3rd JULY 2007
29th June | Sunday
1st July | Tuesday
3rd July | Thursday
5th July | Sunday
8th July | Tuesday
10th July | Friday
13th July | Sunday
In the morning, we set about cooking the rations
that Henry and Bill had bought in France. A
dozen sausages, pork belly, beans, eggs……
Did the pre-flight checks. We were now getting
into the habit of getting the tents packed away
before the sun makes it much above the horizon.
To do any work in under this sun was murderous.
We set off across the Spanish Plains in the
direction of Castella-y-Leon, Salamanca and
on towards Caceres. We stopped in a Spanish
Truck stop for lunch. Now that was an experience.
A combination of our lack of Spanish and the
waitress's lack of English (and patience) led
to a lot of guessing and pointing. We ended
up going for a plate of Pollo on the basis that
if it was chicken then it would be edible. Jackpot.
Leg of chicken (or something that once had feathers)
boiled then grilled with garlic and served with
a small salad and hunks of bread. We couldn't
get over the amount of beer, and harder drinks,
that the Spanish lorry drivers were knocking
back. We made a mental note to give them more
room when they passed us at 70+ mph.
We got lost several times. We stopped at a garage
in one town and Henry asked for directions for
a supermarket. Henry came back and decided that
the directions that he'd been given were no
good so we set off the opposite way. We inevitably
got lost and I took the lead trying to get us
back on track. We went with the traffic flow
around the town and 10 minutes later arrived
at the garage again! We decided to abandon plans
for the supermarket and I switched on the Sat
Nav. We entered the destination town and set
off. Another 10 minutes and another circuitous
route of the town and, yes you guessed it, back
to the garage! Third time lucky and we made
it out of town. It was no coincidence that my
Ipod was playing Hotel California.
You can check out any time you like, but you
can never leave. Cue Guitar Solo.
South of Caceres we needed to head west overland
and head for a camp site that Henry had found
in his Boy's Own book of places to camp. The
problem was that it didn't have an address that
the Sat Nav could understand. We pulled over
onto the side of the road and started doing
our ritual map spinning, to see which way up
looked the most inviting. Enter the Spanish
version of white van man (Hombre blanca vano?)
He spoke no English. You'd think that they'd
make the effort! After a lot of preamble, we
managed to tell him where we wanted to go. He
gestured for us to follow him and off he went.
This went on for about 5 miles when he stopped
at a junction. I gathered that this was where
our paths parted.
I've never understood why some people, even
though they know you don't speak a word of their
language, proceed to give you extensive directions
in their language! We might as well have started
a card school. Eventually he stopped jabbering
and waving his arms around and looked at me
for some form of acknowledgement.
Si seňor, muchas gracias (I told you I
was fluent). I hit the electric boot button
and left him in the dust. Hasta la vista baby
We stopped a little way down the road and put
the village name near to the camp site into
the Sat Nav and tried to follow that. Up one
mountain, down another, along a valley and up
another mountain….. it went on and on.
Between the Sat Nav and me, we ended up in a
very quaint cobbled village.
We rounded a corner and came upon the village
church where half a dozen women were sat on
a stone bench outside the church, passing the
time, like you do. We stopped the bikes and
Bill decided to go for directions. He approached
end of the rank of old girls and bowed low .
Bounas tardes, seňoras. They all giggled
with his attempt at their tongue. He sat on
the end of the row and tried to make his acquaintance
with the old girl next to him. He took her arm
and tried the thread it though his.
That's when it happened..
She upped with her walking stick and started
to rain blows down on Bill as if he was the
Worcester rapist! Bill made a fast exit, wishing
that he'd kept his helmet on.
Despite this debacle, Henry managed to get directions
and we mounted up and made a swift exit from
the village before any of the men woke up. We
got ourselves back onto the main road and the
Sat Nav regained its marbles and soon we were
back on the road to Miranda De Castena and a
We went on and on, through very mountainous
but barren land with no sign of civilisation.
It was getting late in the day. Soon the sun
would be going down behind some of the peaks.
Things were getting so bad that both Henry and
I had started to eye up the hilly countryside
for a flattish bit that we could pitch our tents
Then we saw it. A sign for a camp site.
We followed the signs and, a mile or two out
of the hill top village we ended up at a pair
of locked gates. The view beyond them was bleak!
The pedestrian gate on the side was open and
so, in I went.
Si the proprietor said, they were open and he
went for the key to the gates. A worrying sign.
Things went downhill from there. The proprietor's
boyfriend (seemed like a nice boy!) showed us
all to our pitch, once we had passed Passport
Control and Immigration. When he had decided
on which pitch we could have (there was only
two other parties on the entire site!) he came
out with pages of typed rules for the site.
Perhaps it was because we were on bikes or the
fact that Henry and I hadn't shaved since England?
I stopped paying any attention and he equally
ignored me sensing that my attitude (me, attitude?
as if!) wasn't doing much for the situation.
He did however seemed to have taken rather a
shine to Henry and insisted on showing him the
toilet block. I offered Henry the frying pan
to take with him but he assured me he would
be OK. He returned 10 minutes later and didn't
seem to be walking any differently. He had had
to have a demonstration on everything from how
to turn on the shower to which sink to use for
sock washing and which sink for co** washing.
Oh, and to top it all, the bar didn't for another
two hours! That didn't fit in with our early
to bed, early to rise routine. Neither did the
fact that the gates would not be unlocked until
9 a.m.! Thank God it was only to be one night!
I looked around for the watchtowers and guard-dog
patrols. If this was Stalag 31 then there must
be an escape committee?
We managed to get him to compromise and sell
us some beer that we could take back to the
tents and so we rustled up some supper (Fray
Bentos Steak & Kidney puddings) and sat
around the camp fire getting pissed. Bill serenaded
us with his version of several songs sung in
the fashion of a German Camp Guard. Sounds so
lame now but when you outside of several bottles
of beer and some wine, we were all in tears.
Stupid hysterics, I suppose?
STATSISTICS - DAY 5;
300 miles Camping Noverette Miranda De Castena
WEDNESDAY 4th AUGUST 2007
1042 miles in total
Average 208 miles per day
We woke early again. Broke camp and got some
coffee on the go. We were soon all packed up
and waiting at the gates for the curfew to end.
There was no breakfast to be had on site, The
best bet was to go into the local town, Miranda
Del Castinar, and find somewhere.
We rode into the town were a little
early for the one and only local bar / cafe.
We could have had a lie in! We parked the bikes
up and sat in the shade., watching the world
And, before you ask, yes the sky was that colour.
Then, as we sat and waited, along came an old
fella with a pack mule. It was nice to see that
someone was loaded up more that I was.
The cafe opened and we went in for coffee and
croisants for breakfast.
We had a long ride ahead of us and they wouldn't
involve dual carriageways so, we knew we needed
to get some miles in. Henry's Camping Bible
didn't show any sites between here and Ayomonte
so it was a choice of slog on or camp rough
and as it was just possible to make Ayomonte
on the Spainish / Portugese border before nightfall,
we decided to go for it. This would mean that
Henry would be in the arms of his belovėd
before the day ended. We agreed a route and,
after finding a petrol station (down one mountain
and up another) we set off. We hadn't travelled
more that 30 minutes when we reached the top
of a mountain called Portillo. The scenery was
breathtaking and it was a photo opportunity.
Back on the bikes and down the other side of
the mountain. The hair-pins were so sharp, I
swear I could have high fived Henry or Bill
as we passed each other.
We rode on and on with a break every now and
then until lunch beckoned. We stopped in a village
and relieved the local shop of some bread, cheese,
ham and tomatoes, followed by melon. It tasted
very good, I have to say.
On we went. As the land flattened out, the
roads became better and better. The surface
was like a Grand Prix circuit. And the bends,
well the only way I can describe it is to say
that UK bend design seems to be based on a French
Curve. That is to say that you never know if
the bend is going to tighten up on you or open
out. These bends had been drawn with a compass.
Once you had set yourself for the bend, you
could push yourself all the way round on the
throttle. Even with all the luggage on board,
I was really enjoying myself. It went on for
mile after mile. It was really enjoyable.
I was leading and I thought To hell with it,
let's have a little fun so I began to open up
a bit more and really enjoy the road. I needed
to concentrate hard on the road ahead so didn't
spend much time looking behind. I knew that
I had stepped up the pace a good peg or two
but, there were no junctions for anyone to get
lost at so, onwards! When I came to an obvious
resting place I could pull over and wait there
for the others to catch up.
After about 10 minutes of this, I looked in
my mirror and all I could see was Smokey Bill,
right up my chuff!
How the mighty are fallen! Sorry Bill, I should
have known better.
We stopped for fuel again and dipped the oil.
Another pint or two for Bill. Then, on we went.
We were heading south towards the coast and
the coastal Motorway that goes into Portugal.
We could fork off right at some point and cut
the corner. We found our turning and off we
That's when it really happened..
We had about 24 miles to go to Ayomonte. Henry
overtook me and flagged me down. My luggage
rack had broken and everything
was about to fall off! We decided that the only
thing to do at this stage was off load as much
as we could onto the other bikes and secure
the rest up on mine as best as we could and
then limp the last 24 miles.
Both of my detachable side panniers went onto
Henry's bike. My top-box and associated luggage
went onto my back seat with the help of a ratchet
strap (I was certainly glad I packed that!).
My large bag that was on my back seat was moved
to Bill's bike.
The light was fading as we set off. I was wedged
between my tank bag and the top-box, like sitting
between the two humps of a camel and perched
on the unsprung point of my single saddle. I
still don't know how I got on, Or off again
for that matter. The fastest I felt comfortable
doing was 40 m.p.h. We soon finished the cutting
of the corner and had to join the Motorway for
the last 20 miles. That was hairy. The orange
sun was setting in front of us and little did
we know that my bag that Bill was carrying had
slipped down and was covering his back light.
Anyone approaching this slow trio from behind
would be blinded by the sun and could very easilly
ended in disaster for us all.
But as we turned off the Motorway in Ayomonte,
we saw Lesley and her friend Jan on the side
of the road. They led the way to the apartment
via a road with speed bumps every 50 yards.
Ten minutes later we were all holding a beer
as I stood waiting for the circulation to come
back to my groin.
See what happens on the same day that I make
fun of an overloaded donkey?
All in all, and interesting ride.
The ladies had laid on a lovely spread and lashings
of beer and wine. We sat and told tales of the
travels thus far, until the small hours.
No tents tonight! Bill and I rolled out our
bed rolls in the lounge while Henry had a soft
bed with Lesley.
STATSISTICS - DAY 6;
350 miles Miranda De Castena - Ayomonte
1392 miles in total
Average 232 miles per day