Pauls 2012 Diary – April/May

This is ‘Pauls Diary’ simply entitled in my name as it’s ‘my’ diary. I have done this so if my wife doesn’t agree with the content then I can remind her that it’s mine and not hers.

It will be just a few lines everyday – I might even miss the odd day out if the most interesting thing I did that day was wash my socks or it was just very hot.

May 31 – So then. That is the last day of May and a full two months away from home. I. personally, haven’t misssed anything (from England) to be honest – and I dont mean that in an ‘funny’ way – your queues on the M6, your ‘faux’ petrol shortages. your ‘jubilee bank holiday is on – so buy bread like it is out of style now’. God Bless Mrs Queen .

May 30 – I was forced to go shopping today – and I suspect the reason that my daughter popped by to drag me to a shoe shop at a place that ‘shopping’ occurs was because she wanted no risk of me turning up tomorrow evening where she has invited Portugeuse royalty around for ribs and pizza in my smelly old sandals. Now, I dont suffer from smelly feet and I can only imagine that some tramp has been breaking into our motorhome at night and walking through the hours of darkness through rotting garbage and off milk before returning them to just underneath my bed at 0800 hours. Well that’s my story anyway. I bought the second pair I saw in the first shop we visited – women (particularly those who ‘make a day of it’) take note.

May 29 – Guess what! The 80 cent midgie ‘keeper-offer’ didnt work – in fact there was a mosquito sat on it at one point – until the point when a large man from Cheshire hit it with the 50 cent swatter bought from the same shop. We had a peaceful sleep from then on! I don’t know what I am going to do with myself now I have no bites to scratch. My arm looked like a flute a week ago after a bad night near the lake (and being forced to talk to a ‘neighbour’ at length about solar panels). I may have to go and talk to a child with measles.

May 28 – We (that’s “I”) were eaten alive by mosquito’s last night – I was dancing around the motor home at 4.00 am trying to squash the little b*****s but in most cases it was too late as they had already got me. We have managed to buy a ‘swatter’ and a box you hang up that keeps them away from the ‘Shonky Shop’. I suspect that the ‘box’ and its 80 cent pricetag may indicate that its probably no use howver the 50 cent swatter will do the job – I’ll let you know! They seem ti ‘like’ me (so I am told) – I cant think why as I have never ‘liked’ them – not even on Facebook!

May 27 – Camped outside a football ground in Lagos wondering why we are listening to a really terrible French pop song (i don’t know the name of it) for the third time in two hours. I can only assume they only have one CD/tape or they really hate motor homers – or both! I’m off to pierce my eardrums with a kebab stick – and light the BBQ.

May 26 – We went to the (food) market today – it opens so early that it starts two days before it opens! (lie). We left the house about an hour after we went to bed I reckon and when you get there you can buy a live chicken, or a live rabbit, or some bread – to put the chicken or rabbit (or both) in when you have killed them and cooked them. There were vegetables that I have never seen before and cheap oranges that even I could have bought withour them being subject to ‘tourist tax’ (I got stung for some overpriced ones a bit back when I bought some from a woman with very few teeth – presumably I was funding her dental care). I fancied buying a goat but had to settle for a bunch of radishes – which was probably the right move as our salad might have looked a bit cluttered with a goat sprinkled on it. We get a lie in tomorrow as it is Sunday – God doesnt start until mid morning.

May 25 – It didnt happen today however the most bizarre happening of our trip so far has to be me ending up singing and playing (guitar) the Stevie Wonder song ‘I just called to say I Love You’ with an Austrian guy in an Aire in Praia de Rocha ( I resisted the ‘Dumb and Dumber line of “Gudday Sport”) . I saw him strumming along with his guitar whilst I wandered to the re-cycling bins (so Rock and Roll I know) and decided to ‘be nosey’ and see what he was up to. Ten minutes later I was there with my guitar and watched in dismay as he insisted mine was out of tune (it wasnt – I have a digital tuner on it) and plucked it to the same untuned depths as his. A few minutes later we were churning out a rendition of Mr Wonders song that would and will send him spinning in his grave when he is eventually dead. I played him ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – he hadn’t ever heard the song. Over to you Mr Plant.

May 24 – We have met up with our daughter Kirsty and husband Nick today whilst they are having two weeks in Praia de Luz. We must be turning Portuguese ourselves as when asked by her what time we would arrive we said “after lunch”. We actually turned up at 4.30 having been to the supermarket on the way and faffed about getting fuel etc. I did remind her tht 4.30 was still “after lunch”. I have checked my weight on their bathroom scales and they confirm that Pete and Pats scales were in fact spot on and I have lost a stone since I left the UK. Ironically I am reading Stuart Maconies book ‘Pies and Prejudice’. I havent even seen a pie in over two months.

May 23 – We have moved right into the Algarve now and as its a busy little spot tourist-wise we are having to pay to stay on an Aire – it’s 2.50 Euros a night so that works out at 17.50 Euros a week. That’s about £15 a week I think! We might be here a while (see my Good Morning photo for today and you will see why) We are really blending in and dont look like tourists – today we were stopped by some tourists who were lost and gave them directions. If you see ‘Bob and Doris from Hull in a hired Silver Fiat Punto and they still look lost – that’s our fault! (well Alisons actually as she was holding the map)

May 22 – Well – what can I say! We ate a hearty meal of BBQ-ed sardines – however they weren’t from the barragem at Peago – they came from Lake Lidl just down the road. At 2.99 Euros a bag of 14 you wonder why anyone would spend £150 0n a rod and reel to catch them himself. It wasn’t my fault entirely (my usual cry) but between the daft camp dog that followed me down to the water (and then jumped in to scare all the fish away) and two fat Portuguese guys in a speedboat who shoed off any remaining ‘daft dog loving’ fish it’s a wonder I wasn’t forced to throw live fish back in. It’s real meat tomorrow – back to the supermarket then!

May 21 – I plan to go fishing tomorrow – or more accuraltely ‘throwing stuff into the water’. I rarely catch anything other than a cold or an old boot, but it seems those are the rules. I will take all sorts of crap with me down to the water and hope that something – maybe out of sheer pity – throws itself onto my hook. It’s a chance to relax – even in an environment where relaxing seems to be the national sport! I’ll report my success tomorrow.

May 20 – I mentioned yesterday that it might rain – and it did – not much but it taught me a valuable lesson. I may have mentioned the ‘unique’ driving style adopted by the Portuguese in previous mumblings. The accelerator on Portugeuse cars is fitted with a spring that pulls it to full throttle at all times and only briefly disengages when the brakes are pressed or the car is upside-down. It works for them I suppose. When it rains all you need to do is put your headlights on – no need to slow down or look out for UK motorhomes that may have decided that 90 mph isnt good on the unpaved road to Montargil. I’m glad I learnt this tip* – I cant wait for it to rain again. Oh, and the windscreen wipers I bought last week are still in the locker under the bedding so I was unable to test them yesterday.

*some of this made be lies/made up

May 19 – Today we joined in with the festivities at the local party – there’s crafts and food and even an entertainer with a massive organ (the Hammond type). We were going to stay another day and I had ideas of joining in the ‘Musico Amatuers’ slot on Sunday – I have my guitar with me so I guessed my version of ‘Light my Fire’ would be best suited as a lot of the entertainment at the show has been provided by the local firemen. The brass band on Friday night were really good and the ladies could be impressed by the ‘Dancing Bomberios’. However the weather looks a little shakey and we have decided to travel further South so they’ll just have to do without me!

May 18 – We have managed to blag our way into a motorhome show not far from Tomar – at Barquina – it is free and we have already won the raffle (well third prize anyway). We have been welcomed by the locals who are all very enthusiastic about thier homes on wheels, as we are. I sometimes wonder just how much greater our trip might get – there isn’t a bit I haven’t enjoyed yet – other than dog poo and crap Internet in France !

May 17 – We head further south to the Algarve tomorrow after a lovely week in Tomar. Thanks Pete and Pat for a great week. We will miss our ‘days out’ and your kind hospitality – so Thank You again. It’s back to ‘life on the road’ from noon tomorrow. No doubt someone I encounter tomorrow will provide us all with some amusement for my next Diary !!

May 16 – By far the hottest day we have been presented with – so warm that it was wiser to stand in front of the BBQ rather than sit in the sun (which I did – because I am stupid English and we just dont see it often enough to ever ignore it). Its shopping day tomorrow with a visit to Lidl and their really good ‘man section’ too. I never buy anything but its a good ‘bonding’ exercise and along with ‘Jose Pipe’ and ‘Juan Pickaxe’ we ponder as to just how they can sell a remote control up and over garage door controller for 99 Euros. I have resisted buying one on the basis that it is a ‘bit big’ to caryy about for the next 7 months – see, I’m not that daft!

May 15 – Paul picked Pats particularly pleasing perfect pickled peppers previously preferring past piccalilli. There – I did it – challenged with making an entire sentence with words beginning with the letter ‘P’ yet still making sense. Pat here at Poco Redondo (there’s another ‘P’) loves pickling stuff (you cant’t stand still for too long or you’re in the pot) and I have tried courgette, cucumber and eggs to name but a few. I am partial (there’s another!) to a bit of pickle and this is possibly one of the reasons that we are still their houseguests after six days – well, that and the stairs, as another shed ‘stone’ would bode well. I’ve been here that long I’ve had to have a haircut – the second this holiday – yes the ‘Wahls’ have been out again for a number two all over. I’m off as I believe it’s “beer o’clock” any minute.

May 14 – We have been staying with friends who now live in Portugal and they have a real house with such luxuries as unlimited running water, porcelain toilets, and stairs. You get quite a lot of exercise running up and down stairs and we’ve missed our ‘stairs (we have a flight of our own back in our house in England). The other luxury they have is a set of bathroom scales – I risked getting in trouble the other day in the supermarket by standing on a set (that were for sale). My plan nearly worked but they weighed in some foreign ‘kg’ or something and it transpired that I weighed 19 pounds, eleven shillings, and sixpence so something was wrong. I jumped on the scales to find that I have lost nearly a stone whilst we have been away. Good living, healthy eating and lots of exercise – despite the absence of stairs! Once we have left here, and its bounty of stairs I shall have to be careful that I dont fall down the cracks in the pavement! I wish.

May 13 – We keep falling for these trips to the supermarket and only today we wandered into ‘Continent’ (I prayed that the phone would ring so I could tell the caller that I was ‘in continent’!) to buy a couple of cake things to have with afternoon tea (terribly British of us I know) and came out with three bags of charcoal, a clamp for holder burgers together on the BBQ, ‘Post-it notes’, small cable ties, and a bicycle padlock. We didn’t even know that we ‘needed’ them before we went in yet we must have because we bought them!. Our hosts whilst we stay in Tomar are Pete and Pat – and Pete’s a bit of a vinyl buff with an impressive collection of records, many a similar era and taste to mine. You might think that we would buy any old thing at this point – we wandered around the open ‘market’ in the town square and despite being nearly 2000 miles from home he managed to find a copy of The Beatles ‘White’ album, one of Rick Wakemans, and a Tony Banks rarity which he bought – we chanced upon a copy of one of Terry Wogans albums (God only knows what horrors might have lurked there). Needless to say – it stayed in the box along with several albums by ‘Joanne’ whoever she might be.

May 12 – Another tough day by the pool and a ‘day off’ driving for my goodself. We have been taken out in the car today for a peep at the local lake and church to which many pilgrims visit at appropriate times of the year. I’m always very careful when I step into a church to remain reverent and not cause any upset. I am sure when we went inside the church at Dornes, and whilst tiptoeing into the building I saw a family sat eating sandwiches next to the confessional! I shall not be quite so self-conscious in future. We did visit the cemetery for a quick tour and saw a couple of the plots – rectangular holes, around about coffin sized, sporting a ‘Vende Se’ sign indicating that they were for sale. Now as much as I do like a bargain – I wasn’t tempted today.

May 11 – Today was the last leg of our trip to Tomar to meet up with fellow Vee-Dubbers Pete and Pat who now live in Poco Redondo – just outside Tomar. They are a few hundred metres up in the hills so whichever angle you arrive from there’s always some tricky bends to negotiate. Which brings me to the subject of some Portuguese drivers ‘skills’. I was told by someone a few days earlier that they drove very carefully. I can only assume that they are careful in some other part of Portugal that we haven’t travelled to. One example is the Ford Focus driver who overtook me after following me around every dangerous bend some 700 metres up the mountain. He finally got his chance and I slowed down to ease his ‘passage’ A further 100 metres up the road he pulled to the side of the road to let his passenger out. I ‘taught’ him some new English phrases – he’ll be the chap getting thrown out of ‘Paddys Bar’ next Saturday whilst showing off his new language skills/

May 10 – We got a bit giddy in the supermarket today – having not seen a ‘proper shop’ for a number of days the mere presence of ‘Jumbo’ at Castelo Branco proved too much. We hadn’t run out of anything and small village shops provided us with bread, milk (and a large sun hat for Alison) but the acres of wares offered by the ‘elephant’ themed Supermercado got the better of us. We now have several tins of sardine, tuna, fresh sausages, a pair of windscreen wipers, a wire brush and a can of ‘cockpit shine’. All is well.

May 9 – We dropped on an ideal campsite today and commented “this would suit us down to the ground”. That’s fair enough and the usual throw away comment would be no more than that except in this case the campsite is for sale and we spent a good part of the evening convincing ourselves that we might or might not fancy rounding off our working life tending to the needs of passing motor homers nearly as daft as us. Other than that we really do need a trip to a decent sized supermarket as we are nearly out of sardines and windscreen wipers. I could use some cockpit spray as well.

May 8 – We left Almeida today so the singing drunk guy will never be seen again (unless he moves to the Algarve or Croatia – which I doubt!) We managed to catch the market in Almeida before we left and bought a ready cooked chicken which we intended to cut in half and use some for lunch and save some the rest for the evening. One thing led to another (mainly greed) and it somehow ‘disappeared’. We stopped at an Aire next to a river and I suddenly got excited about fishing. A disjointed conversation with a Portugeuse goat herder in French which was translated to me via a Belgian (no I am not making this up) determined that fish no longer resided in this river. He was a fascinating guy – still working at that age pulling a cart around a donkey and his wife washing their weekly load in the stream. He said quite matter of factly to me (an d with a hint of embarrassment) that he couldn’t drive a car – I pointed out that I couldn’t drive a donkey cart and I guessed that was more difficult. We’re just different – that’s all.

May 7 – ‘The best laid plans of mice and men’ and all that! We walked about every street in the wonderful Almeida yesterday so I thought an easy bike ride to nearby Puerta de Azinhal would be just the ticket. As my arse backside still hasnt got used to the lack of gel seat cover (see April 20/theiving cyclist bawbags) I didnt want anything too far. I checked on Google and it’s down as 6km from here. What it failed to point out was that it’s 6km almost vertical! We had great fun getting there (well Alison didn’t as she doesnt like going fast and wore out a set of brake pads on the way) and managed it in less than 15 minutes. Coming back, however was another story – 40 minutes and some walking (I am sure that Eddy Merckx* would view this as a cheat but he wasnt with us so he can mind his own business). We made it back feeling refreshed (or something close to worn out)

* Youngsters may ‘Google’ this.

May 6 – We have found a great Aire at Almeida – its got (free) parking with (free) electrics, a very clean WC, waste disposal, clothes washing sink and free WiFi via the ‘not open much’ library. I’m using that facility now. Its also got a washing line (ooh ‘luxury’ Mrs R spouts), a BBQ, and its own singing drunk guy who warbled away in the gents from 11.30 until 3.30 (that was when I last heard him as I awoke and realised he was still ‘at it’). I watched him go in from the comfort of my motorhome at 11.30 (not that I make a habit of watching men go into toilets) – well dressed shirt and tie and small briefcase – I’m guessing the case contained his music as no one can remember that many songs (unless to my English-listening ears it was the same song over and over). I look forward to seeing if he’s ‘on’ tonight – I’ll let you know.

May 5 – We left Salamanca heading for Spain today as there arent many places for motor homes between here and the border. We followed Sat Nav instructions perfectly and ended up driving ten mile in completely the wrong direction until we ended up driving past the Campsite at Hotel Regio that we left 40 minutes ago. Both of us felt that it ‘felt like’ we should go the other way but blindly followed the ‘voice’ because it knows usually. To be fair its been quite good until that moment. If anyone wants it – its at the side of the A50 Westbound just before you get to Pelebravo.

May 4 – Or ‘Star Wars’ day as some would say! You couldn’t make it up – so here I go – Alison decided today that as we are on a proper site (still) she would dye her hair again. She isn’t ginger of anything terrible like that but some of the new hair that comes out of her head isn’t the same colour as the hair she was born with (did I get away with that?). This, seemingly, had to be done covertly so she nipped off to wash the existing hair, and then returned to the motor home to add some stuff that smells like cat wee. You leave this on your head for half and hour and then go and wash it off. Now – she thought she might be able to nip back to the showers and do the washing off bit un-noticed. No! A film crew turned up to film the 100 or so visiting Dutch camping club in the opposite section to us and wanted to film our Edam filled friends playing ‘boules’ – right next to our spot. She had to dash past the next ‘Cannes Film Festival nominees just to wash the cat pee off. She’ll be on some Dutch TV programme next week for sure – but not the kind of programmes any of you will watch I am sure. Like I said – you couldn’t make it up!

May 3 – We are currently on a ‘proper’ campsite which means we have access to showers and porcelain toilets to name but a few modern day things. It means, most importantly, that I don’t have a ‘toilet cassette’ to empty. Non motorhomers may not know immediately what a ‘toilet cassette’ is so (and without going into too much graphic detail) I will just explain that it ‘lives’ immediately under the toilet bowl – and sometimes needs emptying. It’s a treat to not have to empty it obviously. However – every time I do have to empty it, as I unlock the compartment in which the ‘cassette’ lives I do wonder just why that compartment has a lock on it – why would anyone want to steal the cassette. I have never found anything in it that you would want to steal…

May 2 – Last night we were invited round to another motor home for ‘drinks’ – we met Mal and Pat from Richmond near Scotch Corner (UK) and we swapped tales from our travels. They are on their way back up to Calais and we are still boasting about travelling further South and not going home. A good nights sleep despite the busy city centre location was interrupted by Juan Leafblower – he makes sure that no (cement of course) car park surface in Valladolid EVER has so much as one leaf left upon it beyond 8.15 am. He ‘knocks off’ at 9.00 am (when the motorhomes are all awake). Thanks Juan.

May 1 – A new month! On the way out of Aranda I realised the irony of our inability to buy milk as we passed one of Spains largest milk factories just 500 metres from our Aire. More ‘leche’ than you could shake a stick at! We continued to Valladolid – which is the Spanish word for ‘concrete’ – well, I assume it is as every opportunity to cover any area old or new with it has been exploited. Even ‘Wikipedia’ refers to ‘some old buildings escaping the damage of the building boom of the sixties’. Even churches from the 16th century have been treated to inappropriate lashings of cement. Milk however is easy to buy.

April 30 – it’s the last day of April and will soon be exactly four weeks that we arrived in Europe! Time has flown. Yesterday was ‘shopping FAIL’ day. We went into Lidl to buy milk and came out with 36 cans of lager, four litre of wine, some ham, olives and muesli that looked (to me) like stuff you would spread at the bottom of a budgies cage – NO MILK. We then went to another ‘unnamed’ supermercado and came out with clothes washing liquid (for the toilet NOT clothes – I’ll explain later), more olives, six oranges and three green peppers AND milk. In our hopeless translation of ‘offerta’ we caused mayhem at the till as it was for ‘Ariel’ and you had to buy two so not really a bargain. We dont need ‘quality’ detergent as its for chucking on the contents of the cassette toilet – need I say more? Some helpful negotiation helped us buy the much cheaper stuff (next to a product called ‘Colon’ – trust me I have pictures – apt title given where we intend pouring it!). Job done – literally! It’s May 1st tomorrow and a holiday – we should be able to keep out of shopping based trouble.

 April 29 – Thanks to technology we got the opportunity to speak to my Mum (and sister) via ‘SKYPE’ (she will have told all her friends that it was ‘SPIKE’ by now I am sure). Predictably she exclaimed that it was very ‘clever’ (and full of technology) and she’s right – free of charge and you can talk face to face with people halfway around the world – providing you have WiFi. Thankfully, unlike France where a Citroen 2CV (a car built from an oil drum and four old bicycle wheels 70 years ago) would make the French equivalent of my Mum exclaim how ‘clever’ that car is, Spanish campsites have WiFi and now my Mum knows that ‘we’ can still speak English.  Oh, and that I have had a haircut thanks to the modern technology that are ‘WAHL’ hair clippers – I had a number 2 all over in case you wondered!)

As I have started this nearly one month into our journey everything before today (28/04/12) will be posthumous (that’s written after it happened for the ‘hard of thinking’)

April 28 – Our first day in Spain and its chucking it down – spent most of the day writing a Diary for our blog! We are at Mendigorria and a lovely site with all you could ask for, including WiFi – which if the wind blows right and I stick my tongue out – I can actually connect from the motor-home. Otherwise it’s a trip to the bar (tragedy I hear you say) where the signal is excellent.

April 27 – we left intending to stay at St Jean-pied-de Port but the Aire reminded me of the approach into Manchester Piccadilly railway station but not as pretty so after a quick sandwich there we left. That was just about the last Aire on the way out of France so we ended up through the Pyrenees – turning down the opportunity to stay at the 25 Euros a night campsite en-route on the basis that in over three weeks we spent just 68 Euros on sites/Aires and I wasn’t going to let my first Spanish site (arriving late afternoon too) cost me nearly half the previous months spend for a quick overnight stay.

April 26 – I trotted off the town to go and internet from the computer shop only to find he is on lunch from 12.00 until 15.00. Quite how much food he eats in three hours is beyond me. Un-phased by this hiccup I sit on the step of the shop, despite the light drizzle, and log on ‘through the letterbox’ for free and spend over an hour and a half updating the blog as planned.  I scarppered before he returned which was a shame as I wanted to give him eight Euros for the pleasure of developing a numb arse  (it wasn’t a comfy step) whilst regaining contact with the outside world.

April 25 – The Spa town of Sailles de Bearn provided us with the next couple of days lodgings at a great Aire just behind the Salt Factory and in front of the recycling plant. That sounds grim I know but it wasn’t as we couldn’t see “Salts R Us” and apart from the odd clank of bottles (which was no worse that my daily trip to the bottle bank) you wouldn’t have been any the wiser. No McDonalds however so a trip to the local computer shop for his very reasonable – ‘at least Robin Hood wore a mask’ – at 5 Euros an hour! WiFi.

April 24 – Still outside the ‘building’ and it rained so hard that night and so the next day that I paddled to ‘Greggs’ to get the daily bagette in an upturned pan. It cleared up later and we treated ourselves to a trip to the ‘Bricolage Shop’ for some 25mm hosepipe. That’s got you guessing…

April 23 – The lack of internet has prompted me to call in at the House of Ronald McD and borrow his megabites – I have ordered a MiFi dongle thingie from Amazon and daughter Kirsty will bring over when we meet them in a couple of weeks – until then its ‘as and when’.  We are now Pomarez bound and another fine Aire opposite the Bullring. Amusing as my wife had misread ‘bullring’ in the Aires guide thinking it said ‘building’ and muttered about ‘what building?’ and commented that they could be a little more specific. Bullring, for any town, would be considered adequate when providing a hint of somewheres location and I thought her unreasonable as I had already clocked that we were to camp in front of a venue where they kill animals in the name of entertainment.

April 22 – got Alison some flowers locally* and travelled to a real campsite promising amongst other useful things like showers, toilets, 240 volt power – WiFi. Hurrah I can contact the outside world and update my blog. Er, no you can’t – the Whiffey (as they refer to it) is having a night off and I am forced to talk to the missus instead. My dislike for this site was prompted not only by their reneging on promised WiFi but for ‘telling’ me to park on plot 38 as that’s the best place for it (when it works). I did as instructed only to end up rim deep in the squishiest mud France could muster and needed a push out with grit chucked under the wheels for good weather. Our learned, yet helpful, friend then announced that the ‘several’ days worth of rain had made plot 38 best suited to Noah and his Ark building company. If only he had shared this, and the fact that the WiFi was kaput earlier. The WiFi didn’t work the next day either so I stole their cat.

*see April 21 – I am, of course, kidding.

April 21 – Branne – don’t visit unless looking around the cemetery counts as a ‘night out’. We had a ‘night out’.

April 20 – Found the ‘Z’ so football is ‘off’ tonight –  A bike ride to the supermarket which amounted to 12 miles for some of us. For those unlucky enough to ‘think’ that they had left there comfy gel seat cover back at the SuperU it meant a total round trip of 22 miles only to find that some ballbag had stolen it made off with it (that or the girl at the checkout desk thought it was a strangely shaped/pointy at the front beret and kept it). My nether regions have now got accustomed to my razor sharp seat. I wish nothing but hurtful things to whoever is cycling around France with my seat cover.

April 19 – we travel to Gente to use a cracking free site which even boasts a WC. I use the hosepipe to wash the motor home (yes I am that sad). We watch the locals play football on the nearby pitch. That’s right ‘football’ – I couldn’t get the satellite to work at first and we had lost the ‘Z’ in the travel Scrabble so we were at a loose end.

April 18 – Matha beckons together with a fair bit of rain in the night. Matha is famous for building some of the worlds fastest sports cars*

*It’s not – I made that up as I can’t imagine they are famous for anything – and I have run out of adjectives to describe ‘nice looking’ stuff.

April 16 – Off to Montreuil-Bellay and another real site with real showers and 100% coverage WiFi – better internet than the French government I reckon (which isn’t saying much as they are still using a length of string and two tin cans I am told). We are the only customers for two nights. We stopped to talk to two locals on our trip to the town. They were from Bridgend in Wales and just a few miles from where our daughter and husband live (they actually live in Broughton which is much posher than Bridgend as my wife has asked me to point out).

April 15 – Visit the Trogladite caves but on the way we spot a local classic car club out on a run for the day. I didn’t want to trouble them but Alison insisted on dragging me around the rusting heaps. Or something like that.

April 14 – The picturesque village of Turquant provides us with two days of free accommodation. I do hope that the next place we visit is a bit crap as I am conscious that there are not enough words left for me to use that describe anywhere that is ‘nice’. I am introduced to the art of ‘just how close some French motor-homers would like to park next to you’. It must have been my ‘welcoming smile’ or the number of hateful glares I threw towards him and his young family (trust me they we so close I had to be careful opening the door) that made him thing that staying somewhere else (like Harlem or Beruit) might be a better idea and left. I didn’t send a ‘Bon Voyage’ card.

April 13 – Cunault is lovely and the nearby villages either side are equally pretty. Whilst we wash our smalls in the shower after our own ablutions we watch a somewhat larger motor home open up the ‘garage’ to reveal a washer/dryer – full sized – quashing any rumours that the French don’t wash. Our WiFi needs were once again provided by that well known internet provider, second only to 3G, Ronald McDonald – two (rubbish) coffees are sometimes required just so you don’t upset the well known burger chains manager. Often if you park close enough to the building – I find the ‘disabled’ spot is usually near enough then you can catch the McWiFi without the need to buy anything at all. Mind out when reversing out of your space for any wheelchairs that are leaning against the rear bumper.

April 12 – The Aire at Bauge is where the worlds ‘Watch Paint Drying Finals’ are held. It is free so I’ll not write in to complain. We head off for Cunault as it’s a bit cloudy.

April 10 – We arrive at our first ‘proper’ campsite so far. Proper showers, WiFi (albeit sketchy and only from the perimeter of the ‘Café’) and lovely riverside view. I even manage to get some UK telly. We stay an extra night but on exit from site we are unable to find anyone to pay for another night – we leave 12 Euros better off.

April 9 – woken by the church bells, which was just as well really as we needed to get on to Le Mans – it’s rumoured that there are some old cars and stuff there. Lucky enough to get on to the small riverside Aire and unlucky enough to step in Frances largest heap of dog shi mess – so large it had its own post-code. I uttered the odd swear word or twelve (all the popular ones anyway) and berated the entire dog owning population of France until every trace was removed from my brand new Airwalks (note to self – don’t hold the red handled screwdriver in your mouth). I later learnt that the storage of Frances dog mess is to be addressed by new signs which state “WHEN THE GROUND IS FULL PLEASE PUT DOG MESS IN THE BIN”. Delivery of the signs is to be announced some time in the future.

April 8 – Moved on to Le Madelaine which is a meaningless name really as we later learnt that there are loads of Le Madelaines throughout France. Had a walk around the cemetery – the ‘All Night Rave’ was sold out.

April 5/6/7 – Travelled on to Forge de Eaux where we were introduced to just how pretty France can be. Met the most ‘careful with his money’ (read ‘tight’) man in the world. We never learnt his name and just called him Irish Jock (as he lived in both Ireland and Scotland when not away ‘saving money’ using up French electricity. He was a lovely bloke and his pre-occupation with how much onions were and how much you saved on bicycle tire rubber by walking (presumably bare-foot to save wearing out your shoes) kept us amused. It was here the shower embarrassed us by spilling out three days worth of soapy and undoubtedly dirty shower water across the car park. Learnt how to ask for a 25mm jubilee clip for the showers waste pipe in French – came back with a cucumber and a tin of emulsion.

April 4  – Washed my socks and it was very hot  – no really,  this was the day we travelled Eurostar to Calais and then onto Berck. Although I was impressed ‘then’ by the efficient Aire I now realise it is called Berck as you’d have to be a bit of a berk to stay there by choice. Oh well!


2 Responses to Pauls 2012 Diary – April/May

  1. Tom McGinnis says:

    Hi Paul, love your whole web site and details therin.We too have traveledover most of Europe and into Slovenia,Croatia and serbia too.
    Never managed to get to Portugal yet !! Our swiss friends have purchased a static van near Albufria ? to winter in plus the also bought the adjoining plot to store their Carthago motorhome and our’s when we visit them.
    We have this year bought a new Bailey Approach 740,we have added a few extra’s, towbar,webasto heater,self seeking sat dish and extra 120amp battery.
    Love to use the aires in France and to wildcamp when possible, however we are thinking of putting a solar panel on the roof next time we are going “south” probably May 2013 for 90 days.
    Can you email me the place/location of the guy who installed your solar panel as it sound about half the cost of a UK installer and btw way looks very good too.
    Tom ,Jen and Jake (our yorkie) email

    • Thanks for comments Tom – I will email you details for solar panel. He’ll come out to you (up to a limit) but you could always go to Lagos to the free aire and h’ll come out to there (thats where he did ours)


      ps – give me half an hour – his card is out in the motorhome 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s