Toilet Malfunction

 

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I mentioned in an earlier blog that K&V’s car had broken down and that they would join us in Porto as soon as it was fixed.  Well, this breakdown was turning out to be a lot  more of a problem than was originally thought.  A new turbo was now required, and that  would take at least a week to get the parts in and for the mechanics to fix it. So we thought we would head back up to the Spanish/Portuguese border to the little town of Caminha and join them to wait until we could all continue our journey again together.

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It was then that we had a malfunction of our own, I don’t know what Jane had eaten for tea the previous night, but in the morning it seemed she had managed to break the loo!  Well I say Jane broke the toilet because I feel that it has a little bit more of a comical dramatic effect to say that, but suffice it to say the bog was broken! It always seems that these things happen when you are  miles away from someone that can fix them……….which means that I am going to have to try and fix it myself…………when I say fix it myself, what I really mean is that I am going to have to get my friendly engineer Kev to give me a lot of advice!

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The first bit of technical advice that was handed out was that if he was going to get involved then everything was going to have to be thoroughly cleaned………which I thought would have been Jane’s department…………but apparently I was going  to have to have second thoughts on that! Oh well, I did however get my own back and used Jane’s toothbrush to clean the innermost  movements (not those ones!) of the cassette!

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And then just to add to the joy of the occasion it started to rain……….I could start to get e”motion”al at times like these, it was a real crappy way to spend an afternoon!

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Once everything was clean it was time to call in our precision engineer to do the detailed work, and as it was still pouring down outside, and to Janes delight, the only place for a craftsman to work in the dry was our kitchen!

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It worked……..flushed with success we posed for a picture……….. Jane says it looks like a still from the film Twins with Arnie Swartzeneger  and Danny Devito!  She might be right….and not for the first time…….so she says!

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Vilar de Mouros

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Monday 8th October 2018

After a rather lazy start to the day, a little bit of novel reading, catching up with the news on the BBC  (when will this Brexit thing ever get sorted?) and seeing what is going on in the world of Facebook, we took the decision to go out and explore our local surroundings. A short drive from the campsite and we were up in the hills.  Jane had seen a picture of an old mill so that was all we had in mind for a lazy afternoon as well!

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On our way to the mill we saw a sign to a medieval bridge and decided to divert towards that and so automatically double our excitement for the day!

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The bridge was still one of the main ways into the charming little village of Vilar de Mouros.  This seemed to us a little like the land which time forgot…………

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It was still a working village with people living in it.  The sort of place that if it was in the UK it would be a tourist destination and the place would be crowded.  Here the farmers on their tractors bounced noisily over the cobbled streets on their way to the fields whilst the other villagers went about their daily business, wondering why there were two strangers wandering around with a camera taking pictures.

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Northern Portugal is relatively unspoilt with people like us, the tourists, and it is great to see how real-life goes on before it gets too commercialised.  Everywhere is so quiet and it is an absolute pleasure to drive along the country lanes – a bit like Braishfield in the early 1960s when I was a kid. This is definitely a place I would love to come back to because it seems to have the values of a nearly forgotten age with less stress and more focus on family life and having fun!

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The cost of living for us here is so much cheaper than we have experienced on the Algarve and on the Costas, a round of drinks including a glass of wine, a beer, a soft drink, a coffee and 4 cakes only came to 7.6 Euros!

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Early Mornings

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I always wake early in the mornings, I suppose this goes back to me having to get to the  shop early to prepare for an early opening.  I always used to go for a swim on the way to work to stretch my back and so that I would be awake and ready for action as soon as the doors were open.   Now when I am no longer working, I still get up early but instead I go to the gym  to get myself going and to maintain my finely honed body to the peak of perfection that that you have noticed in the photos!!!!!!!!…………..When we are away in the caravan I still need to get up and about early, just really to get going and to motivate me for the rest of the day. If the weather is good I like to go for a walk and to explore the area before many people are out and about.

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There is also time to indulge one of my other hobbies…………taking photographs!

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It is great to have this huge beach all to yourself……………..

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The peace and quiet is lovely; the only thing you can hear is the waves lapping on the beach.

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Mind you after a couple of miles walking on the sand it does get a little bit like hard work

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So walking through the dunes on firmer ground seemed liked a far more sensible idea!

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At the far end of the beach there was a great paved path which hugged the coastline for miles. It was there that I met up with 2 Australian ladies, Suzie and Teresa, who were walking from Porto to Santiago de Compostela, a distance of over 200 kilometres.

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I joined them for about 5 miles of their journey for a chat, whether they wanted me to or not!  They had travelled over a few years earlier to do the northern pilgrimage, which is over 600 kilometres long.  It starts in France, goes over the Pyrenees and then continues along the northern coast of Spain.  They must be gluttons for punishment! So after giving them the benefit of my vast knowledge, and pointing them out the right direction for their continued travels, they set off.  I think I had slowed then down because as they departed they set off at a far faster pace!

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When I got back to the caravan Jane was just getting up, and when I told her of the beautiful walk she thought it would be a good idea to try it for herself.  So with K&V we set off to do it again (I cheated a bit by driving to the start of the pathway!)

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This part of Spain/Portugal is definitely an area that I will come back to and explore further!

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I sat down on this rock to rest my weary legs and got a few strange looks……..I can’t understand why!

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Val sat down drinking in the scenery.

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Jane found some prehistoric artwork, perfectly preserved on top of a rock……….it’s amazing it has survived all these many years!!!!

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Porto

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Thursday 4th October 2018

Whilst we waited for news on K&Vs car, we thought we might as well make the most of our time and visit Portugal’s 2nd largest city Porto. A 30 minute drive from our campsite and we were in the centre of the city searching for a parking place, which is not that easy when you have  a large car like ours, fantastic for towing the caravan but not so easy to park, especially in the tight underground car parks of Porto!

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Porto is called the city of bridges and that’s because it has 6 which cross the river Douro. The bridge in the first photo is the Dom Luís 1 Bridge and is a double-deck metal arch bridge which, at 172 metres, was the longest of its style for many years!  There is a great cosmopolitan  feel when walking alongside the river with so many people having a meal, having a drink, listening to music or just simply watching the world go by!

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The bridges are very dramatic from ground level…………..

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But even more so from on high! Those of you that know me are aware of my slight discomfort around driving or walking over these really high structures, and I’m sure that this photo doesn’t convey any feelings of nervousness on my part – or does it?

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Maybe when you look at it from this angle you can see why I’m stood with my legs so far apart, so I can maintain a low centre of gravity and my slight frame doesn’t get blown over the edge!

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The bright colours on the tiled buildings that line the riverbank add to the general ambiance and relaxed atmosphere of the city.

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They still have a few of the old trolley cars taking passengers through the narrow, windy cobbled streets, much quicker than trying to catch a bus or drive!

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A selfie with a difference!

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Not a bad place to stop for lunch, Jane gets the wine, I get the coffee as I’m driving!

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But I do get the good view…..of Jane of course!

São Benton Station is the beautiful old main station in Porto. The idea for this grand building was first put forward in 1862, but the first train didn’t arrive at the platform until 1896 as there  needed to be extensive tunnel building first to get the railway lines into the centre of the city.  It is well worth a visit even if you are not about to embark on a rail journey!

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A Guarda

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Tuesday 2nd October 2018

About 20k South of Baiona is a small fishing village called A Guarda.  We visited there for a little top-up of shopping, a quick stroll and some lunch. The shopping was unexciting, the stroll was very pleasant but the main event, the lunch, was fantastic! As we were in a fishing village the only thing to eat at lunchtime, or at any time come to that, would be fish. We chose a small restaurant with a lovely view overlooking the port.  We both decided on monkfish tails and tiger prawn kebabs for our main course, and it was delicious and so filling that neither of us had room for dessert!  I know there is a lot about food on the our blog but it is a bit of a hobby with me, and food is the only thing I eat and is very important to me!

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After a hectic day it’s always great to watch the sun sink slowly into the sea……………

 

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And if you have a glass of something chilled in your hand at the same time then so much the better!

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Wednesday 3rd October 2018

Campidouro on the banks of the river Douro was our base for the next few nights so that we could visit the city of Porto. When we arrived we were the only campers on site but we knew K&V would be along shortly, so no problem there then. We had received a call from Kev on our drive down to say he had a minor problem with the car and that a breakdown service was on its way and they would continue their journey shortly. Well that minor problem turned out to be rather larger than expected and the car needed a new turbo (Kev wouldn’t find that out until the next day) and it was therefore undriveable.  All this took virtually all day long to sort out, with the car being  transported to the garage on the back of a lorry and leaving K&V stuck in a lay-by with their caravan waiting for hours for someone to tow them to a local campsite….more of which in a future blog!

 

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We were oblivious to the enormity of their problems and as the sun began to set we were still the only campers on the site, and Jane was beginning to feel slightly uneasy about the whole situation. Then just as it was getting dark, we heard the welcome sound of a motorhome pulling up for the night………so we could all sleep safe and soundly secure in the knowledge that there were other people close by.  Mind you they could have been murderers for all we knew but at least Jane felt safe!

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O Muiño

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Now where did they get that idea from? Great minds think alike! We met this van along with its Welsh owners (sorry I have forgotten their names!) at the FANTASTIC O Muiño campsite…………..

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This site is in a really lovely position, right on the coast. As you can see we were lucky enough to secure two of the best pitches ……………..

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The walk to the beach took us all of 30 seconds…………..

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And if we couldn’t be bothered to walk there, we could just look out of the window

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The coastline reminded me of parts of Highway One in California, the bit from San Francisco down to Los Angeles, but the best part of this road was that there was hardly any traffic! The busiest I ever saw this road was with the walkers doing the Portuguese Way from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela, a journey of some 620 kilometres. There are many travel companies who will organise your hotels along the way and take your luggage on for you too, mind you there were a few hardy souls that were lugging huge great rucksacks on their backs!

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When you have views like this then it’s not really a hassle hanging out the washing, and with a gentle on-shore breeze it’s dry in no time!

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Val decided that she was going to make the local delicacy of winkle and seaweed soup, so when the tide was out she set about exploring all the rock pools. She found plenty of seaweed but had a big problems with the little winkles……..maybe Kev can help her with that! So it was Heinz tomato soup instead for tea that night!

 

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Early the next morning Kev and I set off to climb the local mountain.  Armed with a bottle of mineral water and a very basic map on my phone, we set off and climbed high into the hills.

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It’s only when you decide it’s time to come down that you realise that a basic map on an i-phone is not necessarily the best thing to help you in this situation! Although the picture above of the rutted track down doesn’t look steep, I can assure you it was and I’m glad there wasn’t a photographer around to catch my rather ungainly and rapid descent towards the end. I’m glad to say there was nothing hurt but my pride!

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I was glad to see Jane hadn’t been wasting her time reading when I got back and she was busy ironing away, it can be somewhat annoying if my pants aren’t pressed in time for me in the mornings !

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The next morning a sea mist had set in and it didn’t shift all day.  There was the odd glimmer of sunshine but it didn’t deter these cyclists out for their Sunday morning 50k ride!

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I just took a 5 mile walk along the camino trail to get a bit of exercise before breakfast….

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I’m not sure if I would risk standing up there to catch my Sunday lunch!

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As the foggy weather was set in for the day we decided to take a trip to Vigo.  We might not have seen the best side of this city but we weren’t that impressed with what we saw, that said the sun was shining here and we did see the statue of Jules Verne. Mind you I’m not sure what I sat on but it did give me itchy tentacles!

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That evening we went back to our base camp and met up with Kev and Val, and then we decided to head towards Baiona, the nearest big town to our campsite, along the coast for a meal.

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The light through the sea mist was quite eerie …………..

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and as we walked around the castle walls before choosing our restaurant …………….

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I took the opportunity  to get a few photos of the very unusual scenes that this weather pattern had created.

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After a lovely stroll along the ramparts it was time for some food, I choose the locally caught scallops, and they were great!

At the end of a hard days sight seeing the best thing to do is……………..

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Watch the sun go down with a glass of wine and a pork chop!

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Santiago de Compostela

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Thursday 27th September

The campsite at Santiago de Compostela was on the side of very steep hill in the middle of a busy town. You really have to trust your Sat-Nav on occasions such as this, because when the road gets narrow, then windy, then steep, and your wife starts holding on to the handle above her head, you know its not going to be any easy campsite approach! Seeing the signpost pointing in the same direction that you are travelling in is then a blessed relief!  Now it’s amazing how two different cars of the same make can have the same model of GPS and 2 entirely different routes to a campsite as Kev and Val arrived a little while after us having followed a wide main road virtually to the gate.  Easy peasy!

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After lunch we took a walk into town to see the famous Cathedral that had been the goal for all the hundreds of Pilgrims that we had seen since we got off the ferry in Bilbao. The Camino de Santiago (also known as the way of St. James) is the name for the route of the main pilgrimage (there are others which I will cover in a future blog) and it begins at Saint Jean Pied du Port in France and then travels for 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions. I found it a beautiful, and at times somewhat difficult, drive so it must be one heck of a tiring walk!  Above is a photo of what we originally thought was the  wonderful building that we had set out to see, and to say we were slightly underwhelmed at both the grandeur of the building and the lack of people would be an understatement!

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It was only when we saw the crowds of people walking around the corner that we realised what all the fuss was all about…..Wow!

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I was not sure if the crowds had gathered to greet this rather wonderful collection of vintage Bentleys that just turned up……

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They certainly made cars to last in those days, some of these models are 90 years old.(Kev’s car is only 5 years old and as of this moment is in the the garage with a major problem, more of which in a future blog!)

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The crowds of weary travellers summoned up an extra ounce of energy to admire these magnificent beasts of the road! I liked looking, but I don’t think I would have the strength  to manoeuvre these monsters without the power steering or power assisted braking that we are used to today!

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It was nearing the end of the day before we got to have a look around the inside of the Cathedral, and it was well worth the drive………….

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Or in a lot of cases well worth the walk!

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After an exhausting tour of the town it was time for coffee and cake, or wine and cake or beer and cake.  The main thing was to have some cake!

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This set me thinking what could cap off a lovely day like this………

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Maybe some live music…………

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How about an open air concert on the Cathedral steps?…………. Just perfect!

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And as we walked through the town’s narrow lanes full of enticing tapas bars …………..

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……and fantastic looking restaurants, I couldn’t help but wonder what culinary delights Jane was going to prepare for me this evening. I didn’t have long to wait…….. cheese on toast, and it was lovely, and cheap!

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Sada-Galicia

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Tuesday 25th September 2018

This is a lovely basic campsite, everything is a little on the old side  but it is all spotlessly clean. On arrival we were greeted by a slightly over-eager manager/owner who wanted to help us set up. The only problem was that he had never seen our style caravans before and he was amazed at the motor movers and the wheel locks, all of which were new to him.  He was keen to see how they connected up to the electrics etc etc……………. and then he decided that he knew better than us about levelling the vans!  He did mean well but he just wouldn’t go away!

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Early the next morning I decided to go for a walk before everyone else was awake.  It’s still dark here in Northern Spain until about 8.30 so I waited until first light to go exploring.  Whilst walking down one of the narrow lanes by the campsite I was greeted by this little fellow in the photo above. Well, his greeting was a loud bark which woke his neighbours up who then all barked at me.  This in turn woke their neighbours up and before long the whole neighbourhood was full of barking dogs and the peace and  tranquility was well and truly shattered!

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This is our local beach and I was surprised that at that early hour it had been completely raked over for the next days sunbathers!

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My next port of call was the local fishing port…………..

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Which was in full swing by the time I got down there, plenty of work going on in the fish processing factory and the boat builders were hard at work as well!

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The seagulls had also been having their breakfast as the tell-tale signs of the empty mussel shells were littering the harbour wall! Not sure that I fancy mussels that early in the day, I think I’ll wait until I get back to the caravan for a bowl of cereal!

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This little chap was apparently waiting for his friend the owl before they set sail, he had packed the honey and plenty of money all wrapped up in a five pound note, all sounds like nonsense to me!

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Later the same day when Jane had arisen from her slumbers we took a drive along the stunning (I know I use this word a lot, but it really is!) coastline to the little resort of Cedeira. The drive was wonderful……….

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And the town was beautiful was as well. What a great place to eat your picnic, just purchased from the local supermarket, pastie and crisps!

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The harbour was an interesting place to visit whilst walking off our lunch, mind you it did get a little blowy, so much so that I nearly lost my cap!

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Still, I got this bird’s attention!

 

 

 

 

As I say the campsite in Sada was nice but maybe a little “tired”, a place where old caravans go to retire and eventually die!

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A Coruña

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Wednesday 26th September 2018

Today we are off to see The Tower of Hercules which was built in the 2nd century by the Romans and renovated in 1791, and is the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world that is still in use today.

The tower is situated on a peninsula not far from the centre of A Curuña in Galicia. It was fascinating to see something built that long ago still in use today. The long climb to the top of the tower was well worth the effort as the views from the top were absolutely stunning.

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We were lucky with the weather again and with the clear cloudless skies you could see for miles.

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This panoramic photo of the rocky coastline shows you why a lighthouse was needed in this spot

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It’s always a bit annoying when you are just about to take photo and then someone steps in your way, still I liked his hat so the photo stays!

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There are a couple of geocaches down there so it’s a good excuse for Jane to sit down and rest and for me to wander around looking under rocks and stones, getting strange looks from passers by! I did manage to find the 2 caches here, and could have maybe found more but I have come to the conclusion that flip-flops are not the ideal footwear for climbing over rocks and through thistles!

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Then Jane called to me that playtime was over and we had to go and get some lunch.  As you can see by my face in the above photo I was not quite ready to go!

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Keeping Fit

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Sunday 23rd September

A short walk from our campsite in Carreña was a disused tram line which had been converted into a walkway.

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The path followed the coastline and afforded us some fantastic views of the waves crashing on the cliffs.

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The area that caught everybody’s attention was the the gym. Now I promise you that our walk started at midday and at this point not a drop of alcohol had passed our lips, but from the strange looks we got from the passing Spaniards you wouldn’t have guessed it!

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Captions PLEASE!!!

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If you think this photo is funny you should see the video!!!!

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The more these two egged each other on the more we all laughed!

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Thank goodness there were no ‘accidents’ or we would have had to cut the walk short!

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The laughter was so loud that it even woke this little fellow up, he was fast asleep inside one of the hand rails!

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At the end of our keep-fit walk and gym session the only thing left to do would be to go for a quick dip in the sea……………..but common sense prevailed and we all went back to our vans and had a glass of wine instead!

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