Thursday, 29 May 2014

Zarautz 22nd to 29th May

Our original plan was to be in Biarritz at this time and then travel up through France, stopping at La Rochelle, Bordeau, Alencon, Boulgne, each for at least two nights and then a short hop to Calais.  However we’d left a couple of days earlier from La Manga than we needed to and then decided that we’d only do one two-night stop on the way up.  Just enough time to find a vet and get the necessary done with the dog on route.

This would give us four more days in the area so we decided that as the weather was taking a turn for the worse we’d stay for 7 nights in Zarautz. We might as well be sitting in Zarautz in the rain as anywhere else, it might be raining but it might be a bit warmer.

The first evening we arrived we hadn’t been shopping and so thought we’d eat in the campsite restaurant. Iain thought it was ok, but I wasn’t impressed at all.  It was expensive for what we got and I hate meals without any vegetables at all.  But I was so knackered from the horrendous drive that I didn’t really care, it was just fuel – oh no not that word.

The following day it rained quite heavily in the morning. For me it was a chance to do some well needed housework, catch up on my blog and maybe do some of the “indoor” things that I just haven’t been doing with the weather being nice. Since leaving the house I have been carrying two boxes of old family photos that I have been intending to scan in and then get rid of and we’re still carrying them around. We were desperate to do some washing but with the weather I didn’t want to have it hanging around damp in the van, so that would have to wait for another day.

I have hardly been doing any “craft” stuff at all, as I said when the weather is nice and you want to be outdoors you can’t really get out all your “bits” as often they will blow away.

The other things I had intended to do, if you have read my blog from months ago, was to bake cakes.  I had thought that rather than making “stuff” that would clutter up the van I could make cakes and sweets and then destroy the evidence.  We’ll I’d done nothing. I had heard that the Remoska bakes cakes quite successfully so I had been carrying a cake mix with us for ages just to try it out.  So today – I baked a cake.  No I’m not feeling ill.  Actually although the cake mix was for cup-cakes I used the Remoska as a cake tin, which was a bit big so it was a bit of a flat cake, but hey it tasted good and didn’t last very long. 

In the afternoon we took a walk.  Now remember that I said the campsite was on the top of a hill, well whichever direction we took would mean a downhill first and then an uphill.  The views from up here are quite splendid and we found the Mollari mineral loading bay quite unexpectedly.  This is where for about 20 years in the early 20th century the hematite was brought down the hills by a system of cable buckets and loaded onto ships off the coast.  We walked down to the exhibition area which had pictures and information that gave a good idea of how it all worked.  There is nothing there now except the support bases and the holding warehouse but it was still quite interesting. A cantilever bridge was situated on the farthest of the rocks to load the ships.

I'm still lagging behind but there's no pink rucksack in sight

 When we arrived at the site the guy in reception said "Nice car, we don't get many as big as that up here" then the following day this arrived, three slideouts, Spanish registered and driven by an ex-pat Dutchman.
With Fiat 500 in tow - at least they can go shopping

 The following day (Saturday) we forecast to be the best day of the next few weather-wise and we also needed to get some essential supplies, actually food for a change, not wine, so we took the coastal path down into the town.  As I said from here everything was down which meant that the way back could only be up.  We took two rucksacks with the intention of ONLY getting anything that was essential.
View from just outside the campsite

Part of the way into town meant walking on the beach which the dog loved. The town itself was very pleasant and the beach is the longest in the Basque area and is a surfers paradise.  We had a walk around and a well-earned beer and then made our way back up the steep hill to the campsite.  I have to admit that we had to stop a few times for a rest and we were very glad when we got back.  Even though she hadn’t refused at all on the way back, the dog collapsed on the grass and fell asleep almost immediately.  I do like a day when you actually feel that you have done something rather than just sitting around.

Pink rucksack again.

Shame about the lift, or is it a public toilet with a view

One man and his dog

Connie making the most of the local facilities

A surfers paradise

Spot the campsite at the top of the bright green, almost at the top
You can just make out the path up the hill
I stopped for a rest here about 2/3 of the way up

On (Sunday) the forecast wasn't good so we were mostly confined to barracks.  About 2pm the dog started her nag to go for a walk so we took her out.  Of course it started to rain (or were we just in the clouds) and I have to admit that it’s the first day since 29th December that I had worn a coat. We had also forgotten what it’s like to have a wet smelly dog in the van.

We went out of the campsite and took the road, this is when we found the road that we would have come up a few days before had we not gone back up the way we had come down. It was very tiny and windy as we had thought it may be, but what surprised us most was the sign at the top saying nothing over 15 tonnes.

A church on it's own at the top of the hill

View down to Orio harbour. To the left is the road that we might have come up
 Then we took a look to see the route into town if we went along the road and also to have a look at the way down next week.  The photo below shows the route out of the campsite. I’d better not look again or I will be having nightmares about leaving.  I said we should stay here forever.
It will be very slowly down this hill away from the campsite
Whilst the weather isn't that bad, we must have got acclimatised to the warmth as we're feeling pretty cold. We've actually had the heating on to take the chill off the air and it's a warm 18 C.  Even the dog is feeling the difference and making the most of a warm blanket. 

The campsite itself if pretty big, although quiet this time of year and it is terraced with mainly small pitches. We suspect that during the summer this site would be rammed full with young people!!!! Yes, we haven't seen many of them during the last 5 months.  The beach is a real surfers paradise and apparently the population of the town swells from 23,000 to 60,000 in the summer - well they all have to stay somewhere and although it's a real hike to the beach, I'll bet this campsite comes alive during July and August.

We had some new neighbours who are also full-timing (G &A) and they have the luxury of a car with them. They very kindly took pity on us and took me to the supermarket so that we could get some supplies that weren't just the "essentials".  The campsite does have a shop and it's ok for bread and a bit of ham or cheese oh and of course the essential beer or two but that's about it, so unless you want to eat in their restaurant every night you really do need to get into town. We have eaten in the bar a couple of nights and funnily enough it's the same menu as the restaurant but with a couple of hamburger choices added.  This time we ordered their rationes which is a double size tapas and three of them between us was plenty for dinner.  I'm only including this in case anyone wants to come here, maybe I did the restaurant an injustice.

Having walked into town on Saturday we knew we would do it again before we left and looking at the weather forecast, chose Tuesday, the weather was great on Tuesday and it was actually a bit warm, so we decided to have a lazy day at the campsite and do the walk manana.

G & A gave us some books and one was To Kill a Mockingbird, now that's a book that I'd actually been keeping my eye out for for some time so I was straight in there. I read the whole book in less than 24 hours and was totally immersed.  I'm sure I'm the worlds most boring person when I've got my head stuck in a book, that's why I don't actually read that much.

Wednesday came, our last full day on the campsite and it was raining in the morning. Oh well it was our last day so we had to make that walk. After finishing my book it looked like the weather was going to pick up so we had a very early lunch and then headed off into town.  I really like walking but I just don't do hills very well and as I'd said before every direction from here is downhill, so it's uphill all the way back.  It's not that far into town, about 1 and a half miles and this time we chose to walk down the roadway instead of the footpath.  Now this is the downside of having a dog, we could have gone into town and got a taxi back - but the dog can't go in the taxi so it would have meant leaving her behind, but I have this sort of thing that if we are going for a decent walk then it's such a shame not to take the dog because she still needs to be walked when you return, so the only option was to get on with it and walk both ways.

It was pretty rainy all the way down but just after we got into town it poured. We got absolutely soaked and we had to also get back up that hill.  When I say soaked, by the time we got back we were wet through all layers.  The dog didn't look too happy either.  So it was a quick dry off for the dog and a change of clothes for us and hey presto the rain stopped.  Oh well.

So that's it, I'm totally up-to-date with my news.  Today we are off again, definitely back into France now on our way to England, no definite plan and as we've got to find a vet on route and stupidly two of the days we could use the vet are on Saturday and Sunday (you only get a 4 day window to see the vet) we might have to delay our return by a day or two, but the first thing we will do when we leave here is .................. you guessed it ..... get some LPG.

Oh and I still haven't scanned those old family photos.

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