Conclusion 🥵🥵

Tuesday 17th October 2023

After a very comfortable night at the marina just outside the Bilbao docks, “highly recommended”, Christine cooked a breakfast as by the time we board and get settled, lunchtime will have come and gone.   We also spent a long time knackering the dogs out.

Our booking includes two cages for TT & R, as we were unable to get a pet friendly cabin but this morning Christine rang Brittany Ferries just on the off chance there was a dog friendly cabin available through cancellation, and “bingo” there was one, Christine was over the moon, but again more money had to change hands!!!!

Arriving at the ferry check in we joined the queue and after about 30-minutes or so of waiting, arrived at the kiosk only to be told we were at the wrong booth.   There was a “Pet Specific” lane, so we had to follow the lady from our booth to a special exit. To be fair she was most apologetic and explained that her booth didn’t have the necessary to process pets.   Perhaps they will put up a big sign up at the entrance telling pet owners which lane to use!!!   Fortunately the new lane was quick so didn’t lose much time in the end, not that that mattered as after being searched for immigrants we were held in another lane for an hour or so👹👹

We eventually drove onboard, we were “tail-end Charlie’s” along with a number of other motor homes.  Oh well, looks like we will be last off when we arrive in Portsmouth tomorrow night; just hope they get on with it quickly!!!🤞🤞🤞

We found our pet friendly cabin, much the same as the rest but sparser and isolated with its own passageway leading onto a special deck for exercising dogs sporting several hoses and a supply of “doggie bags”.  At the end of this walkway we’re the kennels; so glad made that ‘phone call this morning.

OK first things first.   The dogs as well as us were desperate for a shower so after mine Christine went in with “both” dogs!!!   Fortunately after all the “pools” they had visited recently, they had no fear of water, they both accepted their “fate” and got on with it.   The big issue was trying to dry them before they shook and sprayed everything.   Christine did a Stirling job washing them but drying them was a different story, she rubbed them as best she could with a towel before letting them out, but once released into the cabin, they “let rip” and sprayed water everywhere👹👹; still they were clean and smelt better!!!

Not much to see! Wet and cold!

The rest of the day was taken up walking the dogs as much as possible, visiting duty free, eating and playing crib.  Unfortunately we could only get an inside cabin so sitting in it was not an option; still, the afternoon slowly went by and it was dinner time.   We’ve done this trip numerous times and could always look forward to and rely on a good meal in the nice restaurant with excellent surroundings, but unfortunately the main restaurant on this ship “Galicia” seems to have been downgraded.  Yes the food was nice but the “ambience” has gone; they want you in and out, what a shame.

A good night’s sleep though Christine thought she was “Rocking-n-Rolling” too much for her comfort.

Wednesday 18th October

The dogs aren’t happy, they’re not eating properly and their natural habits have been disrupted still we get off this evening; hang in there TT & R.

We’ve got a long day but can’t relax and have a drink as will be driving later so much the same as yesterday, exercising the dogs, crib and mealtimes.

The sea state was just a force 6 which Christine still found uncomfortable, and there was 22-knot following wind with heavy rain, so couldn’t see anything.

We eventually arrived in Portsmouth, an hour later than planned, sailed past the British navy, “one mine sweeper” and docked, so headed down to the car deck.

Spinnaker Tower

Once in the driving seat the “deck-hand” told us to turn round and face the other way, curious we thought, this is a “roll on-roll off”, why turn around?   Anyway we did as instructed and realised this was also the way off, and we were in pole position for a quick getaway.😀😃😁   

After a few minutes, the barrier went up and we were first off, unbelievable.   First to border control but that’s when things slowed down due to the dogs being checked but still it was fairly quick and next we had to drive through the customers channel, this was a worry.  Travelling through France we purchased a lot of wine, all for “our own” consumption of course, but a lot.  In Spain we also topped up with Soberano and Tio Pepe; we may have had a difficult and slow time getting through if stopped!!!   The good news was we sailed straight through and hit the road back to South Petherton.

The drive back was uncomfortable as it rained heavily and there was a rather long diversion on the A303 due to roadworks, but arrived home around 0015hrs.

When will we be out in Rosie again, planning starts soon!!!!

Thank you everyone for making us so welcome, we both thoroughly enjoyed our time in Spain, hopefully see you all some time next year. Christine xx

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The Final Leg

Monday 16th October 2023

Leaving our site mid morning on the last leg of our tour to head to Bilbao, we catch the ferry tomorrow.   Today our drive is along the “Route del Vino” travelling through the vineyards that produce the Rioja, not so dramatic as yesterday but very attractive.

Our plan is to stay on a site high above Bilbao, a nature area with much “dog-running” opportunities.  Driving up a very steep hill we arrived at the entrance, along with several other MHs,  parked and joined the queue to “check-in”.   The woman behind the desk was at “sixes and sevens”, had no clue as to what she was doing and only wanted to deal with those who had pre-booked; we along with many others hadn’t.   Every time she came out of her office and anybody said anything she had a stock answer “”I’m working out what spaces are available””; we could have told her, the place was only about half full!!  After what seemed an eternity of gross inefficiency I’d had enough, I said we’d help her out as we’re going, and left.

What a view, and so much space!

I looked online and at the docks, could see there was overnight parking available so headed back down the hill.   We needed to fill Rosie with fuel but unfortunately passed the entrance to the last service station as we headed into the dock complex, then suddenly we remembered there was a fuel station down by the docks and it was the cheapest we had found whilst driving through France and Spain, €1.45 litre; lucky or what!!!   Whilst filling I asked the attendant about parking overnight and he suggested I talk to the truck driver the other side of the pumps.   We could see the big HGV parking lot and assumed that’s where we would be but no, the truck driver was very helpful and directed us to get onto another road that ran parallel with this road and turn right at the end; free parking.

Having completed our “bunkering” we headed in the direction we were given and what a turn up, he had directed us to a nice carpark alongside the marina and reasonably quiet with a large patch of grass to run the dogs, there was also a restaurant in the marina, win win.    Once parked up we went for a walk and headed to the restaurant when we realised it was a Monday, the restaurant was closed😩😩

We wiled away the afternoon running the dogs chasing the ball but found out later they were all sticky and Tom-Tom in particular was covered in some sort of burrs, horrible to us but didn’t seem to bother the dogs; they need a shower/bath desperately.

Lovely spot to stay in

After dinner went for another walk along the marina.   As the evening approached, the car park started to fill up and we wondered where everyone had gone to; we found out on our walk, they were all fishing.   Goodness knows what they were fishing for it was a man made tidal marina and as far as we could see, no one had caught anything!!!  What was also odd was the wives of the guys fishing were all sitting against the wall of the building behind, chatting!!!

Muddy and sticky, time for showers

Back at the van and a few games of crib we headed for our last night in Rosie for some time; well maybe!!!

After the fishermen had gone and the carpark emptied we thought that was that and it would be quiet, wrong, that’s when the music started, loud or what?   Still it was all over by midnight and we went to sleep

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Saturday 14th October

Though we were packed in fairly tightly in this motorhome park we had a quite night, even though we were adjacent to a skateboard which fortunately packed up around 2300hrs.  Though Teruel hadn’t quite “floated” our boat we feel we should return to do the things we should have done.

Lovely park for dogs

Our original plan was to stop two nights here but due to the issues of getting to and from the old town, we have re-planned our route to Bilbao; we are heading to Soria for the night.   We have been there before and liked it so it wasn’t going to be an issue and Christine had already found a motorhome parking place in the carpark of all places, at Leclerc, the French supermarket!!!

Spent quite sometime playing ball here

The drive from Teruel to Soria is 242Kms but is nearly 3-hours due to the roads, at times there was quite a bit of twisting and turning as we drove through the foothills of the Pyrenees but at other times there was mile after mile of straight roads over the plains.  We went through areas of “unknown” fruit trees and we passed miles of dead sunflowers waiting to be harvested but eventually arrived at Leclerc’s.

We parked up and I went to the bus stop and waited for a bus to arrive and then asked the driver the question, again and the answer was the same “no Perros” 😩😩, ok we’ll drive Rosie into the town and find a carpark.   After circumnavigating the old town the only carpark available was underground; no headroom and all the street parking was taken up so back to Leclerc’s and very disappointed.

Just the park to play in!

As compensation Christine created a wonderful dish with big, juicy, tasty scallops with prawns thrown in for good measure and to complement this masterpiece I opened a bottle of the “Casta Diva” wine I bought from Martin’s local bodega; bootifull!!!!   It never ceases to amaze me how Christine can come up with these dishes in such a small, cramped space with minimal equipment; good show!!!!

Not doing very well with our overnight stops but we won’t get too downhearted and tomorrow we will go to Logrono, in the heart of the Rioja region.  Note to self, “no more wine” !!!!!

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Friday 13th😡

Friday 13th October 2023

Always a worry to wake up on this day/date, still best foot forward and all that😂😂. 

We head off towards the ferry but have until Monday evening to get to Bilbao; ferry departs around lunchtime on Tuesday, but didn’t want to have to rush.

After breakfast Martin did his last checks on “all” our devices, ensuring everything was downloading according to plan; he informed us that it will take many more hours of being connected to the cloud via WiFi before everything is in the right place.  The moral of the story is “not” to leave well alone!!!!!  At this point we must thank Martin for all his hard work helping sort out two dinosaurs attempting to get into the 21st century.

We hit the road around mid morning heading towards Teruel 270Kms, just under 3-hrs driving.   The first part past on the AP7 to Valencia was boring and fairly heavy with traffic but after turning off onto the A23,  the traffic was minimal and a pleasant drive through some low lying mountains, though at the top we were 1275 meters above sea level.

The square in Teruel

We arrived in Teruel, found the overnight parking and as Vince had described on Monday, there was the bus stop.  Prior to heading into the centre we popped into the bar next to the parking lot for a late “Menu del Dia” only to be told they didn’t serve them on a Friday!!!  So a quick drink which fortunately came with a small “Tapas” we were ready to head into the centre about a mile and a half away.   We headed to the bus stop and waited a few minutes ‘till the bus arrived only to be told, “No Dogs”:  Oh dear, so let’s walk.

The train that wouldn’t take dogs!

As we headed out we soon realised we had to head down a rather long steep hill, now steep hills and my knee do not go together but there was no alternative other than turn round; not an option.   Of course like all hills, if you go down you have to come back up and today is no different.   

After numerous stops to rest we eventually hit the historic centre, and it was heaving.   Firstly we went into the tourist information to get a map of the area and as we headed out noticed there was a train that went around the town, so joined the queue for the next tour, in about 5-minutes time.   Soon after joining the train arrived and as soon as it had let all its passengers off our queue started to board.  When we hit the front of the queue we heard those immortal words again, “No Dogs”; so, deflated we walked off.

People watching, always a good thing whilst drinking wine!

The walk here did take it out of us so we parked ourselves at a bar/restaurant in the main “El Torino” square and ordered a bottle of wine with a plate of its renowned “Jamon Serrano” and settled down to watch the world go by.   This is a busy place with lots of Spanish tourists.

Teruel is a high altitude town in the mountains of the Aragon region, perhaps this also affected our walk in, or are we grasping at straws?  One of the main feature is the “Santa Maria de Madiavilla” Cathedral” dating to the 12th century and another is the “Torre de El Salvador” 14th century Mudejar tower.   Whilst enjoying the ambiance of the square we planed our “day-out” for tomorrow so didn’t rush to get going and we had also decided to get a taxi back.

Narrow streets in old town

Food eaten, wine bottle empty and bill paid we headed off through the quaint narrow streets passing the entrance to the Mudejar tower, still open, and out of the old town where we were hoping to pickup a taxi; there were lots of cars but none of them were taxis so continued walking down the big hill hoping to “hail” one as we walked, but to no avail, none came our way.    At the bottom of the hill was a petrol station so went in to buy a bottle of water and at the same time ask the girl behind the counter where we could get a taxi; she went one better than that, she rang the taxi company; “service beyond the call of duty and with a nice smile” but to no avail, she made several attempts and let it ring and ring a long time, but alas no one answered.   We thanked her and headed back up the big hill we’d come down earlier n the day.   My we both struggled but I was the one to keep stopping to give my hip a breather, yes my hip as walking with a bandy leg on a hill affects my hip.   It took for ages to reach the top but we preserved and eventually came to the flat part of the walk; that’s better.

Back in Rosie we collapsed, and the dogs were also tired but one decision was immediately taken; we will leave Teruel for another time and head towards Soria tomorrow, after all this was Friday 13th!! 

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Our Time In Alcalali

Monday 9th October 

Our time here is up, but there is still one more thing we have to do; we have to visit Pat and Vince as Pat has been in hospital for a few days though the good news is, she is home now.   

After saying our goodbyes to our hosts Lee and Sarah, we drove the few streets to their house arriving mid morning.   Vince and I thought it “prudent” to sit outside and leave Pat and Christine to have a good “chin-wag”  and set the world to rights.

My lovely friend Pat

After everyone had caught up with everything we all said “our” goodbyes and left, heading the 180Kms to Alcalali to meet up with Martin for a couple of days prior to heading back north. 

We arrived just after lunch and spent this glorious afternoon around the pool enjoying a few G & T’s and enjoying the dogs jumping in and out of the pool chasing the ball.  This evening Martin set about up-grading my laptop, one of several reasons to return so soon.   He also persuaded me to join “the iCloud” as I had so much not backed up, unforgivable!!!

The 4-nights we are staying will be novel not to be in Rosie as we are in his guest suite; wow two guest suites in as many days!!

Tuesday 10th October 2023

During the night my laptop was working hard all night to what it had to do but as I have so many pictures on my laptop with different ones on my iPad and a different set on my ‘phone, it is safe to say I was in a “pickle”, but I’ve come to the right place!!!

The other side of Xalo there is a small village on the mountainside called Llíber, and in that village is a small pedestrian square with a particularly good bar that does excellent Tapas. off we went arriving in time for a late mid-morning coffee and Soberano.  This was very enjoyable, sitting out in the sun watching people come and go and listening to the road builders.   They had decided to dig up the only “through” road to lay new drain and water pipes, and they were noisy at times.   Anyway, as time marched on it was lunch time so ordered our first Tapas, again each of us chose a separate plate, but we “only” had “just the one” bottle of wine!!!!

Martin looking a cool dude

After a protracted coffee morning and a Tapas lunch, we headed back to the house, replete and happy and again entertained by the dogs.  All the while my laptop was still “doing its thing”, my-my, what a mess it was in!!!

Early night tonight, for some reason we are all as knackered as the dogs!!

Wednesday 11th October

A good nights sleep was had and refreshed we breakfasted with my laptop still whirring away in the background.  Martin is gob-smacked as to how many ‘photos I’ve taken over the years, you wait ‘till you sort Christine’s out!!

There was shopping to be done but Christine elected to stay and get up-to-date with washing and clean Rosie which meant Martin and I had the responsibility of heading to he supermarket.  The issues had been Monday and Thursday are red days so everything is closed.   The responsibility got to us so before entering the store we stopped for a coffee, Soberano and a “toastada con tomate”; give us the confidence to get it right. Also today, we have to head to a Bodega to get some rather lovely local wine from a village just up the road.   This wine is curious as it has Muscatel grapes which would suggest it is sweet but no it is dry and it is really very good.

Back from the supermarket and we headed straight to this family run Bodega, unfortunately straight is not quite right.   The village has extremely narrow streets and they all look alike still Martin got us there ok.  Next parking, ha!!  But to our astonishment and good fortune the proprietor’s son came out and told us where to leave the car.  15-minutes later we walked out with a few cases🤠🤠🤠

Inside Del hieroglyphs restaurant

The rest of the afternoon followed the same, pool party🤪🤪;  tonight though we are heading out to dinner, a rather nice restaurant we like in the narrow back streets of Xalo called “Restaurante Del Hierro”. We’ve been there many times before and never disappointed, tonight was no exception.

Back to the house for a night cap before bed, a checkup on the IT front and away we went.

Thursday 12th October

We had great plans when we sat down to breakfast, we were going to head down to Denia market, but then realised it was a big red day here in Spain meaning nothing opened, no market, no shops, zilch, just petrol stations and restaurants and with all the Spanish out and about celebrating Columbus Day, we decided to stay in, after all it was the last chance to get in the pool.   

It’s a hard life sitting by the pool but someone has to do it!

After checking my IT equipment and starting on Christine’s, Martin headed down to the local garage to buy some fresh bread; yes we think they bake it!!, whilst Christine and I moved Rosie closer to the house and filled up her water tank.  I also took the opportunity to top up the generator tank as well, now we are all set for tomorrow.

Rosie parked outside Martins house

Our work completed, the bread arrived and it was lunchtime.   Goodness me, we eaten so much these last few weeks, we’ll blow the scales up!!!  Big diet starts next week🥶🥶

This afternoon was much the same, I rather like this way of life, perhaps we should live here😂😂, the dogs being the main source of entertainment, but “not” when they shake right by us after they get out of the pool😩😩

The view from balcony

Tonight is our last night so Martin is cooking us one of his famous curries and if past performance is anything to go by, it will be very good.   Whilst this was going on Christine and I sorted our stuff to save time in the morning.

After another superb curry and a nightcap we are done; bed beckons and the off tomorrow morning 

Thank you Martin for putting up with us, especially our delinquent puppies cxxxx

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A Day Of Variety

Sunday 15th October

To be fair the night stop in Leclerc was fine and not too crammed in, probably due to bad parking by the two motorhomes beside us; thank you bad parkers!!!   In addition, there were facilities for water, for a price and discharge facilities which we made use of.

Logrono is about a two hour drive and our plan is to find the motorhome park, park up and head into the old part for our “last lunch” for this trip, and being a Sunday, the town should be buzzing; we’d identified a suitable restaurant and according to the write-ups, sounded rather good.  Additionally it didn’t open until 1330hrs so no pressure for us to rush.

Amazing scenery

Driving to Logrono was fabulous, the scenery as we drove through the mountains was extremely dramatic and though the road was of good quality it did twist and turn a great deal much to Christine’s discomfort.  There is definitely no argument, the beauty and greenery of this part of Spain is a complete contrast to the desert and the surrounding areas of the south.    In spite of all the greenery, obviously this is an area of heavy rains, but the lake that has been created to form a reservoir in these mountains was extremely low; no doubt blaming global warming!!!!  The nice thing about this route, albeit inconvenient, are the old stone bridges; the new wide roads go to the bridge but the bridge is a still single road, fortunately each time we arrived at one of theses bridges, there was no other traffic😁😁.   This may be an “out-of-the-way” route to take, but it was certainly worth the effort and I would do it again, but from the other way!!

Fascinating area

Arriving in Logrono around midday we had two motorhome parking places to chose from and fortunately we had to pass the first one to get to the second one.   Arriving at the first MH park was interesting as this carpark had been completely taken over by a car boot sale; no room whatsoever, so headed to the second one.   Me thinks “they’re having a laugh”, SatNav took us around a couple of roads and deposited us in a carpark admittedly amongst trees, but it backed onto the big one with the car boot sale!!!  The good thing was the car boot sale hadn’t encroached this area and after a quick circumnavigation of the of all the spaces, settled on a spot at the end; at least no one could go on the end and also over the road behind us, was a large green grassy area, ideal for the dogs.

Plenty of room today!

After parking and settling Rosie up on a couple of front blocks, and being a Sunday, we spruced ourselves up as best we could.  In the town and cities there is still the culture of the family dressing up smart and heading out to lunch, we did our best!!!

Walking over the bridge

The walk to the old centre was a little over one km, flat to the river Ebro, “very good news”, over the bridge then a short climb up a gentle hill to the Main Street with the restaurants, bars etc., and of course a lovely square.    After Teruel this was like a “walk-in-the-park’, arriving at the chosen place to dine 15-minutes early though chatting with one of their waiters we were invited to sit down and he’d get us a drink while we waited.   Unfortunately for him we had also spotted the restaurant next door, they had a Sunday “Menu del Dia” and it looked very inviting.      We had the dilemma, “fixed” menu or “a la carte” but the decider was, when they both opened at 1330, the fixed menu restaurant was immediately busy whilst the other didn’t have any people at this point.

Our restaurant

We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink observing everything that was going on, families promenading etc., before ordering.   Whin I asked the waiter for the wine list, he shrugged his shoulders as there wasn’t one however, he asked me to accompany him and we were joined be another waiter who escorted me into a temperature controlled room, “their bodega”, full of all sorts of wine and we must not forget, Logrono is the centre of the Rioja region: No prices of course!!!    This is the second time this has happened to me in Spain and the first time it was costly but hey, we head back to U.K. next so just choose and enjoy it.

Walking in the main street

We had a superb meal and of course kept an eye on next door, see what we’ve missed, and we were happy with our “lot”.   Of course TT & R sat patiently under the table for the couple of hours we were there; we’re amazed how good they are when dining out, they have always done it quite naturally. 

Lovely city

It was time for “La Cuenca”, and swallowed hard as it was arriving only to be rather surprised by the bottom line; now at this point I should have said something, yet they are responsible for their own accounting aren’t they?,  so kept quiet, immediately paid and left.   They hadn’t charged for the bottle of wine from their bodiga and I know it wasn’t the cheap stuff like the first glass Christine had earlier, it was bloody good!!!!

Tonight England are playing Fiji in the quarter final so had to be back in time for kick-off at  1700hrs, but still had some time for a walk around the square etc.   Christine elected for an ice cream from the ice cream parlour and we then went to a cafe in the square so I could have a coffee and a brandy.   We sat and watched the waitress head to another table took their order and back inside, ignoring us as Christine munched her way through her ice cream.  She then returned with that tables order and just chatted to them as Christine got on with her ice cream, at which point another couple turned up and the waitress went straight to their table.  By now Christine had finished her ice cream and we got up and left.   There were two cafes in the square adjacent to each other. The other one was busy but unfortunately no table on the periphery where we can park two dogs; we got that wrong!!!!!!

The walk back was easier as it was down hill to the river then flat, and upon arrival noted the car boot sale had all packed up, the big carpark was empty, even our area has also emptied out, even better.

With the walk back the dogs were happy to sit for a bit so got the iPad out and switched the rugby on.

At the outset of this years RWC England had been written off; lucky if they get out of their pool was the thinking, well they performed better than expectation, not only have they come through the pool stage, they are the only team to have won every match and came out as the pool winner!!!  Now it’s the knockout stages so it’s “win or go home” for every team from now on, so important.   Fiji are a good team and beat us at Twickenham in the last game they played so pride, as well as a place in the semi final is at stake.   This was a nail biting game, ebbing and flowing but fortunately in the end, England found their stride and won.  Result:- England 30 : 24 Fiji,   We now have to watch the next match, the winner between France and South Africa will be our opponents in the semi final.

2100 hrs after Christine had taken the dogs out we settled down again in front of the iPad for the next Match.    France being the host nation who had never won the RWC had a lot resting on this game, for them it was unfortunate to finish up playing South Africa in a quarter final, two teams who should have both gone through to the semis, so we knew it was going to be “hum-dinger” of a match.

From the moment the whistle blew it was brutal action, both teams giving it their all, and both teams scores progressed together, surely this game was heading for extra time.  What a match, two fairly evenly balanced teams, both deserved to win but of course this is knock-out time and France was eventually the losing team.  Result:- France 28 : 29 South Africa.    England now know they will meet South Africa in the semi finals; a repeat of the 2019 RWC final in Japan, I just hope the result is different!!!

After a really good day we headed to bed, Bilbao tomorrow

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