Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199812 Spain France England

Tuesday 1 December 1998  I wake at 4.00am with party ideas buzzing in my head.  I get up to jot them down and spot the Advent calendar so open the door and eat the chocolate.  The bread van wakes us up with his tooting at 8.30am.  In the bread queue I spot Ron who says they arrived back here late last night.  He says the 3 of them will look forward to joining us on Saturday so that puts the numbers up to 10 already.  At 10.00am "Charlie’s" tour departs with Graham & Ann and Mick & Shirley on board.  Mick guides us and points out things of interest as he has spent a lot of time in this area.  First stop Mojacar beach where we pop to the Post Office and stop in a 100 ptas (45p) shop where I buy lots of balloons and decorations.  As we cruise along the front we see lots of British vehicles and Graham suddenly yells to stop as he has spotted some friends in a Camper.  Drop Graham off and carry on further to check out the Chinese restaurant which offers a Grand Buffet all you can eat for 895 ptas (£4.00).  Pick Graham up on the way back and he has invited his two friends on Saturday.  We all plan to go to the Chinese a week on Friday night.  Up to Turre to shop at Super Turre.  Big party buying session for booze etc.  Call Jo & Han who are now in France but won’t be down here in time to meet us.  Over to the Tapas bar opposite where we sit in the hot sun and enjoy 6 Beers, a bottle of good Red wine and 7 Tapas dishes for a total of 1500 ptas (£6.50).  A great fun outing from which we return after 2.00pm for a siesta.  After 4.00pm it starts to spit with rain – the first we have had in weeks.  5.15pm and the hail stones are bouncing off the roof.  6.00pm and we are in the midst of a full blown storm.  Multiple lightening, thunder which echoes around the mountains and heavy rain. 
Wednesday 2 December  Give up trying to sleep at 8.00am.  Steve stays in bed as he doesn’t get up until after he has seen the sunrise through the bedside window – guess he won’t be getting up today.  The storm still has not stopped, the ground is white over with hail stones and a lot of areas around us are flooded.  No bread van which gives us an indication of how bad the track is.  No real problem for us as we have plenty of supplies of everything on board.  Hope the weather will be better than this on Saturday – if it’s really bad though we can always all pile into one of the motorhomes and drive up to the Chinese.  After dinner we join Shirley and Mick for a game of Dominoes and Ann and Graham call in late afternoon after the rain has stopped -that is after over 20 hours of it.   Get back home at 6.00 merry as usual.  Think the festive spirit is kicking in early.
Thursday 3 December  A cold night and we snuggle under layers of blankets until the bread van wakes us up.  Don’t want to use the heating too much as it runs on LPG and it would be a 200 mile round trip on bad mountain roads to fill up.  The van is dripping with condensation which is a big problem in the cold.  Steve traces part of the damp problem to a crack by our bedroom window and out comes the silicone yet again.  Graham calls to announce a shopping trip in his van leaving at 10.00am.  I leave Steve to his jobs and go off to buy some more Christmas goodies.  As my Birthday party is now going to be a combined Christmas "do" the Christmas hats with flashing Santa’s or Snowmen at 100 ptas (45p) are bought by all of us.  A cross marks a burial plot on our site made by a German.  "No Kabel TV" is pinned above an exploded piece of equipment!  Siesta in the afternoon before Ron, Jenny and Rhonda come round for the evening – however they don’t show up so we retire early.
Friday 4 December   Brighter morning.  The rest of the "gang" go off to Garrucha market with our shopping order.  Jenny calls round and says they came to see us at 5.30pm last night but as the van was all closed up they didn’t disturb us – we were actually mending the blinds and fixing a new curtain rail at the time.  Another old GB van pulls up late afternoon with the number plate ADD105S.  Pete (39) from Shipley who is travelling alone in his old converted Mercedes van.  What a character – he owns a carpet business, pilots his own Helicopter and lives above the factory in a penthouse with Swimming pool.  Just goes to show how appearances can be deceiving.  A boules tournament takes part in the afternoon but I sit out as the standard is very high.  Ann comes round and we sit outside the van colouring our hair and then rinsing it onto the grass with the solar shower – what a sight.  After boules Brandy at Graham and Ann’s where we meet Roy and Ceridwen who were with our friends Stan and Judy just last week.  They tell us that the land owner came round yesterday and was very surprised to see all the motorhomes here.  He made a lot of money selling the adjoining land to the Naturist complex and will tell the Police we are OK to stay here if we keep it clean.  Evening of conversation in our van with Graham & Ann and Peter (oh and drinks).
Saturday 5 December  21 Today, 21 Today (well 2 x 21 = 42) and what a glorious day started by lying in bed watching the sunrise on the horizon.  Mick the singing postman arrives with a card (pity I don’t have a letter box).  We prepare the food for later and then I wallow in an aromatherapy oil bath with a glass of champagne.  Decorate the outside of the van with balloons and streamers and sit out in the sun.  John pops over with a card and later Graham and Ann call with a card, bottle of bubbly and box of chocolates.  Shirley next pops over with a box of chocolates.  They all join as and we bring the kick off time forward to 12.00am.  Mick takes Steve to the site to check for mail and I receive a card from Netty to add to my collection stuck on the van.  2.00pm and Ron, Jenny and Rhonda arrive with a home made card and yet another box of chocolates.  (Think my reputation as a chocolate lover has spread).   Mick is in charge of the real BBQ fire for which he has been collecting wood.  More people arrive with food and booze and the numbers eventually get up to 18.  Fred the German/Australian has driven his "UFO Mobil" converted mobile Library bus over and parks beside us.  The food is served and the party is in full swing.   Fred asks Steve to take me round the back of the van for a minute and when we come back he is stood topless but wearing a top hat and dickey bow and playing Happy Birthday on a barrel organ – unreal.  He is a showman and as the afternoon progresses he makes things with long thin balloons, dresses Mick up as Father Christmas and finally sends Mick out playing an accordion except that when he stops to scratch his head the music keeps playing!  Pass the parcel with forfeits and pass the balloon between the legs give us more laughs.   Around 5.00pm it starts to get chilly at which point  I expect everyone to drift away but  Mick re lights  the fire.  We stand around chatting and drinking being easily spotted by our flashing hats.  Mick  roasts Chestnuts for us and Pete brings out a case of Amstel Beer.  The moonrise is the most fantastic sight as a huge pink ball rises out of the sea.  The sky is clear and the star formations easy to spot.  Ron staggers home with his family but Rhonda returns to say he has lost his glasses.  We follow the trail of popcorn where he fell over but eventually find them under our van!  Finally make a break at 9.00pm after a most unusual and enjoyable Birthday – couldn’t have planned anything better except to be joined by family and friends.
Sunday 6 December  Too late to watch the sunrise but my head is fine as I drank very little alcohol yesterday (yes it’s true).  Fill a black bin bag with empties and find quite a lot of food leftover.  Breakfast of Romantica gateau which was my Birthday cake yesterday.  Steve’s tracksuit has a large hole where the sparks from the fire got him and the bottom of one of his shoes is melted from where he was dancing in the fire – he says he was kicking the wood back in.  Pete has a sun terrace on the top of his van and we sit there enjoying the sun and the view.  Graham & Ann, Mick & Shirley and Peter join us for a late afternoon BBQ to use up the food – and drink.  The usual Boules tournament follows.  We notice a motorhome stuck on the beach and help to push the Swiss van out – he then drives over a raised road and catches the back of the van.  Next he drives over the rough grass and grounds on a drainage channel.  Good job there are plenty of us around to help although why he couldn’t have used the road like everyone else I don’t know. 
Monday 7 December  Steve sets to work doing a repair on the awning as the previous repair has worn out!  I pop to see Roy & Ceridwen as they want me to take details of their van and try and get them an exchange whilst we are touring Australia.  Roy shows me a photo of their van on it’s side when it was picked up in a whirlwind in Portugal 2 years ago, only 2 wine glasses were broken but £13,000 of damage to the vehicle.  Very hot around mid day.  Boules tournament and Brandy (think I will just put B&B as it is getting to be a regular habit). Mick and Shirley join us for cards in the evening.
Tuesday 8 December  There is supposed to be a festival in Turre today as we take our van up with 7 passengers.  No festival but chance to shop and then have a drink in the Tapas bar.  Two more British vans arrive and one is the "Brave" – Clive and Dodie whom we previously met in Lo Pagan.  We have seen more British motorhomes this trip than in the whole of the previous 2 years put together.  B&B.  Pete leaves as he is meeting friends for skiing in France but we shall catch him in January in Yorkshire.  Early evening pop to Clive’s for some info but get called in to Frank and Junes for a drink and don’t return until 8.00pm.  Early night for once.
Wednesday 9 December  It seems to be getting colder during the night but with a hotter spell mid day.  I will either cut back or cut out my alcohol now as following last nights session my sinus’s are blocked again and for the previous 4 days of non drinking they were fine.  We sit out most of the day and Steve even has a quick swim.  Another couple of GB vans arrive and we are now catching up with the Germans in numbers.  B&B involves a tournament of GB V Germany which we win 12-4.  9.00pm and Ron calls in his van to take us and Graham & Ann to Mojacar.  They spotted a nice bar the other day and it opens at 9.30pm.  The old town of Mojacar is wonderful being steeply terraced and with lots of lights twinkling.  Gordon’s bar is empty but the  few locals who come in later provide us with entertainment.   They tell us a big water park is planned for next year on the land where we are parked – however knowing Spain it won’t happen for a few years yet.
Thursday 10 December  Clive & Dodie, Frank & June come for morning coffee.  Clive tells us of the motorhomers revenge if anyone annoys you – sprinkle bread crumbs on their roof during the night – resulting in clog footed birds waking you up in the early hours!  BBQ lunch in the now very hot sun.  Mick & Shirley come for a meal in the evening.  I am defrosting the freezer and the large joint of Beef goes down very well for 4.
Friday 11 December  9.30am the Police call round doing a random control check.  Our Passports and vehicle documents are fed into the computer but they say there is no problem with us staying here.  Quite reassuring really.   Mick takes their van "Top Cat" for the Garrucha market trip.  Lots of fruit and veg and clothing but not much use to us as we are now trying to empty our van not fill it up.  Every other car or motorhome seems to be British and we hear lots of people talking English in the market.  We all congregate at Mick & Shirley’s in the afternoon to play Ann’s game of Pic Charades.  Like give us a clue but you may have to mime or draw a picture of the word – great fun.  "Charlie" leaves at 7.00pm for the Chinese restaurant with 9 of us on board.   As a non drinker I am chauffeur.  The Grand Buffet is excellent value.  Rhonda is not too well so we drop them off on the way back and then everyone else stays in our van until we park and then have drinks.
Saturday 12 December  We want to leave this area next Wednesday to give us plenty of time to travel back to England as we have heard the weather is bad in France.  Tonight Ann is hosting a meal and then tomorrow we are going on site.  Monday’s meal is at Mick and Shirley’s and Tuesday night I am planning a Safari supper between the 4 vans.  Just getting ready to sit out following the morning site inspection when we see someone waving in the distance.  It is Jo, Han is just behind in their motorhome.   They arrived last night but couldn’t see us in the dark so parked in Garrucha until this morning.  Lots of catching up to do.  Graham kindly invites them to join us tonight for the meal.  Steve & I provide the bottle of bubbly for the Boules prize today and then proceed to win it back.  Ann does a lovely meal of Greek salad, Spaghetti Bolognese and Jelly with Fruit and Cream.  We return to our van to play Pic charades and booze.
Sunday 13 December  We feel bad about leaving Jo & Han but we need to go on site to check out a possible electrical problem and do some van cleaning.  They are staying for a few days so we will be back tomorrow afternoon.  Lots of mail at the site – Christmas, Birthday cards and letters all gratefully received.  Problem with static on the van when we touch metal outside (this was not the electrical problem we thought we had but another new one!).   One or two problems when we call Claire with Mum not too well and more trouble with David.  Manage to get quite a few jobs done but the hot sun keeps beckoning.
Monday 14 December  Leave the site at 4.30pm and get back to find Mick has planned the meal to start at 5.30pm.  A quick drink with Jo & Han and then over to "Top Cat" for the meal.  Beef, Chicken, Rabbit and Prawns are piled up ready for us to spear and cook in a fondue.  Followed by – fruit to be dipped into a sauce made from 6 Mars Bars and a pint of cream.  Graham is also a chocaholic so we fight to the bitter end over scraping out the sauce pan.  Jo & Han join us later and we have a good old sing song.
Tuesday 15 December  Jo & Han leave at 9.00am to head for Fuengirola where we had originally planned to meet them in January.  We drive up to Intermarche for the Safari Supper party shopping.  Seems even hotter today and we make the most of the time sunbathing.  6.30am kick off and Steve heads for Graham & Ann’s for the starter whilst I prepare our main course. We are wearing our flashing Santa hats and carrying torches.  To guide the way we have made lanterns out of pop bottles and night lights and put them outside the vans.  I had jokingly billed the programme sheet the Annual Safari Supper and Ann has made a banner out of kitchen paper proclaiming this!  A brilliant evening eating a different course in each of 4 Christmas decorated motorhomes.  Mixed Hors Deuvres at Ann’s, Chilli Pasta at ours, Chocolate cups filled with mousse, fruit and cream at Jenny’s and finally Coffee and Mints for 9 of us in "Top Cat".  (Drinks at all the stops!)  What a great way to end our stay.
Wednesday 16 December  Most reluctantly we pack up to leave.  It is only the fact that we are going to see family and friends and then going on to Australia that keeps us going.  Everyone comes out to see us off and wish us well.  We plan to meet the New Zealanders for New Year 1999/2000 in Auckland.  Head North on the E15 and stop at Elche.  The town is surrounded by the largest Palm Forest in Europe with between 300,000 and 400,000 trees.  A special garden holds a large variety of these along with exotic plants and cacti.  Up through the mountains to Alcoy where the town is on both sides of a ravine spanned by lots of unusual bridges.  A good hour sunbathing stop just off the free motorway near Xativa. The Valencia by pass takes over and hour to travel round and it is starting to get dark at 5.30 as we are further North.  Fortunately we are going to a place we stayed at on the way down.   As we pull up the side road to the beach we spot a motorhome in our wing mirror.  Terry and June were trying to find a campsite but they are all closed and in desperation follow us.  We park together at Malva Rosa and they tell us they are going to visit their daughter a holiday rep in Benidorm.
Thursday 17 December  A colder night than we have been used to but a good sunrise over the sea to perk us up.    Manage to sit out for awhile but there are only a couple of hours when it is really warm.  Terry has a satellite dish and pops out to tell us the bad news about war breaking out against Iraq.  We also tune into the Short Band Radio to keep up with events.  Terry also has a lap top computer and I use route planner to rearrange our proposed journey to take us thorough the top corner of Spain and up the left side of France. A total of 1090 miles to Calais from here and the anticipated travelling time is 18 hours – no chance we are planning on taking 3 or 4 days!  June is a Scrabble fanatic but Terry is not so she plays against the computer.  We join them for a proper game in the evening along with drinks and nibbles.  We thought that having left Vera we would have a few days without socialising and a chance to dry out before reaching England – wrong again.
Friday 18 December  Warmer night due to the cloud cover.  Away at 8.45 and off towards Zaragoza.  Lots of British trucks on the road we guess they are fetching Oranges from Valencia as we see lots of roadside stalls selling them.  Clear blue skies make the interesting scenery even better as we wind our way on good roads through the ski resorts.  Stop for elevenses and Steve chats to a couple of British truck drivers.  One tells us of a short cut avoiding Zaragoza and also a good place to stop tonight.  He says we are welcome to follow him along.  Daroca looks good with old town walls and building cut into the rock, the factory has cured hams hanging outside on the roadside (perhaps they are dust cured).  Terry joins us for lunch as he has to stop for 45 minutes every 4 1/2 hours.  Spot the cheapest diesel at Tudela 78.9ptas (35p) but can’t stop quickly enough.  Mid afternoon at Carinena the blue skies turn instantly to fog and frosty surroundings.  The temperature at 4.30pm in Pamplona is only 2degrees.  Pull up at 5.30pm at a truck stop in the mountains near Sumbilla.  Terry says the food here is brilliant, good quality, lots of it and not expensive.  We join him in the bar at 7.00pm and choose from the menu.  I have a big dish of fish Paella, Steak double egg and chips, chocolate ice cream, a full bottle of Rose and a coffee.  Steve eats Fish soup (a tureen which fills 3 bowls) 5 lamb chops and chips, custard with biscuit, a full bottle of Red and a coffee.  Total bill only 2000 ptas (£9).  Two other truck drivers from Hatfield express join Terry.  One has an old slow truck and they call him caravan man and tease him because we have a bigger fuel tank on our van.  They are great lads and we end up drinking with them until midnight.  Perhaps the non socialising and drinking will start tomorrow?
Saturday 19 December  No rush as we covered 320 miles yesterday and were trying to do about 275 each day.  The truck stop provides free hot showers so we make full use.  9.30am away but we stop for and hour at Irun the border tanking up and spending our last pesetas.  Into FRANCE at 11.15am where it soon gets warm and sunny and the 18 degree sign prompts a beach stop for an hour.  Driving round the Bordeaux ring road we get blasted by horns as the Hatfield trio pass by.  Turn onto the N10 and pull up at the first Aire de Repose for the night.  Have trouble picking a spot beside a truck which doesn’t have either a refrigerated unit or a generator running.
Sunday 20 December  Wild rainy night with twigs landing on the roof.  The weather gets worse and we drive through sleet and gusts of wind.  Brighter early afternoon but very cold.  Lots of houses and shops with  full size Santa figures climbing up the buildings.  Almost all the shops have a tree on the pavement outside and the hypermarkets are open and very busy.   Stop at Chateaudun on Lidl car park as we want to do a big shop first thing tomorrow when we hope it will not be too busy.
Monday 21 December  Up at 8.00am on a cold and very frosty morning.  Lights on in the store but the sign says it doesn’t open until 9.00am.  We return but have lost pole position and take 2nd place on the grid.  Two trolley loads later we hit the check out to find that they won’t accept credit card.  We point to the sign on the door but she says it only applies to the butchery department.  Leave the trolleys and drive to nearby LeClerc where there is an ATM.  End up doing a bit of shopping there also before returning to Lidl.  At the big hypermarkets they have an area after the check outs where people wrap the presents up in exchange for a charity donation – what a great idea.  Finally leave Chateaudun after 11.00am and pass the Hatfield trio on the outskirts.  Cheap diesel in Rouen where we fill up at 3.66ff (40p) litre.  Much nicer day with clear blue skies and sunshine.  Press on towards Calais but it is dusk at 5.00pm and dark at 5.20pm.  Fortunately we know the route and carry on to join the motorway.  Auchan at Calais is heaving but we only want fuel.  Park up on our usual spot at Bleriot Plage with about half a dozen other motorhomes. 1281 miles from Vera Playa which we left 6 days ago.
Tuesday 22 December  Wake at 10 to 8 and find out there is a  ferry going at 8.20.  Without getting dressed (we sleep in tracksuits) we drive round to the port and with our open ticket we are on the ferry by 10 past and getting dressed on the car deck.  Not many passengers on board but quite a few professional runners who are after boarding tickets.  The duty free shop tear these up after you have been in the shop once and these people risk taking  more than their allowance through and make about £5 on each one.  Arrive in ENGLAND at 10.00am/9.00am local time and stop at the port to buy our international driving licences.  Having sold us two each at £4 a time (to take us through to Jan 2001) she tells me that you can now apply for a new British international type photo driving licence which means we wouldn’t have needed them!  Spot some of the professional runners loading their duty free goods into Taxi’s before catching the next crossing back to France.  Phone Stan & Judy whom we last saw in Spain and arrange to visit them in Moseley tonight.  Cold and foggy morning which makes for slow progress.  Stop at the M40 services for a hot shower which is great except there is no shower curtain and my clothes and towel get wet.     Arrive in Birmingham at 4.00pm.  Stan and Judy arrive shortly after having taken their Granddaughters to the theatre.  Hannah and Leah call them StanDad and Nudie (when small they couldn’t say Judy).  A good evening of conversation over a nice meal and one or two drinks.  They had planned to go to South Africa in January but have changed their plans and will now go to Sri Lanka instead – must be something about travellers which makes us chop and change our minds so much!
Wednesday 23 December  Having no MOT on the van we had to make an appointment for one as soon as we arrived in Dover.  The test centre at Walsall has very helpful staff but their lift at 4 tons won’t budge Charlie.  The man phones another garage nearby that deals with lorries and gets us an appointment for early afternoon.  We drive round to wait and get squeezed in earlier.  No problem except that they charge twice the price for heavy vehicles.  On to Market Drayton where we park up whilst I do a bit of shopping in the Market.  Intend to do a quick check out on flights prior to booking in the new year but get a shock ourselves.  There are very few seats left on any airline going to Perth in the last 2 weeks of January.  The best they can offer is a BA flight at £580 one way.  Surprise Mum as she walks past and later drive round to surprise the Spooners where we stay for tea before returning to the swimming bath’s car park to visit Mum in the evening.  What an exciting day with more to come.
Thursday 24 December  Wake at 4.00am to find ice on the inside of the windows.  It takes ages for the heating to bring the van to a reasonable temperature and this could bring back our recurring battery problems.  Over to Mums at 9.00am for a very welcome hot bath – the first full size bath in 2 months (how sad).  Steve tells me he has seen a £199 flight to Perth on teletext and there is a free phone number.  10 minutes later we are booked on the Britannia flight from Gatwick to Perth on the 29 January at £199 one way – decidedly better than £580.  Insurance for the year is going to cost over £500 but we would have had to pay that whoever we flew with.  Do some washing at Mums but end up sat outside the laundrette in Newport trying to get it dry as it is pouring with rain.  Park up at the caravan storage place behind Pete and Carols and arrive at their house around 6.00pm.  Pete’s brother Steve is there and Linda arrives later.  Paul and Elaine call round for an hour and stop for rather longer.  We enjoy a Balti takeaway and a great evening catching up with everyone’s news.  Paul has us laughing with a psychology quiz he brought from work.  Leave around midnight. 
Friday 25 December  Merry Christmas.  Alarm set for 6.30am so we can be at Horsehay for 7.30am to surprise Claire and family.  Park on the Forresters car park and walk to the house.  Claire is very surprised to see us and we both get an attack of the waterworks.  We get a phone call later to say that Lisa, Mick, Sian, Mavis and Trevor will be late.  Mick has had an accident and spilt some Turkey fat on his leg which led to more fat being spilt and Mick and the Turkey swimming on the kitchen floor .  Fortunately he is OK but there is a lot of cleaning up to be done – shame they didn’t have the video handy as you can just picture it on You’ve been Framed.  A full house for dinner with 15 of us enjoying the meal.  A lovely day again catching up with everything that has been happening in our absence.  The adults play Paul’s psychology quiz and then I set up an endurance challenge for the kids.  Return home at 11.00pm – think we have gone deaf!
Saturday 26 December   Leave mid morning and as Claire and Daz head to Newport we call on Peggy & John who used to be neighbours when Steve lived in Trench.  Catch up with Claire and all go to see the Bloores at Morton.  Claire has not chatted to her school friend Abbie for years.  On to Drayton for an afternoon at Netty’s and then evening at Mum’s.  It’s great fun watching Daniel as he has changed so much since October and seems much more grown up and less shy of us.
Sunday 27 December  Out to the Gingerbread Man for lunch with Mum, John and the Spooners.  Round to Netty’s after where we say Goodbye to Claire and family until we see them in a couple of weeks.  Anne-Marie and Brenda come round late afternoon with their families.  Back home at 7.00pm for an early night.  Steve now seems to be catching my cold.
Monday 28 December  Leave Steve in bed and pop over to Mum’s.  She is off to the sales but I will stay and do a few odd jobs.  Lots of sorting out to do as we need to store the things at Mum’s that we don’t want to leave in the van – the problem being that we are using most of them in the meantime.  Claire tells us that the Australian Visas in our passports are the wrong ones and only valid for 6 month visits and so we will have to get onto that next week.
Tuesday 29 December 1998    Make a bit more effort in clearing out the van.  Bobby and Nic come round in the afternoon and stay for tea.  Think they find the evening entertainment of playing cards and dominoes rather strange but fun.
Wednesday 30 December   Join Netty for a drive to Wellington retail park.  The half price 1kg bar of Cadbury’s chocolate is too tempting to resist!  I walk round to Netty’s in the afternoon to work on the computer but I have such a backlog of paperwork I empty the ink cartridge before I finish. 
Thursday 31 December  The end of another year on the road.  This year we have covered nearly 20,000 miles, used almost 6,000 litres of Diesel and visited 18 different countries namely:- Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, England, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Andorra and Spain.  Next year should definitely see that number reduced –  to 3 at a guess, England, Australia and New Zealand.  As of today our plans are to go to Australia at the end of January (flight to Perth booked for 29th) and then move onto New Zealand in December for 6 months and then back to SE Australia for a further few months taking in the Olympic Games and celebrating our Silver Wedding Anniversary out there.  Charlie gets his last clean of the year as it is a nice mild day.  Steve finds the old photo albums whilst clearing out the cellar so we select a few to take with us tonight.  Our last bath of the year at Mum’s before driving over to Newport.  Pete is chef again and Paul and Elaine join us.  A lovely meal with pride of place the vegetarian Coubiliac which has taken Pete most of the day to prepare. The photo albums give us a good laugh and increase Pete’s resolution to loose weight (yes everyone reading the diary will be keeping a check on you now!).  Games follow and before we know it another year is over.

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