Mon 14/11/16: With David tearing me off Alison and Cath’s (Beasties) ankles we bade a tearful farewell on my part anyway, but my despair was soon lifted by an earring purchase just along the way (sorry Cath, found the market in the end!) and we collected NiKi from its service in one piece and he positively hummed along the route into the countryside just down from Seville. Having not done much cycling since the wrist incident as we now like to call it we were heading for a via Verde (green cycle path) in a lovely white pueblo town called Olvera. Not as pretty as some of these amazing towns but renowned for its castle and church sitting very high above and beyond all, plus also for its olive oil. Arriving mid lunchtime ish we couldn’t do the cycle as it’s 36k so we had a walk into the town up the 1 in 10 hill that leads to it-an achievement in itself. We found a lovely little bar and had a few tapas one of them unusually for here- a beetroot salad dish heavily doused in garlic and olive oil. Beetroot a real ‘marmite’ dish- you either love or hate and for me it’s a love in all forms except maybe as a soup. This salad dish however was divine but it wasn’t enough to entice David who stuck to his meat in sauce dish, always reliable and always flavoursome. A further walk up to the castle and beyond was enough for us before we headed back for a David speciality of chicken stir-fry before settling down with the not so distant sound of barking dogs and church bells.
Tues 15/11/16: Why do dogs bark all night here and church bells ring from 11pm onwards? I’m really not quite sure but for me being sleep sensitive they are a complete pain in the rear and talking of which it was on that note or bum that we set off to cycle the 36k Via Verde. So not so far one way but of course you have to get back and we have no support crew so that meant a 76k cycle a bit far given the fact we have only done a few 16-20 k cycles since releasing my wrist from its plaster.
So as ever we settled on ‘we’ll see how it goes and how we feel half way’. With the sun shining and the cycle out more or less downhill we both felt wonderful and had a lovely coffee/toastado stop half way and decided to carry on having a lovely lunch break at the end. Salad, chicken kebabs and a tuna pepper salad all aided our mood, but part of me mainly in the lower regions couldn’t help feeling that the ride back was going to be hard work. However we had no choice and so off we set and for me the electric was switched on even though the incline was slight. No matter how much but lifting was done it couldn’t ease that pain in my back side as we made our way back, but still to be fair the cycle was lovely through amazing countryside and with great sights of griffin vultures and many pretty small birds who we don’t have a hope of identifying but that made the cycle interesting. We made it back 74ks later in near darkness with bums and coccyx very sore to NiKi. A bath really would have been welcome at this stage but I settled for a dry sherry instead and a rub down with the sporting life as my father would have said feeling sore but somewhat pleased with ourselves- electric or not a good distance.
Wed 16/11/16: Sentenil de las Bodegas, another white pueblo but with a difference as many of the houses are built into the rocks. The town wasn’t far from where we were parked up and Sentenil didn’t have an aire for us to stay at nor much parking for big vehicles and so with the distance only being 16k each way we thought how hard could it be after yesterday’s ride. In fact the whole return journey was only one way of yesterday’s distance and so off we set on our bikes. We stopped in the main part of Olvera and had a lovely 2nd breakfast before we flew off downhill hill into the countryside flying and flying even more downhill. With my brakes pulled back to full throttle or whatever the cycling terminology is I realised that it was going to be a big cycle back up this hill. But that was not the end as we progressed we went up, down, up and down through amazing countryside of olives and sheep and who knows what, but with the batteries reducing themselves to only 1 power on many occasion before we rode into the amazing pueblo of Sentenil. Cave houses we have seen and appreciated before but to excuse the pun these put them into the shade and with another bright and sunny day Sentenil gave us its best. Bums really aching and begging for relief we chained the bikes up and did the tourist walk through the town of all the best ‘caved’ streets taking lunch in one of the best examples of cave dwellings. Lunch although a tourist hub was as ever good and excellent value for mini hamburgers (they seem to be the new fad), chorizo and aubergine, goat cheese stacks. Not a MDD but filling enough for us before heading back hoping that our bikes and our legs would make it. They and we did before we settled down to some cheese and chorizo nibbles and watching the film Taken 3 in our lovely home on wheels – such is the excitement of life on the road! Oh and I think some hot chocolate was later added to that excitement as well.
Thurs 17/11/16: Time to leave this lovely spot but not before a poo-rage moment, thankfully after our breakfast. The aire although an amazing location and with electricity and all dump, fill amenities for €7 had a block issue on its grey and black dump areas. Both needed clearing and unblocking on a fairly industrial scale, more than a quick hose down might achieve, otherwise David would have done it, as he does. So emptying any waste into it wasn’t achieving anything other than to cause a nasty overflow. So after a lovely breakfast of the usual and comparing sore cycling body parts David let out a shrill scream of Nooooo. What now I thought, there can’t be anymore Brexit, Trump disasters surely plus he wasn’t (unusually) looking at his phone or IPad but out of the window. With no further explanation on went his trousers (we are very casual for breakfast dressing) T-shirt and whatever footwear was at hand and off he flew out of the door still screaming Nooooooooo. Still unaware I watched as the drama unfolded and the realisation of David’s horror- that a German motorhomer was emptying his black waste (poo and pee) into the fresh drinking water tank because the other grey and lack waste dumps were blocked. So now I could see and understand David’s anger and frustration- why would you, just disgusting and unforgiveable but I did have to laugh at the fairly standard Germanic insults that were given. Needless to say we didn’t fill up with water at that aire.
Fri 18/11/16: After amazing drive through the back roads down from Seville we were heading to another pueblo yesterday called Grazelemar. As LP put it, it seemed to have been dropped picture perfect from above as an example of a white mountain town. It was also famous for its sheep, wool and blanket making industry and so coming from the blanket empire of Witney in Oxfordshire I had to see and suss out my rivals. Thankfully for our pockets there was only one blanket shop to be found (or by us at least) and although very good quality the prices were a bit out of our reach even though David cold by the evening temperatures hankered after one. I stood by my roots and family values it was Witney or nothing ( we are actually Whitney, not Witney, but there must be some connection surely),so we converted the sheep into food and had an amazing MDD where the main course was lamb stew, very tasty indeed and all for €9, only one drink though. After a night on a free aire in a pueblo by the name of El Bosque we headed down further south towards our next meet up but stopping at another free aire in a lovely new town by the name of Castellar de Frontera. The aire at Castellar is brand new and to us it seemed the whole town was, but unlike so many other new builds deserted it was not and had a whole community but when walking around it apart from the sunshine and metals sunblind’s it was very much like a new town in Surrey or somewhere. The criteria for food that day was a MDD for €10 or less or pasta/pesto in the van. Amazingly we found a MDD for dead on the money €10, not quite as good as the day before but again for David they had his beloved picadillo soup as a starter and for me a gut busting primero of seafood rice. Then meat of two different kinds with chips before excusing a pudding for coffee and heading back to the van to plan our onward route for the next month or so until Christmas- how many weeks, days?? Countdown has begun in so many ways.
Sat 19/11/16: South and to a camp site just outside Estapona where we are to meet up with David’s Shooters Hill golf club friend Peter for a few days –so just in time for them to watch the Ireland/NZ rematch and also to play a couple of rounds of golf. The weather thus far during the day has been lovely and about the mid-twenties mark but unfortunately rain is forecast on this south coast for the next 10 days or so, we will see. After pitching up we had a lovely luxury lunch of grilled sole for me and leg of lamb for David before the 2 fellow Irishmen headed off for the rugby. Unfortunately Ireland couldn’t pull a win out of the bag again but the match was enjoyed so I believe although it seems to have been aided by quite a large beer intake. My evening was much more sedate reading and writing in the van.
Sun 20/11/16: The day started and stayed grey with the sun struggled to get through the clouds at all. However not bad enough to stop the days golf for the boys and for me it was a slow and again easy day with a coffee and glass of wine in the site bar before heading off for a short prom along the beach front. The site restaurant does a good MDD but also on a Sunday a roast dinner option. The thought did cross my mind that a Sunday roast would be nice but I was doubtful it would live up to my sister in laws standard and the draw of beans on toast won me over in the end whilst waiting for the golfer to return.
The week has been a wonderful mix of real and old Spanish places and all just miles from the better known beach costas, just delightful as were the cycle rides with bums recovering after a few days. I am really going to get a horse saddle for that bike!
Our route this week.