February 16th 2008
We made a hurried return from Morocco at the end of November as Mike was unwell. He's fine now but he decided to go back to the UK at the beginning of December to visit his friends and family in the north of England. I also went back as I had previously arranged a pre Christmas visit to see my family and friends. Whilst writing Christmas cards at Mum and Dad's I got a phone call from Mike who was staying with Tim and Debs in Yorkshire. Did I want to go to the states for Christmas and New Year? Did I need to be asked twice? You may remember we stayed with Tim and Debs at their beautiful rental property on the West coast of Florida in July of last year. They were going back for their Christmas holidays and there were some cheap flights available.
We flew from Gatwick to Orlando the following week and spent Christmas and New Year over there. We travelled lightly as we had gone to the UK with hand luggage only to save time at the airport. Mike borrowed some of Tim's clothes and a suitcase. I bought a few bits and pieces while away but its amazing how little you actually need. We had a great time, enjoyed a family Christmas then Tim's birthday on 27th December. New Years' Eve was quiet and we were tucked up in bed before midnight. We mainly relaxed over the holiday period. Mike and Tim were to be found most evenings fishing by the canal at the bottom of the garden. There was an enormous alligator on the bank that Mike startled one afternoon. Luckily she leapt into the water rather than leaping for Mike. After Tim and Debs went home Mike and I stayed on for another 10 days. I was very brave and managed to hold on to the fish that Mike caught while he got the hooks out to throw them back.
On our return to the UK on the 15th January we had one evening at Kate and Mike Bishop's House before we flew back to Portugal and our poor neglected motorhome. All was well apart from the various stages of decay in the fridge. The salad drawer would have entertained a microbiologist for hours-particularly the cucumber.
As soon as we were back in Portugal we were packing up again to prepare for the 2008 tour to the USA. We had been planning another US tour and had been looking at American motor homes or recreational vehicles (RVs) when we were there in July. Whilst in Florida over Christmas we had an afternoon at RV World near Sarasota as Tim fancied having a look to see what an RV was actually like. They had a sale on and after some extremely tough negotiations Mike purchased another RV! Its absolutely beautiful and we have arranged collection in March. We found out that vehicle insurance is cheaper for American License holders. So after a crash course studying the driving rules manual Mike ended up taking his Florida driving test on our last day in Florida. He managed to get an appointment as someone hadn't turned up for a medical. All went smoothly and he passed with flying colours. It was a bit different to a UK driving test though. He didn't leave the car park which was coned off so that he could perform some manoeuvres. It also only took 10 minutes. I didn't have the right paperwork with me to take my test but I've got it to look forward to when we go back in March.
After just 3 days in Portugal we drove back to Camping Les Medes on the Costa Brava in Spain. We drove right across central Spain. We had planned on having an overnight stop but as there was no traffic and no roadworks we kept going and arrived at the campsite at 2am. We slept in the car park outside and had a much better quality of sleep than we would have done at a truck stop on the motorway. We checked in to the campsite just after 9 am and found a place to park. We were right behind another American motorhome and it had an American numberplate. We were intrigued and couldn't wait to find out their story. It turned out to be an American family of four who had decided that now was the time to do some travelling while their little girls were small and it would have minimum impact on their education. Quite a journey for them as they were from Seattle. Quite a few of the regular crowd were on the site who we met last year and they greeted us with what a heroes welcome. It was very nice to see everyone again and make some new friends as well.
We spent our 3 weeks productively, not just socializing as tempting as that was. We packed, sorted, cleaned and made plans for our forthcoming trip. This has included me building a website. As soon as it is in a fit state to be viewed I'll let you know the address. It's just a travelogue with photos but it will be easier to look at than the current format of letters with the pictures attached. I am also hoping that once it is written it will be easier to keep it up to date rather than me writing about what we did months ago. The newsletters are on there and I will write about our continuing saga as well. Building the website has been very time consuming so Mike has been left to his own devices, long evenings in the bar or watching TV. He did get a chance to go out for the afternoon on a motorbike which he thoroughly enjoyed having not been on a bike for a few years.
One Sunday we headed off to L'Escala to have a coffee and wander around the Sunday market. There turned out to be a carnival procession which may have been something to do with Mardi Gras. It does seem as though the Spanish must spend the whole year planning the next carnival as every time we go winter or summer we always seem to find one. The atmosphere was excellent and the floats of a very high standard.
We left L'Estartit on the 10th February and drove up to Limoges in France in the motorhome, We have left it parked at Parc Verger a campsite we visited last summer. Now we are 'homeless' we are continuing our visits to friends and family. We drove up to Germany last weekend to see Lee, Lizzie and Chloe. We are now back in the UK and continuing our tour until the beginning of March when we return to America.
Ali and Mike xxx