The Gallery is a free tool available to all members of Caravan Talk to let you upload and share your photos.
We have recently updated the Gallery tool to remove most upload restrictions and photo limits so we should now be able to add high quality pics of our favourite holidays and towcars without having to resize images etc. ..
To celebrate and help introduce the gallery to those unfamiliar with it, here's a quick guide on how to add your own albums and photos using the Gallery:
Guide to the Gallery pt 1
Start in the Gallery and hit the green upload button to begin the process of adding new photos.
Guide to the Gallery pt 2
If you've already created an album, click "Select Album", if you want to start a new one click "Create New Album". This guide assumes that you've chosen "Create New Album".
Guide to the Gallery pt 3
Now you can set the album information - it should be fairly self-explanatory - you can pick the Name, Description, sorting method and whether people can rate or comment on the photos.
Guide to the Gallery pt 4
Now you can upload images to the album. Select the "Choose File" button and browse to the picture's location and double click on the image. Then you can hit the "Upload" button to add the photo to your album.
Guide to the Gallery pt 5
Once you've uploaded your images they should be displayed like this. Select "Review & Publish" to continue.
Guide to the Gallery pt 6
Here you can name the images, add tags, a description and the copyright holder's name if appropriate. Hit the "Save" button at the bottom of the page to publish your album.
Guide to the Gallery pt 7
You've now published your album, so sit back, relax and let your friends become jealous of your cracking holiday snaps
Want to know more about a particular feature or know a good topic for the next guide? Leave a comment below. ..
By mid-week, the weathermen were forecasting high winds and heavy rain for the Costa del Sol after the weekend. Certainly, by Saturday the view out to sea was looking very stormy.
In view of that, I thought it advisable to take down my awning on Sunday, ready to leave on Tuesday. Saturday morning was spent cleaning the kitchen equipment and emptying the awning ready for packing away the next day. I was most grateful to see Willy and Jim come down to lend me a hand. By 11.15, everything was bagged and put in the car.
Monday’s rain didn’t arrive. In fact, it was a pretty decent day. In the afternoon, I took a stroll around the site to say farewell to lots of friends I’ve met over the years. I found Willy working on his latest pebble model. You probably recall I wrote about his hobby in an earlier chapter. His current job isn’t finished yet. He still has the rider to make to complete it.
My sailing is on Sunday afternoon from Santander, so leaving on Tuesday gives me a leisurely journey of around 160 to 200 miles each day with time for a bit of sightseeing. So for the first day, with a departure at around 9.15 from El Pino I expected to arrive at Santa Elena in time for a late lunch. Within two miles of leaving the site, I was on a toll-free motorway which continues all the way to Santander. After nearly 100 miles I pulled into a filling station for a coffee break. I didn’t need fuel but the site has a large lorry park where caravan parking is easy. Once refreshed, I didn’t stop again until I reached Santa Elena.
I booked in at Camping Despenaperros which is situated at the far end of the village in Calle Infanta Elena. The site entrance has a double arched entry which with long outfits needs some care in entering. Pitches are level and all under trees without any boundary markers. Each pitch has an adjacent electric point, water tap and drain connection although some of the electric sockets need attention. Electricity for the pitch is switched on at reception so if the supply is accidentally tripped, you maybe be in trouble since reconnection requires a visit during office hours. The toilet block is centrally placed on the site and all the facilities are modern and in a clean condition. However, whilst toilet rolls are provided, none of the pans are fitted with seats. Free Wifi is available over most of the site. With my ACSI card, I was charged €18 for the night. That’s a 1Euro increase since November.
After a quick lunch, it was still only 2.30 so I thought I would go and have a look at Cimbarra Falls, close to Aldeaquemada. It’s in the next valley and only 10 miles away as the crow flies but via the mountain road, the journey takes 20 miles. As the road twists ever higher, looking back there are some spectacular views of the tunnels and viaducts which now carry the A4 motorway across the Despeñaperros Gorge.
The twisting road passes through woods filled with a type of oak trees which produces cork. A cork oak must be at least 25 years old before its bark can be harvested. Its cork can then be stripped every 9 or 10 years after that for as long as the tree lives. Eventually, the road drops again and one arrives at a small, scruffy looking town. From there, an unpaved road goes through olive groves and finally ends at a parking spot. A circular route is a scramble over rocks along the edge of the ravine before arriving at a viewpoint overlooking the waterfall. Because of a dry few weeks, not much water was falling.
To return to the site I drove along the old A4 which first weaves its way down one side of the gorge, along the bottom, then up the other side. It was a nostalgic drive – I couldn’t help but remember times past before the viaduct was built when the road was filled with nose-to-tail, crawling HGVs.
I was ready to leave Santa Elena by 08.30 and took a coffee break at my usual filling station at KM98 having done around 100 miles. I made a fuel stop south of Madrid then took the M50 around the city. Traffic was very light. I arrived at La Cabrera in time for a late lunch having done 206 miles. This site has also increased the ACSI fee to €20. Just one other outfit is keeping me company.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning.com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Time is running out for me here and I wanted to give myself at least one more day out before I leave. Somewhere I haven’t been before – which is difficult after so many years. But the internet and Google Earth came to my rescue. After packing some lunch into the cool-box, I was ready to leave El P by 9. 15. I headed along the A7 in the direction of Malaga. I took exit 251 and within five minutes I’d arrived at La Cueva de Higuerón at Rincón de la Victoria. It’s one of the few marine caves in the world where a mixture of fresh and salt water from the sea, together with the rise and fall of the tide, has created underground caverns. This one is now some distance from the coastline. Over the entrance, the management uses its popular name, the Cave of the Treasure.
The reason for ‘Cave of the Treasure’ is because of the tales told about them. It was said that a royal hoard of gold was deposited here in the 12th Century by an Arab Emperor just before he was killed. Over the years the treasure was forgotten about, and it was not mentioned again until the 17th century when a long lost manuscript was supposedly discovered detailing where the treasure was hidden. During the 19th century, a local archaeologist spent a lot of time during his 38-year career searching for it. In all that time he found six gold Islamic coins, weighing in all, just 4 grams. However, he also discovered a selection of ceramics, some wall paintings, as well as utensils said to date from the Neolithic period.
The caves are extensive, with railed walk-ways leading from one cave to another. At the furthest distance away from the entrance is an alcove where water constantly cascades down forming deep pools below the paths. Some caves also contain hand prints although, with the low level of lighting, I missed them.
Leaving the car park, I rejoined the motorway for a few miles before taking an exit further along. I drove inland, up into the hills and after a few miles, I arrived at Macharaviaya.
The village was built on the ruins of a Moorish settlement and was home to the Gálvez family, members of the Spanish nobility. Three sons all held positions in the 17th C Spanish Court. Bernado, a son of the next generation became the Governor of Louisiana, Captain General of Cuba and Viceroy of Mexico. He aided the Americans in the War of Independence and his forces captured Baton Rouge and Pensacola from the British. The city of Galveston was named after him.
In the village, the family built the Real Fábrica de Naipes – The Royal Playing Card Factory which for many years produced more than 30,000 packs per year giving the factory a monopoly on the sale of playing card throughout the whole of the Spanish Indies. The family installed drinking water fountains in the village streets, had paving laid along the roads, and supervised the reconstruction of the local church which was originally built in 1505. A plaque (in English) fixed to the outside wall of the church tells of his achievements.
At the entrance to the village, there’s a shrine dedicated to the family and a statue in the main square commemorates the life of Bernardo. The family crypt is below the church. Bernado died from typhus whilst he was in the Spanish Colonies at just forty years old.
My last port of call was to a two-hundred-year-old disused sugar factory in Torre del Mar. Unlike the factories at Nerja and Maro, this one at Torre del Mar has been restored and is now used as a cultural centre. It stands on an impressive site, still with one of its chimneys in place.
Recent palm trees have been planted on the forecourt. Exhibitions are displayed within which are changed from time to time. In addition to some of the original machinery, there is a display of ancient laundry and ironing ironmongery. Everything from simple flat irons through to gas and oil powered irons. Not just one or two – simply hundreds of them.
On another floor were some fine examples of modern appliqué needlework in the form of bed quilts. Some of the exhibits were just superb – with such vibrant colours and designs. Along another wall was an exhibit of dressed dolls and appliqué designed cushion covers.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
I came across an old aerial photograph when I was visiting a local museum the other day. , It showed the coastline near to the site where I’m staying. The photo was taken in 1960 and had the lighthouse not been in the picture, there was nothing from which to identify the view.
Trawling through dozens of other pictures, I found one taken from a similar viewpoint but about forty years later.
Comparing the two images, apart from the lighthouse, the only other building which is common to both pictures is the one within the white circle.
It’s the 19th Century Villa El Recreo.
In its heyday, besides standing in its own extensive grounds, surrounded by walls and wrought iron gates, it would have had a clear view across agricultural small-holdings, right down to the seashore. Along the drive, from the porch down to the front gates, one would have walked through an avenue of palm trees. Just a few farm labourers and local fishermen would have lived locally.
Today the Villa is still there although no one has lived in it for many years. The palm trees are long gone, having succumbed to an infestation of palm borer beetles. An Aldi supermarket has been built slightly to one side of its frontage, and a Lidl supermarket has been built behind it. New apartment blocks fill the other two sides. Across the road, the 200-yard strip of what was once open land is now filled with concrete high-rise.
When I viewed the villa seven or eight years ago some attempt was being made to keep the buildings and grounds tidy. Now it’s overgrown and neglected with a ‘For Sale’ notice attached to the front gates.
There is intriguing information about the ownership of the Villa. The local council office has always been very tight-lipped about ownership, but local gossip has it that at the end of the Civil War, General Franco gave the Villa as a gift to Eva Braun, the mistress of Adolf Hitler, whom he married just before they committed suicide together in 1945. It would be interesting to know the authentic history. All that is known is that the seller is believed to be a South American.
Yesterday’s drive to Maro was only eight miles along the coast road. It’s a tiny place situated on the cliff top and long since bypassed, first by the N340, then more recently, by the A7 motorway. All the parking is outside the village so I unloaded my bike in a space close to El Acueducto del Águila ---- the Eagle Aqueduct. The design is copied from the Roman style of building aqueducts so it’s made up of 37 arches arranged in four tiers.
Building was started 140 years ago to carry water to a newly opened sugar factory, one of three which were built in the district to process the locally grown sugar cane. Sugar cane has been around for more than a thousand years and it was very likely introduced into Andalusia during the Arab period. In England, because of high taxation, sugar was very expensive with the price being up there with that of the most expensive spices. But in1874 the tax was removed, making sugar available to almost everyone. Within thirty years of the Nerja & Torrox factories opening, the sugar industry in southern Spain had collapsed and with the factories closing down, the land previously growing sugar cane was turned into smallholdings, growing vegetables, mangoes, and avocados. All three factories now stand roofless, ruined and neglected.
Water still runs through the Aqueduct but it’s now diverted into various irrigation ditches for the small holdings and greenhouses. I came across an interesting picture of the San Jose factory when it was working.
Just two years ago the Aqueduct underwent extensive repairs due to damage sustained during the Civil War. During the Battle of Malaga in February of 1937, many thousands of Republican supporters left the city to avoid the bombing and bombardment from ships. After the city had fallen, many of those that had remained were executed. Franco’s military commanders, aided by Hitler’s air force and Mussolini’s navy harried the refugees as they made their way along the coast road towards Almeria. A recently laid plaque at Torre del Mar commemorates the thousands who lost their lives on the journey.
During the same week, a cargo ship – The Delfin had been chartered to deliver a cargo of rice to Malaga. As the ship approached the city, she was attacked by planes of Göring’s Luftwaffe. Bombs and aerial torpedoes failed to sink the ship, although because of engine trouble, she drifted along the coast. She went aground near to Torrox lighthouse where her crew abandoned her. They later re-boarded and the vessel was towed into deeper water. She drifted slowly eastward and was then attacked by an Italian submarine. She was finally torpedoed and the crew abandoned her once again. She sank close to the shore at Calaceite Point, less than 200 yards from the beach. Visiting the wreck is now a favourite dive for those who enjoy scuba-diving. The wreck can also be seen on Google-Earth. See my screen-shot for a close-up, and the last photo in this chapter. The white dot marks the wreck site.
My next stop was at the 17th Century church named after its patron saint, the Virgen de las Maravillas.
Across from the church a long pergola has been built to support climbing foliage. Palm trees and garden benches are spaced along one side, all with a lovely view towards the sea. The building without its roof is one of the ruined sugar factories.
From the village, I cycled down a narrow, twisting road through an area of greenhouses and small holdings. Suddenly, I was at the cliff edge, so I locked up my bike and walked some of the way down the steep hill towards a small, deserted beach sheltered between the two headlands.
Over to my left, standing high on the cliff top is one of many watchtowers built along this coast. Some were built during the Arab occupation, others during the 15th and 16th Centuries, but all for the purpose of giving early warning against Barbary Pirates intent on pillage and capturing villagers to take back for their slave markets.
On the way back to my site I decided to visit the next watchtower along the coast. I climbed the steep, zig-zag hill to the cliff top – only to be faced with disappointment. The tower was surrounded by a padlocked gate and a six-foot-high chain-link. But the view made the climb worthwhile. The white dot marks the resting place of The Delfin.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Is anybody still using a Microsoft Autoroute programme on their computers? I have the 2010 version and together with Google Maps & Google Earth, use it for all my route planning. I had decided it was time to plan for another day out, away from the site. Usually, I try to work out a circular drive with three or four stopping off points. The route which I’d done for yesterday began by doing the nine-mile sprint westward along the A7, then taking the familiar road along the valley bottom, then up into the hills to Viñuela. I took the road to the western side of the lake, and there, I saw the first signs of Spring – the almond blossom coming into bloom on the trees.
A few miles further on I called in at Camping Viñuela. I’ve known about this site for years although I’ve never stayed there. I walked around the site some years ago and the place was deserted. This time, there were probably ten or so outfits on the pitches. For anyone who is fond of hiking, it could make an ideal base. Reception was closed, but from what I could make out from the Spanish price list, in the winter, a pitch for an outfit+2 people would be €16 per night with a 30% discount for staying for a month. No mention was made of electricity so maybe it’s on a meter. Considerably more than what I currently pay. See a couple of pictures of the site HERE. Also on the downside …………….the nearest large supermarket is 9 miles away. But the views…………..
The white building on the extreme left is the hotel/campsite.
The road continued for another twenty miles following the undulating ground through the mountain ranges. Eventually, I arrived at my next stop in Casabermeja, a village close to the Malaga to Antequera motorway. Casabermeja’s claim to fame is its San Sebastian Cemetery – declared in 1981 to be of historic and artistic value. See: https://www. tripadvisor. com/Attraction_Review-g2440070-d2717787-Reviews-San_Sebastian_Cemetery-Casabermeja_Province_of_Malaga_Andalucia. html All the graves are built above ground, as they often are in Spain, but the tombs are set out in streets – some with their own pavements.
Continuing on my drive, my route took me under the A45 motorway, along the road heading towards Villanueva de la Concepción. But I needed to go slowly because I was looking for a dirt road signposted “Arroyo Carnicero” and leading off through the olive groves. My search was on for an olive tree. Not any old olive tree – but this one.
What makes it special is that it has three trunks.
Cordoba University has carried out dendrochronology on the tree and their tests tell them that the tree has been growing for more than a thousand years. It’s mind-boggling to think that an Arab farmer was here planting this olive tree even before the Battle of Hastings took place in England. Despite its appearance, genetic studies have confirmed that the three trunks all grow from the same root. Back at the car, the remote area made it an ideal spot to unload my chair, open a beer and have a picnic lunch.
Later, I took the motorway and drove fifteen miles towards Malaga. After leaving the A45 at the last exit, in less than a mile I arrived at the Jardín Botánico-Historico. I parked close to the entrance and paid the €3 entry fee.
In 1855 Jorge Loring whose family owned the Malaga Iron Foundry married Amalia Heredia and they began buying up several fincas, olive groves and citrus fruit plantations situated to the north of Malaga. They planned during their honeymoon to bring back exotic plants from all the countries they visited around the world. They built the mansion which is still standing in the grounds.
Over the next sixty years, the gardens continued to grow and mature.
Being in the foundry business, the owners had a long pergola created from cast iron and over the years, has become intertwined with branches of Japanese Wisteria which I’m told comes into flower during March.
In the rest of the house, there is further evidence of their ‘iron’ connection. Also during the 19th Century, the French-born archaeologist, George Bonsor was discovering and excavating the Roman artefacts at Carmona. He, together with his partner took every opportunity to sell some of their discoveries to the highest bidder. Hence, one of the Roman mosaic floors at Carmona was lifted, badly damaged then installed in the Loring museum built in the grounds.
By 1911 the house and gardens had changed hands and had been bought by a family whose business was in shipbuilding – this time a family from Bilbao. They continued expanding the gardens but they mainly used the mansion as their winter home, staying from September till May.
In 1990 the house and grounds were purchased by Malaga City Council, in whose care it now is.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Had it not been for a Senior Moment, you would be reading a piece, and looking at photographs of Nerja’s Three Kings Fiesta. But I got the date wrong! How could I do that? For the past umpteen years, I’ve attended the Fiesta on the evening of the 5th of January. For some reason, I got it into my head that it was on the 6th. Fortunately, by lunchtime on the 6th, I’d realised my error. So as my bike was already loaded in the car, I decided to drive and then cycle. I drove a few miles along the coast road towards Nerja and parked the car on Playazo Beach.
From there, I cycled along the dirt road, crossed the almost dried up river, then along a short piece of promenade to the headland, known as La Torrecilla. In the 16th Century, a small castle was built on the promontory to ward off marauding Berber pirates.
However, in 1812 the Mediterranean Fleet of the British Navy bombarded the castle and rendered it useless to prevent its use by Napoleon’s invading forces. From the point, there are beautiful sea views in both directions.
The small beach to the east takes its name from the Castle. Being a bank holiday, both the beach and the cafes were popular.
Even a swimmer was tempted into the water. At the far end of the beach, the rocks begin again and a promenade runs uphill. At the foot of the steps where they go up into the town, a commemorative column has been set up to mark Spain joining the EEC in 1985. The column contains a worked piece of stone transported from each of the then 15 member countries, plus a stone quarried from Nerja. The piece from “England” is close to the bottom. I couldn’t help but wonder if they will want to remove it in three months time?
At the top of the steps is a row of restaurants and bars The first is one of my favourites, The Bamboo.
Higher up is another favourite, Mirasol. Continuing up through the town, one enters a maze of narrow street.
Eventually, we arrive at the Balcon.
Here, some 150 years ago, this was just another high headland, also with a 16th Century castle built on its point. This castle, like the one at Torrecilla, was also attacked and destroyed by the British Navy.
During the second half of the 1800s, the area suffered a drastic downturn in its fortunes. An insect plague devastated the vineyards. Outbreaks of cholera and typhus lead to hundreds of deaths. Then finally in 1884, the area was rocked by a severe earthquake which ruined much of the town. No wonder many of the population set out to seek new lands in South America.
After the earthquake, the town was visited by King Alfonso 12th. Tradition has it, that he was so impressed with the view from the headland, that he suggested it should become “The balcony of Europe”. Whether or not that’s true, on the strength of the story a full-sized statue of Alfonso has been erected standing alongside the railings.
Certainly, the views in both directions are superb.
After spending some time enjoying the views, I cycled back through the town to the car, eventually reaching the site to find I’d had visitors!
And I thought I’d kept it a secret!!!
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Phew!………………….What a busy eight days that’s been. On the 19th Dec, I drove over to Malaga Airport to collect my two girls and grandson off an Easyjet flight from Gatwick. No sooner had they got themselves installed in their rented villa two or three miles along the road from my site,
than they were congratulating themselves on their choice of travel date, for that same evening, Gatwick Airport closed down for 36 hours because of the drone trouble. Once they had settled in and sorted their bedrooms, we drove into Nerja to have dinner at Mirasol, one of our favourite restaurants.
On their second day we drove only a short distance inland, and up the hills to Frigiliana which is the local ‘postcard’ village.
Parts of the village were built during the Moorish period so as it’s built on a hillside, many of the streets are not only steep, but they are stepped as well which makes work difficult for builders and other maintenance workers. As I walked through the streets, one builder was having his bags of sand and cement delivered by donkey.
The tiny main plaza is dominated by the 16th Century church. Even the main street through the village is narrow with sharp bends so vehicle traffic is restricted to residents. The top of the hill was once dominated by a Moorish castle, now virtually just a pile of rubble. From Frigiliana, we drove down to Burianna, where we enjoyed a packed lunch and a beer on the beach.
Next day after meeting up we took a quick sprint along the A7 to Velez-Malaga, then turned inland where the road follows the valley bottom through plantations of avocado, olive and palm tree nurseries. After six or seven miles the road suddenly rises and we arrived at Viñuela which although it’s referred to as a lake, is a reservoir with a dam built at one end. I drove first to the eastern side because in the mornings that is where the view is seen at its best.
Comparing the water levels with those of ten or so years ago, the level is very low. Having said that, the present level is slightly higher than last year, thanks no doubt to that week of torrential rain we had just after my arrival at El Pino. After a short stroll along the bank, we returned to the car and drove down into the valley and up the next range to Alcaucin – another hill village dating from Moorish times. One of the features of Alcausin is its restored Moorish water supply. Five fountains run continuously even during the driest dry spell. The water has been declared “potable” so local people arrive with trolleys and cars to fill numerous 5-litre containers with the water. There is a local legend which promises that any ‘unattached’ person who drinks from the centre fountain, will marry someone from the village within the year. Grandson, Sam was taking no chances since he chose spout number four to drink from!
This village also has a tiny plaza where one side is taken up with the 17th Century church.
We returned to the lake in time for a packed lunch. Part of the surrounding woodland has been laid out with twenty or so picnic tables and seating. Adjacent to every table has been built a concrete barbecue hearth. Being Saturday, many of the barbecues were in use. During the afternoon we took a walk along the dirt road through the woodland surrounding the lake. We later met up for dinner at the Bamboo, another of our favourite restaurants where we’d booked a table.
On Sunday we turned east and drove along the old coast road for twelve miles to Marina del Este. Where the road has been improved along some of the headlands, the old road has been left as lay-bys. From the cliff tops, there are some fantastic views.
At Marina del Este, a large rock close to the shoreline has been ingeniously changed by adding a breakwater at one end, thus forming a marina where some very expensive looking craft are tied up. Around the hillsides are tiers of apartments and villas.
Some apartments were bought ‘off plan’ - ie: purchase agreed and paid for before they were finished. Unfortunately, before even the new owners were able to take possession, building faults became apparent which made them uninhabitable. With the builders bankrupt and long since vanished, the owners were left with a problem – which still continues. We later drove over the headland and into the next bay at Herradura. Here a horseshoe-shaped bay is backed with a gently sloping beach.
It was an ideal spot for our packed lunch. In the evening we had wanted to visit La Paloma Blanca on Torrox prom for dinner. After admiring and photographing the ‘Christmas Tree’ erected at end of the prom, we were disappointed to find La Paloma closed. We returned to the car and drove to Nerja where we visited Mirasol again. Later in the evening, we walked through Nerja to see the Christmas lights at the Balcon.
On Sunday we decided to do our Christmas Day shopping so we went to the local Lidl. In none of the supermarkets do you see any Christmas turkeys. Instead, hundreds of hams are on display.
Christmas Day’s weather was similar to the previous few weeks; clear blue skies, lots of sunshine and temperatures around 20C by mid-day. After coffee and an exchange of Christmas presents, we sat out on the balcony until after lunch.
During the afternoon the family took a walk along Playazo Beach; then it was time to return to the villa for the girls to start preparing dinner.
Boxing Day is not celebrated in Spain. The 26th Dec is a normal working day so shops are open and most people are back at work. We drove westward along the coast road as far as Torre del Mar. There we found a quiet section of the beach for sitting out and having lunch. During the afternoon my girls and grandson walked the four miles along beach and promenade to our rendezvous point further along the coast. In the evening we returned to the Bamboo for dinner.
Sadly, today was all bustle and hurry. By ten thirty villa door keys were handed back and we were on our way to Malaga. It’s a 40-mile drive to the airport but even so, we had time to stop at Torremolinos beach for a coffee and for daughters to have a final look at the sea before completing the five-minute drive to the airport. Some reluctant farewells and all that was left for me to do was drive back to the site for a late lunch.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
The Internet is a mine of misinformation. A few weeks ago I Googled the date of the Migas Festival in Torrox. The answer came up as being “The Migas Festival is always held on the last Sunday before Christmas.” So this year that’s the 23rd of December. Brilliant – my daughters arrive in Malaga on the 19th, so for once, they can experience the Festival rather than listen to me telling them about it. They were delighted!. But then last Thursday I saw the warning notices for road closures on the 16th. Enquires revealed that the Festival was indeed to be held on the 16th. Well done Google!
So today is the day. It’s impossible to get anywhere near Torrox by car, so my previous visits have usually been by bike. But health-wise I didn’t quite feel up to tackling the long climb up to the pueblo on the bike. So instead, I drove up to the motorway junction, parked on a piece of waste ground and for a Euro hopped on the bus for a mile and a half. It worked really well.
If you are not familiar with Migas, it’s an Andalusian dish which at one time was made in bulk to feed the labourers working in the vineyards, orange and olive groves on the estates. Tradition has it that at mid-day one of the kitchen boys blew into a conch shell which summoned all the workers to the estate buildings for a meal and siesta. A statue in the Plaza at Torrox commemorates such a young man.
The Migas was made in a huge pan over an open fire. The first ingredient was a large pouring of olive oil. When it was hot, stale bread was crumbed and added to the oil. Now they use flour. Almost anything can be added to it - milk, salt, peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, chopped chicken, sea-foods – all cooked then served with fresh salad.
The day starts early with groups of volunteers arranging their fires and hearths around the perimeter of the car park, on which to set their huge pans.
Across on the other side of the park various stalls are set up where charcuteros and patissiers display their produce.
As the morning wears on, the crowds get larger, all collecting their cups of wine which are dispensed from several large barrels situated around the park.
A few weeks earlier the local wine growers hold a competition for the year’s wine production. From the winners, the suppliers for the Festival is chosen. By midday all is ready and the crowds join one of many queues to collect their dish of Migas.
Meanwhile over at the Pueblo in the main square, a stage had been set up where groups of singers and dancers perform for the watching crowd.
But I couldn’t afford to stay long because there was another pressing engagement. So it was back to the bus, back to the site, a quick shower, then up the hill to the next level.
There I found the UK contingent of caravanners already in party mode. Several tables had been set up with almost every Brit on site in attendance plus a few Swedish and Dutch friends. A big thank you to those responsible for the catering.
https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=s4tRYuPzcxI
As I sat there in the sun, I wondered how they were faring at home. I opened my phone to BBC weather for my local town. Heavy rain and 3 degrees. What's not to like by being here?
To see this blog with more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Usually, I write about somewhere I’ve been, but here I'm going to write about someone I’ve met……… Or rather - I'm going to write about his hobby. It features friend, William – a guy I first met here several years ago, who with Yvonne, has been a regular visitor to El Pino for a lot of years.
Every morning William and Bentley - his dog, take a walk, down the road, along the beach and back up along the river. As they wander along the shoreline,
William picks up likely pebbles,
pockets them and takes them back to his van.
Using a masonry bit in a cordless drill, the stones are drilled, threaded on a wire and formed into figures.
Each figure William builds is created with a particular recipient in mind.
So last year, at their farewell party, Martin and Joanne, our longtime friends from Scotland, and a keen boules player were presented with a figure carrying his boules, and of course, dressed in tartan plaid and kilt.
During the party the inevitable question was asked………….. was he wearing anything under his kilt?
Another Martin who we nick-name Dutch-Martin hardly goes anywhere without his bike so this was his figure.
Another friend who is always going off to play tennis got this one
Ormond, our Norwegian friend is occupying his usual pitch across the road from me. Being from Norway he knows all about skiing. William made him his figure two years ago.
Since last year, a guitar-player has appeared in the shrubbery outside the site’s reception,
Take a closer look!
as has another figure sitting on the tree at the front of Les and Val’s bungalow.
My pebble-man, wearing the inevitable cap has been sitting in my dining room at home for the past three years.
One can’t help but wonder where next one of William’s trademark figures might appear?
Oh - and the question as to whether or not Martin’s Scotsman was dressed under his kilt? Well! See for yourself.
It’s two weeks since I arrived at El Pino and the weather has been pretty awful. In fact, it’s probably the worst autumn weather I’ve experienced in all the years I’ve stayed here. Yes! In previous years we’ve had rain that’s gone on for 36hours at a stretch. But then, it has stopped and the sun has returned again. Not so during the past fortnight. Just an odd dry day interspersed with day after day of thunderstorms and torrential rain, turning site roads into rivers and flooding some of the pitches. This was just one day.
https://www. youtube. com/watch?v=WezpqWkC1KE&feature=youtu. be
All of which was probably responsible for the rock fall which occurred last Tuesday along the coast road. A lump of rock - the engineers estimate the weight to be in the region of five tons, detached itself from the cliff face and rolled down into the road completely blocking it in both directions.
Before it could be moved, breakers had to be brought in to cut it into manageable pieces. The road will remain closed until the cliff face can be secured and the road surface repaired.
A section of about ½ mile is closed
And here is where the fall occurred
The road surface is damaged, the Armco barrier bent where the rock hit, then rolled back to the centre of the road.
The A7 motorway runs through the hills, about 2 miles inland, but the coast road carries a lot of local cars and buses. The gods were certainly smiling when they arranged the fall to coincide with a lull in the traffic.
Happily, the weather has changed for the better and we are able to get out again. I rode the bike along the coast road to see how repairs were progressing. They weren’t!
Hi, HELP, required. As you are probably aware I’m new to caravaning, started only last year, we have a Lunar Clubman SR, 2017 which is fitted with the Sargent EC500 psu, it also has a control panel above the door. We also have the Aldi hot water / heating system. I’m trying to establish what if any thing the PSU unit does? So I’ll try and explain my problems one at a time, first issue we are connected to the mains power supply, we also have gas connected, on the main EC500 control unit located under the seat it has four lights the first two = Reverse Polarity and Charging I understand, however the next two Space heater and Water Heater are a mystery, because it appears the Aldi system provides hot water and heating, 1st question. Does the Space Heater button and the Water Heater buttons need to be on at all if we are using gas to provide hot water and heating via the Aldi system? 2nd question if I turn these buttons off will it have an adverse affect on the vans electrical systems, 3rd question, if they’re left on do they use power from the mains and 4th and final question at this point is “if the Aldi system provides hot water and heating from gas and electricity why have the EC500 fitted?. YOUR HELP WITH THIS MATTER WOULD BE SINCERELY APPRECIATED
Another decent day at Olvera so I drove into the town. Olvera is built on the side of a hill with the church and castle crowning the peak. Being of Arab origin, the streets are narrow and steep. Certainly no place to try and park a car, so I parked on the perimeter and walked up towards the church. What a steep hill! The final 50 yards was not only steep, but was stepped as well. Finally I reached the small plaza where the church is on one side with another steep track leading to the castle on the other. For a small town, the church is remarkably ornate with many richly gilded memorial chapels erected along the aisles.
I looked across at the castle standing on even higher ground and decided I’d had enough climbing for one day, so after resting in the shade, I made my way back to the car and drove out of town to find the Vía Verde de la Sierra.
Back in the 1960’s work started on a new seventy-five mile railway line which was planned to connect Jerez with Almargen. Embankments and cuttings were created, tunnels were bored and lined, stations were built – but for some reason, the tracks were never laid. The project was abandoned and the track-way became overgrown. Only in recent years has a twenty-four mile section of the route been rescued and turned into a track for walking, cycling and horse riding. I unloaded my bike and cycled through the tunnel and along the track for a few miles. It passes through some beautiful scenery.
Tomorrow is moving day
Changes to my itinerary brought about by so many rainy days has meant that I will be arriving at El Pino six days earlier than what I’d planned but friend, Jim (CT’s Wigandiver) assures me that my pitch will be available. So having missed out on Merida and Carmona, there’s only105 miles to do to reach Torrox.
With a ten o'clock departure from Olvera, I reached El Pino around mid-day and was welcomed by Silvia, a long-time receptionist at the site.
Having got the caravan on to the pitch, I set about positioning it as I like it. Not an easy task and maybe even impossible without a mover because of the trees. With water and electricity connected, I broke off for some lunch and a snooze. The afternoon just whizzed by, chatting to friends old and new, but then, I’d already decided to do nothing more until tomorrow.
When I was packing the car before leaving home, I made the mistake of laying the awning bag, the groundsheet and mats with the poles on the floor of the car before piling the travel crates on top. Consequently I had the car to unload before I could reach the awning. I got cracking by 9am. Shortly after, Jim and two of his mates arrived and we had the awning erected in no time. After lunch, I took it easy, installing my kitchen range at one end of the awning. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll get gear sorted and put where I want it.
El Pino is a large, sloping site on seven levels where slopes have been bulldozed into level areas, although not every area is available to tourists. Four levels have been equipped with toilet and shower blocks. Every pitch is within fairly easy reach of a mains power box where a 10amp supply is connected via a continental adapter. Drinking water is available at the toilet blocks, plus at a few extra stand-pipes. Roads within the site are well surfaced although some of them are steep. Main gates are locked from mid-night until 8am with a security watchman posted in reception. A small shop is available close to reception which is open 9-7 throughout the year. Above the shop is an open-air patio for the site’s bar-restaurant, which is normally open throughout the year. (Having said that, at the moment it’s closed – undergoing a change of management)
Part of the site is devoted to permanent chalets which are privately owned. Many of them are British owners who were once caravanners here. In another section are some more basic chalets which are site-owned available for short letting periods, although in the winter months they are rentable by the month. Again, some of the people using them, I first met when they were caravanners here.
There is a free wifi connection which has a strong signal at my pitch. I understand it’s not so reliable further away from reception
Within two hundred yards of the site are three bars, two of which are restaurants as well. There’s also another small shop selling bread and essentials. Larger supermarkets are about a mile away close to the sea-front. The area is well-catered for with an Aldi; a Lidl; a Mercadona; a 10%Dia and a Supersol.
To see this blog with several more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
Hey! Don’t let the rain ruin your camping trip. Wet weather doesn’t have to spell the end of a journey if you’re well-prepared. Below you’ll find few useful tips and gadgets for camping in the rain.
Have you ever camped in the rain? We have. What is more, it seems like there’s something in us what makes that rain is always where we are . ..
Read more on our blog: Camping in The Rain. Best Tips and Gadgets
The weather was determined to make my departure from El Escorial as unpleasant as possible. My plan was to drive 90 miles to Talavera, but to detour slightly and visit the archaeological park at Carranque where there’s the site of a Roman Villa and mill. Then later I wanted to visit the site of the Battle of Talavera which was the Duke of Wellington’s first major victory of the Peninsular War. Followers of Bernard Cornwell’s fictional character, Richard Sharpe, will remember it was at Talavera where Sharpe captured the French Eagle. But with more rain forecast, and the fact that the windscreen wiper blades were thrashing to and fro, my plans were out of the window. Therefore, instead of heading off along the A5, I continued around the M50 and took the familiar A4. I thought perhaps by heading more easterly, I might get away from the rain. But I was wrong. I arrived at Camping Santa Elena, and I took the rain with me.
Camping Santa Elena is a useful stop-over site because it’s very close to the motorway. I’ve stopped there several times and a review of the site can be found in some previous years blogs. This time, I hadn’t unhitched, so getting ready to leave was quicker than usual. I followed the A4 all the way to Cordoba and beyond then took a cross-country route for 50 miles to arrive at Olvera – having taken the rain with me. Camping Pueblo Blanco at Olvera is a large site situated on a hill, about a couple of miles from the town, which stands on another hill across a valley. Roads within the site are well surfaced and lit during darkness, as is the approach from the main road. Every pitch has been levelled and each pitch has a capped grey water drain. Water taps and electric bollards are within easy reach of each pitch. Shower and toilet blocks are clean and well maintained. ACSI cards are accepted out of season with a night’s fee being €17. Wifi connection is available but at an extra cost.
Once I’d got settled, I texted forum-friend, Jim who was already at El Pino. As I’m likely to arrive there earlier than planned, I wanted to know if my usual pitch was empty! Apparently, they too were having a rainy day.
This is more like it! ……………A clear sky, at last, bringing the promise of a good day.
This is the 08. 30 view from my pitch across the valley towards Olvera.
With breakfast done, I packed some lunch and a beer and set off towards Ronda. Several times in the past, I’ve stood on the New Bridge at Ronda looking out over the landscape far down below me and thought how it must look from down there looking back at the cliff top. Using Google Earth and GPS Coordinates I planned to try it. After much searching I found the back lane in Ronda that I needed to get down there. Very quickly I was off the smooth tarmac and on to uneven cobbles. The road twisted and turned down the cliff side. I would have given up and turned around but that was out of the question as there was nowhere to turn. Finally, I reached the bottom; then parked to get my picture.
When I saw a couple of tour company’s people wagons getting ready for the journey back to the top, I took the opportunity to keep in convoy with him. Back in the town, I was lucky to find a parking place close to the town gate.
When the Romans came to Iberia they built two towns in this area. One they called Arunda and its near neighbour was Acinipo. Acinipo was much the more important. Its trading influence grew so much that it was authorized to mint its own currency. It also had a theatre which would seat around 2000 people. But with the gradual retreat of the Romans, the two towns declined. Acinipo virtually disappeared whereas Arunda continued to flourish. Then along came the Moors and rebuilt Ronda surrounding it with a protective wall, making the place their own, complete with public bathhouses.
Later I walked to the New Bridge – which isn’t new because it was built in the 18th Century but there’s also an old bridge which was built in Roman times.
From Ronda, I drove down across the valley then up onto the next escarpment where the once flourishing Roman town stood. This is Acinipo. The area is full of heaps of building stone with the remains of the theatre standing high up on the skyline.
The seating has been cut into the limestone rock. Three archaeologists were busy in different areas around the theatre. I returned to Pueblo Blanca via the cross country roads.
Sunday had all the promise of a good day, so I packed up lunch and set off along the A384 towards Antequera. After 30 miles, Tomtom directed me to turn left and go across country. The traffic-free road took in some beautiful scenery. After several miles, I could see the lagoon which was the purpose of my visit. It’s known as Fuente de Piedra and is home to a range of water-fowl including vast numbers of flamingoes. As I drove along the flat landscape I couldn’t help but notice the large expanses of flood water standing on the fields. Before long I went round a bend and ahead of me was a flooded road with three abandoned vehicles standing with water reaching the door sills. A tractor was in the process of removing them. I had no alternative but to reverse a considerable distance and try to find another way – with Tomtom throwing a wobbly – until I switched it off. After several miles of following signs for Antequera, I reached the Seville/Granada motorway and before long I saw an exit for Fuente de Piedra. The carpark and visitors centre is just beyond the town. At the visitor centre, there are several rooms telling the history of the lagoon, then another describing the water-fowl which may be seen. Unfortunately, there is no English language version. Binoculars may be hired at the centre.
Two circular walks are laid out with observation ‘hides’. Sadly, I am unable to walk very far these days so I regret to say that the only flamingo I saw was the model in the visitors’ centre. And probably the birds prefer to congregate as far away from humans as they can.
After lunch, I set off back to the site, but before I got too far along the road, I detoured and followed the signs for the Moorish village of Teba.
During August in1330, King Alfonso of Castilla was busy trying to dislodge the Moors from the castle in Teba. At the same time Sir James Douglas, commonly known as Black Douglas was crossing Spain on a crusade. His task was to carry a jewelled casket containing the heart of his recently dead King, Robert the Bruce and deposit it in the church in Jerusalem. Not being a man to miss out on a fight, Douglas offered his assistance to Alfonso. Together, the two armies defeated the Moors, but in the thick of battle, Douglas lost his life. A commemorative stone in one of the plazas has been raised in his memory.
I was ready to leave Fuentes Blancas by 9 am and being Sunday, the roads were quiet. Very soon I’d reached the start of the A1 which is a toll-free, two-lane motorway which goes all the way to Madrid. You won’t find service areas on the road but there are many filling stations, some with large parking areas alongside them. However, most are entered from a service road, and some of them are long. One of my favourite stops is at KM150. And another, just before the Madrid ring roads at KM27. At both, service roads are short; pumps are caravan-friendly and there’s a large carpark for meal breaks behind the shop.
A few weeks ago, when I was researching my present route with the aid of Google Maps, it gave me three choices for the journey from Burgos to El Escorial. One was via Segovia using the toll motorway, the second, a longer route via Madrid and a third – the shortest, using a 30-mile section of local road from KM50 on the A1, across to the A6. Looking at Street View, the road seemed fine for towing.
So when I reached the foot of Puerto de Somosierra, I disregarded Tomtom’s instruction to head for Segovia, and instead, continued on to the top of the pass. After several attempts to have me turn round, the device reset its self for a new route. But from the new ETA details, I realized it had chosen the long route via Madrid. It didn’t seem to want to consider the local road. Was I about to make a mistake? The exit came up…………... and I decided to take it. The road was as I had seen on Street View. An undulating road through the mountains, with some beautiful scenery. Yes – there were a couple of small towns to go through with a few speed bumps, and one of them where the whole population seemed to have turned out to attend a Sunday street market. Eventually, I met up with the AP6, but the short distance I had to travel meant that I left it before reaching the toll-booth. Ten minutes later, I was checking in at Camping El Escorial.
It was just around lunch-time when I arrived on a lovely Sunday afternoon. The place was heaving with Spanish weekenders. I drove around the lanes of pitches with not a vacant pitch visible anywhere. Eventually, I realized I had got into the area for semi-permanent caravans. A few minutes later, I found the ‘parcelas’ where there were lots of spaces. I pitched close to a water tap and within a reasonable distance of the toilet block. With water and electric connected, I took a walk around. The activity and noise, mainly from young teenagers were horrendous. It was back to the caravan to put the kettle on.
As if by magic, two hours later the place was as quiet as a tomb. Some caravans had towed off, but many had just been locked up and left. Now, as I look around, this part of the site looks busy, but nearly all of the vans are deserted. And as the crowds departed, so the rain began. It continued throughout the night.
Monday morning - and the rain was still hammering on the van roof. According to Meteo, it would continue all day. And they were right! But with the Royal Palace and the Valley of the Fallen being closed on Mondays, it was no great hardship. So the high point of the day was a visit to the local Mercadona.
Tuesday started as a dull, dismal day and so it continued throughout except for just a few periods of broken cloud. If I were to visit the Valley of the Fallen, it would have to be today because more rain is forecast for tomorrow. The complex is situated within a huge pine forest only five or six miles away from the site, but high up in the Guadarrama mountains.
It was built between 1940 and 1958 and is a monument intended to commemorate all those who died of both sides during the Spanish Civil War. About 40,000 soldiers are buried here. However, because Franco was the one who ordered its construction, and because he has his tomb close to the high altar in the Basilica, the complex is inevitably associated with the Dictator’s regime. Then there is controversy regarding the labour used in its building. Some say it was built by the forced labour of prisoners of war. Others say the work was carried by criminals on parole who were working to reduce their sentence. Suffice to say that it became such a political hot-potato that in the late 2000’s, the place was closed to the public. Even now, security is tight with outer-clothing and pocket contents having to go through an X-ray scanner.
From several miles away the huge cross is visible. It stands on top of a cliff, approximately 4500 feet above sea level. The cross itself is nearly 500 feet high and the arms have a span of 154 feet. Around its base are four colossal sculptures of the four evangelists.
Down below on the Esplanade is the entrance to the Basilica which has been cut deep into the mountain – and it’s huge.
Unfortunately, the authorities have chosen to ban photography – although I did manage to sneak one shot.
There is a funicular which carries visitors up to the cliff top alongside the cross but today, it was closed. The view from the top must be superb.
My next stop was at the Royal Palace of San Lorenzo. It was King Philip II who ordered the palace to be built in 1557 to commemorate the Spanish victory over the French at the Battle of St. Quentin.
His idea was that the complex would serve as a burial place for his parents and himself. In fact, many of the Spanish monarchs are buried here.
I was here some years ago so for today I settled for a view from the outside and a walk through the gardens.
By late evening, the rain was back again, and the weather forecasts make a depressing view. Talavera and Merida, my next planned stops look awful for the next three or four days. Maybe it’s time for some replanning.
To be continued.
To see this blog with several more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
To reach Burgos from the port at Bilbao, one needs to take the A8, then the AP68, then finally turning to the AP1. The road is a dual-carriageway toll motorway with several service stations along its route. Drivers take a ticket shortly after the start of the motorway and payment is made by cash or card at the exit. The final peage is situated just before the exit for the Burgos campsite. For the 100 mile tow, the toll charge was €21. 50
Fuentes Blancas at Burgos is a popular site used mainly as an overnight stop-over on longer journeys. But there are sufficient places of interest around to warrant a stay for two or three days. At the site, the pitches are laid out on either side of three parallel roads through the camp. Close to reception are the caravans and bungalows which are semi-permanent. Further through the site are pitches for tourers and motorvans. Open air sink units are situated every 100 yards or so but in the winter, the water is turned off because of freezing. Similarly with the electric bollards. They are placed every 50 yards. The electrical connections are of the two-pin continental type, which are showing their age. During the winter months, two of the four toilet blocks are open – one is heated, one is not. Both are clean and functioning with hot water in sinks and showers. From past experience, I know the pitches tend to become water-logged during periods of heavy rain. As it was raining when I arrived, I reversed the caravan on to the pitch ensuring that my front drive wheels stayed on the roadway before unhitching.
The site has a good internet connection which is free to log on to. Login details are available at reception. The ASCI discount card is also accepted.
By Thursday evening the rain was back again and continued through the night and into the next morning. But by lunchtime, it had stopped and the sky was clearing so I got into the car and headed off to Burgos. On the road leading to Fuentes Blancas, there’s a turning which is signposted “Monastery of our Lady of Miraflores”. I decided to explore, so I turned off and drove to the top of the hill. The gatehouse was open with a few visitors coming and going. I joined them. The building is home to monks of the Carthusian Order, and this monastery was founded in 1442 by King Juan II of Castille & Leon. Carthusian monks wear an oatmeal coloured habit and hood. But none of them was to be seen, because they live a life of silence and solitude, with each monk living in his own cell. The first service of the day begins at midnight, followed by eight others throughout the day. Carthusian monks are only allowed two visits per year by members of their immediate family. The French members of the Order are the producers of the cocktail ingredient, Green Chartreuse.
Once through the gatehouse, there is a small area with cloisters on two sides. On the third side is the church with the coats of arms of King Juan and Castille over the arched doorway.
Like all religious houses in Spain, this one is highly ornate with gold leaf decoration everywhere.
However, it is to the wood that my eye is always drawn. Here there is wood carving in abundance.
Two banks of choir stalls are arranged down either side of the chancel. They are all intricately carved from walnut and were completed in the 1550’s. In a side chapel, three sides of the room are taken up with massive chests of drawers containing vestments and altar frontals.
These too were constructed in the 16thC using walnut.
Saturday looked to be a promising day so I packed some lunch and set off back towards Santander, but by the old N-623 road. On a forum recently – maybe the C&CC – someone asked about towing on this road. Well yes! it’s possible, but there are several hilly, multiple S-bends on the route, so why would anyone want to when the toll-free A67 is just 15 or so miles to the west. However, I was on it because I wanted to visit the medieval village of Orbaneja del Castillo. The village was built during the Moorish occupation of Spain and the thing that makes it unique is that it’s built into the side of the Ebro Gorge. In the cliff, towering above the village is a cave from which spring water flows. The water runs into a culvert through the village, then cascades down the cliff face before reaching the river in the bottom of the gorge. .
On the way back to Burgos I detoured slightly to stop in the village of Vivar. It was in this village where the Spanish hero, El Cid was born. At the centre of the village is a rather neglected memorial to him.
Time to move on tomorrow.
To be continued. ........ To see this blog with several more pictures go to https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
It’s the end of October and time to head south again for the winter. This will be the twenty-fifth winter when I’ve spent some of the months caravanning in Spain. Our early visits were comparatively short: the first one being only four weeks. But gradually, they have lengthened, so that now, I stay for the maximum time my insurance will allow - 122 days. Over the years, we’ve stayed at several popular areas from Alicante on the Costa Blanca round to Albufeira on the Algarve, but our favourite has always been the Costa del Sol. So it will be to El Pino at Torrox where I’ll be going after a slow meander through Central Spain. In the early 1990’s we flew to Malaga and stayed in an apart-hotel so that we could explore the possibilities for caravanning. It was during that stay that we discovered the site at Torrox. However, we didn’t stay there during our first years because the lack of a decent road made it very inaccessible. By the end of the ‘90s, as the area began to be developed, the approach road was somewhat improved. Now that I caravan on my own, I look forward to arriving at El Pino where I know I will meet lots of friends from previous years.
The ferry I’m booked on this year is the Baie de Seine; it’s what Brittany Ferries use for their “Economie” Service. The ship is smaller than the two cruise ferries, so the facilities on board is not as great However, cabins are comparable on both services. Bunks and en-suite bathrooms are the same. The only difference is that one has carpet on the cabin floor whilst the other has wood laminate. The Economie ferry has a self-service dining room with a limited range of meals, whilst at least one of the cruise ferries has a waiter-service dining room.
For me, one of the plus points of the smaller ferry is that unloading is done in much less time. Being parked in the ‘wrong’ position on the big ships can mean a wait of up to an hour between doors opening and driving off. The second plus point of the “Economie” sailing is that for my sailing dates there is an approximate saving of around £60 each way.
All the crossings from Portsmouth to Northern Spain take between 30 and 36 hours. For the first time traveller, both departure time and arrival time should be carefully considered. A convenient departure time will not necessarily be followed by a convenient arrival time. For instance leaving Portsmouth at 17. 30 means arriving in Spain in the evening by which time, in winter, it will be already dark. On the other hand, a departure from Portsmouth at 22. 30hrs gives a very early arrival at 07. 00hrs, with a good day of travelling time ahead of you.
On Tuesday morning the departure time from Portsmouth was 08. 45hrs and whilst I could have managed by leaving home at around 5am, there’s always the chance of early morning fog, and I do like to have time in hand for contingencies, so I left the evening before and spent the night on the dockside. When I arrived at the port, there were six other towed caravans and motor vans already there, so I parked where the marshal indicated. Having ascertained that I wouldn’t be required to move before morning, I wound down the legs, settled down for dinner followed by an evening of DVD’s in the caravan.
Tuesday morning started early with check-in opening at 05. 45. Having been there over-night, I was one of the first through. I was immediately met by Border Control. Maybe because it was the start of their shift, the lady assigned to my outfit was conscientiousness personified. After many questions regarding my car and its contents, she then asked for access to the interior of the van. This was followed by an examination of the underside of both car and caravan with mirror and torch. Finally I was allowed to proceed to the loading lines. From being almost first to check-in, I became almost last to board, and found myself with some other tourers down below the water line on deck 4 among the solo trailers and HGVs. My cabin was on Deck 8 and in an ideal position for both restaurant and reception. In fact, it was so close to reception that I was able to get on the internet in the cabin.
The crossing was made in good weather with only a mild swell as we crossed Biscay.
The ferry docked on time and within twenty minutes I was heading towards passport control and the exit. Border Control took a quick look at my passport and I was soon out on the road leading up to the A8.
For several years, when arriving at Bilbao I’ve wanted to stop to see the Hanging Bridge which is built close to where P&O used to berth their “Pride of Bilbao”. I’d already researched on Google Earth a likely stopping place for the car and caravan, so with coordinates entered, I headed for the spot and unloaded the bike. I cycled around the harbour for a couple of miles and arrived at the mouth of the river where the Vizcaya Bridge was built to connect the two sides. The builder, who was a student of Gustave Eiffel was given the brief to build a bridge that wouldn’t disrupt the river traffic, but would also not need long ramps to gain height. He came up with a design for a hanging bridge.
The bridge was built in 1893 and is made of iron. It uses twisted steel cables with a gondola hanging below which can carry six to eight cars and maybe a hundred foot passengers, The crossing takes less than two minutes. I would loved to have made a crossing on it as a foot passenger, but already the first few drops of rain were starting so I headed back to the car.
By the time I’d reached the A8, the rain was really hammering down. It was time for a review of my plans. Instead of heading west towards the Pico de Europa, I turned for the A68 and set off for Burgos – just over 100 miles away. It rained all the way.
A topic often mentioned on forums is about how to keep the caravan fridge cold on the ferry. My method is to turn on the caravan fridge the day before the travel date. At the same time put items in your home freezer. I put three 1ltr cartons of orange drink and I already had two fruit loaf cakes prepared a week ago. In addition I prepared a large chicken casserole and doled it out into meal -sized cartons. On the afternoon of departure, all the frozen stuff was taken from the freezer and packed into the caravan fridge, together with packets of ham and cheese, plus other necessary items. For my night on the dockside, the fridge was operated on gas. By not opening the fridge door too often, by the time I arrived in Burgos, my chicken casserole was still frozen and only required several minutes in the microwave.
The rain petered out during the night and the morning was giving a promise of a lovely day.
I was already beginning to regret my change of itinerary. But what’s done is done! For the present, the most important thing was to get to the local Mercadona and stock up on some essential items – most urgently some rolls for lunch. The store was only 6 or 7 minutes away by car, so it was to there I headed. Even from some distance away I could see the car park was empty. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw the shuttered entrance. It was closed. It was a Bank Holiday!
I continued on into town and Tomtom directed me to an underground car park close to the Cathedral. Having parked, I crossed the road and onto the bridge which leads up to the Arco de Santa Maria – the most impressive of the dozen gates which in the 12C were built into the wall surrounding the city.
Through the gate, is a plaza in which the Cathedral is built.
Work started in 1221 on the orders of King Fernando of Castilla. It’s built in the form of three naves surrounded by 19 chapels. To one side is what is reputed to be the finest Gothic cloister in Spain, decorated with sculptures from the 14th Century.
At the centre of the Cathedral is the tomb of Rodrigo Díaz – better known as El Cid. He has become a Spanish folk hero; especially in this part of Spain because he was born only a few miles down the road at the village of Vivar. Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was born around the year 1040 into a family of the Spanish nobility.
He became an important general-administrator fighting against the Moors but when his King died, he was caught up in a Royal family squabble and was exiled. He worked as a mercenary-general fighting for other leaders, both Moor and Christian. It was the Moors who gave him his tittle - ‘El Cid’. Later in life he captured the City of Valencia, ruling it himself until his death in 1099. After leaving the cathedral I went to see his statue in one of the town’s squares.
Later I walked through shopping streets hoping to find a bakery open, but there was nothing. I returned to Fuentes Blancas for a very late lunch. Thank heaven for some baking potatoes in the car together and a tin of beans. Mercadona will have to wait till tomorrow.
To be continued……………...You can see this blog with several more pictures here:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/
We love this time of the year when the fall foliage colors emphasize the beauty of the nature. There are many scenic outdoor destinations in Europe which you should discover especially during the autumn months. Below you’ll find our TOP 3 – Best Fall Destinations in Europe for outdoor adventurers in 2018.
Read more on our blog:
Best Fall Destinations in Europe
Hey, there! We’re just getting ready for a Balkan road trip, that inspired us to write about the best road trip apps.
Before we get to the apps, I just want to mention that we didn’t use to spend a lot of time on our phones during the travels. We always try to enjoy every moment of the trip, taking a break from the phone and being online.
We’ve chosen only the best apps, which are going to help you make the most of that travel adventure.
Read more on our blog:
4 Best Road Trip Apps
Friday was departure day for our annual holiday my two girls, grandson and I spend together. . This year, they rented a ‘cottage’ in Devon. The ‘cottage’ turned out to be a three bedroom, two bathrooms house overbooking the bay at Bigbury-on-Sea on the south Devon coast. And just up the road, in the next village there was a Club CL that had space for my van.
All of my long journeys invariably begin with a drive along on the M25 in one direction or the other so I left home at six in the morning to avoid the worst of the traffic. By 08. 45 I’d reached Stonehenge so I pulled into their car park for a coffee break and rest. Because I’m a member of English Heritage I took advantage of the free admission and travelled on the coach to visit the stone circle. Within the hour I was on my way and didn’t stop again until I reached the site.
My pitch was at Chapelcombe Farm in St. Ann's Chapel. It’s a working farm concentrating mainly on sheep. Their licence must be for more than a Club CL because my pitch was number seven with No. 8 and No. 9 going along into the corner of the field.
Each pitch has it’s own water supply, dustbin and electric supply point. Toilets and showers are provided in one of the out-buildings of the farm although the showers are charged for on a meter. Some of the pitches are on manicured lawn whilst mine and four others are on gravel. Presumably the gravelled pitches are the CL. From all the pitches there are extensive views across the countryside to the hills of Dartmoor in the distance. Site fee is £14. 50 per pitch per night. In my view, for a site by the sea in August, it is excellent value.– even more so for the family of five on the next pitch,
But the local roads!…………… They are a nightmare for driving. Especially towing to the site from the A38 trunk road. Most of the roads are narrow, high hedged single lanes, with passing places every 300 yards or so. My advice to anyone visiting the area is to ignore your sat-nav, research a route using maps and Google Earth and write it down.
On Saturday my daughters and grandson arrived and they quickly settled in to their ‘new home’. In the evening they called for me at the site and we went along to the Pickwick Inn for dinner. The Inn is situated at the cross-roads in the village and is only a short walk from the site. The Pickwick Inn is a Grade 2 listed building because although the frontage was built in the 19th century, the rear of the pub includes what was once a 15th century chapel and part of a 17th century house.
For our first day out we drove to Torcross then on to Dartmouth. I decided to try the short cut and fortunately the tide was out. By taking the Tidal Road one saves a detour of four to five miles. The road runs alongside the river but as the tide comes in, parts of the road goes under the water. We very soon arrived at Torcross, the village at one end of Slapton Sands. In December of 1943 the village was evacuated and the whole area was given over to the American Army as a battle training ground in preparation for the Normandy landings. In the car park is an American Sherman tank which was dragged from below the surface of the Bay.
It has been erected as a memorial to 940 American soldiers who lost their lives during a disastrous pre- D-day training exercise during one night in April of 1944.
After a lunch and a couple of hours on the beach, we continued on our journey to Dartmouth where I was able to park quite close to the Castle. Dartmouth Castle came into being during the 1380’s when it was thought that the town was likely to be attacked by the French. During Henry VIII’s reign, because of his break with the Church of Rome and because all the countries of Europe were threatening war against England, the Castle was enlarged and given artillery towers and an iron chain which could be stretched across the estuary to a tower on the far bank.
During the Napoleonic wars the Castle was again further strengthened.
The Castle is now in the care of English Heritage.
We had a birthday to celebrate during the morning so we spent the time in the conservatory until lunch time. During the afternoon we walked across the sands to Burgh Island.
The Island is around 400 yards from the mainland with about 700 yards of sandy beach between the two water lines. At high tide the water is up to seven feet deep on the causeway. The tide changes rapidly and should you find yourself marooned because of the rising water, you can always pay to have the sea-tractor ferry you across to the main-land.
On the Island is a 13thCentury Inn – The Pilchard so named because in the 1800’s fishermen caught vast numbers of pilchards around the Island, stored them in barrels of salt and sent them to market. After several years the pilchard stocks diminished so that now, pilchards are rarely seen in these waters.
The other building on the Island is the Hotel. In the late 1920’s the Island was bought by Archibald Nettlefold, a film producer and the then owner of Walton Film Studios. He built a grand hotel in the latest ‘30’s style with palm court and sumptuous suites. Among his frequent guests were the likes of Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, the Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson. The hotel is open to dinner guests starting at £75 per person however, dinner is included in an over-night stay. Each suite can be had for £750 per night.
Today we set off down the A38 for a few miles before turning off towards Dartmoor to visit the estate on which there is the Canonteign Falls. The estate used to belong to Viscount and Lady Exmouth and in 1890 after the closure of the estate’s silver mines, the redundant miners were set to work building a man-made waterfall with leats to power various water driven machines on the estate. The waterfalls are the highest man-made falls in England, measuring 70metres high.
I persevered through the woods and upwards to the base of the falls, but then a long arduous climb continued via ninety uneven steps which takes you on a circuitous climb round the top of the falls and back down on a different route. I settled for the walk to the base of the falls, leaving daughters and grandson to do the climb and circular walk. .
We decided on another beach trip today. This time to the National Trust beach and car park at South Milton. Fortunately we arrived early enough to secure one of the remaining parking places. Others who arrived later queued on the road for a space. Others set off on the long trek back to find another beach. After lunch the family took a walk along the cliff coastal path whilst I took a nap. The view inland from the car park was as equally beautiful as that looking out to sea. In the evening we drove to the next village where we found another lovely little pub to have dinner.
On Friday I programmed the Tomtom with the coordinates for a car park at Salcombe. We set off down the hill to the Tidal Road only to find that the water was still too deep to allow us to cross without damage to the car.
We waited for fifteen minutes or so as we watched the water line recede. Finally I drove through three inches of water for a hundred yards or so. Thirty minutes later we arrived at the car park where we found it ¾ full. It filled rapidly quite quickly after our arrival. With very little of the beach being exposed, the girls and Sam set out to have a walk. I was quite content to sit on the sea wall doing some people watching. But not for long. Within minutes a helicopter flew into the bay where it hovered above our heads and then began to descend, filling our eyes with blown sand. The machine settled on the grass alongside the car park where the rotor finally stopped and doctor and paramedics jumped out and ran across to the restaurant and beach shops.
After twenty minutes or so an ambulance also arrived and after quite some time, a youngish chap was stretchered out and with heart monitor balanced across his middle he was loaded into the ambulance. After a further delay the medical team returned to their helicopter, standing around finishing their huge ice cream cornets before boarding and taking off, leaving us to hang onto our hats and shielding our eyes from the violent down draught.
Later in the evening we adjourned to the Pickwick Inn for a final meal before preparing for the journey home the next day.
As I drove home towards Stonehenge, I decided to do a small detour. The British Army has had a presence on Salisbury Plain for more than 120 years but after World War-1 the War Office began buying up huge tracts of land so becoming the landlord to many farmers. The ground they purchased also included Imber, an ancient, isolated village with a 13th Century church set in the centre of the Plain. So all the villagers became tenants of the War Office. In 1943 villagers and farmers all received letters telling them that within 43 days, they must leave their properties. . The date by which everyone had to be gone was just one week before Christmas. No one other than military personnel has been allowed into that part of the Plain for many years, hence it’s the only area in the Country without post codes. But recently without any public announcement, the Ministry of Defence has allowed access to the village church for one week during August. I was curious to see what had become of the remote village.
The church was built in the 13th Century and stands on an earlier building from the previous century.
At one time it was rich in fittings and furnishings however most have been removed and scattered among other churches in Wiltshire. The building is now just a shell however the army has kept it in a reasonable state of repair with the bell tower still functioning. Because of some 13th and 15th Century wall paintings which are still faintly visible on the walls, in 2005 the church was given a Grade 1 listing and its care and preservation was handed to The Churches Conservation Trust.
As for the rest of the village, most of the once thatch-roofed cottages have been pulled down and replaced with groups of skeleton houses built without windows and doors and roofed with pressed steel roofs. Likewise the former manor house has had its windows and doors boarded up. A third floor built into what was once a dormered roof has also gone, to be replaced by a factory-like steel roof . The ‘village’ is now used by special forces as a training ground for simulated house to house combat.
This blog may be seen with many more pictures at https://jondogoescaravanning. com/another-summer-in-devon-august-2018/
A full week with nothing in the diary so why not take the caravan down to Kent for a few days. My first choice was Black Horse Farm at Folkestone but it was fully booked for some of the nights I wanted so instead I looked at Daleacres on Romney Marsh. They had pitches available so I booked. I was quite looking forward to seeing the place again. The last time we went there as a family, taking our Siamese cat with us was in 1970. I have memories of our cat taking himself off for a prowl along the hedgerows and proudly returning with a freshly caught vole.
For my first drive out from the site I drove twenty miles along the coast to visit Samphire Hoe Nature Reserve, just outside Dover. The entrance is from the dual carriageway – the side which leaves Dover and heads towards Folkestone. Entry is down a one-way, traffic-light controlled tunnel cut through the cliff. The road comes out onto what used to be the narrow beach at the foot of the cliffs.
If you are into DIY you’ve probably at some time been faced with getting rid of unwanted soil. If it’s just a bucket full, you may have sneaked it into the dustbin or if it was a bit more, taken it to the rubbish tip. The last little bit of block paving I laid to extend my drive, produced two cubic meters of earth – enough to fill a small skip. But what if you’ve got FIVE MILLION cubic metres of the stuff to get rid of. What do you do with that? ……... You build a nature reserve.
Back in the early 1980’s when the Channel Tunnel was being planned, there were lots of suggestions as to how the spoil from the tunnel boring could be got rid of. The winning solution was to create Samphire Hoe. They began by sinking two rows of sheet piles out into the sea from the base of the cliff. After they’d gone straight out to sea for a ¼ of a mile, they made a 90 degree turn and continued putting in the piles parallel with the cliff for a mile. The piling then made a 45 degree turn towards the cliff, finally enclosing the area at the base of the cliff. The three metre wide space between the piles was then filled with mass concrete. In all, the area covered around 75 acres. Once it was pumped dry, it was into this space that the builders of the tunnel dumped the chalk.
And why the name, Samphire? In Victorian times fishermen who lived along the beach in wooden huts also collected Samphire, a type of sea vegetable. It was stored in barrels of sea water and sent up to London on the newly built railway to supply the Victorian catering trade.
After a walk through the reserve, I drove to the White Cliffs National Trust car park. Walking along the top of the cliffs you get a bird’s eye view of the activity in the Port of Dover.
On the way back to Daleacres I visited the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial which is built on what used to be a World War-2 airfield situated on the high ground to the west of Dover. The memorial is laid out in the form of a giant propeller with a sculpture of a young airman dressed ready and waiting for the the next order for take off.
A semi-circle of panels bearing the names of all the young people who gave their lives during that short period forms a backdrop. To one side of the complex are two WW2 aircraft. A Spitfire and a Hurricane.
On my second day I drove towards Canterbury to visit Howletts Wild Animal Park. I left early, wanting to get most of my visit done before it became too hot. I arrived just as it was opening at 9. 30.
The Park began as a private zoo in 1957 on a large country estate owned by the gambler, John Aspinall. During the 1950s gambling was illegal except for when it took place on race courses - and on postal football pools. Aspinall bent the law by hosting private gaming parties for members of the aristocracy where fabulous amounts of money were lost during the course of an evening. Aspinall’s hobby was keeping exotic pets. Amongst his collection he kept baby lion cubs and monkeys. In 1974 he became involved in the disappearance of one of his gambling friends, Lord Lucan. Lucan was facing charges of murder for killing his children’s nanny, mistaking her in the dark for his wife. Before he could be brought before the court, he disappeared, and so escaped justice. It was believed but not proved that Aspinall had helped in his disappearance.
The zoo is now run by the Aspinal Foundation on the Howletts country estate with the mansion being at the centre. The animal enclosures are laid out on either side of a circular route around the estate. To visit every enclosure involves a great amount of walking, however I was only able to manage a comparatively short distance before retracing my steps back to the entrance. Some form of transport would definitely be an asset.
Saturday the 14th of October 1066……. …That was the day Harold, fresh from his victory at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, met his adversary, Duke William of Normandy. The two armies were evenly matched however, the forced march from Yorkshire, left Harold at a disadvantage. A close-combat battle had continued for most of the day, but by nightfall, Harold was dead and the English army was in disarray.
William lost no time in building castles, giving grants of land to his knights, and savagely dealing with any resistance. By Christmas, he had himself crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
History has it that the Pope ordered William to do penance for killing so many people during his conquest of England so in response, he ordered the building of an Abbey on the site of his first battle on English soil.
So on Wednesday my first stop on my tour was to visit the site of the battle and see the remains of the once great Abbey.
Building began in 1070 but the great church was not finished until 1094, by which time William was dead. The church was designed so that it’s high altar was positioned on the spot where Harold supposedly met his death. The Abbey continued to flourish right up to 1538 when Henry the Eighth ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry took the treasure but the Abbey and much of its lands was given to his friend and Master of the Horse, Sir Anthony Browne, who demolished the church and parts of the cloisters and turned the abbot's quarters into a country house.
Later in the day I stopped off in Rye, one of the Cinque Ports. In medieval times the town was a flourishing sea port but because of the silting up of the river, it now stands several miles from the sea. I wanted to walk up Mermaid Street where the ancient Mermaid Inn is situated.
The building declares that it was built in 1420. I also came here for the first time in 1958 when the river frontage had been converted to look like the French town for the film “Dunkirk” with John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee was being made.
From Rye I made my way across to Dungeness, a desolate shingle promontory said to be one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe. It continues to build up year on year so that in all, the area has had seven different lighthouses. The two modern power stations dominate the landscape but I headed off to the train station where the train had just ended its journey across the marsh.
The miniature train is built in a 1/3rd size from normal. It was the brain child of two model engineers who first started with one train running on a much shorter length of track. Now a service runs from Hythe to Dungeness.
I ended my day with a look at the beach at Littlestones.
Very little has changed from when we used to come here on caravanning weekends in the 1970’s. Close by is one of the Martello Towers.
These were built during the period when Napoleon was threatening invasion. Originally, all along the coastline from the Wash round to Hastings, 103 towers were built. The design (and name) was said to be copied from a circular fort on Mortella Point in Corsica.
My first stop today was less than a mile from Daleacres. I wanted to take a stroll along the Royal Military Canal. Following the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte had a vision of a united Europe under French rule. His eyes turned towards England as his first target. He supposedly said, “All my thoughts are directed towards England. I want only for a favourable wind to plant the Imperial Eagle on the Tower of London.” The British government were alarmed and were particularly worried about the flat Romney Marsh as a landing for invasion. Plans were quickly drawn up to build a circular canal running from Hythe in the east to Rye in the west – a distance of 19 miles. It would be 20yards wide and 3. 5 yards deep and all dug by hand with shovel and wheel barrow. However before it was completed Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar gave Napoleon other things to think about. Now the Canal remains a lovely place to walk and to see some beautiful scenery and wild-life.
Later in the morning I drove into Dover and went to visit the Castle. I was here two years ago but only saw a small part of what’s there. After a quick look again at the Keep and the Roman Lighthouse,
I headed for the Secret Wartime Tunnels. The first tunnels under Dover Castle were dug in the Middle Ages. Then again more were dug during the Napoleonic Wars as a barracks to accommodate up to 2000 troops. In May 1940, as France was over-run by the German advance, the tunnels became the nerve centre for 'Operation Dynamo' which was the code name for the evacuation of the British Army from Dunkirk's beaches. Admiral Ramsay was in charge of operations and his efforts are commemorated in a statue of him standing on the cliff tops.
In the Second World War there was also a hospital in the tunnels complete with operating theatre. The main military telephone exchange was installed in the tunnels in 1941. It linked Dover to the Admiralty, the War Office and the Air ministry and to fighter airfields. As one stands on the deck of a P&O ferry approaching Dover harbour, it’s hard to imagine all the huge rooms and tunnels, plus all the activity that went on inside the cliffs and under the Castle.
Next day we had rain. The first wet day for weeks – but it was also the day for my return home.
To see this account with many more pictures go to my website here
Fitting a new window regulator isn’t a caravan job – unless you happen to be a motor-caravanner. Most door windows these days are operated by the flick of a switch. They’re great – until suddenly they don’t work. Whatever the make of car, they nearly all have the same type of mechanism. See the picture below. ................. The wires rust where they go around the pulleys. ...... Eventually, a wire snaps.
One afternoon at the end of February, just before I was due to return home from Spain, I drove out of the site. I did what many other Brit drivers do. I dropped the passenger window, pushed my phone ‘selfie’ stick through the opening and waved it in front of the barrier control box. Because my electronic opener was fixed in the selfie stick the barrier opened and I drove through. Then I closed the window. But it didn’t work! All I got was graunchy noises from the window motor and no movement of the glass. Instead of going out, I returned to my plot to see what could be done. I quickly realized the electric motor wasn’t going to close the window. By pulling and pushing, I managed to raise the glass to its closed position, but it was just as easy to push down again. With black plastic tape and rubber wedges I got it to look reasonably secure. A local garage quoted me 600 Euros to fix but not until the following week. I would be on my way home by then. It would have to stay as it was.
I got a replacement regulator delivered shortly after getting home but cold, wet weather persuaded me to stay indoors Then for eight weeks a surgical procedure put my left hand out of use, so only now have I got around to doing the job.
This is how to put it right. First to remove are the plastic trims around door pulls and arm rest. They can be gently prized off with a small screwdriver, but take care – they are fragile. Beneath the trims are the screws which hold the arm rest on. Next to remove is the inner door card, held by ten or so plastic fittings which push into drilled holes. The plastic fasteners inevitably snap as the card is levered off, so it’s as well to order replacements. Usually the supplier of the regulator offers plastic fasteners of the correct type for your car. Fixed to the inside of the door, under the door lining is a damp barrier which has to be taken off. If you use a suitable knife to cut the adhesive the sheet can be reused. Inside the door there are several electric connectors for the lift motor, the door mirror, the window switch, foot-well lighting, the central locking and radio speaker. All need to be disconnected. At this point it’s as well to remove the speaker. Mine was held in with pop-rivets which I drilled out. It’s sometimes suggested that the window glass should be removed from the door completely but I lifted mine by hand to it’s top position, then secured it with duct tape. But before doing that, the two screws holding the lift sliders to the glass should be taken out. The regulator rails and motor are held by six screws. They need to be removed and the guide rails and motor manoeuvred out of the door cavity. The lift motor is bolted to one arm of the regulator. Three screws are removed and the motor comes away from the regulator. Broken lengths of wire and springs may have fallen to the bottom of the door cavity. They too should be removed.
Whilst doing this job it’s advisable to wear nitrile or latex gloves. Not only is the regulator very greasy but the edges of the inner door are unbelievably sharp.
The motor spindle is fitted into the new winding drum and the holding bolts tightened. If not already done, coat the wires with as much grease as is possible, then manoeuvre the unit into the door and loosely replace the four torx screws. Temporarily reconnect the motor wiring so that the lift motor can be parked in a suitable position so as to allow the glass to be attached to carriers. When they are in such a position, the glass can be slowly slid down and the window secured to the sliders. With the screws tightened and the motor reconnected, the window should be closed and the two top regulator screws tightened. Leaving them loose allows the rails to adjust to a suitable position. Now open the window fully and tighten the bottom two screws. Check that the lift mechanism is working correctly. If it closes, then re-opens, the ecu needs to be reprogrammed. On my car it’s simply done by holding the switch in the closed position for ten seconds. All the electrical connections can be remade and it’s as well to test each function before proceeding further. If everything is correct, the membrane can be replaced and the door card refitted.
Since it was a first time for this job it took me two leisurely mornings – (by 11. 30 the sun had got around and it was too hot to carry on) The Spanish garage wanted to charge me €600. Maybe they quoted for a new motor. I don’t know what an English garage would have charged, but total cost to me was 40 quid so I was well pleased with the outcome.
The new regulator fitted inside the door cavity.
The plastic membrane replaced prior to refitting the door card