And so begins the long journey home folks! Here goes. Can we sneak a cheeky little adventure or two in en route? You bet your sweet ass we can! It’s my Birthday so I get to choose! Seville (my favourite City on the planet) is a natural progression, in fact we have to drive right through the middle of it so it would be rude not to pay it homage. Puerto Gelves is a pretty Marina on the Guadalquivir River and they allow Motorhomes to stay over for a few quid. It has full facilities (including a bar whoop whoop) and is only a ten minute bus ride into town. We stayed here last time we came to Seville. It has a really nice atmosphere. After a slightly hairy journey and lots of swearing, (the motorway we needed was closed and Lady Snooty sat nav had got em on her big time), we arrived and got a great pitch overlooking the river. The weather had taken a real upturn and was going to be in the 20s for the next few days according my app. We’ll take that, thanks! Happy Birthday to me! Things were slowly getting back to normal here in Spain. Masks were still worn by all in the streets etc but bars and restaurants were allowed to open now until 9pm. We ventured into the city late afternoon to dip our toe in so to speak. First job is to call in at Tourist Info and pick up a map. A must if you don’t want to miss the best bits. I know I’ve covered Seville before so I’ll make it a whistle stop. It is just so so beautiful. The air hangs with the scent of oranges, a mixture of fruit and blossom. The tall palm trees are full of bright green parakeets, they are quite startling as they dart around. The first thing we noticed this time was the distinct lack of people. Normally it would be absolutely buzzing but now lines of handsome carriages stood idle whilst the ponies dozed in the sun. The few folk around were sitting outside bars and cafes. Locals neither want nor need the tourist attractions. It was sad to see. Many of the museums and palaces were limiting their opening hours due to Covid. Some were closed for the foreseeable. A huge contrast to our previous visit.
Still, it was great to be in Seville and much easier to get around without the crowds. Unlike other cities there just don’t seem to be any grotty bits! Each building is more beautiful than the last. It has it all. Charm, elegance and that Spanish passion that comes with the tradition of bullfighting and Flamenco. Don’t get me started on the shops. The spectacular and most decadent Alcazar, The Plaza de Espagne, and of course the majestic Cathedral to name but a few of the attractions. It’s a mass of flowers and fountains with simply the best food we’ve sampled all Winter. Seville claims to have invented the Tapa. The dishes are more hearty here and lean more towards meat than fish. They are deliciously tasty. Rabo del Toro (oxtail) cooked in Sherry, Carilladas (stewed pig cheeks), Espinacas con Gabanzos (another stew with chickpeas spinach and cumin. It’s good to try the more unusual dishes and come out of your comfort zone a bit. We especially enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere of the bars around the Bullring. We followed the advice of the guide book for a change and wandered out of the town centre to the more traditional El Rinconcollo, Sevilla’s oldest bar, founded in 1670, and found our absolute favourite eating place of this trip, just across the way, Los Claveles. I had a most enjoyable birthday weekend. I even managed a bit of retail therapy! The weather just got better and better, we ended up staying for 5 days. One day, however, was wasted on a hunt for a new windscreen wiper. Not very glamorous I know! To all our Motorhoming buddies out there, especially those of you with A Class type vehicles, do yourselves a favour and carry spares. They are a bugger to replace! We thought it would be simple to just pick one up at a garage but no. Even the commercial windscreen glass replacers didn’t stock them. Lesson learned. Thank goodness for patience and Araldite!! Time now to put some more miles in and start planning our exit strategy. Our first round of Covid tests required to get us over the border into France needed to be booked. Our friends Kim and Margaret and Ali and Steve were over at Caceres. The weather was looking consistently good for a few days there and it was on our planned route so we decided to join them. The campsite is one of the better ones and was doing 3 nights for the price of 2. Boom. It was great to see these guys again. Smashing folk. Always a bit of good fun.
Again, I’ve told you about Caceres before so I won’t waffle, it’s under an older heading if you want the lowdown. I will just say that we STILL haven’t seen a single episode of Game of Thrones dammit 😆. The bus into town goes from outside the site. It takes about ten minutes. Our first boring but necessary job was to find a Covid Testing lab. We stuck it into Google Maps and found one very easily, just a short walk from the central bus stop. We booked an appointment for Tuesday morning. €90. Himself was not happy. I haven’t broken it to him yet that the test packs we need as a legal requirement to get back into UK are £210 each. That news will need alcohol I fear. It’s good to get reacquainted with the old town. Like in Seville, there were only really the locals milling around with a handful of bars and cafes open. We gorged out on churros and chocolate. Yummy! These here tests are not particularly pleasant, I’m not a fan of having things stuck up my nozzer. They were over and done with in a jiffy though and we got our ‘negative’ certificate. We had to say cheerio to our pals and head for French France. There was paperwork to be put in place before we left. A couple of attestation forms, all the vehicle docs, passports and test results. I fussed around getting a bit stressed having everything printed, signed and organised on my clipboard. The border guys never even looked up as we drove through!! Mark was livid when I made him pull up and stick on the new ‘Angles Mortes’ blind spot stickers. A legal thing in France if you’re over 3.5 tons. They are hideous! Bright yellow, huge and you need 3!! Not exactly aesthetically pleasing!! Anyway, uneventful journey, always the best kind. We drove to Soustons, our go to favourite spot on the west coast. The tidal lake looked spectacular bathed in pinky golden light as the sun went down. Our TV satellite system was finally far enough north to pick up British telly which meant my boy could watch the racing from Cheltenham the next day. He would sleep happy with that knowledge. We went straight to the beach early next morning. It was Dylan’s turn for fun, he hadnt had his sea bath in a while. He loves it here as do we. After a breezy romp on the huge stretch of golden sand we returned to the van to get racing ready. I found my fascinator out (well it is ladies Day!!) and logged into my Paddy Power Account. The Festival was just fabulous. We enjoyed every minute and shouted in 9 winners, get in!! I ordered a new number plate for my car with the proceeds. Little fishes taste sweet and all that! We drank a toast or three to St. Patrick and had a brilliant few days. It rained at the weekend so we did a big drive. Not a pleasant one with poor visibility but we got up to the Loire and La Fleche where the next hurdle for returning was to get Dylan to the Vet. We like the guy there. He’s kind to my pup and doesn’t charge through the nose. You can park even a big bus like ours on the lay-by outside too. It’s a pleasant Aire by a lake. It felt flippin chilly though. Long time since we experienced temperatures in single figures! You needed your vest on even if you’re northern like us!! After sorting the pooch we had to find a pharmacy close to Calais to have another Covid test. It was all simple this time and guess what? The test was free here!!!! No charge. Thank you France. Just had to jump through the last of Boris’s hoops and complete our on line Passenger locator Forms. It stung a bit forking out all that money for the test kits but we shall think of it as happiness tax!! All done. So off we tootled on to the tunnel. I’d had to write down every bit of booze we’d secreted away in case we got ‘frisked’ and of course we did. You know it!! Mr Customs guy rooted through every sodding bunker!! He even searched the beds. We must look well dodgy! We nearly missed our train. I watched him, quite smug in the knowledge that we had on board our absolute limit right to the last millilitre 😆😆😆. I love a bit of sport. Brexit is an arse, nuff said. He waved us on and into the sardine tin back to Britain. And so my friends, that is another tour over and in the bag. It’s been grand. Different of course in these strange circumstances but we’re very glad we did it. We are now back in Devon for ten days quarantine and more tests on our second and eighth day before starting work for the Summer Season. Looking forward to seeing the family and to the next chapter. Warcombe Farm sure looks splendid with the daffies out and we are given a wonderfully warm, albeit from a distance, welcome from our friends and colleagues. Hey, guess what, it’s good to be back!! So I shall draw to a close. Spring is here, the vaccination program seems to be well underway and hopefully now we can all look positively forward to returning to our normal lives. Hope you are all doing ok. Times have been tough in different ways for different people. Some of us have lost loved ones, others have been very ill, many have suffered financially. I think if we are honest, this Pandemic has messed with all our heads a little bit. Fingers crossed our world is on the mend. Sending much love and hope to you all. Have faith. Until the next adventure ……..❤️