A journey back to Middle Earth…

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Quote of yesterday

Camping is the condition in which the human considers his own state of neglect as relaxation!

(Written on the side of a campervan)

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4 countries in one day

After having to go back to the campsite due to forgetting the bike and then ignoring the sat nav, map book and road signs, firstly going in the wrong direction because it “felt right”, we still couldn’t resist a last dip in the Mediterranean before heading north for Germany to be in time for Maria’s cousin, Adrian’s wedding on Sat.
The late start on Thursday, meant that over a period of 24 hours we drove through Spain, France, Switzerland, and Germany. Wanting to take the “scenic route” allowed us to go from the beaches, through vineyards, to the lakes, over the Alps, and arriving in the Black Forest on Friday evening.
The most exciting event of the trip for the Boys however, was probably the decision to go “freestyle” so we could get as far as we could, ending up in a service stop on the A7 just outside of Valence for the night. Given we could still use the “services” of the services, we were hardly in total isolation, but still proved the self sufficiency of the van with the added bonus of fresh croissants at first light!


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Mediterranean beach siesta

Today we went into Mataro, a nearby town and had a look in the market and bought some fruit and veg. After that we went a bit further into town and we saw a pet shop which had lots of budgies in it 🙂 , we really wanted to get one, but sadly we couldn’t 😦 , because I think I once heard that budgies get carsick! 😀 .
It was a hot day so we drove to the beach, went for a quick swim and then had lunch, enjoying the great views from the campervan. We ended up spending most of the afternoon swimming & lying in the sun knowing that it’s probably the last time we’ll see a beach for a while. After, we got back in the van, did a bit of shopping, then drove back to the campsite & had satay chicken for dinner.


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Cryptic cryptogram

Yesterday was a great day which we spent mostly on learning about Joan Miro, an artist born in Barcelona. We also spent some of the day looking at the Sagrada Familia in more detail, unfortunately not going inside though as there was a huge queue to get in 😦 .
We started the day by taking the bus to Barcelona and taking a tube to where we’d hopped off the hop on hop off city tour busses the day before. However at the tube, (or metro as the Spanish call it) station, my ticket got jammed in the machine and one of the tube staff had to get it out for me! When we got to our destination on the metro we hopped on a hop on hop off city tour bus on which we went to the Miro Museum and saw lots of Miro’s paintings (which weren’t the most fascinating things in the world, to me at least, apart from one or two which I quite liked). After that we went to have lunch and to see the Sagrada Familia where we went into the gift shop and saw ‘The Cryptogram’ which Gaudi created. The cryptogram goes like this:
I found this interesting as every straight line of 4 numbers, including diagonal adds up to 33 (Apparently there are 310 combinations of numbers which all add up to 33! See how many you can find!) Why the number 33 you may ask, well the the reason is this is the age that Christ was when he died.


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Inspired by Gaudi

Today was a beautiful day which we spent in an amazing city. For me the day was all about discovering and learning about the famous architect Antoni Gaudi.
A city tour in an open top bus took as to many of Gaudi’s important buildings, including the Basilica and Temple Sagrada Familia which Gaudi designed and where he is buried. This amazing building has been under construction since 1882 and is still not completed.
We got off the bus at Park Güell and explored this beautiful park, watched the tourists, took lots of photos, & enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade of palm trees some of which were nesting parrots. We also decided to visit the house in park, now a museum,l in which Gaudi lived for nearly 20 years.
Day one of our Barcelona visit ended with passing by the stadium of the Barcelona FC, (to the boys excitement) and tapas, with squid rings and patatas bravas as favourites!


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Lessons from the road

A change of scenery today, from the mountainous terrain of the Pyrenees to the cityscape of Barcelona, where we have found another great campsite at the coastal town of Mataro just north of the City.
After 5 weeks on the road we have learnt a few things about living and travelling in a campervan. We are now also becoming much more adept at “setting up camp” where the key tasks and roles are clear. Efficiency is the name of the game!
Here are a few lessons learnt thus far:
– Use as few dishes as possible. One pot & one plate meals consumable with one utensil are preferable
– If it doesn’t make it’s own way into the washing bag, it probably doesn’t really need to be washed.
– A random state of possessions is not an option. Everything has a place and make sure everyone knows where it is.
– We really only need half of the stuff we have in the van. If we haven’t used it yet (except for the first aid kit!) it’s only just contributing to fuel inefficiency
– Space for food (esp refridgerated) is limited. If it was you that suggested we buy it from the supermarket then its your responsibility to ensure its eaten!
– Depending on the proximity to our pitch, going to the bathroom can be quite an excursion. Manage your intake of beverages accordingly, especially at night!