Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200104 Spain France England

Sunday 1 April 2001  It’s International Day at the Palacio de congresos and at 10.00am I go down with Iris to help set up the stand for the ICE (International Club of Estepona).  Doors open at 12.00 then it’s non stop.  On the stall we are serving cream teas for 250 ptas (£1.00), I am preparing the scones.  We are between the Cuba stall offering assorted cocktails and Peru with traditional snacks.  Morocco, Poland, Andalucia, Italy, Germany and France are other countries represented in addition to charity organisations.  The entertainment is excellent and varied and kicks off with a Jazz Band followed by Line Dancing, dog parade (refuge dogs needing a home), fashion show then dancing from the various countries.  The belly dancer is brilliant as are the young Spanish children doing ballroom as well as tradition dance.  The famous Italian tenor Toni Dali lives in the area and also chips in with a few songs.  The first time we don’t have a customer is at 5.00pm and even that doesn’t last long.  By the time it winds down at 8.00pm I feel like I have done a days work and never want to see another scones.  Even Steve didn’t get off scot free as Iris used him to fill and empty buckets and bowls.
ESTEPONA
Monday 2 April  We had planned to leave today but Barry & Iris want us to stay longer and insist we need a day of rest by the pool after yesterdays exertions.  We don’t take much arm twisting.  In the evening we are joined by Sarah and Mike when we take Barry & Iris out for a Chinese.  In the centre of Estepona we are surprised to only pay 675 ptas (£2.70) for a varied 3 course menu.  Good food and plenty of it.
ESTEPONA
Tuesday 3 April  Get away at 10.00am and just a little further along the coast we spot motorhomes free camped by a beach with Jack & Teri amongst them.  When we toured round 4 years ago we stopped at Playa Bella in the day but were afraid to stay overnight, not any more.  It’s a good spot with taps, cold showers, rubbish bins, a grassy area in front of the van and then the beach. After a relaxing day with the occasional paddle in the sea we join Jack & Teri in their van for a drink and chat in the evening after which Steve manages to pick up football (but without sound) on our TV.
PLAYA BELLA – 7 MILES
Wednesday 4 April   Well it may be a good spot in the day but with the main N340 coast road running just behind us it is noisy with traffic right through the night.  Explore along the coast turning off at km 195 to check out the naturist beach at Cabopino.  We drive through a narrow street of villas to emerge into a park type area with lots of flat parking space and sand dunes separating it from the beach.  Trapped between vast developments we are amazed that this area is still free of all buildings.  It’s still rather cloudy and probably too quiet for us to feel happy leaving the van so we continue east.  4 years ago this week we were in this area and visited the Playa Nudista (Benalnatura) between Los Boliches and Benalmadena.  We know it’s at km 218 but don’t recognise the area at all until we realise we have gone past the beach as the whole area is now built up and Los Boliches merges with Benalmadena.  Double back but can’t park as there is so much building work going on.  Continuing to the outskirts of Benalmadena itself we spot a number of motorhomes parked on the seafront behind the Sunset Beach Club Apartments.  It’s a good spot with some vans parking here for as long as 5 months.  Settle in then walk for 1/2 hour back to the naturist beach.  It’s still the pretty little wooded cove but now surrounded and overlooked by dozens of almost completed apartments and with a cliff path being built all the way around the bay.  The club own this small piece of land but look in grave danger of either being squeezed out if the price is right or loosing members who don’t wish to be watched over.  It’s still a great spot and we alternate between sunbathing, going in the sea and visiting the bar.  Strange how the apartments surrounding the bay seem to have the biggest workforce but the least amount of work done on them!  Walking back we make a short detour as just opposite the apartments are a discount supermarket and a Burger King.  Pick up a few groceries and then get tempted by any 2 burgers for 500 ptas (£2.00).  Steve is disappointed that we can’t pick up good TV reception for him to watch soccer so he abandons me in search of a bar with a TV.
BENALMADENA, BEHIND SUNSET BEACH CLUB APARTMENTS – 45 MILES
Thursday 5 April  Back to the beach in  the day then Steve returns to the Irish bar in the evening to watch Liverpool draw against Barcelona.
BENALMADENA
Friday 6 April  After peering through the window to watch the sunrise we are disappointed when at 10.00am heavy sea mist rolls in.  Return to Torre Del Mar to try and catch Cyril and Margaret but to no avail as they are both busy.  It’s quite cool with the mist so we decide press on along the coast although we do miss out on the views.  Where the road goes either inland or up into the mountains the mist clears and it’s hot and sunny.  East of Torre Del Mar the concrete jungle ends but rears its head again in Nerja which is busy and touristy.  Continuing along the coast we do get glimpses of spectacular craggy sweeps of coast with the occasional beach.  As we wind our way through the mountains we spot lots of interesting derelict bridges on the even twistier old road.  After the big and busy town of Almunecar we drop out of the mountains to emerge back to the coastal plains and into plastic greenhouse land.  The landscape is very strange as the taught green plastic makes it look undeveloped but the reality is tomatoes and other crops being grown in every available spot.  Continue along the coast with better views as the mist has now cleared.  Wend our way between thousands of greenhouses to emerge at Roquetas de Mar where we settle in behind Playa Cerrillos.
ROQUETAS DE MAR, PLAYA DE CERRILLOS – 145 MILES
Saturday 7 April  Although this is a nice enough spot it somehow doesn’t grab us and it’s very windy on the exposed beach.  Just as we are leaving we spot Geoffrey & Ethel out walking.  We were with them in Morocco and they report that Aidan & Anita and David & Jean are also in town.  We can’t find where the others are parked so head off to Cabo de Gata Nature Reserve.  It’s like entering a completely different Spain once we are in the national park with an abundance of wild flowers, dramatic landscape and no high rise buildings.  San Jose is a small village and the end of the sealed road to the Cape.  It’s then a bumpy 3 miles of dirt tract to Genovese Beach which is near deserted with not a building in site.  Well so the guide book says but it is a weekend and there are quite a few people around.   Walk to the western end of the beach where nudity prevails.  It’s a pretty half moon bay with a clean beach of soft golden sand which shelves gently into the water.   Mid afternoon we set out to walk further round the coast to Monsul Bay.  It’s a difficult walk scrambling over unsettled rocks and with lots of ups and downs.  Discover three more interesting bays before giving up and cutting back to the car park.  We’re amazed at the numbers of vehicles arriving after 6.00pm including a procession of about a dozen vehicles with fishermen.  Steve walks down to the beach after dark and they are all lined up with torches and lights on their rods.
CABO DE GATA, GENOVESE BEACH – 48 MILES  
Sunday 8 April  We get a complementary wake up call at 8.20am by the "Guardia Civil" who ask to see our vehicle document and passport and say we are not allowed to free camp in the national park. For a moment we thought we might get fined or something but they just want us to move on before tonight and also visit the other two motorhomes.  There’s some lovely coastline here and more good free camping spots at La Isleta and Valle De Rodalquilar beaches.  The coast is impassable for a stretch so we return to the main motorway for one junction then head back towards the coast and spot a couple of thin long black snakes warming themselves on the tarmac.  Agua Amarga is a small traditional Spanish village with a lovely beach which has cave dwellings in the rocks at the end.  The football pitch is used as a free camping spot but after checking out the bars in the town there is nowhere for Steve to watch football.  Near La Mesa Roldan there’s an official naturist beach called Playa Los Muertos (Beach of the dead).  Maybe it’s so called because of the steep 1 km stony path to get down to it.  There’s not a nude body in site but it is an unusual beach with the "sand" made up of tiny marble pebbles.  No footie bars in Carboneras where you can free camp by the port.  Resign ourselves to continuing to the tourist resort of Mojacar where we know there will be English football in the bars but no chance of free camping.  A number of bars are advertising the matches so we park nearby at the western end of town by the beach.  My sunbathing is soon curtailed when a strong wind gets up and drives everyone off the beach.  Steve returns at 7.00pm and after we have had tea we back track just a few kilometres to a beach for free camping.
MOJACAR, PLAYA CASTILLO DE MACENAS – 58 MILES
Monday 9 April  No wake up call this morning and even better still we discover from a sign that this is an official naturist beach.  Just how good does it get?  We have a flat pitch on gravel and grass with the beach directly in front of us and the possibility of walking to Mojacar if we need anything.  Make the most of the hot sun and stay put to enjoy sunbathing and swimming followed up with a BBQ tea.  Austrian Bruno and Miriam are tent camping here along with their 4 year old son David who is just recovering from chicken pox.  Mirjam comes over to join us for an evening drink having left Bruno settling David down to sleep.  About half an hour later David walks over to let us know Bruno is fast asleep!
PLAYA CASTILLO DE MACENAS
Tuesday 10 April  After an early sea mist the sky clears and the sun breaks through but we are left with a cool breeze.  Steve sits out all day whilst I bob in and out, one of the great things about this type of set up.  Mirjam & Bruno ask us to join them for a drive up to the bar in the mountains.  Although there is a little friend there for David the place is dead so we return to a bar at the end of the beach where we are camped.  It has recently been open by Brits and all the customers are English but the music is good and the drinks flow.  Pause to watch the moon rise spectacularly out of the ocean before returning around midnight.
PLAYA MACENAS
Wednesday 11 April  Venture further along the coast back tracking over old ground.  The naturist beach where we free camped at Vera Playa has now been taken over by a water park and lots of new apartments.  After a coffee stop at the pretty little village of Isla Plana and a wasted chase around Cartagena for gas we eventually reach Lo Pagan on La Mar Menor.  Another of our old haunts this at least seems unchanged.  Didn’t realise on our last visit that this spot is famous for the mud baths where people smear thick black gunk onto themselves then let it dry before bathing to wash it off.  Presumably it is either therapeutic or good for the skin but either way it’s late in the day and getting too cold for us to give it a shot. 
LO PAGAN – 124 MILES
Thursday 12 April  We are rushing to get to Lomas Del Mar near Torrevieja to visit Clare and Jim.  At Easter Madrid is emptied of people who all flock to the coast and create horrendous traffic jams.  Not only are we greeted by Clare and Jim but also their family of 4 dogs (Jenny, Cindy, Molly & Toby) and 5 cats.  Down at the beach we can’t believe how busy it is but do notice that the Spaniards seem to have a beach session around lunch time then go away and come back at about tea time.  Take a fast walk right along La Mata Beach and back.  Pop down to the Italian bar at the end of the road for an evening drink with Clare and Jim and a pizza.
LOMAS DEL MAR – 20 MILES
Friday 13 April  Good Friday – A cloudy start gives me chance to "play" on the computer with Clare.  Make it down to the beach very late morning and it is packed.  It’s hard to find a spot to sit without overlapping towels.  Note that the young Spanish couples all seem to have an extra girlfriend as a chaperone – or maybe the lucky Spanish lads have 2 girlfriends at a time.   Repeat the walk before returning to adopt the Spanish siesta system.  Friday evening is International Club night with bingo followed by dancing.  Clare does well and wins a line at bingo and also a raffle prize.  Tonight there is also an Easter bonnet parade with a brilliant entry from a man.  His hat has a track around it on which runs a train with Easter bunnies in the carriages. 
LOMAS DEL MAR
Saturday 14 April  Clare gets free Internet use during weekends and bank holidays so I am drawn into a computer session.  Make it down to the beach but the afternoon wind eventually forces us back.  Out with Clare and Jim in the evening to meet up with Doris and Bill at Restaurant La Rueda.  The traffic is horrendous and the short journey seems to take ages.  It’s a nice restaurant which also has branches in London.  I still find it difficult to get used to people smoking at the tables during meals as there don’t seem to be any smoking restrictions anywhere in Spain.  There’s a good choice on the menu but we are both in need of a good steak.  They live up to expectations and are excellent especially after the grotty meat in Morocco.  We savour them as we will probably be deprived of meat full stop when we get back to England if the foot and mouth problem hasn’t been resolved.  A good time is had by all with plenty of good food and drink and still cheaper than England at 7600 ptas (£30) per couple.
LOMAS DEL MAR
Sunday 15 April  Easter Sunday – Usual day, computer, beach, siesta.  Steve and I check out the Chinese "El Leon" at the top of the street where the buffet is 900 ptas (£3.60).  Not very good at all as we reckon the food has been re heated from lunch time and one of the heated trays has not even been turned on.  Complain and get the food on my plate microwaved which helps at bit.  Notice that when someone calls in to order a take away a number of dishes are filled with the buffet food.  I don’t know why but we pay the bill and go back to the van.  We both find the food repeating and have stomach aches.  I head for the toilet at which point Steve figures it’s time to go back and complain.  In Spain all hotels, restaurants and bars are supposed to have a complaints book so he goes back to tell them we feel unwell due to the food but they don’t want to know.  He asks for the complaints book at which point the minimal English they speak disappears and they pretend not to know what he is talking about.  He threatens to return with the Police but the don’t care.  Join Clare and Jim at the Italian bar where the owner shows us his unused complaints book and explains the procedure and that "El Leon" are breaking the law by not having a book so we should pursue things tomorrow.
LOMAS DEL MAR
Monday 16 April  It’s a glorious day with a pleasant warm breeze on the beach so we make an early start as this just may be our last sunbathing day for quite some time. Around 12.30pm we hear a kind of double boom a bit like a quarry blast and Steve feels a tremor but the earth did not move for me on the sun lounger.  It’s such a lovely day that we can’t be bothered going back to the Chinese and stay on the beach until after 5.00pm when we return to hear from Clare and Jim that there has been an earthquake.  At the International Club it’s the Easter Dinner Dance 2750 ptas (£11.00).  We receive a welcome glass of champagne and there is both red and white wine provided at the tables.  The 3 course meal is good and followed by a show of flamenco dancing.  Clare wins 2 raffle prizes this time before the regular dancing starts.  Jim attempts to teach me the quick step but his efforts are wasted and I revert to shuffling round the floor with Steve.
LOMAS DEL MAR
Tuesday 17 April  Steve feels an earthquake after shock during the night but I sleep right through it.  Force ourselves to get up to say our farewells and hit the road by 9.00am.  There’s a huge difference in the traffic now that the holiday is over and we make good progress and cut inland through the mountains just north of Alicante.  We’re repeating a previous route but this time make it round Valencia in 50 minutes as opposed to 1 hour before.  A late siesta stop at one of the many truck stops just south of Torreblanca with 4 course meals including a bottle of wine on offer for 990 ptas (£4.00).  Peniscola is recommended for free camping and Steve wants to be in a town to watch the football tonight.  No sooner have we driven on to the car park than a policeman comes and hands me a piece of paper.  In 4 languages and with signs it states that no caravans or motorhomes can park in the Peniscola area.  We ask if we can just park to look around and he says not.  Continue north on the N340 and spot an Aire de Repos near Playa de Alcanar.  Settle in for the night with our usual sea view. Steve manages to tune our TV in for the football and picks up the commentary on the radio.
PLAYA DE ALCANAR, AIRE DE REPOS – 251 MILES
Wednesday 18 April  A cooler cloudy day.  We have been advised to take the motorway around Barcelona and join the A7 at junction 7 and immediately get a 110 ptas (44p) toll.  Further tolls are 550 ptas (£2.20) junction 37, 580 ptas (£2.32) at 31, 785 ptas (£3.15) at 25 and a final 725 ptas (£2.90) when we come off at junction 9.  A boring journey at a high price,  a total of 2755 ptas (£11).  At least whilst on the motorway we spotted Phil & Sue from Morocco and pulled over to find we are both heading for the same place tonight.  Find the N340 much more interesting first with prostitutes touting for business and then a succession of 2CV’s coming past heading for a rally.  At 4.45pm we reach the chaotic border just north of Le Junquera.  Cars are strewn along the road for people to do their shopping and it takes us well over 1/2 hour to crawl through into FRANCE where the traffic is equally slow through the narrow streets.  In this case the toll motorway would definitely have been the better option.  Turn off to the coast and immediately recognise we are in France by the tree lined streets with drainage ditches at the side and villages with roads which gradually narrow, all nightmares for motorhomes!  We travel with the sea on our right and a huge Etang (lake) on our left.  This is popular wind surfing territory and well developed with villas and marinas but also good for motorhome free camping.  Just north of Port Leucate we park up next to Phil and Sue on the edge of a lagoon opposite Aphrodite Naturist Village. Chance for a good chat about all our mutual motorhome friends, free camping spots and routes.  They tell us that a short stroll from here takes you to an area of oyster beds and fishermen’s shacks where you can get a cheap oyster feed.  Will check it out if we stay on tomorrow.
PORT LEUCATE – 164 MILES
Thursday 19 April  A restless night with the wind rocking the van.  Clare & Jim were on a 7 day chemical diet when we visited.  Plenty of healthy food and food combinations to cleanse your body and guarantee a 1 stone weight loss.  Reckon it’s worth a try so kick off with tomatoes on toast for breakfast.  Another cool day so Phil & Sue head off to Greece.  Before we leave we walk into Aphrodite Village which is completely naturist and includes a sandy beach, swimming pool, bars, restaurant, shop and lots of villas. We’re surprised at just how big it is and how much more is being developed.  Although this is a great place to free camp the wind and cooler weather prompt us to move on.  Fellow motorhomer Jo has now settled down at Ste Valiere just NW of Narbonne so we head off to visit her.  She has a lovely bungalow on the edge of the village and is just having a swimming pool put it.  It reminds us a bit of our cottage at Newport as she describes how overgrown it was when she bought it but saw the potential.  It now has a self contained flat and the possibility of turning a building in the garden into a 2 bedroom property.  Have a good chat and do some washing before taking a stroll around the very small village with little more than a town hall and a post office.  Get back just before it starts to rain.  Jo has brought a digibox and card back from her Easter visit to England and Steve is delighted to find the man arrive to install it late afternoon but then disappointed to find that BBC1 signal has not been received.  Football is on TV at 8.00pm and he was hoping to watch it.  By good fortune the BBC1 channel comes through at 7.30pm.
STE VALIERE – 47 MILES
Friday 20 April  Woken by a horn sounding through the village as the vegetable delivery man signals his arrival in the square.  Bread and meat are also delivered in this way with them all having a different sound to herald their arrival.  Jo takes us for a ride out around the area as she has to inspect one of the rental properties which she looks after.  It’s a terraced house in Argeliers and just oozes character.  Worth around £50,000 it returns £450 week rental in high season and is adored by the Americans.  We like Bize with the river flowing through it and are impressed by Minervois with a gorge complete with Italian style perched village.  The Atlantic and the Mediterranean are joined by the Midi Canal and this passes through here at Homps.  Brief visit to another rental house this time a modern detached house by the canal with swimming pool and a tower to access to the main bedroom – and a £900 a week high season price.  All this is food for thought for us in terms of either an investment property or potential work minding rental properties.  This area is booming since Ryanair started flying into Perpignan and Carcassonne with a return UK flight at Easter only £50.  Jo joins us for chicken in the van then we teach her the Aussie card game Bush Rummy and end up spending the rest of the afternoon playing it. 
STE VALIERE
Saturday 21 April  Jo has mentioned how nice Carcassonne is so we study the map and review our route to take it in.  The weather is still poor so we press on roughly following the Midi Canal to Carcassonne.  Call in for a quick shop at Leader Price reputed to be the cheapest supermarket in France but I reckon Lidl has the edge but Leader Price a wider choice and they do take credit card.  Park by the Cite for 30FF (£3.00).  Carcassonne has the longest Medieval town walls in Europe with towers and battlements.  It is a fantastic sight even in the pouring rain with wind and a temperature of 7C.  Chateau Comtal within the walls is most impressive and by the time the rain eases off we are interested enough to make another circuit within the walls.  Tiny cobbled streets are edged with gift shops and small museums but the thing that seems to dominate the Cite most of all are the fabulous restaurants with reasonably priced interesting menus.  Shame we are already well stuck into the 7 day chemical diet.  Return to the warm van and dry off before heading towards Toulouse.  The rains starts again and deteriorates to sleet to be replaced shortly after by blue skies, unfortunately this cycle keeps repeating.  At Toulouse we turn North and are immediately reminded what a dangerous road this is by the black cut outs at the roadside indicating the numbers and the site of a fatal accident.  Turn off the main N20 just south of Souillac and get a real feel of the countryside as we wind our way down narrow lanes to the Dordogne River and the free camping spot at Pinsac.   I’m having trouble with bad heads again and go to sleep straight away.
PINSAC – 199 MILES
Sunday 22 April  A cold and frosty morning borne out by the fact it takes our central heating 45 minutes to reach 20C.  Hop out to photograph the "Flot Bleu" motorhome service station for my magazine article.  These units offer fresh water, facilities for emptying toilet and grey water and power.  You pay 10FF (£1.00) for 10 minutes fresh water supply and it’s only now that I remember someone telling me that the electricity is free through the winter until the beginning of May.  This explains why a French motorhome is parked adjacent and hooked up to the power which we should have done and used our electric heater.  At Brive we turn off NW to visit Mick and Anne whom we also met in Morocco.  They live in a converted barn in the village of Le Bost.  Pass a sign to Le Bost but with a 3.5 ton limit so press on to Jumilhac with a super chateau.  I’ve seen Le Bac on the map which I suspect is the same place but get lost leaving Jumilhac and explore even more of the countryside before returning through Jumilhac to then find Le Bac is a different place.  Back track once again through Jumilhac (well it does have a super chateau) and ignore the 3.5 ton sign to eventually reach Mick and Anne’s.  They have lived in the area for 10 years and this is the second home they have built from ruins.  Mick’s building experience has certainly come in useful.  They still get snow here in winter so this area may not suit us even with cheaper property and land than down south.  Late afternoon a young couple Mat & Helen visit with their three boys Alf, Etiene and Louis.  He used to be an actor and they came here 10 years ago with very little capital but now own a number of properties which they have renovated.  In the evening Ann & Mick invite us to join them for a meal along with their motorhome friends Alan and Christine who live in static caravan in Greece in the winter.  Instead of travelling in the summer they have now bought a barn and land here.  A nice meal and interesting conversation takes us through the evening ensconced in the lovely farmhouse style lounge with the wood fire keeping us snug and the rain belting down outside. 
LE BOST – 86 MILES
Monday 23 April  Heavy rain through most of the cold night, showers in the morning and we are only a third of the way up through France – however will we cope in England?  Our van insurance runs out at midnight on Wednesday and we have a number of queries before we comit to renewing.  Mick kindly lets us use his fax but 4 messages later we are making little progress so opt to make a dash up to Calais tomorrow to be back in England on Wednesday to deal with it.  Learn a lot from Mick about property prices and the purchasing system in France.  At the moment he is hoping to get a derelict property with land for £15000 which seems a bargain to us.  He bought his present property as a barn with land for £9500 5 years ago and now that he has made it into a 2 bedroom bungalow with an additional granny flat it is worth £70000.  This could be the way for us to go if as and when we get tired of travelling even if they do have cold winters – and springs.
LE BOST
Tuesday 24 April  On the road by 7.00am.  After more overnight rain it’s a brighter and warmer day.  Hit our first snag in Orleans where the supermarket cheap petrol stations are either on the other side of the dual carriageway and we are too high for the underpass or we manage to get to them but the forecourt canopy is too low.  At 12.18pm we find one we can access only to see that it closed at 12.15pm for a long lunch.  End up getting fuel in a small village for 5.65FF (56p) litre and put enough in to get us to the next big town.  More problems as the big town of Dreux now has a bypass for vehicles over 3.5ton but the bypass has no petrol station.  Repeat the process of buying more expensive fuel to get us to Igouille.  As we approach Rouen we drive along the banks of the Seine and notice that it is almost overflowing.  Heave a huge sigh of relief that we can cross the road to get to Super U at Igouille to put in 189 litres of diesel at 5.09FF (50p) litre.  When we leave we find we needn’t have crossed the road and turned off to Super U as there is now an Esso Express on the main road on our side with fuel the same price!
It starts to rain just north of Rouen and it’s obvious they have had plenty as rivers are sand bagged and fields flooded.  Notice how much more mileage we can cover in a day compared to going down in January.  Then we had a 7 hour daylight driving day from 9 – 4 and now we have double that with 14 hours of light from 7 – 9.  Clock up 462 miles by the time we get to Calais and tanking up at Auchan 5.12 FF (51p) takes our daily fuel total to a whopping 255 litres costing 1315FF (£131).  Stock up on booze then return to the special motorhome parking spot at Bleriot Plage which is surprisingly full.  Roley & Anne from Morocco are parked up but this is not surprising as they are also going to the Peterborough motorhome show on Thursday.
BLERIOT PLAGE – 462 MILES
Wednesday 26 April   Awake at 5.30am so we drive round and check in  for the 7.00am ferry as we are not booked on it and there may not be much space if all the other motorhomes are.  Wrong.  Aboard the Sea France "Manet" are a total of 5 vans, 1 lorry and 7 cars!  Having boarded first we are right at the front of the car deck.  Dock in Dover ENGLAND at 7.30am after the 90 minute crossing.  Our pole position gives us a good view of the ramp at Dover which descends to the level of the ship to make disembarking easier.  Although there is far too much traffic on the road there are no hold ups and we make it round London to head up the M11 then stop at the services.  Confirm our motorhome insurance which has gone up dramatically to £528.  The ATM gobbles my card as it is out of date so that leaves us with very little cash and a need to find a Nat West Bank.  Head into Cambridge but all the car parks are underground.  Ely has a big impressive Minster and also a car park at the leisure centre which we can get on to.  Shame we are illegally parked over 2 spaces or it would have been a nice town to spend some time wandering round but at least I can get some money from the bank.  At Peterborough the only vans allowed on the showground today are ones who are members of a club.  We are relegated to the car park of the nearby industrial area.
PETERBOROUGH – 92 MILES
Thursday 26 April  Follow a long procession of vans onto the East of England showground and pay £30 for camping and show admission.  The camping fields are very boggy and in many cases a tractor is needed to tow people onto their pitch.  Steve walks around to check things out and despite us being much heavier at 5 tons we drive straight onto our selected spot with no problems.   Take a stroll around and as we return to Charlie we spot Roley & Anne arriving.  Evening entertainment is included and tonight it’s country and western.  Anne & I manage to fit in a few line dances before Steve & I succumb to the cold and return home to defrost.
PETERBOROUGH, EAST OF ENGLAND SHOWGROUND – 5 MILES
Friday 27 April  A shuttle bus operates between the camping area and showground but there’s still a lot of walking to be done.  Our main purchase is a sun roof  £99 which seems a good price but with our luck will probably cost as much again to be fitted to the leaking roof over the bath.  Steve leaves early afternoon as he is not interested in looking in the motorhomes but I am.  Fortunately I don’t see anything I prefer to ours.  Tonight we see the "Ludwig Beatles" perform followed by Mark Robinson and The Counterfeit Crickets doing a tribute to Buddy Holly. They are very good and the dance floor is full.  Maybe everyone is dancing to keep warm as we are.     The "Beatles" then re-appear revamped as the latter day Beatles playing the appropriate music.
PETERBOROUGH
Saturday 28 April  There’s a shuttle bus operating into the centre of Peterborough but Steve would rather stay home and watch football on the TV.  I pay my £1.50 and thoroughly enjoy my expedition.  The cathedral is good and I am surprised to find that Katherine of Aragon is buried inside and Mary Queen of Scots used to be.  There’s a Peruvian pipe band playing in the attractive old square and I settle myself down with a fresh cream slice to listen to them.  Purchase a Pay as You Go BT Cellnet mobile phone primarily for sending and receiving text messages whilst abroad but also to use as a phone in England.  (Tel number 07761 078025).  Time will tell whether this is a good move as one of the things we very much enjoy in our lifestyle is the lack of interruptions but I guess we should keep up with the times as we certainly can’t keep up with the Jones’s.  This evening Marti Webb is doing a show singing songs from the West End musicals but it costs an extra £12 and we don’t fancy it anyway.  There’s also a disco so we opt for that instead.  Arrive to find loads of young kids on the dance floor and "Bob the Building" belting out.  Wish Daniel had been with us.  Things don’t improve so we leave.
PETERBOROUGH
Sunday 29 April  Last visit to the show with us finally accepting the British weather and investing in a large umbrella and for me a very warm fleece jacket.  Fortunately most of the weekend has been dry with sunny spells but the wind has been cold and it has been bitterly cold at night.   Evening entertainment is provided by comedian Mickey Lewys who gives us a good laugh and singer Toni Warne who is good at singing ballads.
PETERBOROUGH
Monday 30 April   The tractor is busy hauling people out of the fields.  He charges the showground operators a massive £1500 per day for his services.  Surprisingly we do not need assistance but maybe it’s because we have 4 wheels at the back and rear wheel drive.  Continue north to Yorkshire with a conspicuous absence of animals in the fields.  Since reaching England we have seen a total of 3 sheep, 3 horse and one piggery.  Daniel is surprised to see us.  We made the mistake when we spoke to him from Morocco.  He asked when we were coming to see him and Steve said soon.  Well after a few months away another few weeks is soon to us but not for Daniel who went to the window to look out for us arriving.  Claire had to get the calendar and show him that we would be back in May and this is why he is surprised to see us today but says it is OK.  Late afternoon someone phones to offer Claire an evening job cleaning at the vets so we immediately take on the roll of baby sitters.  Daniel and Natasha are no trouble at all at bedtime and it’s nice to spend so much time with them.
HAW0RTH – 141 MILES
 
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