Saturday, March 31, 2012

St Feliu, Peniscola, beachside wildcamp and no bandits :)

St Feliu de Guixols is a lovely Spanish resort, the fact that there is a free Aire makes it even better!

St Feliu de Guixols

Since our first visit here new services have been installed - also free. Its an Aire that's not listed in all the guides but we have the details on Club Motorhome of course!

After St Feliu we set off for Peniscola using non-toll roads which meant a 6 hour journey (half it if using tolls) but the roads were mostly good. I (semi) jokingly reminded Caroline to have her camera at the ready to snap any of the infamous Barcelona Bandits if they tried to stop us as we passed the city, but as usual no sign.....

At the end of the long day's drive we pulled in at the Peniscola Aire, no need for hookup so just €8. The Aire was pretty busy but not with Brits. Aires rules normally say no chairs, awnings, etc and this one has a whopping great sign up but still you see lots of awnings, chairs etc in use. Must just be to keep the authorities happy to have a sign up?

No awnings, no tables, no chairs

Our last day of this trip was to some beachside wild camping near Gandia where we met up, by chance, with friends Dick and Jackie in their Autotrail. We had a very pleasant evening catching up on our respective travels during the past year.

Next outing is to the Spain 2012 meet at Denia and Calpe, looking forward to it already!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Feet up at Leucate Plage - then back into Spain

From Vers we travelled a couple of hundered more miles south to an Aire that was new to us at Fanjeaux, a charming and very old village high up with great surrounding views including the snow capped Pyrenees.

Fanjeaux view of the Pyrenees

Several more vans squeezed onto the Aire for the night and the  next morning we had a wander around the ancient village.

Next stop on our list was one of our favourite beachside Aires, Leucate Plage. We've stayed several times in the past, for as much as a week at a time. Situated right on the beach its a perfect spot!

We met Andy and Caroline from the UK who were returning from their over-wintering trip to Spain and Portugal, they'd had a great 3 months but were looking forward to getting back home. Their 2 Jack Russells became good buddies with Digger and enjoyed running amok on the beach.

Leucate is a payment Aire but when we arrived the recently installed new payment system was not working which was a nice bonus, although we discovered that the water was turned off too. The next morning however, engineers arrived to commission the system for the season and turned it back on - although the barriers stayed open. We had been very lucky on this trip with overnight charges so far being ZERO!

We had a good day's admin on the van at Leucate, tidying through and re-arranging some storage and this morning left after a lazy start for Spain.

We're at St Feliu de Gixols near Girona tonight along with about a dozen other vans and again we have free wifi!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where there's a will, there's wifi!

A very pleasant stop at Magnac-Bourg, its a very pretty and traditional village. 4 other motorhomes shared the Aire and they were all French - its not very touristy here, which is nice .


After a liesurely start (the best kind!) we made use of the free services and made our way to our next overnight stop at Vers in the Midi-Pyrenees region.

We found the Aire easily enough although it was one of those journeys where TomTom tries to take you down some dodgy looking roads, sometimes we ignore it and re-route and others we just go with it. This does seem to let us see some of the real back-and-beyond hamlets in France though. The Aire is basic but OK, next to a campsite that is closed until the summer so its quiet, only one other van which is English and on their way back from Tenerife and Gran Canaria in it!

The parking at Vers

As I'm typing this 2 more (French) vans have arrived.

The bonus with this place is that I found some more unsecured wifi! Hence this update . A while back I invested in a Faculty-X long range antenna and this is one of the few times it has been worthwhile.

So that's today.... Tomorrow we go further south checking out more Aires to add to Club Motorhome (I haven't listed the other ones we've just popped in at so far on this blog - they will be added to the site later) and who knows? If there's wifi there will be another update.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The trip south, so far...

Firstly, the long awaited grandchild arrived under HIS own steam just 2 weeks late and weighed in at an impressive 9lb 13oz!

After saying cheerio to others in the family we set off for our Eurotunnel crossing arriving in France in the dark and we headed to an Aire that we used a couple of years ago at Equihen Plage. Parking on the clifftop we quickly cooked our dinner and settled in for the rest of the evening, with that 'happy to be travelling again' feeling.

Clifftop parking at Equihen Plage

At around 9 the next morning we were woken by the police knocking on our door asking for €5, not being ready for this as last time it was free we only then wondered where we had stashed our Euros while in the UK. I found a little loose change in the ashtray and apologised to the officer who after a short exchange (the best I can do in French) he shrugged and wished us a good day - I think....

We had been in contact with friends and members 'stevegreen' as they were returning from their overwintering in Portugal. They had suggested our next stop as it had been recommended to them. By mid afternoon we met up at Criel sur Mer, a designated motorhome parking area just off the beach. It was a great opportunity for our 'Digger' to meet their 'Jack', they are friends on Facebook (yes really..... they each have their own pages - and many friends!)

Our little meetup at Criel sur Mer

We had a great meetup with Steve, Lorna and Jack and enjoyed their hospitality and lots (too many) glasses of Leffe and Bordeaux so the next morning was a slow start for all of us.

They had mentioned an interesting town further south which we decided would be one of our next stops.

We used toll roads for a change (I had come down with a lousy cold and didn't fancy negotiating all the little villages and countless roundabaouts en route)  and were delightfully ripped off to the tune of 30+ Euros by the time we got to our destination . Not only are the tolls a ripoff but the diesel prices on the toll roads are eye wateringly expensive - nudging €1.60!

Our next nightstop was at an Aire in the small town of Le Sap. We've used this Aire before as its a reliable source of water and waste dumping and the water was on this time too. Situated beside a pond its a nice location. We were entertained briefly by what we though was a boy-racer screaching around the corner and skidding to a halt outside the adjacent building - then we twigged it was the fire station and he was a part time fireman on a shout, others soon arrived in various vehicles one of which was a gardeners pickup truck with its contents falling all over the place behind it!

Next morning we set off for Richelieu.

Steve and Lorna's recommendation was indeed a charming, typically French town developed in the grounds of what had been an enormous palace - Richelieu.

Water tower at Richelieu

We parked by the water tower in the motorhome signposted area and had the place to ourselves, except for the old fellas playing petanque.

A nice quiet night followed by a wander around the Parc de Richelieu, which must be stunning in the summer with everything in bloom (makes note to come back in summer). We'd found a new service point about half a kilometer away outside the municipal camping so made use of the emptying facilities before making our way further south.

Tonight we are at Magnac Bourg, a quaint village with an Aire beside the pond and amazingly some unsecured wifi which is how i am able to post this update.

Tomorrow, Vers or Cahors... we haven't decided yet. The great thing about motorhoming - make plans but change them whenever you want!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Featured Pub Stopover - The House on the Green

Well, we're still waiting around for our overdue grandchild but tomorrow is going to be the day!
In the meantime we took the opportunity to stay at our latest Pub Stopover - The House on the Green at North Wootton on the outskirts of Kings Lynn in Norfolk. Its a lovely old country/village pub and I've made it a featured stopover on Club Motorhome.
The House on the Green
The landlord is very keen to encourage motorhomes to stay over and we are happy to recommend the pub if you are passing that way.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A belated catchup....

The trip up through France was much as planned, the only change of nightstop was Biarritz instead of Hendaye Plage. We wanted to have electricity where possible for heating as we had been expecting some very cold temperatures.

The beach at Biarritz

Typically unsecured WiFi was as hard to find as usual, hence the lack of blog updates en-route. As things turned out we were quite fortunate with the weather, only getting misty, foggy stuff from the northern half of France upwards.

Pets Passport at the Eurotunnel terminal was straightforward and they actually checked Digger's chip this time, unlike last time when we could have had any old dog with us. They even gave us a free copy of Practical Motorhome Magazine and a couple of Dog magazines too.

We've been in the UK a week now and are getting through our list of jobs while here and still waiting for the new grandchild to arrive......

I discovered 2 consequences of our last minute packing efforts:

1. I forgot a bag that contains all the various electrical chargers that we need for our various gadgets, phone, kindle, camera etc etc

2. Our road tax ran out while we were in Spain at the end of December so I dutifully renewed online and arranged with my mother-in-law to have the disc sent on from our UK address to us in Spain. It arrived and I put it to one side for our trip. I forgot it! Sod's law came into play when a motorcycle policeman spotted our out of date disc and pulled us over for a 'chat'. I explained the situation and asked him if he could check that I had paid up to date via their computer systems these days? Apparently not - so he took my details and has reported me to the DVLA...... Oh well!

One new tyre for the van - £161... Ouch! The fitters kindly greased the Al-Ko chassis rear axle while it was up on jacks though, so that was helpful. AutoGlass came out and re-sealed the top edge of the windscreen that had started to let the rain in, so hopefully that will be the end of that. I've had our local sign-writer make up some Club Motorhome logo graphics which have now been applied to the front, sides and rear of the van

Club Motorhome Graphics

Come and say Hi if you see us about.