Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Jalon (Xaló)

A few days of travelling south and its warming up nicely so hopefully it will be settled for the next few weeks and we can enjoy the festive period under blue skies

We arrive at a new stop for us namely Jalon or Xaló as its known by the locals and we are settled in to a good parking area on the edge of town

A short walk reveals some really nice cafes and bodegas and we hit upon a chippy run by expats
Proper home made chips, yum yum...

Its bedlam next day as the car park fills slowly in the morning and the local market gets in to full swing. The wine tasting gets priority as usual...

We leave the market behind and go walking along the riverbed to Lliber, a really nice village along the valley

Next day, and after a very quiet night, there's the sound of a rock band playing where the market was yesterday. 
Soon we are amongst a Biker's Meet and the whole place is alive again but with a different flavour

Harleys abound here and we take up residence in the corner cafe watching the big bikes roar by

Next day its peace and tranquility again and we take to the hills

Mid morning break is taken halfway up a convincingly steep 'footpath'

The area here is really nice with small urbanisations dotted around the hills and valleys

Very old and very gnarled (I'm getting that way too)

Local fruits shots coming up...

Looking back towards Jalon

Lunchtime at the top

After a full hour coming off the hills down 'goat tracks' this can best be described as the smoothest section

How we enjoyed those beers at the bar in town!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Delta De L'Ebre

Spain awaits and we cross the border spending a very chilly night at Peralada before moving on to Can Janot and that all important Buffet Lunch stop that has become a tradition with us now

Instead of Palamos this time round we head southwards but enter the hills a little staying at L'Espluga de Francoli near the aptly named Montblanc...
-4ºC overnight and little sun in the morning means the heating is on full tilt despite the rising sun and blue skies

En route to the coast we get caught in the falling snow but make it thankfully down to where its 15º warmer...

A new spot is discovered via the App at Deltebre overlooking the river where the van heats up to a balmy 22ºC by lunchtime
Thats more like it!

Our first G & Ts of the season accompanied by...

Garlic King Prawns & Lemon Rice A La Nina!

And here she is, working it all off..

Walks a plenty here and we get squarely back in to our routine

We relocate two nights later for a few days spent at the aire next to the restaurant Casa de Fusta

Our pink friends are out in force here as the weather is just lovely

The sunsets as ever are amazing and the whole area is alive with bird song

A 'Purple Swamp hen' says Keith the twitcher...

These displays were stunning..

Each evening just before dusk the starlings, in their thousands, put on a grand flying display in what I know now (Keith again..) to be a 'Murmuration' of Starlings about to settle down for the night

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

South to Gruissan

Its good to be back on familiar ground and we continue our steady drive south stopping off for the night at various selected locations taken from the trusty App

A two night stay at St Christophe en Brionnais in the heart of the Burgundy region is perhaps not on a 'Snowbird's' itinerary bit we've been several times before and love the region
Its quite mild here today and we dust off Max for a blast in to nearby Roanne which turns out to be a really nice town

Moving ever southwards we enter the Auvergne region and rest up at Ruynes en Margaride taking in some much needed walking and a view of the Viaduct de Garabit

The village is friendly and the architecture built to combat those chilly winters...

A preview of things to come next week according to the local forecast

Time to visit that Bridge again at Millau

The A57 is a nice 'free' motorway which we have travelled and crossed before with the exception of the Peage section at the Millau viaduct
Its better to pay your dues at the toll booths here and avoid the steep, long & windy route through Millau IMHO....
Saves time, mileage and the grief on our van combo..or so the theory goes..
Last year we pulled up at the automated booth and were identified as 'Classe 2' and duly paid the €12.00 then set off for the rest area for the all important photo shoot
This time its a bit different...
Having ignored Tom Tom to get off the motorway and go via Millau (There's a 3.5t restriction but only apparently for genuine HGVs) we naively trundled up to the barriers
'Classe 4' shone brightly on the digital display alongside the €34.80 fee...What?

Having no ability to back out of the deal the CC was fed in to the machine and I instantly made the mental note not to pass this way again
Either the ANPR pinged us at 4.25t + trailer or some jobsworth sat behind a CCTV camera wanted a laugh that day
For the record it states 'Private HGV' on my vehicle reg document so can't really argue can I?
Lesson learned....

That sinking feeling was soon eased later with the help of some of these...

Onwards down to Lunas where last year it was 35 degs on our visit here and I had to go sit in the river, a little cooler today..

The Med is soon reached and the local strays come to greet us one lunchtime

The last of the treats have gone so a new supply is procured at the local Carefour

Gruissan at last amid blue skies but chilly winds
The local fish merchant makes a killing here and I came away with 2kg of very fresh Moules for €6.00

The marinas here are vast with several waterside restaurants devoid of customers partly due to it being out of season but I think they would get a few more customers if they lowered their prices considerably. It may be a gold mine in the summer with the Yachtsfolk throwing money around but at this time of year how can they be making money given they are almost deserted?

Next day its essential to step out the door tooled up for a Siberian winter as its not called 'Aire du Quatre Vents' for nothing!

Gruissan, from a very long windy way off

Our recent liking for this Belgian beer warms us up on our return to the van

We up sticks to the Aire at Narbonne for some lekky and a visit to the town
A walk to the local Carefour reveals a huge surprise...
A boulangerie that does fresh coffee!
Has my rant got round that quickly?