Dec 29th - Jan 3rd
The trip to Conil
Left Martlesham mid afternoon for 20.20 euroshuttle, expecting to arrive the usual 2 hours early and get bumped onto an earlier train. Unfortunately, had not foreseen the population of Belgium and northern France who had popped over for the sales and were now returning home. Never seen the tunnel so busy. In the end our 20.20 was called at 19.40, loaded swiftly and departed at 20.00 and unloaded in Calais at 20.40 or 21.40 it being continental time.
After the hectic few days of returning home after a very jolly Christmas chez William & Lynn and getting packed for 3 months away we had planned for an early night at the aire in Calais and an early departure on Monday morning.
Off to la Suze sur Sarthe. Weather grim with strong headwinds. North of Le Mans we crossed a bridge over the Sarthe which was half a mile wide instead of 30 yards so began to worry about the aire at la Suze which is on the river bank. Arrived la Suze at 16.00 to find the aire closed as the river was overflowing the banks as far as we could see. Most of the nearby Aires were also on the river and not worth considering but eventually tracked one down only 9 km away in the right direction at Mézeray. Not particularly pretty but plenty of space on edge of village where we purchased an excellent tarte aux pommes at the patisserie. Rained hard overnight.
Little traffic on road down to Poitiers and then easy drive on N10 to Bordeaux without the usual nose to tail lorry convoys.
Campsite surprisingly busy but quiet. Against expectations the satellite dish found Astra 2 which we had thought may have been retuned by now with the smaller footprint that has been threatened for 2 years so we had an excellent meal and nearly saw the new year in. The GF is getting over a cold so was in bed by 22.00 and after a few phone calls, so was I.
Bordeaux sounded quite lively at midnight and then again at 5.20 as more fireworks were set off for some strange Gallic reason.
We were the only vehicle on the Bordeaux ring road at 8.30 everybody else being hungover. Long drive down the newly tolled N10 ( €15.80 but the alternative is now longer ,slower and probably more costly in fuel) which was as empty as we will ever see it. Only problem was persistent headwind.
Spanish border at lunchtime to discover fuel now more expensive than in france. Started raining and winds stronger, a bit nervy over viaducts. Thought winds might drop when we turned inland but no such luck. Playing havoc with fuel consumption.. Arrived at aire in Palencia 17.00. Stormy night and thinking may have to sit this out for a while.
Morning arrived calmer, as fain turned to drizzle and low cloud on the route to Salamanca. Long climbs into constant headwind really costly in fuel terms. Passed Salamanca at lunchtime and arrived Caceres aire around 15.30 to find it deserted but it was overflowing within an hour. Rain and wind overnight.
Thought weather might improve as we dropped down to the plains of Andalucia but it got worse. Finally found blue sky round Seville and on to Jerez where we detoured to fill up the LPG tanks but clouds came back with rain as we passed Cadiz and reached Conil. Stopped at the supermarket for essential wine supplies and found a very pleasant offer of Pata Negra Valdepenas 2005 at €3 which, as it later turned out, was much in evidence at the campsite, having been the wine of choice since it appeared on offer.
Settled in just in time for the friday night outing to the sports bar with the usual suspects and a very pleasant evening was had renewing old acquaintances and catching up on the news.
It wasn't the worst journey down, as it didn't snow, but it was probably the most unpleasant. Sun shining now though a and it is very mild when the sun goes down.