Saturday, 22 April 2017

Moissac, Cycling

Friday 21st April 2017

Sunny, blue sky, 20C.

Today is spent cycling along the Canal Lateral de Garonne, in the direction of Castelsarrasin, about 5 miles away, then another 5 miles beyond that, to make a twenty mile round trip, through beautiful countryside.

Saturday, 22nd April 2017.

Blue sky, 25C.

We are enjoying it here so much, we decide to stay another day.

This decision disrupts the Church plan, so, we head off on the scooter to find the Convent Misercordia, where there is a mass on Saturday evening. We find the place no problem, and, the nun on Reception duties is amazingly helpful, even giving us a mini tour of the building! So, that is Kathleen sorted.

We spend the rest of the day cycling along the Canal (22 miles), in the opposite direction to yesterday.

We go as far as Valence en Agen, where there is this amazing fountain, outside of the bar, where we were forced to stop for a cooling beer.

I spend the evening in Bar Compestelle. I make use of my French a la Michel Thomas, to ask for "encore biere, s'il vous plait", only for the bar man to say "un autre biere", which according to Michel, is incorrect!

Either way, I received another beer.

Kathleen does the Church bit.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Exploring Moissac

Thursday, 20th April 2017

Just to remind us, we are not in Spain, but, in the Tarn Region of France, and, it is only mid-April, the morning starts sunny, but, decidedly cool at only 12C, but, by late morning, the temperature is improving, and we have a pleasant 20C day.

The campsite, Le Moulin du Bidounet, is, I would suspect, an ex-municipal site, I say that, because, it is "functional", ie, every thing is clean, and works, but, it is not "comfortable". 

Yesterday, in the evening, we chanced upon a Motorhome Aire, (N44 5' 55" E1 5' 36") just across the river from the Campsite, and nearer to the town of Moissac. 

It has a good level surface, EHU, and usual services, for 7Euro per day, we decide to move there.

It is all automated, with a Debit/Credit card check-in system, operating an entry/exit barrier, with instructions in French and English.

Once "settled in", we set off on foot, to
explore the town of Moissac.

Moissac turns out to be a rather pretty place. It is on both the River Tarn, and, the Canal Lateral de Garonne.

The long distance cycle track, Les Deux Mers (the two seas), passes through here, not that I think we will have time to do very much of that, on this trip.

Moissac is also on one of the many Pilgrim Routes, running through France, to Santiago de Compestela, in Spain.

There is a very impressive Abbey, which, according to the information boards was founded in the year 600, although the existing building is more recent, dating from the 1100's (recent!).

Not being at all Religious, it is the sheer scale of these old churches which impresses me, and the number of manhours which must have gone into building them and decorating them. This one is no exception, one of the things I notice, is the walls are covered in what looks like wallpaper, to modern eyes, but, it is in fact a repetitive pattern hand painted onto the plastered surface. Given the size of the building, it must have taken hundreds if not thousands of manhours to complete.

Having satisfied our culture requirements for the day (or year even), we head off in search of lunch, which we find in a very pleasant cafe on the square at the from of the Abbey.

Whilst in the Abbey, Kathleen has acquired a list of mass times for the coming weekend.

There is a slight problem, in that the mass at the Abbey, is not until 11:00 on Sunday, the day we will be leaving Moissac. There are two other places (in Moissac) listed as having Mass at more suitable times, but, try as we might, we cannot find either of them.

The problem is solved when we go exploring, in the evening, on the scooter, and find an alternative Church at a small village called Sainte Livrade, which has both a suitable parking area for the van plus trailer, and, a mass at 9:30 Sunday.

We also find a Lidl, selling Kathleen's favourite Rose Wine (White Zindanfel), I am not sure which she is most pleased about. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

To Moissac,

Wednesday, 19th April 2017

A cool 10C start to the day, we are not used to this!

We are soon on our way, just as the sun begins to shine over the hills and bring a bit of warmth to the day.

An easy 110 miles today, to Moissac, on the River Tarn.

We have left the mountains behind now, a mixture of flat plateau and rolling hills with roads that must have been built by the Romans, arrow straight! 

Our destination, Moissac, Le Moulin du Bidounet (N44 5'47" E1 5'21"), an ASCI Campsite, on an island in the River Tarn, just outside the town of Moissac.

In true French style, reception is closed, for lunch (ie 12:30 - 15:30), so, we have to wait to get in.

The French know how to relax!

We have a three mile stroll in the evening, after two days of sitting on our rear ends, we need a little exercise.

Begin the Journey, slowly, home

Tuesday, 18th April 2017

The forecast for Benicassim today is 22C and sunny. Although we leave just after 8:00, before the sun is fully above the hills, no reason to suppose it will be wrong.

But, we are heading slowly home, starting today. 

North along the coast, towards Peniscola, the only problem is that Spanish road building is ahead of our Sat-Nav map updates, and, the N340 is no longer as our SatNav thinks it is, roundabouts have disappeared, to be replaced by fly-overs and new exits.

We therefore have to guess the point at which we turn off to head inland toward Leida.

But, just as with our experience on our way here, the traffic is generally light, and, the roads excellent.

The plan is to stop just short of the Bielsa Tunnel, at Bielsa Town, but, we are there way ahead of schedule, and decide to keep going, through the tunnel, to our alternative stopping off point, St Lary Soulan, in France.

The approach to the tunnel is mostly good quality road, although some sections are a bit uneven, presumably due to wear and tear from the heavy wagons.

The scenery is quite stunning.

The tunnel itself is an anti-climax, contrary to what I had read on the internet, from various sources, the road surface is good, the tunnel well lit, if a bit narrow.

There were no signs to explain why, but, for some reason, they were only allowing the traffic through in short bursts, and, one way at a time.

The descent on the French side, is, either scenic, or scary, depending on your point of view.

I have video, but, not enough data band width to upload it at present, a snapshot, showing one of the many hairpin bends, will have to do for now.

I have to admit, drops of several hundred feet, with no safety barrier, and, a distinct smell of hot brake pads, is shall we say, exciting.

We eventually arrive, after 290 miles, at the Aire at St Lary Soulan (N42 49.348' E0 19.397'), our stopping place for the night.

Compared to the temperatures we have been used to for the past few weeks, it is distinctly cool, at only 14C.

We even have to have the heating on in the morning. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Bonterra Park, Benicassim, Spain (14/04/17 - 17/04/17)

Friday, 14th April 2017

The Easter weather gremlin continues. Coast is shrouded in mist, until about 11:00, but, then the sun burns it's way through, and we have blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds and a scorching 25C.

One of our shorter circular cycle rides (11.5miles), brings us to well over 80 miles for the week. Kathleen is now contemplating going for the 100!

Kathleen goes to church in the evening, since it is Good Friday.

Later, when I go to pick her up, on the scooter, we notice various statues etc are being assembled outside of the church.

We attempt to ask one of the people arranging them, at what time something is likely to happen.

Ten o'clock (in the evening, we are told.

So, we defy the laws on Pensioners being out after 19:00, and head to the town at 21:30.

Sure enough, there is an enormous parade of religious statues.

There are many, many people taking part, some dressed in what, to me, appear rather sinister costumes, reminiscent of the Klan, but, clearly, these costumes must predate that dreadful organisation.

There are at least two marching bands, one consisting entirely of drums, and the other, a brass band. 

Saturday, 15th April 2017

Sun, blue sky, with light cloud, and 23C.

I did say that I thought Kathleen would decide to go for the 100 miles, and sure enough, we do a cycle ride along the coast, which brings us 103 miles for the week.

There is a Music Festival on, at present, in Benicassim. There is a massive temporary campsite, and, the Festival Site is on the edge of town, with shuttle busses provided to take people to the site.

In addition, it would appear, there is live music at some of the bars/cafes.

It would seem it it is free.

The photographs are of a bar called Rock Cafe, near Cafe Vincente, which, we have never seen open, for the past six weeks, but, today, it is buzzing!

Sunday, 16th April 2017

Sun, blue sky, with light cloud, and 23C.

A short cycle ride, followed by chores (we have to prepare for departure), washing, hair washing etc.

Monday, 17th April 2017

Another day of Easter Gremlins for the weather. The forecast says is will be Sun 22C, but, the reality is cloudy, windy and 19C, with a definite threat of rain.

The sun manages to shine for a few hours, but, then, in the evening the rain comes, although, just a shower.

There is a wholesale exodus of the noisy Spanish, to be replaced by more, quieter, Spanish.

Scooter, bicycles etc all loaded.


Friday, 14 April 2017

Bonterra Park, Benicassim, Spain (07/04/17 - 13/04/17)

Friday, 7th April 2017

Blue sky, sun, 22C.

A trip to Lidl, to buy beer, and steaks. 

It so happens, they have a "special" on Cycling Gear, Kathleen decides that her raised cycling skills, demand a new Cycling Helmet.

After lunch, we go on a short cycle ride, toward Orapesa. 

There is an excellent cycle track, but as we have cycled along on it on previous occasions, we have noticed there are also tracks running between the cycle track and the coast, and we decide to explore these.

About 2.5 miles from Bonterra Park, there is a ramp down from the cycle track, at a point where there is a lone house, alongside the cycle track.

I am being very precise about this, because, we discover, it is the place where, it would appear, young ladies go for a spot of nude swimming, since there are several of them
frollicing in the water, starkers

So, chaps, this is how you find it.

I suggest to Kathleen, we could stop and have a picnic there, but, she is not having any of it.

I don't have any photographs either, you will have to make do with scenic shots.

In addition to not being too keen on the nude swimmers, Kathleen is not too happy with the rather rough and stoney track.

We eventually find a spot where we can scramble up to the "official" cycle track.

As you can see, the new cycle helmet has done wonders for Kathleen's cycling, she would never have got up this hill in her old cycling helmet.

At several points along the coast, there are towers.

They have the appearance of Windmills, but, they are, or were, watchtowers. 

They were originally built so that the
inhabitants of the area could keep a watch for marauding pirates, or other enemies, probably, the English.

Many of them, this one in particular are very well preserved, considering they were built in the 1500's

In fact, they are slightly better preserved that the old man holding it up (me).

Saturday, 8th April 2017

Sunshine, blue sky, 22C.

Today is a 50% hypothetical day.

By that, I mean, hypothetically, if Kathleen had grey hair, and, dyed her her hair, then, today, is the day, I would, hypothetically be called upon to dye her hair.

By lunch time, the day changed from hypothetical, to real.

 In a bid to show that the morning has not been wasted, Kathleen excels, with a lunch of cooked meats, cheese, and bread.

Kathleen took these photographs, of me, being looked after, because, she says, I send out a biased view of how well cared for I am.

Oh, and, she told me I was to be sure to tell everyone how lucky I am!

Which I enjoy with a nice glass of Rioja.

But, Kathleen cannot resist showing off her frugal lunch, not even any alcohol, well, 1% alcohol shandy does not count.

I think this is hint from Kathleen, that strategically holding my plate to mask my middle, is not enough.

In the evening, confusion reigns.

We are led to believe there will be a parade, from the church, presumably in connection with Palm Sunday, and, that, tomorrow, there will be a Marathon (running).

As Kathleen heads off to church, there is a Half-Marathon In-line Skates race going on. 

After that, there is a half marathon running race.

No sign of the parade from the church.

Sunday, 9th April 2017

Sunshine, blue sky, 22C.

Today is, apparently, Palm Sunday, the plan was to go into town because there was due to be a procession and other festivities. The procession did take place, but, we, along with numerous other people, went at wrong time, and missed it all!

Consoled ourselves with a 12 mile bicycle ride along the coast, followed by an excellent lunch, cooker by my goodself, and, ably assisted by Kathleen.

Monday, 10th April 2017

Sunshine, blue sky, 22C.

Although we feel like we have not done very much, we have actually done quite a bit today.

Fifteen miles of cycling, initially through the countryside, returning via the coast.

Making toasted sandwiches, in a frying pan!

The method is courtesy of our neighbour Rose.

Basically, you butter one slice bread on the "wrong side", put in the filling (ham and cheese, in our case), place the sandwich in a hot, dry frying pan, butter side down, and press down with spatula.

After about three minutes, remove, butter the "wrong side" of the top slice, turn over and return to frying pan, butter side down and press down with spatula,

Remove after about three minutes.

It is done.

Tasted delicious, from now on, when we have these, we will think of Rose (and Jeff)!

Since this is our last week here, and, it is Easter weekend looming, we do some wine and spirits shopping (to take home).

Tuesday 11th April 2017

Sunshine, blue sky, 22C.

Our Jim Reeves sing a like neighbour, Karl, and his partner, Wendy,  left this morning, heading home.

We spend the morning feeding Kathleen's desire to do 80 miles per week of walking and/or cycling, by cycling to Castellon-de-la-Plana, then return via the coast, stopping off at Penguin for lunch. 

That is another 21 miles, to bring us to 50 miles for the week, so far (3 days in).

Tomorrow, our other neighbours, Jeff and Rose, are leaving, heading a little further south, to Valencia. 

We had a very pleasant evening drinking wine and chatting to them. We will be sad to see them go, a very nice couple, who, hopefully, we will meet again, perhaps, here, next year.

It was Rose who told us about the "toasted sandwich in a frying pan", mentioned above, so, she will be remembered everytime we have a toasted sandwich!

Wednesday 12th April 2017

Blue sky, sun, 23C.

We have a day off from the cycling, contenting ourselves with a couple of coastal walks.

We try a different bar for our refreshing beer, whilst walking, Cerveceria Gambrinus, in the main street. Two beers for 3.60Euro, and we get two free, and delicious, tapas, plus excellent friendly service from the lone waitress.

There are more and more of the "over winter" visitors leaving, and the Spanish Easter holidays have clearly begun. More and more Spanish Families arriving, which is, generally, very nice, and, of course, we are in Spain, but, they are incredibly noisy!

Thursday 13th April 2017

Typical Easter weather! The forecast says sun and 23C, the reality is cloud and 13C.

The good news is, by 10:30, the forecast has come good, blue sky, sunshine and 23C.

As soon as the sun comes out, we head off on our daily cycle ride, a 15 mile circuit today, because, Kathleen feels the 12 mile circuit is now "too easy" for her!

After the cycle ride, we sit in the sun, and observe the antics of the Spanish Family who are parked behind us. There appears to be six adults and three children, in a caravan which cannot be more than four birth!

Lunch at Pizzeria Danubio, this is the first time in four visits to Benicassim we have seen the place open. It is quite pleasant, and at only 17Euro for two Pizzas and half a litre of red wine, not expensive.

Kathleen decides to treat me to Ice Cream at "Mama Luisa's". I have the "large" size, which is too much even for an icecream lover, such as myself. Goodness knows what the "X-large" is like! Have to say, however, it is not the best icecream I have had in Benicassim, the Torre St Vincente, holds that honour, so far...

Kathleen does her church duty, in the evening. There is lots of Police activity, the high street is closed off to traffic, there are a couple of Police cars parked, with blue lights flashing, and, even a stage set up outside of the Church. It looks as if some event may be going take place, but, although we hang around waiting for a half hour of so, nothing transpires.