An Early Bath

I miss my own musings on the blog site so have decided to write something about 2 interesting days in January (in 2 parts) even though it does not include Gandalf. Gandalf being currently parked up on the drive having a well earned rest.

So, cast your mind back. It’s Thursday January 17th and myself and two friends have decided to ride to Bath along the Kennet & Avon canal from Twyford, near Reading.

82 miles along a tow path. How hard can it be?

We set out at 05.45 with train tickets pre-purchased for our return.

Oh my word it’s early.

All went smoothly if rather muddily.

The tow path was pretty user friendly and we made it to Newbury in good time for a well earned cup of coffee.

The only coffee shop before Devises

The trusty steeds of our merry band of 3 comprised 1 Mountain and 2 cyclo cross bikes. Our problem would be our choices of tyres. Mr MTB had tubeless, self sealing, knoblies (good choice), yours truly had cyclo cross knoblies with all the puncture resistant qualities of a peeled and silk wrapped soft boiled egg (bloody awful choice). Mr blue cyclo cross had puncture resistant road/trail tyres (a better but far from perfect choice).

All smiles on a beautiful day

For a while things went our way…

…we even found a sunny spot for lunch..

But soon things started to go awry with the first puncture of the day…

It wasn’t to be the last. 11 punctures over about a 20 mile stretch! Some tyke (stronger words are available) had been cutting the hawthorn bushes that run alongside the canal towpath for the whole of the 20 mile stretch. I did get rather cross at about puncture number 8.

At about the 50 mile mark we had only 2 puncture stickers left, zero spare tubes, zero air cylinders and only one rather poor pump.

Something had to be done…

Our plan was to ride to Devises. Find a bike shop, buy lots of tubes and look to arrive in Bath at about midnight.

Mr MTB and fate however had other ideas…

…at 52 miles Mr MTB was negotiating a narrow section under a bridge when he caught his handlebars on the bridge allowing him to create the kind of almighty splash that only a a 6 foot 95 man mountain can create as momentum and gravity sent him headfirst into the canal closely followed by his bike.

Mr MTB takes an early Bath

I was following him at the time so saw what happened. Cognisant of the danger I sprang into action. As follows:

  • Check he has surfaced in a conscious non panicky, floaty not sinky kind of way
  • Grab bike and hoik it out before it does a Titanic
  • Say to our other friend; “You haul him out. I’m taking a photo.”

When he looked at me in an accusatory kind of way I (rightly I feel) said, “One day you will thank me for this. Smile for the camera!”

We couldn’t continue. Hypothermia would have done for the poor boy. So, we headed 1 mile into Pewsey where fortuitously there is a main line train station.

There was an hour before the next train so we shivered our way to a marvellous little cafe where MTB boy was able to replace much of his wet clothing with dry stuff.

My how we laughed

Now MTB boy did us a favour. We would never have made it. Our 2nd attempt the following week revealed that the hawthorn detritus continued for at least another 20 miles.

Turns out if you smell of wet canal you get the whole carriage to yourself

Lessons learned?

  • If anyone has to fall in make it the biggest one
  • If you are likely to have/get hypothermia and you have access to a bath or a shower the shower is NOT the right choice (muppet!)
  • Always fall into canals near main line railway stations
  • Some cafe owners are ridiculously understanding
  • Ignore all of above and don’t fall in in the first place.

Tune in soon for the second attempt the following week. Find out if anyone goes swimming, count the punctures and see if we ever get to Bath.

Oh England, my Lionheart* or, falling in love again

There have been complaints…

That I am not blogging…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed writing the blog but, it was called, “Gandalf on Tour” and the clue is clearly in the name. Gandalf is no longer on tour. He is currently parked up on our drive having a well-earned rest and I kinda stopped blogging. Problem is, I miss it too. Not just the adventure but the writing too.

I would like to continue but I need to think how I will get round the blog title conundrum. Please comment if you have any suggestions. Before you do though please remember, I can’t change the name of the blog. I just have to think how my ramblings can still relate to the name without actually being on tour.

Anyway. I shall now bore you with activities since our return from North Wales to date(ish)…

First off, it’s Christmas and I LOVE Christmas. The instant we got back we bought a tree. It was up and decorated by the 2nd December. We [Read: “I”] have 161 Christmas songs loaded and ready to go. Mrs P has to suffer this 8 hours and 46 minutes of festive tunage pretty much on permanent loop until about the 6th of January.

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We love our Christmas tree

Christmas does however bring me to my first rant of the Christmas season.

RANT ALERT!

Mrs P and I went to buy a couple of Christmas cards for those special people in our lives, parents etc. We went to multiple card shops. What I’d like to know is whatever happened to Christmas cards that say, I don’t know, let me think of an example… oh yes. How’s this?

‘Merry Christmas’

Since when did all cards have to have an addendum to that of, ‘Sister’, ‘Brother’, ‘Mom & Dad’, ‘Second cousin twice removed.’? I’m not joking when I say that there was one that was for, ‘A great son and his fiancé ‘. What’s next, ‘To some nice people who I met on a cruise round the Mediterranean in 1997’?

Personally I just want to write inside the card something like, ‘To Rosie & Jim’. I like to think that they are intelligent enough to work out where they fit in my social circle or family tree.  I mean, are people’s so stupid as to think, on opening a card…

Rosie: “Look Jim, we got a card”

Jim: “Wow! Very exciting. Who could it possibly be from?”

Rosie: “I’m not sure, there’s certainly no clue on the front”

Jim: “Are there any clues on the envelope?”

Rosie: “Not a one.”

Jim: “Post mark?”

Rosie: “No, it was delivered by hand.”

Jim: What, just pushed through the door?”

Rosie: “No, it was handed to me by Kevin from next door. You know, he’s married to Sam.”

Jim: “Well, I’m blowed if I can work out who it’s from. Any clues inside the card.”

Rosie (Opens card and peers inside): “Just two names, Kevin & Sam.”

Jim: “Oh, I think it’s from our neighbours. If only they had bought a card saying on the front, in big gold letters, ‘To our neighbours.’ Then we wouldn’t have had to spend so much of our valuable time opening the card to read the inside. I shall put our house up for sale in the New Year. We can’t possibly spend another Christmas living next to such insufferable people.”

Perhaps the one about Son and fiancé is valid though. Particularly if said son is a bit of a playboy.

Needless to say, the cards with no relationship addendum were bloomin’ awful. I’m drawing cards myself next year.

RANT ENDS

I always draw a card for Mrs P by the way…

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Mr & Mrs P undercover at Christmas (Image protected by copyright)

Anyway, it’s not all been about Christmas (Yes it has), I applied for a few jobs and was even approached by a company who found me via LinkedIn. Unfortunately, they were offering a full time role and I don’t want to play that game anymore. I’m beginning to think that 25 days holiday a year is cruel and unnecessary). Contracts or part time from now on (says the man who has to pay the bills with hopefully not misplaced confidence).

Aside from this Mrs P and I have both been a bit lost, dazed, shell-shocked, bewildered and other adjectives that describe the sense of otherworldliness (I think I may have just made that word up or at least spelt it wrong) that one feels after such a trip. Please don’t feel sorry for me, I still don’t have to get up to go to work, I don’t get the Sunday evening blues and there is no mid-week hump to negotiate. We do have bills to pay though so…

Anyway, time for a change of subject I think before the blues descend again.

Mrs P and I are sulking a bit (quite a lot actually) about the greyness of England after being in Europe all summer and Spain was of course beautiful in the Autumn. Autumn is usually my favourite time of year in the UK but this year it was feeling distinctly grey, cold and wet. I needed to fall back in love with this sceptered isle, this precious stone set in the silver sea. Unfortunately I have been far from thinking it the envy of less happier lands†. 

Time for a long bike ride to remind myself what is such a big deal about This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England†.

With this in mind I set off for a 50 mile spin through, Berkshire, Oxfordshire taking in the Chiltern Hills. A cool, dry and windless, if somewhat grey, day saw me pedalling up through the town that boasts (Boasts!) Theresa May and George Cloony as residents and out towards Watlington in Oxfordshire. Lovely to have the roads to myself. Everyone at work.

Climbing out of Watlington towards the beautifully named Christmas Common I finally started to feel the love for England in December. The browns of the fallen leaves, the russet of the ferns that have died back meeting the almost fluorescent green of the moss along the bank at the roadside. There are myriad other shades of green across the fields and into the distance. From the lichen encrusted tree trunks to the dew covered grass. Oh, hark at me, I’ve gone all Thomas Hardy (I wish!). Anyway, it is beautiful. even if the myriad shades of green are juxtaposed by the odd flash of discarded crisp packet, Red Bull can and banana skin (stop throwing them in hedges they take YEARS and even decades to degrade!).

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There’s even a Christmas shop!

Enough from me for now. I’ll be back with more soon though.

Incidentally, show of hands, who would be interested in the travel stats? Mileage etc?

* Kate Bush (1978) 

William Shakespeare, Richard II

A rattle, a rumble, a big bill and a touch of Procrastination

 

Tuesday 20th – Thursday 29th  November 2018

As every good horse rider knows, at the end of a long day in the saddle a rider always look after their horse before themselves. With this in mind Gandalf, our trusty stead these last 4 months, was booked in for a once over within 2 days of our return.

There had, in the last week or so, been some rumblings, the odd, or should I say an odd, knocking noise and some potential steering issues.

How bad can it be?

It’s probably nothing. Right?

This is how bad it can be…

Poor Gandalf

It turns out that the loud bang we heard one evening whilst parked up in a campsite was not, as we suspected, something hitting the pop-top roof but, was probably the rear suspension coil snapping. I told Mrs P not to eat that last pain au chocolat.

Here’s how it went…

Mr P to nice man at the garage: “Well, that’s the steering issue sorted but, what about the funny knocking noise?”

Nice man at the garage: “Ah, well sir, that’s your engine mount bracket flange that is…

(Now, there is a possibility I am not using the precise. or most technically accurate terms he used but, for all my knowledge about motors, he might as well have said this word for word)

…It’s worn. Probably what’s causing the noise sir. Oh, and your turbo injector doodleflap seal is leaking. Your spondulix levels were a bit low too but we topped that up for nothing.”

Mr P (head in hands): “How much?”

Garage man (licks end of pencil and starts totting up the cost): “Broken suspension coil at.. and you’ll need ’em both doing of course. Can’t just do one. Doodleflap seal, spondulix…”

Mr P : “Hang on. You said you sorted the spondulix thing for free.”

Not so nice garage man: “Well, we did but, the spondulix joint obviously needs rebalancing and the Arbuthnot loop must of course be galvanised. So, all that, plus labour… add the tax. Take off the 0.0001% discount because you’ve been keeping my family holiday funds topped up on a regular basis and that comes to… Lemme see… arbitrary figure, multiplied by 7, divide by 0.5 and that comes to.. Hang on… seventeen plus 12, carry 2 and.. £897.55 please sir.”

Mr P : “£897!”

Hateful man: “And 55 pence. Yes sir. Cash or card sir?”

Ouch!

That’s a painful bill for the P family. I have now been out of work for 8 months and Mrs P has not worked since July.

Only one thing to do…

…Procrastinate.

A few days of decompression before the inevitable search for paying work begins. We go for a walk near Christmas Common in the Chilterns for a start.

All terribly autumnal

And, since the idea of actually starting the process of looking for work is… what can I say?… daunting, unnerving, horrifying even (Mrs P is suffering from similar feelings), perhaps a further week of procrastination is in order.

So, off to Wales for the Alpine Club AGM and dinner. I shan’t go into the event in too much detail apart from to say, it was an odd affair. Guest speakers talked about their lives of crime (!?) with a serious lack of remorse. Their invite, it seems, was all part of  an attempt to ‘inspire’ the younger members. Go figure. Add to that the fact that 2 out of 3 slide shows were poor (one was excellent). Positives; great food, great company, well run AGM.

A few, not terribly successful,  days of outdoor activities ensued…

Some cold walks,
An abandoned climb…
A cold night or 3 (+3 was also the temperature inside the van)…
Some serious reflection…
A few brief moments of clarity…
And more rain than we saw in 4 months.

So, we ran away home. To procrastinate further, in our warm house, in front of the log fire. I don’t think we are acclimatised yet to the British winter. 

Reality Bites

Friday 23rd November 2018

We have been home for a whole 5 days.

It’s quite a shock, living in a house, sitting in a bath (that’s where I’m writing this), watching TV even sleeping in a real bed.

Here’s some interesting observations for you.

Living in a house – Living in the van I always knew where Mrs P was. She was either right in front of me or right behind me. Technically, she was also always in the way but, we got so used to living in each other’s pockets that she was, in reality, never in the way. Our 2 bed house is pretty small but I can now go up to an hour without seeing her. It is quite disconcerting

Sitting in a bath – Ahhh! Need I say more?

Watching TV – It’s winter, we have no money, there’s not much else to do. I’m enjoying the adverts. After 4 months away they are all new and all Christmas related. I love Christmas

Sleeping in a ‘real’ bed – We bought a new bed shortly before we went away. The bed in Gandalf is way more comfy

Clothes – I had been looking forward to just wearing something different. Something stylish from my extensive collection of tatty old t-shirts. However, nothing fits. If you want to lose weight just go away for 4 months with no fridge, exercise every day and, hey presto, I lost around 9 lb or 4kg. Mrs P lost around 6 lb or 2.7kg.

Leaner but not meaner. Quite laid back actually

We weren’t exactly packing timber before we left so, to regain some weight Mrs P has suggested an intensive regime of pumping iron or eating pies. Well, we can’t afford pies so it looks like it’s back to the gym.

Health – Not a days sickness in 4 months. No injuries (Mrs P says I can’t include my cut finger even though I had to have a plaster). I shall talk more on this subject (health, not the cut finger) in the future but, briefly I had some aches and pains before I was made redundant and all just miraculously went away. The same applies to Mrs P. This is not a good advert for sitting in front of a computer all day long. Even my posture has improved.

Looking good Mrs P. Easily capable of launching the ship in the background and 999 others

• Next steps – We still don’t know what We want to do but we have worked out what we don’t want to do. More on this soon.

We are breaking ourselves back in to reality slowly. We’ve been cycling, hiking and checking out the gym. We haven’t yet looked for the dreaded work.

I REALLY missed my bike and my cycling buddies

Tomorrow (Saturday 24th November) we are off to North Wales for the Alpine Club Annual Dinner (yum!) and AGM (yawn!). We are staying on for a day or two and hope to get some climbing and walking in. We will then travel slowly home visiting friends and family along the way.

I will try to write more for the blog for those rarest of rare creatures who have told me they will miss my ramblings.

Watch this space…

Days 126 & 127 of 120 – The Bay of Biscay & Home

Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th November 2018

The forecast for our journey through the Bay of Biscay, up the Coast of France and into the English Channel is looking well, bumpy. High winds and big waves forecast. I have absolutely no idea if I will get sick or not.

Every crossing we have ever made has been pretty benign so I have no idea if I have the iron constitution of a true barnacle back or the pathetic, liver lilied constitution of a palsied land lubber. Ah well, we can’t afford dinner on board anyway and we certainly can’t afford to just rent it for a few hours. Wish us luck.

Before all that though check Gandalf in for the ferry and a wander round Santander.

Gandalf, all checked in and ready to sail

If you ever find yourself catching the ferry from Santander I do recommend you arrive early, park your vehicle and take a walk along the sea front to the Palacio de la Magdalena (Ai Yai!).

Magnanimous in defeat the Spanish even have a memorial to the Battle of Trafalgar (21st October 1805) on the Main Street…

Honour to the many who fought & suffered. Honour and glory to those who died

There is a mini wildlife reserve on the peninsula with seals, sea lions and penguins.

Sea lion. Beautiful but captive

Whilst they are, I’m sure, well looked after and that being able to see them close up helps us recognise how important it is to protect them in the wild, my thoughts on captive animals are conflicted.

I rationalise my feeling by convincing myself that those in captivity have some kind of issues that mean they cannot be released in to the wild. You know, like a damaged tail so they can’t hunt effectively. However, I can’t help but think that their swimming round and round is the aquatic version of pacing up and down a prison cell.

Speaking of confinement, it’s time to board the boat.

This could take a while

And time to find out if we (I) get sea sick. The signs are not good…

The first sign of the “weather” to come is when we visit the small food shop on board and the lady serving proudly shows us how she has removed much of the stock because she had been told to expect most of it to fall down in the night.

After a bite to eat, which I hope not to live to regret, we ask another member of staff on the information desk about the impending weather. She gives a rueful smile and tells us about the expected 9 metre (30 feet!) waves due to start, “Any time now.” Apparently it should all be over by about 9am. Excellent, just 12 hours to go then.

When we tell her we have a cabin right at the front of the ship she stifles a smirk and wishes us the very best of luck.

Now Mrs (aye aye Captain) P chose our cabin for this 24 hour crossing. I’m pretty sure that in a former life Mrs P was a Buccaneer, Pirate, Powder Monkey or some such nautically inclined person.

Cabins selected are always at the front. Preferably the middle and, if no ships wheel is provided that’s ok, because she always brings her own. Such cabins are renowned for encountering the most motion in heavy weather.

By the time we get to our cabin the boat is rocking and rolling (and not in an Elvis Presley kind of way) and Mr P is starting to feel just a little queasy.

Mrs P on the other hand is in her element. She has lashed herself to her children’s inflatable ships wheel and is shouting instructions at me. If I remember correctly her words, and please remember that her words are always spoken with impeccable, Oxford educated locution;

“Shiver me timbers landlubber. Get yerself to the poop deck and batten down the hatches or you’ll be dancing the hempen jig by morning.”

A bottle of rum appears from nowhere and she starts singing;

“Oh many’s the good ship great and small Haul, haul the halyards, boys What foundered in a gale or squall…”

Not helping.

Now, whilst certain aspects of the above may possibly be slightly exaggerated the rest I can promise you is true.

Mr P has found that if he lies down he is ok. Mr P is wearing an altimeter. Mr P’s altimeter was showing 20 metres in our cabin, before we left port. Mr P is watching his altimeter (which admittedly only displays height in multiples of 5 metres) fluctuate from 15 metres, to 30 metres. Then 25 metres to 5 metres, and so on and on and on etc.

Mrs Salty sea dog P chooses this moment in time to decant water from our huge, full 6.25 litre bottle into her drinks bottle. She didn’t spill a drop. I felt positively hornswaggled.

Strangely, lying down, eyes closed I felt fine and found the somewhat extreme motion of the boat quite relaxing. I slept very well despite being occasionally woken by the crash of a wave on the bows and the sound of sea spray battering on the window.

By 9 am the storm is over and we settle in for the rest of the uneventful journey.

Avast and shiver me timbers if it ain’t Cap’n (Mrs) P on the poop deck

We arrive in Portsmouth at 20.15hrs on Sunday 18th November after 127 days away from home.

Less than 2 hours later we are home. It’s a weird feeling. It’s even odd to be in a house after 4 months living in Gandalf. It is though very nice to know that someone, somewhere is glad we are home…

Courtesy of the in-laws. Thank you in-laws

Do keep reading after today dear reader. The blog will continue for at least another couple of weeks.

But, first we must unpack and I will need to gather my thoughts on being home. I will let you know how we get on back in ‘normal’ life.

Day 125 – The Beauty and friendliness of Spain & Card Full!

Friday 16th November 2018

It feels a bit odd. This holding pattern. As we move closer and closer to our final point of departure. An end to our Adventure.

It isn’t an end though.

Four and a bit months of utter freedom doesn’t just stop. We may have no jobs to go back to, we may have bills and a mortgage to pay and our savings won’t last forever but, the adventure will continue. It always does.

Not one of my latest but apt I think

Besides, we still have a day and a bit before we get on the boat.

For our final full day in Spain we find ourselves on a small campsite 35 minutes east of Santander, on the coast, near to a place called Ajo.

It’s a funny place. Not really a town, just a campsite filled with semi-permanent, static caravans with a smattering of full time residents in evidence. The few houses butting up to the site are all holiday homes. Mostly shuttered up for the winter. The rest is rolling farmland. If it weren’t for the barking dogs (a peculiarity of Spain that we shall miss in a perverse sort of way) we could be on the coast of sunny Cornwall or Southern Ireland.

Gandalf (and bucket) hanging out in a field in Northern Spain

After lunch we hie ourselves off for our daily constitutional and head for the coast where we have heard about some caves (La Ojerada). Mrs P is overjoyed, as we see lots of farm animals on this walk. Young cows (calfs or calves? hang on, I’ll look it up… ‘Calves.’ Looks wrong but who am I to argue with the Oxford English Dictionary?), a dozen or more piglets suckling from their enormous mother, a smattering mules, chickens and multitudinous cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. Occasionally we even spot a person, but only in the distance.

We walk down the centre of the road. No need to look over our shoulder. It is very unlikely we will see or even hear a car. We will miss the peace. The natural silence, (apart from the dogs. I mentioned the dogs right?).

It’s a beautiful coastline. Azure waves crash against the limestone rock with its karst topography (it took ages to find that out!) gradually undercutting the land and creating magnificent caves.

We’ve seen some strange things on our journey so are not even remotely surprised, on our arrival at the coast, to find a couple, she in a flowing cocktail dress, he in some kind of robe, performing interpretive dance moves to camera at the edge of the cliffs.

…Under the stars on a big hard rock. I said, In these shoes? I don’t think so…

The caves are an opportunity for our own version of interpretive dance (read: gurning) for the benefit of the camera, with the resultant photos of dubious artistic value.

La Ojerada caves

Mrs P poses in La Ojerada cave

Mrs P. The close up

At high tide, the water forced under the rock by the cave causes a characteristic sound called a ‘snort‘. We had no idea it would happen so, when there was a sudden, very loud and somewhat alarming rushing noise we christened it a WTF!?

The cliffs near the caves

Our walk ends on a beautiful beach with the sun low in the sky.

Take only photos, leave only footprints

Ah, sweet… Hang on… how come she’s taller than me!?

Back at the campsite we shower, cook and toast Spain, which we have declared to be the friendliest of the countries we have travelled through. The people are universally lovely. No grumpy waiters, no sullen campsite staff, a smiling ‘holla’ from everyone we meet, young and old and a willingness to help, to inform and to make one feel welcome. Thank you Spain.

ASIDE: A couple of spooky non-events today have underlined that these are the final hours of our trip;

Spooky incident No. 1. Towards the end of today’s walk I was taking one of my last photos when I got the following error message…

“CARD FULL”

6 GB of memory on camera 1 of 3 all used up.

Don’t worry though, I deleted a couple of the terrible videos I shot and freed up a bit of space. (For those of a nervous disposition, I have also, long ago, uploaded 90% of the images to both my laptop and the cloud.)

Spooky incident No. 2. Mrs P’s biro that she has been using to write her diary all trip, ran out of ink.

Not exactly miracles but; Picture a man who has just entered, The Twilight Zone...

Day 124 – Lost and Found (but mostly Lost)

Thursday 15th November 2018

On the evening of Wednesday 14th we found ourselves a great wild camp at the end of the road beyond the small town of Sonabia on the Cantabrian coast of Northern Spain. Gandalf rested his weary tyres on a spit of land above the sea, beneath a great looking 400 metre (ish) mountain. And so to bed… zzzzzzz!

At about midnight the winds picked up and, if you read my post from day 121 you will already know the drill. Close the pop-top, open up bed ‘downstairs’, fail to sleep well.

In the morning, despite sleep deprivation, we decide to take a stroll up the mountain we are parked under. We don’t know the name of the mountain, we have no map and no idea if there is actually a path to the top. Our final summit of the trip though. Too good a chance to miss right?

Mrs P to Mr P: “Just a few hours right?”

Mr P: “Yup. Easy day.”

Ah, famous last words.

We start by dropping down to cross the beach before… wait, what’s this? A nudist beach! “Avert your eyes Mrs P. Avert them I say!”

Sonabia beach. A great place to let it all hang out.

It turns out there is a path to the 470 metre (1,542 feet) mountain that may (or may not) be called Cima Solpico. It is in fact well marked. So well marked in places that only the terminally stupid could go wrong.

Signs for the geographically challenged

We lunch next to a geological wonder called Ojos del Diablo (Eyes of the devil). Two large holes in the rock. Though with one being much bigger than the other it seems that the Devil may have some sort of astigmatism. Maybe that explains why he always seems so cross.

Ojos del Diablo

Mr P messing about in one of the Devil’s eyes

Above us, a dozen or more endangered griffon vultures, with wingspans of up to 2.8 metres, circle lazily. I think they have their eye on Mrs P. She’s looking pale since the weather stopped her wearing shorts. If we don’t move soon she may be the endangered one.

Either a Griffon Vulture or a spot on the lens of my camera

There are some bits where we decide to ignore the path…

Mrs P steadfastly ignoring the path

…and some odd sections that make it look like we are ignoring the path…

Mrs P, lean, mean and only just able to fit on the “path”

…and there were occasions when we thought a wrong turn had landed us in a sunny North Wales…

Cantabria or North Wales? You decide

but we did find a summit…

Mrs P on the summit of Cimma Solpico (470 ish metres)

Shortly after this shot was taken however we were forced to ponder a bit of a dilemma. With no map and unwilling to retrace our footsteps we spent a little time discussing our next move.

After a bit of Googling we decide to carry blindly on basing any geographical accuracy on a poor photo of a map we found on line. The theory is that we should pop out near to the main toll road that runs along the coast. It is then an easy 3km along the road back to Gandalf.

This theory is sound and we arrive at the road after about 40 minutes.

What is less clear is how to negotiate said 6 lane toll road to get back to the road and thence on to the loving arms of Gandalf.

Pathfinder Mr P to the rescue: “If we follow this cow trail round the hillside we will eventually find the cows. They are bound to be near the road.”

Mrs P: “You mean this muddy cow trail through the dense, face high bracken, brambles and bushes, up to our knees in muck? Are you serious?”

Pathfinder Mr P: “Trust me. I know what I am doing.”

We followed this “path” for almost an hour!

Eventually the disgraced Pathfinder leads a rather muddy, scratched and unimpressed Mrs P back to the side of the road.

A 10 minute wander down a road that could have been found relatively quickly had it not been for a certain persons enthusiasm for bushwhacking, sees our not so merry band back on course.

Our short walk ultimately takes us almost 7 hours and we decide to spend another night at our new found wild campsite rather than go looking for a proper campsite (with proper showers and a toilet).

It was a lovely spot but, guess what…

At about 2am the winds picked up and, if you read my post from day 121 (and paragraph 2 above) you will already know the drill. Close the pop-top, open up bed ‘downstairs’, fail to sleep well.

AGAIN!