Looks like we’ve made it! Dog in tow!

Orgiva
Orgiva

So we have finally arrived! We are in Spain, in Orgiva, and it feels soooo good to be back. We have driven through four countries to get here (Wales, England, France and Spain) and in my humble opinion, was well worth the drive rather than flying or getting the ferry.

Bryn all cosy in the van
Bryn all cosy in the van

We had quite a long drive UK side to even get to the Eurotunnel but tootling along in our van with the dog in the back was a great option. We had time to enjoy the countryside the whole way down, stop when we wanted to, and when Bryn needed to stretch his legs every hour or so, we could stop when it suited us!

I was a little apprehensive about the drive as I was doing all of the driving. This is why we decided to take five days over the journey. But as it turns out it has been absolutely fine (dare I say, enjoyable?!) We travelled about 4/5 hours a day (apart from the initial push on the first day which was 7 hours) and we stayed in some beautiful places along the way.

Here’s our route.

Day 1 – South Wales to Eurotunnel, Folkestone. Onwards to Rouen.

A two hour drive (through heavy rain) to Rouen where we booked the cheapest hotel we could stay with the dog. We stayed at Ibis budget hotel in Rouen and it was perfectly fine (clean and basic) for somewhere to rest our weary heads after a long day before getting up the following morning to go again.

Day 2 – Rouen to Dirac (about 8km from Angouleme).

The drive took about five hours, not including any stops. We arrived in our stunning hotel about 7pm. We stayed at Relais de Silence Domaine du Chatelard near Dirac, and what a bloody treat!

Relais du Silence - quite the treat!
Relais du Silence – quite the treat!

For the price of a basic B&B in the UK we had pure luxury! We couldnt quite believe they would allow the dog in but they were really excited to see us (well, mainly Bryn to be honest). As it turns out, the restaurant was absolutely fantastic and we had the most beautiful meal (and lovely bottle of red) with fantastic service. It wasnt what we are used to, but as a treat, was amazing!

Oh dear god!
Oh dear god!

The hotel is surrounded by a beautiful lake which we walked around the following morning (and where Bryn got to display his epic swamp monkey skills) before setting off again in our trusty van.

Day 3 – Dirac to Salinas de Ananas (Basque)

Another five hour drive to a wonderful Casa Rural near the salt plains in Basque country in the north of Spain. We stayed in Madera y Sal which is a recently renovated casa rural. I can highly recommend staying in this beautiful town and fantastic casa. Zuri and her husband have lovingly restored this old building over the last 14 years and it shows that its all been done with such care and love. We had the whole casa to ourselves and had a superb breakfast to set us up for our journey ahead (Spanish omelette, bread, fruit, fresh juice, salsa and of course some of the local salt). Again, we went for a walk in the morning around the salt plains which has much charm in its ugliness.

Only photo we have - shame!
Only photo we have – shame!

The beauty of the landscape is a huge contrast to the salt works, but the village is stunning and the mountains, breathtaking.

Day 4 – Salinas de Ananas to Toledo.

Up until now the drive had seemed a doddle, but today, although the drive was four instead of five hours, it seemed longer.

View from roof terrace in Toledo
View from roof terrace in Toledo

We arrived in Toledo while it was still light and the sun shone the whole way down. We checked into Apartamentos Alarife which was five minutes walk from the cathedral, smack bang centre of Toledo. We had fantastic views over the city which was great as we didnt actually have time to explore the city. Matt had a terrible nights sleep so we got up early and set off again on our final stretch.

Day 5 – Toledo to Orgiva.

Again, the drive seemed long today. It was four and a half hours long but seemed much much longer. Saying that, we were so excited to cross into Andalucia and drive through the snow peaked Sierra Nevada that we forgot how tired we were when we realised we were on the home stretch. After Granada, I knew the way, and took great pleasure on turning off the sat nav to enjoy the drive. Before arriving in Orgiva we stopped off at our new house to walk Bryn along the riverbed at the bottom of our land. He seems to approve (which is always good). We then drove into Orgiva and stopped for tea in our favourite cafe (Baraka) before getting our keys for the house we will be staying in for the next few weeks.

And that’s about it. I can highly recommend the route we took. If we had the time and the money we would have preferred to stay in each place for more than one night, just to be able to experience each area fully (or at least more fully than we had the chance to). The Eurotunnel was easy, although a bit weird driving onto a train.

Driving onto the Eurotunnel
Driving onto the Eurotunnel

Also, by by taking our time I didn’t feel completely exhausted after our trip.

Bryn dealt with everything so well. He was comfortable in the back of the van (we took the window from the bulkhead so he could poke his head through) but we did worry about him as he didn’t eat for the first three days. He usually goes on hunger strike when we are away and we made sure he was drinking plenty of water but after three days, we weren’t happy. He was refusing his food so we bought him some meat and of course, he gobbled that straight up. This must’ve got his appetite going because he ate from that point on. We didnt take his bed into any of the hotels (Relais du Silence and Madera y Sal supplied a dog bed for Bryn) so that when we arrived at our final destination he would know, because we brought his bed in. This sounds so silly, but it did seem to work. He settled straight away in the house in Orgiva, whereas it took him a little while all of the way down.

So now all there is to do is enjoy Dia del Andalucia on Sunday/Monday and get stuck into our new community by enjoying shared paella and flamenco dancing before getting stuck in end of next week to clearing the land and visiting the local seed bank, starting off our summer veg and welcoming our first volunteers.

The endless move!

I always knew that moving house was super fun! I’ve moved more times than I’d like to remember. But this move…..

…This move has been epic!

Not only has it taken us longer than most moves as it had to happen in stages, but we also managed to turn it into some kind of weird comedy sketch show with me throwing out my back yesterday and having to drag Matt out of bed shivering and sweating with the flu to sort everything out with his dad and brother.

So this move started, really, back at the beginning of the year when we had to have major sorting times, decluttering times and massive downsizing times! These were the fun times (who knew at the time that this was the easy part!!!!? Not us…No-Sir-ee). So we shipped our relatively small amount of stuff to storage to be sent out to us in Spain at a later date! We were releaved to get this over with, now all we had to do was live like squatters with a matress as our bed, sofa and dining table, while sorting out the rest of the crap we had left behind! Easy-peasy! Pfft!

Where did all of this stuff come from?

I am very aware that most of the stuff is mine, not Matts. I had a huge room filled with teaching resources, arts and crafts things, teddies, puppets, laminating pouches, laminating machines, books, masks, Happy Birthday singing hats (yes, more than one??), reams and reams of velcro…and that’s just my teaching stuff! I had also managed to bring with me a huge bag of documents to be shredded from THREE houses ago (does it even need shredding anymore when the address doesnt match up to the name….good god!!!!) And so much other crap that there’s nothing to do but vow to change my ways!!!!! And I must change my ways!

On Saturday we hired a big van (as the doors on the back of my small van had miraculously decided to not open!) Cue sequence of events to turn our escapade into comedy nightmare! We moved LOADS! Two massive van loads to the recycling centre, a load to the charity shop, some stuff to my parents and other stuff to Matt’s dads. We moved all of this stuff while dealing with the most horrific flu we have ever experienced. Trying to lift heavy stuff when you feel too weak to lift your knife and fork is never a good thing! So we moved endless stuff while sweating and shivering, looking ghostly white and feeling like death but we did it! We HAD to do it!

By Sunday the house looked pretty empty…but its a big house. A big, deceiving, mean house that actually wasn’t empty at all! There are fitted cupboards everywhere and these were, yep, full of stuff! Stuff, stuff STUFF! So gradually, while Matt was left to sweat it out in bed, and me recovering from the evil flu, the house got emptied over the next few days and Wednesday was the day to clean and remove any last stuff that was hanging about, lurking!

Think Spain, think Spain, think Spain!!!
Think Spain, think Spain, think Spain!!!

By this point we were completely knackered, drained and pretty clammy! Our mantra has been ‘Think Spain, think Spain, think Spain’ it’s been keeping us going throughout the whole process. That and watching Permaculture documentaries, and humanure and greywater recycling videos on youtube (hey, whatever floats your boat right?)

We made an excellent start, upstairs the boys removing the endless stuff, me in the kitchen cleaning. We had music on, cracking on doing our duties and we decide we’ve earned a break! It was a nice day so we sat in the garden musing over our current predicament of the house not being as sorted as we’d hoped, when I get up to get back to it and BOOM! Holy fudge I’ve knackered my back!

 

Oh God! I had to lay down….I was out of the game! GAME OVER!

There was nothing I could do but be driven away to our temporary bed and to stay there stewing while the boys got on with it! And get on with it they did! What champions! I am so grateful to them and my friends who rallied together to help at the last minute!

So we are now out of the house. Our stuff has been stored ready for shipping and we have a few weeks of the nomadic lifestyle before we leave for Spain! It has been quite the adventure so far and we havent even left the country yet!

I am never, ever, ever moving again! Or at least if we do, then it wont be such an epic move as in our new house we are going to live an organised, minimalist, no-crap-laying-around, tidy kinda lifestyle that’ll be easy to pack up and move! Ha, yeah right, we can all but try! As my mother will probably say, “I’ll have to see it to believe it”, and I’d be inclined to agree!