Burgos – Santander (116 Miles)
We had done so much walking over the past three days that my legs didn’t stop moving even when laying in bed !! I’m not sure if my restless night was because I was worried that my legs would want to take me out for a night walk because they were twitching that much ! Or perhaps it was due to the noise of the church bells that I heard chime on the quarter-hour, half hour, three-quarter to the hour and on the bloody hour ! Or perhaps it was because I heard the pitter-patter of rain on the roof or because tomorrow was our moving on day but whatever the reason, it had not been the best nights sleep !!
You may have thought that because of the lack of sleep that we would have overslept, not that it would have mattered our Ferry wasn’t leaving now until 4.30pm, I could have stayed in bed until lunchtime and still made the boat on time, but no, we were both awake before the alarm on the clock went off, so we enjoyed our customary duvet coffees mulling over ‘Why’ we were on our way back when it would have been better to have stayed here, well not here as in Burgos but here as in Spain, preferably Southern Spain where temperatures this coming week are back up to around 20 degrees(c) !!
The plan, and no my OCD hadn’t been cured no matter how consistently Shazza had tried, was to leave the Campsite about 10am, saunter up on the toll-free Motorway with a brief stop just twenty miles from Santander to re-fuel so that we had a full tank for when we got on the other side, although the Repsol station also had LPG, we didn’t need any as with being on EHU for all but one day we were still pretty full. However, because we were awake so early we were ‘on the road’ a little after 09:00am, no matter, once at the Port we could settle down and have a nice leisurely lunch and relax until we were called forward to board at around 3:30pm.
It was a relatively relaxed drive, it started off dry but the sky was leaden and grey, a few weeks ago, whilst sunning ourselves down on the Costa del Sol, we had watched the BBC News and saw the horrendous snow up North that had stranded motorists for days as they disembarked the ferries from Santander and Bilbao, on our journey today the remnants of those bleak conditions were still very much in evidence.
Now, as if to prove a point about making plans, we were within one mile of our exit to the scheduled re-fuel point when we saw the red and white bollards closing off the ‘inside lane’. As we approached the exit slip road there was no gap in the bollards to permit exit so we waved farewell to the service station as we sailed past it !! It’s a good job that I wasn’t desperate for fuel or LPG but now I was hoping that we would find another fuel station before arrival at the port. We still had a good half a tank and we could re-fuel the other side, but with a delay in arrival at the Port, and a delay in getting to our Campsite in Salisbury, I didn’t really want to stop once we had disembarked until we reached our destination. We had travelled a further ten miles and spotted a ‘Shell’ service station just off the motorway, that’ll do nicely and I filled ‘Big Momma’ to the brim, sorted !!
As we neared the Port the rain started, well it was more of a constant drizzle really but it was still wet !! It’s easy enough finding the ferry terminal, it is well signposted on the Motorway and also once you get off. We pulled up to the barrier at the ‘Check-In’ point and the young girl asked if we were aware of the delay, we told her that we were but asked if we were still on schedule for a 4:30pm departure. We knew something wasn’t right when the colour drained from her face and she put on her riot helmet and held up her glass riot shield and ‘pepper spray’ !! “No, I am sorry” she stated, “There is a further delay due to very bad weather in England and through the Bay of Biscay, you will not board until 7pm and at the moment departure is estimated at 9pm” !! I asked if she knew the estimated time of arrival in Portsmouth but she stated that the Captain would make an announcement once we were at sea, now perhaps it’s just my cynical nature, but that already sounded ominous to me. She very helpfully told us how we could get out of the holding area, on foot, and across to the town, which sounded like a good idea as we now had to try to pass seven hours !! I did suggest to Shazza a way of perhaps passing half an hour or so, but she said that she wasn’t having any of that M’larky and if I needed to expend some pent-up energy she would take me on a ‘Shazza Expedition’ for an hour or two……..!!
My first priority was to phone the Coombe Park Campsite in Salisbury to ask if they had a late night arrivals area. The lady who answered the phone was very understanding when I explained the situation, however she stated that the site didn’t have a late night arrivals area. I suggested that I would then need to cancel our first nights booking but wanted to keep the second night as arranged, but she told me not to worry, the weather in Salisbury was horrendous with gale force winds so to drive safely and to just arrive at whatever time, the site didn’t have barriers and we could drive on and park up on a Hardstanding and come and see her at some point the following day. This was fantastic news and I thanked her profusely, it just goes to show that not all UK ‘Private’ Campsite Owners are as bad as they are made out to be. I guess It also helps to have the forethought and consideration to ring them in advance and not just turn up at the gate at ‘stupid o’Clock’ and expect to be allowed entry !!
My next call was to my daughter, she was going to come to the campsite on Wednesday morning so that we could spend a day together before she flew out, at the end of the month, to start her new life in Australia. We agreed to call each other again around lunchtime on the Wednesday, at least by then we should have had a bit of sleep.
Immediate urgent business sorted, and after a nice hot Cuppa, it was time for a final ‘Shazza Expedition’, well I guess I wasn’t going to get away without a final one was I ? Compared to some of the previous ones on this trip though it was just a walk around a few shops then back to the warmth and comfort of ‘Big Momma’ to wait, and wait, and wait until we were called forward to board. The one disadvantage to having a vehicle of these proportions is that we always end up in the ‘bowels’ of the ship with the trucks and generally parked up nearest the side wall meaning we are nearly the last off. I sat watching the trucks get loaded and when the last had boarded I expected to be called forward. It didn’t happen so my spirits lifted, perhaps on this occasion I would get to be parked on one of the higher car decks, I said to Shazza, “Looks as if I am going to be lucky this time“, she just laughed and said “No, you will be in the in the bowels and against the wall, we always end up there”. It seemed to take an eternity but finally at around 8:30pm we were boarded and Shazza was only half right, we were not parked up against a wall but we were put in the bowels with the trucks !!
So that was it as far as we were concerned, ‘Big Mommas’ wheels were no longer on Spanish terra firma so our ‘Winter Trip 2014’ comes to a very reluctant end, only eight months to go and we can commence our ‘Winter Trip 2015’…………….
Just as a bit of a footnote, I will over the next few days get some statistics about our trip, total mileage and financial stuff, for those of you that like to have this for your own planning requirements.