Friday, 28 September 2007

Back to York

It is that time of year again......time for all students to fly the nest and head back to University. We have spent most of this week getting Lesley's stuff for ready for her new accommodation in York. No more Halls, it's now six of them sharing a house off campus. I am seeing the house for the first time tomorrow and only hope that it is a little less grungy than James' place in Aberystwyth. That looked like the original set for the Young Ones.......well James' room did.....well I thought it did.......he thought it was great.........what do I know.......

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Bray Dunnes to Runcorn

Thursday 13th September

Well that's it, home at last.

I thought that you might be interested to know that on this trip we have:

a) Travelled 3967 miles
b) Visited 4 countries
c) Paid out 191.85 euros in road tolls
d) Bought 490.20 euros worth of diesel
e) Stayed at 17 campsites
f) Discovered that Portugal is the cheapest country for food and diesel
and went over the bloody bridge, Pont de Normandy TWICE, and I have the photographs to prove it!!

Talking of photographs, confession time, I forgot to pack the cable to upload photos onto the Blog, so all the pictures below have been 'borrowed' from various tourist websites (sorry)..........when I find the cable (I haven't a clue where I have put it) I will bore you all to death with the holiday snaps...until then we are planning our next does Scandinavia sound????

Courseulles to Bray Dunnes via Da Panne

Wednesday 12th September

If you travel along the coast from Dunkirk you eventually hit the Belgium seaside resort of Da Panne. With its miles of golden sands and a promenade the seems to stretch into the horizon it is the quintessential seaside resort. What we wondered was the French resort just over the border be like? Would Bray Dunnes be like Da Panne with a Gallic twist? The answer is yes!! it is a pretty seaside town with lovely clean beaches and a long, well kept prom.....maybe not quite as plush as Da Panne but just as nice. It is a smashing place to spent the night before catching Le Schuttle tomorrow as it is only about 40 minutes from the Eurotunnel terminal.


Tuesday 11th September

Our campsite in Normandy is in the popular seaside resort of Couseulles Sur Mer, which is to the east of Juno Beach where the Canadian troops landed on D Day. Everywhere you go along this coast there are memorials to those days. That's not to say that the place is morbid, on the contrary, it has successfully rebuilt its self from almost total devastation to an area of pride and some beauty without forgetting its past. No mean achievement.
We spent the morning wandering around the weekly street market in town and having a lovely lunch of moules et frites before setting off to walk to the next little town along the coast.

Omaha Beach

Monday 10th September

No picture will ever due justice to the enormity of the Mulberry Harbour. It was an absolutely massive and a fete of engineering that probably hasn't been equalled in peace time. The harbour was used to ship in supplies and troops after the beaches had been take on D Day The harbour landed 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tons of goods. and had six miles of steel roadways!
Not much is left of it now but the visitors centre in Arromanche has a very tasteful and moving film in a 360 degree cinema which revisits the times of the landings and the troop movements following those first days.

Earlier this year the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach opened a new visitors centre and Dave and I were both very moved by the whole experience. It is a credit to the memory of all the American troops who fell during the liberation of Europe.

Bayeaux to Courseulles

Sunday 9th September

Bayeuax was the City where Charles De Gaulle went to after landing on the Normany Beaches just after the initial D Day Landings. It is also the home to a very simple but exceptionally beautiful British War Cemetary.

In 1955 Dad, together with his sister (who had just passed her driving test and had recently bought her first car) and our eldest brother George, returned to Normandy to pay his respects to the comrades he had lost there. I remember him telling me how proud he was of the way the the War Gaves Commision had looked after the various Commonwealth cemetries in the area and all I can say is that 52 years after Dad's visit the cemetries are still beautifully cared for and visited by people from the four corners of the globe with reverence and pride.

Poitiers to Bayeaux

9th September

One of the beauties of this kind of trip is that you can be spontaneous. You can look at the map and think, wow how about we go and see the Bayeux tapestry this afternoon? So that is how we found ourselves parking in Bayeaux on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in early September. The town of Bayeux is exceptionally pretty and we easily found the Museum where the tapestry is displayed. Of all the museums we have visited over the years I think that this is probably one of the best. The information was pitched at just the right level so that it could be enjoyed by all age groups and the tapestry itself was displayed brilliantly.

And the highlight of the day................Bayeaux has a 'Petite Train' which has to score 9/10 for it's commentary in French and English!!

Biarritz to Poitiers

Saturday 8th September

There is an absolute dearth of Internet Cafes or WiFi connections in central France so I am having to update the Blog in retrospect. I thought that it might be easier to read if I continued to write up each day as if it were real time hence the lack of continuity between the posting date and the post date (if you see what I mean) so here goes, just pretend that it is still 8/9/07......................

There are days when you are travelling that you need to catch up with yourself, get the washing done, find a supermarket to stock up on provisions etc, and today was one of those. We are spending the night in a campsite by Futuroscope just outside Poitiers. We didn't fancy the afternoon in a theme park so after we finished our chores we had an early dinner and sat with a glass of wine watching the fireworks from what was probably closing time at the theme park (don't worry Disney, you have nothing to worry about , at least in the firework display stakes)

Friday, 7 September 2007

San Sebastian - Biarritz

6th September - Biarritz

What do you give for his birthday the man who has everything?

Dinner in Biarritz, at the edge of the beach, watching the sun set over the Atlantic.

What can I say...he really doesn't deserve me

Burgos-San Sebastian

5th September - San Sebastian

I was really looking forward to seeing San Sebastian as it was the first Spanish stop on SPB's 1955 journey through Franco's Spain. In those days Ladies had to change in bathing huts and there were patrols along the beach to make sure that they were not exposing too much flesh...... however in 2007.....the women are now topless and we saw one man walking along the beach letting it all hang loose, Oh my, how times have changed.

Dave and I both loved San Sebastian, it has a huge promenade and lovely clean beaches and enough shops to keep even the most ardent shopaholic happy.

Riaza - Burgos

Burgos 4th September

We are back on the SPB trail now and are spending the afternoon in Burgos. The campsite is a little way outside the town but there is a very good path along the river right from the campsite into the heart of the town.

Burgos is justifiably famous for it's Cathedral and for the fact that it was the city were Lesley and Lawrence were stuck for a lift just before Easter when they were on their sponsored hitch to Morocco.

There seem to be a lot of camper vans on the move now, probably because all the schools are back and it is the end of the summer season. By the looks of it Southern Spain and Portugal are about to be invaded by the 'Silver Surfers'

There are flags around the town announcing that Burgos will be the Europen Capital of Culture in 2016 (I'm sure that Liverpool didn't have that much advanced notice) it will be a good place for it but they really must sort out the dreadful graffiti before then, it is everywhere.

Monday, 3 September 2007


We have just come back from exploring Riaza and I had to tell you what we found there. There is a huge fiesta planned for later this week and the centre of the village has been laid out with a bullring for the festivities. Now no matter what I personally feel about grown men in tight trousers tormenting the life out of 50 stone of angry bull, we are in bullfighting country and as tourists we should either put up or shut up. It is their country and their fiesta and what right do we have to tell them they are wrong.

The fiesta seems to start with a bull run through the narrow streets of the town, it sounds really exciting and I am just sorry that we are moving on tomorrow. This area of Spain with it's heritage trail and skiing in the winter is definitely worth another visit.

Little train in Toledo

I nearly forgot to tell you, there is a Little Train in Toledo

It looks a good trip, we kept seeing it on a journey around the city but unfortunately it is a nightmare to get on.

I don't know what it is about little trains in Spain but they a hugely popular. The queue for this one was about 20 deep and that was at 10.30am and the train didn't start running until 11am.

Not easily put off, we joined the queue and patiently waited our turn to buy a ticket. The train quickly filled up with much pushing and shoving from the waiting tourists, remember these are grown ups, not little kids pushing their weight around, until it was just a French couple in front of us in the queue. The next thing all hell breaks loose, from what we could gather half of the passengers had to get off the train because they were part of an organised tour group and their coach had turned up. They all then tried selling their tickets on to anyone in the queue who would buy them. By the time the French couple and ourselves realised what was going on the train had refilled with the Spanish people who had been queuing behind us, the train driver was throwing a hissy fit and wouldn't let any one else on the train and it took off down the hill a rate of knots with half the carriages empty...............we didn't bother waiting for the next one............

Toledo to Riaza

We had originally intending staying in Madrid after Toledo but as our next step is up to Burgos we felt that three cities in six days would be far too much to take in. So we have taken to the hills, literally, and are staying just outside the ski reasort of La Pinilla. Needless to say there is no snow...........just fresh mountain air, deep blue sky and fluffly little clouds.............we intend walking into the village this later this afternoon but at the moment I am happily sitting in he dappled shade of a litle tree updating the Blog (and clearing out the hotmail inbox) as I have managed to find a campsite with weefee (that's Spanish for wifi, I told you this translation business was a breeze)

Camping in Spain

I haven't been describing the campsites we have stayed at quite deliberately. There is nothing more boring than reading a list of campsite facilities but I think that Camping El Greco in Toledo deserves a special mention. It is probably one of the poshest that we have stayed in Spain. The loos and shower blocks are absolutely immaculate and the restaurant, with its terrace overlooking the city set high on the hillside was amazing.

We had a lovely pitch next to the river that runs around three sides of the city (a bit like Shrewsbury) and were able to sit at dusk with a glass of wine (or three) watching the hundreds of birds flying along the river.

To cool off after a hot day's sight seeing I thought that I would have my shower early this evening and was standing there under the powerful jet of cooling spray when I heard a man's voice inside the shower block....unusual to say the least but I thought that it might be a cleaner, until I realised that he was speaking French, and talking to his wife in the shower next to me............the next thing I knew was he had joined his wife in the shower and unless there is an eroticism to the contents of a salad bowl that I don't know about I think that they we just showering together (to save water?) and planning what they were going to have for dinner!!!!

All I can say is I've led a sheltered life............


Sunday 2nd September

What can I say about Toledo that hasn't been said a thousand times before, it is truly a city of contrasts with a rich a varied history. The walled city set high above the surrounding countryside is visible for miles around. The narrow cobbled streets seem to lead at every turn to another gem of historical interest; the Jewish quarter with the most important synagogue in Spain; Museums, galleries and of course the fabulous cathedral.

We decided to just do two buildings on this trip, unlike the poor Japanese tourists who seemed to be getting raced around every historical building at a rate of knots, they looked absolutely exhausted! We chose to visit the synagogue first, for no other reason than we have never been inside one before - I learnt so much about the history of the Sephardic Jews in Spain and was impressd by the exhibitions around the synagogue and the influence of the Moors in the decorations.

As it was a Sunday we were unable to visit the Cathederal until 2 o'clock, that is after the morning Masses. If you only have the time to visit one building in Toledo then make it the Cathederal, it is absolutely breath taking. The altar and choir stalls are enough to warrant the 6 euros entrance fee alone but then you find in the Sacristy an art collection to knock your socks off..............Van Dyke, Goya, Titian and more El Greccos than you can shake a stick at, fabulous.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Merida - Toledo

Saturday 1st September

What can I say, after only one afternoon in Toledo I am absolutely hooked. We will be going back into town tomorrow so watch this space for more details.


Friday 31 August


What a fabulous city, it is full of Roman ruins, little cafes and it has a little train.......deep joy.
Admittedly it wasn´t the best train ride this holiday, in fact it only scored 5/10 but it looked pretty.
For anyone interested in Roman antiquities it is definitely worth a visit. The town however, looks as if it is in the middle of a make over. The regional government has set up business there and it seems to have quite a big university. At first glance it looks more of a working town than a tourist centre but persever and you will find yourself 'discovering' antiquities in the most unlikely places. The Temple of Diana, for instance, is down a small side street and until the 1970s it had somebody living there! There is a huge aquaduct at the edge of the town and Roman bridge spans the river by the University.

Portugal to Spain

Thursday 30 August

Little known facts about Portugal

#They are on BST (British Summer Time) - it took us 2 days to realise that we should have put our watches on an hour when we crossed the boarder from Spain. We were wandering around saying how late Portugese campers were getting up in the morning - Duhh!

#The average Portugese camper makes Jose Marinho (the Chelsea Manager) look positively chipper!!

# The language might look like a cross between Spanish and French but when spoken it sounds more like Eastern European

#Don't put tissue down the loo