Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part One

It was a calm crossing and after a spot of fine dining in the A La Carte restaurant, followed by a JD & Coke in the bar (well it would have been rude not to) we used the complimentary ‘free’ WiFi in the ships ‘WiFi Zone’ to back-up our iPhones and iPads. I do not know whether the complimentary WiFi was part of the ‘Commodore Class’ package but the access codes were pre-printed on our room access cards. I have to say though that it was a very slow connection which frustratingly meant that I was unable to get my last post published as we departed blighty as I had intended, so readers of my blog may well not read it until we are well into our trip !!

Whilst the ship throughout was beautiful and the cabin akin to a stateroom on a cruise ship, this was a passenger ferry when all is said and done and I did not get the best nights sleep due to the constant vibration of the propeller shaft, even though we were high up on Deck 8. Perhaps a few more JD&C’s would have remedied this, oh well, something to remember for when we do the inevitable return journey. For anyone following us, worthy of note to remember to bring on board your two pin plug adapters as the sockets are of the foreign variety. It was not something that we had thought about and although we had three or four in the van this was now securely locked away on Deck 2 !! So iPhones and iPads could not be charged. This was not a major issue as we had charged them before we left the CC Site at Looe and we had adapters in the van which meant we could charge them once we were on the move again.

I awoke early and left Sharon to continue with her dreams whilst I went outside on the balcony and kick started my lungs. It was still a bit grey outside, the sun not yet having broken through the cloud, but it was warm. I love the sea, there is just something wild and yet beautiful about it but also scary. I looked out onto the vastness of it and it was grey and churning and I was glad I was aboard this huge vessel and not on a tiny yacht being tossed around on every single wave. No, if I was to live a life afloat it would have to be either on a Narrowboat on the Inland waterways of England or on a barge on the inland waterways of Europe, but for now I am happy with our land barge that is ‘Big Momma.

When we checked in to our cabin the nice young female concierge made our restaurant reservation for us and asked what time we would like our ‘complimentary’ continental breakfast delivered to our room. Our breakfast arrived exactly at the time we had asked for it, 09:00am. It was a little too windy to sit and eat it on our balcony so we sat in the comfort of our lounge area and ate breakfast looking out of the large panoramic windows with the sun, now high in the sky, pouring into the room. This was bliss, there were no queues waiting to be seated at the restaurant, no clinking and clanking of pots and cutlery as waiters strived to serve the starving hoards, no humdrum of dozens of other people’s chatter, no, we had peace and tranquility, the civilised way to start a day. Breakfast over, we sat together on the very comfortable lounge settee, Sharon reading her book whilst I tapped away on the iPad writing my next novel (blog post) for publication, which would hopefully be at some point over the next few days, Internet access permitting. Fortunately, I do not have to rely on an Internet connection to write my posts, I have an ‘Application’ (App) that allows me to write the posts in Draft and then when I get to an Internet connection I can publish. I am still finding my way around with this ‘App’ as I do not appear to be able to insert my photographs into my drafts when off-line !! I am sure that I can, I just don’t know how, yet !!

GPS: N42 47m 10s W4 15m 26.5s

We were down in the basement with all the trucks and motorcycles, this meant that we would be off the ferry as one of the last vehicles. Now, in our ‘old’ life when we were in a hurry to get to our first ‘pre-booked’ campsite, we would have been chomping at the bit sayings things like “What’s the delay” or “I bet we are still waiting for a driver to come to their car”. As it was, we were able to settle ourselves back into the van and watch all the riders of the motorcycles as they first prepared their mean machines for the road before climbing into their leathers, some having an easier job than others when it came to squeezing in all of their ‘relaxed muscle’ so that they could pull up their zips. This was great entertainment to watch and it passed quite a bit of time as we viewed the vast of array of techniques adopted. By far the quickest method was the ‘jump up and down’ and let gravity solve the issue.

They must have changed the road system to get out of the port as Snoopy nearly had a nervous breakdown continually screaming at me to “turn around”, “take the next turning on the right”, “the left”, “the right again” in fact everything except “Oh bugger it, do what you want” !! However, once we got back onto the road we should have been on, according to snoopy that is, all was well with the world and we were friends again. ‘Big Momma’, knowing which side her bread was buttered on, ignored snoopy and followed my careful guidance at the helm. I had made one mistake, when I programmed our destination for the first stop into ‘Snoopy’ I had selected ‘non-toll motorways’ but had failed to also select ‘No Motorways’. This meant that ‘Snoopy’ took us on the A67 Motorway all the way to our destination as it was a ‘non-toll motorway’. Our intentions where to take normal major roads so that we could look at better scenery and towns along the route. No matter as our first destination, a Camperstop in the town of Aguilar de Campoo was only a mere two-hour drive and as it happened, we were to pass up and through part of the Pecos de Europa’s, a mountainous region, which was truly spectacular.

This would be our very first overnight stop on an ‘Aire’ and yes I was naturally a bit nervous. Snoopy took us straight to the Aire, no messing about, no narrow roads or low bridges and no “well it’s around here somewhere” kind of attitude that have been reported by users of other makes of Sat Nav. Although we didn’t need to utilise any of the facilities I still went to check them out. There was an instructions board (containing an English translation) that clearly stated that ‘Camping’ was not allowed e.g. Awnings out, no tables and chairs out, no BBQ’s etc. It was completely ‘Free’ to park up for a maximum duration of 48 hours and the services were also ‘Free’. There was a silver tap with a ‘push’ button and a brass coloured tap which had a threaded end. There were no signs to say ‘what was what’ but I naturally assumed that the push button tap was to flush out the cassette toilet and the other tap the fresh water supply to fill your on-board tank. There was a drain which was to empty the ‘Grey’ waste and a another square drain cover which when lifted was the place to empty the cassette toilet. My assumption with the taps was proven to be correct when a little later in the evening a German registered van turned up and I watched as he used all of the facilities.

After we had parked up, had a proper cup of coffee and applied all the internal security devices we went to explore the local area. I have been told many times by forum colleagues and read in blogs that if you do not feel safe somewhere then move on. We felt safe here and had no worries in leaving the van. What a lovely little town Aguilar de Campoo is, although it was Siesta time there were a few bars open and a handful of people still milling around so it wasn’t quite like walking into a ghost town. All the signs on the shop doors reflected that they would re-open again at 5pm but whether we would return had not yet been decided. We had a somewhat Continental affair for our evening meal, something we would normally have had for lunch, Oven warmed crispy baguette with cheese’s, Salami and Pate and it was delicious. We spent the rest of the evening in the van, Sharon reading and then playing a few games on her Nintendo DS whilst I reviewed the last couple of days activities and drafted my next post for the blog. No TV, No DVD’s, No Radio, No noise at all, in fact just lovely peace and quiet and then a good undisturbed nights sleep and the cost of today’s activities were exactly Zero, Zilch, Nothing !!

Next stop……………. Somewhere South ??????

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17 Responses to Our Initial Retirement Trip – Part One

  1. Wandering star says:

    Sounds great fun matey!
    Love your description of the gravity fed leather bikers!
    Made oi chuckle that did!
    Happy days and blue skies!

    • Someone with a similar sense of humour as me eh ! Right must get some Emails answered before I get kicked out of Mr McDee’s, keep enjoying the blog and your own travels of course :0)

  2. bri says:

    Hi Eric,Sharon, if you are going down towards Portugal figero de foz was a nice stop and the aire at zumaia by the river? plenty of room for your van
    best wishes bri ‘n’jan

    • Hi Brian and Jan, good to hear from you and thanks for the tip about the Aire. We are still looking at crossing into Portugal but below Porto as the weather North is not good.

  3. Nick & Cathy says:

    Wow so its all started. All that planning and anticipation all coming to fruition. Good luck and enjoy your retirement you lucky people 🙂

  4. mike says:

    At least you had a plan to get somewhere….even if Snoopy had a hissy-fit at times!
    Free day – nice already saving travel coffers
    So step one done! The rest will come easy!

  5. Steve&Lys says:

    I think we need to upgrade to the “Commador Class ” cabin , sounds too good to miss , as it will be our last proper room for a while !!
    Great to hear all went well and thanks for the tip about the plugs :0)

    • We were lucky to have a credit note from our cancelled trip last year which is why we were able to travel out in luxury. Coming back we are in ‘cattle class’, back to normality eh !! :0)

  6. Debs says:

    Giggling at the Bike leathers to….. I always love watching customers trying to get back in theirs after haircuts . try J.D and Ginger its very yummy !!! Cant wait to see where you go next 🙂

  7. Steve&Lys says:

    So glad to hear that the first day went well , keep up the good work , ta for the tip re plugs :0)

    • At the distance we are covering you will catch up in no time and probably even overtake us !! Heading for South of Salamance tomorrow, another ‘freebie’ site and then the decision on whether to cross into Portugal. Should miss the weather front that is hitting the Northern part of Portugal and Spain !! Had some rain a day or so ago but today it’s been Shorts and Tee Shirts !! :0)

  8. Pkenyon1@me.dom says:


    Glad to hear you are moving south, tho how about an update on our googly map?? 😉

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