7 Rue des Logettes, 14600 Honfleur, France

Second day in France.

First day using this new app thing so playing catch up.

Left Northamptonshire slightly later than planned yesterday’s morning for the tortuous drive to Folkestone to get the Eurotunnel. Roadworks everywhere. Not at all relaxing. Fortunately the whole tunnel experience was amazingly easy and straightforward. Sailed through check in and passport control and was on train and en route to France in no time. Remembered to drive on the right and stopped at Aire de Somme for ‘le meal deal’ and to put headlight converters on - hopefully in theright place.

The toll tag thing worked really well on the autoroute - good purchase. Arrived at Honfleur mid afternoon and found the Aire in the town centre. Already packed with Motorhomes, so impossible to get an electric hook up. Great location though. Went for a walk round the town, then went out and got omelette avec frites avec vin blanc. Didn’t do much else. Went to sleep with Swansea losing 1-0. Woke up to find out they had beaten Blackburn 3-1. Silly game football.

This is the cafe where I had my first tea in France. That was the empty plate above!

The harbour two minutes from where the van was parked!

Having sort of caught up, day two started with a slow jog round Honfleur as it was getting light. \240Had a bit of a sort out and read about the football last night before getting some croissants from the baker man who delivers to the Aire every morning.

Went for walk to the beach and harbour and returned to town through a lovely park. Looking back I might have got bitten by some pesky sand flies here! Strange bite on leg and chin on Thursday. Didn’t think to pack bite stuff. Schoolboy error.

Stopped for or a coffee in the sunshine and got this great picture of an old Citroen driving past!

Left Honfleur at lunchtime. Spent half an hour trying to find the Inter Marche fuel station and another half an hour trying to work out how to use the card machine. Eventually got one credit card to work and filled the van up. Headed to Mont St Michel, stopping en route to get some tea supplies. Bloody gendarmes pulled me in as I got near Mont St M and checked driving licence etc. They put all my details into a Kindle Fire or something and sent me on my way.

Eventually found campsite and booked in for two nights. Plan to visit MSM tomorrow and will research tonight.

Turned fridge down as all the cokes had frozen solid!! Had some cheese and sausage in le baguette for a late lunch before going on a five mile walk in the direction of MSM. Amazing views and bought ticket for tomorrow online.

Thought about going swimming at campsite pool, but they are very strict about swimming costumes. Had to be Speedo’s or similar!! Otherwise the gendarmes will be called again. Shame as it looked like a nice pool. I will have to find a Decathlon or Sports Direct at some point.

Campsite very quiet. Few restaurants in the village but not much else locally. Everything centred on MCM I guess.

Ventured out into the mean streets for a glass of vino before dinner. Nice bar was quiet when I first got there, but quickly filled up with people coming out for something to eat. Tres popular.

15 miles walking/jogging today.

10 Résidence Saint-Michel, 50170 Beauvoir, France

Day Three

Thursday. Slept ok. Spent some time contemplating the trip across the campsite to use the toilet facilities. Still dark.

Impressive showers, once I had worked out how to open the door to the toilet block.

Very foggy early doors this morning. Large mushrooms growing outside the van. Contemplated having them for breakfast but could have been a a costly mistake!!

Settled on a coffee instead and began the trek towards MSM. Glad I chose the walk instead of the shuttle bus. Even though it was really misty, it was quite atmospheric as I approached MSM.

The mist cleared late morning after I had toured the monastery. Heavy security at MSM which has its own police station and four heavily armed soldiers patrolling at all times. Stopped for Le Panini and Coke Zero late morning.

Lots of walking round MSM. Found lovely little church and did the customary lighting of a candle. Technically cost 1 Euro but might have been a bit imprecise with my dropping of the change in the slots.

Stopped for a coffee (decaf) in the worlds busiest restaurant overlooking the bay. Coffee served in the smallest cup ever! Family came in with a cat on a lead!! Ten year old girl on table next to me had the most frustrating habit of periodically screaming at the top of her bloody voice! Delightful child.

Left MSM 2ish. Detoured on way back and found quiet roadside cafe doing deal- a coffee and a Madeleine (small cake not French woman) for 2 euros. Bargain. Bloody coach trip turned up as soon as I ordered! Tranquility shattered. Madeleine was nice though. Bit like cakes Nanna used to make.

Another 15 miles done before getting back to van. Had a good tidy up and cleaned van floor. Then remembered I had a mat which I will now utilise to try and prevent bringing dirt in!!

Still sunny but quite chilly in ‘le shade’. After domestic duties completed, went for another stroll around village and found lovely church on the hill. Amazingly quiet away from main roads. Wonder how much houses are here?

Noticed strange system where the bars that were open last night seem to be shut tonight. Consequently, I turned around and tried a different bar tonight for a glass of vino. It looked like a cheap cafe from the outside but the food that was being brought out looked and smelled amazing. I’m sure my remaining sausages ‘a la van’ will be wonderful!

42 Route du Mont Saint-Michel, 50170 Beauvoir, France


Woke at half four for some silly reason. Put Five Live on the radio and listened to another Brexit discussion. The irony of the UK wanting to leave Europe just as I am starting to explore and enjoy it was immense. Shame it was the middle of the night. Managed to get back to sleep until 7 when I thought war had been declared because the church bells rang incessantly for five minutes. Must be some early morning Friday service? Don’t think the Germans would try for a third time ?? Made it to about 8am - still really dark. Will move in a minute and venture out and utilise the facilities.

Shower, washed up and quick van tidy. Awning de-erected and hook-up un hooked.

Pain au chocolat and cafe au lait at local boulangerie for breakfast.

Headed south, stopping at Nantes to get some government approved swimming shorts in case I book into another site with an indoor pool managed by the gestapo. Also purchased some insect repellent and some pate - strange combination I know. Stopped for lunch at a rather chilly Aire somewhere between Nantes and La Rochelle.

Plodded onto La Rochelle and eventually found the Aire buried in the suburbs. Had some fun getting in as the machine wouldn’t issue me with a ticket. Fortunately a very helpful Frenchman in a Motorhome behind me got on the intercom. Apparently my poor little van was too small to trigger the barrier system so the man in the control centre had to issue it manually. Hope I will be able to get out again on Sunday!

Went for a walk and found the sea a short distance away.

Decided against walking into La Rochelle tonight and bravely went to a relatively local restaurant where I ordered sardines, partly because I like sardines and partly because they were one of the few things on the menu that I could understand!

Got a complimentary starter (pate type thing) which was lovely. Yes it does look like scrambled eggs, but it definitely was pate.

Liked the way the wine came in a dinky bottle. Shame they didn’t let me take it back with me. It would have been handy in the van!

Had mashed potato with sardines- strange combination perhaps? Declined the offer of pudding (le dessert) or coffee and walked back to camp.

15 miles done today.

La Rochelle


Dark. Recurring theme here. Slept okay, despite the Aire being quite close to a road. Slowish start, but eventually shifted and headed into La Rochelle. Bright sunshine, but quite cold. Stopped to use the facilities en route. Slight feeling of claustrophobia but nothing to worry about.

Reached LR and was tempted to go on trip to Fort Boyard but was worried about being locked in a dungeon by a demented umpah lumpah so passed on that opportunity.

After half an hour of intense market research I decided to have brunch (coffee and le croque) in funky comic book cafe. Not particularly French, but quite cool.

Inspired by the calorific intake I walked around the harbour and was astounded by the number of boats moored there Justin text to say that Aunty Betty had expired but there was no point coming back as I wasn’t in the will ! \240Harsh. \240Walked as far as the beach and headed back for the town centre. Strangely it cost 50 cents to use the loo in the centre - totally free on the outskirts. LR very busy despite the cold afternoon. All the restaurants and cafes were packed and lots of money being spent in the designer shops.

Found a relatively quiet Patisserie (not Valerie) that was doing a deal on coffee (micro size), a cake and a macaroon. Tidy job for five euros. Now that I am totally fluent in French I was able to place my order no problem at all. I could also select a mint macaroon (green) and a muffin (not sure what flavour). \240Swansea beat Reading 2-0, so added to a happy Saturday.

This was a video of a a boat/yacht sailing into the harbour at La Rochelle. Apologies for stating the bleeding obvious. The picture below is the muffin and macaroon (mint)!

Bought some bits for tea and had a bit of a wander round before heading back. Temperature definitely dropping as the sun going down. Stopped for Coke Zero at Cafe Corniche as the view was breathtaking.

Got back to the Aire and saw another GB VW Campervan parked near me. Went for a short walk as I had done 19.5 miles and autisically wanted to get it to 20 miles.

Decided to put the thermal blinds on the windscreen to help keep the heat in. Good idea until the Bluetooth speaker went mental at all the foil type backing on the thermals. I had to walk about half a mile with a screeching Bluetooth unit in my hand until I worked out how to turn it down!

Walked 21 miles today.

Clocks go back tonight.

Hôtel de France


Clocks changed. Think my phone has updated but my watch hasn’t or the other way round?

Anyway, whatever the time is woke to the news that poor old Glenn Hoddle is extremely poorly having been taken ill on his 61st birthday. Always liked Hoddle as a footballer- classy. Also the Leicester City owners helicopter crashed just after the game against West Ham last night. No news yet, but unlikely that people survived. Scary.

Went for a jog along the seafront and used the claustrophobic toilet facilities at halfway point. Set watch to pause when I sat down but forget to restart until I was nearly halfway back! Doh.

Managed to negotiate the card payment system and extricated myself from the barrier thing without too much difficulty.

Drove towards the campsite where I plan to stay tonight and stopped at Rochefort en route. Nice town. Very cold today, and fairly quiet as it’s Sunday. Had a Galette in a little cafe for brunch.

Found campsite at about two ish and decided to have a walk around the little town I had passed through on the way. Parked up and put my warm coat on and had a nice stroll along the coast and around some old castle type thing.

Had a quiet wander round the harbour and a look at a few of the colourful little restaurants and shops that were in the town centre. Unfortunately the cold weather had now turned to cold rain and I bemoaned the fact that the nice warm jacket was the one coat (out of three) that wasn’t waterproof. Not to worry I would soon be back at the van and only had to follow the instructions provided by the shiny new IPhone Xs. Twenty minutes later I looked at the phone and discovered that there appeared to be a malfunction and Mr Apple now said I was 3.8 miles away from the van and heading in the wrong direction. A quick reset rectified the situation and I was eventually back on track (literally) but not before an extra mile or so had been undertaken in extremely inclement weather.

Reached the campsite in a monsoon and seriously thought about just staying in the car park all night rather than getting out and going into reception. Did brave it and parked up and am currently updating blog in van whilst diesel heater is drying coat. Don’t think I’ll be going for a walk along the coast tonight, although I might try the swimming pool??

18:00 diesel heater has done its job and Jack Wolfskin jacket is back to what it is designed for. Cold. Not rain. Weather here is now officially miserable. Persistently raining and BBC weather app predicting 45 mph winds tonight. Taken the precaution of de-erecting the pop top early doors rather than having to bugger about at silly o’clock as a tornado tears through Camp Blonde or whatever this place is called. Will go and try the pool for something to do before packing up for the night.

Walking thirty yards or metres or whatever in shorts and flip flops (and a sensible rain jacket) is no fun in a monsoon and a force 8 gale blowing in off the Atlantic. Although I thought this campsite might have been a bit more relaxed, I put the new regulation issue trunks in my jacket pocket at the last minute. Good job as there was a great big sign saying ‘no shorts’. Quick change into the decathlon budgie smugglers and I did 12 lengths. Despite the horrible weather a few other loons had braved the elements and made it to the pool including some unhinged French woman who just skipped sideways across the pool and appeared to take great delight in getting in everyone’s way who was trying to do lengths. Although it was an indoor pool, someone had forgot to turn the lights on so the last few lengths were effectively swam in total darkness trying to avoid Mrs Skippy half way down the pool. Much fun.

Once back to the van the decision was made to batten down the hatches and settle down for the night. No sooner had I got everything settled, locked the doors and turned the heater on than I realised that the sleeping bag was right in the back of the van and I would need to get out in the rain again to retrieve it!

Undeterred, I rebattenned the hatches and cooked one of the pasta things I had brought with me from Tesco. Added the last bit of spicy sausage and some couscous and a hastily improvised Sunday dinner was created. Struggled with internet and gspot signal (think that’s the right terminology) - \240intermittent at best. Suppose crappy weather doesn’t help.

Will pack up soon. Keep banging my head as I forgot t bloody roof down.

14.6 miles today

12 lengths swimming (at least 8 in the dark)

Still peeing it down and blowing a gale.

Camping La Brande, Route des Huîtres, 17480 Le Château-d'Oléron, France


Survived Storm Ermintrude. Actually wasn’t aware of much weather in the night. Woke at 4 for a pee (it’s always 4 o’clock) put the heater on and went back to sleep. Reckon I need to do a bit of tidying up this morning.

There are some people who think that the domestic tasks associated with travelling in a Campervan are easy and not at all comparable with the chores required in a ‘normal’ terraced house, for example. I would beg to differ, however. The constraints of space mean that the van has to be your living room, your bedroom, your kitchen and sometimes at 4am with the assistance of a steady hand and an empty Diet Coke bottle it becomes your toilet. Several times a day therefore the van has to undergo a ‘change of use’ as the bed is erected or put away and dishes are cleaned and clothes tidied away and bottles emptied before we can head off to the next location. Yes, it is arduous to hoover the lounge of your house. To ensure that the bathroom is sparkling and that the laundry drying in your spare room is neatly folded away. Normally, however, those tasks are undertaken on a weekly basis whilst ‘van life’ requires a thorough clean most days. Rant over!

Domestic chores completed I decided against a swim in the semi darkness just in case Madame Skippy was doing her weird sideways aerobics. Similarly the Baltic weather conditions precluded against an early morning job today. \240So cold.

Strategy is to head south and hope it will get warmer. Ten miles into the journey a buzzer sounded to alert me that the temperature had dropped to four degrees!! Programmed sat nav to head south with the plan of finding somewhere to stop beyond Bordeaux tonight. Got as far as Saintes where I stopped for breakfast, diesel and some supplies at Hyper U.

Well busy driving round Bordeaux so stopped for lunch after I had dealt with that challenge. Thought about having a sit down meal at the restaurant in the wonderfully named ‘Flunch’ where they had a map of a cow on the wall detailing which part the different cuts of meat cane from. Settled instead for a baguette from the shop and utilised the pate and cheese I had purchased earlier. I did treat myself to some tomato soup from the machine (£1.30) haven’t found the symbol for Euro yet so accept that pound sign equals euro.

The picture below is the tomato soup purchased from the vending machine at service station. It is not a sample of any bodily fluid.

The remainder of the journey to the Aire was pleasant enough and the sun actually came out for half an hour promoting me to perform the rather ridiculous manoeuvre of removing my outer outer jacket whilst driving. Not recommended but required.

Unfortunately, the last forty minutes were spent following a bloody great mobile home or something which was being towed at a ridiculously slow speed and which brought all the traffic to a standstill at every junction and roundabout.

Eventually it forked off and I got to the Aire by the lake, paid £4.50 (euros) and parked amongst the giant motor homes a short distance away from the toilets.

Having driven a lot today, the remaining daylight was spent walking round the lake and forests that adjoined the Aire. This really is a great location and a bargain at £4:50 (euros). Guess it would be lovely in the summer.

Although the Baltic winds had reduced a bit since this morning, the weather was still a little inclement this afternoon and there was the odd light shower, but nothing on yesterday’s scale. Nonetheless, I was not going to get caught out again and made sure I had the right jacket on today.

Frustratingly I had only done 8.6 miles when I got back to the van, so at 7:16 I decided to venture out again and walked up to the local pub which for some unknown reason had a giant television screen playing a French version of Ray Mears outside on the patio. Given how cold it was outside I’m not sure how many people will be sat watching Le Ray whilst sipping their Vin Rouge and munching on Le Scampi Fries, particularly when the same programme was playing on a slightly smaller television in the bar, in the warm. Odd. The wine was nice though.

Life’s a bugger sometimes. Got back to the van and had only done 9.86 miles. Autism?

Put Apple Watch on charge and tried to forget about the missing 0.14 of a mile. Cooked another packet of Tesco instant pasta mix with the pork chops purchased earlier. Worked well.

Had some M and M alternatives for ‘afters’ - considerably cheaper and the nuts were much, much bigger than the originals.

Another day over. Nearly a week away. Lots to reflect on. Will try to find the time to put more thoughts and pontifications in the coming entries. Getting quite used to spending my time in this lime green and white metal box called Margaret. Oh and that’s another tangent that will probably need to be explored at some point. A van called Margaret and why it is hopefully going to take me to Portugal (and beyond).

Enough for today. Hopefully tomorrow will be warmer and the plan is to head to Sare (I think that’s right) which isn’t that far from the Spanish border. Ole. Oh, and I need to do some washing at some point. Nos Da.

Unnamed Road, 40160, Gastes, France


What a difference a week makes. This time last week I was frantically driving down the M1 and M25 to get to Folkestone. This morning I can hear some traffic in the distance and I’m sure I heard some boats on the lake in the night. Otherwise it’s incredibly peaceful. It’s bizarre that I am surrounded by dozens of Motorhomes but it is so quiet. I think the rain has stopped and the sky looks a lot brighter than yesterday. Still cold though.

Not a bad view from the van first thing in the morning! Week two begins. Toilet facilities pass inspection with flying colours and cup of tea is had whilst bedroom turned into living room again.

Short walk to local launderette and with the help of the clever camera app on google translate, I have hopefully put the washing on the right setting. If not I am down to my last pair of pants and will be going to Le Matalan this afternoon to get new supplies if my Next boxers have shrunk!

Deep joy and deep clean. The pants, and everything else came out of the washing machine clean and looking the same size as they went in. A quick go in the tumble dryer and the job would be complete. It’s a strange sight seeing your pants tumbling about in a giant drum. Quite hypnotic.

Laundry duty complete, I returned to the van, cleaned the dishes and tidied up before leaving the lovely Aire at the lake. This is definitely somewhere I would like to spend more time at. Drove into the local town and got a small snack at the supermarket.

Watching the television news about half of France being covered in snow! Did check on phone and it appeared to be on the East of France and I am definitely in the South West.

Much roadworks on the way to Sare and the last bit of the journey was quite mountainous. Justin text to moan about Gran’s electricity bill. Quite what he wants me to do about that half an hour from Spain I don’t know. It does seem excessive though, unless the next door neighbour has got a cannabis factory in their garage and has tapped in to Gran’s electric supply??

Anyway, back to the journey. Arrived at the Aire in Sare to find only one other Motorhome in residence. A fairly basic parking area with a lovely view of alpine like mountains opposite.

Paid the requisite €8 (I found the Euro sign!!) and had a wander into the town, which the reviews said was not very far away. I wasn’t quite prepared for the view as I turned the corner out of the Aire. Stunning.

The walks around this town are amazing, and I only did an hour or so. Such a contrast from the gorgeous lake I was at this morning. Having only had a small baguette type sandwich for brunch I was understandably in need of some sustenance by the time I walked back to Sare and had an expresso and a very tasty cake/flan in a coffee shop near the church.

After another energy boost, I walked round the church before venturing inside and lighting the customary candle. Yes I did pay €1. (correct money). The church was amazing. Lots of wood. Very dark and eerily quiet. Incredibly peaceful.

Bit more walking before popping into the towns main bar where it was really rocking and quite difficult to get served. I only stayed for one because I was worried it might kick off and headed back to the van for an early tea. Spain tomorrow.

12 miles today. I can hear owls hooting. Is that what owls do??

Hôtel Lastiry

What day is it? Wednesday. Bloody Halloween. It’s pissing down and I am seriously contemplating having to get out of my nice warm, dry van and go and use the village facilities. Slept really well last night. This travelling lark certainly helps to alleviate stress and gets rid of some of life’s pressures. The awfully nice support people at Journo have told me how to activate the map settings. Like everything, it was really obvious when you know how! I will try and keep that updated and also go back and update the previous entries.

Schoolboy error. Got to the toilet no problem. Took the right jacket because it was it raining. Even put on the more high tech water resistant walking trousers. Didn’t take any toilet paper though. First bloody toilet that didn’t have any. A very slow and careful walk of shame was undertaken back to the van to collect some Andrex and an equally careful walk back to the ‘loo public’ until I could sit down and relax. A lesson learned.

Despite the rain, I had a pleasant stroll round the village and bought some croissants for breakfast. Very misty on the mountains today.

Fired up the VW and headed off into the hills sat nav locked and loaded for Espagne and passport at the ready. Ten miles later I got a text from EE saying ‘Welcome to Spain’. No flags, so signs, no security. Nothing. Turned a corner on a treacherous mountain road and Au revouir France, Ola Espagne!

Weather was shocking for the first couple of hours and having to adapt to the toll roads without the clever gizmo was no fun at all. The first ‘checkpoint’ was fine. I was able to lean across and throw €10 at a young boy who chucked the change back and told me to have a nice trip. At the second peage I sat bewildered for a while and then realised you had to take a ticket. At the third peage I had to get out, run to the machine and put the ticket in, pay the toll and get back and drive off before the barrier came back down!!

Back into the mountains and more snow as I headed for my location for the night. Very remote and must be very wild in winter.

Similar at a small town in the mountains and had a walk round. Had a Coke and a cheese roll in a quiet bar which had a lovely log burner in the corner. Not the normal image associated with a holiday in Spain!!

Another half or so and I arrived at the quietest Aire so far. It’s on the site of an old railway station and at time of writing I have no idea how I am supposed to pay. I used initiative and utilised google translate to text a message (hopefully appropriate) to the contact numbers at the car park but have yet to receive a response.

Spent an hour or so walking round the village before popping into the local old peoples home which is also used as a pub for a coffee.

Really liked this little bar and will try and go back there tonight if it’s open. The young (ish) lad behind the bar was telling me that he tries to learn English by watching music videos on the big screen with the lyrics playing. A bit like a giant karaoke machine. His choice of music was good and I appreciated it. The only other people in the bar were geriatric or workmen just popping in for a drink after a hard days graft and both groups seemed oblivious to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers playing in the background. After I finished my coffee and walked up the other end of the village, I noticed another bar and saw one of the workmen from the first bar get off his bike and pop in bar number two for another drink on his way home! Quality! At the far end of the village on a hill is a little church where several people were busy in the graveyard attending to the graves of their loved ones. Whilst I was there another family arrived, armed with flowers, brushes and cleaning materials to ensure that granny’s headstone was kept in pristine condition.

Popped back to the van for a bit. Found the toilets and showers and connected the electric. Also topped up the water. Still not seen anyone to pay??

Went back to the ‘old peoples home’ for a vino blanco before tea. Bit busier than earlier. Some serious card school going on with some gorgeous Spanish stunners on the table next to me.

Adjourned back to Margaret for risotto surprise and some googling about potential destinations tomorrow. Was thinking about León (as in Kings of) but Sam mentioned Burgos, which is on the way and less than a couple of hours drive. Read a bit about Burgos and it might be worth a visit.

10 miles done today. Quite cosy in here at times.

Diseminado Santelices, 12A, 09574, Burgos, Spain

Ola, bonjourno, guten tag? What day is it and what country am I in ?? Well I am waking up in Spain and it’s the first day of November!! Looks fairly clear outside at the moment. Imagine it’s quite cold though!! Going to brave the short journey to toilet block and test showers shortly.

Toilet worked well. Plenty of paper. Showers very powerful, but despite lots of fiddling I couldn’t generate any heat (does that sound wrong?). Little man came round for the €4 Euro payment and gave me a receipt!!

Went for a walk along old railway line (it would have been extremely irresponsible to have gone for a walk on the new railway line!). Very peaceful. Noticed a house up in the hills and saw the owner drive his four wheel drive up a dirt track to get to it.

Headed off towards Burgos and drove through some amazing mountain roads and some stunning scenery.

Despite the internet on the phone deciding to disconnect as I got to Burgos thus cutting off apple car play and the map system I was connected to, I did manage to find the Aire at the rear of a shopping centre.

Had a walk into the town and got some lunch at a bakery after passing an extremely strange and quite worrying statue.

What on earth that is supposed to depict I don’t know. Not even sure I want to google it. Perhaps I will ask Sam. Think he’s been here.

Found a cheap bakery for lunch and had a cheese and ham filled croissant. Bit worried about some of their other products though?

Turned a corner and stumbled on the amazing cathedral. Incredibly grand and ornate on the outside and lavish and very opulent on the inside. Broke with tradition and actually paid (€7) to go in a cathedral. Definitely worth it.

Always amazes me how such buildings were constructed so long ago with no ‘modern technology’. Add in the intricacies of the paintings, sculptures, carvings and stained glass windows and it really is difficult to take in. \240Also made me reflect on how different places of worship can be. The church that I visited in Sare a few days was plain, dark, and austere, but incredibly peaceful and clearly an environment where you could feel at peace and appreciate spirituality (if there is such a thing). The cathedral at Burgos serves the same purpose but in such a different way. Every corner is filled with opulence and lavish artwork. Such a contrast.

Near the cathedral are dozens of bars and restaurants which were packed. It took me a while to wonder why so \240many people were out partying on a Thursday afternoon. Factor in the fact that the giant supermarket across the road from the Aire was shut and nearly every shop was closed and I felt it was time to do a bit of googling. Yes, it’s a bank holiday in Spain. All Saints Day - the day after Halloween.

Sorted the van out a bit and headed off back into Burgos city/town. Found lovely tapas bar and ordered three different things and a couple of glasses of white wine. No real idea what I ordered, but they tasted good. Bar really busy by seven. Tres popular.

Spent an hour or so walking round Burgos which was full of people out for the evening. Walked passed the cathedral again which still looked great at night. Remembered leaving the cathedral earlier and passing through the souvenir shop. I had a quick look at the postcards and realised that the only person I ever sent postcards to was Gran. I think she would have liked a postcard from Burgos with a picture of the cathedral on it. Not sure how much the stamp will cost to send it to her now!

Strange, the whole postcard thing. I wonder how many people still send them. Technology and social media means that I can send pictures of where I have been instantly- the modern day postcard? Yet, I know there was something special for Gran about getting postcards and that she kept all of them.

I suppose the progress with technology is wonderful and yet there is still a place for traditional media. One of the few shops open last night was a bookshop and it was packed. Despite being able to read everything digitally, there is still a need and desire for books, magazines, comics and newspapers. Not sure how this got quite so philosophical. Apologies.

Walked over 16 miles today.


Very rainy early doors. Decided to get moving although not totally sure where to yet. Maybe León (Kings of) or maybe press on to Santiago de Compostela (SdC). First task is toilet, diesel and supplies. So headed off to giant Carrefour hypermarket on the edge of Burgos.

Diesel bit easy. Nice girl filled my tank for me. Think it was cheaper than in France too. Toilets in shopping centre good and coffee and croissant for breakfast was tidy. Only shopping to do now.

Well it’s 3 o’clock and I’m having a break from my perambulations around León and trying to remember what I’ve done today.

I did the shopping. Stopped at a service station and paid €3 for a shower (first in days!) and made it safely to León. First Aire I tried was rammed, so found another one that had more room and is only a ten minute walk into the town.

Lunch was Spanish stick and a tuna empanada (google it!) in the van before wondering off into downtown León. Think it’s smaller than Burgos but has the same ‘feelgood’ atmosphere in the centre where the bars and restaurants were crowded.

Weather good today. Can’t tell you how good. One sign outside a pharmacy said 19 degrees, another said 12 whilst Apple Watch stayed around 16. Cathedral looks impressive from the outside. Unable to comment on the inside as either it’s closed for lunch or I can’t find the door!

Love wondering round these towns. Don’t actually do anything. Rarely buy anything. Will occasionally wander into a bar and just savour the atmosphere and marvel at all the wines and hams and cheeses etc. One day I will have to come back to reality. One day. Not quite ready yet.

Soon after 4pm I joined the queue outside the cathedral and waited to pay my €6 (cheaper than Burgos) to have a wander round the inside. You got the obligatory audio guide and a free guide book (good value). León Cathedral was very different again to Burgos. Plainer, darker, simpler. Still amazing and breathtaking but less opulent. There was more wood carvings and less gold ornaments. The stained glass windows were incredible and the simplicity was a huge contrast to the lavish approach adopted at Burgos. There were no candles to light and no souvenir shop, so I can’t rant about postcards and social media etc today!

Headed back to the van for a period of quiet contemplation and to recharge the mobile phone. Will sort bed out shortly and have a wander back into León to get some tapas. Must go to sleep earlier tonight!!!!

Had some ‘What’s App’ dialogue with Bernadette. Always entertaining and inspired me for my stroll back into León. Totally different tapas system here. Went into ‘Jamon Jamon’ and had a glass of wine for about 20p. Also got a plate of bread and meet and cheese. Yummy.

Went into another bar. Paid a pound for a vino and got a delicious plate of potatoes with garlic dressing. Yummy number 2.

It’s a shame I was so tired (can’t understand why), otherwise I would have liked to have stayed and tried a few more bars. Decided it was more sensible to go back to the van and try and have an earlier night than yesterday. Saw that someone purporting to be from a Spanish modelling agency had commented on one of the pictures I had posted on Instagram and asked me to contact them. I will have to check it on google translate tomorrow.

Walked 12 miles today.


Saturday. Football today. Swansea away at Rotherham. Ten days (ish) in and my first bacon sandwich in the van. Cold and sunny start this morning, so felt a cup of tea and bit of breakfast would be a good start.

Plans to get to SdC by lunchtime/early afternoon. Will need to find supermarket on the way to utilise facilities. Not sure if it was the orange gin I tried last night (very nice by the way), but the coke bottle this morning looked like a very fizzy and frothy lucozade. Weird and hopefully not significant!!

Didn’t bother with supermarket (got confused at roundabout in Leon) so held on for a couple of hours until I gave in and went in for a sit down at a service station somewhere off the Autopista. I thought about having a coffee, but the woman was so slow serving the people in front of me that I was worried that Brexit might have been implemented by the time I got served so gave up and pressed on to SdC. Very foggy in parts but arrived at about half one and found lots of space in the Aire near the sports centre. Another cheap lunch in the van and will then ‘make my way’ into the town. Supposed to be half an hours walk from here.

Found the centre without too much trouble. Ironically some woman started asking me for directions in Spanish. When I started explaining in English that my Spanish wasn’t brilliant, she said she was American and started speaking in English. She was looking for some convent or other. Either way, I couldn’t help her. \240Bloody pilgrims. She must have walked a long way!

Located the cathedral with a fair few sweaty pilgrims sat outside it. Lots of souvenir shops and a number of beggars too. No charge for admission here, so happy to pay the €1 candle lighting fee.

Was amazed at the number of confession boxes in the cathedral. Now I’m no angel I know, but there were at least a dozen on each side with various time slots that could be booked in during the day. I queued up to ‘embrace the apostle’ and also followed everyone else to look at the tomb of someone important. Sam recommends going to a service in the cathedral. I think there’s one at half seven tonight. Might pop in if still awake.

Left the cathedral and had a wander round the town before finding a really nice park where I had a cappuccino (smaller than UK size). I have noticed some quite unusual statues in Spain that seem to have no context whatsoever. This one at the entrance to the park is one of the best yet. It is probably really meaningful and significant to local people, but ???

Swansea lost. Bollocks.

Never mind.

Back to van. Made bed up. Contemplated where to go tomorrow. Consulted google maps, apple maps and various other services - some of which were more helpful than others. Still not totally clear. Should have phoned a friend!

Quick spray of Lynx and off to church. Got to the Cathedral early and it was packed. Strangely the service was in Spanish which made it a bit difficult to follow. It was quite ‘spiritual’ however, and my first experience of a Catholic service. Sam had told me about the swinging of the giant incense thing and it was a sight to behold. There is a pretty crappy video clip below which really doesn’t do it justice. It’s definitely worth ‘you tubing’. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when it started swinging about. Nice smell though. This is another postcard situation where a conversation with Gran about my experience at a Catholic Mass would have been good!

After an hour at mass, a lot of walking (13 miles today), Swansea losing, it was time for a vino and tapas. Went to first bar and got a lovely ‘freebie’ selection.

Moved on to another bar I had read about and bought some calamari which were scrumptious. Really popular place and had to find a place against the bar.

Must google if they do tapas in Portugal. A job for tomorrow.

Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, woke early and thought I would have a sort through my clothes. Bloody good job as I appear to be out of pants. Technical miscalculation on the laundry front there! Set off towards Portugal and detoured to Padron where I found a nice laundry. Whilst the pants were washing themselves, I popped to the local cafe for a scrummy breakfast. Don’t think anyone is going to run away with my undies??

Weather not great this morning, but if I can get some dry, clean pants on I will have a walk round the market in Padron before heading south. Did you know that Portugal is on the same time zone as UK? Clock change again later.

Returned to launderette with three minutes of wash remaining. Emptied washing out to sort for drying and counted four pairs of pants! Where are the others? I’m sure the other woman in the launderette hadn’t pilfered a couple of pairs mid cycle?? They must be in the van somewhere.

Luckily there was a man on the market doing three pairs for €5, so I availed myself of his special offer just in case. Two pairs were sober and grey. The third I can only apologise for.

Having restocked on the underwear front, I crossed the border into Portugal. It rained and rained and bloody rained all day. I reached my overnight at half three or half four, depending on which time zone you were on. Went for a walk (in the rain), but was suitably attired. It rained last Sunday. Must remember to check next Sunday. Van parked near seafront, but very blustery!! Checked out toilets and showers nearby as per reviews. All present and correct.

Tried to get some miles done as been driving a lot today and looking for pants. Walked round the town which I imagine is lovely on a nice summers day. When an absolute hurricane is blowing through it puts a different perspective on the place. I thought about walking down to the sea, but it was starting to get dark at this point and the Atlantic waves looked immense. Getting lost in the surf would have been a good start to day one in Portugal. Went back to the van. Found a pair of pants had erroneously been put in a Tesco bin bag instead of aTesco laundry bag. Rain was horizontal, so had to put roof down as it was coming in through mesh ventilation screen!!

It did ease off and I had my first vino blanco in a Portuguese bar, where the food orders were called out like bingo numbers.

Back to the van. Cooked a tortilla type thing with the rain still bucketing down. \240

Only 9 miles today


Av. Espanha, 3080 Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Monday. First day in sunny Portugal. Not. Bloody stormy night. Really windy and heavy rain. Thought I might have to put the roof down at one point, but that would have been a hell of a palaver. Everything seems to have survived ok and I haven’t woken up in a pool of water. Hopefully, the weather will calm a little during the morning and I can head further south.

Bonkers. Once I cleared up a bit it cleared up a bit. Still the odd shower lurking about, but walking about in sunglasses and rain jacket and seriously contemplating putting shorts on for the drive this afternoon. After using the facilities in the clock tower, I walked down to the seafront passed the men fishing from the harbour. Some were slightly foolish and stood on the rocks. Not sure if that extra five yards gave you a better chance of catching a fish??

The waves were something else and quite scary. There is a long walkway that continues a fair distance out into the sea, but the size of the waves meant that this was something I didn’t fancy doing today.

Found a nice bakery and had a toastie for breakfast. Had a walk round a lovely little indoor market before setting off for the long drive to tonight’s stop.

Stopped somewhere near Lisbon for some diesel and bread etc. Motorways good and quiet, but long. Not even that many tolls today to break the journey up. Had another stop with about an hour to go and had an espresso and one of those lovely Portuguese tarts.

Deep joy. The Spice Girls are getting back together - minus the miserable bugger.

Eventually got to Alferce at about half four. Lovely Aire in a small village in the mountains on the edge of the Algarve. Probably the best location I have parked at so far. Good facilities too. Loos and showers and an outside swimming pool!

Extremely peaceful. Ironically I was having a walk near the village cemetery at the top of a mountain when I got an email from Justin about having to sort Gran’s headstone out. I will give it some thought over the next few days. I had bought some red wine when I stopped earlier (fancied a change). No screw tops in Portugal. My cheap corkscrew snapped in the cork at first attempt but lucky my multi function knife purchased with some difficulty from Cotswold at Rushden Lakes did the trick.

Went for a quick drink in local bar before tea. Been a big fire at a hotel in Lisbon. On Sky News in bar - or Portuguese equivalent of Sky News.

Sandwich tea in van tonight - Portuguese stick? Very tired. Only walked 5 miles today. Rubbish.

Unnamed Road, 8550, Portugal

Two weeks away. Went to sleep with dogs barking. They stopped. Peace. Then it was the turn of the owls to start hooting. They stopped. Peace. Then every fecking cockerel in bloody Portugal decided to tell me it was time to get up. At 4 o’clock. Now I know they have got a job to do and there has been a lot of clock changes recently, but it was the middle of the bloody night!! I suppose it did tell me it was cold and I put the heater on and was able to snooze through the constant ‘cock a bloody doo doo’ until I gave in at 7 and decided to get up.

Beautiful morning though and worth getting up early for.

Walked into the village and utilised the facilities. Stood looking at the shower for some time before giving it a go. It was brilliant. Lovely and warm. Might have looked primitive, but it was perfect.

Back to the van for a bacon sandwich in the sunshine. Despite the weird and wonderful noises, it really is cool here. Drove to Monchique and did plan to stop but took wrong turning and found myself on road to Portimão so carried on going. It was only twenty minutes away and the weather on the coast was lovely. Much warmer. Beach was gorgeous too. Quiet where I parked, then merged into big tourist area.

Stayed and walked round for a few hours before returning to Monchique for lunch. Nice little town with some quirky stairs and contraptions in the main square.

After walking round Monchique for a bit I noticed several posters advertising fundraising about the ‘fire’. A bit of googling and I realised that this area had suffered badly with forest fires earlier in the summer and many people had lost their homes.

When I drove around later I noticed the burnt trees everywhere. Scary. Ventured up the mountain just outside of Monchique. Right in the clouds and very cold and a bit weird at the top. Lots of satellite things and a radar station. Obligatory artisan gift shop and a great little cafe that did humungous slabs of chocolate cake that were lovely.

Drove back to Alferce and walked round the village again. Noticed more and more the effects that the fires must have had only a few months ago. Can’t imagine how people could have lived with the whole forest ablaze everywhere around them.

Popped into the other bar that was closed last night for a coffee - Alfaris. Looks well funky, although very quiet at 5 o’clock. Will come back for a wine later. Poster says there is a Scottish band playing here on Saturday?? Tempted to come back.

Back to the van. Rain again. Put some trousers on and waterproof jacket and ventured out to bar Alfaris. Had a huge plate of veggie noodles which were very tasty. Lots of coriander and some really hot chilli which took me by surprise now and again.

Quite a funky bar which has got a lovely log fire up in one corner which is being monopolised by a group of Americans tonight. The bar also has its own token hippie (he also had the noodles). The more observant amongst you will notice the discreet use of the napkin to try and cover the oodles of noodles which I was unable to finish.

Walked back to the van in the rain after paying €8 for the noodles and two glasses of vino tinto. Spoke to the man about the Scottish group who are supposed to be playing on Saturday. He has seen a couple of videos of them! I need to re-programme myself on Saturday as they don’t start until ten o’clock!

Did 11 miles today.

Apple watch doing update.

R. do Rossio 2, 8550 Alferce, Portugal

Another rainy night in the mountains. Didn’t hear any owls last night. Cockerels started a bit later, but it was still dark. I was going to get up early this morning I promise. I did wonder about buying a shotgun from Amazon (Portugal) and disposing of the bloody cockerels, but there seem to be hundreds of them. Someone said (unreliable source) that they are a national symbol in Portugal so maybe killing a cockerel would not go down very well??

The Instagram guru Sam text to advise me to tag my pictures to improve my chances of Instagram fame (and fortune??). I had no idea what he meant, but I think you just have to put a # before everything??

Popped in to Monchique and had a croissant and coffee for breakfast. Could get quite used to this pace of life. Please note the paper in the picture was already on the table and I did not attempt to keep up with the news in Portuguese.

Headed for the Atlantic coast and the grey skies lifted. Although I was aiming for a camper stop, I got slightly disoriented by a sign which I think said there was a naturist park or ‘hotel’ nearby. Didn’t find anyone wandering around in the altogether, but did find an amazing cliff top location. \240Very dramatic views.

Drove on to what I had hoped was going to be my overnight stop, but couldn’ seem to access it because the road was closed for repairs. Almost by accident, I drove down a virtual dirt track to an amazing beach with a cafe and which is home to a surf school in the summer. You can see why by the size of the waves. There are some great clifftop walks along here and I think I almost walked back to where I originally planned to stay for the night. Not sure what the deal is about staying here overnight, but there are a few vans lined up even though there is a grotty ‘no Campervan’ sign at the car park entrance.

Managed to walk 11 miles along the coast path and up and down the beach. Did sit on the sand and doze a few times. Not often I have sunbathed in November!!

Car park a bit like hippie ville by the end of the day. Multi national quirky camper day. Nearly got savaged by Albert a rat like Jack Russell who belonged to a Dutch Couple. She was happily breast feeding her child on the beach an hour ago but there was nothing maternal about the way Albert was terrorising the silly ‘English man’ in the VW.

Further up the car park a German was doing something highly illegal with a bong like contraption. Ironically his partner was sat outside the van knitting. A wonderful contrast. The chap next door to me has got something like an Astra van with a concertina tent type thing that he winds up. He then gets a ladder out of the back of his van, climbs up and sleeps in the concertina thing on top of the Astra!

After a lovely sunset, it got dark really quickly (that’s a surprise, I know). Got really cold too. Decided to pack up early and have an early tea. Risotto surprise again.

praia do amado, Portugal

The sound of the sea. Incredibly loud, even though it’s a fair old distance away. Odd too that I parked on a slight gradient last night, so the right hand side of the van was slightly higher than the left. Nothing significant, but slightly unnerving. Next door neighbour is up. Is it bad to think about moving his ladder in the night??

Not a lot of movement early doors. Hippies obviously not early risers. Ladder man has left early. Perhaps he’s a window cleaner as well? Made a coffee and went for a walk along the beach. Tide was out this morning and some ‘proper’ photographers were down there with their big lenses and massive tripods. Guess the light is impressive this time of the morning.

All manner of vans, lorries and trucks parked up and amazing what people have taken the time to convert and adapt and effectively make their home? \240Another ‘quirky’ van/lorry just down from me with GB plates. Impressive.

Drove to Sagres after stopping at a lovely little beach on the way. Very quiet and a potential overnight stop, but no signal. Is that a bad thing?? Massive Aire type thing near an old fort at Sagres - will try and visit it at some point. Walked to the local Intermarche to utilise facilities and have some breakfast. Had a Coke and a pastry. Still not sure if it was sweet or savoury?

Also noticed in the shop whilst waiting for the loo, that there were lots of little cockerels for sale. Perhaps they are highly regarded here after all?

Well. It’s two o’clock. I’m sat in the van in the mother of all downpours. A couple of hours ago I was lying on the beach sunbathing again. Before venturing out earlier, I had to root around for some sun cream. Amazing how quickly the weather changed.

That was about midday and it was absolutely glorious then. Soon after that I decided to go for a walk and have a look around the fort at Sagres. Definitely the best €3 I have spent so far on this trip and I think I would have stayed there longer if the heavens hadn’t have opened. The fort itself is impressive, but beyond that is an incredible promenatory that goes right to the bottom end of Portugal. There is a circular walk with a lighthouse at the far end and some extremely dramatic cliffs providing breathtaking views all around.

Despite the warnings, dozens of fishermen were perched precariously on the edge of the cliffs all along the top of the rocks. Right in the middle of this area was a maze like thing that was linked to some weird cave system that emitted a strange loud sound.

Further round the cliffs, the sea was so rough that the noise actually sounded like there was a plane taking off. As I turned to head back towards the fort, you could see the clouds gather out at sea. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the heavens opened.

Fortunately, there was a chapel near the fort which proved a useful shelter from the cold and rain.

After the storm blew over, I wondered back into Sagres and had a late lunch of that traditional Portugese delicacy- a cheese and pickle roll (with crisps) and a pot of tea. Popped into the Chinese shop that is in every Spanish and Portugese town and bought a little hard brush for sweeping the sand out of the van. Bargain at €1.

Lots of surfer dudes in Sagres and quite a few surf shops too. Think I am developing a liking for the smelll of surf wax!! Not sure where I would rub it as I haven’t got a board! Stopped for a while to watch some old boys playing pétanque in the centre of Sagres, then had a walk down to the beach near the van park where the sun was starting to go down.

Came back to the van as it was getting quite cold and utilised my new €1 brush and gave the van a good going over. Bloody heavy showers again after a pretty sunset. Will try and brave the elements and go and get tea out in a bit.

Read some reviews on trip advisor and recalled the sights and smells I had observed earlier. Decided on ‘The Hangout’ - a trendy, hippie, surfer, type place. Suits me exactly. Liked it straightaway. Limited food menu, but stuff I like. Tempted by the nachos. They came in two sizes. Half and full. Luckily I took advice from the trendy surfer type dude behind the bar who said half was fairly substantial. He was right!! Excellent food. Great value. Wonderful atmosphere. Ably assisted by two glasses of vino tinto.

€10.50 for nachos and vino. Mucho happy days. Very contended. Blustery walk back to the van. Clear, starry sky. Walked over 13 miles today.

R. da Fortaleza, 8650 Sagres, Portugal

It’s Friday. The end of another working week. Not quite sure how I got through it? Anyhow, it’s Saturday tomorrow. Two days off. Sounds quite breezy outside, but sky looks nice and blue. Nice and warm on the van - heater been on for last half hour. Clever bit of kit that.

Well it’s just gone ten and I haven’t stopped this morning. Been shopping, done the laundry filled the van up with diesel. Even slummed it and had a cheese sandwich in the back of the van while my pants were tumbling. Managed to eventually catch my breath at a gorgeous little beach on the way to Lagos.

It’s 13:03 on Friday afternoon and I must issue an official apology. I know that this blog has become incredibly successful and the audience figures are astronomical. The number of subscribers, patrons, patreons and patroens are growing by the minute. Their moral support, devotion and financial contributions are helping me through this arduous journey and assisting with the meagre portions of Nachos and vino tinto that I occasionally partake in/of? Unfortunately, however, this also necessitates a demand for information. Constant information. Today, I have lapsed. I arrived in Lagos. Parked the van, and wondered off like a simple tourist. I can only apologise. I am now back in the game. The distractions of the markets stalls along the harbour have gone. The stunning scenery I observed along the coastline is forgotten. The young woman lost in her own world on the beach is simply a video memory.

I would love to have had a glass or two of what that young lady had consumed this morning. Happy days. \240Anyway. Lagos. Lots of nice beachy parts at one end and a big posh marina with loads of expensive boats at the other end. Most of the cafes and restaurants at marina end seemed to be focusing on a British market - lots of the menus were slanted that way, and I did chuckle at one very typically conservative looking couple sat outside a restaurant drinking tea and reading the Daily Mail!!

Retuned to van and had some of the rather delicious bread purchased this morning, exquisitely fashioned into the second cheese and tomato sandwich of the day.

Left Lagos mid afternoon and headed for my overnight stop near the lake at Barragem da Bravura. Stopped at the little village of Bensafrim on the way to get some water. Had a walk round the village whilst waiting for the shop to open. Delightful place. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful. It had amazing sporting facilities - a full size AstroTurf football pitch; basketball court; outside gym, etc, etc. The old boys were playing pétanque again and all seemed well with the world.

Popped into the local cafe for coffee and just sat there marvelling at the local characters.

There was some crappy old film on the telly that the old boy with the wine was sort of watching. The bloke behind the bar kept popping out to one of the tables to try and finish his (three course) dinner. Really entertaining. Could have stayed there for ages.

Water purchased form the Tardis supermarket, I continued on to the parking spot overlooking the lake. Dramatic. A few other vans there, but so, so quiet.

Parked overlooking the lake. Probably the best view of the trip so far. Remembered to put van in reverse!!

Went for a walk down the hill towards the dam and had a stroll round the reservoir. Amazing (must find a different word to use!!) views. Incredible (must find a different word to use) tranquility.

Walked back up the hill to the van. Sat and brushed some sand out with my €1 Chinese brush. Woman next door (in next door van) was wearing skimpy shorts and wellies. Odd combination? She went and sat in the grass with her two dogs (most hippies have dogs) and read before driving off to change in to her slippers?

Really cool sunset descended across the valley and the crowds (two people) rushed across to take some pictures. Was impressive.

After several days of stormy seas and demented cockerels, the silence of this place is magnificent. Priceless. And I didn’t pay anything to park here!

Made Parmesan pasta surprise for tea. Early (ish) night.

Walked 15 miles today.

N125-9, 8600, Portugal

Saturday morning view. Not bad. Managed to sleep until 8ish. Quite an achievement. Few issues in the night. Most people when they buy something, they tend to use that purchase. I have read about some ‘hoarder’ people who apparently have a psychological condition that requires them to accumulate shoe boxes, or collections of scarves, for example, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. Yesterday, I purchased some diesel. I put it into the van. I used it. I also bought a lovely loaf of bread. I used it. I ate some of it. It was extremely tasty. Soon after I arrived in France I bought some insect repellent. The idea is to spray it on you to prevent being bitten. Did I use it yesterday? No. I am like one of those people with the collection of Timberland shoe boxes and left the spray in the cupboard in the van. At 23:30 I was tempted to go and jump in the reservoir as I was convinced I had been bitten by every mosquito, midge and horsefly in Portugal! I will spray myself this morning before going for a walk and try to remember to use the bloody spray religiously. Timberland people, you have been warned!!

Breakfast in van. Jam on crusty bread with coffee. French woman in van across the car park came over and asked if I had any water. I donated a bottle. Who cares about Brexit and I asked for nothing in return!

Walked down to the reservoir and did some droning. Will check the footage later. Drove into Portimoa and had a walk round the shops. Like Rushden lakes!!

Bought some mossie relief stuff and got some strange looks dabbing it everywhere when I was sat having a coffee and a Portugese tart. Think I’ve even got bitten on my head!!

Lots of walking round Portimão (makes a change!). Popped in to Decathlon and tried some shorts on. All made me look like a reject from the Boy Scouts - not good. Found a Sports Direct and had a walk around without any incident!! Weather clouded over a bit this afternoon, so drove back to Monchique. Bought some needles from the Chinese shop. Think I might have a blister on a toe that needs popping. (The blister, not the toe). Something to look forward to later!

Found this lovely coffee shop up the hill in Monchique and had a gorgeous tosta for lunch. Slivers of ham, with salad and some honey on the side. Best lunch so far. Will definitely come back here!

Like Monchique. Have I mentioned that? Anyway. Updates from the outside world. Sat in an extremely lively cafe watching the football scores on my phone. Swansea beat Bolton 1-0. Happy Days. The Sams got their orange belts at karate. Well done. It will match Sam’s eyes. Grandad has had a fall. Gone for X-rays. No further updates at this stage. Picture below is the barmaid in bar/coffee shop. Bet Lynch??

Loved this place. There was three old boys playing dominoes but not drinking anything and a middle aged woman drinking bottles of beer and munching on a loaf of bread! Love the range of products behind the bar too. Wines, spirits, crisps and razor blades!!

Drove back to Alferce in the dark. Wasn’t aware of loads of irate Portuguese motorists flashing their lights at me, so presume the sticky things are in the right place! Few vans at the Aire when I got there and had a bit of a sort out before utilising the amazing (definitely need new word) showers in the village loos. So warm. Will have a sandwich (makes a nice change), do my hair, then wander down to Al Faris where hopefully the biggest Scottish rock sensation apart from the Proclaimers will be rocking the Algarve. In case I forget, at time of writing I have walked 12 miles today.

Made it to Al-Faris in good time. Got a beer (€1), bizarrely it will be €1.30 when the Proclaimers start?? Strange mix in the audience. Awfully posh English couple having tea in the corner. Group of loud Germans up the other end and another couple (German I think) on the table next to me. They have got a little ratty dog that keeps barking. The only time he’s quiet is when he’s humping his owners shoe. Bizarrely the male owner keeps the dog entertained by jiggling his shoe. \240Little Fritz loves it and this thing that looks like a bloody lipstick keeps popping out! Didn’t know where to look. The girl behind the bar noticed doggy humping too. Normally I have been keen to take ‘arty’ pictures, but not in this situation. Takes dogging to a whole new meaning!!

R. Dr. António Baptista da Silva Coelho 1, 8550 Alferce, Portugal

Sunday morning. Colin the bloody cockerel is doing his job, although I’m not sure if he’s not as determined at the weekend?? Perhaps I’m imagining it. Remembrance Day. Don’t know if they have that here? Interesting night at Alfaris. Fortunately, Fritz took Lippy his little terrier home before the band came on otherwise I don’t think I would have been able to concentrate!!

The Belters were pretty good. Played a variety of stuff. Biffy Clyro, Cranberries, some reggae and of course the Proclaimers. Weird where all the people kept appearing from. Caves in the hills?? Anyway. Much fun. Late night though! Will be back.

Went for a walk round Alferce after my crusty bread and jam breakfast. Popped in the local shop to get some more butter (hopefully) - it was very dark in there!! Noticed two policemen in the village. Thought they were just using the facilities, but they must have waited over an hour. No sign of a police car. Really odd. They were the GNR - national republican guard. Semi military police. Not to be messed with. They disappeared again after a bit. Went on my law abiding way and headed I know not where through the hills in the vague direction of Lisbon and Cascais. Stopped at Castro Verde which had a quaint old windmill in the centre of the town.

What to do for lunch. Sandwich or toastie I guess? But no. Something strange happened that would even have shocked Gran if she was looking down. ‘Drop dead, Mark not having a sandwich! ‘, I can hear her say. Yes folks, it’s true. I had a hot meal in daylight hours. It was lovely. Strictly speaking, I didn’t realise the omelette came with the chip type things so you can’t count that. And technically omelette is only really a light snack.

What is it about Sunday’s? Always crappy weather. Soon after leaving Castro Verde, the predicted monsoon appeared. Bloody horrible driving on the motorway, especially around Lisbon where it was really busy. Got to Cascais as it was getting dark. Found the Aire ok. Only one other van here.

Rain stopped briefly, so had a walk into Cascais. Looks nice in the dark! Rain started again. Clocked up ten miles. That will do for today. Early night. Oh, forgot. Saw a Chelsea Pensioner in Cascais. What’s that about? Clearly not looking after him very well!

Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral 100, 2750-786 Cascais, Portugal

Lazy Monday morning. This is quite a busy road in the morning. Fair bit of traffic. The sun is shining though and I will magically convert my bedroom into a living area again, briefly stopping to utilise it as a bathroom of course, and will also engage it as a kitchen and have a coffee and some bread and jam for breakfast.

Well it was a slow start, but I did 9.5 miles before stopping for lunch. Lovely walk along the promenade at Cascais. Gorgeous day, although lots of Portuguese have clearly declared winter and have taken to wearing big puffa jackets etc. Felt a bit underdressed in my shorts and t shirt but was reassured to see that the local police are still hanging on to summer.

Got some bits from the supermarket and had a lovely picnic on the beach watching the boys (does that sound wrong?) playing beach volleyball. Idyllic. It does sound wrong. They were adults. Young men. Hope that clarifies the situation. An editor will be employed shortly.

Lots of people out and about enjoying the sunshine. Some with coats on, the odd few with shorts on. The promenade and beachfront is very popular with joggers, walkers and cyclists and people doing their own aerobic classes!

Managed to stir myself and walked round the marina. Standard comment about lots of posh boats. Wandered into the botanical gardens. Very peaceful. Well, sort of. They were full of bloody cockerels! Nice place though. Was going to have a look at the museum, but that was closed on Mondays. Lots of things are closed on Mondays in Portugal. Walked out of town in the other direction to this morning and saw some dramatic coastline.

Quite a popular place a mile or so along, Mar do Inferno. Several cafes and tourists (just like me!!) taking pictures and having coffee and Portugese tarts (with cinnamon!).

Eventually made it back to the van to spray myself with Lynx. Convinced I smell a lot. Oh, forgot. Had a wander round the fort type thing earlier. Very arty. Some strange exhibits!!

Definitely a lot colder when I ventured out again. Ditched the shorts and put some jeans and a fleece type thing on (is this too much information??). No idea what to have to eat for tea. Lots of touristy restaurants near the centre with waiters outside trying to entice you in. Not for me. Stopped for a vino tinto while I contemplate the situation!

Ok. Potential schoolboy error. Fancied a burger. Looked on trip advisor. Found traditional local restaurant that did really good burgers. Set google maps. Had a nice walk. Looking forward to a burger. Closed. It’s Monday! Did I mention that earlier? Plan B. ‘The Tasting Room’. Worked out well. Tapas type place. Scrummy (do I use that word too much?) prawns, spicy sauce, loads of bread. Lovely wine. Happy, happy days.

Did I mention the atmosphere and the staff? No. Silly me. Perhaps I will try the burger place tomorrow. Such pressures!

Spent €1 on some m n m’s on the way back. Nearly said on the way home! To the van!! Walked over 20 miles today.


Well I didn’t oversleep today. Must have been the traffic or something. Anyway, good to get up early. Keeps you in that work routine. Quick change and a brisk walk to the station in Cascais. Bought a ticket to Lisbon from the machine (hopefully a return) and am currently sitting on the train for my day out in Lisbon. Slightly confusingly it doesn’t actually say Lisbon as a destination; just gives the names of various random stations. Presumably, I will just get off when everyone else does??

Big and busy. Not much of a surprise really. Headed for Belem (Sam’s recommendation). Nice walk alongside the river and under the crazy bridge I had driven over in the heavy rain on Sunday evening.

Sam advised me to head for this renowned coffee shop where they do ‘world famous’ Portuguese tarts. The queue at the front of the Cafe was a sign that this might be the place. Inside there was room for hundreds to sit, so I ordered a toastie, cup of tea and one of the tarts, which I do concede was very good.

It might not be a major detail to most people, but toilet facilities have become quite important to me recently. I have to say that not only does this cafe make exceedingly good tarts, it does provide a pretty good environment to have a sit down and write your blog!

18:15. Back in the van. Charging my phone up. Just been round the back of the van to put some stuff away and thought I must have pooped myself. No. Some pillock had neglected to clean up after Fifi and I put my relatively new New Balances straight in the offending pile. I have just thrown the worst of the two shoes out of the van whilst I contemplate what to do. Bollocks.

I was sat here thinking about my feet for very different reasons before this unfortunate event. Never mind. Anyway. After the tart at Belém and my marvelling at the posh toilet facilities (there’s a theme here tonight), I spent some more time in Belém proper.

I can see why it’s so popular and ‘trendy’. It was really busy and the queues to get into the castle etc were huge. God knows what they are like in the summer. Great place just to wander about though. There was a busker singing a Pogues song - bonkers, but really cool at the same time.

After spending a fair bit of time in Belém I walked back to the main part of Lisbon and eventually to the station. Just before I was due to get the train back, I found this great indoor food market that was buzzing and had every type of cafe imaginable.

What else. Trams. Basically yellow, but most covered in graffiti. Normally that’s a bad thing. Actually, it sort of works. Shouldn’t encourage mindless acts of criminal damage, but - well, make your own mind up?

Lisbon. Me like. Will go again. Anyway. A tea towel has been sacrificed to clean the crap off the New Balance and I found some energy to venture out to get tea out. Realised that I haven’t eaten since the toastie etc this morning. Stopped for a vino tinto at the Crow Bar (get it?) where two American women were very loud! That’s one of them!

Moved on to quiet little restaurant, ‘Os Bordallos’ where I had a lovely burger and two wonderful glasses of wine. Great place.

Very quiet. Woman person was lovely. Helpful, funny. No pressure at all. Really relaxing. Not pretentious. I couldn’t do pretentious if my life depended on it. This was my sort of place.

Back in the van. Avoided the doggie doo. Done 20 miles again today.

Think I will drive to Sintra tomorrow?

Av. Infante Dom Henrique 109, 2750-786 Cascais, Portugal

Sunny Wednesday. First job was to move the van so I didn’t tread in any more dog poo. After the extravaganza of another tea out last night, it’s back to basic rations this morning. Quite like bread and jam, and the bread needed using up anyway.

Not far to Sintra. Googled car parks. Off we go. Spotted big shopping mall on way. Ideal for toilet stop. Didn’t properly open until ten and I was ‘ready to go’ at 9:45. Managed to get in and ninja’d my way round a deserted shopping centre until I found what I was looking for. Had a sit down and got out before security asked any awkward questions. Got to Sintra ok. It was rammed. Half an hour detour trying to find the bloody car park again. Got verbally abused by a loon in lycra on a bike who wanted to overtake everyone on a really steep hill. Idiot. Eventually, did some more ninjaing and got van into a space in car park. Will hopefully get it out again later!! (editor, does that sound risqué?)

More walking. The main tourist bit of Sintra is a fair trek from the car park end, so a few miles are covered before you reach the centrepiece. I got an app which was no bloody help at all and just became overwhelmed by all the sodding palaces, castles and gardens that seemed to have very similar sounding names. Tried to be clever and booked a palace and the castle online (got discount that way). The palace looked really good when I booked it and I was proud of myself when I showed Alfonso my ‘smart ticket’. He pointed out that ticket was for the Monserrate Palace- about three mikes away! \240It was worth it when I got there and I had a lovely lunch at the palace!

The gardens there were incredible and very peaceful. Another place where you could do with spending lots more time. I think you would need a week to properly take in all the sights of Sintra.

Contemplated catching a bus back to the centre or to the Moors Castle, but that would be too easy. An American woman stopped me and asked for directions. Good job. The only thing she was heading for was the lighthouse and that was 12 \240kilometres away. She turned around!

Got to the foot of the bloody great mountain that the Moors decided to stick the castle on. Chose the hiking trail! Started well. Quite gentle. About two thirds up it became vertical. I text Sam and asked if he had walked up when he visited ? ‘No’ - because it was raining! They just went and had a curry instead! The only thing that kept me going on the last climb was following a french woman with a fairly big bum and tight trousers. I needed motivation. Eventually I reached the top and cursed the bloody Moor’s again. What possessed them to build a castle up here, and, more importantly, how???? People at the top were visibly shaking as they walked around the ramparts and tried to take in the incredible views.

The journey down was not as tricky as coming up but still took some time. I descended the road way and was entertained by the constant procession of ‘tuk tuks’ taking the sensible people up and down the mountain. Back on flatter ground, I had a coffee and a cheap Portugese tart before ‘making my way’ back to the van. Stopped at Cascais shopping centre on the way back. Massive place near the Estoril race track. Parked on the roof!

Had a wander round and bought a cheap hoody from ‘Sport Zone’. Took me ages to then find the lift to get back to the bloody roof! Made it back to my new home. The car park at Cascais! Had the best of intentions about going out for tea, but then had an anxiety attack about the cost etc. More significantly, I was knackered and my feet were hurting. Van tea it is. Also now known as nacho surprise. Apologies for the sock hanging up in the background. Doesn’t really enhance the picture. Maybe not one for Instagram?

16 miles today. About four of them vertical!

Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral 194, 2750-786 Cascais, Portugal

Good morning Cascais, goodbye Cascais. Weird. I’ve lived in this car park for the last four days. I have a local supermarket. I have a ‘favourite’ restaurant. \240Yes, I’ve acquired some blisters and trod in dog shit, but it’s been a good few days.

Thought I’d get away at ‘a decent time’ and programmed google maps to head to Alferce avoiding toll roads. First bit was great. Very pleasant run along the seafront towards Lisbon. Next bit \240around Lisbon during morning rush hour was not so good. Crossing the Vasco de Gama bridge (17 kms) was an experience! Stopped for a wee and coffee just after the bridge. Not sure exactly what happened, but this old boy came in complaining to the girl in the coffee shop about something. He had a great big cut on his face and his nose was bleeding. I can only guess that he had rather stupidly walked into the carports that were outside to protect vehicles from the summer sun. Admittedly, the ‘covers’ were a bit low, but you would have to be a bit silly to walk straight into one!!??

Avoiding toll roads was not a bad thing. Guess it does take a bit longer and some of the roads are a bit bumpier, but you do get to stop at some cool places for lunch!

It was lovely and warm when I was here and there was no one else there. So peaceful. Not a sound.

Drove through the forest to Monchique and stopped to marvel at the views. Important to keep focussed on these roads. Hell of a drop over the side!

Arrived at Intermarche and did some laundry and a bit of shopping. Will have a walk round the town and get a coffee before filling up with diesel prior to heading for Alferce.

Saw some weird hire cars pull into Intermarche just before laundry finished. Text Justin some pictures and had to explain again where I was. He called me a gypsy!

Popped in to Vintage Cafe for a coffee and (small) piece of chocolate cake. Yummy scrummy.

Then a weird thing happened. Went into the shop near the cafe that sells all sorts. Got talking to the man (Tony) whose sign outside said he came from Wales. He was only born in Narberth and used to work in the pubs in Saundersfoot. He moved away thirty odd years ago but had an excellent memory about the area. He has been living in Monchique for 16 years and couldn’t speak highly enough about the place. Bought some local fireawater from him (48%!!) after reminiscing for some time. Small world and all that. Another one of those situations where it would have been good to tell the story to Gran! ‘Shut up!’.

Do not try this at home children. Do not place near a naked flame. Keep in van in case you run out of diesel!!

Attended the Alferce public facilities for my near weekly ablutions. The water is so so warm. It’s the little things in life. More reflections. Driving through the Algarve hinterland today, I was listening to Theresa May trying (and failing) to sell her Brexit plan to the House of Commons. Why? What the hell are we doing severing our links with Europe. Just at the time when I am driving around a wonderful country and having a great time with no restrictions. I wonder how that might change in the future if Theresa gets her way. I wonder if Theresa will be around to see if Brexit is implemented??

Walked down to Al-Faris to discover its “pizza night’. Yay. This place gets better. Half way up a mountain in Portugal. Met a man from Narberth earlier. Having gorgeous margarita pizza in this wonderful bar. Crazy times.

Yes. I did eat it all. Slowly. Over an hour or so. With some wine. Only walked five miles today. Never mind. I blame Theresa.

Unnamed Road, 8550, Portugal

Sunny in the hills. Skittish night spent listening to Five Live debating the Brexit catastrophe. Did some washing up and changed the breakfast menu. Scrambled eggs!

Went off in search of car rally. By half ten, \240no sign of any rally, but found some amazing (haven’t used that word in days) back roads and scenery near Alferce and stumbled across another beautiful lake in the hills.

Then foolishly stumbled across some bonkers mountain tracks and remembered that the van doesn’t have four wheel drive! A few scary moments, but we survived. Drove back into Monchique where there now appeared to be one or two signs about the rally. Spoke to some old boy sticking some paper chain across a two hundred foot ravine to act as a crash barrier. Managed to establish that the rally is actually on the public roads, not the forest tracks as in UK and what I expected. Think I worked out that there is a special stage quite close to Alferce just before three this afternoon, and possibly another later in the day.

Drove back to Alferce and had some lunch. Parked the van up and eventually picked the right road out of the village. A policeman and a 12 year old in a hi viz seemed to be organising something and the road was in the process of being closed. Sit and wait now!

Portugese health and safety slightly different to UK standards and not altogether sure that this bit of tape would have stopped a rally car at full speed??

My attempts to capture the cars as they wizzed past me were not particularly successful. Several shots were just lovely images of the road. I have attached a video which was reasonably successful and the best of a pretty bad bunch!

Pretty impressive rally though and the speeds were scary. The noise and the smells were all part of the event. Did get pretty cold by the time the last car flew towards the finish line. Drove into Monchique to get some more bread for tea (austerity!) and some antiseptic cream for bite on arm which has gone a bit strange. Girl in pharmacy quite helpful and gave me cream which will hopefully assist. All around Monchique you could hear the rally cars completing the other stages. Surreal sounds. Quite a few of the cars were in the centre of Monchique getting some running repairs before going back out again.

Popped in the small supermarket in the centre of Monchique and bought some bread and a sausage roll type thing. The woman behind the counter looked quite concerned when I asked for this and confirmed with me that it was ‘sausage’!! I don’t know if it’s a super spicy sausage roll or something? Will find out later!

Happy to confirm that the sausage roll was fairly straightforward. Had second shower in two days, so should be sorted until December now.

Some confusion about the time that the music was on at Al-Faris this evening - you can’t get the staff I’m afraid! Fortunately, I made it there in good time and stayed until the interval. This weeks act were a ‘folky/jazzy’ duo. He played guitar. She sang predominantly English songs and had a really good voice. Fatigue took over unfortunately, and I only made it to half time.

Forgot. Did seven miles.

R. Dr. António Baptista da Silva Coelho 17, 8550 Alferce, Portugal

A grey start to Saturday. I have decided I love the cockerels. They are cool. They are only doing their job. The bloody dogs that thought it was a good idea to bark continually all night long, I am not so keen on. I was half awake and half asleep at six ish wondering if the Chinese shop in Monchique sold ear plugs? I might have a look. They sell most things. Strangely at about seven, the incessant barking stopped. This was replaced by the cockerels of course, but no matter. Either some other poor tormented soul has snapped and shot the bloody dogs or they have gone in to be fed. Do they have ASBO’s in Portugal?

Popped in the “other cafe’ for a coffee this morning. Picked up a leaflet about the walking festival over Christmas. Tempted.com

Down to the start line. This was yesterday’s finish point. Cold wind this morning and bit of hanging around waiting for cars to turn up. Somehow got talking to a nice old french bloke who used to be a rally mechanic for Citroen. Interesting conversation at times, but we seemed to manage. Good to see the cars up close even if they weren’t at full speed. One old British boy in an equally old Ford Escort!

Back to the van to warm up with a tea and bacon sandwich!!

Refreshed and a bit warmer, programmed sat nav for Silves. Good start. Wanted to take me straight up the road closed for the rally! Having readjusted, it didn’t take long to reach Silves and find a spot in an Aire type place. Supposed to book in etc later on. Had a walk round the town and popped in the nearby swimming pool to use the facilities and to enquire about opening times etc. The woman on reception was very helpful and explained that the pool would be closing at 2pm today, and it would be closed all day Sunday. It would be open at 7:30 on Monday morning and I would be welcome to use it ; if. .... I had the French issue regulation trunks - check. Flip flops ??? - check. A bloody swim hat - no. Ok, do you sell them? No. The supermarket might, or try the Chinese shop! Unbelievable!

Having recovered from this conversation and decided against looking for a swimming hat later, (I probably will out of curiosity), I wondered up to the old castle and had a walk round.

On my return to the town centre, I found the football ground where by chance, FC Silves were about to kick off against FC someone else. (FC SE just taken the lead - good header from free kick). Rewind slightly. Bought my ticket (€2.50) got my seat in the stand and spent the first ten minutes working out who was which team!

Strange. No bovril available at half time. Red and white wine were options! FC Silves have just equalised with 20 minutes to go. Crowd went wild. Well bugger me. Just wrote that and FC Someone went up the other end and scored again. Crowd gone quiet again. Hell of a game Brian. Controversy right at the end as FC Someone had a man sent off for having a terrible hairstyle. Didn’t affect the result and they stole all three points.

Came back to the site and paid for two nights. First time I’ve paid in weeks. This has got electric and I thought the battery could probably do with a proper charge every now and again. Realised I’ve been ‘off grid’ ever since I’ve been in Portugal. Only supposed to cover me for a few days!!

Popped to supermarket and got a few bits. Bit sad, but I bought a mat for the van (reduced to €1.50). If I start buying Christmas decorations for the van, that’s really worrying!!

Bloody raining when I came out of shop. Debating whether to go into the town to get a drink or tea? Will ponder that. Need to charge Bluetooth speaker thing. Put Bluetooth speaker on charge. Went out in rain. Aimed for tapas type place which was closed. Had a vino tinto in a nice posh bar where a band was tuning up. A few hundred yards away I had passed a restaurant with an amazing (that word again) smell. An old boy was cooking chicken outside and I read some reviews whilst drinking my wine.

Positive feedback and the revelation that the restaurant was closed tomorrow meant that I should give it a try. I went and queued for 45 minutes then got a table. Fairly quickly I was given some bread, olives, salad, carrots; peppers and tomatoes. I had also ordered a carafe of red wine. I confirmed with the waiter that piri piri chicken would be fine and a platter of beautifully spiced chicken and fries arrived shorly after.

From the outside the surroundings might not have not look looked up to much. The smell of the chicken cooking and the number of people waiting for take away sort tables told you that this was a good place. After I had finished my chicken, a pudding arrived. More chocolate scrumminess.

Eventually, I made the nervous journey up to the bar area to pay and had to check twice when Raymondo said it was only €8!!!!!

Oh, and I did 8 miles today. Bloody thunderstorm to finish the day off. Rained so hard that some water started coming in from somewhere for a few minutes. Not sure where, but it stopped after a bit. Phew.

R. Dr. João de Meneses 16, 8300-153 Silves, Portugal

Sunday. Slowest of slow starts. It’s stopped raining. The sun is shining. I didn’t wake up in a huge puddle. Hopefully, the minor leak was just that and probably not surprising given the torrential downpour last night. \240Had a chat with my new Dutch neighbour who was impressed at the bright colours and how much stuff there is in the (relatively small) van. Once again, I’m the only camper van here, surrounded by massive motor homes.

Scrambled eggs again this morning. Used the eggs up! Quick walk to supermarket for an espresso and use of facilities! Slow walk around Silves. Classic car rally went past. Lots of hooting and tooting!

Also walked past the Cross of Portugal (Cruz de Portugal) which has some big historical significance. Did read a bit about this earlier this morning, but can’t remember the exact details now. Not very helpful. Profound apologies.

Somehow neglected to notice that there was a great big cathedral next to the castle yesterday. Rectified that today and dutifully paid the €1.50 entrance fee to have a wander round. Calm and peaceful and relatively traditional.

Went into two different Chinese shops and quietly reflected on how they managed to sell absolutely everything. Bought some air freshener in one and some cleaning spray and a pair of pants in the other. Why? I don’t really know.

Popped in to a little bistro place (Santa Sancha) up near the Castle. \240Delightful chicken toastie. That description probably doesn’t do it justice. Was good. I appear to lapse slightly on Sunday’s. Not quite proper ‘Sunday Lunch’ yet, but have had ‘hot food’ two weeks running.

Will do some more walking this afternoon. Promise. Strange sort of day. Probably the best Sunday so far weather wise. Sunshine and showers. Taking no chances though.

Came back to the van for a bit. Funny set up here. I guess it’s almost home to a lot of people. A proper little community. This British couple had arrived in their Motorhome and didn’t they want everyone to know it!! Loud or what. Shouldn’t have pissed me off, but did. Really full on and had their bloody awning out and camping chairs set up within five minutes of arriving, I like Silves and have had a good few days here, but it’s quite a different community (of ex-pats) to Monchique and Alferce. So far, and whilst it’s good to get the benefit of the electric hook up etc, I think I prefer the hippie feel to the Motorhome world of Silves.

On my afternoon perambulations, I happened upon a bird show in the building down the road. It was clearly drawing to a close, but seemed to be a serious business and there were loads of canary type birds of all different colours. There was even a bar!

Nipped into Lidl (open until 9pm on Sunday in Portugal) to get some salad to go with steak for tea. Noticed curious attraction in corner of Motorhome park on way back!

Went to music bar for a vino pre tea. Reasonable band playing. Quite a busy venue. Sat in really comfy armchair sipping glass of wine and didn’t really pay attention to music. Will have a pee and try and get a pic on way through. My patreons will be up in arms! (love that phrase). Mission accomplished.

Back to van for tea. Steak and Lidl salad was tidy. Listened to Mumford and Sons on speaker thing. Odd, meant to say earlier that I downloaded some Portuguese Pop after Shazaming it whilst sat on the loo at the supermarket earlier.

11 miles today.

Estrada Nacional 124, Lugar da Tapada, 8300-038 Silves, Portugal

Monday. Start of another working week. Having a period of contemplation before springing into life. Wondering whether to try the showers here (50 cents). That will be three showers in five days. Excessive ? Saw on Facebook that Chris Pyne (CHGS) was playing golf about forty minutes away at the werkend!

More reflection on the Motorhome park life. Not for me. It’s handy. Useful to get the electric etc, but not what I came to Portugal for. There are just little groups of British, Dutch, Germans etc sat in a compound. They all troop off in a line to empty their toilets in the morning. At least I have to go and explore a bit of Portugal to find a bloody toilet! Rant over. Not quite. Had a shower. Paid my 50 cents. Perfectly ok. Warming? But just didn’t compare to the constantly hot showers in Alferce. How much do they cost? Oh, thought I should put a picture of the supermarket where I am sat updating this blog and where I have probably spent 8% of my time in Silves. Thank you.

Thought it was time to treat the van (aka Margaret) to a jet wash. Not easy when the instructions are in Portuguese, but seemed to manage and a lot of cack was shifted. Would have tried to hoover or use the ‘aspirator’ but Pedro decided to park there while he went for breakfast! Another day Margaret.

Short trip to the Aire at Albufeira. Bigger and better than the one at Silves. More space. Nicer feel. So far. Booked for three nights. Note clean van!

Walked down the hill into Albufeira. The sea. Lovely. Spent an hour or so walking along the beach listening to Mumford and Sons. Definitely back in hippie mode this morning. At the far end of the beach spend some time looking at all the shells and other bits and pieces that were being washed up. Even put a couple of shells in the bag. Saddo!

Walked back into the main ‘touristy’ part. Lots of bars and souvenir shops. Got some cash out and got a couple of pasty type things from a Spar and sat on the beach and had lunch.

Not sure what was in one of the pasties, but it seemed to create a ‘rush of cold blood to the head’. \240Siam Thai Massage had an offer on 15 minutes back, shoulder and head massager for €15. Sounds straightforward. Once I was in I was trapped. Su Li said 30 mins was definitely better (€25). \240I agreed to her persuasive powers and was ushered into a ‘treatment’ room. \240She told me to take my socks and shoes off, take my top off and just leave my pants on!! I only wanted my back doing!! Good job I’d put clean pants on this morning, and they were the new ones I’d bought from the Chinese shop yesterday. That would surely impress Su Li. I was ordered to lie face down on the table with my head through a hole looking at a lotus flower on the floor (not a euphemism). To start she covered me with a sheet. Safe enough?. Then she climbed on the bloody table and I’m sure literally walked all over me. I then had the oily stuff all over my back and it did smell rather nice. I thought I’d pee’d myself at one point but then realised the table was heated and my legs were being warmed from below and by body pummelled from above! \240She then moved on to my arms and took great delight in pulling each finger out of its socket until it made a loud click. The ‘treatment’ finished with a hot towel over my head and Sue Li battering my temples and eyeballs. I was convinced my contact lenses had popped out. In a flash she said some Thai blessing type thing and told me to put my clothes back on! Not sure if it was pleasurable, but certainly invigorating and definitely an experience.

Came out of Siam City a little bewildered and the weather had certainly deteriorated since I had been staring at Su Li’s lotus flower. Bloody rain again, so stopped for a coffee and a little tart on way back to the Aire. What an afternoon.

Had a shower at the compound (not calling these Aires). It was free and ok. Always need shower after being out in the rain. Also after my exertions with Su Li, it was probably a good idea.

Walked in the rain into the town to a bar (Irish) \240recommended on Trip Advisor for its warm welcome etc. Unfortunately, the fact that the barmaid was outside gassing to some English tourists meant I got ignored and gave up waiting. I popped into a Portugese bar, where the owner was about to close, but was happy to serve me a vino (€1.10!). There’s a theme developing today.

Another van tea (austerity!). Frittata and salad. Incredibly quiet given how many vans are here. Walked over 13 miles today. Su Li probably walked a couple of miles over me.


R. Cândido de Oliveira 33, 8200-317 Albufeira, Portugal

Why do the sleep gods decree that (even though you’re tired) it’s a good idea to wake up at 2am. No cockerels, no dogs, no loud music, no wind and no heavy rain. Perhaps it was too quiet?? Strange. Anyway. Onwards and upwards. This site has ‘facilities’ but you need to bring your own Andrex. Bit overcast at the moment, but hope to find the marina today. Will get breakfast out too.

Undertook the usual domestic chores. Tidied van, did the washing up etc. No rush this morning. Came out of Aire/compound and found huge market near bus station. Massive and useful if I need some more pants or the worlds biggest tomatoes!

Wandered through some lovely gardens to a nice cafe where I had a coffee and toastie and updated blog and Bernie. Also messaged a couple I have been following on Facebook who are travelling round in a van and have just taken the ferry from Spain to Morocco!!!

Found ‘the strip’ where I could have been pierced several times over, tattooed on my entire body, massaged by Su Li’s extended family and eaten 38 Full English Breakfasts. If I had survived that, I could drank several ‘screaming orgasms’ or ‘slippery nipples’ (cocktails!), copious jugs of sangria or even a pint of John Smiths. Traditional Portugal? Even bloody Cliff Richard was getting involved. Wine but no mistletoe!! (Not my joke, I know!).

Started raining again about lunchtime, so popped back to Alcatraz and got the van out when the guards were doing a changeover. Drove down to the marina and the sun came out. Sat at a nice cafe and had a tuna sandwich and a really good pot of tea!

Walked right round the marina passed all the big posh yachts that costs thousands and down to the harbour where the tiny fishing boats set sail from. Quite a contrast.

Started bloody raining again, but gave me a good photo opportunity as a rainbow appeared right over Margaret!

Drove over to the big shopping centre and got a few bits for tea. Bought a ‘combi’ ticket for the cinema - drink, bucket of popcorn and ticket for not a great deal. Watch the latest Harry Potter ‘prequel’. Think I sort of understood it? More references and links to the Potter stories and clearly lined up for at least another movie.

Back to Colditz. Quick sandwich and so to bed.

Walked 15 miles today!

R. do Estádio 12, 8200-047 Albufeira, Portugal

Cheese and ham roll for breakfast in the van. Sunny start to Wednesday. Usual tidy up. Sure I’m getting slower to get moving. Slept better last night.

Set off for normal walk into the town, beach etc, but went a slightly different way and found a gorgeous little shopping area/market. It’s probably only a few hundred yards from Alcatraz, but I wonder if any of the ‘inmates’ ever come here. Lots of little shops and market stalls. Lovely place.

Used the facilities, but had a coffee. Usual practice. Walked round the ‘old town’ avoiding all Thai Massage Parlours. There are actually loads when you start looking. I wasn’t! Bought a nice bright beach towel. It was cheap, and sat on the beach (on the towel) and had some pastie type things for lunch. Weather seems fairly settled today. So far! It is bright. The weather and the towel!

Was stood on the cliffs when some bonkers Canadian woman (from Vancouver) asked me if I had done ‘the walk’? She then explained that you can walk round the cliffs for a mile or so admiring the waves and the “blowholes”, and that she had done it the other day with an Irish couple!! Fair play to her. She was getting on a bit too. Anyway, if she could do it, so could I.

To be fair to Clarissa, it was a dramatic walk. At one point I nearly wet myself when a German family stopped to looked down a blowhole that had formed in the middle of the path. Without any warning a huge wave shot in the hole and Fritz’s baseball hat went about twenty foot in the air. Totally blown off he was. Amazing. (Ok to use that word in a situation like that!)

After my arduous exertions I had to rest up on my new towel. I was worried that crowds might gather thinking there had been an accident of some sort and the GNR were on scene in their ‘hi viz’ but fortunately no such drama.

Stopped for a coffee and a (small) piece of chocolate cake in the quietest cafe in the old town. Only me and one other couple there. Unfortunately, he was a total loon and repeatedly shouted at his partner who kept looking at me and did the sign of the cross several times when ‘Psycho Philippe’ went to pay for his cheese and ham croissant. PP was clearly an angry man and kept raising his fist to Therese several times but thankfully didn’t do anything worse than that, although that was bad enough. After a bit, they moved to the tables outside and the old dear behind the counter looked slightly relieved. She tapped her head to give the indication that PP was either slightly unstable or from East Northants! Much fun.

Another weird thing. I’ve just had another shower. That’s two today. Lots of sand everywhere. Camp XRay is actually growing on me. It’s quite quirky. A few vans away, there’s a French bloke (assumption perhaps?) and the van across the road has just their bloody Christmas lights up!!

Bought some white wine yesterday but as is the norm in Portugal (home of the cork) it wasn’t a screw top. So, being practical, I have decanted it into an empty coke bottle. I just need to make sure I don’t get it mixed up with any other empty coke bottles I might utilise!!

Out for tea night. Can’t be arsed to go far, so consulted the gods at Trip Advisor and took a chance with Porta 10 - a burger/hot dog type place not far from Camp XRay, but in the opposite direction from the beach etc. Stopped and had a vino en route at the cafe I had a toastie at yesterday morning. Popped over the road to Porta 10 and ordered a 1/2 litre of wine and a Capone hot dog (fries included).

Success. Wine fine. Chips brilliant. Hot dog v good. Will do TA review ASAP. Not a bad evening if truth be told. Walked 14 miles today, then noticed this strange phenomenon around the moon as I got back to the van

R. do Estádio 12, 8200-047 Albufeira, Portugal

Thursday. Time to leave Guantanamo Bay. It’s grown on me. I wouldn’t want to stay here ‘long term’ or actually live here like some people must do, but it’s ok. It’s spread out enough. It’s functional. It’s cheap. Albufeira is a mix of Blackpool and Cornwall. Stunning coastline, gorgeous scenery, dramatic cliffs and wonderful beaches. It’s also got burger bars, English breakfast, Sky Sports and apparently one or two Massage parlours. Something for everyone, I guess. \240Frittata (is that what it’s called and bacon) for breakfast- leftovers basically!

Left Camp X-RAY and stayed on the ‘b’ roads towards Tavira. Took about an hour until I located the Aire - car park near the market. Set off for walk into the town and it started peeing down. Used my initiative and dived into the nearest cafe. Just had to have some lunch to be sociable and had an amazing (that bloody word again!) toastie. Basically a toastie stuffed with prawns and cheese and garlic mayo. Amazing! Again.

Did I mention earlier that it rained. Well it’s now 5:30 and I’m trying to catch up and I think it’s rained all bloody day. No lying on the beach with my hi viz towel today! Instead I have immersed myself in culture. Walked round the castle taking care not to skip on the slippery steps. Next I bought a €4 special church deal which got me in to two churches and up two bell towers. At the first church I aimlessly wandered up the tower with my hood up as it was peeing down. No health and safety warnings were given about the low beam at the top of the tower which I didn’t see because of the hood! Ouch.

Once I regained consciousness, I was okay to descend the tower and explore the main church. Wonderful building. Ornate, peaceful, calm serene etc.

It was fairly quiet in the church. Just another English family who I was convinced were foster parents given the make up of ‘the group’. Bad stereotyping. All of a sudden, this young old boy walked in, took his woolly hat off, placed his rucksack down and opened the lid of the grand piano that was in the church.

He proceeded to stun us all with the most amazing (I know!) display of piano playing imaginable. There was no music to read from. He just played. What on earth he was doing playing in a church in a small town in Portugal and not on a famous concert stage I do not know. There is hopefully a video clip which goes on a bit, but gives an idea of how good he was! Bravo.

After the impromptu recital, I walked up to church number 2 as part of my deal and safely negotiated the bell tower without any incident. I did notice that there are some rather strange, almost spooky statues in the church??

After a long walk round the town back to the van, I drove out to some estuary type things where a few vans were parked up. Might pop back there tomorrow if sun do shine. Nice old fort out there too.

Called in to local shopping centre to appease my Sport Zone addiction. Restricted myself to getting some socks. Necessity. Almost. Popped in Continente. That sounds quite funny. Bought some potential tea bits in case I feel the need to stay in the van tonight like a real hippie. Returned to van. Put jeans on. Went out.

Dropped in Irish bar for quick vino, then headed up to tiny Portuguese restaurant I had seen earlier. Cliche time. Best meal so far. Without question. Food. Wine. Ambience. Company, everything. The place only sat about four or five couples. It was like someone’s front room. Paula (the owner/chef) was a star. \240She talked me through the menu, but I was quite happy to have a chicken dish (meal of the day) and a cheese and marmalade thing for pudding which was so good. Sorry. Forgot to take pictures. Will explain.

The only other people in the restaurant were a Swedish couple who were staying in Tavira and chatted about Sweden when I told them I fancied the idea of travelling there. They left, and I chatted to another Swede who had relocated to Tavira about 18 months ago. We had a really good chat and he had a very similar philosophy to me with regards to our outlook on life. Quite reassuring. Another interesting conversation took place with Paula about Portugal, politics and taxation! Wonderful evening.

Walked 11 miles today.

Av. Dom Manuel 13, 8800-337 Tavira, Portugal

Black Friday, Sunny Friday. Heard all the lorries arriving at the market early doors. Why do markets always start early?? Slowly got moving and walked across to ‘Pastelaria Princesinha’ for a coffee. Only a €. Less hassle than making it in the van!

Washing day today, or I will have to find another bloody Chinese shop and buy some more pants. I’ve seen a launderette near a garage so will head there after coffee and utilising cafe’s facilities. It’s the simple things. On way back to van, I noticed a little shop doing fruit juice etc and bought a big cup of fresh orange juice. Really nice!!

Did washing, but bloody drier was in use so will have to pop back later to finish my laundry. Life can be so stressful sometimes. Drove ten minutes to Cabanas beach. Strange set up. You get a water taxi across the estuary thing for €1.50 then walk across a bit of land until you arrive at the most incredible beach that goes on for miles. And there’s hardly any bugger here!

Just walked for ages up and down the shoreline. Beautiful. 16 degrees and hardly any wind. Part of the beach is supposed to be a naturist beach, but I couldn’t work out which end and it was clearly ‘out of season’ for that sort of thing. Being either brave or foolish, I decided to have a swim. I also decided to declare a particularly quiet stretch of beach ‘Mark Naturist Section’. It all went swimmingly, so to speak. The water was cold, but not too cold. The sea was shallow and the experience was rather exhilarating. All good until it was time to get out and I noticed a bloody old woman had appeared from the dunes and had sat down about twenty yards from where my stuff was. I must have looked a right twat as I ninja’d out of the sea trying to cover my modesty hoping that granny Isabella was busy sorting her bits and pieces out. Ironically, by the time I had got my shorts on, she had obviously popped down to the actual nudist beach and unleashed her 44DD which bounced off her knees as she walked across the sand!

Not surprisingly perhaps, it went a bit cloudy after that and I got the water taxi back across to civilisation. My days of naturism were short lived. A coffee in the sunshine (it came out as soon as I left Mrs 44DD) looking out on to the estuary type thing.

Drove back to Tavira and tumbled my smalls. \240Hoovered the van whilst waiting then ‘made my way’ to the car park near the market. Had a walk round the town before it got dark. Tired tonight. Think I’ve got sunstroke. Worrying after the things I exposed to the sun today. The Sam’s arrived in Iceland this morning (the country, not the shop). 5 degrees there. A contrast. I bet he hasn’t been skinny dipping!

Lazy Friday night. Walked yards to bar at the back of the market. Wine on draught and sort of peanut/bean things on bar. Ok place. Thinking about heading into Spain tomorrow. Different country, different time zone!!

Reflection time. Daft. Never been in this bar before. Don’t know anyone. Just sat at the bar drinking my wine, eating the snacks, watching the people. Feel totally safe. Nobody gives me the ‘look’. Not made to feel like an outsider. Like. Got quite busy and it was entertaining watching the old boy behind the bar trying to keep everyone served with beer and fed with tostas. Nice old boy.

Returned to van for tea in. Back to austerity after the extravagances of last night. Had a tin of Irish Stew (Portugese style). Added a few bits to it. Tidy job. That is white wine in the bottle!

Settled down for the night, when some woman knocked on my window. Hello, I thought! She was only helpfully telling me that there is an outside market in the morning, and I would be better to move to the middle bit. Otherwise, I would have several irate market traders waking me at 6:30 wanting to set up a pants stall where Margaret was parked!! Moved ten yards.

Walked 12 miles. Swam naked!

Av. Dom Manuel 25, 8800 Tavira, Portugal

Swansea against Norwich today. Sunny so far. Promising to keep my clothes on today. Effects of sunstroke seem to have dissipated overnight. Big relief. Took some pictures of the waterways near where I am parked. Lovely light early in the morning.

Walked round the market and got some coffee and toast. Have to see I was a bit disappointed with the toast portions!!

Goodbye Portugal, hello Espagne. Crossed a river, a new language, time zone, country. Just like that. \240No toll roads, but roads really good and it didn’t take long to get to Seville. Big, busy place. Managed to find parking area without too much stress! Went for a walk to the football ground and got a ticket for the La Liga match between Seville and Valladolid tomorrow afternoon! Well pleased.

Really impressive ground (from the outside); only about half an hours walk from where I’m parked and on the edge of a shopping centre and cinema complex, as most football grounds seem to be!

Stopped for lunch at a busy cafe not far from the ground and will do some research about what else is about! Sam keeps sending through wappy recommendations. Hard to keep up. Swansea losing. I am officially a Seville supporter now. Gone a lot colder this afternoon, so came back to van to get some trousers and a hoody. Will go for a wander and look at some of Sam’s suggestions!

So, the rain in Spain falls mainly on bloody Seville. That wasn’t in the plan. Quite nice when I set off. Loads of people out though and was able to get some atmospheric pictures.

Tired and emotional, I got back to the streets near the van and was going to resign myself to noodles again. All the restaurants in the centre were mega busy and ultra touristy. Then, I found this empty place that did tapas etc.

With a bit of help from google translate (not much) and two young old boys who were just leaving, we got on really well. Had a whisky tortilla and some tasty meatballs in a quiet Spanish bar. No tourists. Oh yeah. Me.

Is this trip about the people or the places? Interesting question. I shall reflect further on that in due course. Perhaps it could be the title of my book? Found a Chinese shop on way home and bought some chocolate. Nice drop of white port and cheap chocolate for pudding. Evening all.

14 miles today.

Av. Presidente Adolfo Suarez, 4, 41011 Sevilla, Spain

Seville is quite noisy at night. There are advantages to having a central location in a big city. There are disadvantages! Lots of shouting, synchronised car alarms etc. Even the bloody clip clip of the horse drawn carriage things that go round the city. I think I was a bit noise sensitive last night! Grey and drizzly so far.

Paid for my parking and booked another night. Football day and my first as a Seville supporter. Come on you mighty Seville! Short walk to local (non tourist) shops for breakfast etc.

Stopped for coffee break (cortado!) and facility usage.

Interesting place. Smaller version of market thing in Lisbon. Range of different ‘foody’ outlets all under one roof. Tapas, seafood, burger bars, wonderful cheese shop. Yummy. Had an interesting reflection whilst sat down earlier. Given how much time I spend in ‘public’ toilets, it is intriguing how many different sorts of locks there are on toilet doors. Bolts, slidy things, hi tech, lo tech, sometimes nothing at all. Some doors open inwards. Some outwards. Fascinating really.

Went a bit strange after cortardo. Saw weird looking cheese thing. Declared early lunchtime. Tasted very good.

Walked a bit further to another market. Tempted by some spicy fried pork with garlic and some dry white wine. Bit early, I know. Absolutely lovely.

Got to the Seville ground in good time. The cynical amongst you would say I might have got there a touch early

I like to have a wander round, savour the atmosphere, work out where everything is etc. I watched the team buses arrive, had a look in the club shop. Though about buying a Seville shirt, but didn’t- same as I do at Swansea! Got some Coke Zero and a selection of nuts (3 for a €). Bargain.

Good atmosphere throughout the game. Seville won 1-0 and Vallodollid had two goals disallowed for offside. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bloody rained again afterwards. Stopped for a drink to get out of the rain (of course) then had a tasty cod dish at ‘Hops and Dreams’.

Long walk back to the van in the dark and rain and with battery failing! Interesting. Not helped when Miguel decided to drive his Seat Ibiza straight through a big puddle and splash my (non-waterproof) walking trousers. Fascist.

Walked 14.5 (predominantly wet) miles today. Has any one of the many patreons counted up the miles walked yet? A tally chart or something perhaps? Why does it always bloody rain on a Sunday!!??

Av. Presidente Adolfo Suarez, s/n, 41011 Sevilla, Spain

Much less noisy last night until some bloody cats started to kill each other (or something else) at silly o’clock! What a bloody noise. Never mind. The sun is shining. Forgot to mention, I had to do some minor surgery on my toe last night. Blister decided it wanted to come off!!

Adios Seville. It’s been fun! And rainy. Managed to get out of the city ok, even though google maps had gone upside down on the sat nav screen! Not helpful. Stopped at some town for coffee etc. Got haircut there too. Tidy job. Young old boy called Oscar!

Nice drive to Jerez. Decent enough roads. Initially parked near indoor swimming pool. Another GB Motorhome there. Will see what it’s like later on. Half hour walk into main town. Found some tapas places to hopefully visit tonight. Also came across a Hamman - steam bath thing. Might go in the morning. Paid €5 to visit cathedral. Really enjoyed it. Very interesting. Security guard took some time to talk to me about a really old painting. Is it the people??

Had a drive around and found a massive retail park that makes Rushden Lakes look puny. Had traditional afternoon coffee and cake.

Interesting reflection on social media this afternoon. I have tried to put some of my better pictures on Instagram. Nothing dodgy you will understand. Some arty location pics and some ‘people’ photos. Apparently, a picture of an old lady sat under a bull’s head in Seville has led to me being ‘followed’ by an ‘erotic’ shop in that city. I wonder if I will get discount??

Fabienne (from Germany) must have liked one of my pictures. She messaged me and said hello. I said hi. She sent another message in German which I put into google translate. Basically it said that she is 30, divorced, has a daughter and me!! No small talk. No discussion about interests. That’s it. Fabienne has declared us an item. I need a drink!!

Made it to the centre of Jerez and popped into a quiet ish bar. Asked the man which sherry he recommended. Think he suggested amontillado. At one € a glass, I thought it was a good recommendation!

Is it the people?? The old boy behind the bar just brought me some other sherry to try; the sweeter stuff and spent some time telling me about all the different sherries. Priceless. I’ve spent one €. He even recommended a place near Cadiz where they do a really sweet sherry which is good in the morning!!!

Several tasters later, I extricated myself and made it to my objective - the tapas bar I had been aiming for. Bar Las Banderillas. Thought I’d better have a change from the sherry, so ordered a white wine and chose some tapas with Rosa’s assistance. Had a fish course, followed by meatballs, followed by oxtail!

Wonderful food, wonderful setting. Excellent wine and great value at €15. Nice place Jerez. Walked 14 miles today.

N-4, 639, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain

Very quiet last night. Maybe too quiet after Seville! Anyway, up early trying to work out a plan for the next few days. Got a rough triangular route worked out in my head! Decided agains Marbella, Malaga etc and going more historical. Might be hysterical if it doesn’t work out. First things first and a trip to the supermarket is required. Extremely dangerous as I nearly burnt myself on the chocolate croissant!!

Recovered from croissant situation and decided to go and check the Hamman Baths I had seen yesterday. Easy to miss, hidden away in a little street near the police station.

Paid for a session in the three pools (hot, cold and warm) and a 15 minute massage. Lovely place inside. Very authentic. Dark, but lots of candles, arab type music, smelly sticks etc. Got served sweet Moroccan tea and alternated between the three pools as instructed. Warm was pleasant, hot was very warm, and cold was absolutely freezing. After about forty minutes, Carmen (dressed in a swimsuit) called me for my massage. I was told to get on the table and look down the hole! No lotus flower this time, just the occasional glimpse of Carmen’s legs and her pink crocs. (That’s her footwear, not a euphemism). Very pleasant experience and more pool time afterwards. Back to reality and back to the car. Filled up with diesel - fair bit cheaper on Spain and headed off to the hills and a town called Algodonales.

About an hour or so’s drive, passing the Jerez racing circuit and a very picturesque lake before arriving at the Aire. Few vans already in place. Only half the site had electric available. Really nice Dutch bloke (might have been German) explained the electric situation to me. He even went round testing the other sockets to see what else was working and offered to lend me a longer lead if needed. The two English blokes just sat in their vans. They were okay and weren’t going to put themselves out for anyone else. Managed to squeeze van into a place where I could ‘hook up’. Thanks boys.

Amazing location though. In the hills and surrounded by more hills. Dick the Dutchman pointed out the eagles soaring above the rocks behind us and said that apparently lots of people come here to do wind/kite flying or something?? Paragliding! That’s what it’s called. Just seen it on a van.

Had a good wander round the town. Lovely place. Reminds me a lot of Monchique. Couldn’t get over how warm it was. 18 even though we are quite high up in the mountains. Crazy how all the houses are built in terraces up the hills. Stopped and had a coffee and got a free little cake!

Back to van and had a tidy up. Cold in the mountain when sun goes down! Walked back in to the town and had a lovely glass of wine for a € with some olives. Moved next door and got a selection of tapas - tuna, chicken in a spicy sauce and braised steak thing. Do like the variety of the tapas world.

So, I’m sat sipping my wine slowly and sort of listening to the English group on the table next door. Actually, they were the only other people in the bar at this point. Anyway, the old boy says, ‘don’t I know you from somewhere?’.. That’s never been said before. He asked where I was from. Said Wales. The other old boy in his group was only from Carmarthen!! Shut up! Been living out here five years. Incredible. Oh and the bill came to €9. 3 tapas, loads of bread, crisps, breadsticks and a glass of white wine. Drop bloody dead.

Walked 12 miles today. Popped another blister tonight. Very rewarding!

Av. de la Constitución, 9, 11680 Algodonales, Cádiz, Spain

Tuesday?? Lovely morning. Coffee and bread and cheese sat outside in the sunshine. Walked up to the village and got an espresso at the tapas bar I went to last night. Had to ninja into the ladies for a quick sit down as the boys only had a standing up thing! What’s that about??

Drove the short distance to the white washed town of Zahara, which is perched on a hill overlooking an amazing (I know) lake. Little castle at the top of the hill - isn’t there always, and a lovely little church which I popped in to.

After the climb to the top of Zahara, I felt lunch was in order and went ‘off message’ and had garlic soup (with an egg in it) sat in a pretty impressive location!

Had a drive right round the lake and stopped up in the hills to take some pictures. Some old boy (who at first I thought was dead!) was having a siesta under the trees! Must be the thing to do.

Found a cool (well bloody hot actually) place by the lake,where I sat in my shorts for an hour sunbathing. Didn’t see anyone. Apart from a rabbit up on the bank. Bonkers. Again.

Came back to the Aire at Algodonales and kept my place (and hook up) from last night. Walked up to the town, had a Coke Zero and sat out in the sun watching the world go by!

Popped back to the van for a bit and got some warmer clothes on for evening time. Went to El Cortijo tonight. More delicate approach to tapas. Very tasty. Prawns, followed by lamb chops. Fine dining.

9 miles today.

Calle Torero Francisco Romero, 7, 29400 Ronda, Málaga, Spain

Goodbye Algodonales. Enjoyed it. Lovely place. Relatively short drive to Ronda. Found Aire ok. Quiet when I got there. Electric available (on meter!), so hooked up!

Short walk around the corner to a little bar for an espresso and facilities stop!

Didn’t take long to reach town centre and long Main Street. Popped into big church/cathedral? Not sure which.

At the end of the Main Street is the bull ring, paid €7 and spent nearly an hour walking around the place. Whatever your views are on bullfighting, you have to admire the history, tradition, architecture and culture of this building. It’s like an historical football ground, with stands and certain sections for dignitaries and royalty etc.

Spending a peaceful November lunchtime walking round ‘the arena’ it is hard to imagine the noise, passion and mayhem that must take place here. It is only when you pass the ‘bullfighters chapel’, ‘the infermerie’ and the area in which the bulls would be kept that you are reminded what this building is all about.

Ironically, adjoining the bullring is a riding school with amazing facilities for training horses in dressage etc. Yet, less than 30 yards away other animals are cooped up in very different conditions awaiting a contrasting fate.

Last bit on the bullring. More irony. Had to take this picture of the baby in the pushchair. Wouldn’t always be safe to park it there!

Less than half a mile away are these amazing (yes!) bridges across this huge gorge. How??

Beautiful views. Stunning scenery.

Beggars belief how it was possible to construct such a construction (clumsy English, I know). Incredible. Think I am using that word a lot too. Whilst wandering around at the bottom of the gorge (that sounds wrong), I saw this peacock sat on a wall minding its own business!

Just after that a Milton Keynes number called me. Some voluntary directory just wanting to know that they still had the right number for Catch22 Rapid Response!! Fascists.

Ok. Decided to try out Ronda’s arab bath spa facilities. Slightly cheaper than those in Jerez and more ‘things to do’.

Ice bath had actual ice being dropped into it; there were hot tubs out in the garden and a traditional steam room area as well as a modern day sauna. Carmel (Carmen’s cousin) also wore Crocs (strange leaf design) and a dental nurse type uniform. Think overall I probably preferred Jerez - more traditional, I had the place to myself and most importantly, I didn’t have to wear a silly bloody hair net! Not my finest moment.

Hungry and thirsty after all that spa ing. Stopped at nice little bar for a vino and some olives gratis. Splashed out on a tapas of octopus in chilli mayonnaise for a whole €1!

Austerity slipped a bit on the way back when I found a really nice place that did good burgers. Thought I better try one to be sociable. Scrummy. Even had a lemon shot for afters and not far to walk back to the van.

Walked 12 miles today.

Calle Antigua Cañada Real, 10D, 29400, Málaga, Spain

What day is it? Sometimes it is difficult living in a van. Even though it’s a relatively small space, you often lose things. Yesterday, for example, I ‘lost’ the charging cable for the camera. Don’t know why, but Panasonic decided to make a slightly different connection to the other ‘generic’ one. The one that charges every other ‘non Apple’ gadget, and which I have plenty of cables. I had a look in the Chinese shop, but couldn’t be sure I would be buying the right one. Thought about registering with Amazon Spain and ordering a replacement, when I found it. Safe and sound and connected to the travel charger at the front of the van.

Late last night it also transpired that I mislaid a day this week. Not sure how, but I was convinced that yesterday was Wednesday, tomorrow (ie today) was Thursday, yada, yada, yada. Apparently not. Today is Friday. Thursday has gone. Vamooshed. How did this happen? No idea? The mountain air in Algodonales? The sherry in Jerez? No matter. Reality has dawned. Thursday has been taken from me. On the positive side, the weekend is upon us. At last. I can relax and take things easy.

Gave the van a good clean and jet wash. Nice site. Good facilities. Drove to local supermarket to get a few bits. Two old boys (must have been late sixties) fighting in the street!! Surreal. Few motorists stopped. And they stopped and just walked off their separate ways. One of them with his wife who was pulling her shopping trolley and didn’t seem at all bothered !!!

Cool drive through the mountains down to the coast on some scary roads. Incredible scenery; cold and misty one minute then the clouds cleared and you could see the sea shimmering in the distance.

As you got closer to the coast, several wonderful looking golf courses came in to view in the valleys below. Looked very impressive. Arrived at Manilva (on the coast) and had lunch by the sea. Temperature now reached 21 degrees!! \240Could only see three other people sat on beach. Lovely place. So warm!

Did briefly go in the sea and did keep all my clothes on today. Not too cold. Honest! Had a walk towards the marina (posh boats, you know the score). Lots of very nice apartments etc round the marina. Plenty of bars and definitely aimed at the UK market. Quite odd hearing lots of English people talking. Wasn’t my scene. Prefer the ‘traditional’ Spain/Portugal. Really daft thing is that you drive half an hour inland and you will find a wonderful village with properties at silly prices. Marina is not for me. Don’t care what she looks like!

Contemplated staying at the coast, but drove twenty minutes inland to Casares. Lovely town and parked van overlooking valley with distant views of the Rock of Gibraltar!

Half hour walk into the town, so had a wander then had a vino in the main square early doors. Will sit here and people watch and then have a van tea tonight.

Cool town. Relaxing having a wine in the cafe watching the people. Everyone seemed to be out, and everyone was saying hello to each other. Like it.

Lovely sunset in the distance by the time I got back to the van.

Cooked traditional ‘noodle surprise’ and retired early with some fake smarties. Very nice and apparently not one of your five a day???

Walked 10 miles today.

A-7150, 29690 Casares, Málaga, Spain

Saturday. December!!!!

What a view out of your window in the morning!! Not a bad nights sleep. Quite windy at times, but it is very high up here. Then the bloody council turned up in their lorry to empty the bins at 7!! Too efficient.

Drove down to the coast and on to Gibraltar. Interesting that it was only in the last few miles that you actually see any signs for Gibraltar. I suppose the bloody great rock is something of a signpost??

Found parking place ok. Right behind football ground and across the road from the sea! Got speaking to English bloke in great big van next door who has been driving round Europe with his family since February!

Called into McDonald’s near border to use facilities. Had a coffee and Spanish McDonald’s breakfast roll!

Gibraltar. Where do I start? Theme park on a rock? \240Huge amount of colonial history? Time to give it back??

Quick walk through customs and Spanish passport control and you are in Britain! British traffic lights, British police officers, lots of British people! Walk a bit further, then cross the bloody runway!

Police stop the pedestrians and the traffic for the planes to take off and land; then they lift the barriers and everyone scurries across the runway again! Once in Gibraltar there is a strange mix of British and Spanish. Spanish weather, lots of Spanish being spoken, then you pass a Nat West Bank and a military procession goes past.

Took the cable car up to ‘the rock’ where most of the tourist attractions are centred.

Almost as soon as we got out of the cable car, the first monkeys were seen. There was a cafe at the top and the monkeys were everywhere. A boy was deployed at the door of the cafe with a broom to try and keep the pesky gibbons at bay. A thankless task. They would fly past him and pinch whatever they could from the unsuspecting customers.

Not content with stealing food, some would jump on peoples backs (especially those with rucksacks!!). Bit strange how they allow wild animals to potentially savage innocent Welsh tourists with a blue rucksack. If I have monkey nightmares tonight, I will hold Theresa May personally responsible.

Bravely, I negotiated my way through the marauding monkeys to the caves (St Michael’s). Even though they surrounded the entrance, no monkeys ventured underground, so it was a peaceful and wonderful experience. Very impressive.

Apparently, they hold concerts here, which must be an interesting experience.

After the caves, more monkey dodging until I reached the ‘siege tunnels’. Massive network of tunnels carved into the rock to help the British withstand attack from the Spanish in the 1700’s. Later developed further in the Second World War.

What else? Visited a Moorish castle and a cafe managed by the ancient Moroccan tribe called Costa for a late lunch. Bought some fruit gums (five a day and all that) and some cheap gin and then headed back to civilisation (Spain). Went for a quick walk when I got back to the van. Amazing sunsets behind the rock.

Walked into La Línea for a drink and something to eat. Felt better than going into Wetherspoon’s land back across the border.

It got better. Lots of people out. Spanish. Civilised. Cool. Even Christmassy.

Found another cool tapas bar for ‘’main meal’. Great atmosphere and got talking to some old boy who could be an international drugs dealer, but recommended a tapas for me to try!

And so to bed. Interesting day. 16 miles.

Av. Príncipe de Asturias, 230, 11300 La Línea de la Concepción, Cádiz, Spain

Gibraltar/La Línea Day 2. Sunday and the weather is okay!! Not a bad view again to wake up to?

Laundry day. Walked in to La Línea and found laundry. Went for coffee and toast whilst washing doing. Will go back in to Gibraltar later and have a leisurely stroll around some of the bits I didn’t see yesterday. Helpfully helped English woman with the intricacies of the Spanish laundry system. Think she was a laundry virgin, so to speak. Took clean stuff back to van and walked along beach to edge of airport runway, where the barbed wire border extends into the sea. Does seem daft. Crossed through passport control again and stood for a while waiting for two EasyJet planes to leave Gibraltar. Walked down to the marina. Yes, lots of posh boats, casinos, and Irish pubs. Wonderful.

Having felt like my trip up ‘the rock’ was like Jumanji 3 in avoiding the monkeys, I thought a day on ground level would be safer. But no. Gibraltar is now home to a killer bloody caterpillar!!

Sought sanctuary in Morrison’s and got some bits for lunch on the move. Please note the fresh fruit!

Walked round the coast to Europa Point; the bottom of Gibraltar and where Morocco and Africa seems to be in touching distance. Quite a significant place in geographical and historical terms. A bit weird thinking that Africa is so near!!

Walked back through some of the less salubrious parts of Gibraltar. Lots of high rise flats and perceived (on my part) poverty. Such a contrast to the flashy yachts and apartments down at the marina. All the shops in the main bit were closed, so walked into the football stadium where the match between Gibraltar Phoenix and Gibraltar United had just started.

Gibraltar (red) won 1-0. Blues centre half taken off to hospital in an ambulance! Foot injury. Much drama.

Back to the van for a change of trousers and tidy up. Walked in to Spain. Bit quieter than last night. Few more bars shut. Went back to same tapas bar. Realised that everything on menu is named after a footballer. Didn’t spot that last night. I’ve ordered a Guardiola, Dani and a Torres!!

So good. All delicious. Loads of flavours. Loved it. Could have ordered another three!

Really cool place. Sat and watched the chef man cut the ham like a highly skilled surgeon. Brilliant.

Walked 19.9 miles today.

Av. Príncipe de Asturias, 230, 11300 La Línea de la Concepción, Cádiz, Spain

Monday morning. Not a bad view to start the working week!

Quick tidy up. Paid the man and adios Gibraltar/La Línea. Enjoyed it. Weird. Contrasts. Preferred Spanish side. Did I mention that! ? This is the football ground where I parked for my two nights. They played away yesterday. Must check the result at some point.

Drove towards Tarifa and stopped for a coffee at a cafe with one of the best views ever! Africa in touching distance

Even put €1 in the telescope outside. Could make out the windmills on the hills in Morocco, but not a lot else. Traffic police pulling people in outside the cafe when I left. Sure they stopped the British couple in the Motorhome who were parked next to me last night. Woman was a miserable bugger anyway,

Arrived in Tarifa soon after. Quick facility stop at supermarket and then parked at Campervan place. Technically says it’s €8 a night, but recent reviews have said they might have stopped charging - end of season etc.

Had a walk along the beach and up to an old disused fort. Beautiful day. 17 degrees and none of the strong winds that Tarifa is renowned for.

Lovely beach between fort and port (poetry). Bought a cheap lunch from supermarket (apples included) and sat in the sun for a few hours. Location unfortunately lost stars on my trip advisor review due to the two young Spanish women who felt it was appropriate to sunbathe topless. The situation was made worse by their cavorting on the beach and in the water taking pictures for Instagram, I shouldn’t wonder. I certainly won’t be ‘liking’ their pictures!! Disgusting as Nadine would say.

Having averted my gaze, I decided to have a walk round some of Tarifa and look at the more cultural aspects on display. There was an old castle (there’s always a castle) and I also had a wander round the ferry terminal and watched the big boats coming back and forth from Morocco.

Slow walk back to the van to charge phone. Also took advantage of showers near beach for a ‘freshen up’. Not the warmest or most private shower I have ever had (I did keep my shorts on!), but it did help me feel a bit fresher. Changed into trousers (and clean socks) and walked down to beach just after sunset. Magical. Not a lot more to say. Beautiful. Stunning. Etc. Etc.

Walked to supermarket; utilised facilities and got a few bits. Dropped them back to van. Had a couple of Vinos at nice bar on edge of old town. Van tea tonight. Tired.

15 miles today and a lot of visual stress!!

Urbanizacion la Marina, 19, 11380 Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

Tuesday. Bloody sand everywhere. Situation compounded by knocking packet of crisps all over the shop. Operation Deep Clean to start the day. \240Soon sorted it and van restored to reasonable condition. Dick the Dutch man came over to speak to me. He’s got a VW California and asked if my van was new. He was quite surprised when I said it was six years old and impressed at the storage and kitchen conversion etc. He has got a caravan near Malaga and then goes touring round in the Campervan during the winter. Nice old boy.

Walked into Tarifa for a coffee and usual morning sit down. Steady pace of life here. Well fairly slow really. Dizzy Tarifa in picture - late edit! Didn’t know this man at time picture was taken!

It had warmed up nicely by late morning, so I thought a pleasant few hours at the beach would be a good way of spending a Tuesday afternoon in early December. Disappointed to see that the buxom blonde lady who was topless yesterday, appeared to have forgotten the top half of her bikini again. Contemplated taking my lenses out, but will grin and bear it I suppose. We all have to make sacrifices.

Combination of hot temperatures and local scenery led to me venturing into the waters for a swim and to cool down. Not sure if it’s the Mediterranean or the Atlantic? The Medlantic?? Luckily, two Spanish grannies were just entering the aqua at the same time as I did. Renata and Andréa had good local knowledge and quickly spotted the Medusa jellyfish and warned me about its dangerous sting. Renata went and fetched a Tupperware container and just like Crocodile Dundee, fished one of the Medusa into the Tupperware dish and hurled it onto the rocks. One less to worry about I suppose?

Just realised that there’s been an old boy stood twenty yards down the beach (near topless section) for the last two hours. On his own, in his hat and coat. Seems happy enough; not surprised!! Nipplerama.

Another Spanish bloke came and sat near me and spoke to another chap in English. Told him he was going to read his book for a bit, then swim across to the island where the fort is. I thought he was taking the piss, but at about three o’clock, he adjusted his speedos, put his goggles on and swam across to the island and back!! He was very matter of fact about it and said it was only the length of three football pitches!! I had just recovered from ‘marathon man’ when another bloke walked past with a parrot on his shoulder!!

Time for a walk along the other beach, where the kite surfers were in full flow. Very dramatic stuff and they get up to some really high speeds.

Another beautiful sunset in Tarifa. No need for words. Just pictures.

Back to the van. Second good deed of the day after averting my gaze earlier today. Lent English man in van next door a torch. He had a great big old Motorhome and had pranged the front of it yesterday and had been at it all day trying to sort it. He seemed grateful.

Popped in here (Misrana?) and got a wine. Ordered a posh toastie thing which the menu says is a Tarifa speciality?? Basically, raw tuna, chopped up with tomatoes, herbs on mayonnaise on toast. Raw fish is not everyone’s cup of tea (if you know what I mean), but it was actually quite good. Clever in that the raw tuna and tomato looked very similar.

Called on to ‘Bossa’, the bar I went to yesterday. Quiz night. Quiz night with a Christmas theme! Everyone wearing Christmas hats. Seemed really odd, but watching the quiz was good fun.

Walked 12 miles today.

Av. Andalucía, 15, 11380 Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

Wednesday apparently. Think it was about this time last week that I lost a day. I will be more vigilant this week. Potentially last day in Tarifa?? May force myself to spend some on beach again later. Been quite windy in the night, but it’s fairly sheltered there. Breakfast out today. Went for a ‘combo’. Coffee, juice, and avocado on toast. Good start to the day.

Told you it was a strange place. I’ve got quite used to people coming round selling lottery tickets, but an old boy just came in the cafe trying to sell socks, lights and sets of cutlery!!

Found Wednesday, lost two bosoms. Sad day. High winds today meant that the coastguard had advised the buxom blonde against unleashing her assets on Playa de Fort (I made that up; not sure what this beach is actually called). I totally understand their concerns. Strong gusts could have projected those melons and knocked a small child over. The two ‘more petite’ Spanish Senoritas were permitted to reveal as on previous days, so we were down to a total of four breasts until María had to go home for lunch!

Even though it’s a bit windier today, it’s still nice and warm against the shelter of the wall. Sea a bit choppy, but been in for a swim. Not sure about the old boy ten yards to my right? Maybe he had a heavy night or just feels the cold?

And if I turn to my left, something of a contrast?

Spent the afternoon listening to the new album by the 1975 and also the latest on the Brexit fiasco. Went for a swim as well. Just the one today. The crazy man who swam to the island came back this afternoon and parrot man also walked past again. Went for a stroll around the town at five ish and saw there’s a band on in one of the pubs tonight. Might go and have a listen?

Called in cafe opposite the port for a coffee and a sliver of chocolate cake. Very nice. Very busy cafe.

Popped in to a fairly quiet bar near the music venue for a ‘pre gig’ beer. Somehow spent nearly two hours talking to the bloke who owns the place about life in Tarifa. He’s been living here for about twenty years and spoke a lot about his frustration with Spanish bureaucracy etc. He also told me about his girlfriend who lives in Slovakia??? Nice old boy. Looked a lot like Jamie Wilcox who used to work for Catch22!

Eventually made it to Bar 12 where the internationally renowned ‘Cold River’ were half way through the first part of their set.

Place got really busy and Tarifa seems to come to life on a Wednesday. Several bars that I thought had shut down for the winter opened and were really lively.

Spoke to a few people I had seen about over the past few days. Cool place.

Walked 14 miles today.

Mar Adriatico, 11, 11380 Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

Thursday. Constitution Day in Spain. Bank Holiday, I’ll take it easy today!! New cafe this morning. Not far from parking place and on way to supermarket, but supermarket closed because it’s a bank holiday!

Cool little cafe, lovely breakfast. Salmon toast, with avocado, rucola, red onion and vegan wasabi ali-oli. €4!!

The winds have subsided, temperatures risen to a high of 22 degrees and coastguards have allowed the buxom blonde back on to Playa Chica. Strangely, the two Spanish senoritas have vamooshed? Most odd. Maybe it’s something to do with the bank holiday?? \240 Think they were returned to the beach after lunch along with a granny who was more than happy to get them out for the boys! Lots more people about today because of the Bank Holiday. Odd seeing the ferries from Morocco rumbling back and forth every hour or so. Some of them are bloody massive things.

Got speaking to Frederic the windsurfing Swede and Lena? his partner aka the buxom blonde. Fortunately, she had found her bikini top by this point, so I could look her between the eyes. Apparently, they had driven from Sweden in a Nissan Micra with two bikes on the car and all Frederic’s windsurfing kit onboard and on the roof. The had been fined by the Spanish and Portugese police for obscuring the number plate and not having the right bike carrier!

Popped back to van for a quick change after another difficult day at the beach. Called into Spanish bar in the old town where a flamenco band were playing. Really busy in there and a really good atmosphere.

Adjourned to a tapas bar in the centre of the old town. Had a mini burger and the biggest plate of patatas bravas ever. Discreet use of serviette to conceal unfinished patatas.

One glass of vino in Bar Bossa on way home and so to bed.

Walked about 12 miles today.

Pista Vereda de la Reginosa, 11391 Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

Escape from Tarifa. Possibly briefly. Possibly longer term. \240First job (after visit to supermarket) was a trip to car wash to vacuum the bloody sand out. Topped up with diesel too. Drove twenty minutes up coast to Bolonia. First stop. Culture. Visited the Roman ruins at Baelo Claudia. Very well organised and set out place. Ironically as a member of the EU, we get free admission! \240Beautiful location as well overlooking the coast.

‘Official’ parking place seems to be closed, so parked in ordinary car near beach with some other vans for now. Will review situation later. Walked along beach to giant sand dunes at far end. Climbed up them and back down again before stopping for picnic on beach.

Reassuring to know that ‘project topless’ not confined to Tarifa and fortunately the scenery didn’t put me off my cheese and ham roll. After an hour up ‘dune end’ I took a stroll down the other way and was shocked to see a section cordoned off for ‘naturism’.

Sensibly, it was 1000 metres away from the main beach and I hate walking!! Upon reaching Camp Buff, there wasn’t a great deal to see. One old boy was having his lunch and peeling his banana (I think??) and another couple were cavorting and taking pictures of each other!! Bravely I removed my shorts and sat behind some rocks. No sooner had I exposed myself to the elements when I noticed a Spanish family passing the ‘nudist beach’ sign. Mum, dad, two young children and two little terriers. I did think about warning my fellow nuders that minors were approaching, but was worried my Spanish wasn’t up to the job. I didn’t know how the prospect of me running up to Andre and Andrea and pointing excitedly at their todgers and furry fandangos respectively (it was very furry- even from a distance!) would be received. Even if I was trying to warn them that bambino’s were approaching, I was concerned that there could be a communication breakdown. Sensibly, I just put my shorts on and waited until the illiterates from Cadiz had safely passed!

Back to the van and I got the drone out. Unfortunately it needed calibrating and I looked liked some demented loon spinning round and round in circles trying to calibrate the bloody thing. There must have been a nuclear reactor buried under the beach because it kept saying there was too strong a magnetic field. Given the weird looks I was getting, I gave up and just took some ‘ordinary’ pictures instead.

Called in at nearest bar for a vino on way to possible tea out. Like the bloody Wild West. Some hillbilly decided it was a good idea to keep driving past and let of fireworks! Me and Alfonso thought we had lost our hearing at one point! Not much else to do in Bolonia in December??

Walked in the dark and mist to the really good fish restaurant I had a coffee at earlier. It was closed! Back to Fraggle Rock for another other vino, before returning to the van for noodle surprise.

Radical approach tonight. Decided to sleep upstairs! Will hopefully have a good view of the sea in the morning. Can hear the waves crashing tonight. Walked 15 miles today.

El Lentiscal, 4, 11391 Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

Didn’t sleep too bad upstairs. Definitely heard the waves crashing in the night. Using toilet facilities not quite as straightforward at 3am, but managed without any disasters. Just before eight a car decided to park three inches away. Given that the car park was empty, I was convinced it was the Guardia Civil coming to baton me for breakfast. I nervously looked out and saw a Spanish couple going for a walk on the beach!! Might as well get up and join them! Bloody cold first thing!! Popped in Fraggle Rock for a coffee. Old boy in the photo from yesterday sat quietly having an espresso, then ordered a large brandy and a glass of water!! \240Good effort.

Couldn’t match him this early in the morning, so had another coffee and some toast with tomato and olive oil on it. That should get things moving!!

Managed to find a spot on the beach that didn’t contain a magnetic field and calibrated the drone and did some flying! Will try and get the pics transferred later. Lovely light first thing.

Moved the van up the other end of the beach and paid €1 to park for the day in an ‘official’ car park. Weather cracking today. Yesterday’s clouds have cleared. No wind. Despite the unfortunate sign on the restaurant I passed on the way to the beach!

Clearly nobody is perturbed by the naturist thing here. Having found a quiet spot and contemplated taking my shorts off, at least five families have trundled past. Not only that a bloody pony trekking outing has just trotted across Camp No Pants.

Fairly arduous Saturday afternoon spent in the sun at Bolonia beach. Should I lie on my back, on my front? What time should I have my lunch? When should I go for a walk? Decisions, decisions.

Decided to head back to the car park and have a coffee half three ish. Not a bad spot to have a drink in the afternoon??

Drove back to Camp Tarifa. Nothing has changed in the 24 hours since I left. Did the laundry. Swansea won a football match!

Popped into Tarifa town for a quiet drink. Met my new friend Gary. Nice old boy. Liverpool fan and slightly more extreme than Nigel Farage in his political views. Anyway, he was going to Dizzy’s birthday party at a place called Banti’s, which was a mile or so out of town, so we shared a taxi.

Very quiet and dignified evening ensued and sort of lost track of time and at silly o’clock, Gary. Made the sensible decision to walk back to the van. Returned in one piece and fell asleep with trousers on and phone in pocket. Somehow, I had managed to take my contact lenses out! Remember children; alcohol is not the answer.

Alameda Apodaca, 21415, 11003 Cádiz, Spain

The Spanish government decreed an extra bank holiday morning this morning in recognition of Lord Dizzy of Tarifa. As a consequence of this kind gesture, there is not much to report before lunchtime. Cynics might argue that the lack of content is related to the over indulgence at last nights festivities. These are scurrilous and malicious allegations and are strenuously denied. Once the holiday period ended, normal service was resumed; the van was tidied and readied for the journey to Cadiz. A brief stop en route took place for some much needed sustenance (Pepsi max and a tuna roll) and arrival was made at Cadiz shortly after 15:00.

A stroll past some exotic looking trees led to a well preserved Castle overlooking the harbour.

This was a ‘free to view’ castle, so I availed myself of the opportunity to indulge in some culture and also to sit down and use the facilities. There was an interesting exhibition in part of the castle about a huge explosion which took place in a munitions store in 1947. Somehow loads of explosives that were being stored after the Second World War ‘combusted’ and wiped out half of Cadiz. About 150 people were killed and thousands were injured. It was something that I had never heard of, and a horrible irony for Cadiz having got through the war relatively unscathed.

Having spent a lot of time in Portugal, I had forgotten about the Spanish predilection for ‘unusual’ statues. In the castle in Cadiz, however, they really reminded me how talented they are in this department. What the artist was thinking, I do not know???

Not far from the castle is a lovely beach with some interesting sights on it for a Sunday afternoon. A long causeway leads to another castle, which is currently closed for renovations. A circuitous route was taken back to the van through the town, which looked impressive and worth a proper visit tomorrow. Just as I got back, an enormous bloody great cruise ship departed from Cadiz. I have attached a video, which goes on a bit, but which illustrates how big the sodding thing is.

Why the worlds biggest cruise needed to sound the worlds biggest foghorn/hooter three times as it left Cadiz, I really don’t know. It’s a good job I did my laundry yesterday and have plenty of clean pants! Bloody thing.

Having recovered my composure, I went for a brief walk into Cadiz and stopped at a cute little bar for a vino blanco before returning to have burgers ‘a la van’. Justin text from Prague to say that he’s having a good time there. He’s really jealous of what I’m doing and had no idea where Cadiz is (more poetry!). The Sams did a ‘mince pie’ fun run today at Billing. Sam’s personal best apparently. He’s also been looking at cars at long last.

Might retire soon. Bit tired tonight. Not sure why? Must be the sea air. Walked 12 miles today.

Technical difficulties prevented yesterday’s mileage being recorded. Apologies.

C/ Corneta Soto Guerrero, nº7 1ºC, 11004 Cádiz, Spain

Ola Monday. Slept ok considering I’m parked in a dockyard. I think Raul finally finished dropping the bloody metal container things on to the ship at about eleven?? A change from the cockerels. More industrial sound effects!!

Paid my ticket and sorted tonight’s stay. Wandered into Cadiz for breakfast. €3 for lovely fresh orange juice; freshly prepared tomatoes on toast and coffee. All served in the Spanish sunshine. In December. Marvellous.

Having had an excess of fruit and vegetables, I thought the next thing on this day of virtue would be a combination of culture and religion, so I ventured forth to Cadiz cathedral.

Paid my €7 and had a leisurely stroll round the lovely old building, which was also holding an exhibition of religious artefacts and paintings etc. Went up the tower in the cathedral which provided great views over Cadiz.

Bought some lovely empanadas from a cute bakery and a beach picnic in the 20 degree sunshine. Wonderful way to spend Monday afternoon. Really like Cadiz. Nice feel about it.

Interesting afternoon on the beach looking at the local sights and watching Theresa May implode in parliament on Sky news. Scary stuff, but quite historical too. Did I mention I liked Cadiz? There was a group of twenty somethings sat on the beach late afternoon playing guitars and singing- cool. Then further up the beach, a couple were practicing their dance moves. More cool.

Nice place to wander round in the evening. Lots of shops, cafes and bars. Narrow streets and high buildings. Weird seeing an ice rink in the middle of one of the squares!

After all that fruit and veg this morning, I felt it was appropriate to indulge in some ‘proper’ food. Clearly it was important to stick to something light, so I went for a small and delicate plate of nachos. This was delicious. Loads of wonderful flavours; warm chilli, gooey cheese, crispy nacho and yummy sticky chilli jam as well as guacamole. Excellent.

Having walked 14 miles today and done some swimming in the sea, I was a bit tired by the time I reached the car park. Looking forward to a quiet nights sleep, I was a little peturbed to notice the 100 strong Cadiz Temperance Brass Band practising in the street opposite the bloody car park!


Ronda Aurora Boreal, s/n, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain

Someone has stolen the sun and a mongoose has bitten my hand in the night. Cloudy today, and I have got itchy hand syndrome! Bloody annoying. Bit swollen and hot too. Will pop pharmacy later. No clear plan today. Sound a bit like Theresa May. Roughly aiming for Huelva which is a town close to the Portuguese border. Strangely the only routes take you back up to Seville and down again. A bit arse about face, but better do what it says. Stopped on the outskirts of Jerez for coffee and toastie.

Popped over to the pharmacy and showed my hand to Glória. She took a sharp intake of breath, felt it’s warmth (my hand) and got a second opinion from Antoinette, who prescribed some special ointment to be administered morning and night for at least seven days. Glória charged me €7.50 for the ointment and bid me good day. Hopefully it will stop the itching in due course. Nice girl Glória. And she was ginger. Drove round the outskirts of Seville and down to Huelva. Parked at Punta Umbria tonight, which I think is by the coast. Will have a look round here this afternoon and probably stay here tonight. Might go into Huelva tomorrow.

Slight change of plan. Had a walk along the beach at Punta Umbría, which would have been great on a sunny day. Not so appealing on a cloudy day.

I had a quick look at the town centre, but that appeared to have been closed since 1978! Decided to stay in Huelva tonight instead. Found the parking thing ok and walked the half mile into the centre to have a look at the cathedral, it doesn’t open until 18:30!! If I haven’t scratched my hand off, I will come back and have a look at the cathedral later. There is a nice square with some Christmas bits which might look nice at night. Stopped and had a coffee there.

Had a good walk round the town which grew on me like the rash on my hand. Reapplied cream and had a lovely conversation with my second pharmacist of the day (non ginger) who sorted me out with some piriton type stuff. Popped in the cathedral and sat at the back for a bit whilst a service was going on.

Excellent Christmas tree in the main square. One of the best I’ve seen.

Went in to bar opposite tree and had some tapas. Wonderful delicate ham and some really strong, robust cheese. Am I starting to sound like Rick Stein?

Never been a big one for Christmas lights etc, but I have to say that Huelva have done a bloody good job. Very tastefully done. Walked 15 miles today.

Carretera Carrefour, 21007 Huelva, Spain

Theresa, Theresa. What will become of you? Woke to a hand less throbbing and the news that the conservative mp’s have triggered a confidence vote in their leader. No real surprise. Unhinged.

Drove to Carrefour for breakfast. Will fill up with diesel (cheaper in Spain) and then probably cross back into Portugal later today.

Sun came out so changed plan. Diverted to Isla Cristina by the coast. Still in Spain but quite close to Portugal border. Lovely long beach. Very quiet at this time of year, but pleasant and warm at 17 degrees. No wind.

Did some research and there is a new camper site just outside Isla Cristina that had a lot of positive reviews. €10 a night. It has electric and proper showers. Apart from dodgy steam baths etc, I can’t remember the last time I had a proper warm shower! #tramp

Booked in with your man Francisco and took a twenty minute stroll into the town of Isla Cristina just as the sun disappeared for the day and it got a bit colder. Between where the van is parked and the town and the beaches are a load of salt flats where it is alleged flamingo and other exotic birds can be seen. Not today.

Paid my €1 and had my first hot shower in ages. Joyful. \240Got dressed listening to more Theresa bollocks. She is some flower. Walked down to the local bar just as the sun was setting over Salt Lake City.

There would have been a time I would have pooed myself rather than go in a ‘strange’ bar. Doesn’t bother me so much anymore. If anything it actually restores my faith in people and probably makes me think about wanting to continue this journey!! Anyway, ordered my vino and the man mentioned tapas. This old boy was really helpful and sort of explained what they all were. Ordered a mini sausage and chips and a wonderful plate of tuna in oil.

Felt totally relaxed and welcomed. Then sat with all the old boys and watched the first half of Real Madrid against CSKA Moscow. Loved it.

Another one of those ‘how do I go back to reality’ moments. Back to van. Listened to some more Theresa shit then watched a YouTube thing about an old boy who has just driven to the Algarve with a caravan. Coolio. Walked 12 miles today.

Barriada de la Estacion, 10, 21420 Ayamonte, Huelva, Spain

Strange night. Loopy Theresa survived the confidence vote, but her position seems just as weak. Heavy wind and rain at 3am eternal. First time in ages.

Then it cleared a bit. Drove to Faro and parked near the river and close to the town wall. Strange to see the planes flying quite low as they come in to land at Faro airport. Spent some time in Faro cathedral. A place of quiet, spiritual tranquility until you heard the latest EasyJet plane from Luton approaching overhead!

I wonder if I have had more toasties or been in more cathedrals?? Anyway, I will tally it up at some point. Popped into this cute Venezuelan/Portugese cafe for lunch. Toastie and coffee for €3. Remembered to say obragado not Gracias as well.

Nice walk round Faro in the afternoon. Like a lot of Spanish/Portuguese towns a mixture of the ancient and modern. The market hall was very traditional in the middle, but also doubled as the council offices and had all the various departments in ultra modern offices in the upper levels. Quite a contrast.

Walked out to the shopping mall near the airport. Very similar to any other shopping centre really. Lots of Christmas decorations everywhere and people getting stuff for the ‘big day’! .

Found a hooge Portugese off license in the centre of Faro and bought some white port. Across the road was the ‘motorcycle club of faro’ shop and they had some really cool t shirts for €10. I am now an honorary member of the ‘motorcycle club of faro’!! .

Stopped for a beer (only a half) on way back to van and saw another good sunset.

Also saw another plane coming into Faro just as the sun was setting.

Short stroll into downtown Faro. Ventured into ‘Ancora’ bar. Reputedly Faro’s oldest bar.?

Bit dark; lots of history etc, but not much atmosphere as Russ Abbot would have said. Just trying to write this as another RyanAir descends gently into Faro overhead. Oh, almost forgot, Adrian (golf coach at Rushden) liked a picture on Instagram today and then asked, ‘are you ever coming back to the UK!?’. Bloody good question!!

Anyway, left the hopeless anchor and walked up to Mercearia Sao Pedro. What a good move. This is a fruit and veg shop that doubles as a restaurant.

Few ‘locals’ inside when I arrived and I found a table near the open kitchen. Ordered a carafe of vino blanco (€2!!!) and asked the man for some advice with the menu. I picked a spicy (ish) pork dish and he suggested sardines with orange tapas!

Amazing has been a much used word on this blog. The chef (the wife) rustled up the pork dish which was fresh and totally home cooked. Then the sardines on toast were brought out. With orange on them. It worked. It was a master chef moment. Absolutely bloody brilliant. Delicate. Flavoursome. The best ingredients of the area in perfect harmony. I could have eaten another plate. I am Rick Stein!! It was so good to eat it. It was better to pay for it. €10.50 for those two dishes; gorgeous bread and olives and a wonderful carafe of wine. Then I chatted to husband and wife. It was ‘er indoors’ idea to put the orange and sardines together. They are having turkey for Christmas. With orange and baked cod. Loved it.

Walked 13 miles today.

R. José Maria Brandeiro 12, 8000-169 Faro, Portugal

The wind has dropped! (Outside the van anyway). Glorious sunrise. Interesting neighbours this morning. Like the groovy transit and the old VW behind me.

Just round the corner was an old battered Ford Galaxy people carrier that I didn’t pay any attention to last night. Two old boys crawled out of it this morning, set up a couple of camping chairs and started making some breakfast. They waved and said hello. Brilliant. Clearly travelling round in a people carrier. Van life comes in all different shapes and sizes

Went to the market for breakfast. Had a light omelette and sausage sandwich to keep me going!

Could have sat there for ages. Really entertaining ‘people watching’. All the old boys coming in for the 10am wines and sherry!! Great place.

Drove the short distance from Faro to Vilamoura. Beautiful beach and yet another marina. So many big posh boats. So much opulence and money. So many different sides to Portugal. Think I preferred the realism of the market this morning??

Silly Theresa still trotting round Europe seemingly unable to listen to the clear message being given to her. The bloody Maybot is stuck. She needs reprogramming!

The Sams supposedly move in to their new house today! God knows how that will work out and whether they will stop going on so many holidays. Says he, sitting on the beach in Portugal!! Gone reflective again this afternoon. Important to live for today. Don’t know about tomorrow, or next week or next Christmas. The sun is shining today. I’ve got my hi viz beach towel and hopefully will go to Al-Faris and listen to Mr Galini or whatever his name is. After that, who bloody knows. Reflective rant over. Important to be positive, constructive and pragmatic. (Corinthians, Chapter 8, Verse 12.).

Back to the mountains of Monchique and the pretty village of Alferce. Called into InterMarche in Monchique to get some supplies then drove up to the Aire at Alferce in the dark. Totally forgot reading about the Christmas display and was greeted by wise men on camels as I drove in to the village.

Really lovely display all round the village, as well as an intricate ‘indoor’ nativity exhibition in the village hall or some other such similar building. In addition, there was Christmas music piped from speakers at various locations around the village.

After a warm ish shower and a van sandwich I walked down to Al Faris and straightaway got in conversation with a 22 year old from Brecon who was touring Portugal in a Motorhome with his mother! Slightly unusual arrangement??

It was at about this time that my phone decided to bugger about. The Facebook app went a bit weird and when I tried to turn it on and off again it got stuck on the white apple screen. Hence the absence of pictures!

Despite numerous efforts during the evening and through the night, normal iPhone service could not be resumed.

Meanwhile, back at Al Faris, Mr Galini decided to play a few tunes at 23:15. He was actually quite good. He then had an interval at 23:34 and played five more songs after the break!!

R. da Estrada Velha 32, 8550-428 Monchique, Portugal

It wasn’t the Alferce cockerels that woke me this morning, it was the glow of the bloody white apple staring out of the darkness at me. Bloody thing was still bolloxed. Various strategies were tried and failed to revive the IPhone XS. Short of attaching the jump leads to it, I didn’t know what else to try. By 9:30 I was on the road to Portimao. By 10, I was the first customer at the phone shop hoping Mr FixaFone would be true to his name. A sharp intake of breath was not a good sign. He suggested I went to the Apple store in Lagoa, where thankfully, Phillipe rebooted the phone after ninety minutes in intensive care. Phew!

Slightly more relaxed, I was able to walk round Lagoa and look at all the ‘people statues’ just as they were bloody packing up for the day!!

Bought the 23rd cheese and ham toastie and a coffee for €1.97 in a Lagoa cafe as I continued to reload stuff back on to the phone. Drove back to Monchique and sussed out a potential New Years Eve party venue that the bloke who runs Alfaris was on about last night. Apparently it’s some circus type thing combined with a party that goes on to silly o’clock. He’s going so the pub in Alferce will be shut. Might think about getting a ticket. €10.

Lots of Christmas stuff going on in Monchique. Some clever bugger with a chain saw was doing incredible carvings. Well impressive.

Had a coffee and a cookie, then spent a cold hour outside InterMarche doing the weeks laundry. Had an interesting chat with Bert from Belgium who had been to Morocco in his motorhome and thoroughly recommended it!

Swansea came from 1-0 down to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at the Liberty!!!! Happy days.

Back to Alferce in the cold and dark. Will have a van sort out, then wander down to Alfaris and get a beer and something to eat. Early night and hopefully no technological dramas!!

Think there was some sort of Christmas play going on in the village. Lots of scout/brownie type children going into the big building in the centre.

Alfaris was quiet. I was the only customer for ages. Very odd. Perhaps everyone stays in on a Saturday night to watch ‘strictly’??.

Had some vino and a tasty veggie burger. Spent some time talking to Deiter, the German owner. He moved to Portugal 30 years ago because his son had a skin condition and doctors advised that the sunshine would help. It did. They stayed.

R. da Igreja 3, 8550-011 Alferce, Portugal

Sunday in the mountains. Decent nights sleep. No staring at a bloody white apple glowing all night. Didn’t even hear the cockerels making a row this morning. I’m sure they are better at the weekend.

Walked up to the ‘other cafe’ this morning for a coffee and ordered some breakfast whilst I was there. It is Sunday.

Cheese and chorizo toastie to start the day. Excellent. Bit cold and damp outside. Seems a sensible thing to do. Love watching the old boys coming in for their glasses of port etc. Quality. Thing on the news in the bar about a helicopter crash in Portugal (near Porto) that killed four people. Ironically, they had been returning to their base after taking a cardiac patient to hospital. Total shit, Live each day people.

Drove to Portimão in the rain. Very murky morning. First time wearing rain jacket in ages. Parked near beaches and walked round Portimão and up to the shopping centre. By early afternoon, the clouds had lifted and another glorious December day in Portugal had returned.

Think this was one of the first beaches I visited on Portugal’s south coast. We are heading towards Christmas and the sun is still shining!! Absolutely gorgeous. Slight breeze and some big waves, but back by the cliffs it’s lovely and warm.

Got a nice healthy lunch of the worlds biggest apple called an ‘ambrosia’; a small (ish) piece of quiche rammed with peas and other vegetable type things. And the crowning glory was a stuffed crab cake; full of the freshest crabmeat possible. Even the Coke Zero had vegetable extract! Boom.

Lovely hour in the warm December sun (not often you say that) before the temperature dropped a little. Walked along the beach and took some pictures and did some droning until the batteries ran out.

Drove back to Monchique before it got too dark and on to Alferce for the night. Nice hot shower in the public loos tonight, although it’s a bit cold walking back to the van in your shorts and flip flops!!

Popped down to Alfaris. Couple of people in this evening. Deiter said that Portuguese tend to come out to play much later. Odd.

Back to van and cooked this ready meal that I’ve had for a few days. Wasn’t too bad actually. Note. No crisps were used in this recipe.

Walked 15 miles today.

R. de São Romão 282, 8550, Portugal

Sunny start in Alferce. Clean mountain air. Good for the soul?? Talking of sole, these trainers are still hanging on. Wonder how many miles they’ve done. The left one definitely lets in more sand than the right if I’ve been walking on the beach. More reflections. Realised that I’ve done a lot of wandering and wondering on this trip. Isn’t that strange. Almost identical words. Very different meanings, or do they? Just physical and mental?? Bloody hell. Too deep. Time to get on.

Headed off to Albufeira and took the scenic route across the mountains. Stunning scenery in the morning as the mist was lifting. Extremely atmospheric.

The Aire at Albufeira was mighty busy. Only two spaces free, so quickly ninja’d into number 42 and paid the man my money. Made a cheese roll; bought a fruit and veg sausage pastie thing (and an apple) and headed off to the beach for lunch. Only 15 degrees today, so will be keeping all clothes on. Walked through the town when it got a bit chilly and then down along the beach away from the old town, where it warmed up a bit in the afternoon.

Did sit in the sun in my shorts for an hour or so. Watched a couple of Portuguese men swimming in the surf. No wetsuits! Too cold for that today!

Had another walk round the town then headed back to Guantanamo Bay. Stopped briefly at Albufeira’s ‘winter wonderland’, where they had broken with tradition and employed a mother Christmas!! And a fairly young and attractive blonde one at that. I did wonder if there was any technical restriction on a 53 year old going and sitting on Santa’s knee?? I didn’t see any signs and there was no security deployed. I thought a cup of coffee might be a better idea and popped into the nearby shopping centre where I encountered another one!!

Back to van to charge phone and change socks. Neither of those are euphemisms. More carnage in parliament. Maybot totally gone. Shame for the old girl really. Popped into bar near Camp XRay and deliberated about tea. Hot dog place favourite. Was good last time; cheap and it’s not far!

It was as good this time. Breakfast in a hot dog! Wonderful crispy chips. Small carafe of vino blanco. All good in the Albufeira hood!

15 miles today.