Tribes!

You already know I have a thing about tribes right? If not, it’s time you did. We’re on day eleven (I think) of our #SevenFerries trip to the UK to get some paperwork sorted then back again via Portugal and Spain to try ride some of the #CaminoWay on Daisy! Not as a spiritual journey but because we were close by anyway, and I’d always thought I’d like to walk here, (then when I couldn’t walk any more – certainly not any kind of distance), I thought I’d never do this. So in some ways this is a bit of up “up yours!” at mah Eeds as I ride bits of it instead.

We arrived via ferry from the UK a couple of hours ago and we’re tucked inside doing work for the book launch week and writing madly for the next two books. We love wild camping and there’s nothing quite like sitting in Molly working away. But some of the camping is a bit odd. In France they provide free spots of mostly small green patches, but in Spain they do things differently.

They use sporting facility car parks and other tarmac areas that otherwise sit empty. It sounds very odd but it’s brilliant and so clever. Like the French, these stops have rubbish, water, and dumpling facilities for a small fee. It’s often not as pretty, but when you’re only staying to sleep, it really doesn’t matter once it’s dark.

It’s safe, you know you’re welcome, but above all, it feels great to be amongst our own. We’re surrounded by mostly huge beasts, so we’re the babies by a long shot, but as the sun goes down and little lights go on and the little homes light up with cooking and chatting and settling in for the night, as bicycles are strapped down and dishes are washed and out comes the red wine, we feel like we belong in this strange tribe. We’re in the middle of a miniature village.

The guy in the van in front of us offered to move (we didn’t need him to but thanked him), but he doesn’t speak a word of English. Our tribe is made up of all kinds of people from all over the planet. We’re bound by one thing only; this place and our similar journeys! One that knits us together just a little bit. 😊

Nighty night from Spain!!

PS: My Africa my Home eBook is on sale today and tomorrow if you didn’t get your copy before launch!! http://getbook.at/MyAfricamyHome

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Camino!

We are so way off track it’s not funny! We were “supposed” to be doing one of the Camino walking tracks on Daisy through the north of Portugal and Spain on this, our #SevenFerries trip. We hadn’t locked in anything yet other than Ferry number Five from southern France next Tuesday, but we had a whole ten days to look around the place and work out which tracks were actually ridable and find some we could manage on Daisy (and I could manage with my health).

We stopped in Porto for a couple of nights and had a blast. I still need to blog about that I think, but I’m too busy living, writing, and hanging out with him, that there just isn’t enough time. Not that it’s all a bed of roses mind you, we are working our butts off on writing/publishing, we’re working on the stuff we’ve taken this two-year sabbatical to do,  and we’re working on our plans for our Second Half which is set to begin, God willing, towards the end of next year.

We thought we could see the world (or at least much of Europe) in these two years but we’re nearly halfway and we haven’t even begun!! Anyway, I digress (much like this trip) and one last minute decision after another and we found ourselves in the south of Portugal with not enough time for Caminos in the north, pouring rain (so no riding) and trying to find the fastest route to our next ferry port in France yet desperate to get in at least a few days riding!

And that’s when we discovered the Camino Natural Via Verde de la Sierra. Vias Verde are green belts across Spain which are disused train tracks of varying lengths which have been restored for walkers, cyclists and travellers. Much like other Caminos or trails, they are tranquil and beautiful, but unlike many of the older paths which now run alone roadways, these are void of all motorised traffic, and they are wide and flat (both in width and inclines and declines – because that’s what trains do).

In true Spanish style, the rules about no livestock, no vehicles, no animal poop are thoroughly ignored, and I look forward to putting up some videos of us riding through a herd of newborn lambs, one with a death wish.

Yesterday, we rode the Sierra route which is 36 km long, but because we always have to land up in the same spot, we had to ride it both ways! It was the first time I’ve covered over 60km (we did 74 in the end) first time I’ve climbed over 700m in height over a ride, and the twice as long as my longest day with four and half hours in the saddle! We also rode through 60 train tunnels!!

That shows how easy it was and reminded me to dig out my very first Pino ride to show you how it works. (I’ll post both videos on my Facebook author page too)

Anyway, I’m way behind on Why We Don’t Tell which has to go to the final editors in a couple of weeks, so this is a brief catch up.

Tonight was our first sunshine in a week and we’ve moved camp to the edge of this olive grove that reaches as far as the eye can see in every direction… A new via verde tomorrow and then we have to zoom north as fast as we can. And somehow I’ve got to find the time to write!!

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Spain Photos

Some photos just don’t make a daily blog. Either I didn’t do one that day or there were too many things happening, or multiple stories which got lost in bigger or better stories. So now that we’ve left Spain behind, here are some of the “leftovers”…

Watch this space to see some fabulous videos and blogs about some of the fabulous people and food in Spain!!! (When I get the chance… I’m too busy living in the moment but they’ll come!)

#ASeatAtYourTable !

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

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Happiness Is….

Sleeping in the middle of nowhere, tucked deep under the lip of a huge dam wall, among the trees, chickens, donkeys and even the odd mountain goat. I’ll admit it was also a little creepy in a strange way, but it was also wonderful.

After a midnight snack of cheese & hams we found in the fridge, we slept like logs, woke late, cooked oats for breakfast, packed Molly up again, and climbed the steep embankment back up to the roaring freeway hundreds of feet above.

Happiness, for us, is also togetherness, the open road, brave life off the grid, olive trees as far as the eye can see, mountains, alpacas, chickens, and absolutely delightful people…

Go on, zoom in, can you see those olive trees?? I love “order” and I love “natural” and those rarely come together … yet here they do, in spades.

We’ve come on search of Memoirist Alan Parks, deep in the hottest part of Spain (which is a hot country) in the middle of nowhere. It’s also known as the “Frying Pan of Spain” and I’d forgotten that bit when we set out on this journey.

I first read his book, “Seriously Mum, what’s an Alpaca?” a couple of years ago around the same time we coincidently fell in love with alpacas ourselves. Alan does such a good job describing their adventures as Brits giving up the rat race, that I really wanted to come here to see it for myself. This was the same time that we were planning our Second Half, and it was really encouraging to know we weren’t the only crazy people around. So I’ve been following him for a while now and while there’s so much more to tell you, for now, we’re so thankful for a few hours this afternoon with Alan and his adorable partner Lorna. They’re even better in real life and their home is everything the books describes and more.

It’s a magnificent home, a stunning B&B, a true oasis, complete with a never ending running spring (you know, the actual water kind), fresh eggs for breakfast, great stories about real people, real lives, challenges, adventure, and yet more fabulous food!!

But most of it will have to wait till tomorrow!

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

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Still Settling in Spain

We keep having to remind ourselves we’re still settling in and mustn’t be cross when we lose whole days to frustrating things like rearranging Molly, building the Sphinx, sorting out the blown off solar panels or the stupid internet. We’ve set up the absolutely best ever WiFi for Molly so we’re constantly connected which has been amazing… till we crossed the border into Spain. Molly Hot Spot doesn’t like changing countries for some reason so going from the uk to France was fine, France to Belgium slow, Belgium to France again cost £5 and 4 hours in Phone nonsense trying to get hold of idiot help lines to kick her over and eventually he made her work himself (no thanks to them). Going from France to Spain however she just gave up the ghost and won’t work… even after a day of trying grrrrrr…. so while he worked on that (and learned a whole lot of new stuff which was brilliant, so it wasn’t wasted, but we’re now relying on phone hot spots which is far from ideal but will do for now) I pottered on Molly some more.

We didn’t hit the road till 3pm which was a little late in the day to begin.

San Sebastián was AMAZING. It was also very steep and there was nowhere in town to park. Which all means it was pretty much inaccessible for me without much time and planning. So apart from a couple of places, most of our viewing is on the move from inside Molly!

It’s a different view on life. Instead of walking seventeen blocks we get to drive fifty. It’s not the same, and you can’t stop for a coffee or go into shops or hang around a corner or an amazing view. It’s a faster pace but we get to cover way more… and go back a few times if we see something amazing. I wouldn’t choose it, but it’s this or nothing and I refuse the nothing.

But there’s no exercise at all! Travel eating and drinking plus no exercise is not a good combo!! …. we’re going to have address this somehow…

As we drove east we got to see quite a few towns. And stopped for the night at a strange, off the beaten track, mildly hostile very rural village. It was fascinating, tucked long and thin between the base of an endless line of cliffs and the vast plains of various crops. As we got closer I spotted little black squares in the cliffs themselves and we soon realized they were old dwellings!

I loved the contrasts of old and new. The “new” town (probably half a century old itself now) and the old one cut into the hill, and then the solar panels right across the top of the cliffs! Very impressive.

I was determined to see inside those cliff houses. It was hard work and risky (a single slip could have been disastrous … not in the lethal, tumbling down the mountain kind but in the Eeds there-goes-a-limb kind of fall), but I did it. It took forever and the path was only about 100 metres. This is soooo frustrating!!!!

This isn’t really a tourist place. The cliff homes are abandoned and dangerous, but one or two remain open with easy access. The cool inside hit me instantly as I walked in and as always I imagine myself living where ever I go. This was no different and I found myself transported into another world. Obviously, when this was a living home, there wouldn’t have been a town outside, but the view was breathtaking.

My favourite photo of the day was this one:

(Spot the bird!!)

The sun was setting and it was time to set up for the night. We have an app with free and paid places to spend the night. We’ve quickly learned that it’s mostly for motor homes as they aren’t allowed to stop just anywhere. We can, because we’re just normal van sized, but they can’t. So as we pulled up for the night they’re all lined up in the car park.

We don’t enjoy it. It’s not what we came to do. The town was also extremely rural and every few minutes the cliffs rang out with the booming echos of some huge guns out in the plains somewhere. They rattled me somewhat and despite the late hour we decided to push on.

About an hour later we stopped at a picnic point on the side of the highway. A few cars, a couple of trucks … and us. A stunning spot to make dinner in our little kitchen and tuck in for the night.

I slept like a log. He, not so much. The trucks bothered him. But he’s sure he’ll get used to it. We’ve woken to the same highway noise but also to sunrise, trees, birds, and a gorgeous view…

Happy Friday from rural Spain everyone!

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PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve offered to support and keep asking where and how! I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Hare & Tortoise

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith