Nor any drop to drink …

I’m slowly moving towards Córdoba to meet up with Jo for a few days – it’ll be nice to see her and sight-see with company again – and I’ve stopped at a little place called Berlanga. It appealed when I read about it in the Aires guide as it’s at a small nature park/free zoo on the outskirts of town. I hesitated to drive onto the designated parking spot for Autocaravannas as there appear to be some improvements being made and the normal entrance was closed and the diversion was via a muddy track. On finding the parking was not hardstanding I drove straight back out. I have mentioned the rain here haven’t I? In my experience sandy soil, frequent monsoon type downpours and 3.5 ton of truck do not make a happy mix. I had visions of having to be towed out. The place was deserted – did I mention the rain? – I parked in the ordinary car park.

LWD and I had a wander round; it’s an attractive, very tranquil place. They’ve diverted a culvert from the main river to make a pond before returning the water over a waterfall and back to the river. Dozens of birds were low flying over the pond feeding on the insects. We mooched until … it started raining again.

Overnight we had … wait for it … torrential rain which continued throughout the morning. LWD snuggled up with me all morning whilst I read in bed. During a short dry spell we went out for another mooch around midday and I was glad I’d picked up the camera …

 

The water level had dropped a couple of metres by late afternoon but it’s raining (hard) again now. I’m pretty certain we’re not in danger of floating away tho’ …

Glug, glug, glug …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The rain in Spain

I’m getting a little fed up with wind, rain, thunder storms and gloomy skies – this is not what I signed up for.

Despite the weather gods’ tantrums Merida proved to be a delight. Following my recce of the first afternoon, I determined not to let the elements spoil my sightseeing and the frequent heavy showers didn’t dampen anything other than my clothes.

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The Roman amphitheatre and the theatre stand side by side at the top of the hill …

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The Temple of Diana is half way down one of the main streets …

The Alcazaba which started life as a Roman fort, took a new life after restoration by the Visigoths and finally became a Moorish citadel before falling into ruin …

The Roman bridge, adjacent to the Alcazaba, across the R. Guardiana (the very same that forms the border between Spain and Portugal further south) has not suffered from flood damage as has the bridge at Avignon and is therefore superior at 732 metres long …

Lusitania as it was called in Roman times boasts two aquaducts of which the St Lázaro (tho’ it wouldn’t’ve been called that at the time) is the better preserved …

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Storks (not butter) nest on pillars all along the aqueduct Los Milagros.

 

Spot the sunny snap – there is one!!

Well it’s sou’westers and galoshes on for another LWD walk then …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodbye, and thanks for all the drinks Emma!

Storm Emma confined us to barracks, we hung on, and on, and on, at Espiche where we were sheltered from the worst of it. LWD wasn’t that much interested in going out, neither was I, well apart from socialising with old and new friends in the bar and or restaurant! It was great to see Anne and Bob again from the last time I was there, Penny and David who I’d met at Pinar at Christmas turned up, and lovely to meet Patricia and Jim, whom I hope to meet again when I go to Scotland in the early autumn. Who’d’ve thought I’d get such a busy social life from driving around Europe?

Less beach

Half the sand from the beach at Luz was washed away thanks to Emma. The tide lines have altered considerably.

Escape from incipient alcoholism came after I saw a forecast that the weather was better in Spain and LWD and I headed back across the border – all my playmates were also gone or going. The weather however did not play ball – it was a BBC forecast so no surprise there then. All bets were off and I just made it up as I went along. Manta Rota, last stop in Portugal was beautiful, the Aire was free and there were really great board walks along to the dunes and beach for LWD.

The beach at Manta Rota

The campsite at Isla Christina, due to be my first stop in Spain, however looked dismal and dark with the inevitable pine trees blotting out light. I pressed on – to Seville! I went to an Aire that I knew had a workshop. A mechanic there changed my blown headlight bulb. It’s a relief to be legal again, and to be able to see …

After a very noisy evening and early morning, we got peace from midnight til six a.m. from whatever they were doing on the docks there; it sounded like tons of metal being thrown around. Yes I know Seville is well inland, but the river Guardiana is navigable and a lot of “stuff” gets shipped to the port there and unfortunately that’s the area this particular Aire is sited. At least  I now know how to change R0X1’s headlight bulbs – trouble is I’m too short to reach where I need to get to do it myself anyway …

So where to go next? Forecast is more of the wet stuff in every direction until next week.

So we’ve headed north and we’re now at an Aire in Merida to visit it’s many Roman ruins. Well I am; LWD is not allowed in and will have to stay home tomorrow, but I did walk her round the town this afternoon for a quick glimpse of what she’ll be missing.

Merida

Raincoats on …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Fiesta time!

Christmas lunch in the site restaurant was brilliant.

The starters (to share);

 

Main course and dessert;

 

Afterwards the chef, the bar and waiting staff all received a standing ovation (and a large ice bucket full of tips rather than ice). There are several good musicians on site, and after the meal a not quite impromptu gig took place with loads of us joining in the sing-along. It all wound up with everyone staggering home to various motorhomes, campers, caravans and bungalows at about 8p.m. – not bad after a 1p.m. start!

Boxing Day saw us strolling on the beach in warm sunshine between showers.

Sadly, I’ve just waved off the Bezzies who are on their way up to Malaga and fly home on Friday. We’ve had a great time, loads of laughter as ever and they’ve decided, having been in a T6 for a few days that there are too many alterations to be done to get one how they want it. So when they get home they’ll be looking for a donor van for Simon to convert himself, that way it will be to their own design and exactly how they’d like. Hard work doubtless but what a sense of ownership and pride to come. Good luck Guys!

I’ve had a change of plan too …  I feel in need of a bit of downtime so I’m staying here at least until mid-Jan. It’s a lovely site, very friendly, close to the beach, and lots of great dog walks as well. I do have to change pitch as someone has booked this one but I’ll wait until the weather dries up a bit.

For the past couple of days Spain has been and still is enjoying a fair bit of much needed rainfall (snow on the mountains) over the whole country. It will take a lot, lot more rain before the reservoirs are even a third full however.

Virtually empty reservoir in Castile y Léon

 

The temperature is still in the teens tho’ so I’m quite happy.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Tracking the R. Ardeche

Dragging myself away from the Domain la Pellegrine vineyards I continued north, firstly dropping down to the Nyons to Pont D’Esprit road so that I could pick up the Ardeche gorge route. Well worth the slight detour south; it’s a wider road than my previous excursions through various gorges, far less trees to mar the spectacular views, frequent stopping places with balconied view points and the Lumix got a bit of a workout!

 

 

I planned to overnight in a campsite at Vallon-pont-d’Arc, beautiful place, full of white water canoeists, but at €30 per night that idea was rapidly kicked into touch. Trouble is its now high season and all these kind of places and the pretty routes are full of French vacationers and prices have sky rocketed. I’ll reluctantly grant the French the right to holiday in their own country …

Anyway, continuing to follow the R. Ardeche I stopped instead at the free Aire in Meyras, a small village just outside Aubenas, not to be confused with either of the other two Meyras’s within 20 kms! This Meyras was hosting a pétanque convention (what is the difference between pétanque and boules? Anyone?) and every available square centimetre, including one of the car parks, was being utilised. The motorhome Aire (€0) was also not exempt but pétanque was played only in the unoccupied bays! The air was filled with oohs and ahs and ooh la las (yes the French really do say ooh la la!) and the clicking and clacking of metal balls!!

This morning I continued to follow the N102 which now continued it’s windy twisting way up into the Ardeche mountains proper. Le Puy-en-Velay had been on my route going down to Provence but I gave it a miss as it took me too far east too early and postponed the visit til the journey back.

Quel domage! I was gutted (not) to discover I’d missed all the bikes by 24 hours, and my regular reader knows how much I love bikes! The Tour de France was in Le Puy yesterday and the day before. Frankly, apart from using the McD to get on the net, Le Puy was not worth stopping in. However I have finally managed to see a lavender field in full bloom whilst driving high up on the Ardeche plateau. The colour was stunningly, intensely purple but sadly the track leading to it was totally unsuitable for R0X1 and there was nowhere to park – but I have finally seen what I wanted to.

I’m glad to have discovered this region, it’s gorgeous, and I’ll definitely be back – in low season, when most of the grockles have gone! Tomorrow I start searching for a vet (don’t tell Daisy) as it’s time to get her inspected, tableted and passport stamped ready for the ferry on Sunday.

🙂 🙂 🙂

France under a cloud

It started with a thunderstorm, luckily it didn’t last all night like the last one I experienced in Millau, as my regular reader may remember. Today the skies are grey, all 54 shades, and spewing the wet stuff hard. My first reaction was to start main engines and head south – fast. On my way to reception to pay for the 2 night stay I commented to a fellow countryman that the weather is just like home. He’d obviously seen the forecast and informed me that the whole of France is under this depression until Monday. In his opinion this is the best place to be, a sheltered spot close to the town centre and its amenities; a comfortable site, showers and electric that at €13 per night is excellent value. I concurred, picked up my baguette at reception and informed them I will be remaining a few more nights.

Rain has stopped play, or may be not; literally as I write, amidst police sirens and blaring horns the big red lorries of the Circus are arriving in Millau! Have raincoat and brolly, will investigate later …

 

When I was last here the old mill building on the bridge beside the Tarn was falling apart, it would seem the renovation is coming on well. As for the bird; is it a goose? Does it have a need to visit a ducktor/dermatologist? Or is it merely very embarrassed?

🙂 🙂 🙂

A Lot of cuckooing …

I want to explore the historic village of Conques, but I don’t enjoy sight seeing when it’s raining stair rods so waking up to that this morning at the village Aire in Cassaniouze altered the plans for today. Instead I headed for the luxury of the sparky stuff (and having a fire on) and showers (the hot type; what was pelting down could not be called showers).

 

The River Lot under low cloud and (a lot of) rain

I’d found what appeared a nice site a few kms outside Conques in the ACSI book after I’d seen the weather forecast last night and found it to be in excess of my expectations. A beautifully laid out, tranquil (well, if you don’t include the sound of stair rods falling on the roof or a very vocal cuckoo in the tree behind R0X1) spot beside a small lake, and no-one here but me and my gallant crew! Weather’s due to improve on Monday so Conques will wait til then – meanwhile wellies are de rigeur …

The site and Daize after investigating  a mole-hill

🙂 🙂 🙂