We had a good couple of days at Monsaraz. We woke up on the first morning to a bit of a strange sight – low mist covering the lakes below and a black cat sat on the wall looking in at us….
The sun soon put paid to the mist, and it wasn’t long before Mark could get back to his normal Kampington lifestyle (oh, the hardship….).
After crossing back into Spain, we spent a night at Valverde del Camino where we were given a pile of books by our kindly neighbours and gave them half a bag of carrots and a litre of UHT milk (bought in error) in return. From there, we continued down to the Costa de la Luz and a night on a large aire at Sanlucar de Barrameda (not the grim aire we stopped on last year; this was basically a big open parking area in the town itself). There was a bit of a to-do during the evening when there was a knock on our window. On opening the door, it turned out to be a ranting mob (for want of a better description)… They seemed to be under the impression that Mark had been seen nosying round the back of their vans and had moved some chairs (?!). Apparently it was definitely him as they’d seen him, and there were threats of the police being called. Next morning, two of the chaps did come over to apologize. The “real” culprit had been spotted that morning. He was also male with long hair… but French… hmmmm.
We had a much quieter time at Conil de la Frontera before moving on down to Tarifa for a night on a campsite (for some electricity). We were right by a gate leading out towards the beach…
Having sorted out our batteries (well, sort of…) it was time to sort out our whisky supplies. Next stop La Linea on the Spanish side of the border to Gibraltar. We made two excursions into Gibraltar on foot, returning with 4 bottles of whisky, then Mark scampered quickly back in for a bottle of vodka (for the chap who’s looking after Mark’s truck).
Moving East, we had one night at Almoyate at an aire we used last year in an attempt to sort out the battery issues we’ve been having (long story….). The reconditioning programme on the CTEK battery charger we brought with us really does seem to have done the trick 🙂 though it did mean an evening sat in the dark as we turned everything off to avoid the higher voltage (14.4V whilst charging then 15.5V for the controlled overcharge to stir up the acid in the battery and blow all the crud off the plates) blowing up our electric panel or, even more expensively, the fridge. Apparently if we now run it every six months or so as a preventative measure it should prevent the same problems reoccurring.
Batteries sorted, it was now time to zoom further East to our favourite Spanish stop, Almerimar. We planned on stopping a week this time. All of Mark’s toys are out of the trailer and we’ve been out on a couple of bike rides… We’ve bumped into Paul and Emma, the Geordies we met here last year (who liked it so much they’ve rented an apartment for the winter at 350 Euros a month…). We’re all seeing plenty of other people / vans we’ve come across at previous stops this year, as everyone is following pretty much the same route between here and the Algarve in one direction or the other.
We were rudely awoken at 05.25 this morning by the van suddenly rocking as if a couple of large blokes were jumping up and down on the back step. Mark threw on some clothes and dashed out to find some of our neighbours doing exactly the same thing, with no bad ‘uns in sight. It turned out that it was an earthquake with epicentre just off the coast of Morocco. We have now learned that an earthquake in a van is a very strange sensation indeed!
We’ve been abroad now for two months and the good news is that our expenses (which are mainly food and diesel) are averaging just under £1000 a month, which seems pretty sustainable. The bad news is that we have to come back soon anyway before our 90 days’ European breakdown cover and bike insurance run out. We’ve booked a ferry for 19 February (Dieppe – Newhaven), the last possible day……