April 02, 2007 GMT
In France

Yes, this is our arrival in France bike in snow nornandie small.jpg

…… next move, south!

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 09:17 PM GMT
En Normadie

Having a fantastic time here in France apart from the non querty keyboard nightmare.... muchos fun with the april fools day fish (choccy!!!) choc fish small.jpg thanks mum, and the obligatory vast amounts of wonderful normandie cookery. In an email from James's pal Paul: "Imogen - remember to keep James' feet on the ground.
James - Do what Imogen tells you."
Nice one Paul!!!
Now to look at maps of France for next stop, altho after having two bottles of some of mum's excellent white wine I'm sure we're not that clear on which way to turn out of the house tomorrow!!

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 09:52 PM GMT
April 11, 2007 GMT
Pie-rats on the run

It´s been a fun time of snow, snow and more snow, oh, and VERRRRY windy bridges going over to the Ile de Oléron, but now we´re in northern Spain, enjoying the delights of super twisty roads through the Picos de Europa.

We spent a few days in Arcachon by the Dune du Pyla (all those aiki types who went to Bordeaux a couple of years ago should know this one!)

bread bokken on the dune.JPG

From one pricey campsite to a spot of free camping in the Basque country, where we were very nearly rumbled by the owner, who having heard the Twinky start up, gave a suitably gallic shrug as we sped past him, tent flapping in the breeze.

A fantastically twisty ride through the Pyrannees was quite amazing (and yes, snow!) on the Ibaneta Pass (1059 metres) so decided on the coast route to lower the altitude and warm our chilly arses up...

Found a magic spot called Santillana where there are the prehistoric cave paintings in Altimera - well worth a visit if you´re passing.

We´re now in the Picos de Europa, which is ace riding and birding country (golden eagles, chough and alpine ascentor, plus griffon vultures, white storks (yes Binky, I have buried my bracelet!) and a blue throat in Archachon - Alan, are you jealous yet?!) we´re chilling out here with bargainacious wine (EUR 2.49 being a ritzy bottle!) looking over the mountains and scrubbing our road-filthy clothes.

camping in the picos de europa.JPG

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 06:13 PM GMT
April 24, 2007 GMT
Camino de Santiago da Compostela

Yes, for some reason we found ourselves on the Camino de Santiago da Compostela, so made that our destination for northern Spain. Yet again, there were snow covered mountains (normally near our campsite!) and one memorable day there was a nice thick layer of frost on the tent, hoorah for the Softie 9.

Immy and James camping spot in the Picos.JPG

We've been zipping in and out of Portugal and Spain on some of the twistiest, weenyist roads (cobbles, sand, anyone?!) and tailgating madness from the Portugese drivers.

James had been having super fun birdwating - Montfrague in Spain was quite the most remarkable place (saw Eagle Owl plus chicks, Spanish Imperial and Booted Eagles; Black, Egyptian and Griffon vultures... the list goes on)

Imogen had found some rules of camping, number one being, "don't leave any food in the tent or indeed outside it" as we had what Imogen was convinced was a BEAR ATTACK (James reckoned a fox, boring) lifting an empty bottle of wine out of our bowl (outside the tent, don't panic mum!) to get at some saucisson and cheese dribs....

Other rules of outdoor living, "check your gloves in the morning" (beetle crawling over hand, nice); "don't use your washing up bowl as a rubbish bowl" bye bye cutlery, and "don't pitch up too close to a reservoir unless you know for SURE it won't rise" - cue panic at 3am as the waters lapped perilously close to the tent.

immy by rising reservoir.JPG

Other memorable moments were being caught in a hail and lightening storm on the road to Salamanca, so were rescued by some workers who let us shelter in their (refridgerated!) artisan saucisson factory, James was in heaven, Imogen not too sure (yes, Scottie, I thought of you!) and James having his head shaved by the maestro Willy near Trajan's Arch in Merida, a chappie of local renown - ageless, bald, and with a Dali style tash.

Had some great walks in the national parks, one memorable one ENDING with a 5 1/2 mile uphill switchback back to the bike, how much do we love the bike now?!

Now back in Portugal in the UNESCO town of Evora, having had our first swim in an outdoor pool, lining the crystal waters with a layer of road scum...

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 08:00 PM GMT

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