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Published: November 21st 2018
I am back on another adventure and will be writing some more blogs and pictures, a bit lengthy for some of you lol but good for my memories!
Those who love the pictures, some get auto set with the text but more at bottom plus a second page and always best viewed on a bigger screen!
I returned from my 8-month Central American travels at the end of May 2018.
Spent some time with family and friends, doing odd jobs at some, deciding the next thing to do whilst enjoying the amazing UK summer.
Also managed to walk along Hadrian’s wall from Newcastle to Carlisle, 84 miles over 6 days with a friend.
I had considered going back to Nicaragua but with the troubles when I left I thought best to wait until has settled down again. Miss the volcanoes!
I had thought about touring in a camper before so I bought myself an old 1995 2.4D Peugeot Boxer campervan, it has hot water, shower, toilet, hot air blower, 3-way fridge, gas hobs and a gas oven.
Named her Murb due to the number plate
which spookily has my first initial and year of birth!
The plan is to travel around Spain and Portugal to May next year at least… then back for the UK summer and tour around the UK some more.
The campervan gives me more freedom to move around and live cheaply.
As expected with an old vehicle I had a few teething problems and wear and tear repairs to make the van ready for our adventure, speedo cable, front wheel bearing, 2 new tyres, a new battery and some burnt wire replacement!
I also had a refillable gas cylinder with external hose fittings fitted for use at lpg fuel stations, runs my water, heater, cooking and fridge.
Makes it cheaper and easier to find in Europe than a calor/camping gas supplier.
Tested Murb around the UK clocking up a few thousand miles, Mid Wales, Worthing, Weymouth, Cornwall and all has been good except even though a 2.4 diesel lump struggles with steep hills!
The UK has some beautiful places to offer including some fantastic sandy beaches, obviously made better with the good weather.
So, booked a ferry from Portsmouth
to Bilbao travelling on the 30th October … one way.
Journey was quite pleasant with clear skies and a window cabin. Got a bit choppy when we got to The Bay of Biscay as the ship’s stabilisers were out of action so bit wobbly moving around ship.
Not a lot to do on board so chilled in my cabin drinking wine and watching movies. My room was two single beds with a bathroom and a window.
On arrival I picked up a message from my dad, informing me he thought my rear lights were flashing when I left their house for the ferry port!
I had a check when docking into Bilbao port, circuit panel rusted through! So, set off to my campsite hoping to arrive before darkness set in.
Travelled approximately 125 miles along the northern coast of Spain, passing Santander , arriving at the campsite at dusk in Ribadesella, just before Gijon, in about 2.5 hours. Murb all fine except a few 2nd
gear mountain hills!! Some great views but too cloudy for decent pickies.
Stayed at a simple 10-euro campsite for the night, beef stew and red wine after
a nice hot shower.
Headed off the next morning with a journey of approximately 220 miles, 4 hours driving, South West of Bilbao hoping to arrive around 1400 for a planned lunch with my workaway hosts in Galicia.
80% of the route was dual carriageway, no tolls and no traffic!
Galicia is in the NW of Spain, with Celtic roots, mostly between 400 and 600 metres above sea level with the river Minho running through it. The area due to its high rainfall coming down the mountains creates hydro electric power for the rest of Spain.
Galicia has an ageing population with most young people wanting to move to the larger cities. Mainly farmers growing maize and potatoes as well as cows, pigs and sheep.
The capital of Galicia is Santiago de Compostela, the end of the Camino de Santiago, is a network of pilgrim's ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Quite a few xpats here with house/land prices way cheaper than UK, especially for those happy to live in low populated rural areas, mainly
old run-down farms and homesteads.
Easy to see the appeal as everywhere has an old style feel to it and not overpopulated or the typical franchises we see at home now. Plus eating and drinking out is cheaper than in UK!
So as part of my travels I want to spend some time with Workaway hosts, where you carry out tasks for an agreed period of time each day in return for food and accommodation, or in my case electricity and water for Murb and meals for me.
Unlike some of my Central America travels where you had to pay as well! Don’t get me wrong as I had some amazing experiences on that trip.
Workaway hosts are after different things, some farm and building work, some to look after animals or even children….
Volunteering like this has many rewards, learning new skills, developing existing skills, keeping fit, meeting different people, experience for maybe a project of my own one day.
My rough plan is to travel clockwise around Portugal and Spain, as in starting in NW of Spain, travel down through Portugal then having a week in a hotel in Albufeira,
thanks dad, then onto Seville, Malaga, Valencia and then up through France back to UK.
Some places I will be a tourist and in between do volunteer projects.
My first hosts are Mandy and Roy, an English couple who have been setting up home here in Galicia, just south of Lugo. Their plot of land consists of one acre of land and buildings, a main living area with a courtyard, a small barn with a courtyard.
The main building is currently being renovated so they have been living in their caravan. So far a new roof has been fitted to the main building, new concrete block first floor. The builders are due soon to dig out the lower floor and lay concrete flooring.
Their plan is to be as off grid as they can and grow their own food and meat (pigs, chickens and ducks) on their finca with their 2 boxer dos Frankie and Benny.
Currently they have mains electricity and a water supply from a well/pump.
They have hosted volunteers before who have helped reconstruct drystone walls, fit a new pig barn roof as well as clear and level areas
The main tasks for my stay is to help Roy improve the water drainage and lay a concrete floor and wall in the to be pig barn.
As for the drainage the main rain is around May, which last year caused areas to flood so Roy has laid some French drains with 4 more to complete…. which includes digging the drainage ditch, laying ground cover and French drain pipes, bury in gravel and cover with soil.
This will complete a system of drainage feeding into a pond then an overflow from that.
I have been here 3 weeks now, various jobs done such as chain sawing down some large trees to allow more sunlight into the growing area. Chopping them up and mulching leaves and branches. Then spreading the mulch on planting beds, which does not go far for all the work involved!
We fitted a new water pump and fittings to the water well. Moving compost, weeding swales, clearing rooms ready for builders…. And completed 3 of the drainage ditches, used 6 cubic metres of gravel so have also dug and moved as much in earth!
done some prep on the pig barn as in digging out the floors to make more level.
All the local churches don't use old fashioned bells but a sort of electronic sound, every 15 mins! which we can hear at the finca.
Funny thing was only realised after a few days that the half hourly one is the Pompey Chimes!!!
Its not all work work!
Mandy and Roy also take me around town, visit the local market, some days we go for coffee and toast at a café, pop out for lunch and beers/tapas occasionally.
We also had a barbecue at the finca with some more of their friends, Heath and Sarah (from Australia) and John and Rosie (UK) who have also moved to the area, plus a local Spanish friend Mia.
One night we went to a chestnut festival in the nearbye town, we did not really know what to expect but off we went with Heather and Sarah. Plus a few cheeky beers at a local bar.
We arrived at the festival which was held in a local school, the place was filled with cooking steam/smoke and
packed with people. Considering the town population is about 600!
Long tables were laid out with bottles of wine and bread, then bacon kept coming again and again, don’t think I have ever eaten so much bacon at one sitting! More bread and wine also arrived.
Then the sweet chestnuts came out and after that the dancing started.. lol we then left, back to a bar. The festival was free even the vino! What great night.
We also went into Monforte to meet up with a group of expats who meet regularly. We met for coffee at an old monastery converted into a hotel, went to a local train museum followed by lunch and wine!
Monforte is in a basin and the views from the monastery were amazing with a low mist cloud hanging between the mountains.
I have also managed to order a new circuit board for murb’s rear lights which arrived this week, now trying to find a bulb as the one that has popped is weird…. Peugeot!
Weather wise it has rained on and off for the first week but was sunny the second week
with 18C temps, cloudy currently …. Cools down in the evening but have not been cold sleeping in murb. My hosts have lent me a dehumidifier which makes it feel warmer.
I had planned to stay here for 4 weeks but have decided to stay longer as am happy with the set up plus I/we have been invited to Heath and Sarah’s for xmas so will have good company, plus Heath is a chef!!
So will head south through Portugal for New Year.
Adios for now..
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