The photo above was taken at 8am on 31st October and heralded a wonderfully warm and sunshiney Asturian day.

This photograph however, taken just a few days later, shows how quickly it can change! image

Tomorrow we are setting off for England.

The Girl Dog has been de-ticked and wormed (much to her disgust), the bags are packed, the house is clean and friends farewelled.

It’s always hard to leave but needs must as dinero has to be earned and commitments fulfilled, plus we get to see The Daughter and The Youngest for Christmas as well as catch up with good friends (lunch is already booked with the BF)!

Sadly, our little Boy Dog, won’t be making the trip back as he died, very peacefully in my arms, in September. We miss him so much.

However, one of the best parts of leaving anywhere is the coming back. Spring can’t come soon enough!

The gardeners are in…


We are trying out a new gardening company…Maureen and her son Buster. Aren’t they fabulous? She is so friendly and loves to  start the day having her head scratched between her horns. He is a little darling who is overcoming his shyness.

Girl Dog is not impressed as they are impeding her tractor chasing duties!


Settling in


The weather is gloriously spring like and Himself decided to make the most of it by digging over the old vegetable patch at the side of the house. Into this we will be planting onions, beans of various persuasions (haricot, broad and runner), peas, carrots, beetroot, leeks and a variety of herbs…for starters. The soil is actually very good which given that we live on the side of a mountain came as a nice surprise. All we need to add is a bit of compost and we’ll be off and self sufficient in vegetable goodness by the end of the summer.

The pups have also settled well. Boy Dog spends his days pottering about the garden, “escaping” through the gate, wandering up the lane to do his business and sitting by the third tree along waiting for one of us to go up and carry him back. Girl Dog just basks her little brown and white tummy in whatever sunshine is available and has hi-jacked the chair by the fire in the evenings.

We’ve also been hugely sociable (we are so not in England now!) and had friends stop over for the night last week, they were on their way to the Gijón-St Nazaire ferry run by LD Lines which cuts out the whole of the tortuous drive down through France to Spain. As it was also our wedding anniversary (that “our” refers to all four of us) we had an even more fun time. These are the only other couple we know who share our anniversary (albeit a few years apart) as April 1st is not a date one often chooses for a lifetime commitment…at least that’s what my Mother said at the time.

We also had lunch with the neighbours…homemade piccadillo (spicy pork mince)’ own chicken eggs, chips and flan….good conversation and laughter…yep, we ended the day fuller than when we started it!

Not only did we have friends to visit, No.1 Son and his Girlfriend cooked for us in their flat. This was huge for us as it was the very first time one of our offspring entertained us in this way! To see No.1 so happy and content warmed the cockles of my Mommy heart. Now, for everything to be perfect…grandchildren would be nice before I get too old!



The weather outside is frightful…


View from the window, New Year’s Day 2014

2014 started in Cornwall with a very wet bang. We’ve been in the grip of some of the worst weather we have experienced for many, many years. Sea walls have been breached, coastal towns flooded, roads impassable and the emergency services have been working at full stretch; the sound of sirens flashing by on the A39 outside our house come with metronomic regularity. Although not as bad as the Armageddon predicted by the media it was still pretty grim. Apparently there is more to come with the Polar Vortex due to sweep our way once it has finished with the USA – did you see the pictures in the media of Niagara Falls freezing? Amazing stuff!

However, all has been calm and peaceful con nuestros. In fact we had a lovely Christmas and start to the New Year. Christmas, as always, was spent with just us. We made a resolution when we first got together that we would not be haring all around the country visiting relatives or friends, generally getting stressed out over what should be a quiet and reflective time of celebration. For thirty Christmases that resolution has stood us in good stead. The only thing missing this year was The Eldest, who is now setting his own traditions with The Girlfriend and had a fun time in Spain slicing and dicing his fingers for Christmas lunch.

On the plus side, our Boy Dog had a wonderful time. He always gets soooo excited when Christmas comes; he susses out which pile of presents are his and on the morning itself sends himself into a mad frenzy of barking and paper ripping. We were very, very worried the week before as he had shown definite signs of deterioration, he was lacklustre, tired, not willing to engage, and just wanting to sleep cuddled up on top of one of his humans. We had to have “The Talk” as to whether it was his time. However, The Youngest put his finger on the problem: me and Himself (clumsy grammar – sorry) had been out of the house 14 hours a day for nearly a fortnight working. Boy Dog was missing us. Once we were home and settled back into our routine he bucked back up to the funny, feisty little chap we know and love. And, of course, we feel guilty as all heck.

In our house the Christmas/New Year celebrations extend well into the first week of January as both The Youngest and I (better grammar) have birthdays a day apart. Great timing for present buying actually as we actively encourage the family to hit the sales to get us more present for their money – works a treat each time! Over the last few years, Himself has always set up a birthday trip; previous trips have included: London, Monmouth and the Wye Valley, Oviedo, Reykjavik and Venice. This time though we wanted to get back to our home in Spain, unfortunately that didn’t work out – the cost of return plane tickets was a trifle exorbitant no matter how we planned it and Brittany Ferries doesn’t start sailing to Spain until the end of February or beginning of March. Interestingly, LD Lines ( is now running a ferry crossing from Poole to Gijon and is very competitively priced – although, to be honest I really didn’t fancy the Bay of Biscay with Hurricane Hercules strutting its stuff. Himself is going to do more research on using LD Lines for future trips as Gijon is much more convenient for us; if they can offer dog friendly cabins they would be onto a winner.

2014 is going to be a time of change for all of us: The Eldest is setting out this week with The Girlfriend to travel around South America and has plans for their future – as long as it includes grandchildren for me and Himself we’ll be happy! The Daughter is planning on moving back to Bristol as Cornwall is sadly lacking in job opportunities for recent graduates and The Youngest is planning on joining the RAF. So me and Himself need to sit down and discuss our future as well….big, scary stuff!

And…We’re Back

Holding Folder 039

Back on Cornish shores…

Because we have a newly blind elderly dog, who has shown remarkable bravery and flexibility in dealing with his disability, we decided  to make other arrangements in travelling to and from Spain. This has meant long journeys down through Brittany and back a couple of times this year and the road home is becoming an old friend, albeit a warty, boring, expensive one.

So, as we needed to get home by mid-November at the latest, we once again girded our loins and set of back through France to catch the ferry at Roscoff. Only this time we planned to do it in one day and without the caravan. It took a  mammoth 13.5 hrs to do 1200km with a total stoppage time of 1.34 hrs. This would have been ten minutes less but I had a traumatic time trying to get out of a locked toilet on an Aire, to the bemusement of a very sweet Frenchman who looked most concerned when I finally broke free. Needless to say Himself, already grumpy with the cost of the tolls, was not impressed with me ‘wasting daylight’! This was then followed by a six hour, nausea inducing crossing, from Roskoff to Plymouth and 90 minutes further driving into the heart of Cornwall. Still, at least we made it home in one piece if not with all dignity intact as, unlike Himself and The Eldest (who is a Merchant Navy Professional) I am not a good sailor.

The Kids were pleased to see us. The Daughter yapped solidly for an hour without drawing breath and The Youngest, very well trained from childhood, had chilled the wine ready for me. The house was spotless, if you ignored the bathroom and toilet, where it looked as if a new life form had colonised in our absence. The dogs were ecstatic to see their human counterparts and even more so to go to sleep in a bed that was not moving forwards!

We are both spending time catching up with friends and those members of the family we like (come on admit it – there are always some family members we would rather not spend time with or talk to) and getting ready for Christmas. Oh, and Himself has bought a new motorbike. A big one.

Here we go again….



We loaded up the caravan, manoeuvred it up the short, steep lane to the road, hitched it to the car and took the first steps towards retracing the 1300km back up through Spain and France to catch the Ferry, this time from Roscoff to Plymouth, to get back to Cornwall in time to travel to Bristol to watch our beloved Daughter graduate with a 2:1 (Hons) in International Relations. Oh, the things we do….

It’s been hot, hot, hot! The temperature has been above 32 deg and the air-con in the car gave up just past the Spanish border on Thursday,  so we had to resort to the old fashioned method of opening the windows. However, this time, Himself and I have stayed on speaking terms even when I have been driving!  It helped to have a plan of action: the first night we stayed on an Aire, which had the added bonus of a rather posh shower; the second night we headed back to Camping Le Bateau at Rochefort (Charente Maritime) which we had so enjoyed on the way down.  I so recommend this site! Then today we drove straight through to just beyond Quimper to stay at our friends’ house in Brittany, in preparation for our early start tomorrow (5am for heaven sakes – it still comes as a surprise when I realise there are two 5 o’clocks in one day) then we nip across the channel to Plymouth and head West.

The Pups have been wonderful: Boy Dog always travels well, he hunkers down and stays relaxed all the way through (upside down, legs in the air), Girl Dog sightsees out of the windows, her ears flapping in the breeze and a contented smile on her face. Of course, they just know that at the end of it all they get to see two of their favourite people, after us of course, The Youngest and The Daughter. And, when we come back this way in two weeks time, there is an extra special surprise for them – The Eldest will be waiting for them!

Hitting the road – part 2

Yes, I know. We’re here already so why blog about the journey? Think of it as a self indulgent form of therapy – it’s needed.

 We had left our lovely friends in Brittany to head down the coast towards St Jean-de-Monts where we found a campsite, one amongst dozens, to pitch for the night*. It was OK, geared up for young families and a bit noisy but the staff were pleasant and the weather warm and sunny.

We had a lovely early morning walk on the beach the next day giving the dogs the chance to stretch their short, stumpy legs before setting off towards La Rochelle and Rochefort where we had found a lovely campsite, Camping Le Bateau* right next to the River Charente. We found it through the Caravan Club sites and touring handbook*.

The weather was beautiful and the site so calm and relaxing Himself made the executive decision to stay for two nights to give us a chance to explore the nearby port of La Rochelle. We will be going back. 

 The next stage of the plan was to head to past Bordeaux and to find a place to pitch for the night between there and the Spanish border, before striking for home.

This is where we made a mistake, and in hindsight we should have known better. From Bordeaux it is a long, but achievable drive to our home in Asturias; it takes about 14 hours with stops and shared driving. However, that was on a mercy dash to The Daughter, who spent six months in Bordeaux as part of her gap year, and not pulling a caravan behind us. We should have stopped a lot earlier than we did. Driving down that long, long and, it has to be said, very boring road with the sun in our eyes was a recipe for marital discord. To say we were both evil by 5pm is an understatement. And still we kept driving. By this time it was a matter of endurance along the lines of an Arctic expedition but without the camaraderie and with 80ºF heat.

Why not stop at an Aire?* One of the problems with the Aires in France is that you hear so many stories about robbery from people who have stayed in one overnight. This gives you (well, maybe not you but definitely me) a skewed view about staying on any of them. So, we decided, after considerable (heated) debate to head over the border into Spain and find an Aréa de Servicio* there.

At this point we met the Troll Roads. Roads that are cared for by the lumbering, granite-like, lifeforms who dwell in secret caves and tunnels carved underground sheltered from the heat of the day and who only communicate through speaking tubes to demand payment for passage over and through them. What happens if you don’t pay is the stuff of fairy tales (they make grim reading). Now, Himself had spent a long time preparing the route to avoid said Trolls but hadn’t factored in that certain ‘improvements’ in the system had occurred meaning that the whole of the route from Junction 17 on the A63 to past Bilbao was now Trolled. A whole 30 Euros worth. Add that ‘disappointment’ to the burden of driving almost non-stop since 9am and Himself was not a happy husband.

 Also, there are no Aréa de Servicios on this stretch of road in Spain. So we just kept driving past Bilbao, past Castro Urdiales, past Santander…

 Finally, just as the sun was becoming big, red and unbearably mellow we turned off just outside Torrelavega into a rest area that is well used by weary travellers. So, huddled between large transporter lorries, the caravan, two very tetchy, unspeaking, middle-aged, much marrieds and two extremely tired dogs slept dreamlessly.

And, to think, we’re doing this all over again but in reverse, when we return to England for The Daughter’s graduation at the end of July.

Spain 2011 027

Our mood as we crossed the border into Spain…the actual weather was gorgeous!


  • Les Jardins de L’Atlantique

  • Camping Le Bateau

  • Caravan Europe 1, The Caravan Club Ltd, 2010

  • Aires are large parking areas alongside the main routes which offer free overnight parking and a variety of facilities and can be quite basic with just a set of toilets or more grand and include a service station.

  • Aréa de Servicio, as above but Spanish.

And we’re … off!

Finally, finally, finally we are leaving for Asturias!

The car and caravan are both packed fit to burst, the dog guard fitted to prevent any small Boy Dog or Girl Dog finding their way onto our laps mid-journey, tank filled with diesel, sat-nag keyed in with various destinations, No.2 son is doing a jig of joy…we are READY!

                             Spain 2012 182

            A glimpse of the Picos de Europa

Hitting the road (part 2)

Busy old week again.

We’re not sure when we are going to be able to get to Asturias, hopefully by the end of the month. Things have had to be put on hold as the Boy Dog still isn’t well. He remains lethargic and uninterested in anything apart from food and cuddles. Although he did almost revert to his old self when my best friend came around the other day – he greeted her with his usual charm and sparky yodel and made a lovely fuss of her.  It was good to see that he is still in there.

We had the results back from the tests he underwent – once again all results were within normal parameters. He is now a perplexing conundrum. Our vet (wonderful man) has referred him to a specialist centre in Somerset. Tomorrow we are hitching up to go and stay near the centre in order for Boy Dog to undergo a consultation and further tests. Worrying times.

However, the enforced stay has meant we’ve been able to enjoy a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, with gorgeous weather on Sunday – apparently it was the sunniest Bank Holiday for six years according to the weather forecasters – and we’ve been able to see the azaleas in bloom for a change!

We also voted in the local elections. The Unitary Authority has had numerous problems over the last four years with a coalition of Lib-Dem and Tory councillors running(?) the organisation. Now there is no overall control with the Independents, Tories and Lib-Dems all having around the same number of seats and in talks to decide how to proceed. However the good news is there is now a very strong Labour Group (8 councillors), meaning that there will be a chance of decent debate and responsible oversight, particularly as it has at its heart a former MP with experience of Government and whose passionate commitment brought Objective One to Cornwall.

Now off to sort out the caravan for the next few days. Fingers crossed for the Boy Dog.


One of the azaleas  finally in bloom. There is also a new haiku celebrating May.