This week in bigger pixs

    Monday 10th March 2014 week 142 Spain

    The course of true love.

    As you know I'm not one for gossip, however....! I got it wrong! The party on Friday evening, our eighth or possibly our ninth I've lost track, wasn't thrown to celebrate someone’s wedding anniversary but thrown as a leaving do.

    Two years ago a British couple arrived here to spend the winter. While here the lady took a shine to a local Spanish gentleman. He, in turn, took more than a passing interest in her. Now since neither of them were in their first flush of anything, events moved at a rapid pace. So much so, we woke one morning to discover she'd left her husband to shack up with her new fancy man. I say fancy man but he is ….., well put it this way, should a film company wanted to throw Bob Hoskins down a flight of stairs, he'd made an excellent stunt double. I think it fair to say everyone took this news on the chin, even, surprisingly, the now 'ex' partner.

    She did, on a couple of occasions, return to the marital motor-home to collect her personal belongings, this is traditionally when it can all kick off. But again, surprisingly, all seemed well. There was no shouting, screaming and no accusations of infidelity. He struck me as taking a somewhat philosophical view of the whole débâcle, not that I ever mentioned the unfolding events whenever I bumped into him. You can't. Well I can't. What can you say? While women find it easy to rake over the evidential detritus of a marital break up, men simply can't. Us blokes in these situations are apt to say fairly stupid things. Such as: “Well plenty more fish in the sea” and “Cheer up! women are like buses, another one be along in a minute” Or the most popular bit of advice and certainly the least helpful, “You just need to get your leg over ASAP, you’ll forget her then”.  In short, we are bloody hopeless. Besides, the last thing any bloke wants is a chap crying on his shoulder telling you how much he loved her and how much he is missing her, how dreadfully embarrassing for all concerned.

    I did learn, later, that when she'd collected her belongings she'd also taken her husbands laptop and given it to her new boyfriend. -I can't vouch for the accuracy of that story- But stealing a man's wife is one thing, but his laptop!! that's seriously crossing the Rubicon in my book, a point of no return.

    Anyway Friday night was for her. This because, as in some of the very best and most tragic of love stories, love, really doesn’t always run smoothly. One assumes she'd had enough, and was flying out the next morning to the UK into the forgiving arms of her loving ex.

    So we all a little surprised when she walked in towing her Spanish lover, after all, surely he had nothing to celebrate? We were wrong. Such is the complexity of modern romance today half way through the evening she grabbed the microphone and announced she wasn't returning the UK! Her Spanish boyfriend had proposed marriage and she had accepted. She was, therefore, staying!. By this time in the evening I doubt anyone much cared whether she was going, staying or moving to Timbuktu, we were all having a such a jolly good time.

    Meanwhile back in the UK her ex was in receipt of her cat. She had the animal shipped out to him a few days earlier. I'm led to believe that when he heard the news of the impending wedding he wasn’t a happy chappie.

    The pussy he's ended up with, wasn't the one he'd hoped for. (Ouch!. Ed)





  Tuesday 11th March 2014 week 142 Spain

    On the road again!

    We said our farewells to friends both new and old at the weekend and got back on the road. We'd had a great time and enjoyed some first rate company. Many thanks to all concerned.

    Now I'd like to report the journey north was uneventful, but it wasn't. After two hundred and fifty miles of driving we arrived at our destination with what I should imagine was little more than two pints of diesel sloshing around in the tank. Earlier the sat nav confidently predicted there was a Repsol garage on our very exit off the A66 motorway, so I wasn't unduly worried the low fuel warning light had been blinking at me nervously for quite some time.

    I do have this mildly annoying habit, so Hazel is apt to point out, of leaving putting fuel in the tank until I'm down to fumes. It's an accusation I struggle to defend. Why I don't just fill the tank and be done with it I don't know, quite possibly madness on my part. I seem to spend half the time nursing the vehicle along, selecting higher gears, coasting down inclines in an effort to conserve fuel.

    As we pulled off I was comforted to see the Repsol Garage. However this was short lived when we realised, as we drove onto the forecourt, it was closed, and had been for some time. OK, no worries. Plan B. The site was only four miles away. We would head there and worry about fuel later.

What a glorious day, could that sky be any bluer?.

    I'd mentioned last week I'd checked out this camp-site on google earth. I said at the time it looked a little bleak and off the beaten track being, as it was, up some unmade road. Well, if the camp site looked bleak from a satellite, it looked positively desolate sat outside it. A note on the door said: 'Open April 2014.' This, after their website boasted: 'We are open all year!'. Clearly they had forgotten to stipulate which year that was. I checked with the sat-nav. The nearest camp-site was one in Caceres, twenty five miles away. I swung around and headed back. Mentally I silently formulated plan C. This involved me getting the scooter off the trailer and going to find diesel and a mechanic should I run out. I kept this plan to myself. (Coincidentally this is exactly the plan I had in mind for him should we have conked out. Ed).

    However, fortune, as we al know, favours the bold and we fell upon a garage in the middle of nowhere. Was I smug? Of course not. I might have been the first customer of the afternoon, perhaps even the day. A old weathered chap in petrol soaked overalls ambled slowly over smoking a fag. Clearly he wasn't conversant with all the safety issues around the supplying of inflammable liquids to the public. I guess he'd been doing this for years. I doubt there was anything you could have told him about the explosive nature of fuel he didn't already know. That, or he'd never given much thought to the whole process. I instantly liked and respected him.

    For obvious reasons I was mighty pleased to see him, he probably thought all English men get a tad over excitable when meeting a petrol pump attendant, I don't know. He gave me half a tank. I thanked and paid him. He shoved the money into his back pocket and struck up another cigarette. As I gunned the engine and sped away from the forecourt I looked in the rear view mirror half expecting the old man to be engulfed in flames, thankfully he wasn't. I did consider however at what point would his overalls, especially at the hight of a Spanish summer, simply spontaneously combust?. Its a poser.





  Wednesday 12th March 2014. Week 142 Spain

    Don't ring me.

    This camp-site is one we've stopped at before. Its a popular stop over point for campers travelling north south or vice versa. It deserves a brief mention for no other reason than that it provides a singularly unique camping experience. All one hundred and thirty three pitches have their very own brick out-house, basically a wet room shower and loo, that's a first, anywhere.

    We booked in and started to pitch up. In uncoupling the trailer I discovered the jockey wheel had vanished. This is not entirely uncommon. What happens is the vibration slowly unwinds the jockey wheel till it unscrews itself completely and falls out onto the road. Some people tie the handle to stop this happening, as you can see I don't. -Clearly the makers of these things have never considered fitting a pin to stop this from happening- Often the top part, which is held in by a clamp, remains, but in our case the whole thing had disappeared, so whether it had been stolen -unlikely- when we parked outside the supermarket or fell out? I don't know.

Apparently when it rains one of us has to pop out.

    Mildly annoyed at my misfortune and the makers of jockey wheel assembliesaround the world, We set about settling in. I checked my phone for wi-fi signal strength. Least I would have done had I been able to turn the bloody thing on, I couldn't. I fannied around with it for twenty minutes pressing the on off switch with varying degrees of pressure and at various speeds in an effort to coax it back to life. I tried a relaxed casual press, then an angry press and then in conjunction with other buttons. I tried, its fair to say, pressing the on/off button every way humanly imaginable but nothing would revive it, I'm guessing its fucked. When I explained this to Hazel she said, all too philosophically in my book: 'these things don't last forever you know'. Hang on, I've only had it eighteen months and it cost a hundred and fifty quid. What is the world coming to?. I'd expect anything that cost me £150 to last a tad longer than 18 months, wouldn't you?. Don't get me wrong, I didn’t harbour visions of me bequeathing it to anyone in my last will and testament, but come on? Really? 18 months. And apparently this is not uncommon for cell phones, they have an incredibly short life. Oddly, and I looked this up, I've not made it up to get a cheap laugh but cell phones have a reported shelf life of yes, you guessed, it 18 bloody months, that’s official. In the USA, last year, 141 million mobile phones were thrown away, there's are only 300 million Americans in America!

    People, it seems, don't keep them longer than 18 months. This because contract customers get upgrades sent to them practically weekly and PAYG customers live, waiting, for the next incarnation of the phone they already have. Mobile phone technology grows exponentially and each new phone has built in 'planned obsolescence'. They get bigger screens. More pixels. More memory. Today’s predictive text doesn’t just try and finish the word for you it tries to guess what you're thinking. Mine offers me, well it did, words that I might find useful in ending my sentence, this before I've even formulated them in my head.

    (sometimes with hilarious results. Ed)

    Hi son, you'll have to get your own dinner tonight as I'm eating your mum out.


    Oops, I mean eating out your mum.

    Not made anything any clearer Dad?

    I mean Taking out your mum......

    I have, if you read my dairy regularly, a love hate relationship with mobile phones. We have all come to rely on them and to be honest, they’re still not that good We just think they are because we're all dazzled by technology in much the same way Incas where once dazzled with shiny babbles.







    Thursday 13th March 2014 week 142 Spain.


    These are our last few days in Spain before making for France and then the UK. Once back in blighty we'll pick up fresh provisions, apparently we are out of Oxo cubes, do some legal stuff and then head off once again.

    Now I did toy with the idea of catching the ferry from Bilboa back to the UK but after my last voyage, in which I almost turned myself inside out, I've chosen the far easier crossing at Calais. The lyrics of one old song might suggest: I left my heart in San Francisco, but I assure you, I definitely left my stomach in the Bay of Biscay, I vowed never to make that crossing again.

    Driving, at this time of the year, up through France is going to be dearer than a ferry ticket but not by that much. On this occasion I'm happy to cough up the extra Euros, besides, I'll enjoy looking at the French countryside far more than the bottom of a P&O toilet bowl.

The Town Plaza

    We are travelling further north tomorrow, 180 miles, to Tordesillas. I have to say, not that you’ll necessarily want to hear this, but the weather the past week has been wonderful. The only negative with our last camp site, Pinar San Jose where we wintered, was the wind. It can blow for days, its famous for it. Here there’s been a balmy breeze blowing which made cycling into town..... well, a breeze.

    This camp-site is on the outskirts of the small city of Caceres, a city of just 97k souls. It's next to the football stadium and across from the industrial park. Fortunately, none of that is evident once you're inside the camp so don't let that put you off visiting. The camp site does have free wifi. The city itself is very handsome and looks quite prosperous. There was no shortage of shoppers out yesterday, enjoying the clear azure blue skies and warmth for the midday Sun, it really was very pleasurable.

    The newer part of the city has sprung up around the old walled town which is at it's heart and is in remarkable condition. Its a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has some wonderful buildings within it and all still very much in use. It's not become a museum solely for tourists thankfully. The town square (Plaza Major, Ed) is, as you can see, splendid. We had lunch and watched the world go by and one point we had to move into the shade as it was too hot.

Town from ye olden days....of yore.

    When we were here a year or so ago and while walking around the old part of the town we came upon the splendid old 13th century Cathedral. From within, we heard the sound of a choir so we sneaked in to have a listen. Inside it was full to the gunnel’s with civil dignitaries, police, military, the mayor, many in ceremonial dress, the rest in formal attire. We had gatecrashed some ceremony or other. We skulked away at the back in the shadows. Twenty minutes later the ceremony ended and everyone filed out. Led by a 'collection' of priests – I doubt that's the collective name but it'll do- swinging something smoking on the end of a bit of string. Hazel and I tacked onto the end of the procession. Outside a small crowd had gathered. I did wonder if someone in the waiting throng may have wondered: 'who the fxxk are those two?'.

    I fought the urge to give them a royal wave, (well we are King's! Ed).






 Friday 14th march 2014 week 142 Spain

    What’s on my mind.

    Like millions of others I'm made to feel guilty, by so called experts, because I don't take better care of myself. For example, I don't get five a day. Does anyone? And I certainly don't exercise enough. Thing is, what's enough? I have this seventy year old friend who regularly cycles up this huge, steep, half mile long hill. I tried it once. It was embarrassing. Half way up I collapsed in a heap. I couldn't talk. It was all I could do, after ten minutes of gasping for air, to beg to be thrown into an oxygen tent to stop me getting the bends or whatever it is you suffer from when you've seriously overdone it. The thing is, does he really need to be that fit? He's seventy for Christ's sake! He's gotta start taking life easy at some point surely. I've been taking it easy since I was seventeen. So my question is: Do any of us need to be that fit? I suspect not. The trouble is we all listen to far too many experts and I've warned you about those buggers before.

    Fitness experts suggest you should try to take 10.000 steps a day, this equates to about five miles. Turns out, that’s bollocks. (Wrong, would have worked just as well. Ed). Recent research from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says, authoritatively, that 7,000 is fine. They go on to say, and this is really encouraging, you should aim for around 150 minutes of exercise per week. That translates into a brisk 20 minute walk a day! Well bugger me sideways if I knew keeping fit was going to be that easy I'd have started long ago. It turns out that this number 10,000, actually came from the first pedometers manufactured in the 60s by a Japanese company who named them 'manpo-kei' which translates into 10,000 steps meter. The figure was never handed down by some fitness guru but by a bloody ad agency.

    Health experts advise us we should aim to drink eight glasses of water a day to keep us fully hydrated and healthy. That’s a load of old........ There’s no specific amount of water any one of us needs to drink. This wholly inaccurate figure stems from research conducted in Australia in 1945 which suggested that people should consume 2.5 litres of water per day when goofing around in the outback. That volume of water, today, is considered totally unnecessary. People get much of their fluid intake from food and drinks, tea coffee etc. In truth you can live healthily and never drink a glass of water in your entire life! Now that’s not something new to me, I knew this ( because I told him years ago!Ed). And it explains why I've always felt the urge to shoot people who carry around a bottle of water telling me 'They need to stay hydrated or get their electrolytes back into sync'. It's simply a ridiculous affection devised by a multi billion pound bottled water industry whose aim in life is to flog us over priced water, a commodity that comes out of our taps at a minuscule cost by comparison.

    Fitness experts also tell us that stretching before undertaking any form of exercise is a must to prevent injury, right? Wrong. According to a study of 3,000 runners in the journal of the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the risk of injury is the exactly the same for people who stretch before exercising as for those who don't. What's more, prolonged stretching for longer than a minute can actually be bad for you. It's better to stretch after your workout, when it's considered to be most effective.

    Experts, I've said countless times don't listen to them. Its a scam. Experts reckon sugar makes kids hyper. Wrong. It doesn’t. Twelve independent studies have tried to find a link between sugar intake and behavioural problems with kids, none were detected. There was no measurable differences between children who had eaten sugar and those that hadn't. While there is plenty of evidence kids should avoid sugar, obesity and dental disease being two obvious ones, being a pain in the arse to your parents isn't one of them.


    You have a relaxing and expert free weekend.  




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