Some of the best village ramparts in France
We decided to stay on at the aire at Cabanes for another night and have a relaxed day with no driving. At just 10 euros per night with electric hook up and free wifi it seemed an easy choice. We wanted to go and explore our first Spanish village and I needed to see why Bertie’s horn was not working. The lack of a horn on yesterday’s very twisty roads did contribute a little to the stress levels!
We had a bit of a lie-in knowing that there was not a lot we needed to do today apart from some Bertie jobs and short walk around Cabanes. It was cold again last night but the sun was shining brightly when we peeked out around 08:30. However far south we go we still can’t get away from those cold mornings. We are only just south of the Pyrenees and these are clearly visible from here as a line of snowy peaks less than 20 miles away and rising up above 1400m in places. There is fresh snow over much of the mountains that we can see and not just a bit of frosting on the tops.
After breakfast I serviced Bertie (loo, water and grey dump) and Eileen caught up with some work on the Blythweb Calendar. It seems strange her sitting at a laptop in a van in a field in Spain typing up details of events in Southwold but it is the nature of our connected world I guess.
Cabanes is just one field away from the aire and we were there in a few minutes. How can I describe this place that is so ordinary but so completely different from anywhere we have seen so far. It looks old, the houses look tired, the streets are tiny, the few shops are very small but given the closeness to Figueres it is surprising that they have so many shops. I counted a small supermarket, two butchers, a bakers (closed), a couple of bars and a tabac. There was also a shop at the Olive Mill. We walked around the place completely and were back at Bertie within an hour and that was taking it very slowly. Sadly the church was closed, I would have liked to see how different that was too.
After lunch I decided to have a look at Bertie’s silent hooter. I was not sure what the cause was but I hoped it was simple. It was not a fuse sadly as that would have been too easy. Under the bonnet I located the horn itself cradled in the cables behind the left hand headlight. It was completely unconnected – both cables broken and the bracket was not bolted to anything! Much longer and I think that could have completely fallen out and been lost. The horn worked fine when I tested it so all I had to do was repair the damaged wiring, the worst part of that was trying to find the loose wires that should have been connected to it, and then find somewhere to attach it firmly. Bertie has a whole locker under one of the dinette seats devoted to tools and spare parts. I often feel I have overstocked this but today it came good and I had all I needed to do a proper long term fix.
Before supper we indulged ourselves with a DVD from the collection that Eileen brought along. We only do this when we have electric hookup or there is plenty of sunshine as the laptop is power hungry. The 300watt inverter converts the 12v from the batteries in to 240AC which then goes through the laptop’s adapter to charge the 19v battery in the laptop. All that is quite inefficient and draws quite heavily on the batteries. We do not watch TV abroad as iPlayer will not work if it detects that you are outside the UK. There are ways around this but they cost money and add complexity and we have not felt the need for it as yet. In any event TV watching over the internet uses a lot of bandwidth and that is limited when we are abroad. I have unlimited data on my phone but only in the UK. We are “roaming” when we are not in the UK as such I can only use 19gb per month and we need that for Whatsapp, this blog, emails etc etc. Anyway it was good to have some TV time. Eileen’s choice was Lucky Strike – a film from 2001 starring Bill Nighy and Timothy Spall amonst others and written by Stephen Fry. We can’t remember the last time we watched this but it was many years ago!
We also discussed how the rest of the trip might go and we agreed we did not know. Tomorrow we are going to the Costa Brava to a campsite beside the sea. We will have a few days there and see what we think of Spanish seaside life. We accept that this will still not be very warm so probably no swimming just yet. After that I have worked out some aires of different kinds that should get us a few hundred kms further south and then I thought we might have another campsite break near Murcia but I have not picked that out yet. We think we will probably go ahead with Plan A and follow the coast to Portugal and work our way home up the Atlantic coast to Dunkirk and across to Dover. Along the way we want to visit Gibraltar and hopefully Granada and the Alhambra too. Perhaps get some sherry in Jerez and some port in Oporto. We will keep it all under review and just plan a week or so at a time.