Well the winds have dropped in lovely L’Ametlla overnight, they just silenced all at once, it was quite eerie. The noise of the wind was soon replaced with what sounded like thunder. It was actually the waves pounding the rocks below us. The calm turquoise Mediterranean Sea had turned into a washing machine. By the time the sun was up, the swell was huge with spray jumping up higher than the van roof. I never knew the Med did that! Who stole my peaceful little coves? There must have been one hell of a storm out there somewhere. It was mesmerising to watch. Poor old Dylan won’t be getting his sea bath today. It’s ferocious! We had a walk along the coastal path. The storm watchers were out in force getting dangerously close to the monster waves just to get a good photo. We stood well back, still reeling from the tales about Sagres. It was a lovely warm day, strange that the sea should be so choppy. We had a gorgeous walk, again the smell of wild rosemary, pine and the sea is just amazing. The spring flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are full of blossom.
We decided to hop on the bikes after lunch and explore the area a bit. More importantly I wanted to see if there was an alternative route out as the way in was down a steep, narrow road which twisted and turned through a series of tunnels running under the railway. I didn’t fancy that experience again in reverse. Unfortunately, that was the only way out so I’ve got that to look forward to. Joy. On the way back to the van, we saw a British Motorhome just arriving which happened to be Tracey and Bill from our home town of Bakewell. Small world or what! We had a lovely chat and then retired to Casa Wadsworth to watch the sunset with a glass of red whilst our chilli was cooking. The sea turned pink tonight. Beautiful.
I don’t normally cook chilli on the hob but tonight I’m using a Heston Blumental recipe which I have adapted a bit. It tenderises the meat before cooking. You place the meat, (I’m using minced beef tonight but chopped beef is better and it also works great with pork), into a freezer bag and add a level tablespoon of flour, cornflour or plain. Give it a good shake. Add a slug of red wine, a good splash of Hendersons relish or Worcester sauce, a teaspoon of marmite, chopped fresh chillies (I have an asbestos mouth so I use birds eye chillies. Use whichever type suits your heat threshold!!) and 4 cloves of crushed garlic. Squidge the mixture around so it’s well mixed. Tie the bag and leave it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight for more flavour. If you want to cook it in either a slow cooker or oven, put all the ingredients I mention in together, stir well, stick it in and let it do its own thing. If you’re cooking it on the top however, heat some oil and stir in the meat mixture. Add a handful of either chopped smoked bacon or chopped chorizo, a teaspoon of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of chilli powder. When it starts to sizzle add chopped fresh tomatoes and a carton of tomato passata, two crumbled beef oxos, some chopped onion, chopped green pepper, sliced mushrooms, a small tin of sweet corn and a tin of red chilli beans. Bring back to the boil then simmer on a low heat with a lid on until it’s cooked through. If it needs loosening up just add a drop more wine, my standard answer to almost everything!! Serve with rice or potato wedges, sour cream and chive dip and toasted pittas. Excellent with red wine, particularly a nice Rioja!
So we wake up next day and the breeze is back so we decide to move on. I have picked an Aire about 40 miles away, inland in a small pretty town by a river. Looks idyllic. First though, we need gas. Stations with LPG facilities seem to be a lot fewer in Spain so you do need either a decent App or the Aires book and map. Don’t expect to just find it at a garage at the roadside or at Motorway Services as that doesn’t happen. Plan ahead so you don’t run out. I can see two stations on the map and the app. We head for the closest. If anyone is considering converting to a refillable system, don’t hesitate. It is so much easier if you intend visiting other parts of Europe. It is also far cheaper. In U.K. An 11kg bottle was costing £28. To refill the same size bottle here in Spain costs around €9. It’s an expensive outlay initially but worth every penny. This is the Spanish adaptor pictured below. It has a valve on it which allows a small escape of gas as you remove it. You have to push it in a little to release it. Just be warned, it makes you jump the first few times! You will need a different one for France and Portugal, I bought them as a pack of 3 from Gaslow.
The journey on the motorway was hideous. I’d checked the weather forecast which didn’t mention the 80mph gusts of wind. A high sided lorry blew right into our carriageway and almost wiped us out. Jeez though! Scary stuff. Don’t be tempted to drive in windy conditions folks, it isn’t worth the risk. There were several lorries along the way on their side. Not fun. We arrived at El Catllar and, due to very selfish parking (all Brits too),there was no room. The road in was tiny, I hated it, my palms were already sweaty. Anyway no point hanging around as no way we’re this lot going to budge up and make a space for us so we did the domestic stuff (Bogology as Henry calls it!!) and ventured back up squeezy alley and on to the next Aire. This one said it had electric hook up and a laundry. All good? You’d think so wouldn’t you. The bitch behind the dashboard had other plans. She took us about 20 miles before saying the dreaded words ‘recalculating route’ and turning us completely back around at the next roundabout. That happened a further twice. Talk about frazzled nerves. I finally had to get the maps out. We drove on to Belvei. Pumped the co-ordinates into the machine again only to be taken into a tiny, tight, hell hole of a town which eventually narrowed into a complete bottle neck. Every left turn we needed to take was either a no entry or blocked by parked cars, a total no no for our big rig. It was just awful. I felt for poor Mark having to drive. You see, this happens from time to time. Motorhoming isn’t always a bag of laughs. In the end, we gave up and jumped back on the Autovia and headed towards Barcelona. Four lanes of rush hour traffic by that time but at least the winds had died down. We ended up doing a further 100 miles without refreshment, just to find somewhere to lay our heads before the sun went down. Our no alcohol day was looking most unlikely!! I could see snow on the caps of the Andorra mountains which was not filling me with enthusiasm. We ended up at a spot called Sant Feliu de Guixols on the Costa Brava. Thankfully we got parked up without issue and it’s a really nice little place.
Got up this morning and set off to explore. Found a market and a Monastery. Good start! There are yellow ribbons tied everywhere. I noticed them on the motorway bridges as we drove in. I assumed it was an Easter thing as the Spanish towns and villages are all gearing up for their Semana Santa celebrations. Apparently not, it’s something to do with Catalunyan politics.
There’s a lovely little beach with a Marina at the end. There are lots of interesting shops, bars, even a Casino and plenty of places to eat. Good, because I really don’t feel like cooking today. Anyway, for now it’s chocolate and churros time!
Gloopy choccy heaven!
I was allowed shopping privileges today which was fun! There are two Museums so I’m leaving boy to go and look around them while I take Dylan for a paddle.
The big decision now is what to do from here. Easter is a big deal in Spain and we need to get somewhere to stay put until Tuesday as everywhere seems to be getting busy. We were thinking Girona but I’m not sure I can do City life for 5 days. It isn’t great for the dog either. So once again, the maps are out. It’s a beautiful spring day. Going to have a stroll down to the waters edge, buy some fresh bread from the little bakery and think about the way forward. Fingers crossed wherever we go, the journey will be easier than the last!
Have a great day everyone. Hope the sun is shining wherever you are.