March 23rd – Social distancing

I’m not sure the 4 legged children have got the idea of social distancing or self isolating…. It would be great to have 2 minutes to sit quietly and use my laptop or phone without aforementioned kids shoving a wet nose in your face, giving you a wash or using you as a bean bag.

Of course I joke, and to be honest I was struggling to think of something to write about this evening until I was pounced upon.

I was incredibly lucky to get a round of golf in with 3 buddies today, due to the course management team keeping the course open, but with really strict rules regarding people staying 2m apart, which was policed by course marshall’s going around in buggies. Other rules included no hand shaking at the end of the game, no rakes in the bunkers, reduced hole depths, and no removal of the flags, but the mental benefits to my mental health was tremendous.

Outside, with friends that understood the rules and respected others health, but we still had a great laugh, put the world to right and hit a few balls.

My fear in these ‘different’ times is that the actions of a few who are not taking this seriously will make the lives of the majority a lot more difficult…. I hope I’m wrong.

Assume your infected and have a mindset that you don’t want to infect others. If you have been infected, even mildly, and you recover you can still be infectious to others, and you can catch it again – Full story here

Stay safe and well x

March 22nd – Hope….

Today’s image was taken from the sanctuary of our back garden, and with so much doom and gloom in our world at the moment, it made me think about the future.

The buds on our cherry tree are symbolic of our situation at the moment. They have been isolated and dormant, but are now showing signs of coming out after a long winter, and we finally have blue skies.

Our lives will be like these little buds in a short while. Like the buds, we have to be patient, stay isolated and reserve our energy for when this nasty bug retreats from our lives.

It will happen, things will get better, and like these little buds, our lives will flourish again, and businesses will re-open.

I feel desperately sorry for the businesses (especially in the hospitality and tourism sector) that have been hit so hard and quickly. Let’s all spare a thought for those people who may be struggling with a business, or have been laid off due to this crisis.

I am putting a little money aside each week of this crisis that would have been spent on the odd coffee, or beer and will pledge to spend it locally once we get back on our feet.

Stay strong, be sensible and patient, and happy Mother’s day to all the amazing Mum’s out there x

March 21st – SHOUT

My post this evening is about mental health.

We are going through a period of history that is difficult for some people to cope with. Anxiety about the future, fear of losing jobs, financial pressures, isolation.

SHOUT is a charity to help people that are having a crisis, but without having to talk, instead they can text in, which many people are more comfortable with.

If you know anyone that suffers with their mental health, please make them aware of this service. It is free to text in, and open 24/7.

If you, or anyone you know would like to train as a volunteer to help this charity, again please visit their website (details in the picture or click here). I can personally recommend the training. It is pretty intense, but thorough and prepares you to help people that have hit rock bottom.

March 20th – Relief

Today’s image won’t win any prizes, it is a scene which thousands of people see but it was very significant for us today.

Having decided to cut our trip short due to the Covid-19, racing through the borders of Portugal, and Northern Spain, having our ferry cancelled and travel restrictions growing tighter by the hour, it was only when we got on the Euro-Tunnel we finally relaxed. We would be getting back to the UK.

It was surprisingly quiet, and this was our first experience on the Euro-Tunnel, but it won’t be our last. It was incredibly efficient, staff friendly, and although we booked the 12.50 train, as we were early we got offered the 11.50 train at no extra cost .

As I sit here, on the sofa, with Alfie doing everything in his power to distract me, I feel incredible blessed that we are home. There are still friends making their way back to the UK. I wish them all safe travels.

The UK seems a lot more laid back than the rest of Europe over Covid-19. I hope it doesn’t bite us on the posterior.

On our travels we haven’t been doing the major cities and tourist attractions, and so our chance of becoming infected is pretty low, but we are still being very careful, especially as Denise is an asthmatic.

I have heard that the virus can survive on many surfaces (copper, cardboard, plastics etc) that has been contaminated by a carrier who may not show any symptoms. For more info click here. It is for this reason we should limited our contact with others and clean your hands thoroughly and frequently after being in public places.

Please be very vigilant, stay safe and look after each other.

March 19th – So close…..

As we park up in a motorway Aire for hopefully our final night on our trip (albeit finishing 10 days early than planned), I reflect back on our experience over the last eight plus weeks with a mix of very fond and weird memories. One of the weird ones happened today:

We took the 4 legged kids into a Calais vets earlier for the necessary health checks and passport stamp. It was a surreal experience. Don’t get me wrong, the Vet was great, but talk about paranoia. Because we’d been travelling we were informed by the vet that we had to stay across the other side of the street, and wait for a phone call. We were then instructed to bring one dog across, leave it tied to the railings, the vet would then come out of the building, and take the dog off to be wormed and checked. He would then bring the dog back and attach to the railing, disappear back into the clinic, and the process would start again for the next dog…..

Apparently we were lucky, because French vets have stopped seeing English clients…..

We were going to find a campsite for our final night but they have all closed, and so we drove 10 minutes out of Calais on the A16 to the Aire we are in at the moment.

Driving into Calais earlier, we couldn’t believe the number of lorries queuing for the Euro Tunnel. I guess this is a result of the issues of Strike in the French ports, and Ferries stopping their services.

To finish this trip, with our current emotions is a little difficult for my small brain to process. We are always glad to get home after any trip, to see our 2 legged children and partners, other friends and extended family, but as this trip draws to a premature finale, we will both have feelings of relief when/IF we board the Euro Tunnel train.

A couple we got chatting to earlier were talking of never travelling again….. We aren’t in that camp. We love the new experiences and some challenges along the way, and this is unprecedented, let’s hope we’re done on this type of chaos for a least a few decades.

We have seen some amazing places, ate amazing food, met some really interesting strangers and re-connected with great friends. We have also been heartened by the messages of support and good wishes from friends at home, sending love and good luck messages for the ‘last leg’

Hopefully tomorrows post will be sent from the UK, that we can just about see from our spot this evening – Love to you all, stay safe, keep well and look after each other xx

Homeward bound

March 18th – Perspectives

So as a keen photographer, traveller and driver, my normal routes are planned to avoid motorways as much as possible. It is very frustrating to see a beautiful image / scene, and not be able to stop and have a snap, but that has been our situation over the last few days as we race through Northern Spain and now France to get to the Euro-tunnel.

I could whinge and whine about not being able to stop and shoot the stunning countryside, birds posing on posts, Chateaus sitting atop a hill, but let’s face it, with the current situation around the world it would be completely inappropriate.

Some folks are seriously ill, some being put on short work time, and business owners having to close the doors for a month or so to their customers (especially in the tourist industry).

It is times like this we all need to re-assess what our priorities are, help our family, friends and community where possible. So, sorry – no stunning landscape photo this evening due to our circumstances, but hopefully the words around the image will be more relevant, and Alfie send his love and licks x

My name is Alfie and I hope your all well and safe x

March 17th – Solitude…..

After an exhausting drive yesterday, more news came through from various friends about a complete lock-down in France, and so we headed for the nearest supermarket to get essentials, Beer, wine …. No I jest, water, tinned veg, packet soups, dog food etc.

Being in a motorhome is fab, but you are a little limited on storage. We have managed fine as we just buy when we need, but a lock down changes all of that, and so this was an essential trip. To give you an idea of how busy the supermarket was, I queued for well over an hour at the checkout, but got chatting to a guy in front of me who used to visit Roll Royce in Bristol a lot, and he wanted to practise his English…. He was quite a character and we put the world to rights and had a few laughs whilst inching forward in the queue.

163 Euro lighter, I got back to Dizzy to hear that Brittany Ferries were cancelling crossings from tomorrow. Our plan to find a camp site until the planned crossing on the 30th was in tatters, so we decided to leg it once again, staying on the motorway system to avoid the boys in blue and try to get to Calais for the Chunnel.

After 5 hours driving, with a few stops for the hounds we called it a day and parked up in a motorway Aire.

Chores needed to be done: Making telephone calls to book a vets appointment in Calais, getting tickets for the Euro Tunnel, cancelling the campsite and vets that we were going to use for the Ferry crossing, getting some food down for us and the dogs, and a long overdue beer.

We have another plan, 5 hour drive tomorrow, 3 on Thursday to get to the Vet, and Chunnel home on Friday lunchtime – What could possibly go wrong …..

Today’s photo is a bit boring, but it sums up what we are all being told, STAY AWAY FROM EVERYONE!!! Even Dizzy is in isolation 🙂

Stay safe my friends. Virtual Virus free hugs to you all x

March 16th – Decisions…..

Yes, I know, and I’m sorry it’s a day late. We left our overnight spot in the mountains of Portugal and walked the 4 legged kids. During this short walk we needed to make a decision. Stay in Portugal, or flee to Spain and try to get to France before the borders shut due to Covid-19.

It was a tough call, but we elected to try to get to Spain, as we knew the Portugal Spain Border was due to close any minute .

We left and drove….. and with very quiet roads saw the Espana sign. With a big sigh of relief (and somewhat of an anti-climax), we saw the border sign (today’s picture).

Whilst on this journey we thought about the decisions to make a run for it, and the consequences of not making it, and it brought home how fortunate we actually were. If we didn’t make it to Spain, we could head back south to the lovely campsite we found earlier in the trip and sit it out there. If we did make it to Spain but not to France, again we had great options open to us.

We weren’t fleeing for our lives in a war torn country, or racial / religious persecution, or even fleeing wild bush fires like folk in Australia just recently. As long as we had water and food we were fine.

The 4 legged children needed another walk and we stopped at a place we had found using one of our apps. It was a beautiful river side location, and the dogs had a good run / swim in the river.

Whilst walking, our 2nd major decision of the day was discussed. Again, do we stay or do we go. Pro’s and cons to both but we ended up jumping back in Dizzy (The MoHo) and heading as quickly as possibly to the French border.

We reached it and crossed without any fuss at 11pm, with the only excitement being a little snow blizzard to drive through in the Navadas. Were we really sunbathing yesterday?

A long day, but one we will reflect on with mixed emotions.

March 15th – Bugs

We love travelling, especially with our 4 legged children, but walking our hounds on this trip has been a little problematic. Pine Processionary Caterpillars can cause serious problems for our 4 legged friends, as well as humans.

There is a quite a lot of info out there on t’internet but I thought I would just highlight it on this post to hopefully make more people aware. In Spain and Portugal there are countless nests in the pine trees, but in doing some research for this post there was also a plague of Oak Processionary Caterpillars affecting northern Europe last year (including the SE of the UK) – A link for more information can be found here

Anyway, these pesky bugs have very few predators and seem to be everywhere, so today’s picture will show you what the nests look like (almost like a spiders web or cotton wool in the tree), so you can be aware and please educate friends and family (especially if they have animals).

Stay safe peebs xx

March 14 – Rural Portugal

We had a lazy day after a lot of driving yesterday. The sun shone, it was warm and we were the only people on a great campsite. We took the 4 legged children for a few shortish walks as it was pretty warm, and strolled around the local village (Melo).

I’m not sure if everyone was hiding due to the Covid-19 scare has got to everyone, or it is a normally sleepy place but it was very quiet today.

As we strolled around the village, the majority of it looking centuries old, it was like being in a parallel universe. Obviously, we are getting emails and reports via social media or news sources about the chaos going on in the world, but in rural Portugal it is hard to get caught up in any stress or panic.

We aren’t sure if we will be able to get to Le-Harve due to travel restrictions for the return journey back to the UK, but we are taking each day as it comes and will address any issues if they occur. It is pointless worrying about things that you have no control over, and we are having a fab time in an amazing country.

I hope you’re keeping well, safe and stress free, and I also hope the world gets back to normal (whatever that is) as soon as possible.