694-697: Burton Birthday in Barcelona

694 – Lloret de Mar ‘ere we Come

A separate drive (car and van) back to the farm in Farnham.  We collected Maddy from work and drove to Gatwick.  We’d had limited choice of destination with wanting to depart on Thursday evening … Maddy had Friday – Sunday off work – even arriving very late in Barcelona on Thursday night (really Fri morning!), it still gave us two full days.

695 – Catching Up the Zzzz

I slept in.  And Maddy slept in majorly!  A wander around the town, lunch and then cosies on for a sun bathe.  Supper after another Sangria and a wander around the small streets.


We lunched in the sun with Sangria …


… followed by an ice cream at the end of the beach.

696 – Barcelona Architecure

We caught the 9.00 bus into Barcelona and followed a phone app walk to view some of the best and interesting architecture.  Fortunately M did not want to join the massive queues to go in ay of the Gaudi buildings as it was sunny.  We walked our socks off … but it was worth it.  One detour to a Sephora …. a make up store for M to spend some of her birthday money.  She ticked lots of boxes on her wish list; Tapas, Paella, Ice cream and walking Barcelona.
























697 – Home Again

A walk and coffee in Lloret and a little sun bathing on our balcony – the bus transfer picked us up at 12.30.  


I had hung all these up!


My stuff is just in one small plastic bag!

679-693: Travelling North and the First Birthday Party

A very late post …. lost our internet 10 days short of returning to the UK and then, somehow, we’ve been amazingly busy!

679 – Wednesday 5th April 2017:  Driving Day

We hadn’t driven all day – since we flitted from Portugal to Nice…. 8 hours travelling – and a nice aire in Cusiance – near where we had stayed before on our way home, this time last year.  Met a motorhome neighbour….  Now, when a young lady meets a nice Swedish man – what does she say, eh?  Obviously – in fluent Swedish – “I’m drunk and I love you”!!!  K seemed taken aback when his hands suddenly became more tactile…. and her Swedish wasn’t that fluent, either… I wasn’t impressed.  Perhaps, that’s the direct line Oscar should try with Kensey?  K’s excuse was that she learned it from some sailors?  I wanted a Harry Potter wand – to turn the Swedish man into – a tartcitron with extra mushypeas – deepfried!  

A quiet night…..

680 – Thursday 6th April:  Langres

Driving for a few hours, we stopped for lunch at an aire in Langres…  A Dutch van parked alongside us (a bit close) – they appeared tone a bit taciturn….  However, quite understandably so – when we saw they unloaded a completely shredded rear tyre – and the chap closely inspected their spare which he had fitted. We picked up some of the local cheese – orange skin  and the lady in the shop gave me some paper bags so it could breathe … nice.

We walked the walls around the town and thought it a pleasant town.  We drove on a France Passion vineyard … with views over fields, including one with Llamas, one sheep and one goat!  Peaceful and on an Oscar walk, I discovered that the town housed the country retreat and museum to Charles de Gaulle.

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With M. Didier – something to do with encyclopedias.

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All that remains of the funicular, as Langres is built on a rocky promontory.

681 – Friday 7th April:  Vet Day

We contemplated visiting the de Gaulle museum etc, but at EUR16 and with limited time to us, we declined.  Met Robyn and Kensey in a car park very close to the centre of Troyes.  We wandered and imbibed several glasses of Chablis with Robyn.  Oscar had his first visit with a non-English vet.  A thorough examination and prescribed the worming tablets required for the pet passport.  My vet had said that he should not have a certain type as they contained a medicine already in his Advantix or Advocate …. I tried to get the vet to give him Droncit, which I knew was OK, but no go.  Fortunately he gave me the tablets to give to Oscar with food later that evening.  Completely against the rules, but I was able to ring my UK vet practice and verify if this particular tablet was OK for him to take.

Robyn had identified a Sport Centre parking just on the outside of Troyes, which was a lot quieter than the city centre car park would have been on a party night.


682-683 – Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th:  Moving North – Another Shangri-La 

Robyn, again identified another superb aire at Mareuil le Port.  Not on most of the apps, just as well or it would have been over run!  A park next to the river.  The motorhome bays had their own water and concrtete patio area.  As well as electric for those of us that parked where it worked.  So lovely we decided to stay two nights – Robyn longer.  Robyn started hand washing, so I got the old twin tub out and was guilted into doing a load of ours too.  Perfect sunshine and a gentle breeze for drying the washing and us being outside pretty much all the time.  J lost a bet over when the Sicilian earthquake devastated the SE corner … 1693 is now engrained on his memory!  Consequece for J was to get the ladder out and clean the road kill on the from to Robyn’s van!  We had a ‘slight’ incident where I slammed j’s hand in Jez’s door.  Bearing in mind we have to really REALLY slam it, I was convinced all the bones in his fingers were crushed to a powder.  The neighbouring French motorhomers shot out with some magic Arnica cream and J did not have bruising or swelling.  I’ve bought some now, for the next time I try to damage him!  BBQ both nights.

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Foot care! 

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Amazing Pitches.

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Kensey basking in the sun.  Oscar finds the shade … they are so incompatible!

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Pilates class … who is absent?  That would be the photographer!  Oscar tied up or he would try to join in ….

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… he seemed to derive much enjoyment just watching … little perv!

684 – Monday 10th: Bergues for an Overnight

A longish drive up north and we overnighted at Bergues, just 35 mins from the Tunnel.  Far enough away from trouble and really quiet.  I took Oscar for a walk around the Vauban fort and walls and then into the town centre.  Being British, I was all bagged up to poop scoop by one of the outer paths, to be told, most insistently, by locals that it really was not necessary to pick up not in towns.  J struck up a conversation with our Belgian neighbour who told him that he had fought in the war and was on his way Normandy in his motorhome to meet up with some surviving members of his regiment.  Just how old would this have made him?  Almost 90 at least!

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685 – Tuesday 11th:  Back to Blighty and with the Reads

Early for our tunnel crossing as slightly anxious about how long the Pet Reception area would take.  In the event, it was super quick and we caught an earlier train.  We did not experience the sinking feeling we had this time last year … the sun shone and the M25 behaved!!!!  We parked up straddling Ian and his neighbour’s drive (they kindly move out and we pay motorhome parking rent in the form of a bottle of whence became).  A great evening, only marred by the fact that Nicky’s father really was not well.  Got to watch Robot Wars with Jimmy …. forgot how much I used to enjoy it.  

686 – Wednesday 12th:  Sinead and Shane

Ian and Jimmy were off to Barcelona the next day, so we took Jimmy for a blowy walk along the sea shore and for a muffin and hot chocolate in Rusty … Ian could pack and still deal with work (he works from home).  We then legged it to Farnham to Coxbridge Farm, where we stay near my family home.  We collected the car from the Aged P’s on the way and then battled our way up the M3, M25 and cut across W London to Ealing.  It all felt incredibly built up and busy.  just where do all these people come from?  Our destination was to dine with J’s baby daughter and partner, Shane in their new flat.  

687 – Thursday 13th:  Supper with the Aged P’s

We sorted out the rest of the garage and lugged a LOT of stuff back over to the Aged P’s for storage in their attic.  We now have room for the bikes 🙂  It will be interesting to see how oscar copes with us on bikes!  The former Welshie, Will, knew to avoid wheels and when I called him to heel, would run around the back of my bike and trot along bedside my left foot.  Somehow, I am in no doubt, that Oscar is not going to be so bike friendly.

I cooked at Rothbury for the Aged P’s and since we were sampling the Portuguese Moscatel that I’d squirrelled away (had buried it deep in the garage so we were not tempted to drink it when our own supplies ran out) and the Rasteau from the France Passion Cotes de Rhone vineyard we’d stayed on, we stayed the night.

688 – Friday 14th:  Supper with Caroline and Terry

Another boozy night with food away!   It started with a bottle of proper Champagne to celebrate J’s forthcoming BIG birthday.  We started the night here too!

Their No. 1 Daughter is Maddy’s bestie and they had news of the intimidation and bullying that goes on for freshers on the Uni Hockey Tour to Croatia.  She had been forced to eat and drink all sorts of obnoxious concoctions, including the pee of one of the lads …. Just horrid.  Given how much anti bullying education goes on in school, it is just incredible that they are all too intimidated to speak up.

689 – Saturday 15th:  Meeting the NEW Boyfriend

Maddy (she now spells her name Madi) and Brad came to supper.  Their friends have dubbed them Bradi!  We really liked him.  They’ve known each other a few years and he seems to have the measure of how she will wind him up when she’s bored!

690 – Sunday 16th:  Cooking and a Turkey Easter Supper

I spent most of the day food prepping at the Aged P’s.  So that I could use her kitchen, Mutt moved her food prep to Clare and Chris’ house.  Cx2 have, for the second Easter running, been tow path support crew for Louis who was competing in the Devizes to Westminster rowing race.  The competitors have to camp and prepare their own food in the evening.  The support crews, literally wedge food in them as they pass by, but it means very early starts and a lot of driving.  Hence Mutt cooking an Easter meal at Clare’s.  J and I have not had a proper turkey dinner for 2.5 years … just scummy.

691 – Monday 17th:  BIG Party No.1

We had a great evening with some England based friends for the first of J’s 70th birthday parties.  The raffle, where you can steal what someone else has was fun … with people hunting down the whisky, port and the camper van mug.  The BBQ sauce bottle nearly ended up with Clare – she did keep offering it around.  Madly, so busy I forgot to take any pix. 😦

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Besties Maddy and Dayna – besties and their youthful mothers!

Frances and Edward gave J two hedgehogs … we named the Van Jez, which is Slovenian for Hedgehog (so named after it’s brand Adria Sonic Supreme – Sonic the hedgehog.  We’ve named these two Jez and Belle … Jezebel.

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692 – Tuesday 18th: Cleaning

Thank goodness for dishwashers!  And I had forgotten (put it from my mind) how long it takes to clean a proper house, and we only cleaned a few rooms!  Think we’ll stick with a motorhome.  No garden either!!!

693 – Wednesday 19th:  Warranty Work

Our list of Jez faults, included a dodgy step, no hob ignition, a leaking kitchen sink, no rear view / reversing camera and some smaller items such as bits of trim falling off.  An early start and down to Family Tavel Centre in Bristol for the repairs.  Nearly all completed and at no charge :).  Having walked Oscar in Stoke Park for the best part of 2 hours, we left him in the car whilst we shopped till J dropped!  I then carried on – buying something pretty much from each floor in John Lewis!

Then over to Stephen and Kay for a lovely tapas / grazing supper.  They are really pleased with their new motorhome – an 8m AutoTrail …. I have storage envy!  

We had booked to stay in Bristol for a few days, but the doctor had rearranged J’s over 70 DVLA for tomorrow and I was off on a TRIP!  Barcelona with Maddy – Ola!

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Stoke Park with the Dower House in the distance … we lived next to it for 3 months.

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Pleased to be back in time for the bluebells.






672-678: Poncing About in Provence

672 – Wednesday 29th March 2017:  Pitch Perfect

Now, some days we drive for hours – today’s odyssey took all of 10 minutes – or less!  To the campsite near last nights stay – at Pont du Gard – for laundry, some other jobs – and chilling.  But mainly as the weather forecast was excellent for the next few days and it would give us chance to get the chairs and BBQ out as well as feel the sun on us before returning home.

Gorgeous large pitch right on the riverside…..  no passing traffic other than the birds.  Llovely German neighbours on both sides with chats in English and German – K. Barbecue in the evening…

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The shorts and the knitting came out.

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Our beautiful boy.

673 – Thursday 30th March: Bridge Running and Walking

Our running has really taken off, again – K ran across the Pont du Gard and I ran back into Remoulins – trying to build the mileage for the 5k race on 15th April. Post-brekkie, we walked across the bridge and clambered up high to a circular path – with manicured gardens in the wild!  Pm saw us relaxing in the sunshine…  Another BBQ – why not?


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K’s morning’s run – view from the 2000 year old Roman bridge.

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When I ran, it was devoid of people … for once we were up reasonably early!

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The highest bridge ever built by the Romans at 49m.  It stands as a testament to their engineering.  Slaves, using pulleys, hauled massive blocks, up to 6 tons, of stone into position.  The upper channel is the aqueduct, in use for 400-500 years, and the lower the road.  When I visited with the Aged p’s as a child, there was not a tourism industry here – no museum, cinema, upper level tour, massive carparks etc.  However, you can follow the footpaths and still cross the road bridge for free.

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The walk along the remains of the aqueduct was through perfectly trimmed hedges, an observation tower and an ornamental herb garden … all in what should have been wild countryside! 

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Evening sunset from our perfect pitch.

674 – Friday 31st March:  Hair Yesterday and Chopped Today

A late am start – why?  Because we can!  

Now, readers – a little known fact to whet your appetite for tonights imbibing – those of you who do have a regular libation…  Official UK figures show that sales of alcohol are double the amounts declared by folks in their medical or other declarations!!!  Obviously, as nobody lies about their consumption (!) – there’s a vast alcolake in the UK – it’s called “Lago da Vino” and the tributaries are everywhere…  If only we could tap into it…well then, we would have to declare an increase in consumption?  This is something of an esoteric circular discussion which may not have a conclusion. “Lies, lies and damned statistics”  

Todays jobsjoys included Oscar hair trim, J hairkutz and K hairdye – and campsite showers – just like boarding school – on the cold side of lukewarm!  But good for the soul…  And all in pleasant sunshine.


675 – Saturday 1st April:  Where did the sunshine go?

Morning – as forecast – teeming rain – visions of Cabo di Especial – mudstuck and towout in Portugal. We moved Jez to an adjacent hard standing pitch – see – we do learn from our adventures.  We’re not used to cold temperatures (we will be soon enough – UK-side).  Drove Jez to Avignon – and straight to an ACSI campsite – to run the heating on mains electric!  Lovely site – by the Rhone – and nice wide pitches.  In response to a wild camping forum challenge, K prepared a special Escoffier recipe – the usual KHC result!  

An April Fool link posted by our friend Dan on a forum we’re members of … no longer just the midges to be aware of on the W coast of Scotland, but Polar bears fleeing the melt down of the arctic spotted 🙂

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Stuffed onions: adapted as using a slow cooker.

676 – Sunday 2nd April:

What does one do in Avignon?  Pontdancing, of course…not pole dancing, or poncing.  We did a little jig – looking around to make sure nobody was watching – they were all pontjigging, too!  Good old St Benezet was responsible for this bridge, miraculously – according to legend he was a shepherd who had a visitation and told to build the bridge.  He attended a council meeting and declared his mission.  The Provost laughed and told him that if he could move a massive stone that had not been able to be used in building the cathedral as no one could move it, he could be believed. He lifted the stone and carried it to the river.  According to some witnesses, he gave a shrug of the shoulder and threw it into position as the foundations stone.  Others reported that he was assisted by divine intervention.  Funnily enough, he went on to be the bridge manager and run a consortium of bridge builders.  And since the bridge kept being washed away by the currents of the Rhone, he was onto a good thing!  

We phoneApped our way around the city – we discovered that K9s are banned from all parks – but are allowed in restaurants! Logic? 

My lunch pudding was straight out of ‘Hammer films’ – should have been served by Vincent Price!  

En route to our Jezorhome, we stopped at a bar (we know – not unusual in itself) – but this turned out to be a film club bar – beautifully comfortable armchairs to sink into – a selection of eclectic films – cartoons and monochrome – kooky.  An amusing one with every known corporate logo where the Michelin men attempted to catch Ronald McDonald the burger and then the world collapsed due to earth tremors.  Another a silent one.  Audience mostly young folk…  but one of those kooky moments in time that you don’t go looking for.


Yep, the Pont d’Avignon is only half a bridge.  Actually it’s pukka name is Pont St Benezet, and there’s a chapel with some of his relicts – the rest are scattered, of course, in other churches!   For some time, part of the bridge was wooden and only one person wide, so not much use for trade.


On said bridge.  Watched a couple doing a little dance.  Were we too cool or just plain cold to do much?


View from the Rochers des Doms gardens (before we were doggyvicted)  of the city walls and the bridge.


Palais de Papes.



Built like a fortress, and of the 9 Popes, most had a go at adding or removing towers etc.


Lunch was OK, omelette and chips for J, cod in provencal sauce for K, but the chef must have Parkinsons to have put so much pink sauce on J’s Tarte au citron!


Wandering in the Quartier des Teintures, where most manufacturing used to take place, there are still old relicts remaining … 4 water wheels that is!



Now ~wine o’clock~ would be more our style.


677 – Monday 3rd April:  Palais de Papes and Villeneuve les Avignons

When did I last run in the rain?  Gwent League Cross-Country, probably…. the motivation is high – so a damp training route along the Rhone – completely flat 5k – and it’s getting quicker…  K resting her ham string 😦

Sady, we left Oscar in charge of Jez and headed for the ferry across the Rhone to visit the Palais de Papes – largest Gothic Palace in the world… vast – good history of the 9 popes who held office in Avignon when the Papacy left Rome – for political reasons in the 15th century.  One Pope decided that the best way to honour God was to live the most opulent lifestyle – why?  

Back to reassure Oscar that we hadn’t left him permanently – he understands, we think…  Across the opposite side to Avignon – to Villeneuve lez Avignon (city of the Cardinals).  Really pretty and simple town/village – coffee and chat at local bar.  Visit to Tour Phillipe le Bell – and the monastery of Chartreuse du Val de Benediction – a real gem.

A glass of wine in the town square was going well – until my glass exploded into smithereens (and spilled the blinking wine too). Some children were playing ball and the result was a ‘vinoplosion’, as the ball ricochetted off K’s unsuspecting head and missile like onto my glass.  The young lady was ‘tres desole’ and Dad apologised profusley – no harm done.  

For some obscure reason, our talk wandered around to buying a house in Provence – why? Another impossible/improbable dream?  A whim? Who knows – we bought a previous house and a motorhome spontaneously…  Last week it was shangrila in Portugal Ponte de Lima.  To celebrate our discussions we ate in the campsite restaurant … not fine dining, but a lot of meat came away with us to furnish two more meals!


Inside one of the courtyards in the Palais de Papes.


An amazing height achieved in C14.  The largest Gothic palace in the world, with great big cavernous rooms.  



Villeneuve:  Tour Philippe le Bel.  Built to guard the other side of the Pont d’Avignon which straddled the island in the middle of the Rhone, where our campsite was.


View up to Fort St Andre, built by the French royalty so they could keep an eye on the Popes!


The Chartreuse du Vale de Benediction:  once the largest and most important Carthusian monastery in France.  Bits had been sold off but now reclaimed and restored – sort off!



Three cloisters still with the food serving hatches for the monks.  This one looking up to the Fort St Andre.


We really liked the chilled and less touristy Villeneuve.

678 – Tuesday 4th April:  Chateauneuf deu Pape and Rasteau

We bid a fond adieu to campsite Pont D’Avignon after the usual van water/waste/wc services – and our wineavigator compass needle flickered around to – direction Chateauneuf du Pape!  Town square lunch – K – foie gras – and a glass each of the obligatory (expensive) produce…  

Our destination tonight was another France Passion site – a vineyard. On arrival and setting up Jezacamp, we has a degustation – and the subsequent purchases included some Euro 2.90 per litre local wine and a few bottles of the better stuff.  Evening sunset over vines as far as the eye can see – and mountains on the other (sunrise) side – and all for free!  Seven star hotel surroundings – is this the life?  Just a smidgen of wind to contend with (and not just from Oscar!) – our host referred to it as a ‘mistral’.

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It had to be done … one glass of Chateauneuf de Pape was EUR7 and the other 9.  We swapped halfway through.

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 I just had a starter – panfried foie gras with a poached quails egg and a light black olive tapenade … yummy.  Followed by a shared cheese platter with J.


Our Rasteau vineyard pitch.    Just us, the farmhouse behind us and views across to the hills.

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Most of the land is flat and vines as far as the eye can see.

Oscar’s Diary

Well then, another diary entry – for my fans…. What to write? No need to describe meal times, walks, being left in the van while the ‘owners’ go to a museum – or a bar – latest excuse was they were visiting some Paper Palace in Avignon – ‘Palais de Papier’, I think they said…  I suppose you could learn about – tissues, wc paper, kitchen rolls, papier mache – paper airplanes?  Paper over the cracks in their logic, maybe…  Anyway, they’re only humans, after all.  

We dined in the campsite restaurant one night – I was allowed in – unlike the Avignon Parks!  I was appalled!  Other dogs barking inside – and being generally misbehaved – the owners didn’t seem to care, unlike my K and J who care a lot about me (I had to get that in – I like to flatten, sorry flatter them, sometimes).  

Now, they tell me I will see Kensey on 7th – this Friday. Which approach to use this time? The aloof, devilmaycare, manabouttown syndrome? Or the getyoursnoutinthere directline way?  Women are a mystery – I heard James say that once to K – his ear developed a sudden dent, then.  Maybe the cautious approach – you blokes will know – pay a compliment – like when ladies say “does my bottom look big in this?”  You say “Not much darling” – no – “Never, sweetums” is better.  How much have I learned from James?  Build on the cosy atmosphere following the compliment, a bunch of flowers (pansies are good) – and then – fly under the radar – and Bob’s yer uncle!   If we’re going to have a long term relationship, something needs to give….  

Back to the UK next week – I’ve forgotten the cold weather, the M25, the other roads with never ending queues of cars – but – we will be with family and friends.

K and J have been listening to “Harry Potter” on audiobook whilst driving – I thought it was a mistake….  Now when James produces my doggybowl, he waves his wand (no rude jokes, please) and says “enterfariumdoggywoso” – and nothing happens!  No magic dogfood appears in the bowl – so he has to go back to actually manhandling the food into the dish.  I may try to delete the next episode from K’s KPad…

That’s from me – for now – back to Kenseyplanning…..



661-671: Nice Family & the Camargue

661- 666 – Saturday 18th to Thursday 23rd March 2017 –  Nice in Nice

K picked up our rental car from Nice Cote Dazur ‘Kiss and Fly’ airport – an Opel ‘Ostracar’ Astra TurboSonicSupreme – just like Jez!  We journeyed into Nice – always heavy traffic into town…  to se Sarah (J’s daughter) and Jade (Sarah’s daughter).  One day we were picked up by Sarah from the campsite … (the NouNou – I know, but honestly this is what they are called!  aka. the Nanny was Jadesitting) and off to see their prospective new home in Biot.  A snip at (offered) Euro 455k.  Large home – needs some work but eminently liveable in for now – 3 beds – pool – and room for Jezparking too. Let’s hope they get it…   Lovely sunshine lunch in Biot with Sarah – we returned the following day for a reprise – fantastic fish course in with the locals.  

Young Jade wasn’t quite herself – bit of an iffy tummy, but we persuaded her to walk out with us without her Mum – first time for us too!  She walked by herself some of the time – and had amore than a few carries. In the park, she chased a pigeon but the pigeon won… Jade won the beauty contest, though…  Plenty of Grandad time – ooops, am I really a grandfather?

Nice meals at Sarah’s – K cooking – Jade improved during the week – looking forward to seeing her Dad on Friday in Carthagena.

K here:  Funny  – J forgot to mention Jade’s name for James … Grandpa Pig …. hilarious!  It comes from Peppa Pig.  J was less than enamoured with it!

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We missed seeing Jade on St Pat’s, but she did wear an Irish rugby shirt on Saturday, but wouldn’t keep still long enough for a non fuzzy photo … something to do with all the cheering and arm waving!

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A walk to Jade means a carry!

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Tummy tickling time.

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Not sure how appropriate to take a toddler into an e vape shop?


Lunch with Sarah in Biot.

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Set lunch – sole around salmon … guess who had chips with theirs?

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Leg exercises.

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All fall down.

667 Friday 24th March

Sarah and Jade left at 5:00 am for Spain and Daddytime – K returned our hire car to the airport. The day was spent doing van cleaning and admin – must be done – the rain came…one last night at Parc des Maurettes – we will return – probably in the summer – to help with the house move, we hope.


668 – Saturday 25th March

Off to the Camargue – on a friend’s advice – totally flat landscape – rice, lots of horse riding, rare birds…  We started in the rain on the Peage … but after the first toll of EUR22, we headed onto the free roads.  We overnighted at a ‘France Passion’ (rice farm) for the first time in a year or more – so peaceful, no nightly light pollution – lots of stars – and – quiet all around.


669 – Sunday 26th March

As we drove to Santes Maries de la Mer we passed many horse riding stables.  I was into horse riding once – teenage years – my first (and only) mount was Raquel – who liked me so much she wanted to tickle my tummy on the ground – after she had thrown me unceremoniously. Pride comes before a?  

St Marie de la Mer – gorgeous sea walk – flamingoes, more horses – and lovely sunshine…  Euro 6 for 2 coffees!!!   We are in expensive France, now.  On to Aigues Mortes – stunning medieval walled town.  Euro 20 for 12-hour parking – no!  Parked at good old Intermarche and walked into town.  Aigues Mortes was once a major sea port, but is now marooned 5kms from the sea.

Our second France Passion – a winery – same peaceful quiet night – and zzzzs. 

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There are some pink flamingos, top right of the pic – but we were completely outdone by others’ long camera lens. 

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Horse riding is the major tourist must do, but we didn’t.  Something to do with a horse named Raquel … ask James!

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How much, Sir?  Two white coffees … EUR6!

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Stables just everywhere with the small sturdy white Camargue horses.  Although historically the horses were never stabled and were used to thresh grain.

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The vines are mostly ‘Gris du Sable” , a rose – low growing and looking like a Germanic war cemetery.  The other main industries are salt, rice and tourism, of course.

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Aigues Mortes with its complete town walls.

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670 – Monday 27th March

Intermarche for LPG and provisions – onward to Arles.  We passed by St Giles and K recognised the waterfront where we had walked and lunched with Maddy nearly two years ago.  Arriving in Arles we found the Riverfront free parking with free services – flat embankment for running – and wall-to-wall sunshine.  Lots of narrow streets, Roman remains – and a glass of ‘Frexpensive’ wine at Euro 8 for 2!  We reclined back at Jez – with our supermarket rose ‘Gris’. 

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Along the Rhone by our aire … just a wall separating us from the view, but nothing separating Oscar and a long drop!

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Our near neighbours.  The camels, goats, horses and dogs did not make a sound … but why do donkeys sound like they are building up to a hernia?

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I had just been saying to J that last year I really liked the Sicilian Baroque architecture, and this year the Portuguese Manueline … and lo … some curly pillars.

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Elise St-Trophine:  Just read that this portal is one of the French Heritage Sites … knew it looked impressive 

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Take you fun pick – but not at EUR69 each.  Did I mention we’re finding France VERY expensive?  I know we’re in the touristy area, but!  I googled a comparison of the cost of groceries between Guildford and Dijon … 23% cheaper in Guildford.  yes, really!

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Arles: the Roman amphitheatre is one of the best preserved in Provence and still used as a gladiators’ arena.  Bull contests in the summer, but apparently here they pluck a rose from the bull’s horns.

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Sampling the ‘Gris’ rose – not cheap (that old chestnut again!) at EUR4 each and not very good either!

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The mellow water front.

671 – Tuesday 28th March:  Recreation in Remoulins

Excellent runs for both of us along the beautiful river (Rhone?) in the morning – perfect conditions – I have identified a 5k race for us in Farnborough on April 15th – a good test – we have done these ‘Park Runs’ before – good atmosphere. 

I tried to up my speed a bit and surprisingly ran 4:48 for the last km – good improvement – K ran further than for months, too. A bit of admin to do – beers by the river…

PM – to Remoullins area intending to stay at another France Passion – but just outside the town – a nice compact aire on the river – quite full, but we squeezed in. Nice walk on the stony beach (J, you omitted to mention the couple of beers each!)  – mega play time for Oscar – he even walked on water – literally!  Months ago, he would have run a mile.  Some motorhomers in these parts are not exactly over friendly… perhaps the French think we look unfriendly, but we only get a grudging Bon Jour to our jovial one.

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Where you off to?  I was playing with you?

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No, you keep sending my pink teddy bear into the water!






654-660: Porto to Nice, via Shangrila

654 – Saturday 11th March 2016:  Lost a Day in Porto

Afurdada is a sort of suburb of Gaia – but only a few kilometres from Porto and the Louis 1 bridge – and very near our parking. A leisurely stroll for us – public communal laundry building and very public washing lines!  Coffee – of course… and sunshine.

England won – the same thrashing we reported on the wrong day – it doesn’t mean they won twice!  Ireland awaits next week…..


655-656 – Sunday 12th & Monday13th March: Vila do Conde

Adieu to Porto, for now…we will be back. Our favourite city in Portugal.  On to Villa do Conde – 50+ motorhomes on a very windy free seaside parking – rocking and rolling.  Windy walk – any of our cobwebs blown to America, probably.  We moved Jez to a much more sheltered car park just away from the sea – but no rocking now.  The Portuguese motorhomes largely emptied out … a weekend only excursion for them!  

Town perambulation – huge monastery – supposed to be a future conversion to a Pousada – no sign of this happening…  Lunch – with(?)  no vino – two meals with drinks, soup – for £7.50!  Lidl shopping – we like VilldoCondeburgh for relaxing, but very little happening or to see on a Monday.

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Our sheltered car parking for two nights.

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View along the river up to the once Monastery.  Used for some years as a reformatory for unruly boys … a bit smart for them surely!

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Lots of life sized statues, quite recent.

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Vila do Conde is also well known for its bobbin lace making.  We visited the museum in Peniche to see samples of work.  Lace making earned monty whilst men out fishing.

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999 arches on the viaduct to the Monastery … we did not verify the number … we had better things to do ….

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… such as non alcoholic lunch! 

657 – Tuesday 14th March

Pont de Lima – turned out to be a stunning little town – we could buy a very decent house here for <£250k….. thinking about it.  Definitely requires further investigation.

A lovely free parking beside the river and brand new services – just one other van for company – plenty of Oscar walking space.  We met a young Dutch back packer cyclist with a young German girl for company – they just met – later we saw him with a different girl… a lady in every Ponte?  Beautiful Botanic Garden – a future Shangri-La for family Jez?  

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Adjacent to our parking … sleeping to the sound of the water.

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The long lane of Plane trees.

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More large statues.

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Ajuelos on one of the old tower walls.  The first King, Alfonso Henrique was about to engage Moors in battle, one when of his Knights said “They’re goats m’lud!”

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Rude not to!

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Two codgers leaning against the even more ancient olive tree … we like the laid back vibe here.

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The oldest bridge in Portugal.  The far end is Roman.

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… Crossing the River Lima.

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Odd statue, amazed it’s not been dragged away in floods.

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The Botanic Gardens.

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Even had a relica Roman garden.

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No dogs allowed, so we took turns.  I used my waiting time wisely!

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658 – Wednesday 15th March

K ran – both showered – courtesy of free site water.  Slight (?) change of future route (you know us) – from Ponte de Lima to – Nice, France!!!  A mere bagatelle of 1500 km…… To see daughter Sarah and granddaughter Jade…  275 miles today (Km 400) – motorway travel – very busy aire. But fabulous mountain scenery on the first non-motorway stretch, Braga to Chaves.  Another come back too.

SatNavColin took us to a free overnight parking – quiet spot expected. On arrival – medium sized car park – 7:00 pm – packed to the gunnels with more than 50 motorhomes – obviously a super-busy transit stop – we squeezed in barely – a French van had no choice but to park parallel to ours…

659 – Thursday 16th March

K and O running (am I slowing up?) along the canal – stunning parkside with swans.  Off again – for 600+ km – 9 hours…  Jez is performing magnificently. Campsite stop – in La Belle France for Euro 8.50!  At Bessnes Roquefort.  Guardien came to lift the height barrier – and food from the freezer, followed by zzzzzs.  

660 – Friday 17th March

Yeaahh!  St Patricks Day – an omen for tomorrow – Ireland v England in Dublin?  Another 600 km – and arrival near Nice – our favourite place in France – Promenade des Anglais, Baie d’Anges…

Campsite at Villeneuve Loubet – nice site – good manoeuvring onto pitch no need for electric hook up as – sunshine all around!  K Haute Cuisine from the freezer and rest – the 3 day trip was absolutely splendid and without any problems…






















650-654: Rugby but not on the Beach

650 – Tuesday 7th March 2017: Costa Nova Beach

Young Robyn (and Kensey) had left for seaside parking – and gave us the ‘cooperativenates’ so we could coordinate our ‘operativemates’!  In other words, James – so we could get there!  Why use 1 word – when 3 will suffice?  Fantastic seaside, wide white sand dunes, boardwalks, Oscarkenseywalks – and peace…  What else could any motorhomer ask for?  En route, we used the Intermarche laundry – for Euro 18 – 2 full loads of washing (2 sets of bedding towels and clothes for nigh on 2 weeks) … several hours later – neither of us dares to put a single pair of knickers in the now empty laundry bag! 

Beach perambulating – and sunset – what comes with setsun? Sundowners, of course…in our Cosy Nostril beach setting…


Wide white sandy beaches 🙂



Sorry Robyn, not the most flattering of you (or me!) but comic as this is James’ best effort at pulling a ‘silly’ face!



651 – Wednesday 8th March:  A Beach Day 

An am run – too nice to waste the sea and landscape – easy running… R and K walked to have coffee nearby, taking vannydogs with. Beach sitting, K piknitting (not the other similar word). Later, feeling mellow, we retired all of 200 metres to a bar – for dunsowners – a cheeky white wine. Robyn kindly cooked for us – and a lovely chatty evening… in a very lovely chilled place.  


The houses in the main street are mostly striped – either painted or tiles.  We did spot a candy pink one, which must have been a bit of a drug induced colour pick.




My boys.

652 – Thursday 9th March:  Aveiro and back to Porto

Excitement all round – all of us onto Porto – our third visit?  We stopped off at Alveiro – mini Venice – lovely and sunny – coffee, of course. Services at Esmoriz Intermarche: free, clean and welcoming – UK Asda and Tesco please take note!  Porto lovely free parking on the Duoro, again.  Off to see a performance of Fado (Portuguese folk music) in town – and some port tasting… Fado is melancholic and sad – maybe a tad too sad for us?  But, I wish I could play guitar like that – maybe the 10,000 hours practice rule? 


Aveiro… lots of canals and really laid back.  Could happily have had a lingering lunch here.  Another trip.


Sun hat for J and sun lotion for O on his bald bit of snout.

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The Fado guitar is on the left.  Not as melancholic as we’d expected, but we were served a glass of port in the interval.

653 – Friday 10th March:  Rugby

To opticians to collect D4 eye test form – up steep hill – narrow street and mega clutch usage … black smoke billowing – we could taste and smell the outcome.  Appointment later at hospital near parking for JamesMedTest to complete the D4 form for the 70 year old 3.5 tons plus driving license.  More later on my unfamous perambunavating!  K Haute Cuisine for all – and vinoque too…  K here ...As Robyn and I ate, we received a phone call from J as he left the hospital … how do I get back to you?  The phone navigation had been set for the way to the hospital, so J had technical assistance on the outward route!  We worried about him.  Had a glass of wine.  Concerned he’s lost alone on the south bank.  Another glass of wine.  We tried ‘Find Friends’ on the phone to pin point his position … no good, so we just had another glass of wine!  He eventually turned up in time for the walk to the pub showing the rugby.

Irish bars get everywhere and have their uses.  Post early supper off we trotted.  “Fawlty Towers” – “don’t mention the war” quote. Well – “don’t mention the weekend rugby” is apt. OK, Ireland lost and England won by a record 40 points – is that enough said, my darling Katherine? No?  Bugger.  Pride swallowed with bromide – Ireland played as well as Wales allowed them and England played as World Champions could – there’s something stuck in my craw – a goalpost?  

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We don’t often get out at night (sigh), so a treat to see Porto all lit up.  Shaky camera shot and on the way to the pub!  Glasses of wine?

654 – Saturday 11th March:  Afurada and Rugby

In the cold light of day, I (somewhat shamefacedly) admitted to getting a taxi for the last part of my gravigation back from the hospital. Nuff said. K here again:  Quite!  No Comment!!!  New nick name – Henry JAMES the Navigator!  We will do the D4 form at home in April – but lovely people at the hospital – refunded my money when they realised it was not possible to process my examination – even though I took up 45 minutes of their time!  How lovely are the Portuegese people?   

A sad adieu to Robyn and Kensey – they will travel along the Duoro east – we will certainly meet again….

A walk to Alfurada fishing village west of our parking – buzzing, public laundry, marina, market.  The local menfolk all dressed in their Saturday finery, in and out of the bars.  Women scrubbing in the public hand laundry.  Men mending nets.  Restaurants had large BBQ’s going outside on the street to grill the freshly caught fish.  A pukka fishing village with local traditions still in force, despite the close proximity to the second largest Portuguese city. Our coffee and cakes came with – cheese pieces – luncheon.

Another foray into Porto and the Irish pub.  Funny – the barmaid seems to consider us locals on a second visit!  K:  Did J mention the England Scotland score???  I made it till 8.30 and then collapsed into bed.  All this excitement!

Tomorrow – north – to the seaside – for chill down time – and sun? Maybe… 


Washing drying outside the public laundry … blankets, towels and rugs (as well as bigus knickers) all hand washed.

Oscar’s Diary

Oscar’ere again….Flushed with my recent success (but not with the ladies – more later), I have put paw to keyboard once more. Life is good and sunny – the billet is fine, food arrives pretty much when it should – and the owners are behaving – like good ‘uns.  Now then, we have hooked up with Robyn and her K9 Kensey. Kensey is a looker – and Robyn is also very good in the glampartment…   I haven’t had stirrings in the – ahem – manly department for a long time (of course I’ve some flings in my time) and Kensey is – how shall I say – a strickpease (or something like that) – I hope this is being read after the naughtyshed at 9:00 pm…  She puts her paw out to inveigle me in closer – and I respond by nosing the old whotsits – and knock me down with a feather boa – she barks at me and runs off!!!  Now, what’s a fellow to do?  I play the old aloof game and hard to get – but not a whisker from young K (Kensey that is).  I’m going to go on t’internet and look up those cycleogical wallahs for advice – it’s called ‘doggyline’, I think…   She did it a few times – I’m resorting to cold showers (or is it cold turkey?) – I do like being rubbed down by Katherine when I’m wet but, I’d much prefer a rubadubdub from Kensey – not to be.  

Now they’ve gone to other places – along the Duoro river – but I’m sure we’ll meet again (is that a Gracie Fields song? – showing James’ age again…) and I will have some new tictacs – go on the forward paw – the Sicilian Defence in chess – all out attack – like Ireland forgot to do at the weekend…  I’ll get her in a ruck, somehow – and make sure she won’t release the ball (oops, is that a bit rude?).  Maybe poetry?  James tries that on Katherine – and she goes all doe-eyed – then – K’noodles occur…  

There’s nowt so queer as folks – or K9s – back to the gnawingboard – head in paws…

I’ll get over it…

Ciao xxx









643-649: Along the Duoro and Into the Hills

643 – Tuesday 28th February 2017:  Airport and R’n’R

Sadly, we drove Robert to the airport at the end of his weeks holiday – we think he enjoyed it and was not being polite!

Off to ‘Jumbo’ supermercado – for a big shop…  K took off with our ‘granny’ trolley. One and a half hours later – she appeared at a far corner of the car park – looking fraught!  I sprinted (?) to her aid on my white charger (well, my old running shoes, actually) – and took the heavily laden trolley – weighing 4 tonnes – the same weight as Jez!  She had walked 3 sides of the car park to find us – with elongated arms.  Unpacked, we returned to Porto parking by the Douro, again.  Walking into town aborted, some blogging, supper and early to beddy byes, zzzzzz

644 – Wednesday 1st March:  Opticians and Duoro Meet Up

Excited – we were off to meet Frances and Edward – we met originally at Port D’Empocles on the sunny south coast of Sicilia – on New Years Eve 2015. Since then, we have joined up with them quite a few times – they are several-months-at-a-time  motorhomers – but this year sadly, they are only away for one month.  Peso Da Regua was the destination – an overnight parking splendidly equipped with all services including electric – for Euro3 per night! – right by the Douro with fabulous views – and bridges.   All French vans in residence – 15 pitches – with only 1 spare after we arrived – E and F had secured ours next to them – champion!  Has the reader ever heard of “Champion the Wonder Horse”?  Gene Autry – in 79 films between 1935 and 1952? Ok – so you’re too young – you probably haven’t heard of Roy Rogers and “Trigger” either, then?  “Roy of the Rovers”?  James – you’re revealing your age – best to desist, now…

K cooked her usual Haute Cuisine – and we supped – a lot…. Then, lots of zzzzzzs.

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View from a promontory on the Douro – the aire is sandwiched between two attractive bridges.  Fully serviced i.e. drain under, own water and electric – all for EUR3.

645 – Thursday 2nd March:  Peso da Regua and Port Tasting

Plan for today – train to Pinhao – hoping OK9 would be accepted as a passenger…. At the station, we were informed – dogs only with a muzzle – no way, Jose – not for our Oscar!  His pervious owner muzzled him, despite the soreness it created on his nose … he now has a slight bald spot which we apply sun lotion to!  So, E and F embarked for Pinhao – and we perambulated – coffee at an adjacent cafe.  Up so many hills to view the town of Regua. 

K had identified a port tasting location – does she have a nose for port?  Not a red porty nose, though….   E and F were easily persuaded to come with us for the port tasting – free – as we made purchases!

Frances cooked supper – and a bit less poosy bort – sorry, boozy port!


You may have picked up that I’m rather fond of the Portugesue Ajuelos … a lot around the town with pics of the grapes being harvested, trampled etc.

P1130554J does not often have O on the lead when I’m around, but it was such a long steep climb up … he volunteered to have O tow him!  So noble 🙂

646 – Friday 3rd March:  Paeleolithic Plaudits

En route to our Paeleolithic rock carvings visit – z-bends – and up we go again further into the hills. The route to the destination took us through narrow and narrower cobbled streets (are we back in Sicilia?) – I had to get out and check.  An elderly lady told us in fluent French that it was ok – E and F in the vanguard – finally, safe parking and the Reception area/shop – another charming Portuegese lady – fluent French again!  Garbed up for all the elements (see photo) and our guide Louiz took us in his 4×4 6km up and down the 6km of rocky tracks.  There are 30km of these ancient carvings (15-20,000 years ago!) – he could only show a fraction in the allotted time. Without his help and diagrams, they could be lines in stone – but he brought them to life. Had the planned dam been fully built, the treasures would have been lost forever.  Another gem of Portugal. Unesco and World Heritage site. O stayed put in our charabanc. As we drove past in the jeep, he was in position on the dash, still and he completely blanked us with his fixed stare in the direction he’d seen us walk!

The Cao Museu was immense – cleverly designed partly underground – I have not seen so much in situ concrete for years. Wonderful galleries of exhibits – and – yes – more coffee (and cake)!

We had intended to go a little further for our nightly bivouac – but the Museu car park was clear and looked inviting – we asked at reception – and no problem with overnighting. One of the most peaceful places for our sleepovers….. Joined by a Portuguese van – unfortunately, they ran their engine during the late evening – beside Edward and Frances – inconsiderate….

A truly Paeleolithically plausible peripatetic pattern of purely pleasurable proportions!  Try saying that quickly – after 3 glasses of port!   Zzzz’s, again.

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Along the Douro – even pretty in the rain.  White farms with orange groves and terraced vineyards.

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You can tell how steep the slopes just by the vine layout .. less steep they run in lines down the hill, steeper they are terraced.  But then you look at how many rows of vine on each level.  And as we left the Douro and headed S into the hills, the vines were interspersed with oranges, olives and an abundance of in bloom almond trees.


Interesting parking at the reception centre for the Vale do Cao rock carving visitor centre … we were both essentially along the road, having had a few palpitations on the cobbled and narrow drive in.  Spot the almond blosoom … the pink is a better quality.  


Prepared for all weathers … well, the car dash had indicated only 4C!  I’d worried that the jeep would be open top and sided … a little relief.


Special view with an immaculate farm that would have been flooded had the dam gone ahead.


No idea until the lines explained and then the lightbulb moment … I can see it.


The natural lines of the rock were used.  This one’s a fish.


The valley was superbly tranquil with birds and the sound of the water.  The hut is for the security guard … similar lonesome job to a lighthouse keeper before they were all made automatic.


Part of the view from the coffee bar in the museum


647 – Saturday 4th March:  Foodies in Trancoso

From CoaMuseu – to Trancoso…..  On arrival at the parking – what did we see? A ‘Foodie’ Festival!  Did we go there?  Yup – and purchases included – cheese and cheese and cheese – and sausages!  we virtually lunched on the many tastings…live music with accordion player and singers.  Walkabout in town – moi as tour guide – sort of – Old Jewish Quarter – and castle with fantastic views from the top.

SatNaved to Celorico da Beira – home of ‘best’ Portuguese cheese – is there a ‘cheesey’ theme here, folks? Overnighted at Celorico.  Cheese = snoring for me! K


The sun shone and the blossom’s out at last night’s parking up at the museum.


A few views from the museum.


The terraces are protected by UNESCO.


Almond blossom.


What am I going to do with 4 sausages incl. a boudin noir (blood)?


F&E’s bread purchase.

648 – Sunday 5th March:  Sanghalos – and New Friends.

Bucacao National Forest – heavy mist – poor visibility.  But – luncheon a la Jez – and as if by magic – the mist lifted a little and rain cleared – for our walk. No rain but “raindrops kept falling on our heads” – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – one of the best films ever!  Almost the last scene – Butch and Sundance are holed up in a stable – injured and prepared to shoot their way out…  Local Police Commander summons a few hundred extra troops – when they arrive the Captain of the reinforcements asks what size of army they are facing – local Commander says “Dos Hombres” – look of absolute incredulity on face of new Captain as he repeats “Dos Hombres???”  

Anyway, the walk was excellent and well worth the Euro7 for parking – nice job our tour organiser – Katherine!

We aire’d’ at Sanghalos – to meet (by prior arrangement) – Robyn and Kensey (Batdog – or Yoda).  Supper by K – for all in our charabanc…and wine, did we say? 


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Portas de Coimbra … should have been an amazing view …


Fonte Fria, casade fed by one of the Forest’s 6 springs. 


But you’re the other side and I ain’t swimming!




Wild primrose, wild strawberries, camellias and magnolias.


The Monastery; we did not go in but apparently Wellington slept in one of the cork lined cells.


Palace Hotel: Completed in 1907 a Neo Manueline folly built as a hunting lodge … Manuel II only visited briefly with his dancer mistress before being exiled in 1910.  We were not allowed in as a film crew were operating.

649 – Monday 6th March:  Wine, Art and Passion

K had booked on a tour of Aliance Underground – winery and art gallery par excellence for only EUR3 each!  6 beautiful galleries – our guide was Laura – perfect English again – the art ranged from African to Fossils to precious stones…  Brandy cellars and wine – they make an average of 15 million litres on an average year, depending on the harvest. Purchases? Moscatel (E and F bought the most exquisite 40 year old brandy – we had a taste…  

PM – major Jez cleaning and us – and an ‘adieu for now’ supper with Frances and Edward – see you in Espana – in a while….

Alianca Underground – Really worth visiting their wine and art venues

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The owner used the London Underground name and topographical map for his museum housed in the underground cellars. 

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All that remains of the lost tribe of Bura-Asinda-Sika, Niger, Africa, from 1500 years ago is the Funeral site.

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Funeral masks form many areas of Africa.

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We turned the corner … speechless.  The minerals collection is just stunning.  So, sorry a few pics of them!

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This is all one original fossil piece.

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Portuguese pottery … it’s all in the detail.

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I’d like this one for the large wooden box in the lounge please!