Saturday, 24 September 2016

Rust and cow pats

Our house in the clouds
We have been gazing at the clouds from our little Asturian mountain house for a week now, bimbling about, dining with friends, going to the slightly chilly beach, repacking our cases and fixing stuff. 

Necoras - the crabs which Jo's dad fishes
and exports to Spain and we eat here 
My mangled Spanish continues to mystify and amuse our neighbours, while they’re not herding their cows up and down the mountain.

The space that holds up the car

Rust has eaten a fist-sized hole through a beam which supports a quarter of the car’s weight. I only discovered it yesterday. So priorities have changed: I spent today Waxoyling what’s left of the chassis while putting the organisation of packing cases on hold.

Cutting the wood for our sleeping
platform in the DIY store car park.

Our main objective when we reach the Balkan countries will be to find a cheap welder with time on his hands. Half of the adventure is seeing if the car makes it there without packing cases crashing through the floor.

We have found ourselves blowing up cowpats with bangers (video to come) and wondering aloud which animals can poo while walking and which ones cannot, and so have decided it’s best to move on. We leave the house this Monday 26th.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Veering from rough to vomity

Jo and Range Rover Classic Nellie
Jo revving up Nellie for the ramp
Leaving Portsmouth on the hottest September day on record was a promising start to our 2016 south/eastbound odyssey. 

Unfortunately a cursory check on the Met Office shipping forecast predicted Force 9 veering to Storm Force 10 seas in the Bay of Biscay. Uh oh.

Our ship is the Britanny Ferries' Pont Aven with 9 decks, 3 bars, 2 cinemas, restaurant, self-service cafeteria, beauty parlour and a swimming pool (hah!). It takes 24 hours to reach Santander. 

Naturally my thoughts turned to food and what on earth we would eat that could be relied upon not to make a return appearance. I've been caught on out this front before.

The food on the Pont Aven is French with a British twist (chips always available and a fry-up in the morning). Here's what is great: the bread, the Brittany butter, the range of salads, the wine. Here's what is not: the tea.

Bay of Biscay waves
Force 8+ from the starboard side
We sensibly opted for the easily digestible, and had salads with smoked salmon and cream cheese (plus a drop or two of wine to lubricate). Happy to report it was a once-only affair.

Having said that, Dave was up and about at 4am pacing the ship wondering why all went quiet on the engine front and the seas had suddenly calmed. Did the engines fail? Were we floating helplessly towards the Brittany rocks?
Dog cages on Brittany Ferries' Pont Aven
The poor howling pooches at 4am

Having established that neither was the case Dave made a mercy mission to the dog pound where the poor souls are incarcerated for 24 hours in little cages. He reported back that most of them were comforted by his calming presence, a couple of notable exceptions for which he was relieved that there were bars in the way.

As we near our destination the seas are easing, the sky is clearing and Dave no longer has to sip Coke and eat dry bread. Happy days.
Arriving in Santander. Phew.

Because I am in charge of the first night's stay in Santander I have unilaterally decided that we will be staying at the Hotel Real as this may be our last accommodation splurge for some time.

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Saturday, 3 September 2016

Starting with the best

Jo finished her job last week and we find ourselves up on her Hebridean island, Berneray, to say hello and goodbye to her folks.

Between the rain showers we visit Berneray's West beach whose sweeping white sands have been confused understandably for a Thai resort.

Berneray West Beach, Outer Hebrides
Berneray's secret: the West Beach
Looking around I am not convinced we will find anything to match this scenery on our trip.

We head back south on Monday, and get on the ferry to Spain the following Tuesday 13 September!

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