Its Not All Plain Sailing !!

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.

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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.

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47 Responses to Its Not All Plain Sailing !!

  1. smurfinguk says:

    I have enjoyed reading everyone of your articles and hope you have a great spring / summer in Blighty. It has been a long wait but it looks like our van might get sorted this week. Unfortunately too late for us to head to Spain at this stage but at least we will get to travel here in the UK. Looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.
    Resa

    • Many thanks for that, I have enjoyed writing them 😄 Glad to hear that you are nearly ready to start your own adventures. We did winter touring in UK between Jan-May last year, some great places so enjoy before starting your European tours 👍 Still mulling over whether I shall continue with the blog, will explain in my next blog 😄

      • Tracey says:

        oh i really hope you do, even if it is only occasionally, as i totally understand that doing your Elf and Elfette jobs will mean that you wont have so much to report on, but I for one really appreciated your blogs last year during your duties as it gave people like me who are thinking of doing the same thing an brilliant insight. Hope the crossing wasn’t too rough.

        • Thank you so much, I really appreciate your comments. It’s not so much the time it’s having the material to write about, I don’t want to write just for writings sake otherwise it won’t come naturally and may become boring. But I may just have tow write about stuff we do on our days off 👍

      • Biddy says:

        I have enjoyed following your trip, as we have just come back form 3 months in spain, but have made a note of all the places your mention for next year, and hope we see you again as wardens on another site, we met you last year when you were at Morvich site and you told us then about your blog. Hope your crossing was not too bad, Biddy

  2. As always we have greatly enjoyed your blogs from this trip Eric. Hope you both have a smooth boat trip back home and keep warm!

    • Thanks guys, now back in UK, got some family visits to do before starting work in 9 days 😟 You guys enjoy your own adventures, I look forward to reading about them 😉

  3. shawnandemma says:

    I’m guessing by the time you posted this blog you had made it to the campsite. Hope the journey wasn’t to rough,and the roads clear to Salisbury. I won’t say welcome back as I’m sure with out a doubt you’d rather be some where else. Enjoy your time with your daughter and start counting down to the next ferry, the season will be busy so it will fly past. Shawn.

    • Thanks guys, crossing was a bit rough through Bay of Biscay but got better once we got to the Channel. Certainly need to try and pick ourselves up again as we are both a bit despondent about being back 😪

  4. Jan Musto says:

    Hi Eric and Shazza. I have loved reading your adventures! We have now set off on our 2 month trip to Spain and Portugal in Big Bertha and arrived in Camp Regio Salamanca yesterday, only missed you by a few days!! What a shame!! Enjoy your working Summer, is it Berwick? Jan and John

    • Hi Jan, pity we missed each other and really envious, would love to still be over there. However, enjoy your two months in ‘Big Bertha’ and perhaps when you return you may find yourselves up somewhere near Berwick-upon-Tweed 👍

  5. Juliet says:

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. In the darkest depths of the winter I have travelled with you and been transported to sunnier climes. We are hoping to do the same in two years time when my husband is planning to retire. We have just exchanged our little Dethleffs Summer Edition for a Hymer A class in, preparation. Good luck with the summer season in Scotland.

  6. Half an hour????????????

  7. Great blog and fantastic photos!! You have made my winter a lot warmer with your blog. Might get up to Berwick later in the year to say Hello. Keep up the good work and enjoy Berwick and do have a trip to the TOON.

    • Thank you Bill for your very kind words on the blog. We are certainly looking forward to using our days off to explore the area. Look forward to saying hello if you manage to get up that way 👍

  8. Carole and Brian says:

    NO!!!!! You CAN’T stop your blog! Not being able to get across to foreign climes this winter due to appointments in nearly every northern hospital, we have “ghost” travelled our way around Europe with you and enjoyed every moment reliving those places we have travelled to and look forward to going to those we haven’t. Pleeeesey lemon squeezey keep up what is a very enjoyable and humorously written record of your travels. Meanwhile, welcome back and we hope to catch up with you both soon. Xxx

    • Hey you two, really good to hear from you 😄 Looking forward to catching up with you both in person whilst we are up North. Still mulling over about keeping the blog going but thank you for your very kind words, I enjoyed every minute of writing it, it gave my legs a rest from the Shazza Expeditions 😂😂

  9. Baxterbus says:

    Absolutely fabulous 🙂 the two of you could go into business, Shazza researching and taking the tours, you writing the guides. Can only echo what everyone else is saying, fabulous Blogs that have literally made me cry with laughter at times (probably not always when I should have!). I hear the Borders are a great area for walking – get those boots ready 🙂

    • Thank you so much Sandra, we do make a good team as long as I remember that Shazza really is the boss, I may wear the trousers but she tells me what colour to wear 😂😂

  10. Paul says:

    Hi Eric and Shazza

    Don’t even think about stopping your blog! With nearly 100,000 page hits you must be doing something right.

    Like many others I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures, looking forward to more.

  11. Flykiller says:

    Eric, even if you only knock out one blog entry a month we will at least be kept up to date with all Shazzas Expeditions and your photos!

  12. Terry says:

    Hi Eric and Shazza. Have followed your blog when I’ve had the time for a good read…All the best for your next adventure…Terry and Jo from the land down under..

    • Hi guys, Just been out for dinner with our respective children. They are both quite excited about coming across to Oz, keep an eye on my little girl for me 😉

  13. Thomas Hope says:

    A truly inspirational blog Eric, really enjoyed following you and Shazza on your travels, enjoy catching up with the family and head down for the next 8 months too. We will stay in touch. 🙂

  14. Anne McCormack says:

    Thanks for the entertaining travelogue. Best wishes for the future and look forward to reading your next blogs.

  15. Chris says:

    Oh, no, please do not stop the blog! We’re addicted! Thanks for your wonderful stories and priceless information! We’ll be touring Scotland in summer so we might bump (not literally, hopefully!) into you! All the best.
    Chris (Belgian Beauty, which is the MoHo of course!)

  16. PaulH says:

    Welcome home peeps 🙂 I’m sure it”s very bitter sweet, it always is when we get off the ferry from our month in France, so goodness knows what it”s like after your extended trip. Noooo…. You can”t stop the blog even, as has been suggested, it”s only once a month or so. I”ve so enjoyed being taken places that I can”t go to until I can extracate myself from my biz. Look forward to hearing about the next site, take care.

    • Thanks Paul, I don’t think there is ever a feeling of wanting to come back, however, we are here now so just got to get on with it. Thank you for your kind words on the blog, still mulling over but I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback.

  17. Debs says:

    Welcome Back to Chilly England !!!
    I have really enjoyed reading your blogs since the very first one……so please please dont stop doing them……. I hope your enjoying catching with friends and family……..
    When do you head up North to start your new jobs ???

    • Unfortunately we didn’t get an opportunity to call in to see you this time around, sorry 😟 we travel to our new site on Friday 13th, not superstitious 😄

      • Debs says:

        Never Mind….. I had a few days off this week and didnt go back in until today… Shazza seems to be coping with your Number 2’s very well.. …… Well i hope it goes well for you look fwd to reading all about it 🙂

  18. ChrisMac says:

    Your blogs have been interesting reading for me and really informative, especially as we’re planning out own year long adventure heading of in September. Haven’t read all of them but now going to have a wee look at the earlier ones. Hopefully bump into you at some point on our travels.
    ChrisMac.

  19. Beth says:

    Glad you are safely back in the UK, I hope you enjoy your time with your family before starting work again. Please dont stop blogging though, I’m sure you can still find some entertaining thoughts for us all!
    Beth x

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