Showing posts from October, 2010

Freinds in Spain

On Monday we wanted to get some miles under our tyres; we were hoping to get to past Malaga on Tuesday to spend a few days with Bee & Billy, but before that a bit of exercise felt like a good idea. We followed the coast getting into Agua Amarga around 10am; a quiet little village in a Parque Natural where we parked on the beach near some other vans.
We’d noticed a footpath on the map which went from there to El Plomo; the next cove about 5kms away. It was a steep hike up, then an equally steep controlled fall down to a deserted, beautifully clear, sandy bay.
The sea was perfect for swimming, there was a six foot deep drop from the rocks that could have been made for diving and we had the place to ourselves for about an hour. In fact the first people we saw were another couple that we passed as we were on the path back. By the time we’d got back, had a walk round the village and had lunch it was about 3pm; as we were in such a lovely spot it seemed silly to move on. Total mileage fo…

Hot & Cold running Water

We’d been driving every day for a week, so on Saturday the van stayed put. We cycled into Puerto de Mazerron, had a wander round and posted some cards. There was a bike shop with some electric bikes; Dave had a go on one and was suitably impressed. They were different from others we’d seen in that the motor was mounted on the front down tube driving the pedals and there wasn’t a twist grip to activate it; you simply started pedalling and the motor gave you a helping push. It was a strange sensation, but one you could get used to. We’ve made a decision regarding bikes and boats. Despite there being some very cheap electric bikes out here, were going to keep the hacks that we’ve got till we’ve been on the boat for a while then assess how useful something like that would be. If it ain’t broke etc. We rode back to the van and spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach.
Sunday was a day of contrasts. We were up at dawn for a morning dip in the sea and a shower on the beach; a Spanish cou…

Viva Espana

On Saturday we knew we’d be crossing the border into Spain. We don’t speak more than four words of Spanish and “I’d like to buy a 185 R 14 tyre for a camper-van please.” aren’t any of them. Ann-Marie had a brainwave and from free wifi in McDonald’s car-park googled ‘tyre dealers’ in the town we were in. Less than an hour later we were on our way down the Cote Vermeille with a brand new spare. We followed the wiggly road round the coast, crossing the border at the Col de Belistres. We stopped for a few minutes at the top. The spot height on the map says it’s 165m above sea level; it felt an awful lot higher than that, especially with a gale force wind trying to chuck us off!
We spent our first night in Spain in the little seaside town of L’Estartit. On our evening stroll along the seafront we passed the tourist office which had a poster in the window advertising a vintage bike rally the following day, so after night of being lulled to sleep by the wind we watched about 50 old bikes pul…

Canal du Midi & Kate Mosse.

The best thing about Beziers for us was the 9 Ecluses on the Canal du Midi. In fact there is a staircase of 6 locks, but if you count all the gates and the little gate at the end you get 9. They’re all electrically operated and controlled by a lock-keeper and only open for passage at certain times. As luck would have it we got there just as seven boats were going down the last couple of drops. The chambers are a sort of long oval shape; river cruisers fit in 3 or 4 at a time like big jig-saw pieces.
There is another motorised water-pushing boat-lift here as well; it’s a different design to the one at Montech, having only one set of wheels on either side with the diesel engines mounted in the gantry, and looks a lot less used, but apparently it’s in full working order.
We walked along the canal to the very grand aqueduct over the River Orb then up through some back streets into the city. There’s a large tree lined plaza in the centre of Beziers, leading to a park that slopes down to the …

Awed in Aude

We've been to Beziers, Valras plage, Narbone, Carcassonne, Limoux, Alet-les-Bains, Rennes-les-Bains, Bugarach, through the mountains to Perpignan, then down to St-Cyprien Plage. Then the windy mountain costal road to Spain. We're now in Barcelona. When we get a bit of time we'll do a full write up and some photos.

Touring around Tarn

One day we’ll go back to Toulouse in daylight and have a good look round; from what we saw it’s worth a day’s wandering, but trying to drive through it at night was a bit of mistake. We took a wrong turn and ended up squeezing the van through some very narrow streets teeming with party people in what appeared to be one of the hottest night spots in France! Great fun, but not getting us where we wanted to be. We got spat out and had a couple more goes before giving up and following the big signs for the Peripherique. Heading away into the night towards Lavaur, we stopped at the tiny village of Teulat. On Saturday we drove into Lavaur; we were going to drive straight through but they’d put on a street market so it would’ve been rude not to stop. We’re glad we did; we bought elevenses and discovered a gigantic cathederal.
Not as dramatic as discovering the Source of the Nile or Penicillin, but we were happy. The acoustics inside were amazing and there was an enormous pipe organ high up at…

Travelling in Tarn-et-Garonne

Wednesday was Bob’s first big day out; Jacqui & Ali up front and us and Donna & Richard, who are here for a week, on cushions on the floor in the back. Ann-Marie tried to get everyone singing “The Wheels on the Bus” but all we could get out of Ali was “Bob-Bob-Bob-Bob....”
It was a really good day; we went to Montech followed by Moissac. On the Canal Du Midi at Montech there is the Pente d'eau de Montech; a massive diesel powered inclined plane. Two train engines on rubber tyres push boats and the water they’re floating in up a concrete channel by-passing five locks.
While we were there a couple of boats came down the canal and we watched them go through the top lock.
Moissac is a pretty little town, the Canal goes right through the middle and La Garonne flows along the edge. It’s mostly notable for L'abbaye Saint-Pierre, a medieval abbey and cloisters that survived crusades, civil wars and the Revolution only to be unceremoniously slashed in half in 1860 to make way for …

Still Waiting

Well it’s now Tuesday and our radiator still hasn’t turned up. What has happened is that we’ve got a tracking number so we can go and have a look on line and find out where it is. Last Thursday it went from Teeside, where it was scanned by Steve, to Birmingham where Carl zapped it. Then there was a four day gap before it turned up again. Currently it’s in France. Brilliant!

The latest estimate we can get for delivery is Friday, so we’ve decide to chill out about it, stop staring forlornly up the drive and go and do some sightseeing. We’re right next to the Canal de deux Mers, part of the Canal du Midi, so we’re going to go to Moissac and have a wander down it tomorrow.

Jacqui and Ali’s van has arrived with two new tyres and a brand new Control sticker! He’s called Bob. Here are some pictures of the happy couple.


Jacqui & Al are waiting for an electrician to come and fix their cooker and a chap to phone about a van they want to buy. We’re waiting for our radiator to arrive. When we phoned up to ask about delivery charges to France, the man in the shop said “How long are you there for?” Dave said “Well, until the radiator turns up.” Doh! In the mean time we’ve cleaned the van from top to bottom inside and out, stuck beading round the edge of the lino and finished a few other odd jobs. We also got back to Trailfinders and finally agreed to a package. Whoo-oo! We’re going to New Zealand for 5 weeks on the 4th of January, then Australia for another 5. We’re driving from Adelaide to Cairnes in a motorhome, and then flying to Alice Springs and Darwin before coming home at the end of March. We thought it would be fun to have a month in Scotland after that, before we go boat hunting. Talking of which, while Dave had nothing else to do he found these (click here)(and here) Of course we're stil…