Lifted

…and with a rusty cough, a puff of smoke and a grinding of gears, Mr Ken’s steam-driven, patent pending blogging engine finally chugged back to life…

Welcome back to our lovely subscribers and casual loggers-in, we’re so glad you decided to come along with us on a new adventure – it would be really boring without you. After a fraught few weeks selling the house, packing up and moving on, it’s so good to have our spirits lifted and to be back where we belong; on the road with the Vincinator. No more boring house sale talk from here on in, it’s all about the journey.

Docking in Santander, Spain. Let the adventure begin!

Today we’re in Cabárceno Nature Park, a short stretch from Santander where we docked at lunchtime. I say lunchtime but to be honest I’m not sure what time it was. We had to put the clocks back in the UK, then (I think) put them forward again when we got here. When we get to Portugal in a week or so I think it changes again – forward? Back? I don’t know, the only thing I’m sure of is that it’s fast approaching the cocktail hour and these posts flow a lot better at about quarter past wine.

Speaking of which, on the ship we decided against spending fortunes on Brittany Ferries-priced aperitifs so we raided Vince’s fridge and did that brown-bag thing where you wait until the barman’s back is turned and top up your own drinks. He must have thought we were really slow to make ‘one’ glass of wine last all night. The fact that we slept a solid ten hours in our little cabin may not be unrelated!

Sunset over the Pont-Aven

The Bay of Biscay crossing can be very rough from time to time but we were blessed with smooth seas and some bonus mild weather on our arrival. Vince was one of the first vehicles off the ferry so with Gill’s reminder to drive on the right echoing in my ears (much needed if you remember last October’s incident) we were soon on the short drive to Cabárceno. We decided on an easy first day just to get back into the swing of things, and also to give us time to make a supermarket stop. Which we didn’t. Well, we did – there’s a huge Carrefour on the outskirts of Santander – but we went round and round it about three times but couldn’t find an entrance to the car park without a height barrier. With Vince’s big baldy satellite dome on the roof he’s over 3m tall so that was that. Shopping tomorrow I guess.

Elephants. Really.

Cabárceno has a free aire outside the Nature Park where camper vans can park overnight. It has a waste emptying point but no electricity or water which isn’t a problem for us today as we arrived freshly serviced. Although as the weather is mild and a bit drizzly we aren’t getting much of a solar top-up so we’ll need to plug in somewhere in the next couple of days. The best bit about this stop-off is the view of the elephants. No that’s not an autocorrect – there really is a herd of elephants just over the fence! And with a likkle baby one being chivvied about by him mum too, awww. Unfortunately he kept hiding among the adults so I couldn’t get a pic for you.

We had a wander through the village to find most of the cafés and bars closed after the summer season, a theme which I suspect will be repeated here in the North as we travel around. Most of the campsites are closed too, but our guide shows those further south extend their season right into December so we’ll probably do longer distances in these early days of the trip to find the warmth and a bit more choice of places to stay.

We approached the one hotel and bar which seemed to be open on our walk, but as we sidled up to it on our left, SLAM! The owner couldn’t get the shutters down fast enough in case we made him stay open late. We both had a giggle because we looked at each other and said ‘Kiosk Keith!’ at the same time. If you don’t know Kiosk Keith you definitely have a more fulfilled and useful life than we’ve had so far, so I salute you.

Lovely Autumn colours

With most of the leaves having fallen at home, it was interesting to see the foliage here still mostly intact, but turning orange and brown. We saw a number of little back-garden orchards with apples and lemons still waiting to be picked, and one garden had a second flush of overripe figs still on the tree, much to the delight of the local bird population. We also came across a lovely local church with an ancient belfry but couldn’t explore as the doors were locked. I guess God takes Mondays off in lieu in Spain given that Sunday is such a busy day for Him.

One of the biggest motorhoming differences we’ve found this time round, is that the mobile networks all dropped their roaming charges this summer. No more faffing around with free wifi (yet) or setting up the mifi we brought last year – it’s just business as usual with our phones which we can hook up to the PC or iPad. Purely for research purposes to make these posts a little more factual (stop laughing up the back there!)

We’d like to spend the biggest part of the trip exploring the South of Portugal so our vague plan is to cut off the north-west corner of Spain and cross Portugal’s eastern border about halfway up. We’ll then journey to the south coast through inland Portugal and drive clockwise along the south coast and up the west coast before cutting off again for our ferry home in mid December. But as our regular readers may know…that could all change on a whim! We’re off to the big city in the morning; León.

See you there!

PS You can click on any of the pics to enlarge them 🙂

Vince’s first berth of the trip, overlooking a lake with extra elephants
Church closed on God’s day off

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