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.

March 13th – Art

We had a fabulous day travelling through the mountains of Portugal in Serra da Estrela, but today’s image was taken in a small town en-route (may have been Covilha – I can’t remember), but when doing some googleing to try to find it I came across an artist called Bordalo II who has created some amazing street art in Portugal. Click the link to see some other work of his.

The photo probably doesn’t do the piece justice, as a photograph has just 2 dimensions, and it was taken in a hurry as you can’t really block the road in a motorhome to really appreciate this work. However, on closer inspection of the photo, Bordalo II has signed it. I don’t recognise a lot of the junk used, but I so admire people that create stuff like this from waste material to brighten our lives.

I’m sure some folk won’t agree with me, and that’s fine. It wouldn’t do for us all to hold the same views, what a boring world we’d live in.

March 12th – Cleaners

We came across a flock of vultures on our travels today, riding the thermals, and obviously waiting to devour something.

These creatures aren’t the prettiest bird in the world but they do a fantastic job of cleaning up our world. Imagine the smell of rotting carcasses, and the bacteria that goes along with death. These birds are nature’s clean up squad, for which we should all be grateful.

In fact, anything or anyone that ‘works’ in the cleaning industry are so often looked down upon, but they do an invaluable job.

Human beings are generating so much waste these days with ‘must have now’ and disposable culture that has developed over the last few decades.

Many years ago, when working in manufacturing, I always kept on the good side of the cleaners, mainly because they were really nice people, and kept the place nice. Although, they were Subcontractors so didn’t work for our organisation, they’re human beings like the rest of us with a thankless job. By treating them with dignity and respect, you’d be surprised what little snippets of information was passed my way in return.

Next time you see someone emptying bins, or sweeping the street, why not just say ‘thank you’ to them.

March 11th – Ella

Today’s post is a very happy story for one young pup, not so for her siblings. Ella is about 5 weeks old and was found a few weeks back in a rubbish bag with all of her brothers and sisters who had unfortunately already died.

Ella is a Rafiero do Alentejo, also known as a Alentejo Mastiff, originally breed to protect livestock with Alentejo being the area of origin in South Central Portugal. She has a lot of growing to do…. Her paws are massive. Not a breed I’m familiar with, but Ella is very cute.

Anyway, Ella has been incredibly fortunate as she has been adopted by Robert and Joop, who are 2 very nice guys who run the campsite we have been staying at (see yesterdays post and click the campsite link to find out more).

As an animal lover, I can’t understand why people who own ‘pets’ or working animals do not get them neutered if they do not intend to breed from them? Yes, it costs money, but it saves a lot of heart ache, and complications should an unwanted pregnancy occur.

Ella – welcome to the world and I’m sure your Dad’s will spoil you x

March 10th – The simple life

One of the reasons I love travelling is to get back to basics. We found a great little campsite that we stayed at last night in rural Portugal.

What makes it great I hear you ask? Has it got an amazing pool? Brilliant WiFi? Entertainment? Bars?

No…… It is basic, run by really nice, helpful people that understand service, nothing is too much trouble and everything is clean and tidy. Hot water in the showers, Chickens running around providing eggs for you should you require, and there are some fantastic walks from the site.

We were up early enough to catch the local baker that comes around in his van each morning selling the fresh bread and the largest croissants we’ve ever seen. I appreciate this isn’t everyone’s idea of a great site but we love it.

Breakfast arriving ….

March 9th – Volunteers

Today’s post and photo of the day is to celebrate those in our communities that selflessly put themselves out, and sometimes endanger their own lives by helping others.

The statue in today’s picture is stunning, and sits on a roundabout outside of Reguengos Monsaraz in Portugal. Well done to the artist, and council for putting such a lovely piece in a prominent position, but more importantly well done to those that volunteer for services like fire, RNLI, search and rescue, etc etc.

Hopefully we’ll never need them but it’s great to know that they are there.

March 8th – Senses

Yes, I have spelt it right ….

Photography is one of my favourite pastimes and so what I will say in the post may surprise a few.

Today’s image is OK, but it only captures and uses one of our senses, that of sight. You can’t feel the warm breeze, you can’t smell the scent of the eucalyptus, or feel the rough ground under your feet, that I experienced when this image was taken.

And yet in today’s digital world our visionary sense has been elevated to dangerous levels. Some people are so worried about what they look like, and how others will judge them by appearance alone that it causes major stress in their lives.

I was working online a few days ago with a young person who was really anxious about their weight. Digging a little deeper this person had been a little large in the past and had been bullied through it. They had lost the weight, but were now consumed in anxiety, scared they would regain weight.

The tact I took was to ask a few simple questions: 1. Who do you really admire in your life? (answer: their teacher). 2. Why is this teacher so special? (answer – They’re funny, clever, smiley and interested in their pupils).

My next statement brought it home – “You didn’t mention how they look….. “. The young person, got it, and later fed back that they felt much better (a very brief summary of a complex conversation).

Although I love my hobby, and looking at beautiful things around us in the world, I sometimes think that the world would be a kinder, happier place if we had spells in our lives where we had no vision, and had to rely on our other senses.

Never judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t ignore those other senses. xx