Onward bound

So we’re back in the UK after our adventure to see as many friends and family as possible in a few months. We raised some money for charity in the process, and we raised a lot of good spirits in our family and we hope in those we visited. We also hope we raised awareness that too many of us are relying on social media to stay in touch – and that can never in a million messages beat a hug! Social media is fantastic, but never a replacement for a hug or seeing someone face to face (or even nose2nose!). Unknown Something about our adventure sparked the imagination as our trip was featured on live breakfast TV in the UK and Australia as well as written about in newspapers and magazines around the world. We are pleased about this if it inspires others to to see family and friends (and giving to charity is always a good thing; as well the outside life of camping is without equal!). We think friendship and family is the best thing in the world. There are still many friends we hope to see, but for now we’re having a bit of a breather (well, maybe after just a few more visits…), catching up on domestic duties that included too much post and a slightly mouldy car – yet already planning our next family trip in our beloved and perfectly named Swift Escape motorhome, in which we’ll hope to stay on some more of the fantastic Camping & Caravanning Club campsites and get the Club’s outstanding guidance on travels. They’re a very friendly and fun bunch there, we enjoyed dealing with them and they were always on the ball, even when we took last-minute changes of direction… IMG_4764As a family our hearts have been warmed and we’re thrilled with what we did: covering more than 7,500 miles in England, Scotland and Spain to see about 130 friends since October. It was an unbeatable bonding experience for us, and our two little boys have grown so much from it in so many ways and their brotherly friendship is absolutely awesome to see now. We also rekindled so many friendships and re-stocked our happy memory banks with fresh happy memories! IMG_4368The homeward bound trip from Spain was fun, but of course always with a little hanging sadness that this particular adventure was drawing to some sort of a close. We said farewell to a couple of friends along the Costa del Sol and then down the coastline at Costa Tropical we parked on the beach at La Herradura (it means “the horseshoe” and you can guess why the bay has this name…) for some last beach play in the welcoming Spanish sun. Then we headed upwards and onwards towards Madrid, stopping for a couple of nights at Despeñaperros (it means “dogs plunging” [over the cliff] and you don’t want to guess why it got this name, only that in centuries gone it’s been the scene of many a bloody battle with countless lost lives). It’s a stunning gorge and the gateway to Andalusia and the sunny southern coasts that we’d just left behind. IMG_4387It was still sunny and warm enough here for us to wear shorts for a while (but we noted a few locals giving us strange looks as they tightened their scarves!), but cooler than at the coast. IMG_4423This campsite is in a national park and very beautiful for a stroll and a picnic. When we watched the sun setting under the trees it looked as Daniel noted as if the “forest was on fire”. IMG_4383We played The Cure’s “A Forest” and life was just beautiful. (Incidentally, Daniel, aged 5, has developed a great taste in real music as we’ve travelled, frequently DJing a soundtrack for us of his favourites which include The Stone Roses, Doves, Killing Joke, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as his current favourite Motörhead’s “Bomber”, played loud, as it has to be!) IMG_4535From here we motored on to Aranjuez, just south of Madrid, where we’d stayed on our holiday a few months earlier. It’s another fantastic campsite, right by a bend in the river (of course we fed the ducks!) and Aranjuez is very grand, distinctly similar to Hampton Court on London’s edges, complete with palace as well. A bit cooler but still blue skies and very pleasant as well… IMG_4524 IMG_4491 Next, after stopping at another one of the great roadside restaurants for tortilla and café bombón (oh, if only British motorway service areas could be so charming…) was an unplanned trip into busy Madrid, then through it and half an hour north to the campsite at Pico de la Miel (which means “honey mountains”), a large site but with only a small space for motorhomes and caravans with most of it taken over by chalets that we imagined stressed señors (if those chilled-out Spaniards ever do get stressed…) and sizzling señoritas from Madrid fleeing to in the summer months. IMG_4568 We met some British roamers just a few hours off the Brittany Ferries ship at Santander and felt a little envious as they were just starting their adventures… At Pico, the next morning fog descended over the astounding mountain backdrop and it felt definitely cooler. So we drove on north towards Santander, out of the fog, but into something we never expected to see – snow. IMG_4638We’d seen it on mountain peaks a million miles in the sky, but although high up we were a long way from these heady heights. We had a stop and a play in it, including a fantastic snowball fight! IMG_4623 IMG_4633 From here, out of the snow we went to stay at a couple of aires (areas with basic facilities for motorhomes and caravans, often free or just a few Euros), the second of these a fabulous find where we were amazed to look down on a safari park and see elephants! Not every day you see snow and elephants within a few hours of each other… IMG_4663Now, we were back in España Verde (Green Spain), so stunning and yet so often overlooked by most visitors for the nation’s beautiful beaches. IMG_4717 IMG_4688Then it was to Santander, a very smart looking city, with several beautiful beaches of its own (note the excellent silver slide down on to one of them in the pic above!). We had a few hours to wait for the ferry, so we spent them on the beach from where we could see it grandly arriving on the horizon and then into the port. IMG_4723IMG_4726Getting on has always been a breeze when we’ve taken the ferry, no long waits like so often is the norm at airports, and then we waved farewell and said gracias to Spain for looking after us so fantastically. The crossing is 24 hours to Portsmouth and the time has always gone quickly. IMG_4737We ate in the excellent cafe and restaurant (with French chefs they have to be tasty!), and when not sleeping in our cosy cabin we tended to congregate with the other parents by the children’s soft play room. The children had a ball playing together. When enough energy had been burned it was easy to relax by gazing at the sea. IMG_4757IMG_4748We love the crossing, it’s all part of the fun (proving that “it’s the journey not the destination” is true). And we could always go for a breather on deck to give Mr Colin Dog a walkie. IMG_4749 IMG_4762Portsmouth looked surprisingly sunny the next day and we saw an amazing sunset to soften the cold blow of the freezing English air.IMG_4763As we headed back to our house, we were already on to the next trip though… This will involve “Education by astonishment!”. We think our boys will learn fantastically this way, as they have in the past three months. So many possibilities and so much fun to be had travelling together. So keep an eye out… As author Jack Kerouac wrote so well — ‘Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.’ Great thanks must go to a few for helping make this charity fundraising project so memorable and awesome: all at The Camping & Caravanning Club, Swift motorhomes and Britanny Ferries; also to The Microfibre Store‘s towels and Doggy Bag (get some if you’re travelling as the towels pack small but dry large, and if you have a dog its Doggy Bag keeps the wet and muddy dog away from decorating your interior!). There there’s Craghoppers gear that helped us out perfectly in the varying weather conditions we met throughout, likewise Bogs stylishly warm boots. And thank you to all the amazing people we met. That’s sort of the conclusion to this particular adventure – that people are generally amazing and the world we live in is beautiful. Much love and astonishment to you all! XxxX IMG_4721

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4 thoughts on “Onward bound

  1. Hi David and wonderful family, this is a truly uplifting blog. I’m hugely enjoying reading about your adventures and seeing your photos. I can only imagine how exciting it is for the boys – it’s real education (and I’m very impressed with their choice in music – all you need to do now is slip in some ACDC and Metallica!). I would still love to catch up with you all if you’re in the southeast/East Anglia! Happy New year! Gill x

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    1. Thank you Gill – and we’d love to see you of course! We think tbe boys are having a great education, which is why we’ll travel on. Yep, ACDC and Metallica (who of course covered Killing Joke’s The Wait!) will be a valuable music lesson we shall give… Happy New Year! Hope we see you in it soon enough. Much love XxxX

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  2. So enjoyed reading your blog about your journey back to Santander. I’ll be doing the same drive from El Pino in just a couple of weeks time. Will look forward to reading about your future adventures.

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