Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Where are we?

I tried to post this a couple of weeks ago...but there was a problem with the photos (thanks Jan for letting me know) ...... So here it is again ... With photos... It was so annoying not to be able to blog whilst away :o(

This is the lat & long of where we are. So you could Google it or put it in your sat nav!

This is the view in one direction and....

.... This is the other direction.

In 1933 it looked like this.

This poster is in the window of the boulangerie where we buy our croissants.

And this is the fantastic view from where we are staying.
If you've been on Instagram then you will know that we are in Biarritz and it is fabulous. The weather has at times been too hot, in the mid 30's, but it has chilled down this week by 10 degrees!
We are having a superb time and not yet ready to move back North.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


After driving 15 miles from home....we arrived in France!! The weather was glorious for our first 5 hours and then it changed for the worse! We spent a lovely night at Mont Saint Michel.

A photo from a lovely exhibition in the Cathedral, sorry I didn't get his name though.

Our Airs book listed the Aire as €10, but the area has been redeveloped to allow water to flow around the Mont again to prevent the area silting up. The Aire is now €20 (but thankfully we are small enough to count as a car which was €12).
We did manage to contribute to the French motorways as we paid a toll for € mistake....another reason I should try and improve my French!
We then went over to the D-Day landing beaches. What a nightmare it must have been for the men of all nations that battled it out on these beaches.

This bunker and restaurant are still here today.

Utah beach where the Americans landed and fought their way up to Cherbourg. The Battle of the Hedgerows took far longer than anticipated, at times loosing one man per meter advanced. The museum here is excellent and has many articles from the war....including tanks and planes.

The American cemetery at Omaha Beach has 9387 headstones. 45 sets of brothers were buried here and a visitors centre personalises their very sad stories. It's an incredible sight and a moving experience to visit here.

After a visit to Honfleur, we found a peaceful spot by the Seine for the night....luckily these massive cargo ships didn't make too much noise!
After a week in Normamdy where it had rained every day but one, we decided to curtail our trip and drive South to find some sun.

We ended up on Ile de Re. We love it here and always treat ourselves to a campsite with a pool for a few days. After a 26 mile cycle ride to see the lighthouse I deserved a relaxing swim.

The blue sky didn't last long and it has now rained every day except tomorrow we head South this rate we will end up on the Mediterranean though we never planned to go that far. My long walks in the Dordogne book won't be much use.

As usual, loving the French food and markets. I have spent my holiday money on ice cream from La Martiniere who is one of the top 5 ice cream producers in France.

I also bought this book and though I can't read much of it, it has some lovely water colour paintings.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Porto to Santander 2

The last leg of our journey took us North East from Porto, through a national park, over the mountains and into Spain. Here we had been told about some remarkable thermal springs that flow into this pool and into the river. We had a lovely soak and again in the morning, when the steam was still rising. The water temperature was so hot that I had to get out, cool down and then get back in again! It is wonderful to see places like this that are unspoiled, if this was at home it would have broken glass around and some idiot would throw a bottle of bubble bath in they do with the fountains in very sad.

We went back to Vidiago campsite on the North coast of Spain. Followed the path to the caves, it was a bit spooky with only the two of us in there, in the dark. The purple colours and the stillness of the deep rock pools were impossible to capture on film...or pixels...or whatever it is these days!

Our last stop before the ferry was at the Cabarceno safari park. It is the largest wildlife park in Europe on the site of an old mine. Though we didn't visit this time, at €24 we are planning to spend a full day here next year. These photos were taken from the road through the village and it was nice to see that these animals had a very large space to roam around in.

Then on to Santander for the afternoon. This was an extremely hot day and we wandered around the shops that were shut until 16:30. Unfortunately we didn't find the beach, but now we know where it is then next time we will be able have an ice cream! We also stocked up at the Carefour....though we scraped under the 2.1m height barrier.....we found the high vehicle parking on the road around the corner on our way out.

Just some of the 20 bottles of port, several boxes of wine, vodka and a selection of beers....including a crate of Sagres......we are set up for a BBQ ..... When Summer arrives!

Monday, 10 June 2013


With 257 photos taken over 2 days, Porto deserves a post all to itself.....don't worry I won't bore you with all the photos, but it is a beautiful city. We didn't realise quite how big until we took a Yellow Bus tour which included a cruise and 2 Port Lodge tours, with tasting, all for €22. The great thing about this tour was that you could get on and off wherever you wanted and also included the normal bus trip back to our Orbitur campsite at Madalena, an hours journey through the narrow streets from the centre. The local bus ride was an adventure in itself due to the speed which the driver skilfully negotiated the narrow lanes. There is a great beach here in the centre too, lovely destination for a short break.

This advert made us smile...."Join the sexiest paper on earth" ....

The Ribeira section down by the river is a warren of narrow streets and steep steps up to the centre. Washing still hangs out from upper floor balconies and many restaurants crowd the river bank. We stumbled across this little gem, cafe with the red doors below, tucked away in an ally just off the name but if you can find it then order the Bolinhos de Bacalhau, a local fish cake we watched the lady make, absolutely delicious!

These boats used to be used to transport the barrels of port from the Upper Douro vineyards down to the port area here, but now they are just used during regattas by the Port companies and lorries are used to move the port.

The river Douro flows 576 miles from Spain to the Atlantic here. In the upper Douro valley grapes are grown in what was the first ever demarcated Port region and it is now recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The river cruise took us under the 6 bridges, one of which was built by Gustave Eiffel in 1877.

Vila Nova de Gaia is on the opposite bank to Porto and is where all the port is blended and left to mature in the barrels. The maritime climate makes ideal conditions and also it is shaded here until late in the afternoon. We toured the Calem and the Graham's lodge and tried out a selection of their port. There are now several bottles stashed away in Libby for drinking later.

Like any city it has its share of dilapidated buildings and graffiti, though we did find the streets very clean.

Below is a statue to the Luso-British Forces. It is a lion crushing the French eagle which celebrates the victory in the Peninsular wars. Maybe this old alliance is why the Portuguese people are so friendly towards the British tourists today. We have found welcomes and smiles everywhere.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Peniche to Costa Nova

At Peniche the headland sticks out into the ocean and it was even windier than ever, we did see a few brave vans parked up here. Also some fishermen were perched on the edge of a sheer cliff edge, not sure if the fish would hang on while they reeled it up the 100 foot cliff! We drove around the coast to Baleal and watched some surfers and went a walk over the causeway to wander around the narrow streets and white washed houses.
Then on up to Nazare, a traditional fishing village with a marvellous beach, where earlier in the year an American Surfer was towed out to surf a 100m wave before it crashed into shore. The large waves here are a result of a deep water trench just off the coast, which then shallows rapidly only meters from the shoreline. In certain weather conditions this produces exceptionally large waves. They were certainly crashing in whilst we visited, but not quite so big!
The little funicular railway took us from Nazare up to Sitio at the top of the peninsular for a couple of Euros. Here we got fantastic views of the sweeping bay below.

The classical image of Portugal is these fishing boats on the beach, which used to be hauled ashore by a team of oxen. We only saw them in this area though as many have now be replaced by modern boats and the old ones seam to decorate several town roundabouts!
In Nazare we also saw fish being dried on wire racks and many of the older generation dressed in traditional costume. Instead of mending nets the fish wives were trying to rent us a room, obviously more profitable, how times have changed.

At Sao Pedro de Moel, near to Marinha Grande we stayed at a campsite and chilled out for a couple of days. Tim even managed to put the hammock up for a few hours rest! Though we did cycle 10 miles to Praia de Vieira and had a scrummy sardine lunch while watching the waves crash ashore. The road was one of the straightest and with a great cycle track the whole way, but it just went on and on and on.....

At the end of the cycle track was a market place and these lovely candy striped houses.

As we had some tickets to use up for Orbitur Campsites we chose the next one up at Praia de Mira where there was a kite flying competition. The local children had made them out of paper and string and they where flying very well in the strong breeze. Some of the fishing boats shown above were here and the fishermen sorted the fish out on the beach. Some of it was quickly auctioned off and several of the locals were filling carrier bags with the smaller fish that had been discarded into the sand.

We hadn't planned to stay at Costa Nova, but it was a glorious Sunday and we found a small craft market taking place. We stopped and bought some biscuits from two sisters who also had some lovely handmade bags and purses for sale. They have a blog here.
The town is well known for its candy striped houses, each beautifully painted and full of character. We bought Dorado and prawns from the market as well as some lovely bread. The Portuguese rolls and bread have been tasty, especially for our pick nick lunches.

Now off up the coast to Porto.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sagres, Zavial to Costa de Santo Andre

Two weeks spent between Sagres and Zavial. In and out of the sea, sunbathing out of the wind and some coastal walks.

We made it back to the lovely little restaurant at Ingrina and had the most fantastic prawns and Sea Bream.

With just over three weeks left we decided that we had to head north up to Carrapateria. We have spent seven weeks on the same two pages in our map and it was finally time to change the page! Total mileage so far is 1250.

Tim ran out of Jazzers and so we had to make some by melting the chocolate in the windscreen and then liberally sprinkling it with billions and trillions. This was one giant Jazzer!


The view from Almograve was stunning coastline in both directions. We spent a few hours looking at the folds in the rocks. Some had been folded under so much pressure that they had over turned back on themselves.

......and at last we saw the sun set over the sea.

A quick campsite for washing and showers at Vila Nova de Milfontes, unfortunately it was a bit far out of the town and so we shall have to return here another time. A short hop up to a new Aire at Porto Covo and then skipped around the refineries and smog at Sines to Praia de Santo Andre. Here we are pictures yet but using the wifi in the bar while we can.