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France & Spain

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10th – 19th January 2008

Our stopover with longstanding dear family friends in Weybridge .. ‘we’ll only be with you for one night’ ... became 3 days to enable Peter to effect repairs to the satellite phone aerial and, with Boris suffering from indigestion, to get the stowage of our worldly goods more organised. We were also able to fit in our last farewell meal, postponed from November 6th! with Sam and Louisa. Thank you so much Nick and Hilary, for being so patient and generous.

Leaving as quietly as we could ..Boris is so noisy! .. at early o’clock on January 12th and waved off by Hilary, we headed for Dover. After a calm Channel crossing, much to Peter’s relief as there had been gale force conditions a few days previously, we set foot on French soil on what was a beautiful sunny morning. Yes, we were finally on our way and it felt so good.

We drove towards Paris and Versailles to meet up with our great American friend, Betsy, for tea then a scrummy Moroccan meal, a treat from Betsy and John, thanks guys. It was a good introduction to Moroccan nosh for Peter, and I think he was surprisingly impressed. Really good to see you Betsy and we enjoyed meeting Ingrid.

After a night in St Cyr Ecole just outside Versailles and then another in Brive, both nights in a basic but comfortable and cheap Etap hotel, we crossed the Pyrenees into Spain on January 14th. The climb caused Boris to get a bit hot and bothered and in a long tunnel near Andorra, we had a flashing light on the dashboard, telling us that poor Boris needed a rest... We found the manual, held our breath and paused for 5 minutes before he gave us the all clear!

Leaving the sunny, snow covered slopes behind we headed for Barcelona and spent a great evening and night with a family friend, Leanora, in central Barcelona. She was a nightmare to find though, driving round the ring road I don’t know how many times before we figured out where to come off. As Leanora said, how on earth were we going to find our way around Africa if we couldn’t get off a simple ring road! A big ‘muchos gracias’ Leo, you were a little sweet heart for having us. We had great fun walking round the old town and thanks for finding somewhere for Boris to spend a night that was safe and sound.

The further south we went, the warmer and sunnier it got; 22 degrees C as we approached Almeria and it was time to try out the roof top tent. We found a great campsite and plugged Boris into the campsite electrical supply only to have puffs of smoke appearing from his rear end... Help!! Quick thinking and unplugging immediately saved the day and when we lowered the wattage all was well, and thankfully, no damage done and most importantly Liz’s hairdryer worked! Sorry Julian, we nearly messed up your brilliant electrics.

Then on to Torremolinos and, after 6 days of nonstop travel, it was time to enjoy a bit of ‘chilling out’ with family in a lovely house right by the sea, under a clear blue sky, and with a warm breeze... honestly it’s like summer here! Thank you so much Pauline for your hospitality, for the use of your computer and the chance to complete those final pre Africa tasks.

At the Rio Jara campsite just west of Tarifa, Morocco in two days and may the sun continue to shine.

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