One disadvantage of driving in the warmer weather is the constant barrage of insects hitting the windscreen, leaving wet marks the size of ping pong balls and making it almost impossible to see out unless the windscreen is cleared regularly. These insects must be quite a size as they make a splat noise as they hit the and our washer wipers have to work overtime so we can see where we are going. One of the first jobs when we arrive is to clean the windscreen before the stains set hard in the Spanish sun.
Another day we cycled to Azohia, a small, Spanish holiday village. The day was cloudy and windy, but hot enough to enjoy the bike ride. I don’t know what the place would be like in the height of the season but it was virtually empty and reminded us of an American frontier town, especially as the warm wind blew the dust up into our eyes and pieces of rubbish were swirled high into the air by the wind. A stray dog added to the Wild West atmosphere. You could not describe it has run down because it looked as if the place had never been Up. We liked it, especially as there was an area reserved for camper vans to stay overnight.
We cycled along the coast made up of a series of bays, we passed through the little town of Mazarrón and on to Port Mazzarón where there was a new marina with shops and cafés on a wide esplanade in front of the little town. The broad sandy beaches were mechanically swept at night. It was early in the tourist season and the place was quite quiet but there were enough people around to make it enjoyable sitting in the warm sun enjoying a beer or coffee at one of the many cafés on the seafront.
We continued our journey south along the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona, driving for more than six hours before we reached Elche, then Murcia and on to Cartagena.
We found a campsite in Mazzarón on the Isla Plana coast. The campsite was long and narrow, with terraces reaching up towards the background hills of the Sierra d Almenara. The higher terraces provided delightful views of the Mediterranean but we found the perfect pitch at the far end of the lowest terrace with a view of the mountains set against the blue sky. Our neighbours were two German vans and two Dutch. There were quite a few British staying on the site but they were camped away from us, further up the hill. The site had a large salt water swimming pool. When they had to change the water they emptied the pool after it closed in the evening so the pool stood virtually empty overnight. In the morning three large water jets were turned on and the pool refilled with sea water. I assume the water passed through a series of filtration units as there was no sign of any marine life in the pool – not a lobster or prawn to be had.
We headed south towards Barcelona and found a large resort at Vilanova i la Gelthrú. This site had outside swimming pools and an indoor pool plus a restaurant and a spa. It was a lovely clean site and was the sort of place the British come and stay over the winter months. They even had language and dance classes. It had a holiday camp atmosphere but after two days it felt more like a prison camp and we were eager to hit the road again.
There was a daily bus that took you into Barcelona, a journey of about 45 minutes. We have never been to Barcelona and wondered what it was like. A city? Big? Hot? We didn’t catch that bus.
Weather wise, the next day was a day of all seasons as we drove south, leaving Bordeaux in 24° and heading towards Pau on the D929 and D173 to the Tunnel d’Aragnouet Bielas, which took us through the Pyrénées into Spain. First we saw snow on distant mountains then we travelled through ski areas with melting snow along the roadside. The temperature dropped as we climbed, plummeting to 9° at the mouth of the tunnel. On the other side as we descended it was cloudy and murky, we stopped overnight in the foothills of the Pyrénées but we woke up to rain and temperature of 15°, not cold but miserable. We did not want to linger long.
Charles and Caroline Lamb live at Monségur, south west of Bordeaux and we usually call in to annoy them as we are passing that way. We arrived mid afternoon and the weather very warm, well into the 20s. We spent a happy time on their newly built deck, enjoying the evening sun, some wine and later duck breast marinated and cooked on the barbecue, followed by strawberries with a strawberry liqueur. The writer remembers little more of the evening.
Charles and Caroline had to keep their front gate closed because they were looking after a neighbour’s aged black dog whilst they were away for a few days. During the evening, as it got dark, Caroline had to go to the neighbour’s house to lock up their chickens and when she got back she forgot to shut their gate. At the end of our boozy evening when we had retired, Caroline suddenly realised that the old dog could not be found. Eventually they drove to absent neighbour’s house and there was the old girl sitting patiently on the front step, invisible in the dark except for two bright eyes caught in their car headlights. It was fortunate it was a quiet road and the dog was not run over as it was limping home, invisible in the dark night.
We left the following morning nursing a bit of a headache.