having extended my stay twice. It has to have been one of my favourite sites, and if I come this way again I’ll certainly revisit. I’d mentioned to a couple of neighbours when I was at L’Ampolla that I was thinking of going to Campell and they heartily recommended it. So as I left in torrential rain this morning I was heading for another of their recommendations – Calpe. Hmm – not at all impressed – maybe I would have been if I hadn’t just come from such a gorgeous, quiet mountain retreat; I took one look at the close packed concrete monoliths and did a u-ee. Having dismissed Calpe I decided I’d give Benidorm an equally wide berth, judging (and rightly from what I saw of it from the motorway) that it too would not be a “me” place. I’m having a quick overnight stop in a cheapie campsite with excellent free wifi and then off to a site near a nature reserve which will hopefully suit better.

On the plus side the drive over the mountains was suitably squiggly and up and downy (and wet) and the weather is forecast to be better starting tomorrow.

I’m suffering badly from a large dose of garage door envy this evening. There’s a brand new Hymer (I can tell it’s brand new, it’s Brit with a 15 plate) parked up here and the garage door made me drool, it’s the same size as the garage. Dammit, could’ve got the scooter in mine easily if my garage door had been the same size as my garage – and then to add insult to injury I noticed that the garage doors on both sides were equally large. Meh – wonder what I could do if I had a can opener … sorry R0X1, love you really.

Some final shots of Campell and surroundings.

With congrats to R, who has had the all clear to drive and jettison the crutches 😊

🙂 🙂 🙂