We’ve been spending a lazy Sunday at a lovely campsite near Comillas, west of Santander. It’s been lovely to have a little downtime – we’ve hardly had any so far. Adrian fitted new gear selectors to my bike and tweaked his own bike to work better (the brakes now work!) following advice from Jono. As ever, the bit that was feared hardest (adjusting the gears) was easiest, and the bit presumed easiest (fitting new hand grips, having had to cut the old ones off to remove the old selectors) was a nightmare – par-boiling them first was the key… We then went on a slow bike ride around the nearest villages. We’d hoped to make it into Comillas but the long never ending hill got on our nerves and tested our, ahem, level of fitness too much for our chilled out Sunday so we turned round after a while and whizzed back down the hill to test the local sidra (cider) and calamari at the village pub instead. Oh well. Back at the site, I repacked some of my stuff to make the clothes I’m needing most at the moment easier to access and putting away other stuff for later in the trip (yes of course I have too much almost needless to say). I’m ever amazed at just how much stuff this van has been able to accommodate with room to spare. While I was packing, Adrian did some initial drawing practice (one of our aims on the trip is to improve our art-related skills) and started reading Laurie Lee’s ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’ about the writer’s journey in Spain in the 30s leading up to the Spanish Civil War.
We’ve got our daily routines going with packing up the van for the road, filling water, emptying grey waste water, tying our Indian elephant hangy bell thing back and closing the roof vent, our vague direction and approximately the right page in the atlas found, our main general chores for the day such as finding a cashpoint, petrol, bakery, supermarket or internet connection agreed. As well as blogging when we can as we go along, I’m also keeping a logbook – a basic daily write up of the route taken, kilometres driven, when we fill-up, shop etc and the highlights of each day.
We’ve mainly been staying in campsites so far, taking advantage of the lower off season rates and discounts, and space, and this one has been one of the best so far. The standard of cleanliness has been quite impressive throughout though value for money does vary quite a bit. At most of the campsites we’ve been able to choose a pitch and spend the first half an hour organising the van, opening a bottle of something and checking loos and showers.
We aim to do more wild camping as we go on – but we are slightly affected by our decision not to have an onboard loo. We don’t have space in the van for a separate loo cubicle, so would have had to have had a ‘chemikhazi’ in the middle of the van hidden under a stool (so to speak) right where we eat and sleep. Far less than ideal for us, although some other T25 owners do have this set up. So we need to wild camp in remoter more hidden places – our preferred choice anyway – rather than the aires or basically car parks where rows of fridge freezer style motorhomes are allowed to stop for the night. We do have an emergency ‘ploo’ on board though and are of course extremely discreet and sensitive to our natural surroundings when camping wild!
Most of our fellow travellers are so far tending to be older couples, many from the Netherlands, who have been touring southern Europe for weeks or months and are now on the way back home for the summer. An English couple here on the site got the boat to Santander and are into their third week just at this site! We hope to meet more ‘like-minded’ souls as we continue.
We’ll most likely head off again tomorrow from here in search of the Picos de Europa – a mountain range and national park an hour or so south west of here – one of our key destinations in Spain.