Saturday, 14 October 2017

France to Spain. October & November 2017

Bilbao, Sat 25 11

Lisa successfully manages to plug her headphones in this morning.   When Alastair rouses he informs her she had a full on Regan moment.  Something to do with deck chairs?

It's a damp, chilly morning and Bilbao has disappeared into the clouds.  With the lack of sun the leisure battery is now struggling again but we manage without heating.

We don't know if the aire operates on a strict 24 hours policy and we do not want to be leaving at 9am so we take our time getting showered before driving into the aire.

A lovely muslim woman who speaks great English greets us and when we ask in Spanish to pay for 2 nights she explains in Spanish that we have to pay one day at a time.  How good are we!

We drive to the services, get sorted, park up in a muddy pitch and plug in for a much needed electrical boost. We made it!

Plugging some things into charge we pull on waterproofs, grab brollys and walk down to the bus stop for a thankfully uneventful trip into town.

We get off at a different stop and find a craft beer pub for later.   Its almost lunchtime now so before going into the Guggenheim we head back to Happy River to get Tapas; it's closed.    We have given ourselves a new rule: 'don't save up treats'.   We should have gone for it yesterday rather than delaying our gratification. 

So with no other option we go straight to the Guggenheim and hope we can sort food later.    Lisa uses one of those brolly bag dispensers to save carrying around a wet brolly. 

We are given an audio guide and we head straight to the David Hockney gallery.     We had missed this Hockney exhibition '82 portraits and 1 still life' when it was in London and have delayed our Guggenheim visit until now to see it because we adore Hockney.

By the time we finish with Hockney Alastair is beginning to flag and needs refreshments.     We try to find the Guggenheim bistro and discover that to get to it we have to exit, handing in our audio guide, and collect a wrist band to enable us to come back in.

The bistro offers a set menu at €30; so that'll be a no.   The cafe offers tapas but only one is veggie and comes with cheese.

Alastair has a brainwave, now we have wristbands we can go out to get food.    The cafe is too far away so using Google maps we walk to the nearest supermarket.    We buy a large bag of crisps and a can of coke, find shelter under a canopy.   As the rain chucks down we stuff our faces; we know how to Live!

Feeling better after a salt and sugar rush we go back to the Guggenheim and take the Great Glass Elevator to the third floor.    The First room has a Rothko we have not seen before.    Thereafter we view an exhibition of Anni Albers work and then massive items in the permanent collection by Twombly , Warhol and Kiefer. 

Really it's the building that's most amazing.    We descend to the first floor and play in the giant iron pieces by Serra: A Matter of Time.

It's about 4pm and we feel we have done credit to the Guggenheim so we walk back along the river to find the craft ale bar.  Beer is served in a third of a litre glasses and costs about €3 a pop so we won't be getting pissed here. They sell chocolate orange vegan cake!!

We snuggle up on an outside bench.    The rain has eased off but it is damp and chilly. We catch up on the rugby, Scotland are slaughtering Australia.    We push the boat out, get another drink and share a piece of cake to celebrate.

Buses are every 20 minutes on Saturday and we wait for 19; sods law .   It’s almost 7pm when we get back to Hamish.     It's lovely to be warm and comfortable.

Vittoria to Bilbao, Fri 24 11
Lisa is awake at 6am and immediately plugs her headphones into her phone, puts one ear piece in and snuggles her other ear back into the pillow to listen to T.M.S .    After about 10 minutes she can feel Alastair laughing at the jokes, how can that be possible?    She lifts her head up and discovers she hasn't plugged the headphones in properly and Aggers and Tuffers can be heard around Hamish, ooops!

I think it would be fair to say that based on our previous experience we have both dreaded the journey back to Bilbao which is probably why we are up and off by 9: 30am .

We do O.K. until about 15 minutes before we arrive we are in a tunnel and the road splits and we have to choose.    Obviously sat nav doesn't have a clue and the last instruction it gave us was keep left so we do; wrong choice.

Alastair immediately makes a right turn to avoid being back in Bilbao Centre and we are on the right track again.    Then sat nav tells us to go straight on at a roundabout but that isn't possible and Lisa takes over.    We soon find ourselves heading up a very steep, very narrow lane clearly not built for MHs.  Thankfully a parked car moves or are would have been stuck.

Somehow we emerge onto the main road and pull up in the car park next to the aire.   The aire costs a ginormous €15 for 24 hours so we plan to stay in this car park for 1 night and spend 2 in the aire.
We have magnificent views over Bilbao.    A herd of cows wander around Hamish munching grass then a red kite rises in front of us.    We wander around to check out the buses then get an early lunch.
Clutching our €2.50 we walk to the bus stop and once on the bus discover the route we should have driven in Hamish to get here.  It does not in a single track road.

As the bus negotiates the busy streets of the city Lisa says to Alastair how lovely it is for someone else to be driving.     Then a car on the left hand side of us pulls in front of the bus to take an immediate right.   The bus driver hits the horn but then, because on every corner and every roundabout the Spanish put a zebra crossing, someone is walking across the road in front of the car. So the car hits the brakes, the bus driver swerves and somehow he misses the car.      It's good to know people drive ridiculously around everyone; not just us.

We get off the bus making a special point to thank the driver and head to town.

Exploring a cultural centre with lots of different pillars we try to find the Guggenheim.   We  imagine that would be easy.  Despite the Guggenheim having singlehandedly rejuvenating the city it has now become surrounded by other buildings: including a hugely tall blue glass hotel which now dominates Bilbao's centre.  So we keep rounding corners expecting to say 'wow' without the 'wow' coming into view.  Eventually it appears. Rather smaller than Alastair imagined.

We sit at a cafe to enjoy the spectacle and get a small glass of wine to celebrate.    We take photos of Jeff Koons' carnation strewn 'Puppy' then go inside to buy tickets for tomorrow.    We had planned to buy a joint ticket for the 2 art galleries but as the second floor of the Guggenheim is currently closed for a new exhibition their ticket is cheaper ( €10 each) and not being sold as a joint package.
We walk around the gallery and across the high bridge with the iconic red supporting structure with excellent views down onto the pretty side of the museum.    We climb down around a tower of flights of steps to the other side of the river.   Alastair keeps his shoulder against the wall to avoid looking over the edge.

We wander into the old part of town, loosely following an itinerary Alastair had spotted in the Independent's  48 hours in Bilbao.

Then back across the river we find a recommended cafe and take a seat on The Verandah.    This time we push the boat out and treat ourselves to 2 beers!     The tapas menu is in Spanish and we are told the translated menus no longer exist because now it’s Winter.    We translate and can eat a couple of the items so know he can come back here to eat.

It's getting towards 5pm so we walk across town to find our bus stop .    We successfully make it back to Hamish, get the covers on and snuggle down.   Then Lisa hears the deadly sound of Mosquito.   A quick scramble for deadly spray stuff whilst Lisa hides in the toilet and we can finally snuggle down.

Burgos to Vittoria Thursday 23 11

It is so much warmer down here we don't need blankets or heating.    The disadvantage is that, as it's cloudier, our leisure battery is struggling again so hopefully we won't need it.

Today is the start of The Ashes; Lisa is prepared with headphones and mobile.   We have slipped into sleeping from 9pm to 6am or UK time 8 pm to 5am (usually with sometime awake in the night) so Lisa plugs in at 5am and listens for an hour until Alastair joins in.

Armed with our list we go over to the supermarket and on our return Alastair meets another Brit; this one heading to Southern Spain.

We set off later than usual to head to Vittoria and needing lunch we try to pull into a services.      Obviously the services don't materialise and we end up in a little car park in a village before the last 30 minutes of the journey.

As we have explained before, on Spanish motorways, you are given not one but usually 3 or 4 choices, sat nav just can’t keep up.    What is worse is that as you are trying to choose the right exit in the 200m you have to make the decision a concrete barrier suddenly appears dividing the choices and the challenge is to avoid being impaled on it.      So anyway on this occasion we made the wrong choice leading to a difficult 15 minute drive around Vittoria.

The aire is another car park with a lot of MHs; we are obviously on the tourist route.

Lisa is knackered, too much Ashes excitement so has an hours kip first then we get our bikes off and cycle into town.   Vittoria is the most multicultural city we have seen for a while.  There also seems a lot of wealth around.

We cycle to the Old Town and wander around.     Vittoria is the capital of Basque county and we see lots of Catalan flags.    There are some attractive mediaeval buildings but for us the highlight is an escalator that takes people and bikes up the steep sides of the town to the top.

We take our bikes down to the lower part of town just so we can get back on the escalator with our bikes and be taken back to the top; small things!  There is an old part of the Basque wall with an audio information board where one button enables an English language explanation.  We press it and the accent is decidedly Scottish; we grin!

Our mission in coming here is to have a drink out and possibly some tapas.    We wander and looking for a suitable hostelry, as frankly, we find the whole mission intimidating.   The advantage of tourist bars is that they have Menus, usually translated.      Unfortunately in November the tourist bars have shut up shop.

Eventually we are brave enough to join the locals outside a restaurant and Alastair goes inside and gets us a couple of glasses of wine; they don't do tapas.      The wine is nowhere near as good as the stuff we have been drinking as we have been familiarising ourselves with Spanish wine.     As it has been so difficult to get this glass it's tempting to stay here but we unlock our bikes and walk on.
The bars we pass that are open are tiny and packed with locals, none of then look very easy.    It's getting dark and we have no bike lights so we give in and head back.

Within 2 minutes of being back in Hamish we have tea cooking and a lovely bottle of wine open.

Ribas de Campos to Burgos. Wed 22 11

We are rudely woken up when Alastair nearly jumps out of bed.   He had a nightmare that someone was stealing his strimmer, we don't even own a strimmer.   Regan also has also made a couple of appearances. It’s because we are going home.

We wake to more ice and a beautiful sunrise.     We checked our gas last night and despite the heating having been on low all night we have hardly used any, we think we have cracked it.
We are on the road by 9am heading towards Burgos.      More of the same scenery, clear dual carriageway, big blue skies, nothing as far as you can see.    Then we drive into a dip and find ourselves in Burgos.    It's slightly startling being in a city having seen no-one for days.    On the way to the aire we top up with LPG, less than a fiver!   We are still within budget.

Despite Burgos being a city we find the aire relatively painlessly.   There are a handful of MH-'s including a British one, we are very brave and go over for a chat.    After being away before for four months one of the wierdest things is holding a conversation with other people.     Initially Alastair sat in corners nursing his pint while Lisa revisited the art of conversation, so we are practicing early.         Eventually we let them go, get bread from the supermarket opposite us, lunch and prepare to see the city.

We walk through the city towards the Cathedral.    We find tourist information, hidden beside the cathedral in an entirely inappropriate metal and glass shed, which is totally empty apart from 3 staff sitting behind a long desk. We ask for a map and are given one. They ask which country we are from so they can tick a box.   We leave.

The huge cathedral is now a UNESCO world heritage site.  It contains the remains of EI Cid who Alastair chose as a teenage pseudonym for his teenage poetry so we are definitely stumping up €7 each for a ticket.  We are given an audio guide. 

Lisa is very proud of herself as she uses 3 of her entire 6 word Spanish vocabulary , 'hola, buenos dias'and the guy offers her a guide in 'Espanogle?'.     Alastair quickly steps in and asks for Inglise.
There are 33 stops on this DIY audio tour.     About 3 days later we exit the cathedral.    O.K. a bit of an exaggeration but Lisa is determined we get our moneys worth.  We are in there so long Lisa’s guide turns itself off in protest and we have to go back to the reception office to make it work.
The cathedral is impressive with many chapels but unlike Lugo which was warm, intimate and obviously used as a place of worship this is cold and empty which feels a bit of a shame.  The highlight of the visit is to see EI Cid's grave and his very tiny coffin.

With aching backs and necks from looking up constantly we emerge.      We follow a sign up the hill to the castle to discover Wellington defeated the French here on his march through to Waterloo.  Unfortunately it's closed.

We head back to Hamish.   There are about 15 MHs in the aire now.  We haven't seen any for days so we have obviously been doing something right.

We have a planning meeting about shopping for the rest of our trip.   Still scarred by our previous shopping expedition in Bilboa being opposite a supermarket is too good to miss.  We plan to go in the morning to get a bit of wine to take home and food for Bilbao.

Astorga to Ribas de Campos, Tuesday 21 11

Neither of us have a very good nights sleep both having read half a book.  Alastair was worried about the cold and put the hot water on at 2am then fell asleep.    At 4am he put the heating on very low for the rest of the night and the battery, which looked healthy again yesterday, seemed to cope with that.
It is another baltic morning with more clear blue skies.  As we have said Alastair hates being cold and wants to get a shower later; Lisa would rather get a shower immediately.  Despite having a choice Alastair had a shower after Lisa and, once dressed, he is bloody grumpy.  Cold and tired, not a great combination.

To top it all, 2 of our mugs have cracked when boiling water is poured into them.    Thankfully we have 2 more , even camping you get a cuppa!

We set off to the local supermarket to pick up bread and cheese for Alastair.  Alastair has struggled with cheese in Spain because it is all processed and tasteless.

As we saunter around the aisles about 50 young people from the school next door pour into the supermarket.  This is also too much for Alastair who throws his hands up in despair convinced we now won’t get bread and will need to queue for ages.   However we do get bread and exit swiftly and soon we are on our way.

To stick to our plan to get to Bilbao by the weekend he know today is probably going to be our longest travelling day.

The scenery is incredible again.     Mile after mile of flat land and for over an hour we don't ever see a village.    This region is Spain's biggest agricultural producer but due to this years drought and fires they have lost 70% of their produce.

For lunch be pull into a service station then get back on the road.      Red kites swoop around us and we see lots of buzzards.   Occasionally a small village appears concentrated around a church then nothing again.

Then we see a castle and are so intrigued a pull off the road.    It is like walking onto a film set set in Mexican cowboy country. The village is completely devoid of life.   We walk around the castle and the cathedral, both beautiful.     Then an older man appears and walks into a building, he doesn’t ever glance in our direction, definitely on a film set.

Setting off again we notice that we have just a quarter tank of petrol and we have not seen a garage for ages.  We find a lonely petrol station in a lonely village and fill up. The fuel is less than a pound a litre.

Finally about 3pm we get to the aire.    Before parking up Alastair emptys the loo, there is a ridiculous situation where the tap blocks the grill being removed and its impossible to do with only 2 hands.   He asks Lisa to help after he has dropped part of the toilet into the hole. Ridiculous!

Services eventually managed we drive towards the parking area which is when we realise that in the few seconds the door was open that about a dozen flies have flown into H.   Lisa tries to evict them.   Alastair notices cannot park in the bay he'd chosen because of the dog turds.  He then notices that 3/4 of the parking area has turds from a variety of animals on it.  Well really!  No wonder the flies are happy here.  Alastair has had enough and he gets on Park4aNight and we move on.

About half an hour later we pull up on a patch of waste ground surrounded by about 4 derelict buildings, a couple of houses, shuttered for the Winter and a bridge.     We stand on the bridge and our faces become damp with spray. Below us huge wooden Iock gates are open and water crashes over them.

We walk down the canal to find another gate, also broken, the river.    This place was clearly a hive of industrial activity at some point and there are information boards but some are ripped and all are in Spanish so we remain clueless.

Back at Hamish Lisa manages to evict the final 2 flies and we catch up on the budget. Amazingly despite front loading on petrol and alcohol we still have a fiver left. 

Las Medulas to Astorga, Mon 21 11

There's something about needing the garage temperature to be above a certain temperature or the electromagnet holding the water will disengage and we loose our water.    As it’s predicted to be minus 6 Alastair is awake at 4am putting the heating on to keep our garage warm.

When we do wake up properly there has been a frost and we are surrounded by white grass.
After breakfast we drive to the lake.   It is eerily beautiful as the mist rolls across the lake and the leaves fall on our heads.

We get on the road to try to get some warmth into Hamish.  Alastair doesn't like being cold.
It's another day of beautiful blue sky and in about 90 minutes we pull up at the aire in Astorga.     On our journey the countryside has changed again, beautiful green plains that stretch for miles with distant hills, Alastair loves it.   

The aire is behind a bloody bullfighting ring, not in action today.    We have read that the Spanish are turning against this barbarity.     It is still sickening to be next to it.

Alastair checks the taps at the services, nothing happens.     We try again about an hour later and it is fine so the tap was obviously frozen.

We wander up the hill into town.   Although closed on Monday we can see through the gates to the amazing palace built by Gaudi for the Bishop of Astorga who sadly never liked it or lived in it.   The Palace is surrounded by it remains of the Roman wall, similar design to Lugo.

The other draw here is the Cathedral which from the outside is huge and built in a variety of styles over a period of time and is a major destination for Camino pilgrims.   Access to the Cathedral is via a glass fronted shop.    We are asked if we are Pilgrims, as we are not it costs €5 each, we decline, we have paid our tourist dues for now.

Armed with a baguette we walk back to the bullfighting ring.

After lunch Lisa tries to catch up on the blog.   It’s been a busy few days so we are getting behind.     Alastair tops up with water as we know it will be frozen in the morning. We are entertained by a helicopter taking off right behind us and returning 20 minutes later.

A British MH joins us, the first one we have seen in a very long time and of course they are heading to Portugal.

The woman comes over for a chat and we swap stories and share information.   She confirms for us what we had suspected: that aires in popular areas of Portugal have become very crowded with instances of people parking infront of you preventing you leaving when you want too.    They pay €5-8 a night for a campsite with marked spaces.      We would definitely need that to maintain our sanity.

As we loose the heat of the sun we get inside and put the layers on both us and the windows and get the candles out.    This is getting a bit like camping, how very exciting!

Lugo to Las Medulas.  Sunday 20 11

We wake to freezing fog again.  We manage a blast of heating before the red light flashes. 
After breakfast and showers we are ready to drive to the services but there is obviously some kind of young peoples football tournament going on in the stadium at the end of the car park and cars are flooding in from every direction.  Obviously they are blocking each other in, driving the wrong way round the one way system.  It’s spanish mayhem.

We manage to get onto the services but no chance of turning around to get our water hose in, instead we carry containers of water around.  Finished we squeeze back around the one way system and head down the little road to exit the aire.  Someone is parked on the zebra crossing dropping her son off.   We can't get round so we wait while they have a chat, he gets his boots out of the back seat....   Then she starts to pull forward, door open, son’s head still in the car.  As she mounts the pavement giving us room to pass a car parks on the zebra crossing coming the other way blocking our ability to pass!  Eventually we get out of there.

It's an amazing journey in thick fog then mountain peaks just visible, thick fog then blue, clear sky then thick fog again. Thankfully the dual carriageway is virtually empty and we arrive safely.
We drive up to the car park on the side of a mountain at Las Medulas. The carpark is only big enough for about 20 cars and its rammed.  We head back down the road and pull into a verge infront of a couple of cars.  Walking towards us doing her Spanish steps is a woman all dressed in black about 120 years olds, where did she come from?   She stops and stares at us. We shuffle Hamish back and forth until we are completely in the ditch and off the white line that marks her path.   Only then does Zola Budd commerce her shuffle past us.

The outside temperature is still very low so we get on thick jackets and gloves.

Past the car park is a little museum.   The woman speaks a little English and gives us a map showing where we can walk to see the sights.    We also then pay €4 to get into the little exhibition.  
Los Medulas is famous because it was the largest goldmine of the whole Roman Empire.    The exhibition is completely in Spanish and Lisa wanders round bored.    Alastair understands enough about engineering to translate it for her and it is fascinating. 

The Romans built canals and bought water in from 82 KM away to blow the mountain away and pan the debris for gold.   It's estimated they extracted between 3 and 6 tonnes a year.

By now it's just after 1pm so we go back to Hamish for lunch.    Thankfully with the drive and the sun our batteries are on the highest charge they have had in a few days.

We change into walking gear, step outside and have to get charged again, it's now Scorchio.
Alastair has poured over the map and got completely frustrated as it doesn’t give major landmarks eg the road, so its difficult to know where we start.    Obviously there is nothing as helpful as a sign.
We head off down a track but after 2km get a sign to say its a cycle track and we are going in completely the wrong direction, we head back.

This time we walk through the village and various stalls are selling chestnuts.  We begin to lose hope and then there is a tourist information!

We go in, get a slightly different map and another explanation of the route and we set off again.    The track begins to climb then we are soon onto a very steep track, strewn with rocks.  The track is lined with stunningly beautiful chestnut trees.  

Huffing we arrive at the top and are rewarded with what we imagine is the look out point.     Amazing views across the goldmines with red peaks rising occasionally.

We wander on and find ourselves at the actual look out point, there is a proper wooden walkway and seating with ever more fabulous views.     In the huge red cliff to our right are notice a balcony in a cave, perhaps they do tours?

There is a sign below us so we go to investigate.     You can pay €3 to go inside the cave!    Noone has mentioned this, it isn't marked on the map, talk about hiding your light under a bushel.

Well we aren't going to be here again so we pay up.     We are given a fetching hair net and a helmet and we take the steps into the red rock of the cave.      Floor lights show us the way.  At times we can stand, at times we have to bend over.      After a few minutes we come out onto the balcony in the rock that we saw from the viewpoint, it is breathtaking.

We can walk off the back of the mountain but that will take about 90 minutesand it's getting late.  So against advice, Alastair lends Lisa a walking pole, and we head down the steep track, slowly. 
Back onthe track the sun is beginning to disappear behind the hill so we decide to forgo another lookout point and head back to Hamish.

Although its almost 5 people are still arriving in the carpark so we decide to find a quiet spot.
We head back down to the main road and turn onto a large, flat, empty carpark.    There is another carpark by a lake so we explore that but it is so tiny we return to our first spot, get the beers out, put the blankets on the window, start tea and prepare to snuggle down and keep warm.  

Fonte Diaz to Lugo. Saturday 18 11

Well an unispiring aire but a quiet night. We wake to a chilly, foggy morning and have a quick heating blast before the red alarm on the leisure battery starts flashing.

We manage to use the services without event today.   We forgot to say that yesterday we reversed onto the service pitch, got out and started doing our jobs when Lisa shouted because Hamish was rolling away.     Alastair ran after him, opened the door and pulled the handbrake on.   Then he stood looking at him asking 'Hamish, where are you going?'  He didn't get an answer.

As we drive away the aire is packed with cars; a football meet?

Most of the journey is eerie as we drive through heavy fog with  the occasional glimpse of blue sky, we seem to be climbing higher.

As we arrive in Lugo we hold our breathe hoping the circus has moved on.      We have to hold our breath a little longer because it's a sharp right into the aire and we can't go because there is a car on our side of the road trying to turn left ahead of cars on his right, so we wait.   Eventually he gets fed up and pulls in front of the other cars and turns right, we drive into the aire, which is just a car park with MH services and parking and the Circus has gone, hooray!!

It is cold and very foggy so although the car park is elevated we can see nothing.

At this time of year the museums close until later in the day so we decide to walk to a tourist office, get a map and come back for lunch and a plan.

The old town is above and behind us so we head up the steps out of the car park then zigzag through a park.   

We walk along a street then emerge onto the Roman walls and in front of the Cathedral.

There is a museum as part of the University so we go in with the purpose of getting a map.    The woman who greets us is lovely and has pretty good English.      She explains that this museum shows the Roman remains that were uncovered when building was an office for the Vice Chancellor.    She gives us a map of the city explaining where tourist information is and opening times.    She takes us down to the remains and sets up an audio visual for us.    It is the longest face to face conversation in English we have had in weeks.

The museum is a small space but it is a 'wow'.   The film, in English, explains how the Roman house was demolished to make way for the wall.  The owner was a Mythrain so the remains include a place of worship, men only.   There are remnants of beautiful floor and ceiling mosaics and gorgeous patterns on the wall.    The bath house can still be seen, the well and the hydro course to heat the house.     All of this is free.

Thanking her very much we head towards H and just pop our head into the Cathedral en route.   It is huge but has lots of different spaces and alters so feels intimate and unusually, its warm.      The centrepiece is a huge , floor to ceiling  sparkling silver alter surrounded by huge pieces of glass with kneeling pads.   A service is taking place and people are standing around listening to the priest.   At one point there is some handshaking and we are almost included until people see the look of panic on our faces.

Outside Alastair remarks that it was the nearest he had ever come to religious shit; Lisa thinks that is a compliment to the Cathedral.

We try for the third time to get to tourist information.    It appears to be closed and there is a note on the door in Spanish.   As we are walking away a woman sat at a cafe table helpfully points at another door.    If this is T.l. it's a bit strange.   Various things are displayed like the Bishop's robes and there are explanations of clothes worn in olden days but there are no maps, no leaflets and the woman at the desk just says hello and bye.

We head back to Hamish picking up a pretty stale baguette.

As we eat- fog finally  burns off and after a quick planning meeting we head back out into a warm, beautifully sunny day.

First stop are the Roman walls so we climb back through the park to the gate. The walls are a UNESCO world heritage sight and the best preserved walls in Europe.

We walk 2.2km in beautiful sunshine stopping at one point to enjoy a band play' playing outside a pub.

Back at the beginning we are a little early for the museum so we wander through the town enjoying the squares and miraculously we discover tourist information.   On the ground floor we browse a couple of leaflets and discover the band are part of a jazz festival this week.  There is very little else but t here is a flight of stairs so Alastair points and asks the woman if we can go, we can.

On this floor is an audiovisual that we can select in English, amazing and it tells the story of the wall.    There is another flight of stairs, another film and another!    By the end of the third film we have a really good understanding of Lugo, the building of the wall, the damage caused through the centuries, its restoration and what it means to the locals.    We have found this so valuable but we had to find it ourselves, no signs, no explanations inside, nothing.

It's almost time for the museum to open so we sit on the steps in a glint of sun until 4:30 pm.   The museum is huge with modern art, stone age tools, marble busts all sorts. Nothing is translated into English and apart from the remains of a Roman mosaic floor and a collection of oil lamps we are pretty bored and race through.

There is one more place we want to see which opens at 5:30 and has more mosaics so we set off in search.  We find the street it is supposed to be on but find ourselves at the other end none the wiser.    We go back again checking each doorway and this time we find it.   We descend the steps into a dark space.  A man appears to tell us that he won’t be putting the audio on until 6pm.   So no explanation for us then.

The mosaic floor is lit, well most of it, some is in darkness and there are remains of beautiful wall decorations, flowers painted in pastel colours.  It's only a small space so after 10 Minutes we are done and head back into the light.

All missions achieved we head back to Hamish.    We did talk about wondering back out later to see the city lit up and get a glass of wine but it was 6pm by the time we got back and we were too knackered to go out again. 

Carnota to Fonte Diaz. Friday 17 11

Lisa wakes at 5 am and knows there will be no more sleep for her so reads quietly and listens to the sea knowing we won't wake up to that sound again for a while and tries not to wake A .    He rouses at 7am and goes straight out to check on his sticks in the dark; it does not start to get light until after 8.00.  We have had another unusually high tide.

Alastair puts the heating on because mornings are chilly now.   Hamish has performed beautifully this trip but for the last couple of days , despite the sun, the solar panels aren't completely recharging the leisure battery.   Heating seems to suck a lot of juice out of the battery and it flashes red so we quickly turn it off.   Our best guess is this is happening because we haven't used a hook up since the Picos, you are supposed to recharge them for 24 hours every so often.   But we managed 4 months before without doing it, so who knows.    We hope driving will help.

Sadly it is time to move on; we have loved this little place.

First stop is Noia Eroski to get the weeks shopping and wine to take home.   One of our favourites is Lisa's choice and cost less than €3.50 so we get 6 of those- Palacio de Arganza 2015 scores 91 in the Penin Guide.    We buy about 18 bottles of wine of various types, 2 boxes of San Miguel, a bottle of Rum and food and the total bill is €140; in the UK it would have been over £200.

We have lunch in the car park, fill up with diesel, much cheaper than the UK at €1.1 per litre and get  back on the road heading East.   We stop to fill up with L.P. G., also much cheaper at €0.6 per litre than the U.K.

We have a scary moment when we are turning left on a roundabout, obviously indicating, and someone in a 4×4 just drives straight across never seeing us.  Many Spanish drivers are in their own world and have no road sense whatsoever. 

Our aire just past Santiago de Compestella is an uninspiring carpark with services next to a nursery , forest one side, mway the other.

We go for a walk to join in with everyone else getting their Spanish steps in; we don't find anything of interest .

Bach at Hamish Alastair suggests we drive onto Lugo but that is almost 2 hours away and when researching the aire Lisa translates the last comment left a week ago to discover there was a circus and no aire.    As we may get there and discover we need to more on again we decide to stay here.
We update the budget, we were so relaxed yesterday we didn't do it.    We were in credit yesterday by €100!!

Carnota again, Thursday 16 11

Our last full day of chilling before travelling again tomorrow.

After breakfast Lisa suggests an amble to the bird hide.  Alastair has other ideas.  He wants to go on an expedition.

Since arriving Alastair has wanted to get across to the sand on the other side of the bay but access is prevented by the river and sea .   As the tide is SO low Alastair sees his opportunity.
So we set off wading across the wee estuary.   It is absolutely, bloody, freezing!

As we get to the other side Lisa gets a text and spends the next hour sorting out more difficulties back in the UK.

Meanwhile on the expedition.... we are crossing virgin sand to get to the ocean.   Our feet are so cold we are nearly in tears and Alastair uses his hand to warm our feet up to prevent frostbite.
We retreat, back through the freezing water and to the safety of Hamish and a bowl of warm water for our feet.

A takes off to do the Services and Lisa does more UK phone calls, watches the cockle pickers and fends off a well meaning spanish couple who want to chat.  The sun begins to warm lhe land by 12.00 ish.

Unusually for us we spent most of the afternoon reading with Alastair occasionally moving a stick that he had planted to Measure the tide. 

As dusk arrived we went inside and watched a beautiful sunset.

Until the last couple of days we have been putting our aluminium thermal window insulation on the inside of our windows at night.   The last two nights Alastair has been putting the big bugger on the outside aswell.   Yesterday he trialled putting the inside one outside then covering it with the outside one and remarkably we had a lot less condensation.

While he is outside sorting this for the night Lisa watches the bats flit around him .   Then the sky turns a beautiful, burnished red.   We are going to miss this place. 

Carnota again, Wednesday 15 11

It's a beautiful clear morning.   Unfortunately Lisa didn't get much sleep due to stuff going on back home but it's a beautiful day.   As we are getting showers the first MH leaves from the beach.
We drive up to the little village to buy bread then return to the forest to use the services, the second little camper van is leaving.

So we decide to return to our little spot next to the beach with amazing views.

By now it's about 18 degrees, it's absolutely glorious.  We sit outside with our books and, joined by Basil, we enjoy the sunshine apart from Lisa having to make several calls back to the UK.

An amazing day is finished with on amazing sunset.    It's a new moon and we have the highest tide we have had since finding this little place. 

Later we leave H to gaze at a sky filled with stars. There is no moon and no light pollution.  The milky way is easy to see and the stars are so numerous we have difficulty picking out the few constellations we know.

Cesantes to Carnota, Tuesday 14 11

After breakfast we had a planning meeting, we tried last night but in the end if you look at too many overnight spots you forget what you have already looked at and where .

This coastline is a bit sameish and we look at all of the overnight spots but don't fancy any of them and we want to get some rest in and all require long jaunts to services. 

So we look in land and, driving East sounds different .   Hermits went to that part of Spain and there are little houses cut out of caves.    Unfortunately the overnight stops look pretty dreadful.   We find one that looks OK but when we translate the comments it is next to a kennel; no thanks!    We heard but thankfully didn't see a horrible fight between 2 dogs yesterday.

Eventually we give in and decide to head back to one of our favourite spots. It is 3 hours away but once we are there we can chill for a couple of days.

After a couple of hours we arrive at the supermarket in Noia where we stop for coffee and buy some bread.   We also find a huge bread thing covered in chocolate thats vegan!

Then back on the road for the final hour.   We try not to return to magical places. Travelling is about moving on and new experiences and often things aren't as good when you go back so we hold our breath.

As we dr ive down to the beach there are MH in both of the spots we had previously tried.   Luckily last time we were here we had sussed out an alternative.  Slightly back from the beach, on a raised area with views across the forest and the hills is a parking area.   We pull Hamish onto a flat area and we are virtualy hidden from all of the traffic down to the beach. Bliss.

We get our books and chairs out and enjoy the sunshine, it is about 17 degress, bliss.

Around 4pm we Iock up and walk down to the beach, along the boardwalk to the bird hide.   There isn't much bird action but a guy walks around the sand bank until he is out of view of people on the beach, takes his kit off and gingerly gets in the water.   He looks rather alarmed when we descend from the bird hide and he stays in the water up to his chin!

As we walk through the beach there are 4 cars in addition to the MH, we retreat to our quiet spot.

A Seara to Cesantes Monday 13 11

At 3:30am a MH arrives and parks near to us, waking Alastair up.   They are gone again by 8:30am, clearly in a rush to get somewhere.

The sky is clear and blue, there is a cold wind but this will do for us.   We get showers, strip the bed, do our services and drive 20 minutes into the aire at Pontevedra. 

We pass a funeral cortege. The huge wreaths are fastened to the outside of the doors of the hearse.
We get to the aire reasonably painlessly.   Lisa puts Basil in the sun, gather our coins, reading material and 2 bags of washing and we head out.   The laundrette is just around the corner, clear, simple, great.   All sorted in an hour for €18.  The next time we will be doing our washing will be at home .

We eat lunch in H.  Then wander further south to a car park overlooking a bay.  Lots of dogs wander around.  We also wander around to get some spanish steps in.  The sky is cloudless, the sun bright though the wind is brisk and slightly chilly.  We eventually grab kindles and mobiles and chill on a bench behind a hedge.  Alastair offers advice to Dave Twist on 'campervan overnight parking' Facebook page who will be arriving in spain in December.

As it cools down we return for spaghetti tea and a no alcohol night.

Staying in A Seara, Sunday 12 11

Alastair said Lisa had a couple of Regan moments last night but managed to contain herself.
We wake to a chilly, cloudy sky.    We have a lazy morning.  It's lovely not to be getting up and driving.  
Around 11am we engage in the Spanish pastime of doing our spanish steps and walk to the local port.   It's a short visit cos as we arrive Lisa needs a wee.  There are no public toilets and we didn't bring any money.
A brisk walk back to Hamish, lunch then we head out in the opposite direction.   We need to do one more bedding wash before home so rather than wait until we are travelling back we decide to get it done on Monday then we are sorted.   It will also mean we have enough clothes to see us home as the constant ban in aires about putting out washing prevents us keeping on top of it.
Throughout the day there are huge bangs from fireworks which are just a huge bang and a tiny flash of light; wedding perhaps?   The other background noise that is common to us is barking dogs.  It seems every other house has a dog who is either chained or runs free and their job is to bark incessantly.   It becomes wearing.
We get back from our walk, give Hamish a clean, give the carpets a shake then start Planning; this is unusual because we tend just to plan for the next day.
We want to stay around here for as long as possible before starting our journey back across Spain because we know the temperatures will drop as soon as we head inland and up onto the internal plains (where the rain in spain mainly falls).   We also don't want to do too much driving before the journey back .  So we work out how many days we need to dedicate to getting back to Bilbao driving for no more than 2 hours and seeing the places we missed on the way here.   Eleven hours minimum and therefore we plan seven stopovers.
How organised are we!   We work out we have until next Friday then need to set off on Saturday 19 11..    While we plan Lisa holds ice on her mosquito bites, she has half a dozen from the other night and some of them are huge and painful and itchy.
The clouds move in and it starts to rain.  The other MHs leave and we are alone. 
Porto do Son via Santiago de Compostela to A Seara. Saturday 11 11
As she wakes just before 6am Lisa is greeted with a zzzz , how did that happen?    Bite cream is applied to minimise damage and we get up at 7.00, lot's to do today.
We are showered and on the road by 8:45am; it's lovely and quiet.    We are back at the Eroski services in 20 minutes then on our way to C de S.  
As you will know we worry about visiting cities but the road in is remarkably stress free.  Lisa navigates using Park4ANight because again sat nav couldn't find the address.  This is a constant struggle because the spelling and names of roads are not consistant between satnav, google maps and spanish local names. The only way to find places is for Lisa to narigate the final 5 minutes using a mobile phone or tablet. Thankfully mobile data reception is brilliant throughout the parts of spain we have visited.  We pull into the University parking.  The first row of spaces are full; about 6 MHs and cars.    These are the first MHs we have seen in a week.   The next row of spaces are free so we park up and get going.
We walk past a couple of table tennis tables covered with a beautiful ancient red tiled roof and a pretty little chapel. 
Then from then on it's wow after wow as we walk past the beautiful old monastry then into the hugcathedral square.    It's about 10:15AM and it feels like a calm beautiful Sunday morning in this square enclosed by cool medieval greystone buildings.   A woman is playing Galician pipes and they echo hauntingly around the square.
The cathedral is being restored but it is still beautiful with scallop shells built into it's architecture.    One side of the square is taken up by a hotel, originally built as a hostel for the pilgrims.  
To get into the cathedral there are a list of prices for the various areas of access, tower etc .   We tot it up, to see everything would knock you back €53, even the €15 to get into the cathedral is probably beyond most pilgrims.   You would be pretty pissed off walking all this way then not being able to afford to get in!  We do notice that most of the long distance walkers are not queuing up. 
As we wander admiring the architecture Alastair nips into a bookstore that he realises is the exit from the Cathedral.   We intently study the assorted tat and surreptitiously edge towards the Cathedral poking our heads inside seeing the Crypt housing the remains of St James (saint Iago) that is the goal of religious pilgrims.
We buy some bread and Alastair indulges in a chocolate doughnut.   It's approaching midday; we are cold and the place is filling up with: people begging, street artists and large tourist groups, the whole atmosphere is changing. Enough.
Back at Hamish there are no parking spaces left.   Three uni students are performing a play involving a dress made of metal plates.  Slightly distracted we get lunch.  Lisa spills the contents of the coffeepot across the stove; not blaming anyone.
After clearing up we rethink our original plan for tonight.   It's only 1pm and we can get back to the coast, slightly further South and hopefully slightly warmer.
The first dozen howffs we look at have dreadful reviews, we must be reentering tourist heaven.   We find somewhere an hour and a half away; not ideal but we don't have much choice.
We set off and sweep from one motorway to another, about 6 motorways later we were heading South.   Lisa as co driver is essential as sat nav struggles.    Slow and dangerous Spaniards are causing problems: as we approach a slip road Alastair flashes the car merging onto the motorway, we slow down imagining they will then come onto the motorway, only they don't, they slow down forcing us to go slower, we can't pull out as other cars are flying past us. Eventually they creep onto the M-way by which time we are both doing about 30kmph.     This happens several times.
On the rare bit of smooth road Lisa googles 'horreo'.   We have seen them everywhere, a variation from the Picos, oblong huts on stilts.   They are peculiar to the Iberian peninsular and are for storing grain.
As we drive the clouds clear and we have the first blue sky we have seen in weeks.   Alastair is highly amused as we drive through Cuntis.  So amused he misses the turning.
Spaniards look different along this coast.    All across the North they are uniformly short and dark.  Down here we've seen our first blonde Spaniard, Alastair claims it is because Vikings came here.
An hour and a half after leaving S de C we arrive at our aire.     There are MH spaces along a car para next to a green area with sculptures then the bay.   The sky is cloudless; this will do.   There are 3 other MHs but everyone is well spaced out.   Basil is immediately put into the sunshine coming through the window.
It looks warm but there is a bloody cold breeze.    We walk around to check out our surroundings and decide that we will stay here tomorrow; it's been a full on day.
On Friday Lisa had persuaded Alastair that we needed to buy a bottle of rum- reduced to €9.  We sit on a bench enjoying our first rum and coke in Spain.    This aire has the usual ban on getting out chairs etc.   It's like: "you can stay here but we don't really want you to look as if you are enjoying yourselves'.
We relax into a lovey Saturday evening.
Carnota to Porto do Son.  Friday 10 11
Reluctantly we prepare to leave our little spot.  Today is shopping day and we think it will be better to be closer to S de C for Saturday. 
This has been a pretty perfect spot for us and we hope to find similar around this bay.    We rumble along to the services, virtually our own private facilities, then get on the road.
For most of our Spanish journey finding locations on sat nav has been easy but not round here.   Sat nav just cannot find the street the supermarket is on so we have to enter a nearby location and trust in park 4 a night.
As soon as we leave our title bay the scenery charges again.   We agree to cheek out a couple of potential overnight stops on route to the supermarket but everything is much more built up, surfers have monopolised some spots, others are just, well- a disappointment.
Eventually we arrive at the Eroski, a new supermarket, which is possibly why we couldn't find it.    lt has a huge carpark and MH services; now we know where we are the services are on P4aN.
As always shopping takes an age.   We use Alastair's wine list to try out some new wines and Alastair buys a Galician favourite; nipple cheese.    Apparently a priest objected to a saint's breast on a statue and had it removed.  Cheeses were then moulded to the 'offensive' shape.
We head to another possible overnight spot to get lunch.    It's just a huge carpark in a town so are aren't staying here.  We investigate some more spots and get back on the road.
There is a communication break down as we sail past the turning for our overnight stop but that is soon remedied and we find ourselves on a small flat parking area at the top of some cliffs with views across the bay.   There is what looks like a lighthouse as if the glass top has been removed with wires sticking out of the top.
We lock up and go for a walk down the cliff and onto the beach then headed along to the port until we felt we had at least done a couple of thousand steps.
Back at Hamish we finally have a beautiful sunset.
As we settle down to tea with a bottle of wine a police car appears, blue lights flashing; shit!    Expecting a knock at the door the wine vanishes and we carry on with tea.    He had obviously come up here for some peace and he left without bothering us.
As we snuggle down Lisa hears zzzz; the disadvantage of heading to slightly warmer climes.  We dispatch him.
Carnota again. Thursday 09 11
With only a brief period awake in the night we sleep from 9: 30pm to 8:30am, we really were tired !    It was chilly overnight and a chilly start to the day.
We have a very slow start to the day and by the time our showers are done it's 11am.
Alastair wants to get bread for lunch and Lisa suggests a cycle but that idea doesn't go down well.
We bumble back up the forest track and onto the main road to find a small shop.   It's only a couple of km's but Lisa can tell Alastair is shattered because he gets annoyed at people driving too close, annoyed there is nowhere to park, annoyed he can't turn around.
Gently we get bread, get some cash and retreat back to our forest track.
By the football pitch we follow a sign along a track to find the services.   If it wasn't for Park4aNight we would NEVER have discovered these.   It is also a little aire with the usual 'don't get your chairs out' etc.
We bumble back to the beach.   Yesterday we had spotted a little track off the car park that led to a parking area on rough ground.   With Lisa's help Alastair reverses down the track.   Down here we are in no one's way, we can hardly be seen. Hamish is a 'stealth' motor home. 
After lunch we go for a walk on the beach but we are soon back hiding from a shower.
We use the time to catch up on our budget. This week we are €50 in credit!
Exhausted by our jobs Alastair has a cheeky nap.  We really were tired.
When he wakes up another shower has passed over, the sun makes a brief appearance and now it's grey again.
We get kitted up and head out.   We play around the plump pink rocks on the beach then walk to the other side of the bay; a feat we haven't managed so far due to the rain.
At the end of a walkway is a bird hide, graffiti ridden and missing some planks it is still useable and translating the board we realise these are salt marshes.
We see some egrets but not much else about.  
Back at Hamish we spot a Great Egret which according to our bird book shouldn't even be in spain!
We are vaguely aware of people coming and going in the other car park but in this little spot we are alone, it's ideal.
Alastair uses his time constructively researching good Spanish wine at an affordable price.
Porto de Cain via Finisterre to Carnota . Wednesday 08 11
We wake at 6am after a great nights sleep, it is still loud but the wind has quietened. The main thing is that we are safe, Hamish didn't get blown over.   Also there is no condensation on the windows and it feels a little warmer.
We are off before 9 am. negotiate our way back through the steep and narrow streets and drive back to the services and the aire we should have stayed at last night, its fine but nowhere near as scenic or dramatic as our spot.
We are alone with plenty of space so we take advantage of the opportunity to wash away the crust of salt that has formed on Hamish overnight.    Alastair gets over excited and gives Hamish a good wash all over.    We are back on the road before 10am.
What a difference a day makes.     The roads are good, straightforward and empty, even sat nav is behaving.
We pick up a bit of petrol and drive up to a clifftop spot for the walk down to Fisterra as motor homes aren't allowed, the sun is making some brief appearances.
Fisterra or as the English call it, Cape Finisterre now replaced by FitzRoy but we are Incredibly excited to be here.
There are a couple of shops selling tat and a hotel which must have amazing sunsets then the point itself.   There is a sculpture of a walking boot on a rock, nice touch.   This was originally the end of the pagan Camino before S de C got in on the act and since the pilgrimage has become popular again in the 80's this is many peoples preferred end route.  
The custom has become to burn items of clothing on the rock so there are a number of charred spots and in some the remains of clothes where the fire was obviously heart hearted and they couldn't be bothered to tane their rubbish with them, not great.    The other tradition is to build a rock art sculpture much prettier.
As we pick our way across the rocks a guy asks Alastair to take his photo.    Alastair agrees and readys to take the shot but the guy isn't happy pointing out what he wants in the background, then he wants Alastair to reframe the photo, then as Alastair checks he is happy he jumps to another rock.  This is getting ridiculous.   Eventually he gets his photo and we climb down.
We find a spot and sit overlooking the sea. It's lovely that it is warm enough to enjoy just sitting.   A couple of people with huge rucsacs are clearly savouring the end of their journey.  
Then a small coach must have arrived because we have people scrambling down either side of us and someone else wants their photo taken.
We retreat back to Hamish for lunch and watch the rain sweep in over the bay.   This is an overnight stop but too busy for us so we carry on around the bay.
The scenery changes almost immediately with huge pinky orange coloured rocks dotting the landscape and beach which reiminds us of Sweden; very beautiful.
After a gentle drive we turn off the main road.  Although we dont need them there are supposed to be services here.   We drive slowlydown a bumpy forest track and at a football field see a sign for services, we carry out onto a tiny car park overlooking a beautiful beach.
There are 2 spaces for people with disabilities and one for an ambulance, we back into a corner so we are obstructing no one but it is a squeeze .
We go for a walk to explore our deserted beach but the rain clouds gather and we scurry back to Hamish .    After the shower has passed the sun comes out and we surreptitiously get our deck chairs out. 
A woman arrives with a toddler, a baby and a bouncy dog who comes to make friends .   At the end of his walk we are back in Hamish because it is raining again and he waits patiently by the door until we say hello.
Then two surfer vans arrive and another car and we suddenly feel in the way.   Within an hour we are alone with one car belonging to a fisherman.   We are hopeful of a beautiful sunset but it all clouds over at exactly the wrong time.
As we settle into the evening we mull over tomorrow .    Originally our plan was to visit S de C but parking is difficult.   The bestplace is at the Uni but we suspect not on a week day, term time day so counter to our usual plan we decide a weekend visit may be wiser.  
So where tomorrow?  We realise we are weary, we haven't stayed over since the Picos and we have travelled a long way.  Alastair suggests a day off which sounds a great idea.
0 Porto de Espasante to Porto de Cain. Tue 07 11
It was a chilly night and we have to put the heating on this moming, the windows are soaked with condensation.    We may need to move a bit further and faster than we have planned but first we have cliffs to visit.
Alastair has found a way of downloading the Independent onto his tablet and consequently we don't set off until just after 10am; a late start for us.  Are we relaxing?     Maybe, but also Lisa was awake for a few hours in the night then fell asleep around 6am for 2 hours.
We leave the port and within an hour are on a steep, windy but good mountain road.    Alastair is now brilliant at flinging Hamish around the switchback turns but if there is a drop on his side with no barriers we start driving on the left-hand side.
We find ourselves actually at a carpark from which it's a short walk to a view from the highest cliffs in Europe.   Throughout todays drive we have had low cloud, drizzle and generally miserable weather.   Now we are at this height it is also blowing a hoolie.  It is cold!
Before stepping outside we put on layers including hats, gloves and waterproofs.   Wild ponies graze and a couple of cows are wandering about.   There is the remains of an old stone building but no explanation unfortunately.    The view from the cliffs is pretty amazing but we can't see far because the cloud is so low and it is SO cold.
Alastair sees something back along the road which may be an information point so we head in that direction back along the road but everything is fenced off.  
As we are walking back towards Hamish a small white van speeds past us, the farmer gets out and chases the runaway cows back towards  the field.
We peel the layers off and drive down the other side of the mountain into a little village car park for lunch.   Initially our plan was to stay here but it is still cold, damp and miserable so we rethink and decide to use the inclement weather to move on.   We choose a spot that is about two and a half hours South , so hopefully warmer, and get back on the road.
The scenery quickly changes and we spend most of the jouney driving through commerce, industrial, chaotic cities which are mainly built along the coasts.  So they are built vertically and roads are piled on top of roads.
Sat nav just cannot cope.    It can't keep up as we sweep from one road to another so it keeps loosing us and then redrawing our route.   We had requested no tolls but at one point it proudly presented us to a tollbooth.   Thankfully there was a roundabout and we got back on the route we had just left.
Lisa followed our entire route on Park 4 a Night so was able to reassure us when satnav literally lost the plot.
As if all that isn't difficult enough we have Spanish drivers to contend with.   Lorry drivers we have found to be safe and courteous.   Car drivers fit into 3 categorys.   Safe.   Slow and dangerous.   Crazy and dangerous.  For all 3 categorys indicating is an optional extra, especially at roundabouts. 
Sometimes roads provide an overtaking lane so we always move into the slower lane but then our lane has to merge back and frequently the slow and dangerous driver trying to overtake us will be alongside as we run out of road.    Then to come onto a dual carriageway from a side road there is usually a stop sign.  Slow and dangerous will wait and wait.     Crazy and dangerous behind them will try to overtake and just pull on infront of us.     Then there is the learner driver who is being' taught' on a dual carriageway, at 20 kph people imagine it is Us; so they speed around us only to veer out again before crashing into learner driver.
As we drive through Coruna sat nav  keeps trying to take us onto a dual carriageway.   Lisa can see that it is clueless and keeps telling Alastair to stay on the road.     Alastair can see what sat nav is trying to do so takes the next left it suggests.    You know when in scary movies you walk into a room and the walls close in, as we turned left we were immediately into a sheep pen.   Lisa then had to watch Hamish reverse back onto the dual carriageway then find a place to turn around.
We stuck to Lisa's route for the rest of the journey.   Lisa wasn't sure which parking place Alastair had chosen, as we sailed past the one he had entered we realised for the final time that day that sat nav had other ideas. 
Instead of being just off the main road we are now wending our way towards another port and when we arrive amongst the boats Lisa looses the plot. 
Despite having driven for hours Alastair had the wherewithal to realise we had to drive up a single track road onto a vast car park. We have it to ourselves.  We park within 3 metres of Massive waves crashing onto rocks, driven by a Force 6 wind.
We had an amazing view of the waves crashing into the rocks. 
We go for a walk round the bay; it is stunning with huge Waves beating themselves white across the huge bay.
Back in Hamish we listened to a new Rankin drama on BBC Radio iplayer. 
Onoe we switch the radio off and snuggle down we realise that we are in a wind tunnel.   The noise outside is incredible.   A roaring wind, the thunderclap of waves onto the rocks and Hamish rocks.   We are slightly worried.   Alastair checks and the sea is 20ft away so it is just the wind.     We snuggle back down and are rocked to sleep in a couple of minutes and amazingly sleep well.  
San Cibrao to 0 Porto de Espasante, Mon 06 11
We are hoping for a beautiful sunrise but instead the sky is a bruised grey and purple.
After breakfast we walk round to the local supermarket to get a few fresh things.    The assistant is helpful putting all of our veg into a bag and then we come to pay and Alastair hands her our credit card.     She looks at it askance as if we had tried to pay with a goat and starts to shout about needing our passport.    Why?   Noone else has needed our passport.    Alastair takes out a card that does have his passport number on it but she waves her hand and gives a 'pfff' to that.   So feeling completely confused we offer cash which we carry just in case of such a disaster.  That is also met with a wave of the hands and a 'pfff'.   So now what do we do?   Feeling utterly bewildered and beginning to get annoyed we just stand there.   After chuntering some more as if we have committed the crime of the century she puts the card in the pin reader, we enter our pin and we have paid.    Sorted.     So WTF!!!???  Just another case of a spanish person sounding off about nothing.
Back at Hamish we stow our goods, use the services and get on the road.
Our first stop is the little car park next to Faro da Estaca de Bares, a lighthouse that is at the most Northerly point in Spain.
We treat ourselves to coffee then head up to the lighthouse.   It's someone.s home and we have to wait while they talk a lot to their two dogs who have gone for Alastair's ankles.  Quite alot of spanish folk have a collection of two or three tiny snappy dogs. We wonder if that is why men walk with a stick and women with an umbrella around here.  Dogs pacified we walk past their hens to the spur of land that juts out beyond the lighthouse.
There is a small track between the rocks, we follow it down to a huge white concrete monolith monstrosity. No idea of its function.
We carry on out towards the headland.    The 'path' turns into a walk across an arete, Alastair stays behind with the cameras, Lisa feeling a bit braver carries on.    We are at the most Northerly point of Spain and it's pretty exhilarating.    
Back at Hamish we decide to have lunch after we have tackled the pretty much single track road down to the main road.    We carry on for about 30 minutes to our overnight stop, a car park overlooking the port.    We are next to an Englishwoman who amazingly isn't going to Portugal.
After lunch we go exploring climbing up to the headland for a view then walking along the beach and back through the sleepy village to get some jobs done.   Alastair's jobs are outside but it becomes overcast and cold so we both retreat inside. 
Coana to San Cibrao Sun 05 11
The wind and rain keeps up most of the night and and  we wake to leaden grey skies.
In the next couple of days we need to get to a laundrette.    The weather has been too cool and damp for us to wash and dry clothes and the ban on hanging out clothes in aires hasn't helped so we are down to our last pair of pants.
Alastair identifies a laundrette on todays route.   Sunday is probably the worst day for this job but we are pretty desperate.
We use Lisa's new version of griddle toasting to have avocado on toast for a Sunday morning treat.
By the time we are ready to go the MH in front of us pulls off and gets to the services first so we decide to carry on.
We arrive at the town within an hour.       We let sat nav guide us but  it tries to take us down a one way street, twice.  Then Alastair has to reverse up a street that is too tight for Hamish.  Lisa takes over the navigation.
Considering it's Sunday we don't have to wait long for the two machines we need.    Everything is done for €20.    Our first experience of a Spanish laundrette, its easy with English translations.   It's clean, there is a change machine and we get free wifi so we download newspapers and podcasts.  
Sorted we drive to the front where there are services and a huge area for MHs overlooking the sea.  We pull up to get our Usual lunch of salad, baguette and cheese for Alastair.    Alastair chats to our English neighbour who is setting out on his journey to Portugal tomorrow.
After lunch we move on and driving along the empty dual carriageway we spot a Repsol garage with plenty of space and L.P.G. so we turn at the next roundabout and head back.  Like diesel L.P.G. is much cheaper here and even better the attendant helps out sorting through our attachments to find the right fit.
Our overnight stop is next to the sea and shortly after arriving another English van pulls in behind us.  While Lisa finishes putting the washing away Alastair chats to our neighbour, they are also heading to Portugal.   Portugal must be bursting at the seams!
After nesting we go exploring.  The Spanish are putting us to shame with our step count, we are struggling to reach 6,000.
There is a peninsula surrounded by the sea with a little village and a lighthouse.   We walk through the tiny village streets which feel a bit Cornish and out onto the rocks underneath the lighthouse where we stand watching the huge waves roll in and crash onto the rocks.    There is a double rainbow over a little island with some ruins on.
We climb up to the lighthouse and down the other side to the harbour.   The sea is so powerful the waves are braking over the harbour wall and the boats anchored in the harbour are pitching and rolling; spectacular.
The sky goes dark and gloomy and we start to scurry back to Hamish.   We can't go back the way we came as the tide is coming in and the waves have soaked the pathway.   A couple of minutes after getting into Hamish the heavens open.
We wait until it brightens and head out again to climb the headland infront of Hamish.   Alastair's bare legs are scratched by the gorse but we are rewarded with great views across the bay.
Dusk is arriving so we head back to Hamish to listen to a BBC dramatised Ian Rankin audio story.
Cudilero to  Coana by the lighthouse, Sat 04 11.
At 4:30am we get neighbours.   They turn out to be a lovely Spanish couple but they didn't have have to: park quite so close, slide doors open, talk loudly AND wake as up!   Eventually we fell asleep again.
Of course we wouldn't be so petty as to wake up bang doors and be generally loud when we woke up.   Well we might have but our neighbours were awake before us.
Unusually for us we have a lazy start to day.  We lie in bed and look out to our spectacular view. The tide is out and some lesser back backed gulls are sitting on the beach.   There is a grey wagtail bobbing up and down in front of us.
After breakfast we go for a walk along the beach, accompanied by dog walkers and, of course, people getting their spanish steps in.   
Alastair has a moment of madness  and decides to go for a swim.  Lisa mulls it over but decides swimming in the Atlantic isn't for her.  The air is cool and cloudy, so she takes embarrassing photos and phones home while Alastair takes the plunge!
Apparently Lisa makes the correct decision.  Back at Hamish our neighbours asked how it has been and 'Fredo' is his response, they laugh, A LOT.    Lisa is impressed with his grasp of the lingo.  Alastair dives into a hot shower;  one of the joys of Hamish.  Afterwards he cleans a beach worth of sand out of the bottom of the shower.
We lunch overlooking our beautiful bay.  Our Spanish neighbours move on.
After lunch the sky became increasingly grey then the first big fat drops of rain started to fall.  Time to move on.
We are soon back on a big easy road and after and couple of minutes Come to a supermarket with and big square car park.    You don't see many of these around here!   We pull in to get a couple of things we hadn't managed to find before.
Galicia is famous for being wet and in the entrance is a Japanese contraption that enables you to put your tall, wet umbrella in a plastic bag before walking round the store. Genius!!
Inside the place is deserted apart from 4 men sat round a table in the cafe having a beer; clearly not much to do round here.
We are soon back on the road and arrive at our next overnight stop next to a lighthouse above big cliffs.  The area has been gentrified and pedestrianised so MH spaces are limited but great services .   We  park in a designated layby behind a Spanish MH.  We have a walk around to see what is what.
A pair of little brown birds twittered around us around when they flew had a rufous colour under their feathers.  We looked them up later: Redstarts on their way to Africa so a Lifer then!.    A bird of prey appears over the headland right in front of us, too big for a kestrel but what do we know.
There is an information sign translated into English, a rarity.    People returned here from the Americas with money in the 17th century, judging by the size of the houses there still seems plenty about.   By the lighthouse is a tasteful memorial to people who have lost their lives at sea.  
The temperature begins to drop and we stand and watch the weather move in standing on a bench.   We wait until the dark grey clouds are across the headland in front and we begin to feel the first drops of rain.  Then we run for Hamish.   A group of guys who were taking photos also run.    
We dive back into Hamish as it pours down.    It sounds like someone is chucking buckets of water onto us.  The wind has increased and Hamish is being rocked; all very dramatic. The sea and cloudscape is a dramatic grey symphony of light and shade; beautiful .
We snuggle down for the evening and open our very expensive bottle of wine.  Thankfully it is delicious.  We listen to a Radio 4 drama about Draculaa the wind and storming rain help to build a distinctly scary atmosphere .
Proaza to Cudillero. Friday  03 11
The rain didn't stop until around 8am'; pretty good timing.
We get on our bikes and are soon heading up to the cycle track.   
We had tried pretty hard to translate  everything we could find about this area because when it involves animals we want to be sure it fits in with our principles.
Our understanding is that the brown bears numbers on this mountain range had been reduced to 70 due to hunting; despite being vegetarian they are persecuted by farmers.
However due to pressure from the public there has been a focus on protecting them and numbers have risen to 200.      If you cycle along the Senda Del Oso 'path of the bears' and you are very lucky you may see one on the other side of the valley.
That was enough for us.  Obviously we didn't expect to see any bears but how exciting to be in wild bear country.
So we get on the track and to our right is a bear in a cage of the zoo variety.    To our left is a huge, strong fence with a bear pacing up and down behind it!   We can see how he could climb away from us but he looked like he was waiting for food or something; hardly wild bear behaviour.
We cycle past as fast as we can; that isn't what we were expecting. Clearly we got it badly wrong.
The cycle track is stunning: through gorges, into proper tunnels hewn out of the rock for cycles, past a collections of traditional houses built from wood on stone stilts.   We continually cycle up a gentle gradient so when we get to the end and turn back we can free wheel most of the way back.  We steel ourselves to go past the cages again.
This time there is a big old bear asleep near the edge of the fence.
Back at Hamish we get lunch and showers, then head off.
The countryside is far greener here and more agricultural and the motorways are free from traffic.   We soon arrived at the services, next to a bus station.   We have hardly seen any motorhomers but there are three here.   Thankfully they are all together and the last van is sorting themselves out before they head off.  They all leave together and we are alone.
A woman is walking up and down the car park.    Counting your steps is a big thing in Spain but they don't choose the prettiest places.
Sorted we head North to the coast.   We snake down a steep lane and find our overnight stop.    A small car park next to one of the most beautiful bays we have ever visited, how lucky are we!!!!!
The sea is lapping the stone steps below us then there is a road around the bay and a closed down bar at the other end.   Obviously people are getting their spanish steps in along the bay and back again, and again but at least it is picturesque.
After a wander Lisa pores over the Lonely Planet.    Where we were today is a conservation and breeding place to repopulate the brown bear population.   The caged bears were orphaned almost 30 years ago and have been there for 10, possibly moved from a zoo?
We don't agree with animals in captivity, even for conservation purposes.  Obviously that's not everyone's opinion but we found the whole experience distressing.   Unlike the bears we can move on and enjoy our new idyllic location.
We fall asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing below us.
Sabero to Proaza on the Senda de Oso    Thursday 2 11
It was a quiet night although we didn't get the best nights sleep.    We are on the road by 9:30am.  
Immediately we pass several solitary men walking along the road, some with a stick, it really is a big thing here.
The country side we drive through is very different;  Alastair is reminded of spaghetti westerns.  Every few km there are tiny villages, largely closed with no sign of employment, how do people survive out here?
About an hour into our journey we drive through a huge coal mining area with small flats thrown up for the workers.  We are on the look out for a supermarket but there are none (apart from tiny shops) along the whole of our journey, there really is very little out here.
It seems very dry; Alastair keeps saying they need rain.   It is still only 10 degrees though so maybe today.   We bought a basil plant back in France and Lisa faithfully makes sure he is able to make the most of each days sun but Basil will have to be deprived today.
Almost 2 hours into our journey we go round a corner and both say 'wow' we have crested a mountain and discover we are 4,000ft up.   In front of us there is a huge mountain range. 
We are still driving along the edge of the Camino de Compostella de Santiago, public transport must do a roaring trade here.
We realise we have missed the services we were heading for but there are some half an hour away and a supermarket with parking, hooray!!
We arrive at a Carrefour,  bliss.    It takes us 2 hours to stock up with Google translate.   We recheck the wine prices twice before putting in the trolley.
It's almost 2pm when we get out so surrounded by shopping we quickly make lunch, unpack and get back on the road.
About 10 minutes away are services but we don't trust sat nav so Alastair asks Lisa to guide him in.   He soon regrets that as we realise we are driving the wrong way down a one way street, Alastair is brilliantly calm and we survive.
We find the services and there is space for MH parking but we have seen The Wire and we don't fancy spending the night in the projects.
We get back on the motorway and sat nav let's us down again, just not keeping up with the exits, we retrace our steps and eventually find ourselves making for our overnight stop.
We stop at the first car park but decide to head further along the valley to the next one.
Finally we can get out and walkabout.   We have come to Senda Del Oso where through protection from hunting the brown bear population has increased from 70 to about 200.
We walk along the path to find an information board and as we are translating it on our phone that rain that Alastair was requesting finally arrives, we scurry back.
Posada de Valdeon to SaberoWednesday  1 11
We wake to a slightly cloudy morning.    The only other MH, being British they have been even more antisocial than us and so we haven't spoken a word, heads off early.
In a last attempt to see around our mountain range Alastair wants to drive a little track towards Cain but first we have to pay for last night.
We wait until 10:30am, noone arrives.   The information board states that we can also pay at the town hall or the Bar de Picos.    There are only about 10 buildings in the village.  We check the map and imagine the town hall is the one with flags flying from it.  We walk around the building but we can see  no way in.  So we try the bar, sadly we have no Spanish, the guy has no English, we try to explain and he directs us to a town up the road.  We wander back to Hamish.
We decide  to try the drive and come back in the hope the guy has arrived.
As we expected it's and windy, narrow mountain road and when we realise that it is not going to take us to where we had hoped we head back.      By now its 11am and there is still noone to collect our money.  
The pony comes over to see Lisa and she strokes his face,  he just seems so lonely.   One of the ginger cats who sits watching the field all day has caught a mouse.
We rethink,  we are not sure of the point of staying here another night and we both feel the need to get back on the road.    We get showers, Lisa can use her hairdryer for the first time this trip while Alastair edits the blog, Lisa writes the words, he puts in places and checks it over.    It can be time consuming but without we wouldn't have a clue what we have done.
By now its almost 12 and we still haven't paid, we have tried.   We didn't use any electricity the first night so effectively we have paid for the 24 hours we have used but we feel uncomfortable about it, we are not out to rob anyone but we need to go and we figure if they had wanted the money they would have collected it.    
The good news is that as long as we have no big expenses in the next 2 days we will come in around €90 in credit this week.    Our return ferry at the end of the month is from Bilboa and with the galleries we want to visit,  the cost of the aire we will need all of that to stay in budget.
We head off watched by the lonely pony.    As we head out of the village we reflect that despite it being our most beautiful spot the village felt, well, sad.   We can imagine it bustles for 2 months of the year but then for most of the time the villagers who remain behind live a pretty isolated existence.
The road out is much easier than the road in.   Already felling less closed in we stop at a picnic spot for lunch before carrying on.       A bird of prey fly past us, possibly an Osprey.
Our planned overnight spot is at at lake surrounded by mountains.    However as we get closer to the lake or reservoir we realise it doesn't exist, global warming?     In the earth banks surrounding the lake you can see where the water has been but now there is hardly any.
We stop on the banks of the no lake near a practically closed town.   Companies advertise trips into the Spanish fjords, well that is their business gone aswell.     It's only 2pm and not much to see hear so we press on.
This part of the Camino to Compestella is along the roadside and seems boring and dangerous.   We don't see any pilgrims, if we were them we would get a taxi for this section.    We later read that most of them get the bus.
We find ourselves on the banks of a river which feels a much nicer spot to spend a night.    We go for for a walk and see pond dippers but we are surrounded by hoards of flies.      On the other side of the road the blackened remains of trees suggest although fire has spread through here.    Together with today's missing lake it's a worrying sign.
For tea Lisa experiments by using the griddle to cook a slice of bread smothered in garlic and olive oil.   It was a success, another thing to our repetoire and saves Alastair having to get the fish griddle out.    
It's been a strange day but I guess they can't all be awesome.
Posada de Valdeon in the Picos de Europa, Tuesday 31 10
We wake to our first proper cold morning, we can see our breathe and for the first time in a year we put the heating on.
As the sun begins to rise we admire the beautiful peaks glowing orange.
The signpost informs us someone will arrive at 10am to collect our money so we aren't in a rush.   We are also keeping our fingers crossed that one of the other mh's will move on so we can have some leccy.
The Dutch van that arrived just before us yesterday heads off so we relocate and plug in, our first electricity this trip.   Alastair puts his toothbrush and laptop on charge.
The guy comes at 10:30am to collect the money so we can head off.
We want to try to get a view of the mountains beyond those we can see.    We set off up track 11.   It's a steep climb through woodland, Jays fly around us and Alastair spots a goldcrest, we also saw a pair of treecreepers.    After an hour we were still in the trees without a view and without the path without as heading down so without ease gave up and retraced our steps.
About a third of the way up a cairn signposted a route to a viewing  pint so we headed for that.    A wooden platform with a huge cross had been erected and was basically our view but a few hundred feet up so we could see across the town.
We walked back to Hamish for lunch.   After lunch without ease took track number 3, a valley walk.
It took us through the village.    Big rufty, tufty dogs given the responsibility of looking after the sheep barked at us.    Each house had aft small wooden shed on stilts, we imagine these were huts to live in when the snows come, now redundant with modern houses and decorated with tools, stuffed animals etc.
It was a pretty valley walk past the next village but after an hour again it headed down and was not going to allow us to 'see around the corner'.    We headed back.
In the field surrounding the aire a white pony spent his days with little company.   Lisa went to say hello, his eyes were coated in flies and he kept scratching but he seemed content with some company.
Tonight with electricity we had the heating on, oh the luxury.     We were going to treat ourselves to a film on the laptop but after our 19,000 steps we had had it.
Lebena to Posada de Valdeon in the Picos de Europa. Monday 30 10
It's  a slightly cloudy morning but such a stunningly beautiful view in our little spot above the church and under the grey spiky mountains.
As we set off we see a red squirrel with a black bushy tail and a pair of black kites fly above us.
We need a couple of supplies so Alastair has read that in Potes we can park and get to a supermarket.    Well there is a car park with about 4 rows of parking but it's  tight and diagonal metal crosses in front of some of the spaces don't help.   Alastair nearly pulls into a space but then we realise there isn't enough room to reverse out and get between the metal and other cars.
Back near the  entrance there is a double space, we pull in and fill it And we can drive straight out.
Potes is a tiny town: all cobbled streets, funny wee bridges, stone towers, dark wood, little balconies and very touristy.     Lisa has something in her eye so she can't see much as her eyes are streaming.
We get bread and walk a circuit of the town dipping into the occasional tourist shop to see the local produce. Here it is a local spirit called orujo. Local cheese seems to be from goats but costs about €8, no bargains here.  So far Spanish cheese is a big disappointment.  We decide to drop our bread off at Hamish before nipping to the supermarket.  
A couple are trying to wedge their car in next to Hamish; when they see us approach the woman asks if we are leaving.   We say we are not.  She starts shouting and waving her arms insisting we go back in our parking space.  0bviously all of this is in Spanish and in English, the makings of a farce. We explain that we can't go back and helpfully point out to her several other proper parking places her husband could park instead of trying to park in half of ours..   All the while she is shouting she is opening and closing her door and banging her wing mirror into Hamish.   Lisa grabs her wing mirror shouting : "OI' and asking her to stop.    Alastair gets fed up.   This is SO unnecessary.  We cannot move.  They don't have to park in this particular spot. We walk off.
The Spanish people we have met have been on the whole completely lovely but there have now been 4 who have shown no empathy or understanding of our situation and instead have gone out of their way to be obnoxious.  This is the only county we have experienced this shouty behaviour in.
We retreat to the supermarket, where the staff are lovely, get the few things we need and and walk back to Hamish dreading what we will find.   Obnoxious woman has gone.  Instead a 4×4 has parked diagonally towards the front of Hamish leaving about 3 inches for us to get out.  Marvellous!
We chuck our shopping in the back.  Manoeuvre our way out of the car park.  Thank goodness we hadn't moved or we would now be blocked in.  We head off.    The first decent layby we come too we pull over and have a coffee to recover from our experience.
Our journey soon becomes so interesting we forget about our morning.  Hamish is soon climbing several thousand feet.  As we climb it's raining and becomes foggy.    The roads are good but as always it is the drop that absolutely terrifies Alastair.
Thankfully we are driving slowly because out of the fog we can make out shapes in the road: a herd of cattle.   We wait and slowly creep past them.   Further and long the road there is another herd in the road.  We count 2 bulls amongst them and this lot is more reluctant to shift.   A car pulls up behind us and a Spanish woman gets out clapping her hands and moving them off.  She gives us a modest shrug; brave woman!!!!
We find a little parking space indicating walking routes and pull in for lunch.  The rain sweeps across the mountain behind us and the temperature has dropped by several degrees.    
Then we are driving down the other side of the mountain and leave the main road to drive along a valley beside a stream.    Eventually we arrive at our aire.   We are surrounded be stunning views of the Picos and as we pull up as bird of prey plays in front of Hamish.  Our kind of place.
As we are in the National Park of Europe de Picos all overnight parking is banned and we have to pay to stay here €10 a night but we have no complaints.
There is electricity for 4 mh's but 2 are are ready plugged in, we don't want to crowd them so opt for no leccy.    We are not allowed to get our chairs out, hang washing or a variety of things that looks like camping.  This seems to be the rule in spain.
We get showers, change our bedding and as darkness falls we snuggle  under a blanket expecting a chilly night.
Santallina to Lebana Sunday 29 10
We are woken by the bull in the next field 'servicing' a number of cows.  Charming! !!
It takes us a while to get going this morning, Alastair has to nip back into town to get some cash and after consulting google maps eventually finds the cash machine behind some bars in the wall.
Once we get going we need to find services.  There are some just off the motorway and after being taken on a back road route by sat nav we find them just on the main road; keeping us on our toes!
A Spanish lorry driver is using the water to clean his cab.  Finished, he unplugs the hose but leaves his lorry there, engine running.  We wait.  He walks across the car park to a car he also has there.  We wait.   Then he walks towards the hotel next door.  We pull Hamish forward squeezing down the side of his lorry, get water and empty the loo then turn around and empty our grey water using clean water to hose it down.
The lorry driver reappears, makes a very cursory impression of waving his duster over the cab then begins to reverse but we are gone. Just so unhelpful.
We are soon heading into the region of the Picos De Europa, the road immediately narrows, becomes windy and huge overhangs of cliff reduce traffic to one lane at times.    A car coming the other way stops in the road, puts their hazards on and a woman pukes onto the road.   Great.  That fills us with confidence.
After about an hour we find ourselves on a car park and Spaniards with Jose The Hymer tells us to go up to the next level.   We park on a car park, with a toilet, overlooking a 10th century church and surrounded by the most extrordinarily  beautiful mountain peaks.
We eat some lunch enjoying our spectacular view then wander to the church, the Iglesias de Santa Maria de Leben.  It's locked but has beautiful ornate carving representing it's  Arabic style.
It's a beautiful sunny day so we get changed into our shorts and head for a walk.   This site is on one of the Caminoes  or routes to Compestella de Santiago and miracle of miracles it has solar powered, walker's wifi.   We set things to catch up while we are out.
We set off and walk an hour up the track with pilgrims heading the other way towards the Monastery.  The views are spectacular.   After an hour we head back.
During the evening tourists disappear.  Someone comes to do something inside the monastery and it's lights look beautiful in the falling dusk.  
Eventually it is just us and another MH that is empty, are they lost in the mountains?   Well past dark a car arrives with the missing motorhomers who then head off.    We are alone.    The clocks went back last night but we are struggling to stay awake past 8 pm.   We snuggle down and have a brilliant night's sleep.
Lierganes to Santillana del Mar Saturday 28 10
Overnight we have been joined in the car park by the tracks by 6 other MH's.  Unlike the French the Spanish seem to be content parking in their own spot, not snuggled up to us.
We are first off negotiating our way around the mound of bricks and performing a 10 point turn to get back out again.    
We stop en route to pick up petrol and bread and arrive at the Caves of Altimira around 11.
After buying our tickets, €3 each, we are ushered into a room and shown a film.   The film depicts the people who made the Cave art, the Victorian who rediscovered it and during the 60's and 70's the thousands of tourists who visited and nearly destroyed it.
All of which explains why we are now seeing a 'neocave', a remake.    We had read the reviews that said you forget you are not in the real thing, well we think they were being very generous.     It feels like plastic, not rock and as Alastair pointed out 'its not even cold'.     We both reflected that the rock art we saw in Sweden was far more impressive; well it was real for a start.
If you suspend your disbelief for a while the paintings are incredible and it is amazing the colour lasted so long.   As you exit the Cave there is an exhibition.
As we leave the main building we follow the path to the right to get a sense of where the real cave is.    We spott the entrance, now heavily barred, but at least we saw it.   Apparently, in a recent experiment, on Friday mornings 5 people are picked at random to see the real caves. But it is not Friday .
Back in Hamish we get lunch and update our budget which Alastair meticulously keeps on an EXcel spreadsheet, he loves EXcel.   Alastair keeps alcohol in a separate column.  Lisa is never sure if that is to shame us or to enter into the Guiness book of world records.   Anyway as we are entering yesterday's wine purchases we notice an anomaly.   Somehow yesterday,  despite telling that lovely man that our budget was €5, we have managed to spend €33 on only 2 bottles of wine, WTF!!    The good news is that we got €11 of the price, whoops.    We have absolutely no idea how we managed that.   Alastair looks the wine up, it is a Gran Reserva and the last time the grapes were good enough for a Gran Riserva was 2011; the year we have bought.  Well it had better Excellent!
We move about 10 minutes down the road to Santillano Del Mar and park in a huge empty car park a few minutes from town.   The town is a beautiful collection of stone mediaeval buildings; all very picturesque. Lots of Tourists; even Americans.
We spend a couple of hours wandering and sitting watching the world go by before returning to Hamish.  The huge car park is still empty apart from one other MH parked right behind us; French!!!
We have a lovely evening toasting celebrations back in the UK.
Bizkaia to Lierganes Friday 27 10
Today is shopping day as our cupboards are looking decidedly bare.    We assume that around Bilboa we will find a large supermarket so we choose one, put the address in sat nav and head off.
The motorways into Bilboa were busy and confusing.  As we get into town we spot the supermarket and the multistorey car park attached to it; oops.   We try to find somewhere to park to rethink.  Roundabouts have pedestrian crossings so you can go around a quarter of the roundabout before stopping.  Go another quarter, More people walk across.  Obviously it involves More hill starts.  Eventually we spot a parking space big enough for Hamish and pull in so Alastair can breathe again.
Space in Northern Spain is squeezed between the mountains and the sea so is at a premium. Most people live in flats with insufficient car parking and clearly there are not enough parking spaces for supermarket shopping.
We use Google to find a supermarket that claims to have parking.  We set off again.
As we get near to the supermarket we find ourselves on Spain 's equivalent to spaghetti junction, miss our exit and have to go round it again.    This time we get the right exit and spot a commercial centre with a supermarket however there is just one row of parking; which is full.   We realise the cars infront of us have stopped so we pull up to assess the situation and realise that we are essentially parked on one lane of a dual carriageway.   We hold our breathe, no one hits us, the cars in front are definitely parked and empty, another car parks behind us. Result of a kind.
We cross the dual carriageway, find an entrance to a huge shopping mall.   But no supermarket?  We consult a map.  Eventually Lisa works out where the Eroski hypermarket is.
Our first experience of a huge Spanish supermarket and it's great.  It takes longer as we have to consult google translate but thats fine.    Food sorted we start to contemplate wine.   A wine buyer is stock checking and asks if he can help, how completely lovely.   We explain our budget and how we want to learn about Spanish wine.  He asks what we like then points out several possibilities.  Alastair takes photos so we can retain his recommendations for future use.
We wheel our trolley back to the dual carriageway, play Frogger carrying our bags across the dual carriageway and dive into Hamish.  Mission accomplished.
By now its nearly 2pm and we are knackered.   We put the nearest parking spot in sat nav and set off.   As we leave the dual carriageway sat nav instructs us to go straight over.  There is no straight over.    We are soon back on spaghetti junction having to go round again!     Lisa starts to titter.    The guy in front of us needs to cross 3 lanes of traffic, tricky but not impossible but he waits and he waits and he waits.   Good job we have food cos Alastair jokes we are going to be here for the next 3 years.
Eventually all of the lanes of oncoming traffic, seeing the build up of traffic behind us, stop to let him go and we are off.  Well back on the same road.
15 minutes later we get to the parking spot, there are height restriction barriers aaaagggghhhhh.    We have to drive past and are nearly back on the motorway.  Third time round spaghetti junction?  Alastair performs a highly illegal u turn and we find some wasteland next to a lorry to collapse and have a very late lunch.
Feeling slightly better we set off again for Liegerenes.    The aire is next to the railway station car park and a huge pile of gravel has been dumped on it.  Really not our day. We can still access the Services however and we park up in the car park and go for a walk.
The Tourist Office has a helpful woman who gives us a map pointing out the highlights.  There is a pretty bridge in the old part of town with an old Mill house and some information boards, all in Spanish.   We glean enough to look up the legend on Google.  The Fish Man of Liegerenes who is set free once and year which we think is tonight.
We wander past other, beautiful old buildings then in a tiny shop window Alastair spots an article about a local brewery, well you have to support them.   So we bought 2 of DouGlas's beers, an otter beer celebrating otter barley.   
We drop in at Hamish to prepare tea then head back out to see if the celebrations have started as we saw a poster saying 6:30.      There is a gathering of about 50 kids in Halloween costumes but otherwise nothing.
We go home and enjoy a lovely tea which almost makes our supermarket travails worthwhile.    As we eat we listen to the radio, it's all hotting up regarding Catalan and the attempts to become independent from Spain.   Having driven through Basque territory we saw the Catalan and Basque flags flying everywhere together, here in Cantabria we still see the Catalan flag; all very exciting.
Deba to Bizkaia Thursday 26 10
We wake to a quieter morning and no damage has been done to our bikes.    It's lovely to lie in bed listening to the sound of the waves.      
We walk into town to get some essential supplies, San Miguel and a couple of things for tea.
We've had a full on couple of days so are planning not to do too much today although we have decided to move on from here, it's all too much.   
Alastair goes to have a look at the sea and gets involved in a Bay Watch incident.   A surfer has got a head injury as his surf board smacked into his head. Another surfer has a first aid kit and removes the blood and patches him up.
We head off and are soon back on windy coastal roads with huge cliff drops which make Alastair sweat.   Then randomly people appear walking along the road, hardly big enough for a car so 60 year old men ambling along doesn’t help.
Although we haven't planned to travel far it takes us nearly 2 hours.   As we approach our overnight spot the road opens up into a valley between mountains. Our planned overnight spot is a large parking area with services with views of the mountains.
We get our washing out, crack open a San Miguel and sit to enjoy the sun.    Alastair jumped up and grabbed the binoculars as a family of 3 Gryphon Vultures flew very  closely over us.  
Around  4 pm as the sun cooled we went exploring.   Just around the corner from us is a huge building which it transpires is an International Bird Centre.     Unfortunately they are only open for 3 hours over lunch so we can't access the huge tower that looks like a bird hide.   We walk down the side of the building and find a bird hide that is open.    We spot a spoonbill, a purple heron, several egrets and twice a marsh harrier did a fly past causing absolute panic.
Back at Hamish we get a variety of jobs done in a chilled way.
Listoretta to san Sebastian to Deba Wednesday  25 10
We wake to more gunfire, it's amazing there is any wildlife left around here.    As the sun appears it is going to be another beautiful day so we make the most of it by putting some washing in.
We leave the aire and get on the road to San Sebastian.    We have ummed and aaahhed about this as has been noted here before cities aren't great for us but a couple of things we have read have made us feel it's worth a visit.
The roads are vastly different to France,  good condition but busier, faster, more windy turns.  Sat nav is struggling to keep up.    Consequently we miss the turning to our car park; resulting in: having to find a roundabout, driving past an incredibly busy hospital with cars parked tightly together, avoiding people appearing on zebra crossings forcing us to brake and negotiating steep windy roads.   At the second attempt we make it and find ourselves in a huge car park just above an arena.    The reviews for the aire here put us off.
Alastair is slightly stressed by: the journey, the daunting task of getting into San Sebastian,  the thought of cycling in a Spanish city and  the thought of the onward journey.  We nearly give up on cycling into the city but, after hanging the washing to dry, we go for it.
We head in the direction of the city and are immediately faced with the task of getting our bikes down about 10 flights of steps.  We bounce down to the bottom.
We cycle around the football stadium and onto the main street sticking to the paths.   We spot a cyclist in what appears to be a cycle track in the middle of the road.   This isn't like the 'cycle tracks' we have seen alongside the road, basically a white line painted around the edge of all main roads where cyclists risk death by being squeezed between cars and hedges.  This is a proper two lane cycle track with special green and red cycle lights at junctions.  Fabalass.    We don't notice that the track veers off and anxious not to get lost we carry on cycling along the pavement.  Lisa receives a telling off in Spanish with much pointing at the cycle track and arm waving.
We are soon sailing into San Sebastian and we are so, so glad we did.  What a city.   We fell in love and this is from people who don't do cities on their travels.
There is a beautiful swimming bay on one side, a surfing beach on the other.    The old town is packed with beautiful architecture, tiny bars with tapas (mainly meat and fish) lined up on the bars, a vinyl shop.   Then there are new modern sections.    We spend a couple of hours wandering, see the locals queuing at a bread shop so join them and eat houmous and bread on a bench on the front.      It is the first time this trip we have wished we had money to stay and drink our way round the bars.
We cycle back finding the cycle track then having the back breaking job of working in pairs to carry our bikes back up the flights of stairs.
We put our next stop into sat nav, it's only 30 km away but it will take us about 75 minutes, we are quickly learning to adjust our expectations of how far we can travel in Spain.
The road hugs the coast and is one of those which require 100% concentration from Alastair.    The road drops down to a little bay and underneath a railway bridge we find our planned car park for the night.   
Deba is a surf hot spot, the car park is tiny and packed, we were so lucky to get a space.    We sit on the little beach and recover from the journey.    It's scorching and people are soaking up the sun.
We go exploring past the port then into town.    All of the shops open until 1pm then again at 5pm.   We hover until the supermarket is open to buy our first Spanish red.
Back at Hamish work has obviously finished and surfers are pouring into the car park, we take a beer and sit watching them until the sun drops and it gets a bit chilly.
It's time for our tea but it all feels a bit hectic in this car park,  difficult to relax into cooking.     Eventually we have to eat.   There is a knock on the door, a passer by points out that the back of Hamish is on the footpath, yes we knew but there is room to walk round, he doesn't give in, eventually Alastair says we will move when we can, that seems to appease him and he wanders off but it leaves a bad taste.
We sleep incredibly soundly  and if any trains went past us last night we knew nothing about it.
Marais d'Orx to Listoretta, Spain.   Tuesday 24 10
Apparently Regan returned last night.  We blame the praying mantis.
We are awake early but lie around waiting for the sunrise.   As soon as it does we head out with the binoculars.   We are treated to a spectacular sunrise across the lake.
We walk back to the first hide spotting a Coypu on the way.    No huge insects block our path.   We are looking for the spoonbill.   We see shoveler,  teal and wigeon but no big white birds.   Gutted we head back.   
While Lisa is getting a shower Alastair nips out again and this time from the first part of the boardwalk he spots one.   He fetches Lisa and together we watch this amazing bird preen her/himself with its magnificent beak while little  ducks circle his long legs.  A magical start to the day.
We leave before 10 and are soon into pretty heavy traffic and roadworks.   Eventually we make it to a free car park about 3km South of the centre of Saint Jean De Luz from where we cycle in.
The striking things about the town is the distinct change in architecture.  The  buildings are more like a bulky Swiss chalet type with chunky wooden balconie.   The language on signs is decidedly basque with random Xs thrown in.    We walk through the old town and onto the harbour front beside a Victorian looking hotel.    It reminds us of a boxy, less elegant  Llandudno and it's incredibly touristy.
At the end of the harbour wall we are blessed to have a bench to ourselves and tuck into houmous, bread and tomatoes overlooking the bay.
It's very beautiful but we reflect on how the bird reserve gives us much more pleasure.
We wander back into town and find an old market building where stallholders are closing up.   The Basque food appears to have more spices, goat and sheep's cheese and huge dry cured hams.
Tourist information is closed until 2pm, another  45 minutes which is when we both admit we have seen enough and we cycle back to Hamish.
By now its 26 degrees and we have a decision to make.   South to an aire in Sare which will cost us €8 but only take 30 minutes or directly West into Spain to a free aire.   The decision took 2 seconds.
Crossing the border happened after about 20 minutes and was a complete anti climax, no signs, nothing but we were driving back up the side of a river in Spain that we had just driven down in France.   We estimate this to be Hamish's tenth country, hooray.
We are soon heading into hilly countryside and after going round in a circle twice we eventually find the little road that leads to our planned overnight stop.    We find that sat nav is useful for most of the journey but on these more tricky routes we have found it more useful for Lisa to follow the route on our tablet using the park 4 a night.    The services are in a little car park surrounded by trees with picnic tables.   A group are using one of the outdoor b b q's.    There are a couple of motor homes, both move on around 5ish.
We settle down to a lovely quiet evening.   The only noise is the sound of gunfire around us.
As darkness falls a guy pulls up in his car and prepares it to sleep in and a mh arrives but we fall asleep to the hooting of an owl.
Gastres to Marais d'Orx Reserve, Monday 23 10
We are up early.   It's our first chilly morning.  We have been lucky with Autumn so far.  The weather may be turning.
We are at the services by 9am but obviously people can't wait so we end up having to wait for all the people who just have to push in now to empty their loo's.
Therefore there is a queue of 3 MHs by the time we pull away.   Alastair is stressed already.    First stop is to a post office, upon sight of the card the post guy jokes that, no we aren't allowed to send anything to the UK.  Alastair initially thinks he is serious.   This could be a long day.
Back the way we came from and we are soon heading south.   We get petrol for €1.21.   Then stop at a supermarket.   Lisa has to make a phone call back to the UK-  another job done.        We only need to get 5 things in the shop and two of them are from the fresh veg section.   We both fail miserably to work out that at this supermarket you need to weigh your own.  It wasn't obvious at all, so we leave with 3 things.
As we drive around a roundabout we are papped, that is the first time that has happened and we have no idea why.   Alastair is driving and and is excellent if we do say so ourselves.   Slightly comfustabalated we miss our exit on the roundabout and as we turn to try to get back on the road we are papped again. Lisa looks round and the guy who papped is waving a hand at us.   Looking in the mirror Alastair realises the garage door is open.  We pull over, nothing has gone.  So noone has robbed us somehow we obviously left it open.   A unique mistake but the biggest relief to Alastair is that people weren't complaining about his driving; they were trying to help.
We drive on and about an hour later we can see mountains in the distance.  Until you spot them and your stomach flips over and they take your breath away you forget how you have missed them.   Suddenly the day is perfect.
We drive across a lake and park in the car park of a nature reserve.    We have lunch in Hamish then head into the reserve with our binoculars.    The sky has cleared and it's a beautiful Autumnal day with British Summer temperatures.
The reserve is set around a lake with boardwalks erected between the lake and a stream.  As we enter we immediately spot: lizards sunning themselves on the handrail, egret, shoveler,  dragonfly and turtles hanging out on semi - submerged logs. Enchanting stuff!
The boardwalk turns left and there is a walk out to a hide in the lake.   As we walk along the corridor with wooden walls about 8ft high we spot a huge insect that is vivid green against the end of the corridor.   It's a praying mantis!
Lisa is now much better about spiders and all sorts of insects but this is a jumping, flying thing.  It's massive and if it panics we are all enclosed in a small space so where will it go??  Straight onto Lisa!   So she refuses to carry on.   To enable us to make it to the hide Alastair stands in the middle of the corridor then Lisa runs past him.   Needs must.
We can't see anything spectacular from the hide so we head back.  The mantis has positioned him/herself in the middle of the pathway, huge forearms ready.  We wait as it moves to one side then perform the same ridiculous move with Alastair acting as a guard and Lisa racing past.
Further along the pathway there are spy holes and through them we watch a family of Coypu, sort of beaver - like brown mammals, chomping on the grassy water weed.   Two  adults and a baby.  Here they are seen as a pest but a cute, exotic species to us.    One swims, one is eating on the bank, her wet coat glistening in the sunshine and the baby shelters in the entrance to their burrow.
Back on the main path we continue round the lake, in the far distance Alastair spots a huge white bird.    We know they have spoonbill here but it's a little far away to confirm a sighting.   There is a bird of prey around, almost buzzard size but blacker.   As Alastair stops for a cheeky wee, we see it emerge from the reeds.   We think its a black kite.
We make it to the large hide but are still only around a third of the way round the lake so we make our way back.  
As we are nearing the car park the sun is shining on a corner of the lake and on the remains of a tree stump.   Two  European pond turtles have clambered out and are sunning themselves allowing us a great view of the yellow spots on their legs.
A gecko is trying to keep ahead of us on the grab rail running faster and faster, eventually we manage to get past him before he has a heart attack.
When we arrived at lunchtime a tiny white van was parked with a guy having lunch on his deckchair listening to the radio.   He is still there when we get back working his way through a bottle of wine; he stays the night.   A converted van also joins us and leaves early.    Otherwise  we are alone and have a peaceful night.
Gastres again, Sunday 22 10
We wake to strong winds and more rain showers.  A busy day today  but as a special treat we use leftover bread from last night for veggie sausage sandwich.
After breakfast we gather the washing and cycle to the laundrette.   Amazingly both machines are free.   While Lisa manages the washing Alastair cycles back to Hamish to give him a wash, jobs we just didnt have time to do at home.
Washing is washed and dried for €17, brilliant.
Both back at Hamish we give him a clean inside including getting the carpets out and sweeping up.  We don't have a hoover so it's a tiny dustpan and brush job.    It's helpful being at an aire where we can spread out and feel comfortable getting carpets out.    
We manage everything before the rain arrives again.   After lunch inside jobs, blog and other administration  jobs we need to sort.   Then we nip to the services to fill up with water so we can get showers ready for our lovely clean bedding and we finish about  5 pm collapsing with a g and t.
We have seen very little of this place since we arrived but it has served a useful purpose.    
We haven't had a parking related incident for a couple of days, here we have got the end spot as usual so we have space to get out of our door and knowing the French need to snuggle we have accidentally on purpose left our bikes on the left flank of Hamish.    This evening we have a new one, a Polish van arrives and tries to squeeze between us and the wooden bollards to our right but then he spots the tree that is just behind us so he parks there.   Diagonally across the back of Hamish so when we look out of our wing mirror there he is.    To be fair he hasn't completely blocked us in so thats OK.    He has 2 other empty fields to park in but why not.
Biganos to GastresSaturday 21 10
After a brilliant nights sleep we wake to the sound of guns...more hunting.    
After breakfast we get water and use the other facilities kindly offer at the port.   As we drive away the Gendarmerie  drive round to check everything is OK, we wave back.
First stop is Dune du Pilat, Europe's largest sand dune, which like the Danish version is gradually moving.    The car park is vast and well organised and as directed we put Hamish amongst the trees.     If we leave within 30 minutes the car park is free.
We walk through the forest and come out at the side of a huge sand dune.   Plastic steps have been erected so we quickly reach the top and walk along the dune.   There are strong winds and we get sandblasted and the occasional rain shower whips past us.
Most people venture no further than the first part of the dunes.  Two people walk a little further.    We look at the virgin sand and decide to be different.    We walk down the ridge and climb further along the vast dune.
Brilliant shapes have been created along the edge of the dune by the strong wind eroding the sand.    We make an ascent along the final arrete where we worringly find a pair and an odd discarded shoe.     As we climb the arrete we see a further peak, typically this isn't the summit.     Then the wind gets up and we can barely see.   We decide that to carry on would be stupid and we retreat.  Defeated by a sandstorm.
Our footsteps have already been obscured by the sand whipping across the dune.     Eventually we reach the area where all of the other people are and we descend across the side of the dune, feet sinking into soft, deep sand.
Obviously we didn't make 30 minutes and it costs us €8 to get out of the car park but it was worth it.
Back in Hamish we take a detour to get bread for tea and lunch before getting back near the coast.
We are in windsurfing country, huge lakes dot the West coast.    We find a spot overlooking a lake and as another heavy shower arrives we eat lunch watching people zip around the lake like wee demented butterflies.
This area of the coast hasn't been as we had imagined.   We thought it would be largely closed and therefore easy to find overnight stops between free aires.   However it is so commercialised that parking is forbidden almost everywhere and we are struggling to find any aires and absolutely no free ones.
We give in and head to an aire that costs €4.50 for 24 hours at the next lake down.
We pay, get a ticket and the huge concrete barrier drops.   We park Hamish with views across the tiny harbour then the lake beyond.    It's chilly and wet outside so we put the hot water on, make a cuppa and get showers to wash the sand off us.
Just before 5pm we get blue skies and we walk around and into the little village where there is a laundrette.   This all seems a little easy.
Back at Hamish we have a house meeting with a beer made in Fort Boyard.   Disappointing.   The beer made with Cognac fares better.
Between here and Spain we can see no free aires, there are 2 at supermarkets which require jeton but have pretty desparate reviews.   Reading our Lonely Planet there are a couple of beautiful villages we would like to visit but one has no parking allowed, the other has the an aire with the worst reviews we have ever read with accompanying photos.   
So we can’t travel on keeping to the coast road and we can't visit anywhere we fancy.    Lisa had wanted to go to San Sebastian but reading the reviews Alastair felt it was a typical city, difficult for us to access and worth going too only if you have money to spend.    
Pouring over our 'park 4 a night' app we find a possible free overnight slightly inland, an acceptable aire at an acceptable price then our next night will be Hamish's first in Spain where we hope everything will get easier.
Plan forged we will spend tomorrow getting jobs done and move on Monday.
A special treat for tea: Alastair gets his fish grill out and we have beans on toast! Simple pleasures.
Blaye to BiganosFriday  20 10
Not a brilliant night sleep, the Gironde ferry was sounding it's fog horn, a school trip arrived for a very early boat ride and a group of blokes going out hunting, with guns and camouflage,  arrived.
Regardless we still didn't manage to get on the road until 9.30am, after getting some washing into the plastic bucket, as this appears to be our last warm day.
We had a house meeting last night and decided that rather than linger in France and visit Bordeaux and Saint-Emillion we wanted more time in Spain so would head towards the Archachon Basin.
A busy drive around Bordeaux, a not very exciting drive.      We get LPG at our second attempt, the first one we gave up on.   We picked out one of the very few service stops in this area but when we arrived the water didn't work.   We aren't desperate, luckily,  but it's always good to top up in case of disaster.
We are driving into major tourist destination and we get the impression that it is very difficult to get free stays anywhere around here.
We arrive at our chosen overnight stop which we imagined, as it is a port, would  be bright and breezy.   Instead the boats are in a small, deep inlet and the  wooden jettys to board them are in various states of rickety decay.   The little port is surrounded by a number of small  charming boat houses painted in a variety of colours, some with juliette balconies.    It's humid, surrounded by trees and feels a bit midgey and closed in, we are also not sure if we can stay.
We park up for lunch and have a chat.   The positives are that this place has water, wifi, a loo, a chemical disposal point for the boats but there are big 'no camper van' signs everywhere.
Alastair is on a mission and reads all of the by laws erected by the port authority.    He translates that restrictions are until the 1st October and as long as we don't get an awning out or appear to be preparing to camp we should be OK.   We decide to risk it especially as this mornings drive was a little harrowing.
Despite the warmth Lisa covers up as much as she can and covers the rest of herself in anti midge stuff and we go for a walk.
Around the port are warnings about high tides and it evidently flooded this morning.    We wander through the mud alongside the stream.    Lisa spots an otter silently slipping off the river bank into the water and gliding downstream out of view.
We end up back where we came from and it takes a couple of attempts to be able to walk out of the port.    This feels more like walking for it's own sake rather than for anything more exciting, the views are just of trees and houses in tiny estates.      A motorbike passes us with a trailer of plastic geese, obviously off hunting.    After achieving 10,000 steps we head back to catch up on the blog and work out tomorrow's stop.   The neighbours  take their parrot for a walk, well, a fly.   They walk along and the parrot is encouraged to fly between their shoulders.
As we prepare tea a crowd begins to gather in the car park next to us and a woman appears on the green next to us with a black pony on a training lead.   She starts playing music and encourages the pony to perform a variety of tricks, playing dead, rearing up, bowing.   After each trick she bites off a piece of carrot for him as a reward.   
Eventually the routine is completed, the crowd applaud then everyone quietly disperses and we are alone again.
As darkness falls Alastair goes out to have a look about and comes back very excited.    The tide has risen to the point that the water is over the port and lapping up towards the boat houses, very exciting.
La Douhet to Blaye, Thursday  19 10.
We have showers and put some washing in and are off the hill before anyone arrives, it's a cloudy start to the day but sunshine is predicted later.   We are feeling very smug: our third night alcohol free.
Today is our favourite activity of the week:  supermarket shopping and buying alcohol.   After our experience last month that everyone in France seems to do their shopping on Friday we have moved our day to Thursday. 
Autumn has bought brilliant displays of squash and pumpkin  to the veg section, it's a joy.   We find the 'English' section: Yorkshire tea, baked beans  and Jacobs crackers.   We resist.   As always we spend an age exploring and bravely try out some new varieties of canned veg.
Eventually we force ourselves out of there and struggle to find a space for everything in H.
The services we aim for are directly outside a campsite and unusually for this time of year it is open although we are not blocking the entrance which is further on.   Communication, usually a strength of ours, let's us down on this occasion and sorting out services leads to our first disagreement.
What doesn’t help is that Lisa spots the electricity in Hamish has stopped working.   This happened to us back in March a couple of times when we were trying to stay in a car park in Wales.   We eventually discovered that when the passenger seat chair was moved it intermittently knocked the fuse and cut the leccy.   This was a huge problem as it was below freezing so everytime the electricity went the electro magnet that holds the water in stopped working and we lost all of our water.   Twice we had to go to petrol stations, pay a quid to get a measly bit of water only to return to the car park and for it to happen again.  It hadn't happened again until now.
Not as big a deal in warmer weather but it means we have no fridge, no water, no lighting, nothing.   As we said this is an intermittent problem so Lisa pointed it out and of course when Alastair tried the electricity it worked perfectly leading him to helpfully suggest to Lisa that she must have turned it off and just needed to turn it back on.
We restored relations on our way to Blaye and when we arrived at the car park which cost €3 for 24 hours we got a great spot overlooking the Gironde estuary.
While Alastair hung the washing out Lisa threw together a salad for lunch.
We were very intrigued by a French couple who pulled up in their car at the waters edge, unfolding their picnic table, got out a bottle of wine, a bottle of some kind of aperitif and proceeded to prepare their oysters.    After starters we couldn't work out main course so we got the binoculars out and Alastair enviously watched them each tuck into a whole crab.   He later went over and congratulated them on their meal.
We reflected that it was odd that carrying a breathlyser in France was mandatory as most people must be pissed.
After enjoying everyone's lunch we went to look around the Citadel, a world UNESCO heritage site.
The fort is an amazing construction on the edge of the Gironde. FREE. 
Back at Hamish Bill and his dog Blue come over for a chat.   Bill lives in his van permanently and rents his whole house out, back in the UK.  There are 3 British vans on this car park the first we have seen.   At least two of them we know are heading to Portugal.
As Bill takes Blue for her walk the wind picks up and the sun disappears and it suddenly gets chilly so we retreat into Hamish.    The electricity has gone off again and this time Alastair sees it as well, a quick repair on the fuse and we are sorted.
We notice a car has pulled up where our lunchtime couple were sat however this young couple have a different activity in mind.   They have sex against the car, it's light and not even 6pm.   We think we have be dogged.
Eventually they move on and we reclaim our view.   As darkness falls an owl sits on the wooden post in front of us before flying off- a precious visit.
Alcohol tonight, we are not Saints.
Welcome to Bronte, a new baby Jandrell,   who arrived today.
Moulin de Jonzac to Le Douhet. Wednesday 18 10
We wake to rain, a light shower.
After showers we try again to find the aqueduct, this time with Hamish   We are successful although it would have taken us another hour to find last night so we made the right decision.
We walk down a steep grassy bank into a tunnel hewn out of the rock by Romans with a fair chunk of original aqueduct surviving.    It's sympathetically lit although our torch proves useful walking across the rock.    Well worth finding.
Mission accomplished we move on.    We find a village with a newly built supermarket complete with petrol station that accepts our credit card.    We pick up a couple of things from the supermarket then move on to find the services further up the main road.   Water is easy to sort but we can’t spot a loo facility so look up another aire en route  to our next stop.   We are surrounded by vines as we drive.
The next aire is in a car park in another little village, well maintained and easy to use.   Sorted we carry onto  Cognac.
We head towards free parking but the mh spaces are full so we back H into a parking spot, a distinct advantage of having a shorter mh.
As its still before 1pm we decide to wander up to tourist information first and walk across the bridge into Cognac.   We later realise that we are parked on an island, very built up but an island.      We glance at a restaurant  menu and are amazed to spot a vegan meal on the menu, that's a first in France.   Curry homemade and out of Hamish's freezer is our tea tonight.
As we cross the bridge there is a huge industrial building with a neon Hennessey sign and a Hennessey flag billowing from the roof, multinationals are us.
To be fair Cognac is a pretty town that retains some mediaeval  buildings and lots of independent shops so doesn’t appear to have been completely taken over.  
The woman in tourist information is solely interested in getting us booked on a tour of one of the distilleries.   As the cheapest tour is €11 per person we choose not to sign up although we forgive her as we imagine that is why most people come here.   
We ask what else there is to see and she suggests a walk through the old town which we think we have already done, we thank her and head back through the old town.
At a little shop we treat ourselves to a bottle of beer with Cognac, expensive at €5 but cheaper than a tour.
Back at Hamish we decide we have seen enough of cognac, Alastair observes that we can't afford  to get too intimate with another alcoholic beverage as we spend enough on wine, whisky and beer.
We enjoy lunch in the car park then get back on the road.
We identify a spot on park 4 a Night in a place called Jonzac which is convenient for our next journey. 
Hamish parks infront of a working windmill, we are on a hill with views across the valley to our left.     There is a young guide at the windmill but it costs €5 per person to employ his services so we decline the offer.
Unsurprisingly a mh pulls up and parks right next to us however we are relieved when he drives off after viewing the windmill and we have the hill to ourselves.
We have jobs to do so we sit in Hamish and prepare the blog for publishing, send a few emails and work until early evening.
As darkness begins to fall Lisa spots lightening to the right hand side of us.  We sit in Hamish listening to our audio story, watching black clouds gather in the valley to our left and lightening fork across the sky to our right.   Neither move very far and we remain dry.
Isle d' Oleron via Sainte to La Douhet. Tuesday 17 10
We were in bed and asleep by 9pm last night so by 6am we are ready to face the day and today we move on.
We wash our sarongs and other beach paraphernalia, we won't be needing  those again for a while.
Alastair sponges the sand, saltwater and tip deposits off H's windscreen and we are good to go.
First stop are free services en route.     We empty the loo and fill up with water saving ourselves €4.50 in the process.
We need petrol and pull into a supermarket petrol station but there is no attendant in the booth, our credit card is usually rejected by the D.I.Y. machines and the exit barrier is down. We are forced into reversing out of the tight spot without petrol.        Meanwhile a French guy in a car is getting petrol then looking for an attendant.      According to Alastair he is one of those arrogant old people who thinks everything should be open for him because he wants petrol now even though the supermarket isn't open.   Poor chap!  Clearly not a happy morning for one of us.
We carry on to Sainte.  It's a slight culture shock driving through a city but we soon turn off and find a little carpark next to the river.  The carpark is attached to a campsite which is now closed for the season so it seems a quiet spot to stay for the night.
We cycle into town, over the river and to tourist information which is situated directly behind the double arch Roman gates to the city.   We get a Map and identify points of interest both here and slightly North of the town.
Just behind T Info is a pile, literally, of various Roman remains.  We walk across the river at a lower bridge and lock up our bikes next to St. Pierres Cathedral.   As we walk in someone is having a lesson on the organ and we enjoy the cathedral with beautiful music.
Leaving the bikes we walk through the old town picking up a baguette that has a lethal point at one end.
We follow a route that affords us views across the town, around a construction site and into a valley . Here are the pretty impressive Roman amphitheatre.    We hadn't been told there was an entrance fee of €4 and it was closed for lunch.     Thankfully the site is surrounded by a metal mesh fence that means we can peer through the gaps to see the remains.
Our circular walk then takes us to the top of town to St. Eutopius' Cathedral.   We found a bench outside and ate our baguette with houmous and cheese for A.
The church and crypt were built as a stopping point for pilgrims walking to Santiago di Compostella.
The beautifully arched crypt held at its centre the remains of the Saint.    A quick look in the Cathedral which disappointingly hadn't organised an organ recital for us and we move on.
Back in town we collect our bikes and cycle back to H. who has company, a French MH has parked next to him.
After a quick house meeting we decide that as its only 2:30pm will head out of town to find the remains of the Roman aqueducts and hopefully find an overnight spot to ourselves.
Ten minutes N.E. to Venerand.  We park in a little car park and possible howff and waIk down the track.
The Roman aqueduct was used to run water into a medieval French washing square and later a mill was constructed above it.    The door to the mill is open and from the wooden floor you look down onto the remains, impressive, free and who comes here?    We scan the visitors book and apart from a family from Portsmouth we are the only Brits in the book.
We decide to more onto the next aqueduct and possible overnight and drive another 10 minutes to Le Douhet.   We park up opposite the Chateaux and walk to try to find the aqueduct heading in the direction of a sign Alastair spotted .
It's turned into the hottest day we have had for a week and temperatures of 24 degrees aren't great for walking beside a road when you aren't sure if you are in the right place.     We give up and turn back Lisa trying and failing to find it in the other direction while Alastair calls his daughter.
We decide to give up the hunt for today and pull Hamish off the road onto a grassy area surrounded by trees. Very isolated.
As we sit in our chairs reflecting on the day a motor home appears. It trundles off the road, drives around the side of Hamish and parks just in front of us.   We give in.
Lisa realises somehow she is getting bitten by some type of French Midge, she has 5 huge red welts that have appeared.    We are gutted and confused.    Knowing how much Mossies love Lisa we have made special efforts to make sure there are none in H and we go inside well before dusk so how are they getting her?   
Fortunately Lisa has some magic cream and some tablets from the G.P. that we hope will prevent them spreading too far.  More drugs!   Before the age of 45 Lisa was very healthy, since then  it's all been downhill and she's been diagnosed with things she has never ever heard of, largely thyroid related. Her drugs take up an entire shelf in H.'s cupboard.
For the second night in a row we have no alcohol.    For most people that wouldn't be on achievement, for us it's two more than we managed for four weeks in Normandy.
We know it's going to be a night of Lisa waking up every 4 hours to reapply anti itch cream.
Staying on Isle d'Oleron. Monday 16 10
There are jobs to be done this morning as we have been on the road for a week; such as bed changing.
It's very late morning when we get to the Coop supermarket and horror of horrors they have sold out of bread!    Today is the only day the market is closed so you might imagine they would make a killing.  Non.    About a dozen people came in and were horrified to find there were no baguettes left.   There is a boulangerie on the square but guess what?  It chooses to close on what could surely be its best day.  Only in France!
We buy a bottle of the famous local Pineau design Charantes.  It is a popular aperitif made with cognac and grape juice and typically bottled at around 17%.   Back at H. for lunch we decide that we are ready to move on tomorrow.  We have regained some energy, got control of our budget (we have €90 which should be plenty for petrol and other expenses for the week) and we have healed our backs from sitting down too long.
A storm is hitting the UK and the winds have increased here so we decide to head to our favourite Atlantic beach for one last time.
The sun is eerie, pink and obscured by, well something wierd.    We bravely spend a couple of hours gritting our teeth against the chill of the wind while Alastair makes art sculptures on the beach from feathers, sticks and stones. It keeps him amused.
The pink sky and obscured sun turns out to be sand from the Sahara dragged up by hurricane Ophelia. Luckily she drifts far north of here to cause havoc in Ireland .
Staying on Isle d'Oleron.   Sunday 15 10
Amazing, no histrionics from Lisa.  The tip doesn’t open until later and we both slept for 12 hours.      We are beginning to replenish our inner resources and, recognising the importance of this, neither of us even mentions moving on. 
We have learnt that whilst at home we work so hard to get all the jobs done to enable us to get away, that we are knackered by the time we get going.  So taking a bit of space enables us to get back into the rhythm of Travel and enjoy it without getting rather short and irritable.
It's a slighty cloudier day but still warm so we take the opportunity to do a second lot of clothes washing. We do this in a large plastic box with a watertight lid purchased specifically for this job.  Usually we leave the clothes with hot water and a wee bit of detergent in the garage whilst driving for the morning to a new place.  The lid ensures that whilst the water cools a slight vacuum is created, drawing the dirt from the clothes. Then rinsing is all that is required. Genius! Unfortunately we are not moving so lots of elbow grease is required.
Alastair cycles to the market for yet another variety of bread, this one has forked tongue.
It's lunch before we get going.   The plan is to cycle South but we soon discover we have cycled in a circle and are back at our village. We try again.   The land is cut into trenches filled with water, we aren't sure if these are the salt pans the island is famous for or built to reclaim the land.
We find a pretty little harbour with views across to Fort Boyard and sit watching yachts come and go.   
Back at H parking proves entertaining again.    A small French van arrives and parks between us and our neighbour.     As its not the height of Summer the custom is to park in alternate bays thus giving each other space.    This little van obviously wants to maximise the space out of his front door so he parks practically on top of our neighbours doormat.       The lack of awareness of some people or maybe their complete selfishness is something else.
We watch people wander past and double take at the parking.     The goat is taken for a walk again.  As is a cat.
While  preparing tea our home town makes the Radio 4 news headlines, with a boxing match that is replicated outside across the town. Our local pub is closed for forensics.
Staying on Isle d'Oleron.  Saturday 14 10
Thankfully a peaceful night.  Another beautiful day but this time with a wind.   
We decide to try the beach nearest to us looking onto a pretty, sandy  bay.    Someone has kindly shaped an aIcove into the sand and we snuggle down into it.
We last about 20 minutes.  It's freezing.    We don't want to go back to H. yet.  We haven't even had our picnic lunch.   So we cycle slightly further along and find a little bay with rocks acting as a windbreak.    We scramble down and find it much more comfortable.    We eat lunch and spend a couple of hours reading .
Then a couple of people dare to encroach on our beach.  So we pack up and return to H.
We use our jetton to access the Services machine .  We fill our water tank and two drinking water containers to bursting with water.  This will allow us a bit more time before we need to find free water or buy another jetton , which is expensive here at €4.50.  Another relaxed evening and for the first time we have enough brain energy to begin writing our blog.
We bought 2 new white wines back at the supermarket.     Alastair's choice was €2 more expensive than Lisa's but it's Lisa's that is going home with us; as we are sticking to last months strategic aIchol purchasing of two bottles exactly the same.  If we like it one goes home with us.  It was the Semillon Sauvignon mix from Blaye that was our favourite.
Staying on Isle d'Oleron.  Friday 13 10
We are woken at 6:10am by the first lorry of the day depositing its load next door in the recycling centre however that isn't the only reason we look jaded.        Lisa vaguely recalls she had one of her ' episodes' in the night and warily checks with Alastair.   
It appears she had 4 episodes; all shortly after she fell asleep.    During one she pulled the quilt off us both; during another she declared that she had come from beneath the floorboards !? and had an episode of giving Alastair the 'evil eye' demanding to know who he was.   Lisa it seems has turned into Regan from The Exorcist and Alastair is finding it bloody scary and exhausting because everytime he begins to doze off he is wide awake again dealing with Lisa.
Lisa looks it upon the 't' internet.      It seems she has 'night terrors' which precisely describe what we are both experiencing.    Apparently its more common in children and possibly caused by her overactive thyroid, another thing to add to the list.     It usually settles down after a few days so fingers crossed.
It's a beautiful day outside so we get some washing done before heading out.
We cycle via the market to pick up a baguette then head to the Atlantic Coast.
We find a beautiful beach with the waves crashing against the shore, in the distance there is a guy fishing, the other direction there may be one person.
Having left his trunks behind Alastair strips off.   Lisa quickly gets changed and we head into the sea.  The current is powerful so we don't go far but it is SO lovely to be in the sea.   Later we work out its been 3 years since we did this.   Far too long.
We dry out and enjoy the sun for as long as Alastair can cope before being bored stiff then we grab our bikes and head to the most Northerly part of the island, the lighthouse, before cycling home.
As we get back our neighbours ask if we are leaving, charming.  During the evening they form a breakaway group of about a half a dozen MHs around the corner; obviously friends.  
We sit outside Hamish watching a woman walk her dog and her goat with the smash, bang, crash of the tip ringing in our ears and reflect on what has been a pretty perfect day.
Epannes to La Bree-les-Bains on the Isle d'Oleron.   Thursday 12 10
Unable to get back to sleep we go outside to see a magical starry sky.
As soon as its light we are back on the road.
A slightly more exciting day today.  We drive for an hour to free services then on for another hour to a supermarket, our favourite activity.
Then onwards for another 45 minutes crossing a long bridge onto the Isle d' Oleron.
We head to the North of the island which takes over half an hour.     Our planned spot is a car park near the coast.     There are a couple of main roads, lots of little roads in unusually bad condition for France but the preferred mode of transport seems to be cycles.
Our carpark has a height restriction barrier and watch a number of motor homes lumber along the little roads we suspect that over time access has become more restricted.
We find a spot and rethink, heading slightly further N. West to an aire.     The aire consists of a grassed area for about half a dozen MHs with services and behind those a long tarmaced stretch for about 30 MHs to wedge themselves together.
We are too tired to explore further and as the parking area is virtually empty we reverse into a space equidistant between the 2 other MHs that are there.      As we are settling the people in the van near the end of the car park move their bikes, table and chairs then their MH down to the grassed area.     Once they are settled in we move to the end parking spot which has the distinct advantage of an additional triangle of tarmac as the parking spaces are marked diagonally while the space is a rectangle.
The aire is next to the local refuse centre so the background ambience is of smashing glass, big trucks, crushing metal and a general melee.   Regardless we are staying on this island until we replenish our resources.
We get on our bikes and go exploring.     At tourist information we buy a jeton for €4.50.    Possibly our most expensive ever but we don't need it until the weekend and if it gives us a couple of days rest it's worth it.
We are so determined to stay here we cycle to check out a campsite that only costs €8 a night but it closes in 2 days.
We cycle a little further between the white painted houses to the sea.   A pretty sandy bay with a cycle path fringing it.   We cycle to the port.   Mostly plastic floating bath tubs rather than yachts but it is so lovely to be out and in warm sunshine.
Back at H. we have company.    The french couple who moved earlier obviously decided against the grassed area and are back, right next to H.   The next 20 spaces are empty.
 La Madelaine Bouvet to Epannes . Wednesday 11 10
We wake to a silent misty morning and take a peek into the gloom to find we are surrounded by cars and men. A group of fisherman have set up beside us.
After showers and filling up at the services we get back on the road for another full on day of driving.    We have to spend €70 on fuel, a disadvantage of these long journeys.
As we drive the sky clears and it gets hot.
Same as yesterday we identify a spot and put it in sat nav which takes us down a dead end street, not great at the end of a long hot day.    We try again Lisa guiding us in by map on her phone.   To get to the spot we need to take H along a rutted farm track overhung with trees, we are not convinced so Alastair parks up and walks the route.      Declaring it safe we head down.
Again we are by a lake but this is far more isolated and rural.   We walk around it, an area is roped off as there is a hornets (frenons) nest.
By now we are feeling jaded.  Alastair finds a bench to read a cool down before tea.  Lisa trys to remove flies from H.
Same routine, tea and an early night.   We wake in the early hours to the zzzz of mossies.
 Audinghen to La Madelaine Bouvet Tuesday 10 10
Despite being up early its still after 9:30 when we get going.     For this trip we have a ferry booked to take us home from Bilboa at the end of November, as its' now Autumn and we feel we did a pretty good job of exploring Normandy on our last trip we have decided to use the first couple of days to head south. We put La Rochelle in sat nav avoiding m-ways to save money and just crack the miles sharing the driving between us.
Hamish comes into his own on these journeys.   Loo breaks, coffee breaks, lunch, we just pull into a lay by, have a break then crack on. 
Around 3: 30pm we consult Park 4 a Night to find a free aire.    We arrive in a tiny village with a communal fishing lake.    There is noone around, ideal.
A walk to check out the motor home services and we find a toilet and free running water so no need to buy a jeton, this place just gets better.
To ease the cricks in our back for being sat down for so long we circuit the lake, explore the local graveyard, always an interesting source of fascination and read the info boards, all in French but we glean this village had important links to the monarchy as it was on a famous trade route.
Back at the lake we take a different path and are welcomed by a dog.   A boy calls the dog back but he takes no notice nibbling at our fingers with excitement.    We carry on our walk with our new companion bounding around us.   A local asks if he is Francois.  "Oui" we reply and point down the hill.  He doesn't react and disappears back into the house.     
Slightly concerned about walking too far with him we had back down the hill and Chien disappears.   We are relieved and are sneaking around the house as he bounds out of an open door, clearly noone is concerned by his absence.   We set off through ancient woodland when Chien spots another dog walking and he is gone.
Eventually we wander back along the track, round the lake to H.   There is the dog walker, his dog on a lead and Chien bouncing all over his dog.   We imagine he has to deal with this most days and later see his van heading towards the doghouse where he probably has to return him daily.
Quick tea and another early bed, these continental hours suit us much better.
Within an hour of falling asleep Lisa apparently sits bolt upright and starts screaming.   Alastair struggles to wake her and when he does Lisa realizes he is holding her and he is trembling, she is terrified.   Eventually we are both able to sleep again.
Walsall to Audinghen near Cap Gris Nez. Monday 09 10
After an incredibly busy month at home which didn't even give us time to finish our last blog we are off again.   Experience has taught us to avoid the Dartford crossing and after a comfortable journey we are soon on the 3:15pm ferry to Calais.
We head to our last stop in Wissant beside the church.   Thankfully there are no marathons on today and we find the energy to drive to Cape Griz Nes as Alastair feels he has unfinished business from last time when a hail storm made us retreat.    It's dusk as we arrive, cold windy and a bit drizzly.    Theres no access to the lighthouse so we walk to the cliffs, wave at Dover through the clouds and scurry back to H.
At the carpark we snuggle up next to the church, eat quickly and try very hard to stay awake until 8 pm 7pm UK time.