Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Scotland trip, October 2013

Well we've been back in Bolton almost two weeks having spent an unexpectedly warm and sunny month in Scotland, mostly Skye.

We took our time getting there because of my slipped is improving but we didn't want me to be sitting in one position for hours and undoing the improvements so far.

First stop was a night in Clitheroe....not far from home at all but we wanted to visit an outdoor shop there and also to sample the sausages from this emporium. If ever your travels take you to or near Clitheroe, it's well worth buying some...the hardest bit is choosing. We had 4 of three different varieties, a kilo in all, delicious and froze well.

Derwent Water

Next we had a couple of nights in Keswick where I cycled for the first time since hurting my back.....only round the campsite a couple of times and just to see if I could without too much pain. All went well with no after effects. We had a pleasant dog walk around part of Derwent Water. To get to the other side we used the water bus, shortly after it set off the man in the seat behind us got his Y-fronts in a twist about the dogs as they sneaked under our seat, (he was eating toblerone), shouting "Get your dogs away from me, I hate animals!" Honestly...what's not to like about these two vicious beasts?

Too hot to handle?

Next stop was a wet night by Loch Lomond, we had been a bit concerned about there being a space free at the campsite there as Keswick was very busy so we booked ahead but we needn't have worried, it was almost deserted. Onwards then to Fort George for a couple of nights "wild camping" on a beach. We looked around the Fort the next day and had an excellent lunch in their cafe, it was very interesting and reminded us of the Vauban fortifications that we have seen in France.

The river Saone at Auxonne? NOOOO
Fort George, Moray Firth!

Next stop was just across the Moray Firth to Rosemarkie where we spent three nights on a lovely campsite on the beach just a short cycle ride from Chanory Point . We did see dolphins but not as spectacularly as shown in the link. Dog walking was good here too being right on the beach.

After another wild camping spot near Acnasheen we finally crossed the bridge to Skye....last time I came (40 years ago) there was no bridge. It was extremely windy and lashing down with rain but we had no difficulty crossing even though the sign said the bridge was closed to high sided vehicles...did that mean us? There was no barrier to indicate "high sidedness" so over we went!

We stocked up with supplies in a splendid Co-op in Broadford and then headed out on a single track road towards Elgol where we had magnificent views of the Cuillins. We decided to avail ourselves of a boat trip the next day to the lonely Loch Coruisk.  

Loch Coruisk, only accessible by boat or a VERY long walk,
that's me in the left hand corner!

We had an hour and a half on land, Nigel hot-footed it over some wobbly stepping stones where the loch meets the sea for the best photography shots, I stayed on the landward side. Walking on the gabbro, the plutonic rock of molten magma of which the Cuillins are formed is amazing....even wet and green with slime it is incredibly grippy to walk on. It is a beautiful and remote location,  although we were with 30 or so other tourists, everyone soon split up walking at their own pace so it was quiet, peaceful and atmospheric. We saw a golden eagle soaring above the mountains and another small bird of prey attacking some hooded crows but we weren't sure what it was.

Bella Jane moves a bit faster than Liberté!

Other high points in our Skye trip are outlined below with photographs rather than a day to day account of our wanderings which could get exceedingly boring for any of you who have read so far...........

Nigel's cycle ride towards the Cuillins from Sigachan

Sunset over the Cuillin Ridge from Glenbrittle

Our nearest Glenbrittle neighbours.

Whilst we were wild camping at Glenbrittle for two nights, we had wonderful sunny days and fantastic views. A very special moment was when Nigel went outside at about 10pm the first night, came back and said to me "Come outside right now!" which I did with pinny on and soapy hands (I was washing up!) and lo and behold, we had our first ever view of The Northern Lights, vast fingers of yellow and green dancing up into the atmosphere  and then to cap it all a huge meteor streaked through the sky right above us. ......... magic!

This was also the day we had been on another boat trip from Portree and seen a total of 8 eagles, 4 white tailed and 4 golden. Quite a day!

Two white tailed sea eagles sitting on the rock
and a young goldie flying above

      Ringed plovers on Glenbrittle Beach

When I got to thinking about our last trip together here, I worked out that it was summer 1973, a year before we were married and sorry mum, I fibbed, we didn't have a tent each!......... It was the midge season so we went around with ladies coloured scarves (the see through nylon variety over our heads and tucked into the necks of our jackets. We got some strange looks but they worked.

And I got to climb Sgurr Alasdair and come down the great stone chute in a thunderstorm...can't quite believe I've actually stood on top of it. 

Sgurr Alasdair, with its head in the clouds,
highest point of the Cuillin ridge.
The Great Stone Chute can easily be seen on the left
This time, I had to be content to stare wistfully at its lofty heights whilst walking the dogs on the beach and watching young (and not so young) rucksacked fit people set off up the hill...come on Ric and Aoife, you'd love it here! Meanwhile Nigel had a fine afternoon out on his bike and came back buzzing! (Unfortunately we didn't have enough hot water left for him to have a shower!

What a backdrop!
After Glenbrittle we headed north west and had our next wild camping night at Neist Point with a long walk to the lighthouse (beat you Steph, it's further than South Stack!). We had good views over to the Western Isles and could clearly make out the Uists, Benbecula and Harris. Nigel went back at sunset for reasons of photography, I couldn't face the steps again so I stayed in the motorhome to keep the dogs company...a hard job but someone has to do it! We got very little sleep that night as it was extremely windy and our bike cover flapped for England as we were so exposed.

Neist Point lighthouse at dusk
Outer Hebrides (last year's autumn destination)
 in the distance
Not very flattering I'll admit but these
hats are blooming itchy...oh
and when did I turn into my mother????
(if you can't laugh at yourself...)
Old Man of Stour
hiding in the clouds
The Portree Lifeboat...
and we thought our boat's engine was smokey!!!
Handsome resident of Portree
Last walk on Skye
looking across to the mainland

And so our trip to Scotland Autumn 2013 drew to a close, we had intended to return via Armadale to Mallaig on the ferry which would mean less driving on the mainland but the ferry service had changed the day before to the winter schedule and a smaller non roll-on, roll-off ferry. We didn't fancy reversing our 7 and a half metre motorhome down the ramp to get on, even small cars were almost grounding, so we got a refund and returned via the bridge again. We got to spend one more night in a fantastic remote forestry car park and had a lovely last walk with the dogs the next morning.

Next overnighter was at Glencoe, Dash and Belle were worn out from their walk in the morning and both had sore feet so we kept exercise there to a minimum, then we headed off the next day to Scone via Glen Etive.

Glen Etive, a superlative
brew stop.

Next we headed further south for an overnighter on our friends' drive at Stow in the Borders, great to see you again Mandy and a great shame Bill was away but he and Nigel had a good "motorhome chat" on the phone, Bill and Mandy having recently visited the NEC motorhome show...I did warn's very dangerous!!!!

Next night we caught up with Philippa and Chris at Tebay and had a meal at their local, The Cross Keys. After our meal we had a very entertaining game of snooker...I've never played before and needed all the help I could get from Chris....needless to say Nigel and Philippa won (But only just!!!!) The landlord kindly let us stay in the car park overnight for free.

So that's it for now....back home to deal with some family and medical issues, then hopefully we will get away again at the end of the month, destination Sicily .... well that's the this space!!!!

And finally.........

Scottish Sunset....just as lovely as Moroccan ones and not quite as far away!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Liberté season over, not quite what we had in mind......

We went out to the boat at the end of March. Full of good intentions we were going to start painting her and doing some other jobs (there's always something to do on a boat) and then take a leisurely cruise along the Bourgogne canal and back.

As it happened, for one reason and several others, not much of the aforementioned actually happened! But as we keep telling ourselves, we are in France, we are retired, it doesn't really matter we are still enjoying ourselves and lucky to be doing so.

Some painting did take place....
and I made new sunshades for all the windows, hand
sewing 180 small magnets to keep them in position!
Nigel had  to be brave and drill holes in our precious
boat to enable him to screw on the awning channel
to slot the screens into.

In a nutshell, we had ongoing engine problems, necessitating Nigel coming back to the UK for a week to get a part repaired, then fuel issues, the weather was mostly against painting....wet and cold for weeks on end and then suddenly weeks of mid 30's temperatures. In June I had to fly back for a week to deal with issues when an elderly relative was admitted to hospital after a fall, we both came back for another week in August for Hattie's birthday and Christening, to see Drew and Alana's new home and to collect the motorhome from service.

The birthday girl
A fashionista, just like her mum! :)

Then, just as we thought we could go for a short autumn cruise for a few weeks, I had my suspicions confirmed that I have a slipped disc...ongoing back issues since Morocco which suddenly became far worse. A doctor in France told me to lie flat for a week to let the muscles relax but this did not help so we decided to pack up and come home.

The view from our back deck this season....
 on this occasion there was a Pink Floyd
tribute band playing on the boat where the crowds are.

So here we are back in Bolton, I'm waiting for an MRI scan but already in less pain than I was on the boat. Whether it's the medication (same as I was given in France) or the comfy 5 foot memory foam bed, the exercises I've been given,  the relief from seeing my own GP or just the passage of time I'm not sure but I feel I am now on the mend and raring to go on another winter motorhome trip. The bungalow feels spacious after the boat, especially now that Drew and Alana have moved out into their own home just a 10 minute drive away from us. 

We were going back to Morocco this winter but we think we have changed our minds and will try Sicily this year. After watching the Tour de France through Corsica we decided we'd like to go there but on doing some research we feel that Sicily will be preferable for us.

Even though it was not what we expected the good things about this season were.... we had several sets of visitors, enjoyed socialising with the other boaters we have got to know over the years and met some new friends, attended the Dijon rally (by car, not boat), spent some time with Richard and Aoife who came out to a gite in Burgundy in late August, and we now have new and fully working solar panels which will be a big help when we are wild mooring next year. Also, as mentioned above we finally made and installed the sunshades for the windows which have made a huge difference in the hot weather and they look very smart.

New sunshades, can be flush to the windows
to keep out bugs or attached to the side decks to
increase ventilation and keep the deck cooler

So the blog will continue once we set off on our winter trip, in the meantime, here's a few summer highlight photo's to be going on with.

A rare treat....watching a cuckoo being fed by foster parent
whilst eating our breakfast on deck

Summer cocktail

My college friend Jean
 (we met in 1969!)
and her partner Peter, came to visit

My sister, Janet came to stay for my birthday
We visited Besancon and Beaune while she was over

Nigel and Cathy Lee (3rd and 4th from left)
 stayed with us during the Dijon Rally.
Here we are on a wine tasting tour.

Best of both worlds?
This arrived on the visitors' pontoon one day.
Must be a pig to steer on a windy day!
Sadly only one cygnet made it to adolescence
And no season would be complete
without a visit from Mandy and Bill.
Here we are in Gray during a brief
period of sunshine. It rained almost
the whole time they were with us!

Plenty of sticks after the spring floods

And finally, the epitome of summer in France, the beautiful sunflower

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Back to Liberté One!

We've been back on the boat just over two weeks now and there are not many signs of spring!

The odd flower braving the conditions

It's lovely to be back although going away again means leaving family and friends and in particular this little beauty who is now almost 8 months old.

Our granddaughter, Hattie

We came back intending to get sorted out and straight on with preparation for painting the boat but the weather is against us just yet. When we arrived the night temperatures were still below zero and the boat was covered with ice in the mornings and the pontoon slippery. Now, although the temperatures are climbing a little, we have a low which is bringing much rain so we have been working inside and trying to get "straight" for the season.

It was not much fun for the first few days while the boat was still winterised and we had no running water, working loo or heating and the oil filled radiators kept tripping the electrics. However, that's all sorted now and we are warm and comfortable if a little fed up with the rain.

Liberté, still with her winter covers on.

There have been a few breaks in the weather so that Nigel has been able to indulge in his latest (revisited from his thirties), hobby of flying model aircraft.........boys and their toys! Yesterday evening he went off to his "flying field" leaving me to cook the tea. He was longer than expected and when he eventually came back he said he needed me to go and help him............ it involved a very long boat hook plus the shorter boat hook to retrieve his precious plane from high up a large tree after a less than perfect landing!!! And no, the tea wasn't spoiled. 

Belle and Dash love being back here but to be honest, they seem to be very  content wherever we are, they just happily adapt to their surroundings. Unfortunately, Belle is still very travel sick in the car, despite traveling for 14,000 kilometres in the motorhome with no ill effects. Different motion we suppose. Now we are back here they are on their original food and Belle has put some weight back on, the dried food we had to buy in Morocco really didn't suit her. I'm sure they are looking forward (if dogs do!) to assuming their position on the sunny back deck!

It's a dogs' life!

Today we have been trying out the printer that Nigel dropped in the Gare D'eau last Autumn (see Morocco bound at last, November 18th 2012). Amazingly it has survived its dunking and we've been printing pictures of the family to put in frames around the boat. Great success!

So, no movement canal/river wise yet. We have three lots of visitors booked so far which we are very much looking forward to, (a new Ryanair service from Stansted to Dole which is less than 30mins away from the marina makes visiting from the UK much easier while we are at base).

We're meeting up and socialising with many friends we have made in previous years and look forward to meeting new people again this season. I'll update the blog whenever there is some more news but we are not moving off with the boat until early June. Meanwhile, lets hope we all get some better weather soon.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Who'd have thought there could be so much in it???

Arrived home on Tuesday 12th March lunchtime after a night on Homebase, Warwick's car park which is at the end of Richard and Aoife's road. A large sign says "Overnight parking strictly prohibited" but R and A assured us that many of the locals park there after the store has closed.

We had a lovely meal with Richard and Aoife here on the Monday night after calling at my friend Jean's for lunch in Bedfordshire. Prior to that we had driven through blizzards in Calais and Kent but the journey was not too bad at all considering the conditions. It was good to be able to break it up in stages and to see different people along the way.

We arrived home in Bolton to the smell of our tea cooking, Drew's speciality bolognese sauce was simmering away in the oven though he, Alana and Hattie weren't in so we had to wait even longer to see them!

But it was worth the wait, Hattie is developing a real character and is delightful. We are very proud of Drew and Alana, they are doing a great job!

The title of this blog refers to the amount of "stuff" we are having to remove from the motorhome before it goes off on Monday for its service. We have been emptying it bit by bit and finding temporary homes for things. We decided it would be best to empty it completely so that nothing is in the way for jobs to be done.

So the garage now resembles a plastic storage box outlet.... they are an absolute boon for organising things in the MH but I think we had forgotten how many of the blooming things were hidden in cupboards, under the floor, in little nooks and crannies!!! No worries, they'll be going back in when it comes back from Newark. 

Tomorrow the grand clean starts, I wonder how much sand will escape our dyson....quite a bit I should think! 

Sunday 24th March

The motorhome is back in Newark now for its service, been a busy week. Last Sunday Richard ran a half marathon and completed in a very good time, very proud parents! He has trained hard for it so deserved to do well. My sister came over on Tuesday to meet Hattie and we all had a good day. She  even stayed for tea and didn't get back home to Rotherham until 10.30pm and what's more she didn't turn into a pumpkin! We've also had catch ups with friends which is always lovely. I've had the privilege of watching Hattie at her water babies class and going to a playgroup morning with them and Alana's yummy mummy friends. Great memories to take back to France with us and for me to ponder when I'm missing them all. 

We've had lots of things to organise this week but I think we are almost ready for the trip back to the boat. One of the many things Nigel has done is to organise a new internet provider, our service has not been good in all the time we have lived here so we are changing to cable and my biggest hope is that we will get skype and facetime running smoothly, we were very disappointed not to be able to keep in touch this way over the winter. 

How naive I was thinking the car would be nearly empty this time! However I am not taking any foodstuffs apart from tea bags. My experience in Morocco has taught me that we can survive very well with local produce and without the luxuries and anyway, there are plenty of supermarkets in France. If I can't find exactly what I want then we will do without! Notice the word "want" there and not "need". Morocco has taught us that there's a very big difference.

This week we have two more visits to the boat confirmed, my sister is coming out early May, around my birthday and Bill and Mandy for a long weekend on 18th May. Visits from the UK are now easier as there is a new Ryanair service from Stansted to Dole (20 mins drive from the marina) running twice a week. So as long as we are at base, it is very simple for people to come and stay.

It's certainly been a return to winter for us, a few bright days followed by snow which is still covering the garden. But surely winter is nearly over?????

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Goodbye Morocco, back to the land of plenty......

Well, here we are in France, just south of St. Quentin, Picardie on the homeward leg of our 3 month trip. Just arrived at a campsite that has only just opened for the season. We've been staying in Aires on the way through Spain and France  but there aren't any around here so we have had to resort to a campsite and it has free wifi....hey!!!!! Oh, and great showers.

A modern port and a modern fleet
 but what an organisational shambles!

Leaving Morocco, just 8 days ago, was a marathon! We left a day earlier than planned as the weather had changed, we arrived in Tanger and went to have a look at the port to suss it out for the next morning, but as it was quiet we decided to just bite the bullet and go, as it was still only 1.00pm. I joined the queue to have our tickets confirmed but got turned away and told to return at 2pm. IT WAS COLD!!!
So I rejoined the queue after a brew and a quick bite to eat and at last had our tickets verified and was given boarding passes for the 4pm ferry. After that, it was simply a matter of getting our passports stamped and the vehicle scanned for drugs (they do about 6 at a time on a moving scanner) and off we went to the waiting lane on the dock, we were third in the queue. It was blowing a gale, spray was splashing up 20 metres over the harbour walls, rain lashed down and then we had a thunderstorm!
We waited and waited, 4 o'clock came and ferry. Eventually it arrived about 5.30, unloaded and started loading again, mostly with HGVs. At 6.30 the ramps went up, we hadn't was obvious we were not going on that one.  No information boards, no announcements, no idea what was going on. I got out and spoke to a few people who shrugged and said they thought there would be another one along in a while!
So we had a snack from the cafe as we had nothing to cook, and waited. Eventually about 9pm another ferry arrived and this time we got on it and arrived in Algeciras about 1a.m. What a disorganised shambles! By the time we had got through passport control and customs and made our way to the Lidl car park we eventually got our heads down about 2am. There was a reason for parking at Lidl, apart from it being popular with Motorhomers on their way to and from Morocco, they sell BACON!!
We had bacon butties for breakfast and as it was the first bacon we'd tasted since New Year, wow, did they taste good! Then we set off towards Malaga to fill up with LPG and then onwards to stay at a very nice Aire where we walked to get a pizza for tea and spent a very comfortable night.

Nigel and Bob cutting trees down on his drive
to make room for the motorhome

Next day, Saturday, we arrived at Bob and Ann's in Teresa de Cofrentes, near(ish) Valencia. Sadly, Ann wasn't there, she had gone back to the UK but we hope we will be able to catch up with her when we get back.
It just so happened that it was Bob's birthday the day we arrived (I had thought it was 5th March, not 2nd) so we went for a very nice meal in the evening and had a good catch up. We are both very impressed with Bob's ability to speak the lingo! Getting onto and off Bob's drive was hairy stuff!

Wasn't long before Nigel and Bob were
doing what they do best....
putting the world to rights!

Next stop was a campsite on the Mediterranean coast recommended to us by Mandy and Chris who we met on the tour. Very pleasant overnight stop with walks directly on the beach for the dogs. Thanks Mandy and Chris for recommending Camping Oasis Mar near Cambrils.

Approaching the Pyrenees

Winter games for Belle and Dash......
they're there somewhere!

Next day, Monday 4th March, we ploughed on northwards, over the Pyrenees, through Andorra for some cheap(er) fuel and into France.  We saw plenty of snow, ski lifts were open and many people were skiing. Monday evening we stopped at a lovely aire in Les Cabannes. Just 4€ for  a 24 hour stay. It was great to be back in France and it really felt like the land of plenty, I was up early the next morning and went to the boulangerie for a baguette and we used up the Lidl bacon for bacon butties again. We are saving ourselves, croissant wise, for our weekly treat when we get back to the boat as the croissants at St. Usage are hard to beat!

Les Cabannes overnight spot, lovely!

We overnighted on Tuesday at St Flour in the Auvergne, another free aire and a pleasant spot with good dog walking close by.
And then at last and quite late after a long day's drive we arrived back at St. Jean de Losne, a quick run around Lidl for some wine and beer and a takeaway from our favourite kebab shop, we were at last ensconsed at the Gare D'eau within sight of our boat. We slept well on Wednesday night!
Thursday was spent taking things down to the boat and bringing other things back that we need to take back to Bolton. All seems well with the boat except that when it was moved to another mooring after we left, someone with very mucky hands has mauled our newly installed white roller blinds and rolled one of them down again very awkwardly so that it has a nasty fold across the centre. Grrrrr!!!! We were so careful installing them last summer, one of the last jobs before we left.
We hardly had time to catch up with anyone, just Jo who was walking round the Gare D'eau when I went to the boulangerie and Nigel walked up to see Dave and Pamela but the impression is that most people are still hibernating.

Joinville aire/halte Nautique,
we moored here last summer
 and first met Grant and Susan.

Next stage of our journey was to retrace our cruise of last year, we set off in the direction of the Canal between Champagne and Burgundy, we called at Cusey for lunch, from where Sue and I went truffle hunting last summer and then we stayed last night at the aire/marina at Joinville where we first met Sue and Grant and invited them and some motorhomers onto our back deck for a "soiree." It was interesting to see the names of the little villages we had moored at along the way and cycled around and to think that we'd got there in a few hours today whereas last summer it took us 10 weeks, such is the pace of boating!
Tomorrow, Sunday, it's on to Ypres where we will witness the last post which is sounded every night at 8pm and then on to Calais to catch a "chunnel" train at 8.50 Monday morning.
Once back in the UK we intend to visit my old college friend Jean, in Bedfordshire and then Richard and Aoife in Warwick on Monday evening.
Home to Bolton Tuesday morning and a big cuddle catch up with Hattie!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

And finally.......

Back to Europe..... (Ferry Friday 1st March)

We've had a week or so at Moulay Bousellhem, getting thoroughly confused about which gulls and terns we could see.

The guidebook says that this campsite is the best place in Morocco to see African Marsh Owls who hunt in pairs over the site at dusk.....not when the Cromptons are here they don't! We've had several attempts to see them but no luck.

Looking down on the campsite from the town
Our Motorhome is parked in front of the bright
red building at the edge of the lagoon

It is a lovely spot but we've had several days of rain and very high winds and there is not a beach to walk the dogs within a comfortable distance (though we did walk them there one day) so they mostly had to make do with running around the campsite chasing tennis balls....maybe they frightened the owls away!
Yesterday, (Monday 25th February) we decided we would take a boat trip on the lagoon with a guide, the wind had died down and the sun returned so I walked up to the cafe where the rough guide says the best guide can be found and arranged the trip and agreed a price. He came to pick us up at 2.30 and we got back at 6pm having seen 30 different species and had a walk to find owls but to no avail, however he has given us the lowdown on where else we might try to find them tomorrow at dusk so we'll try again! I won't list the 30 species here but if anyone wants to know, by all means e-mail me to ask. Suffice it to say some of those we saw were, flamingos, osprey, thousands of avocets and a marsh harrier. Hassan was a very nice guy and extremely knowledgeable. A splendid afternoon.

A long way off but undoubtedly flamingos!

We are already talking about and planning coming back next winter, we have spoken to many others who have been out many times, some of whom said the same as us, took a lot of getting used to but once they had, they were hooked.

So what did we like about Morocco and what will we miss? Not in any particular order.......

  • The weather. Generally speaking we have had sunshine and warm weather for the majority of the time, we are hoping the suntans will not have faded too much by the time we get home.
  • The cost of living. General everyday foodstuffs that can be bought in local shops are cheap. It is much more expensive to shop in the Marjane supermarkets but occasionally, for certain items ( and beer which is very expensive here and unobtainable anywhere else) it is essential to have the occasional trek round a supermarket but they are few and far between. Diesel is 8.5 dirhams a litre, that's about 62pence!
  • The bread. Bought fresh every day and available everywhere the Moroccan round loaves are a delight, unsalted, hand made, different textures and max 2 dirhams each (less than 20p)
  • The souks. Despite my initial shock and feeling out of my depth I grew to love shopping for fruit veg and spices on the souks. Again, prices are very low, usually 10 dirhams (about 70p) max for a kilo of whatever you want, you pick up a bowl, (washing up size) and go around the stall mixing whatever you want and then it's weighed all together. Usually the stallholder will throw a couple of extra fruits in, giving you a generous measure.
  • The smells and sounds. There is an all pervading smell in Morocco that I shall miss greatly, it's everywhere, even my hands smell of it, presumably it's in the water, another of those's not unpleasant or rancid, I didn't like it at first but now I will miss it, same as the call to prayer which differs everywhere we go. The one here is very musical and lyrical and thankfully it doesn't go on all night like it has in some places, or if it does I don't hear it. Nigel says he doesn't notice the smell....I've always said he "smells" worse than me...ha ha!
  • The ever changing scenery. From pounding surf on endless beaches on the Atlantic coast, to sand dunes in the desert, the hammada of the stony desert, the oases and palmeries, the High and Anti Atlas mountains, the granite bowl of Tafraoute, the endless argan's been a feast for the senses.
  • Friendly people. Unless we're being harassed to buy something, the majority of the people we have come across have been very friendly and helpful. The children especially always wave as we pass, you'd think they'd tire of it given the thousands of motorhomes here!
  • The sparkling light. Very little air pollution giving clear contrasts for photography and wonderful sunsets

  • The night skies. Again, clear and bright, millions of stars and planets to be seen.
  • The birds. We aren't twitchers by any means but we do like to look for birds that we haven't seen before. Our list of "firsts" this holiday includes: Bulbuls, white crowned wheatear, black wheatear, great grey shrike, sardinian warblers, fan tailed warblers, bald ibis, purple herons, audouins gulls, caspian terns, slender billed gulls, mediterranean gulls, cattle and little egrets. (We've seen egrets before but never in these numbers.)
  • The motorways. Smooth and straight and not busy. Delightful after bouncing around on pot holes for a few weeks!
  • The doughnuts. Nigel says I have to add this! We only found them in two places but they were delicious.
Photograph courtesy of google images

  • The strawberries. Plentiful, sweet and delicious. We've bought kilos of them, never more than 10 dirhams (approx 70p) a kilo.

And some things we won't miss........

  • The rubbish.....our first impressions were only too true, the further south we have gone and in the less densely populated areas it is a little better.  We have not got used to it, never will: it still offends us greatly but you kind of learn to accept that this is Morocco and this is how it is. I did challenge some children I saw dropping litter in one town, they picked it up but probably dropped it again as soon as I was gone! Some campsites are relatively clean and bins are numerous and emptied frequently. And in some larger towns we have seen road sweepers frequently. We gave the guardian at Sidi Kaouki a tip as he was always cleaning and brushing up and seemed to take a pride in keeping the place spick and span.
  • The roads and bad drivers. I've already said plenty about this, many of the roads are in a very poor state and very uncomfortable to travel on. Some of the driving we have witnessed has been horrendous and dangerous.
  • The hard sell. Worse in some areas than others but in many places it is impossible to look at anything, less still pick anything up without being press ganged into buying it.
  • Lack of maintenance everywhere. There is an absence of the concept of maintenance everywhere. Piles of rubble greet you on the approach to every hamlet, buildings half finished and abandoned and resorts that are relatively recently  built, probably in the seventies just a shoddy shambles whereas regular maintenance would have kept them much more presentable.
  • Cold plates. We haven't eaten out a great deal but with just one exception when we ate in a "posh" hotel on Christmas Eve with the family, food (that is sometimes only lukewarm itself) is served on cold plates. Not good!

You may be wondering with this tale of woe why we are even considering coming back....well the fors far outweigh the againsts and you only have to look at some of the photos on our previous pages to appreciate why and there is much more to see and discover.

How could we possibly not want more of this......?

Or this.....??

Or this.........???

Or this...........????

Or this.............?????