Sunday 28 June 2009

What makes a place a home?

Well it's another beautiful sunny morning and to wake up to see a blue sky and hear the birds singing is always a glorious way to start the day.
But I got to thinking.... what makes a place a home?

On our journey here through France and Spain there were hundreds of fantastic places; the type of scenery that makes you catch your breath, the type of places where you wonder how fantastic it would be to live there.

So what makes our little part of Spain the place that we have returned to year after year for the past 22 years? Well the blue Mediterranean is the same as elsewhere; the mountains are the same; it is not totally rural (a shame as I love the countryside) and at times it is packed full of people.

So why do we always feel like we are coming home?

Well I guess the familiarity of the place makes us feel comfortable but....
.... without our friends then it would be just another seaside town.

So for us, it is the people who make the home.

As our friendships have matured over the years and we have watched our Spanish friends children grow up, accepting us as part of their vast family, and now watch the children's children begin their lives - and we are included in their world - we know that it is them that have us returning year after year.
Silly little things like family members all greeting us or waving in the street that makes us feel at home; big things like being invited to weddings and parties; being treated with the same familiarity as family members - that's what makes us feel at home.

So to little Alba and Eulisias the new members of our Spanish 'family' we say bienvenido and long may we be able to watch you all grow. XXX

Monday 22 June 2009


Loved this shot as we were approaching the Pyrenees. Sorry photo isn't any better but I'm no David Bailey....


Here are a few shots of the Aire du viaduc de Millau. Photos can't show actually how spectacular this is....

Sunday 21 June 2009

Our Travel-blog Part Five

As our alarm awoke us refreshed at 06:00 I opened the curtains and was shocked to see that we had made good time and were arriving in Palma earlier than expected!!!

About half an hour later we were driving along the seafront at Palma and made to an area where we had stopped before so that I could brew a cup of tea and we could wake up properly!

While there the Guardía arrived and pulled up behind us and got out their car. Now we had a problem as they had blocked us in while they pulled up cars and lorries making their way from the port. We watched while they checked the details and vehicles for a while but I did notice that one police car had pulled into a parking space while the other one was still behind us blocking our exit.

Guessing that they normally parked in the spot we were in I decided that I was refreshed enough and clear-headed enough now to give my Spanish language a bash :-) Waiting until a convenient moment when they weren't checking cars I called across and asked them if they wanted the parking space that we were in. A lovely friendly Guardía asked if we wanted to leave, called to his colleague to move their car and then proceeded to hold up the traffic so we could back out onto the road. With a cheery gracias and a wave goodbye we made our way up the island to the north where our journey ends... and our holiday begins....

Our Travel-blog Part Four

Apart from Paris our second problematic city is Barcelona. Don't get me wrong - I love Barcelona - but we always get lost going around it!

We did take the wrong road but only briefly and soon found our way to the port. Hey a few more years at this and we will be able to get directly to the ship with no problems :-)

We arrived with a good 2 hours to spare before it was time to board ship but the next hurdle was getting into the port as the road was blocked with traffic jams.... The lorries unloading from the previous ship were having trouble getting unloaded and out of the port and the mass of cars trying to get into the port didn't want to give way to them. Chaos reigned..... and the police were not having a lot of luck directing the traffic either!!

Anyway we eventually got to park up ready to board and we joined the queue for boarding passes. Why don't they have a separate desk for pre-booked tickets? As we waited... and waited... and waited... while people bought tickets the time ticked away and the queue got longer. Boy was I glad we got there early.

Well we were given our tickets and shortly after arriving back at our car we were loaded onto the ship.

We collected the key to our cabin; had a marvellous and much needed shower and collapsed into bed and were snoring heavily before we had even left the port :-)

Our Travel-blog Part Three

As the alarm woke us we tried to pull our thoughts together and after brewing a couple of cups of tea in the back of the Sedona we were ready to plough on as far as possible before stopping again as we wanted to get as close to Spain as possible. The Sat Nav gave us an e.t.a. of just under 18:30 but we didn't want to chance getting held up anywhere and missing the ferry at Barcelona.
With plenty of food on hand to eat en route there was no problem however the fact that we forgot the flask meant that we had to stop to brew up a tea as I couldn't boil a kettle while we were driving (gas stove) but I did estimate that we would have about 3 1/2 hours available for breaks so no problemo...

We reached the volcanoes by midday and therefore we knew we were back on schedule. Reaching the Millau viaduct by 15:40 I attempted to take some photos whilst driving across it - that has to be one of the most spectacular feats of engineering! I will load my photos onto the computer later and upload them to my blog - although they will not be spectacular those of you who know the place will recognise them.

One of my favourite places has to be the midi pyrenees and I did manage to get one shot of us heading toward the light (it has been raining and cloudy en route) and excitement grew and adrenelin kept us going as we realised we would shortly be entering Spain.

Reaching La Jonquera we physically relaxed as we entered back into our adopted second country .... and home...

Our Travel-blog Part Two

Exiting the tunnel at Calais we headed for the fastest route to Spain (having tried several different routes in the past) which is directly toward Paris; around the Peripherique and onward toward the south of France and the Pyrenees. Big mistake!!!!

Now I love France and their roads are fantastic compared to the UK but they do tend to lack giving directions at times..... a bit of 'ok find your own way now'!

As we neared Paris we suddenly hit a diversion as the motorway was closed due to repair work (I know - we should have checked before we left to see if there were any roadworks). Exiting the motorway we followed a van to try and find our way passed the closed bit and back onto the motorway. However when the van appeared to go in a totally wrong direction we thought that perhaps he was delivering somewhere and so took what we thought was the right road - WRONG. Two laps around Chantilly later we were wondering where the hell we were going to end up! The Sat Nav wasn't much help as it kept trying to take up back on roads that were closed and our instincts were somewhat hindered by the fact that it was now about 2.30 am Friday!

Very tired and by now very fed up with driving around Chantilly (although I must admit it's a lovely place) we stopped for a moment to try and gather our thoughts. Mick keyed in another route on the Sat Nav and we decided to give it another try; after all we were the ones that were tired not the Sat Nav.

Following instructions we headed back in the direction we had already come from but were then swung across country to link eventually back up with the Peripherique - eureka!!!!

A13 heading toward Versaille and by 4.30 am we had reached the A10 and were back on route. By now we could have slept standing up so we pulled into the next Aire and crashed out for 2 1/2 hours.... part three coming up.

Our Travel-blog Part One

First of all as you can see I've found a Wi-Fi connection :-)

Our journey began on Thursday night and as with most good plans something has to come along and change it! The 'something' was Mick's work. Whereas normally he has finished work a good 3 hours or more before I get home because it was a day when he wanted to get home early fate had other plans - hold-ups work related and accidents on motorways causing massive delays. So by the time I got home he had only just got in himself and the car hadn't been loaded with our holiday gear neither had he had chance to get himself showered and ready for the trip. By the time we were ready to leave we had already missed our book-in slot at Eurotunnel and we still had an hour's journey to the tunnel! Luckily Eurotunnel are very flexible.

Anyway once at the tunnel we were lucky to arrive just as a shuttle was loading and with space available on it we were loaded on immediately with no hold-ups. So by 9.40 pm we were en route to Calais arriving there at 11.20 pm local time.

There begins part two of our journey.....

Thursday 18 June 2009

Adios inglaterra y hola españa

Well we are off tonight. The past week or so has been hectic. We've picked up our new fifth wheeler and it is now sitting on our drive - ready for its maiden journey (when we can get more time off work). Then we've been getting ready for our annual hols and to cap it all I came down with a sore throat and cold yesterday! Luckily the garlic and vitamin C seems to have worked as I'm just left with the sniffles now :-)

So here I am at work - only a few hours to go now - and then tonight as soon as I get home it's into the car and off on our journeys....

We should get through the tunnel and into Calais by about 10.30 tonight and then onwards and passed Paris where we will stop at about 2 AM for a few hours sleeping rough. Then tomorrow morning at about 7 AM we will continue our journey down through the border and into Spain and onward to Barcelona (oh no that dreaded roundabout!!) and then onto the ferry to Palma at 11 PM. We've managed to book a cabin so should get a good nights sleep and arrive in Palma at about 6.30 Saturday morning refreshed and ready to start our holiday and see our Spanish friends again.

I've been continuing my study of French and Spanish throughout the year so it will be good fun to see if they think I've improved.

I'll be taking my laptop with me but I don't know whether I will be able to get online or not - depends on whether we can pick up a Wi-fi spot.

So for now,

Adios y hasta luego

Thursday 11 June 2009

Why does waiting seem forever?

Why does the journey to somewhere always seem longer than the journey home?

It's a strange thing 'waiting'. Why does your normal rational mind think of all the things that could go wrong? Why can't you just 'go with the flow'?

Please excuse my insane ramblings as I wait for Saturday lunchtime to arrive and the safe pick up of our new purchase :-)

There is something quite strange about putting your trust in a complete stranger who waits for the arrival of your money in his bank account before you can collect your goods. It's especially nerve wracking when it's a relatively large sum of money (for me anyway).

What if the goods aren't his to begin with? What if you turn up and he's disappeared along with the goods? What if the address he gave you is a fake?

Why do all these 'what ifs' come into play while you wait....

What if in reality there is nothing whatsoever to worry about and you've been worrying for nothing :-D

I guess when a good deal comes along I start to wonder if it is really true - after all why would I have such luck?

But then 'why not me?'

The problem with waiting is just that - waiting gives you time. Time to think of all the things that could go wrong instead of all the things that could go right.


back to the 'why does the journey to somewhere always seem longer than the journey home?' Well I guess that comes back to the 'waiting' because on your journey to somewhere you are waiting to get there and time and distance seem to stand still whereas on the way home you've been there and done whatever you wanted to do so time no longer seems to matter.

Now I'd better stop rambling before the men in their white coats turn up to take me away.....

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Quick update on the RSI

Just to let you know that I'm now equipped with an arm brace which is working wonders. I do look like a power ranger or spiderman but it does the job.

As soon as I feel I need it I pop it on and then I can carry on typing and it doesn't get any worse.

One of the young lads at work did say that it looked "pretty cool" so that's good enough for me so there's no stopping me now :D

Oh and a special thanks for the kind wishes.

Now when I've finished getting organised for our hols in Spain (at the end of next week); sorted out the insurance for the 5th wheeler; sold our old motorhome and gone to work, I might have time to blog.

Hey life is great!

Our fifth-wheeler

Call us mad if you want to but we've given in and bought the above. Our poor little old motorhome just couldn't compete with our new fifth-wheeler.

Now I have a reason to carry on working - pay for it :-) but it will give us the freedom to discover much more and in comfort.

I've put it down to an early retirement plan, the plan is that when we retire we won't be able to afford holidays but at least we will have the transport and living accommodation now to at least travel. Say goodbye to cold winters in the UK and say hello to the sun....

But that is in the future and you should only live day by day for who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Anyway if me and Mick have a fall out one of us can always sleep in the trailer :-D

Only joking.....