We're home again....since last Tuesday.
Our last few days in the motorhome passed very quickly it now feels.......we had a whistle stop drive through France with just three overnight stops and then reached Calais on Monday morning and caught a ferry earlier than the one we were booked onto. That was a bit of a shame as we were supposed to be travelling on the new P&O ferry which is half as big again as the original ones. We were expecting a quiet trip, it being a Monday morning in mid March but the ferry was full of coach trips of French children presumably going off on exchange holidays. Great excitement! We had left ourselves plenty of time to do some last minute supermarket shopping in Intermarché but alas, most of the shops in Calais were closed. It was not a national 'Jour Férié' but I looked on the web and it is listed as a civil non statutory holiday so this must have been why we were thwarted...strange!
We got all the way through France on one full tank of cheap Spanish diesel, refuelled again with not quite so cheap French fuel which got us home with enough to spare to get it to Newark and back for its service and probably back to Dover next autumn. I say "cheap", all things being relative of course......when I had done my accounts after we got back, it was not really a surprise to find that the fuel was far and away the most expensive element of the trip, we spent far more on diesel for the vehicle than food and drink for ourselves and dogs!
First stop in the UK was an overnighter in St. Nicholas Park, Warwick. Richard and Aoife strolled round and we went for a meal together at The Lazy Cow pub in the town centre. It was as ever, great to see them again.
Home by lunchtime on the Tuesday, I soon turned the house into a Chinese Laundry but eventually we got sorted out and straight again.
Thursday evening, the other half of the family, Drew, Alana and Hattie came round for tea and again it was great to see them all. It wears me out just watching Hattie, she is on the go all the time never still! A real character and into everything. I bought her a grufallo back pack on the ferry and was really pleased when Alana told me it is one of her favourite stories........
Just waiting now to get the car MOT'd before we can use it, the motorhome down to Newark for its service, then my back surgery on 4th April and depending on how that goes and when my post-op check up is, hopefully back to the boat in May when I shall resume the blog with our summer cruising tales.
In the meantime, thanks for reading and for the encouraging comments.
Below is a light hearted "Portugal fact file" as the Cromptons found it......
- Same time zone as the UK. This baffled us on our drive into Portugal from Spain. We thought our Sat Nav had had a hissy fit as it was saying we would arrive in 10 minutes when we still had over 60k to get to our destination, turned it off and on again, fiddled with the settings and then the penny dropped!
- As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Portugal is the largest cork producing country in the world. The industry is under threat so keep buying wine with proper corks, not plastic ones!
|Cork Oak tree|
- DIY and hardware shops abound in every town, particularly in the north where there are 5 or 6 in every small town high street....you need never run out of nails, washers, spanners and paint if you live in Portugal!
- Likewise the ever present "Loja China" or Chinese shop....a bit like poundstretcher but more crammed. Everything you can think of, very cheap, most of which will break within a couple of hours.
- Very clean public loos, we have our own facilities, of course but have been pleasantly surprised whenever we've needed to find an alternative.....usually have soap and hand dryers too.
- Washing is hung out to dry in the most unexpected of places, sometimes even on roundabouts, high rise apartments and on fences or bushes at the side of the road.
- Many buildings in the Alentejo region are partially painted in the same deep blue shade, very attractive, especially when the sun shines.
- Chimneys....a wide variety of shapes and designs and a feature on most roofs
- Never seen so many people driving Smart Cars as we did in Portugal!