Days 117 – 119 – The journey north begins…

Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th November 2018

Those of you who have been reading this blog since day 1, may, if you cast your mind back, remember that the title was;

“DAY 1 of 120”

If you were really paying attention you will have noticed that the, “…of 120” stopped being used after day 12. At the time this was pure idleness but I am thinking of reintroducing it just so, on Monday, I can have a title of;

“Day 121 of 120”

Yes folks, it looks very much like the blog and our trip is to continue beyond its original remit of 120 days or 4 months.

Gandalf on tour – The journey continues

However, our time, as our cash, is finite and the end is in sight. We have booked our ferry tickets home from Santander, Spain to Portsmouth and we sail on Saturday 17th November returning late on Sunday 18th.

To this end we have begun the journey North and today (Saturday 10th November) we have arrived in a place called Arboli in the Catalonia region of Spain. It is kind of between Barcelona and Valencia but, inland.

Prior to this we had a couple of lazy days. One deliberate; resting after the Bernia ridge with just a few routes at Alcalalí. One semi-enforced due to high NE winds which meant our choice of crag (Gandia) was ‘chilly’ to say the least. We quit after just 3 climbs. It doesn’t bode well for our return to a British winter and climbing in… well, anywhere really!

Mrs P climbing in a coat and winter trousers at Gandia

A Long drive today (Saturday 10th) over 200 miles, so we just did a couple of climbs on arrival at Arboli to stretch our muscles after too long sitting in the van (sorry Gandalf).

Climbing at Arboli. At least the winter trousers have gone

Wild camp tonight. Beautiful spot. About 1 km outside Arboli on a ridge with great views in pretty much every direction. To the north, about a kilometre away across the valley we can see the hilltop town of Siurana beautifully lit by the sunset.

Siurana at sunset

To the west, nothing but hills with a line of wind turbines just about visible on the horizon (I like wind turbines). Stunning sunset.

Not a bad view for nothing

So, let me fill you in on a couple of thing we have learned over the last three days

Lesson 1. English coach tours can be embarrassing

We were parked up having our lunch in a place called Xaló. A pleasant little place on Alicante’s wine tour route. We were near a coach tour bus and watched as, in dribs and drabs the passengers returned. They were almost caricatures of the very worst of the unhealthy middle aged English abroad. You could almost hear their arteries hardening. One might question how people allow themselves to get in such a state or ask, “Why such dreadful posture?” or, “How slow is it actually possible to walk before you are declared stationary?” You could ask those questions. But what was the question that crossed Mr (aught to be ashamed of himself) P’s mind?

I wonder if they carry body bags. You know, just in case.”

Lesson 2. The Spanish have what can only be described as a laissez-faire attitude to parking.

Parking in England is bad and getting more inconsiderate as the years roll by but, it has nothing on Spanish parking. Rather than citing examples of this let’s drop in on Alejandro’s driving test from a few years back…

Driving instructor: “Now then Alejandro, you only have one more section in this driving test between you and a pass.”

Alejandro beams. He’s been looking forward to this bit. Practicing and observing his grandmother, an excellent exponent of this particular driving skill, when he goes out shopping with her

Driving instructor: “Alejandro, I would like you to park the car please near that supermarket you can see up ahead.”

“Mirror signal, manoeuvre.” thinks Alejandro and in a matter of a few turns of the steering wheel the deed is done. He looks expectantly at the instructor.

Driving instructor: “Well Alejandro, you’ve parked on the wrong side of the road, on a blind bend about 1.5 metres from the kerb, at a very rakish angle and to top it all you are on a pedestrian crossing. What can I say? You’ve performed extremely well all the way through the test and, right at the very end… (his voice falters) I’m lost for words.”

Alejandro looks nervous. He feels a trickle of sweat drip down his back.

Driving instructor his voice breaking with emotion: “Alejandro, that was… (tears well in his eyes) ..just about the best parking I have ever seen. You pulled out all the stops there. You have obviously been practicing everything I taught you. Well done you’ve passed your driving test.”

There is a difference though. In the UK people get very irate about this kind of behaviour. In Spain it seems to be just accepted as the norm by both other road users and the perpetrators.

I will not be writing a blog tomorrow. At 11am you will be busy observing a 2 minute silence.

Let us not remember them for just 2 minutes

Let us honour them with the silence

And remember them always

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

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