Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

2001 Xmas letter

O Mrs A Spooner. 41 Sambrook Crescent. Market Drayton. Shropshire. TF9 1NG England.  Mobile phone 0044 7703 390086. E-mail swatman2@hotmail.com
WISHING YOU A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS 2001 AND A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR
Can’t believe yet another year has gone, our 5th on the road.  We’ve had an interesting year back in Europe but still miss Australia.  The Sydney couple have now deferred use of our motorhome until at least 2003 so maybe we can fit in another swap.  We are both fit and well as are our children, grand children and families.  So here goes as usual with the month by month mini diary of our last 12 months.
DECEMBER 2000  Left Australia at the beginning of December to return to England and find our motorhome a bit of a mess.  The New Zealand couple had left a window open when they returned it in August and this had gone unnoticed.  After considerable hard work cleaning up and the expense of replacing many items "Charlie" was raring to go.  Spent Christmas in Market Drayton shivering in temperatures as low as -15C between Christmas and New Year.  Enjoyed seeing everyone again especially Daniel and Natasha but didn’t cope well with the weather.
JANUARY 2001  Escaped the cold to head directly south through France and Spain until we reached Africa for winter sun in Morocco.  A worrying first night with someone hiding or trying to attach themselves or something to our motorhome.  Quite a different experience to Europe with many similarities to the Far East.  It’s a poor country in most parts which means low prices for many things – fruit and vegetables cost about 20p a kilo so we ate lots.  Travelling was a bit of a worry with lots of kids racing down to the side of the road to wave in the hope of getting sweets.  Some throw stones at the vans so to deflect the tension I adopted a strategy of putting on a Mickey Mouse mask and doing a silly wave to them.  This either made them laugh or frightened them but the up shot was we didn’t get stoned.  After visiting a number of places down the coast we settled in with the snowbirds just north of Agadir.  At a peak about 200 motorhomes free camped over a 5km stretch of beach.  Locals made the most of the business opportunity to deliver bread, fish, fruit, vegetables, water and many other things to the vans.
FEBRUARY  Fell into a tough routine and got up late after the bread delivery.  Decided whether and what type of  fish to have when the man called.  Did a few odd jobs then sunbathed. Afternoon boules on the beach with a group of Brits (or morning if the tide is wrong) followed by sunbathing.  Took an early evening gin & tonic whilst watching the sunset before settling in for the night.  Drove into Agadir about every 10 days where we found a good dentist, Internet cafe, shops and some nice restaurants. Toured South to the edge of the Sahara and a bit inland but preferred relaxing near Agadir.
MARCH  Our friend Sandra visited for a week after which we left as the weather was changing and sand storms were coming.  Enjoyed Marrakech especially the main square at night with lots of food stalls selling the speciality of a whole sheeps’ head.  Spent our first night in Spain near Gibraltar parked by 3 other vans from Morocco.  Visited Gibraltar to buy bacon and English soft bread to make bacon butties.
APRIL  Some good weather whilst travelling up through Spain but poor weather in France but we made the most of this by visiting friends en route.  Back to England in time for the motorhome show at Peterborough. 
MAY  Claire and family have moved back to Yorkshire and we visited them in Haworth.  Fitted in a good few baby-sitting stints between trying to catch up with a back log of problems as we always do when back in England.  Charlie got a big service and passed the annual test which left us free to head off.  Detoured to visit friends in Wales and down south.
JUNE  Our arrival in France coincided with the D-Day celebrations in Normandy so we hung around and caught a lot of the commemorative services etc.  Other highlights were Mont Saint Michel and a Meshoui (pig roast) at a campsite.
JULY  Very impressed with the Gorges du Verdon where we met up with friends Graham & Anne.  On through Italy and Austria to get to Hungary.  Big changes since we last visited 4 years ago.  Tesco now have hypermarkets there and lots of shopping plazas have been built.
AUGUST  Settled ourselves on the naturist campsite near Szeged.  Got very friendly with lots of Dutch people and met up with American Ricky.  Took quite a few trips into Szeged for meals, bowling, cinema and sightseeing.  Lots of hot weather with one day reaching 42C in the shade, thank goodness we were by a lake.  Went up to Budapest for the weekend to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix where Schumacher won the world championship.  Great atmosphere.  
SEPTEMBER  On to Croatia where we had a lovely day walking in the Plitvica National Park.  Stayed at numerous naturist campsites in Istria and even managed some free camping.
OCTOBER  Arrived in Italy where first our son David came to visit for 9 days with his friend Mick and then Claire and family had a weeks holiday with us.  Daniel and Natasha had never been to the seaside before so it was brilliant to watch them enjoying it.
NOVEMBER  Took the ferry over to Greece then another onto the Island of Corfu.  It was very quiet out of season and we almost always had the beaches to ourselves and could free camp everywhere.  Also drove round Lefkada Island then dropped onto the Pelepoponese to catch up with more friends.
DECEMBER Caught a freight ferry to Cyprus for the winter to meet Mum and her friend John there at Christmas. Arrived to the same bad/rainy weather as the rest of Europe.
So at the end of another year we look back and realise our travel format has changed to less sightseeing, slower travel, more re unions with friends, more time spent in little villages rather than big cities.  In some respects we have exhausted Europe (especially for winter sunshine) and feel sure that next year we will either return to winter in Australia or do an exchange with someone in America in the summer (or maybe both).  In no way have we tired of our lifestyle or of sunshine!
We hope to hear from you with all your news or maybe even see you if you get chance to come out and joins us – visitors always welcome. 
So all the best for 2002.
Love and Best Wishes from
Steve and Glen
 
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