And the Adventures Begin

December 14, 2017

Since coming back from Australia we haven’t stopped. We’ve had a lot to sort out making sure that we were ready and making sure that what we were leaving behind for everyone else look after was as good as it could be. We arrived back from Australia on the Monday evening and left again on Friday afternoon. It’s been an emotional week having to saying bye to family, we are really gonna miss them all.

But with the kids on board we set off to the harbour.


These are Mushions of our kids and grandchildren.

Condor was 3 1/2 hours late leaving due to the weather. The crossing was fine if not a little choppy.

By the time we arrived in St Malo it was dark.  We had stopped to put the beam deflectors on the headlights. Keith hadn’t yet driven Eugene in the dark, rain or on the other side of the road before.  As we set off from the port he was starting to find it extremely stressful.  The rain was torrential and the lights were useless, we only realised the next day we had put the deflectors on wrong and that’s why the lights were useless. We had intended to stop for the first night in Dinan under the bridge, however that didn’t plan out as we missed the turning 3 times.  After 20 minutes of driving we finally manged to find a great spot right by the river in Dinan and it was free.  We settled in for the night and we (I use the word ‘we’ but its usually Keith) managed to work out the heating and the hot water, so all was good.  It was a quite night despite the rain.  I slept like a log, but Keith however struggled to get any sleep at all,  Hopefully he will get used to the noises as we spend more time in Eugene over the coming weeks and months, if not its gonna be a long trip.


Our first free night of camping in Dinan

We’ve spent the last few days travelling down the country heading towards San Sebastián. The rain is torrential and it hasn’t stopped since we got here.  We’ve only been out the van to go to the shop.

We crossed over from France to Spain without even realising it, it was only the abundance of Spanish number plates that gave it away.


The snow capped mountains on the drive between France and Spain

We’ve arrived in San Sebastian and parked up at a designated camperstop.  Passeo de Berio, Donostia San Sebastian.  It’s on the edge of town about 15 minutes cycle ride along the designated cycle paths. There were a few vans already here but in the corner were two Spanish registered vans with unleashed dogs outside occupied by a group of young people in both vans (trying to be politically correct here!!), I wasn’t really happy but we decided to leave Eugene and head into town on our pushangs. We’ve been to San Sebastián before and headed straight to the Orange shop to get some data sorted for the Mifi, we’ve been a little lost without the internet. It was incredibly windy and of course the rain caught up with us before we had a chance to get back to Eugene. Thankfully on our return Eugene was fine and we hadn’t been robbed. Over the next few hours several more Motorhomes arrived and we felt more comfortable settling down for the night. We woke about 3.30am to the most torrential hail storm was right above us, the noise inside the van was deafening and lasted for about 15 minutes, Keith was worried the solar panel would be smashed to bits it was that loud.


San Sebastian

Next morning we set off in the rain about 9am heading South West across Spain to Valladolid. As we climbed to the top of the mountains the temperature dropped to 1 degrees, the rain had finally stopped and we could see the mountain peeks were covered in snow. As we drove along there were roadside warnings for snow but thankfully there was nothing on the road. The countryside looked fantastic with the dusting of snow. Once over the mountains the scenery changed again, clear blue skies with hardly a cloud to be seen and the land was flat, brown and barren, it looked like it hadn’t rained for months. The temperature slowly started to rise and with the sun streaming in you could believe it was at least 30 degrees outside, if only!

We decided to press on and pass Valladolid to Salamanca. We found a spot in the car park under the bridge a short walk away from the city. This time it was Keith who was worried about leaving Eugene parked up whilst we went and explored the city, but we went any way and again nothing to worry about.

Salamanca is the most beautiful city, and we nearly bypassed it. The architecture is mind blowing. Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral) is a fine example of the Spanish Romanesque. The university is huge with massive wooden doors. Every turn into a small street showcases a small glimpse of the beautiful buildings at the other end. We ventured into the library, on entering there is the most amazing atrium which is open to the elements, gargoyles surround the opening which on a raining day spout the water into the well in the middle of the area, inside the library the exposed wooden beams are amazing. It has to be one the most beautiful library’s I’ve ever seen.


The view that greets us as we enter the outskirts of Salamanca

Wednesday. We set off before 9 am this morning. We had a 5 hour drive ahead to Seville.  Again the snow topped mountains came close as we wound our way into the clouds, the road verges were covered in snow.  There are snow warnings and we see snow-ploughs coming along the motorway in the opposite direction, we’re definitely not prepared to drive in the snow.  The temperature drops to minus 1, chilly.  Luckily for us our route takes us further south and way from the snow and by the time we reach Seville the temperature has reached a barmy 13 degrees.

We decide to stay in a carpark in the city (Parking Puenet Remedois) for a few days whilst we explore.  The car park is gated, manned and secure and there are several motorhome already here, its about 10 Euros for 24 hours but it doesn’t have any services, but its in walking distance to the city.  The sun is shinning and I’m afraid to say gives us a false sense of warmth.  We head into town in t-shirts carrying our light weight jackets.  As soon as were inside the city the buildings hide the sun and its freezing.  The main street is a bustle of people, cyclists, cars and the tram and heading in different directions, its very busy and you need to ensure you know what your doing or you will be run of by either a pushbike, car or even worse the tram.

We walk around for a while trying to keep warm when we come across one of the Free Walking Tours that are on offer around the city.  Its about to start so we join in along with another english couple.  Our guide is Ana an English speaking history student.  The tour is free, but you ‘tip’ whatever you want.  The tour was around the Jewish quarter of the City and Ana was very good at explaining the history and showing us parts of the city we wouldn’t have found wondering around on our own.  This lasts for over an hour and we would highly recommend doing the walking tours if you come to Seville.

We decided that we would treat ourselves to a meal out and find a lovely restaurant in the backstreets of the city that has something on the menu for Keith’s delicate taste buds.  This unfortunately turned out to not be as great as I had hoped as we could see and hear the food being heated up in the microwave on the other side of the bar.  We ventured into the main street where the Christmas lights were in full display and a musical light show of the huge Christmas baubles takes place every 30 minutes and attracts huge crowds.


Christmas light show in the main street of Seville  

Thursday we venture out on our pushangs, as yesterday we are fooled by the sun and don’t have enough clothes on and have to keep cycling to keep warm.  We decide to come back to the van at lunchtime to put on more clothes, scarves and gloves.  We cycle 12km along the river and around the out skirts of the city and its now so hot we have to start removing our layers of coats, jumpers, scarves and gloves as its just to warm, just can’t get it right.  I ended up being the casualty of the day, I must learn how to do a ‘wheelie’ up onto a deep pavement before attempting to do this in a crowded street, crash, bang, one sore hand, elbow and hip.

We stop to have a coffee whilst watching the crowds  doing their Christmas shopping.  Lesson learnt, look at the price of a coffee before you drink it.  Drink you coffee at the bar 1.60 euro, sit inside the cafe 1.80 euro, sit outside in the freezing cold with an umbrella heater 2.95 euro!!!!

Tomorrow we head further south towards Algeciras to hopefully work out how to catch the ferry to Morocco in a few days.

We had a good first week and so far so good.

Summary of our first week.

We’ve (well Keith has) done a lot of driving since we set off. Wizzing through France and Spain because these are countries that we can easily explore when we get back to having the ‘normal holiday’.

We’ve driven through some amazing scenery but trying to capture this in a photograph through the windscreen of a van or trying to take it with the window down travelling at 80 miles an hour is not the easiest, thought I was going to loose the camera.

Getting used to living in such a small space has its challenges. Everything has a place and needs to be put back in the same place, or you’ll never find it again.

We have a shower on board although it’s a little small it does the job, although washing my hair, shampoo and conditioner has to be done as quickly as possible so I don’t use all the hot water before Keith gets in. Hair washing limited to once a week now!

Sleeping:- We’ve managed to get enough sleep in our tin box even with the hail, rain and being near the motorway hopefully as the weeks and months pass we will get used to the different noises.

We bought with us a two ring electric hob to use when we are hooked up to the electricity so we could save on our gas. After the first day this went in the bin, 30 minutes to boil a pan of eggs. We’ve now purchased a single ring halogen hob and hopefully this will do better. We also need to rethink about cooking in the gas oven it just hasn’t got enough heat, so for now it will continue to be used as an extra storage cupboard. Must remember to take the fire alarm down when cooking, every time it does off!

Toilet:- Someone has to empty this, so we try to time our ‘activities’ with a stop off at the garage or cafe. Living in close quarters and after 30 years of marriage not sure we’ll get used to cooking with the other sitting in the toilet less than a foot away lol.

Spending: trying to keep to a budget of £1,000 per month.  We had released that we would exceed our budget in the first month, more fuel getting down south and basically getting used to not spending as we want.


Shopping (food):-£127.25

Eating out (coffee, beer, meals out):-£62.68

Incidentals (new hob) £75.87

entertainment £17

Data £17

Thanks so far for all your comments and we’re really glad that you’ve decided to tag along with us.

a la perchoine xxx

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  • Nena December 14, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Hope you find the sunshine soon! Xxx

    • Shirena December 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      So do we Nena lol

  • Nikki Travis December 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Such a fab adventure xx

    • Shirena December 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Hopefully it will be Nikki.

  • Ali December 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Wow – all this is the first seven days! When will you get time to relax and enjoy your gap year? You write a good report though, Mrs Toms. xx

  • Zena December 14, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you for a good read you will get the hang of everything have an amazing time.