I took myself off for a little trip over Christmas and New Year.
The ferry was Newhaven to Dieppe after which I mooched around Normandy for a few days including visiting Pegasus Bridge, and then headed south.
The night I spent on the aires in Le Man was a tad chilly, that delightful biting cold that chills to the bone and lets you know your still alive. The morning was shrouded in thick fog but it seemed like to good an opportunity not to do one of the things the motor racing driver in all of us wants to do - drive along the Mulsanne Straight. Sadly, they've put a couple of roundabouts along it for normal daily use so one can't go hell for leather, not that there's much "leather" in my LDV Convoy.
Christmas lunch was in a pleasant restaurant in Andorra city before continuing in to Spain. All the way up and over the Pyrenees it had been glorious sunshine. After passing through three tunnels in quick succession it was heavily overcast and dull.
Just to say I'd been there, I visited Gibraltar. My advice is to not drive in, but to park in the aires near the border and walk across or get a cab. Apart from having to drive in circles to get to the next road the place is swarming with people on scooters who zap around at lunatic speeds.
From Gib I drove along the coast to Cadiz and then north to Seville. Acting on a recommendation from a friend I diverted to El Rocio. A small town with religious connections where the streets are unpaved, they're all sand.
On New Years eve I arrived in Badajoz (those into military history and/or Sharpe will know of it) and spent the night on an aires which was having some work done and the ten or so campers were packed in a bit tighter than usual.
Sadly, my motor wouldn't start the following morning; turn the key, clunk and nothing more. Fortunately, I'd taken out European cover with the RAC who sent a chap with a recovery truck. Thanks to Google Translate, I managed to get him to give me a tow start and off I went.
I'd booked myself on a ferry but realised I'd left myself a bit tight for time so didn't dawdle. I made a number of stops for breaks and overnighted at Aire d'Urrugne - just north of the French Spanish border - and drove on.
I stopped for lunch just north of Bordeaux and somewhat disappointingly, the motor refused to start again. Once again I put myself in the hands of the RAC and decided to get it sorted rather than faff about again.
As always, my timing was "off" and it took a few days to get it sorted. The RAC found me a hotel and covered taxi fares from/to garages.
I also found that one can move one's ferry booking as long as one phones before the sailing and pays a £10 admin fee. Better than losing the total cost of the ferry I thought.
After a few days, the motor was sorted and I had a good run to Dieppe arriving in the evening for the 05:30 sailing. No problem stopping overnight in the ferry terminal car park.
I'll be doing a full write up with pictures in a day or four.
Le Mans race circuit
Just over the top of the Pyrenees.
Descending through northern Spain.
Approaching the Rock.
Any forum members on their way to Spain now?
Have a friend who is solo travelling next week Bilbao to Zaragoza, an overnight then on to Marjal Camping Resort. The site has a CCC rally area . She hopes to stay here for two weeks and then go down to Castillo de Baños in Granada / Almeria, for a month.
If any of you planning to go/be that way would be really good to have someone say "hello" to her from me.
Given recent weather forecasts over there and that this is her first long trip abroad alone (disabled and my age -- which shall we say is "of a certain age") I am really proud of her and admire her guts in doing this trip so if any of you are that way, I would be delighted if you could let me know -- so I can offer further details to identify her -- and enable you to say hello
Apart from the mechanical issues it sounds like you had a good trip. But something positive can be found even in the breakdown - if you have the right cover there will be a friendly voice available on the other end of the telephone line who will help out. The point I'm trying to make, poorly no doubt, is folk shouldn't be worried about crossing the Channel or even tunneling under it. They are friendly over there, it must be a couple of hundred years since we last went to war with France and longer still since we fought Spain I think and if you do get into bother it can be sorted.
I took the precaution of taking out "fully comp" RAC European Breakdown cover and they were excellent.
One point to note if breaking down on a motorway, even on a services, is that one has to call the motorway emergency number of help. They will then send the breakdown mechanic.
However, do this only after contacting your breakdown insurance company as they will need to know and speak to the recovery mechanic and confirm payment arrangements.
Despite my lack of French I managed to communicate with the people I met, with help from Google Translate.
A good mini adventure, Roger.
Pleased to hear that the RAC sorted you. I have RAC Arrival with European cover through C & C C and am planning a trip to France in September.
I actually upgraded to the European cover last time I went over which was in 2008 - towing a trailer tent and with 3 teenagers. Since then it has come up for renewal every September and I have been going to take the European cover off but kept thinking - I'll get over there next summer ............ and haven't, so I've been paying the extra for no reason for 7 years!
I know quite a few people who are over in Spain at the moment and the weather is horrendous, they are thinking they should have stayed at home.
Just to confuse you, we are in Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, Spain now, although in our apartment, and we flew in. We arrived 2 days ago, for 4 weeks, and apparently last week locally there was snow. However, at this moment it is 26 degrees C with brilliant sunshine and we have just had a lovely shirt sleeved cycle ride. Nights are a little nippier and a cold wind tends to arrive then. But don't let the weather put you off, it is gorgeous here. Graham (and Carole)