Viva Espana…. with home made Focaccia and Peanut Butter :) …. 23/9

Just so you can see where we are, I have added a second map which you can see by clicking here, or you can go to Our route so farin the menu bar at the top of the blog . It was going to get too messy to just extend the first one …. so hopefully this one will have slightly fewer loops 🙂

We are also starting to rack up the miles walking, cycling, running and driving…. so if you are interested in having a go this year bearing in mind where we are going we are taking guesses on a) How many miles driven and b) How many miles walked and cycled …. you never know you may even win a reindeer (if we can smuggle one out of the country that is….. or it may just end up being some kind of slightly less interesting gift that we find on the way round) 🙂

So, back to the travels …..  having slowed down, we have now slipped back into snails pace and have spent the last 5 days in Palamos which is one of our favourite little coastal towns that amazingly is still mostly Catalan rather than German/English. We are back at our little Aire (EmpordArea 12 euros inc. electricity – n41,85740 e3,11467) which is roughly 1km from the seafront on the edge of the hills.  And this time we took the time to explore a bit further both inland and along the coast.

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The walk to the north is beautiful, passing between villages built around the coves and then the route goes into the forrest and up to one of the highest points along this part of the coast giving some lovely views …

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and then to the south where the route takes you up and down into every cove in between Palamos and Platya d’Aro, each cove as beautiful as the next…

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As the sun has been shining and the walking was plentiful we decided to stay a little longer enabling us to stock up at the weekly market on yesterday before moving on again this morning.

To wean us out of a bit of a dry spell of trying new recipes Keith had his first attempt at making peanut butter a few weeks ago, but this week he took it to the next level and has made both a creamy smooth peanut butter as well as a bit of a random ‘mixed’ nutty butter which contains cashews, brazils, hazelnuts…. and a few others.  The latter is a bit more ‘nutty’ if that is possible, but still quite tasty.

I, on the other hand have been inspired by the ‘Hairy Bikers’ who have recently finished a series called ‘Bakeation’ in different countries across Europe and decided to give the Foccacia a go…… and it turned out pretty good if I don’t say so myself and pretty easy to make in a motorhome 🙂

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With a long drive ahead today I will leave you with some more useful facts.  As it is ‘that’ time of the year when there are grapes everywhere we look, Keith wondered which country has the most vinyards/wine producers, so just in case you were curious…..

– Portugal, there are 58,000 winemakers. However only 45% of the total area makes certified wine
– France: 115,000 winemakers of which 27,000 are certified
– Spain: 280,000 winemakers with 60% of total area allocated to certified wine
– Italy: This is the craziest number but confirmed by more than one source. Roughly 1M (MILLION) winemakers. However only 22% of these are certified (still a lot of producers if you ask me……)
– Germany: 69,000 winemakers of which 28,000 are certified
– Greece: 185,000 winemakers of which less than 20% are certified

Whilst searching around for more information I came across the following website which has some really interesting facts and figures if like me, you are a bit of a wine fan…. and not only interested in drinking it 🙂 http://www.bkwine.com/features/more/state-world-wine-production-grape-growing-2014-france-back/

A quick sprint through France….. 17/9/15

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Knowing that we were going to embark on a second year in the motorhome made us think about what we would do differently and I can happily say that we actually didn’t change that much….
– New spice tubs, which are actually now phase 2 baby food containers for the freezer… thanks to Claire H for the inspiration… saves on weight and they are so much easier to get to!
– Second leisure battery …. we decided against additional solar panels, but we did have an extra battery fitted to help on those short dark days…. dull, dull, dull
– A few less items of clothing …. if that is actually possible, although somehow I appear to have increased the number of pairs of trainers that I have from 2 to 3 on top of the tennis shoes…
– oh and I do now have an iPad…… I blame my brother for encouraging me down the slippery Apple slope even further, and I am incredibly grateful to my parents and brother for the present as it makes my photos look even better 🙂

Apart from that, we had either already managed to change our approach whilst we were away last year…. or it is all pretty much the same – can’t be bad 🙂

My last blog was a little short and missed some of the detail of the last week or so in the UK as we were on the ferry and the crossing between Dover and Calais loses UK phone coverage pretty quickly. I am pleased to say however, after the last trip where I lacked in border crossings I have set the bar and already taken France/England and it looks like I am going to get France/Spain as well ….little things are so important!

I am sure many of you are wondering what Calais was like and whether we saw any problems. It did feel like we were driving through a prison camp as we left the port, with two barbed wire fences surrounding the Port and a camp about 500m outside of it, but we didn’t see any trouble at all, it was in fact quite peaceful.

After getting out of Calais we drove for a couple of hours arriving at St Valery Sur Somme which was the place I went to on my French exchange week twenty eight years ago. We stopped for two nights at our first Aire (Rue de la Croix l’Abbe -GPS n50.18220 e1.62881 – 10 euros for 24 hours) and had a lovely wander around the town and also a cycle along the canal all the way to Abbeville.

The weather was on the turn and we were forecasted a few days of heavy rain and wind, so we have decided to get some miles in and try and push through to find some sunshine. So, after a lovely run along the canal, we moved on from St Valery Sur Somme and headed to Orleans (La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, Chemin de Fourneaux – GPS n47.88550 e1.83990 – 5 euros for 24 hours with electricity).

Continuing our journey further south, we stopped for the night at Donzenac, a pretty little medieval village and we managed to park on the Aire which is just outside a campsite on the edge of the village (Rue de la Riviere – GPS n45.21897, e1.51829 – FOC for 24 hours)

Making a slight detour – possibly more than most people would have done due to our Sat Nav wanting to take us cross country – we stopped for a night with Anton and Rosette – Anton being my second cousin – who live about 4km from Laveur (North East of Toulouse). It is a very pretty part of the world with lots of vineyards and soft rolling hills around the river Tarn. Despite our lack of advanced warning, Anton very kindly gave us the abridged tour of the area and we even had some delicious Apple, Almond and honey cake left over from Rosh Hashana….. we will be back for more 🙂

After leaving Anton and Rosette to go and buy a motorhome (only joking….) we took the scenic route to spend a few nights just outside Carcassonne, a place we have looked over at from the motorway many a time but never actually visited. We opted for a campsite (A l’ombre des micocouliers – 12 euros a night with ACSI) which is about 13km outside Carcassonne on the Midi Canal, as there isn’t an Aire with services and we planned to stay a few days to take in the local area and get out on the bikes a bit.

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Our strategy worked and we have left the storms and torrential rain behind us, only arriving into a bit of a heatwave although after a meander through town to find a nice local butcher we settled in for the night and were lulled to sleep with the tap tap tap of rain on the roof.
We woke to strong winds on Thursday morning, but despite the grey skies it didn’t actually rain and the rest of the day provided blue skies and sunshine, albeit being a little on the windy side, leaving us to do a 64km cycle ride along the midi canal which is very peaceful and scenic, if not a little bumpy in places.

With the grey clouds closing in on us again (although as the wind is so strong they were blown away by the time we woke this morning), we decided to cross the border into Spain this morning, leaving France behind us until 2016, having stocked up on plenty of Brie, Goats cheese, Taramaslata and Barley ….. we watched the grapes being harvested for yet another years wine and headed to the coast.

And we’re off…… 10/9/15

Having spent another couple of lovely weeks cathing up with friends and family we are finally sitting on the ferry about to head to Calais.

During just under three months in the UK we have managed to get in a fair quantity of curries, fish and chips, Jacket potatoes, roast dinners and we even managed to squeeze in some mince pies ….. how good is that?

We are now fully prepared to delve back into the wonders of Europe, although no cheese is going to be able to compete with the Camembert that we have just finished ….. I think it may have been brought over from France 3 months ago 😦

So, year two starts today and the current plan is to stay in Spain and Portugal until the weather starts warming up and then head to Eastern Europe and up into Scandanavia…… watch this space for updates and a new map to follow us around and see how far we actually make it this time!