Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199810 England Crete France Andorra Spain

Thursday 1 October 1998  Did not expect to still be in England now, bang goes another month’s road tax!  Look after Daniel in the morning whilst Claire goes to the gym.  In the afternoon we all go down to Keighley swimming baths.  I go in the pool with Claire and Daniel.  He loves the water but keeps wanting to go off on his own even though he doesn’t have any armbands or a ring.  Steve sits on the side with the video camera.  Steve goes down to bowling with Rod in the evening and I go with Nancy to see a new fitness centre that has opened. 
WILSDEN
Friday 2 October  As there is no branch of Squeaky Clean here I fill in and do a short and sweet at Claire’s.  Spend the afternoon jobbing in Keighley before going up to the site opposite Newsholme Manor.  It is a cold afternoon and after we have cooked the meal we notice a big problem with the condensation dripping from the ceiling and inside the cupboards.  Despite opening the windows and doors and having the heating on we can’t stop it completely.  Think the best solution is to move to warmer climes.
NEWSHOLME CL
Saturday 3 October  A lovely morning and we decide to head to the Naturist site at Hull to meet up with some friends.  We were going to baby-sit for Daniel tonight so it is decided that he will come with us instead.  Car seat, high chair seat, pushchair, food and clothing is loaded onboard and we set off at 10.00.  Daniel soon falls asleep but wakes up an hour later and immediately starts dancing to the music.  The weather deteriorates as we head East and we arrive to rain.  In the Club Daniel decides he doesn’t like Lager.   Rugby match in the afternoon whilst I wander round the shops with Daniel and our friend’s son Luke.  Orange Juice and a packet of Wotsits are needed to put him on until tea time.  After a shower with Grandad, Daniel is shattered and falls asleep in the van.  Later we take him up to the club house for a Birthday party but he is a party pooper and sleeps through it in the quiet lounge.  Not a murmur when we move him back into bed just after midnight.
HULL YSS
Sunday 4 October  More rain.  I think this is the first time we have visited a Naturist site and only taken our clothes off to take a shower.  A couple of friends of ours John & Maureen (whom we first met about 15 years ago in Yugoslavia) are heading to Spain for the Winter.  As we have had no luck with the van insurance in America we decide that we will join them for Christmas and New Year at a Naturist site. Claire is planning to go to Blackpool today so we volunteer to have Daniel until tomorrow.  He really has not been a bit of bother and we are enjoying the time with him.  Return to the CL near Cross Roads in the evening.
CROSS ROADS CL
Monday 5 October   Drop Daniel at nursery and then drive to Claire’s to pick up mail and make some phone calls.  Notice that we have lost the cap off the end of the bumper and it is necessary as the waste pipe is stored inside and now there is nothing to stop it falling out.  We have received a letter from an Australian couple wanting a van exchange next year and call to check it out.  They only want our van for 6 months but say we can have theirs for 11 months from then end of January, so it looks like we are now off to Australia instead as this is too good an opportunity to miss.  Late afternoon we receive a phone call from a company who have managed to arrange us insurance for USA except that to get the insurance we must use their company services at $1500.    Help – what do we do now?   Steve seems to think if we can confirm everything the Australia deal is best as the set up for America will always be there and we can still go to Spain for Christmas and return in the middle of January and all we will have missed is the proposed trip to Morocco.  Whew, it’s quite tiring just making these plans without actually doing anything.  Now we have to find a fax machine to speed up communications for the van exchange.  Baby-sit at Claire’s whilst Claire and Daz go swimming.  Wonder how much baby-sitting we should fit it to fill our quota for our years absence in Australia?
DENHOLME
Tuesday 6 October  A telephone number in the Motorcaravan magazine turns out to be Steve who lives near Huddersfield.  He deals in spares for American motorhomes.  He orders the thermostat for the oven and also supplies us with a hose connector and bumper cap.  The locksmith in Bradford has managed to cut a key for the lock but when we arrive to collect it the bad news is that although the new key fits the lock has sheared off inside.   Hey Ho!  Call to see David at work.  It is his first day on peace work and without taking a lunch break he finishes his allocation at 20 to 5 and then taps us up for food.  He is looking well and is happy in his work so at the moment we can wish for no more.  When we saw him in hospital he asked us to drop the charges against him and as he seems to be on the right road (at the moment) we feel it would serve no purposes pressing charges so we will drop the case and wish him well.
DENHOLME
Wednesday 7 October  I speak to Pat Milton again who has previously done the USA tour that we want to do.  She cannot understand out insurance problems but feels sure we can sort it out ourselves without having to pay the $1500 to a company when we don’t really want all the other things in their package.  Whilst chatting I mention our possible Australia swap and she points out that British licence holders cannot drive an Australian vehicle over 3.5 tons even though we can drive up to 7.5tons here.  A quick phone call to Australia reveals that the vehicle is 4 tons but Fred knows nothing about the ruling and will check with his insurance company.  Is anything in life ever straightforward.  I manage to find a company who can sort out seat cushions out and they are at Chesterfield.  The good news is that they have a parking area with motorhome facilities and we can use it all weekend and have the cushions done on Monday morning.  Call at the Nat West bank to make a deposit into the bank account which should finally have been opened – but hasn’t been as the girl in Jersey dealing with it is in hospital and no one opened her mail.  Try again tomorrow – the story of our lives at the moment.  Park at Airedale hospital in the evening ready for Steves appointment (for his finger) tomorrow.
KEIGHLEY, AIRDALE HOSPITAL
Thursday 8 October  The Doctor is most interested in Steve’s finger.  Instead of the broken bones knitting together some cartilage has grown and this explains the swelling.  There is very little they can do about it and it should improve eventually but in the meantime he need to be careful with it (he told me the doctor said no washing up or hard work!).  The bank account is now open so we can finally complete the necessary transactions which means we are now in a position to move on – but where to?  Pop up to Claire’s and the phone is red hot.  Ricky a friend from America phones and offers help obtaining our American driving licence and has a contact who can probably get us insurance on British plates.  Steve from Beverley phones and helps us to eliminate shipping into Canada with the information he has obtained.  No further news from Australia.  The latest plan is to head for Spain next week and take it from there.  Steve spotted a caravan repairers on an industrial estate near Keighley and took the phone number down as it was closed.  He speaks to them on the phone and they can do our additional door lock with no problem but not until the end of next week – pity we had not known about them sooner.  Steve at Huddersfield however thinks he can sort a lock out for us tomorrow – finger crossed.  I cook a 3 course meal at Claire’s as our Last supper and Steve goes for his last meeting with the ten pin bowling gang.
DENHOLME
Friday 9 October  Steve drops Daniel at nursery and Claire at the hairdressers.  It is her last day at Damart and she is working this afternoon and then going out for the night.  Say our farewells to Claire and head to Huddersfield.  Success at last.  The oven thermostat is fitted and works.  A replacement door lock fits and works.  An additional dead lock fits and works.  Now the bad news – a £200 bill.  I guess that’s the price of progress, still only the seat cushions to go unless anything else crops up (although Steve is still worried about the steering wheel juddering).   Off to Derbyshire to park up by the upholstery company.  We are surprised on arrival to find quite a few other caravans and motorhomes parked there.  Electricity and water are provided and the company invite customers to stay as long as they like and being a nice spot in the countryside they obviously do.
ALFRETON, TOCKFIELD
Saturday 10 October  A good nights sleep for both of us.  At last we feel we are in control again and free to travel now that we have sorted most of our tasks.  Steve pops into the village for a paper and notices there is an auction in the village hall at 11.00am.  The windbreak and mats look interesting but we are outbid.  Some of the old furniture fetches a high price but two wardrobes and a dressing table go for £2 the lot.  I chat to a dealer and he tells me that early 1900 (but not Victorian) wooden furniture in good condition is shipped out to America where it fetches a high price but damaged goods are almost worthless.  A piano is open to offers as it doesn’t even get a £5 bid.  A bit like Antique Roadshow where to our untrained eye worthless looking things fetch a fortune and other things that look good go for a song.  Definitely something to bear in mind when kiting out our cottage in the future.  In the afternoon I have a good sort through in the van whilst Steve goes to the pub to watch the football.  Enjoy an evening watching videos as we cannot get any television reception in this area.
AZLFRETON 2, TOCKFIELD
Sunday 11 October  Bright and breezy morning.  The other visitors leave and we have the place to ourselves. Steve pops for a paper and returns with two juicy Steaks so that’s dinner sorted.   A nice lazy day watching videos, eating and relaxing.
ALFRETON 3, TOCKFIELD
Monday 12 October  The factory opens at 7.30am as they only work a 4 day week.  By 9.30 our cushions are filled with the best quality foam which feels like springs.  The Director says there will be no charge as I have helped them to prove a nearby company is selling an inferior product under their product’s trade name.  I managed to get the rival company to send me a sample and letter quote mentioning the product by name so he now has a good case against them.  On to Wolverhampton where we get the £20 back from Westcroft for the faulty door lock.  Call at Mavis’s and then Netty Keen comes and takes us back to her house for a chat.  After tea at Mavis & Trevor’s we take Sian swimming and then back home.  Our phone call to Claire reveals a £50 premium bond win so we have had 3 bits of good luck today – hope the tide has turned at last.  Mick helps me on the computer where I fax the Australians to find out more about the vehicle weight problem and also sort out a few more E-mails.
TELFORD
Tuesday 13 October 1998  Pop up  to Telford with Mavis to do some shopping.  Strolling past "Going Places" a card catches my eye – Crete RO East Midlands 13.9.98 £119.  Further enquiry reveals that this offer has changed and is now from Manchester at 7.30 tonight at £59 flight only.  Try phoning Barry in Crete as he has asked us to return and visit them.  By 3pm we have not managed to contact him but make the decision to up and go anyway.  Cancel other arrangements for the rest of the week and pack en route to the airport.  The flight is delayed from 1930 until 2200, and then delayed again and again.  We actually get onto the plane only to be told there is a "minor" problem and the fuel pump is not working.
MANCHESTER AIRPORT
Wednesday 14 October  Spend the night being shunted around the airport and given food vouchers and then breakfast 1 hour later!  Board the plane at 0500 for our 0600 take off  which has to be delayed as there is no fuel on board.  Yes you have probably guessed this is an Airtours flight which finally takes off at 0700 saving them paying compensation or making refunds which they would have to do after 12 hours.  On the plus side we tell the rep that our friends cannot meet us in the day as they work and we wangle a free bus ride to Elounda.  Land  in CRETE at 1200 and get to Elounda mid afternoon.  At the "Asda" supermarket Colin and Lin tell us which car rental company  Barry is working for and also that he has family visiting.  Pop and see Barry who can’t stop saying how great it is to see us.  Fix up accommodation at Mary’s apartments on Elounda Hill at £10 for the room per night.  470 drachmas = £1 which is up on the 450 we were getting in February.  The town seems much busier than in the Winter but nowhere near as busy as it has been in the summer.  A boozy evening in town meeting up with friends and touring the bars.
ELOUNDA, ELOUNDA HILL APARTMENTS
Thursday 15 October  Barry and Chris are the Darlaston couple we met and spent the Christmas period with.  Chris’s daughter Melissa and her partner Simon and other daughter Donna with partner Les and daughters Jamie and Charlotte are all in Elounda.  Simon and Melissa join us at the beach for a spot of sunbathing.  Clouds late afternoon force a retreat to the snooker club then a siesta.  We all meet up in the cocktail bar for happy hour.  Both Barry and Simon are "Baggies" fans so Steve really takes some stick about Wolves.  At the restaurant next door the mixed Greek platter brings back happy memories.  Telephone American Steve who lives near Chania and arrange to meet him and Laura (whom he has recently married).
ELOUNDA 2, ELOUNDA HILL APARTMENTS
Friday 16 October  Cloudy start so at 11.00 we walk around the bay to visit Ray & Helen the Scottish couple.  They moved to Elounda last September but had to return to England in February to sort out the family and business but have now returned for the winter.  As we start to walk back we stop on the beach to catch a couple of hours sun before it clouds over prompting a siesta.  Friday night is curry night at the Fiji where we join Barry, Simon and Melissa.  Unfortunately Chris stays in the cocktail bar as she has already cooked for the rest of the family as the kids don’t like curry.  Back at the apartments Mary has been having a BBQ and we return to find a lot more of our Elounda friends still there which means even more drinking and socializing
ELOUNDA 3, ELOUNDA HILL APARTMENTS
.
Saturday 17 October  Another cloudy start to the day.  This seems to be the pattern just at the moment but we do make it to the beach later and stay until after 4.00pm.  Steve joins the lads to watch football in the bar and I join them towards the end.  Barry’s landlord  Michalis owns a restaurant and I enjoy an excellent meal of fillet steak with sauce and Steve some lamb.  Return for an early night (as in before midnight) as we are setting off early tomorrow to Rethymno.  Chris cleans apartments in the season but this has just finished and she has been told that any of her family can now use them free of charge.  As Steve is her "brother" we pack our backs ready to move to our complimentary accommodation after our day out.
ELOUNDA 4, ELOUNDA HILL APARTMENTS
Sunday 18 October  Leave at 8.00am in Barry’s "E" reg Astra and rendezvous with Steve and Laura at the Armenian cemetery.  Drive into town and as the skies are cloudless we relax on the beach catching up on their news.  Steve’s next posting could be to Iceland for 2 1/2 years starting next June so another place to visit is added to our list.  Back in Elounda we pop up to Barry’s for a shower and leave the video camera there. Meet up with everyone at Dimitri’s as it is Simon’s birthday.  We get on really well with Simon and Melissa who live in Wednesbury and we hope to meet them again sometime in England.  Follow up the meal with drinks at the Waterfront bar where we chat to Dutch Rita.  Return to our new apartments which Chris now tells us we could have for an indefinite period – shame we only booked a weeks trip as it would have been nice to spend time with Chris and Barry after their family have gone and once they have finished work for the season.  Yet another reason to return at some stage, as if we need one.
ELOUNDA 5, CHRIS’S APARTMENT
Monday 19 October  For once a cloudless day in Elounda so we head for the beach.  Barry is off work for the day and Chris has finished her regular job and just has some end of season cleaning to do at her leisure.    The family stay together at one end of the beach and we pick a quiet spot at the other end.  A combination of us wanting to give them some time together as a family and also not being able to cope with the kids around!  Barry whose is constantly saying "Right what are we going to do now?" arranges for us to go out on the Banana boat.  Good fun but the bay is too calm for us to get a bumpy ride and be thrown off.  Barry tells us he watched our video last night and I suspect he has left a recording for us to find later.  Enjoy some good conversation when we join Chris, Barry, Melissa and Simon at Mam’s restaurant.  I need an early night so leave Steve to go with the lads to watch football.  I’m awoken around midnight when the lads return Greek style 3 on a Scooter to drop Steve off.
ELOUNDA 6, CHRIS’S APARTMENT
 
Tuesday 20 October  In the Winter we tried to explore butterfly gorge on the South side of the island.  Having followed a trail up stream we were defeated by a large pool where a rope was hanging on the far side.  Today we are going back with Simon and Melissa prepared with costumes to enable us to swim to the rope.  Somewhere along the way we forget the fact that in Summer they get less rain in Crete and the stream has dried up.  The pool no longer exists and the rope has been move to a sheer cliff face.  Both Steve and Simon try to haul themselves up but flashbacks to Turkey make common sense prevail.  Drive back to Ierapetra where we conclude whilst lying on the beach that it is the hottest day so far.  Return to Elounda at 6.00pm and pack our bags before going to meet everyone at Michalis’s for a meal. We need to leave at about 11.00 to catch the flight and the service is very slow at the restaurant leaving us only a short time for a last drink at the cocktail bar before setting off.  Barry drives with Simon riding shotgun to keep him awake on the return journey.
JOURNEY BACK TO ENGLAND
Wednesday 21 October  The TV screens outside the airport show that our flight is delayed with no other information at all.  Say a sad farewell before settling in for a long wait.  We are glad that we didn’t get Barry on the phone as we probably wouldn’t have travelled out knowing his family were visiting and what a week we would have missed.  The flight somehow leaves on time but we have a bumpy ride through a storm and can see lots of lightening below us.  Land in ENGLAND at 5.00am planning to stop in the van for a few hours snooze, that is until we see that loads of planes are due to land in the next couple of hours.  Catch a few hours sleep at Knutsford services where we "hide" amongst the lorries to save being fined for stopping for over 2 hours.   In Market Drayton we call at Mums and drop off the USA info and retrieve the France and Spain stuff before taking a walk to town.  The Spooner boys come to visit us for tea after school.  They enjoy fish sharks, potato fish and baked beans followed by ice cream Wednesday.    I think they see the van as a Wendy House to play in!  Netty passes on a fax that Lisa has received for us from Australia.  It sounds like we are in business for a swap as the weight limit is not a problem anymore (or never was).  It’s Pete’s birthday today so we drive to Newport and share a Chinese take away with them.  Paul & Elaine call in on their way back from squash and we have a good laugh together.
NEWPORT
 
Thursday 22 October  Pop into Pete’s for a shower and to make a few phone calls.  Book our Dover to Calais ferry crossing for Monday at 12.15pm.  £103.20 for an open return.  Move Charlie onto the town centre car park whilst I set out to do a few jobs.  Diane Bloore has moved and Carol doesn’t have her new address so I call at playgroup to find her.  Chris Dixon one of the helpers opens the door and recognises me immediately even thought I haven’t seen her for over 13 years.  Diane is now living at Morton and draws me a map so that we can go over later this afternoon and stay parked  there tonight.  Spend the afternoon catching up on paperwork before driving to Morton.  John doesn’t seem to have changed at all but Abbie looks a lot slimmer.  They tells us stories of how the neighbours from hell drove them out of Aspen Way in May and that the lady who bought their house has already left.  A lovely evening of reminiscing and looking at photos and videos.  We take the video camera in to show them Daniel and find Barry’s message.  Don’t think there will be much left of it once we have inserted the bleeps when I come to edit it.  He had to get the last word in about the Baggies!
MORTON
Friday 23 October  Set off for Bristol at 9.45am.  We are once again having battery problems (think  we must have gremlins in there) so call at a place in Bristol that sell the new carbon fibre ones.  The garage don’t instil confidence in us as one man tells us the battery is maintenance free and another one tells us that no leisure battery can be maintenance free.  We think it is still the battery for us but don’t feel happy about buying it without more positive information.  Park up outside Karen and John’s house in Bitton and await their return from work.  Spend the rest of the afternoon writing even more letters and confirming our intention to go for the Australia swap from next January.  The workers return and we spend a lovely relaxed evening enjoying good cooking and lots of games of Liar dice.
BITTON
Saturday 24 October  Heavy rain keeps us awake during the night.  A packet arrives from Claire with the Australian visa application forms which are supposed to be a new simplified design.  They completely baffle all of us but we do what we can and will have to hope for the best.   The maximum visa seems to be for 6 months but it can be longer if a reason is made.  I compose a letter explaining that we want to stay for 11 months initially followed by a further 6 months after an in between break in New Zealand.  Fingers crossed they don’t come back with any queries as we won’t be around to answer them.  Head down to Basingstoke area where we meet up with Claire and Malcolm our motorhome friends whom we have previously met in Greece and Norway.  They are staying with Malcolm’s brother Mervyn and wife Natalie whilst having some major surgery on their van.  It’s like re living life on the road as we exchange information and read their diaries.  As the weather is bad we agree that a trip to London to the Caravan show would be good for tomorrow.  We are surprised and impressed by the lovely food  that Natalie serves in the evening.  A leisurely meal takes us through to 11.00pm when we decide to try and get an early night.  The clocks going back 1 hour helps although we will have to put ours forward again on Monday when we go to France.
BASINGSTOKE
Sunday 25 October  Cooked breakfast before heading to Basingstoke station to catch the train to London.  £13.50 for a return ticket including tube.  Although no longer British Rail the service has not improved and our train is 14 minutes late.  We must look like foreign tourists as we bungle the underground ticket machines and I get stuck on the wrong side.  At Earls Court station Steve puts his ticket in the left hand machine but walks through the right hand one where Claire has put hers.  This leaves Claire stranded this time.  An official spots us and says "I think you’re going the wrong way".  We try to explain our problem but he is talking about something else. He has actually figured out that we are going to Earls Court for the Caravan show and are leaving the station at the wrong exit.  (So just what do Caravan people look like for us to be so obvious?).  This means we have to go back in through a gate and explain at the other end as the machine has already validated our ticket for leaving the station and won’t work!  £7.50 gets us into the show.  Motorcaravans on the top floor and Caravans below.  We spot our friend Peter from Preston on the Hymer stand as he is the salesman for the new Clouliner the most expensive European motorhome to be imported into Europe at around £100,000.  He explains that it was too big for the normal Earls Court lift and had to be hoisted in by a crane.  This is why there are no American vans on display.  Not as many side stands as we anticipated and having set out expecting to make some big purchases we leave with two plastic wine glasses and a toilet cleaner.  Back at 7.30pm for a meal followed by a long soak in the bath – probably our last this year.
BASINGSTOKE 2
 
Monday 26 October  We need to make an early start incase the traffic is bad so Malcolm cooks croissants for breakfast at 7.15.  As school teachers on half term we are most surprised to see that Natalie and Mervyn are awake to join us.  Leave just before 8.00am making tentative plans to see Claire and Malcolm in Spain in January.  Not too much traffic on the motorway but we hear a sudden bang as some stones hit the windscreen.  Two small cracks appear on the passenger side so we stop and call Autoglass who have a depot in Dover.  The man tells us it will take 20 minutes to repair each hole and as we only have 30 minutes to spare this is not feasible.  He assures us it will not get worse and also not cause a problem when we come back in January and need an MOT.  The T.V has swung round and pushed the sliding door open and as I shut it the china Dutch clogs that our friends gave us last year fall off and one breaks.  Hope we are not in for a third breakage today.  The 12.15pm Sea France ferry leaves on time and we put our watches forward once again.  Arrive in sunny FRANCE 90 minutes later (actually it was sunny when we left England as well).  Around 9FF = £1.  Off to Auchan hypermarket which is very busy with more British than anything else and doesn’t seem as cheap as we remember.  Tank up with diesel which is cheap at 3.72FF (41p) litre.  On to Bleriot Plage where we park with our view of the ferries and hovercraft.  It is very windy and Steve picks a sheltered spot at the side of a building.  A good evenings entertainment watching the port activites and then the lightening that starts in the distance.  Early to bed even though we have put the clocks forward.
CALAIS, BLERIOT PLAGE
Tuesday 27 October  The wind builds up throughout the night and the ferries stop running.  We wake up to see a sea of sand being blasted through the car park and the harbour road exit blocked off.  A wet and wild day so we rapidly head South. Try to visit Rouen which we passed through 18 months ago in the "Solifer".  Exactly the same problem again with most of the car parks being underground and very poor signs.  (OK so we didn’t expect them to have moved the car parks above ground but we thought with a better map we could have parked somewhere).  Abandon the idea and again get lost trying to get out of the town.  Mental note never to try again even though the guide books make it sound interesting.  Make it to a small village just South of Chateaudun where we park by the village stream complete with waterfall and grassy area with picnic bench.  It looks like a very peaceful spot until we realise that we are between two churches which chime the hour but have not synchronised their clocks!
S OF CHATEAUDUN
Wednesday 28 October  Made an effort to get up at 7.00am but are shocked to find it still dark.   Steve is still half asleep when we have breakfast and nearly ends up pouring the carton of wine on his cornflakes.  Another wet and wild day so pedal to the metal again.  The Chateau at Blois in the Loire Valley looks impressive but parking again poses a problem and the weather does not inspire us to park outside the town and walk back in.  Just outside the town we see a pedestrian crossing with Kangaroo warning signs on each side – any ideas?  Stop at a super U supermarket to draw some cash and do a bit of shopping.  The prices are noticeably cheaper than in Calais and we suspect they are higher there as it is mainly a tourist market.  3.30pm and the rain finally stops – hooray.  Steve is feeling tired and as we are on a long stretch of motorway I take over at the wheel.  10 minutes later the motorway fizzles out and I am left driving up winding mountain roads and eventually back onto the motorway which is coned into single lanes.  Something has fallen into the road and I struggle to squeeze past and hear a clank.  Steve wakes up immediately and we pull over when the road widens to investigate.   As luck would have it only the awning strut caught and there is just a small graze on it.  Now into the Pate de foie country with farms everywhere and offers of tours – no thank you.  See a sign showing the temperature at 20 degrees which is a lot more encouraging.  Final stop just North of Montauban in a church car park.  No we are not falling for that one again, a local tells us it is a very quiet spot, the church bells don’t chime through the night and that it has been nice here all day (all in very good English).
N OF MONTAUBAN
Thursday 29 October  Up at 7.00 away by 7.30 (that’s 4 early mornings out of the last 5 and must be stopped soon).  A misty morning with the promise of a nice day to come.  Stop at Intermarche where we shower in the car park before buying LPG as we believe it is difficult to get in Spain.  A super day for travelling with the scenery looking so much nicer in the sun.  A 2407m mountain pass takes us up to ANDORRA.  The foliage is spectacular.  Who needs New England in the fall when you can have Andorra in the autumn.  Wild horse and cattle abound and a horse is actually in the middle of the road eating something and refuses to budge.  The 24km descent causes problems as the brakes start to smoke.  Pull over and shortly after an English motorhome stops to offer help.  He lives in Andorra and says ours is a common problem but that there is a nice car park 1 mile further on where we can stop until the brakes cool down.  Andorra is a principality with some things ruled by France and others by Spain.  Both currencies and languages are used.  The Spanish Peseta is just over 225ptas = £1 so Diesel is cheap at 68ptas (30p) making another fill up the order of the day.  At the huge duty free shopping complex near the Spanish border Steve finally manages to buy the zip off trousers we have spent so long looking for and cheaper than anywhere else.  The Spanish customs make everyone go into a hanger and all the vehicles are searched.  The officer asks if we have alcohol and Steve replies "No" thinking that it is duty free alcohol that they mean.  In fact we do have alcohol but bought in France duty paid and I nearly panic when he inspects the locker but fails to notice the case of beer and wine in a black bin bag – fine search that was.  Into SPAIN at 4.00pm and an immediate hunt for a parking place as it starts to get dark at 5.30pm and is dark just after 6.00pm.  Struggle and end up down a side road near where a new road is being built.  There are lots of road work lorries going past but they will stop when it gets dark – or just after – or at 7.00pm.  Panic over as we thought they might have floodlights and be working through.
JUST OVER BORDER INTO SPAIN
 
Friday 30 October  Wake at 7.00am when the lorries start but doze until 8.00am.  First sighting of the coast at 11.00am at Cambrils just South of Tarragona.  Drive to L’Hospitalet de L’Infant where there is a Naturist Complex and beach.  The complex is closed so we use the car park and have our kit off on the beach by 12.00.  Bliss.  Quite hot with clear skies until 4.00pm but a cold sea.  882 miles from Calais in 3 days of comfortable driving.  We cannot understand the people who pay £70 to travel down the toll roads in 2 days.  The new Solar shower works very well giving us 20 litres of free hot water.
L’HOSPITALET
Saturday 31 October  A cloudy start but clear skies by 11.00am.  Return from the beach at 4.00pm.   We will stay overnight and head further down the coast in the morning.
L’HOSPITALET 2
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