Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wind in the night

We got the early night that we wanted but there was little sleep to be had - howling gales all night. It was like trying to sleep in a boat that was being rocked by waves. It was possible to hear the gusts coming before they hit the van, then bam! I got up during the night to check the security of the roof-lights as they were being torn at by the gusts. Even the folding shower doors has to be clipped back into place as they were swinging and clattering with the motion of the van.

I'm writing this over morning coffee and the wind is still howling. It's going to make interesting driving on today's mountain roads!

So today the roads have actually been quite good, not like the wind which has been atrocious! I had to literally fight the steering wheel to keep a straight line for a lot of the day. Before long we had persistent rain to accompany the wind. Anyway we found a couple of Aires that we wanted to review. One being quite nice, in a big wine growing area. We stopped there for some lunch before setting off for the other which was an odd sort of affair.

Our satnav wanted to take us in via a very narrow route so we chose to ignore it. We then found a motorhome parking sign indicating 100 metres, then about a kilometre on another saying 100 metres, then another arrowing to turn left down a riverside track and then another indicating an impossible turn left into some big trees. We manoeuvred in but then gave up as there was no sign of services so reversed the entry procedure and carried on to our night-stop at Teruel.

We found the mixed parking area opposite the Guardia Civil HQ and parked ourselves in a quiet spot in the far corner. I took Digger for a little walk around and a recce and decided to ask at the HQ if we were OK to stay for the night. I asked the officer on mirror-on-a-stick security duty at the gate in between checking the undersides of incoming vehicles. He confirmed that we were fine and that if we had any worries we could park a bit closer to them so that they could keep an eye on us! This is not the first time that we have had such a friendly response from the Guardia.

Caro went off for an explore and came back with a change of plans for dinner - we're having pizza.

Another motorhome (French) pulled in towing a car on an a-frame and parked at the end nearest the Guardia. They obviously had no qualms about the legality of their outfit - good on them!

Heading North in winter!

To coincide with MOT time for this van we need to be in the UK for March/April so we left our relatively warm and certainly sunny Spanish base with a view to meandering up through France to get a Tunnel crossing on the 11th of February. In order to enjoy what might be the last of our good weather for a while we made a small detour and spent the first 3 nights of our trip at Calpe with some of our friends that had been there since before Christmas.

They're good planners these friends, so on arrival we were immediately whisked off to attend their alfresco Australia Day group lunch. Wow what a treat they laid on! Lots of barbecuing going on obviously and a fair amount of alcohol too.....

The next day another lunch was hosted by other friends (and Club Motorhome members) Starters, mains and desserts from all directions and lots more alcohol..... Not quite sure how we would cope if we stayed here very long .

Our last full day was a little more laid back but somehow still, very nicely, included afternoon teas and more alcohol!

On leaving Calpe our plan was to take some days before crossing into France to explore some Aires that we have become aware of. Fitting these into our route meant that we took some different roads to the ones that we are familiar with and we found ourselves on single track mountain roads inland of Valencia finding the first two.

The views were spectacular as we climbed higher into the inland mountains. The first Aire that we found was above the village of Bicorp. It was a little early in the day to stop so I just took some photos and a video - how windy it had become! Just time for a comfort break and off we'd go.

A little tip for you.... If you leave somewhere at sea level and your toilet cassette is empty and then you climb to high altitude and wish to use the loo, make sure you open and close the toilet blade BEFORE you put anything into the toilet. Do it the other way and the built up air pressure bursts out of the cassette taking anything in the toilet bowl with it - straight upwards to the person operating the flap. I had forgotten my own tip. Oh, how I laughed..........

The weather was definitely changing for the worse...

Lots more mountain kilometres later we arrived at our night-stop outside the town of Turis. The Aire itself is not much to write about other than it's free, has parking bays divided by hedging and has free services. It's also next to a tyre depot and petrol filling station but once you're tucked in with your blinds closed you'd never know. After the social life of the last few days an early night was probably in order.

The immediate surroundings certainly didn't spoil the sunset