Would we do it all again? Definitely. In a heartbeat. Already making plans. What would we change? Well, there were numerous places we really wanted to see but bypassed because of the size of the van and potential parking difficulties. We will consider car hire in future so we can park outside, for example, Granada, and drive in and maybe the possibility of a little scooter for the back of the van. Will also do a bit more research on routes. The sat nav seriously needs updating. The maps are well out of date. I’m a bit of a technophobe, I’m scared to do it. Does anyone know who I can pay to sort this? We both need to address alcohol consumption. Yes, you can all laugh! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of wine for I mean with lunch. It’s so cheap and afternoon naps are all the rage in Europe! Will try harder to achieve alcohol free days. More exercise. Although we are on the go all the time, we need to do more cardio vascular work. Both our waistlines have expanded somewhat! I missed my little hand weights too. It’s not the same with tins of beans! Nev showed me how to do a kind of stretching yoga with a piece of bamboo. I really enjoyed doing that on the beach every morning. I was just getting into it when Mark drove off and left me old bamboo under the van. I would also make more provision for Birthdays and Christmas. I think we were a bit too laid back about it but I actually missed the fuss when the time came. I think it was a combination of missing family and friends aswell but it did get to me a bit. We ended up buying loads of Christmas trimmings for the van to get in the spirit and luckily, the lovely people we met rallied round and made everything just brilliant. I am so grateful to the amazing folk who have befriended us along the way. Their warmth, kindness, humour, help and advice have been invaluable. I’m already missing you crazy cats, you know who you are!!
And so a few points and tips y’all might find useful. If there was a mistake to be made, we did! Don’t avoid paying the tolls in Portugal. They will get you!! On the manual gates, always take a ticket, don’t drive through the ones with a V they are for locals. If you haven’t got a ticket when you leave the road you will be charged for the whole length not just the bit you’ve driven on. That was a pricey error! On the electronic tolls there are machines at the border where you register your credit card and it notes your number plate. It automatically takes payment as you drive. If, like us, you manage to miss the registration point, buy a toll card from the Post Office. Telephone to register, it’s easier and they speak excellent English. You will then get a text when the card has been spent so you can renew. Watch your speed! We had a Spanish speeding fine waiting for us at home. Ouch! I could have bought shoes with that. This one is for our dear mate Tony Hennessy. Make sure you untie your washing line before you drive off the Aire as otherwise you’ll pull the wall down🤣🤣🤣🤣Jokes! Watch the 3.5 ton restrictions. It’s easy to ignore them but if you’re caught it’s a nice €1000 pocket money tip for Mr. Policeman. Just be careful where and how you park. We parked where all the other Motorhomers did in Olhão. There must have been 80 vans there. We parked on the outside line so we could let the dog out. Not everyone likes big shiny Motorhomes. We were shot at with stone guns late at night along with a French van. The Police were very good and gave us a detailed report for our Insurers but it was a scary and most unpleasant experience. Tuck in! At Neufchâtel Aire we parked up not realising there was an 8 meter limit. We are 8.4. We managed to fit well inside the front line but some idiot who needed driving lessons reversed into us as he was leaving next morning. Luckily there was no damage but it could have been very different. We wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on if the Police had been involved as we were over the allowed size. I had chased the culprit halfway up the Aire shaking my fist before I realised I had no pants on (I was in the process of dressing when I heard the bump. Worry not I have not joined the Naturist fraternity just yet).Sod’s law says that if it can happen it almost certainly will. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Buy books! Paper ones! Guide Books are so helpful and give you great ideas for places to see, restaurants to eat at, market days etc. We favour the Rough Guides, they are ace. The Aires Books from Vicarious on line are priceless. They also tell you were you can get LPG. The ACSI book has a discount card for low season campsites. Get as many Apps as your phone/tablet can handle. CamperContact is brilliant. Buy the full version. Park4night, Maps.me, Search for Sites, Camperstop . they are all massively helpful. Also get decent weather apps. You need to know if there is going to be snow on your route or violent storms, high winds etc. to keep yourselves safe. Don’t be complacent! It helps a lot if you’re chasing the sunshine too!
SOME HOT TIPS FOR THE BOYS!
Take your Wife/Partner a birthday card if his/her birthday falls while you are away. Brownie points are precious things indeed. Assuming you want to eat/continue breathing. The large, fold out Michelin Maps are invaluable for route planning. Get them for every Country you are travelling through. You will need a European Travel Kit if you haven’t ventured out of U.K. before. You must also have headlamp deflectors which stick on easily. Take with you a couple of pieces of stick on mirror glass, the kind you can cut with scissors. This is just in case your mirrors get damaged and you need to make a temporary repair. It is very difficult to drive on the right without mirrors. Buy spare locking fuel and water tank caps. They are prone to breaking. We have needed both. They are readily available from Amazon. Take tie wraps and duck tape. Again, good for temporary repairs heaven forbid you should need them. Keep some antibacterial wipes handy. I’ve seen people rinse their toilet cassette using the drinking water tap. Wipe the tap before use. Take a watering can, sometimes it’s easier to fill up with one. Keep some water purification tablets to drop in your fresh tank from time to time. Remember you won’t get Astra II so no telly from the bottom of France. You will need additional equipment if you want to watch your TV in Spain and Portugal. Take plenty of DVDs for rainy days. Box sets are ideal. Whilst I’m not a fan of inverters, it is useful to have one just for charging things like the Bose speaker, laptop and Hoover( i.e. Those items that don’t charge via a USB) when you’re wildcamping. Take ant-powder. The little beggars climb up your wheels and once they’re in you can’t get rid of em! Get a second Thetford cassette if you have room to store it and a large water canister. These come in very handy when you go off grid. Sometimes you just find that perfect spot and don’t want to leave for a few days. Pick up a reverse polarity tester for when you’re on hook up. If it’s a two pin and reads reversed polarity, turning the plug upside down usually remedies this.
AND FOR THE LADIES
Take basic medical supplies. Anti-histamine tablets, bite treatment, cystitis tablets, cold sore cream, dental glue, canestan, try and cover every eventuality as things are not always readily available and language barriers make certain things difficult to ask for over the counter. If you are fussy about hair products take a supply. Good shampoos and conditioners are not easy to come by and are more expensive than UK. Most of us long term Motorhomers are ladies of a certain age. Unless you are blessed with natural unblemished beauty which sadly I am not, you might need a bit of help if you are going to go make-up free. I had semi-permanent eye liner done by Sarah White at The Sarah White Company, Alive in Calver, Derbyshire. I am going back to have my eyebrows done when we get home. Sarah is absolutely brilliant. She also does lip tints if you really want to go for it. Take with you an eyelash dye kit so you can do your own lashes every couple of weeks while you’re away. No mascara required! If you colour your hair, go for something you can touch up whilst away. I invested in a proper highlighting kit. 12volt hairdryers are useless, don’t even bother. Pick up some sticky rollers and a hairnets from Boots for nice big curls if you want a change. Huachi USB rechargeable straighteners are brilliant, I’ll post a link below. Wean yourself off gel and acrylic nails or you’ll be forever chasing round looking for a nail salon. You’ll have time to do your own. Take plenty of reading material, I did a mix of kindle and paperbacks. People trade books and DVDs with you along the way. Make sure you have a couple of hot water bottles in case it turns chilly and you are wildcamping. Also you will need some warm clothing. Portugal nights are pretty damn cold and you can meet snow in Spain as you cross the mountains. Don’t be caught out. A slow cooker with a metal non-stick dish is useful when you’re on hook up. Great for joints of meat and casseroles. I also have bought a Remoska from Lakeland. It takes a full chicken, does beautiful jacket spuds etc. Best to save your gas where you can when you have electricity. Make sure you have roasting bags to stop any smells when cooking in your oven, poaching bags for eggs and ice bags for the freezer.
NOT FORGETTING THE DOG!
You ought to have a Scalibor Collar. They protect against sand fly bites etc. Vets do them or you can pick them up on line. Remember the processionary caterpillars and be vigilant. Have anti-histamines to hand in case of emergencies. They would buy you a bit of time to enable you to reach an emergency Vet. Do read up on these creatures before you travel so you know what to look for. Their effects can be deadly. Take all wormers and flea and tick treatments for the time you are away, some decent antiseptic and consider a cool coat and cool mat. I have both and they are brilliant. I also have a battery operated cage fan for travelling on hot days . Check ears and paws daily for grass seeds. Dylan has had one in his foot and one in his ear. They need the Vet normally, horrid things. If you have a little swimmer like me, be very careful particularly on the Atlantic side. The currents are strong and the waves are savage.
If you need any of the bits I have suggested and want to buy them through Amazon, could I please ask you to use my link to purchase. It won’t cost you any more and I will get points. Thank you so much:-
Here is the car kit I purchased. Comes in a neat bag that you can fix under a seat or to the garage wall with stick on Velcro.
Huachi rechargeable straighteners, a Godsend in the battle of the frizz!
Eyelash dye kit. I’ve tried several and in my opinion, this is the best one.
Morphy Richards Sear and Stew and Slow Cooker – comes in various colours, very lightweight
Rough Books – Worth their Weight!
Doggie Cool Mat
Reverse Polarity Tester
I’ve not done this link thing before so here’s hoping it works.
I do hope my blogging has been of some help to my fellow travellers and entertained the non-Motorhomers amongst you. If nothing else, at least you’ve had a laugh at our Laurel and Hardy-esque faux pas along the way! It’s been a fun learning curve for sure and we can’t wait to go back and do it all again. For now though, it’s a return to Derbyshire to see if the snow has melted. It usually defrosts up north around the middle of July. Can’t wait to catch up with family and friends and get my roots done!! I shall continue the blog but it won’t be as interesting until we venture across the channel again on our next leg.
Time to plan a new adventure!
TTFN folks. Thanks for coming along for the ride.