La Coruña, Galicia, Spain, 14th-17th February 2015

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La Torre de Hércules and Statue of Breogán, a Celtic King

La Torre de Hércules, Roman lighthouse, and Statue of Breogán, a Celtic King

When I talk about home in Spain, I am referring to La Coruña. This is the place where I grew up from the age of 5 to 18, where I went to school and college, where I met and played with my childhood friends, where I celebrated my successes and cried about my failures, where I first fell in love and where I decided I was going to travel the world on the long afternoons walking along the beach and around La Torre de Hércules – the oldest lighthouse in the world dating back to Roman times and a UNESCO World Heritage site – looking out at sea, always wondering what there would be beyond the horizon, fostering my thirst to learn languages and, in short, made me who I am.

La Playa de Riazor, looking towards La Torre de Hércules

La Playa de Riazor, looking towards La Torre de Hércules

It has occurred to me that, with all our motorhome travels, we have only been once to La Coruña, back in the summer of 2010, as it is a very long journey from England, and I felt I was getting homesick again (a feeling best expressed in gallego by the term of ‘morriña’, often shared by the many emigrants who over the years felt obliged to leave this stunning region of Galicia in the north west of Spain in search of work, meaning a longing to come back).

Playa del Orzán, looking towards the Millenium Obelisk

Playa del Orzán, looking towards the Millenium Obelisk – Bring me that horizon!

So today, I would like to pay my little humble homage to this attractive and inviting seafaring town, with so much to offer, both to the locals and visitors and where most of my family still live.

Plaza de Portugal near the Deportivo Football Club and Playa de Riazor

Plaza de Portugal near the Deportivo Football Club and Playa de Riazor

I was lucky enough to stay with my beautiful niece, Susana, her husband and daughter in their flat very close to La Playa de Riazor, the beach we frequented as children during the long summer holidays and where I kept gazing out at sea knowing that one day I would follow that horizon.  They live in a prime spot, perfect to begin my walk along the beach towards the old part of town or Ciudad Vieja.

Walking along from Riazor to Orzán beach

Walking along from Riazor to Orzán beach

It was Susana who was kind enough to organize a session of ‘chocolate con churros’ (thick hot chocolate sauce served with a crispy doughnut-like pastry but in cut in strips) in a ‘churreria’ in the neighbourhood with all my brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews and nieces and in-laws. I had a fabulous time and I felt very humbled and honoured about so many of them coming to see me: it really felt like a fiesta. If you have never had chocolate con churros on your visits to Spain, I urge to have it next time you’re there: you’re bound to fall in love with it and, even more than Paella or Sangria, is a very integrate part of the Spanish culture, loved by all, young and all, and usually to be had in the late afternoons, say 5pm onwards.

My big family, gathered for chocolate con churros to greet me

My big family, gathered for chocolate con churros to greet me

I am also taking this opportunity to introduce my family to you, as those of you who have been following my blog for a while and regularly commented on my posts, I have come to think of as friends and it seems to me that this blog is no longer solidly about my travels, but about you as well.

Chocolate con churros

Chocolate con churros

My wonderful family

My wonderful family

I leave you with some shots around the town.  I hope you like it and will inspire you to visit soon.  Enjoy!

The Octupus on the Paseo Maritimo, a new and populat addition to the town

The Octopus on the Paseo Maritimo, a new and popular addition to the town – octopus is one of the popular local dishes and simply delicious

The Millenium obelisk and Tower of Hercules in the background

The Millennium Obelisk on the Paseo Maritimo and Tower of Hercules in the background

The Millennium Obelisk, facing La Torre de Hercules

The Millennium Obelisk, facing La Torre de Hercules

The Bubble Lift on the Paseo Maritimo to El Mirador or viewpoint

The Bubble Lift on the Paseo Maritimo to El Mirador or viewpoint

La Torre the Hercules, the town's symbol and a UNESCO World Heritage site

La Torre the Hercules, Roman lighthouse, the town’s symbol and a UNESCO World Heritage site

typicla houses in El Casco Viejo or old town

typicla houses in La Ciudad Vieja or old town

This reminded me of France

This attractive house reminded me of France

Typical houses in the old part of town

Typical houses in the old part of town – La Ciudad Vieja

La Calle de los Vinos (Wine Street) where everything happens.  Excellent seafood too!

La Calle de los Vinos (Wine Street) where everything happens. Excellent seafood too!

Entering the Main town square or Plaza de Maria Pita

Entering the Main town square or Plaza de Maria Pita – Notice the sign for Meson del Pulpo or Octopus House

La Plaza de Maria Pita (a local heroine who helped fight the English in 1589

La Plaza de Maria Pita (a local heroine who helped fight the English in 1589) and Town Hall

Statue of Maria Pita, local heroine who defended the town against the English invasion in 1589

Statue of Maria Pita, local heroine who defended the town against the English invasion in 1589

Fine restaurants and bars are to be found under the archers in La Plaza de Maria Pita

Fine restaurants and bars are to be found under the archers in La Plaza de Maria Pita

la Ciudad de Cristal (Crystal City) facing the main Port

la Ciudad de Cristal (Crystal City) facing the main Port

La Ciudad the Cristal (Crystal City) opposite the Port

La Ciudad the Cristal (Crystal City) opposite the Port, undergoing renovation at the moment

More archers holding bars and restaurants under Crystal City

More archers holding bars and restaurants under Crystal City

Dell Quay and Chichester Marina, West Sussex, 1st February 2015

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Chichester Marina

Chichester Marina

We won’t be travelling in our motorhome until the Easter holidays, so we thought we’d take advantage of the dry weekends we’ve been having here in the south of England and enjoy the beauty of our surrounding area. Then I thought I could share this most charming of natural harbours with you all, just in case you feel like paying us a visit.

A grey Dell Quay to begin our Sunday walk and the tide was out!

A grey but serene Dell Quay to begin our Sunday walk and the tide was out!

Looking back to Dell Quay pier and pub

Dell Quay 

Waiting for the tide to come in

Waiting for the tide to come in

Further on our walk and you can see Chichester Catheral in the backgroudn through branches

Further on our walk and you can see Chichester Catheral in the background through the branches

Last week, we ended our long walk around Dell Quay at the marvellous Crown and Anchor pub, which is typical of this area, where we had a refreshing couple of pints of real ale. We liked it so much that we booked a table for lunch today, as pub was heaving with customers and by the time we left there were no tables available. I am very happy to report that we were absolutely delighted with the service and the food (local Sea Bass and Plaice served with mushy peas, thick-cut chips and Tartare Sauce) and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Must do this type of thing more often…

Enjoy the photos and thank you for reading!

But today was a much brighter day!

But today was a much brighter day!

But today was a much brighter day!

And the local birds were enjoying it too as we spied from the hide

A large flock of geese

A large flock of geese

And a family of swans

And a family of swans

A welcome sign after a long and thirsty walk

A welcome sign after a long and thirsty walk

And we were ready for lunch

And we were ready for lunch

The patio

The patio

And the beer garden right on the quay!

And the beer garden right on the quay!

Wissant Beach, Pas de Calais, Friday 2nd January 2015

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Glorious Wissant Beach, even in early January

Glorious Wissant Beach, even in early January

What better way to spend our last day in France before returning to England than taking a gentle stroll on this magnificent beach? Not much to say, except I hope you enjoy the vast expanse of sand and sea and the glorious light of winter in Pas de Calais. In some of the pictures, you can see England in the background.

Can you see Dover, England, in the horizon?

Can you see Dover, England, in the horizon?

Ferries heading for England.

Ferry heading for England

Plenty of walkers enjoying the beach in the new year

Plenty of walkers and kite fliers enjoying the beach in the new year

Bring me that horizon!

Bring me that horizon!

Kart surfers too!

Kart surfers too!

Heading towards to setting sun

Heading towards to setting sun

Adonis and Beano on our last walk of the winter holiday

Adonis and Beano on our last walk of the winter holiday

A sight for sore eyes

A sight for sore eyes

The recent breakwaters installed on Wissant Beach in a stunning sunset

The recent breakwaters installed on Wissant Beach in a stunning sunset

Breakwaters from the promenade

Breakwaters from the promenade

Another pretty sight in the town of Wissant

Another pretty sight in the town of Wissant

Quend-Plage-les Pins, Thursday, 1st January 2015

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Sand dunes on Quend-Plage-les Pins

Sand dunes on Quend-Plage-les Pins

On this first day of the new year, we find ourselves back at the motorhome aire at Quend-Plage-les Pins, as when we came here last Saturday, the weather was rather atrocious and we didn’t get to enjoy a long walk on the beach as we had intended. So, after 4 very cold days at Broglie and La Suze-sur-Sarthe, we thought we would like to give it another go and we haven’t been disappointed.

The stunning setting sun at Quend-Plage-les Pins

The stunning setting sun at Quend-Plage-les Pins

We’ve just come back from said second attempt and it was just absolutely lovely, with a beautiful sky lit by a stunning setting sun and the tide completely out, which gave us masses of sandy beach to stroll on and for Beano to enjoy some proper ball-chasing time. It is obviously a very popular area for walkers, judging by the number of people joining us, even on this cold, winter day.

Belle Dune Eco Village

Belle Dune Eco Village

On the way down, we walked through what looks like a brand new Eco Village by the motorhome aire, and very charming it looks too, but I have the feeling that it is more a holiday complex rather than permanent homes, as most of the houses looked quite small. Still, it is very pretty indeed.

Closer

Closer

So we went back to Broglie yesterday after our two-day stay at La Suze-sur-Sarthe, which turned out to be free after all, as nobody came to collect fees and the paying machine was out of order. At Broglie, we took Beano for his pet-passport check and worming tablet, which made him very sick, and spent another very pleasant afternoon at the aire and walking along the Charentonne river to the water mill and beyond.

Christmas Break 2014 029

This morning, we got talking to a couple of ladies parked next to us on their 8-week break heading for Almería in south east Spain, as their 2 leisure batteries had packed up and their van wouldn’t start, so Adonis helped with a jump-start so that they could go merrily on their way to warmer climates. It just made us feel very grateful for our Elddis Autostratus serving us so well and not letting us down in the freezing cold. Our heating has worked very well, both on gas and electric, and it only takes a few minutes first thing in the morning to warm it up enough for me to get out of bed.

A very cold morning at Broglie's motorhome aire

Broglie’s motorhome aire

This is it for now. We’ll do our shop in Auchan in Boulogne-sur-Mer tomorrow and then we’ll spend the rest of the day at Wissant, where we hope to go for another long walk on the gorgeous beach.

The start of a stunning sunset at Quen-Plage-les Pins, seen from the motorhome aire

The start of a stunning sunset at Quen-Plage-les Pins, seen from the motorhome aire

Take 2

Take 2

Take 3: fire in the sky!

Take 3: fire in the sky!

We’ll be on the road again at Easter and we hope it’ll be much warmer then.

La Suze-sur-Sarthe, Sarthe, Tuesday 30th December 2014

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Charming La Suze-sur-Sarthe

Charming La Suze-sur-Sarthe

We have spent two very cold, but with bright blue skies, days at this charming (and one of our favourites), motorhome aire (N47° 53.333′ E000° 01.850′). It would normally cost 5 a day to include overnight stay, water and electricity, but the paying machine is out of order and the water’s been turned off due to the freezing weather, although the electricity hook-ups are still working, thank goodness, as we have needed the heating on all the time and it would have used up a lot of our gas. The aire was full last night at the far end (8 vehicles), but there would have been ample more space right by the river if needed.

All spaces taken up at the motorhome aire at La Suze-sur-Sarthe

All spaces taken up at the motorhome aire at La Suze-sur-Sarthe

We have enjoyed lovely leisurely walks along the river Sarthe and Adonis has had a couple of fishing sessions, albeit in short bursts, due to the biting cold. We walked into town in order to buy some bottled water from the local Carrefour Market, as we fancied a shower today and didn’t want to use up all our reserves in the tank. The funny thing is, as I started writing this, it looks like the water has been turned on again and we have now topped up, which will see us for the next 3 days.

The quaint bridge at La Suze-sur-Sarthe

The quaint bridge at La Suze-sur-Sarthe

Looking upstream from the bridge with quay and motorhome aire on left

Looking upstream from the bridge with quay and motorhome aire on left

Enjoying the peaceful sights along the River Sarthe

Enjoying the peaceful sights along the River Sarthe

Which one to pick?

Which one to pick?

We also had a very pleasant stay and long walks along the Charentonne river at beautiful Broglie, where we probably spent the coldest night ever during our motorhoming trips. It’d been -5°C during the night and yesterday morning we woke up to frost on the inside of the windows in the above-cabin sleeping quarters! It really was a shock to the system and it was a while before I got up after Adonis bravely climbed ‘downstairs’ to switch the heating on. Tonight, as we have electricity, we intend to leave the heating on, so, hopefully, it won’t be so unpleasant in the morning.

Walking along the Charentonne river at Broglie

Walking along the Charentonne river at Broglie

The Charentonne River

The Charentonne River

While at Broglie, I walked to the vet’s to make an appointment for tomorrow, as we’ll be going back to England on Saturday morning and Broglie is the most convenient place to take Beano for his pet-passport check, they are very friendly and they know us now.

The water mill at Broglie, where time seems to have stopped

The water mill at Broglie, where time seems to have stopped

This short break is going all too fast from my liking. Sometimes I wish I could just stop time…

Motorhome aire at Broglie

Lovely soothing light Motorhome aire at Broglie

Je suis Charlie

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Today, I would like to take a break from publishing my travel blog to pay my homage to all the victims of the atrocious terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you will have realized that most of our travels take place in France, not only because it is our closest neighbour in the continent, but because they have a wonderful attitude towards motorhomers, giving us the freedom to stop just about everywhere, quite often for free, even for the night. The French are blissfully laid-back and I love their attitude of ‘Laisser Fair’.

It is only in the last 5 years that we have discovered what a beautiful and wonderful country France is and how warm and welcoming the French are, always patient to try to understand us and communicate with us in our school French or resorting to English if they can and makes things easier, so I truly felt broken-hearted and appalled yesterday when I heard the tragic news. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed and injured in this attack, but also to the whole of the French nation and I really felt very strongly I wanted to write my own little tribute to them all.

I fear that from now own, wherever we are in France, we’ll be remembering this saddest of days, but will continue to enjoy and delight in the marvels of this fine country.

Freedom of speech must be protected at all costs, how else would we have unbiased news in the press and TV and the use of Social Media which we all enjoy so much? Would we have our blogs without it? I seriously doubt it.

So, in the name of Freedom of Speech and those who have died for it, I will post this today.

Quend-Plage-les-Pins, Somme, Saturday 27th December 2014

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Lovely setting for motorhome aire at Quend-Plage-les-Pins

Lovely setting for motorhome aire at Quend-Plage-les-Pins

Here we are on our last trip of the year for just a short 8-day break and the weather hasn’t exactly received us with kindness. It blew a gale last night at Wissant, which kept us up for quite a while, and today it hasn’t been any better.

We got up late due to the disturbed sleep and didn’t make it to Boulogne-sur-Mer for our shop until 10.30am, so instead of going to Pont de l’Arche again as planned, we thought it might be easier and quicker to try this motorhome aire just south of Berck. This is a beautiful stopping place opposite an Eco Village, just a few minutes walk away from the town and beach. It has space for 30 vehicles, a bourne for water and electricity for 2 and the daily fee would cost 7, except that the machine doesn’t seem to be working or maybe it’s been turned off for the winter, as it wasn’t accepting any of the coins I put in. Nobody’s been round to collect the fees, so we might have a free stay!

Walking past the Eco Village and it begins to rain

Walking past the Eco Village and it begins to rain

Very rough weather on the sea front, not pleasant for walking

Very rough weather on the sea front, not pleasant for walking

Getting soaked by rain and waves!

Getting soaked by rain and waves!

We got here for lunch and after siesta we went for a walk on the sea front, but the wind was so strong and cold that it made it very unpleasant to stay there for too long, as it was also raining heavily and Beano seemed to be suffering, pulling back on the lead, so we took the hint and walked back to the van. We were soaked through from waist down as, luckily, we have very good waterproof coats, but our trousers were dripping and are now hanging in the shower room, which is like a sauna when the heating is on. They’ll be dry in the morning for sure.

A very wet husband walking back to safety of van

A very wet husband walking back to safety of van

Shower room becomes drying room!

Shower room becomes drying room!

The Eurotunnel crossing was nice and easy as always and, as we arrived much earlier than anticipated, we paid £30 extra to jump on the next available train, which left at 3.06pm, so we arrived in Calais at about 4.40pm local time and were very pleased to see there was plenty of room at Wissant’s motorhome aire, which we have been avoiding of late, especially in the summer months, for being too crowded, but it was lovely and quiet last night.

We are thinking of spending tomorrow in lovely and reliable Broglie and then La Suze-sur-Sarthe.