We woke up in Villafranca, it was pitch black, not one other light was on, so we busied ourselves preparing to leave as soon as we could, All camp-sites that we have stayed on have ‘quiet’ periods, normally between midnight and 8 a.m. Our luck was in on this camp-site, the quiet time ended at 7 a.m. which meant we could get on the road one hour earlier. Of course, this in turn, resulted in us leaving before the sun had risen!
The roads were empty, apart from the odd delivery lorry, that had probably been driving all night long. The sunrise was stunning and I mentioned that in this last couple of months I’ve seen more sunrise and sunsets than I’ve experienced in my whole life, it’s been a real bonus.
The light that the morning sun gives over the scenery is stunning, it lasts but a short time but it washes the whole landscape with a golden glow that is really vivid, In photography it’s known as the golden hour or the magic hour and it occurs just after sunrise and just before sunset, of course it isn’t really an hour, the moment seems to zip by at such a speed. When it’s early, I’m only half awake and travelling in a van at some speed, I really haven’t done justice to the incredible views. I think to be a ‘bona fide’ photographer you have to be an early riser, maybe not for me, I love my bed too much, especially in the winter!
Unfortunately the wonderful weather didn’t last and we found ourselves being surrounded by low cloud and mist, although in it’s own way it was just as beautiful.
The longest aquaduct that I’ve seen to date!
As we headed further and further north we noticed a huge difference in the architecture, with villages resembling more something I would’ve imagined in Switzerland than Spain. We climbed higher and higher into the mountains and Harry the Hymer was a true trojan. He climbed each and every hill with ease, not so much as a wheeze. There was a distinct drop in temperature, and we saw snow capped mountains in the distance. On the verges of the motorway there were piles of snow sometimes as deep as 8” so I think they must have had quite a load in the last couple of weeks. We were so grateful that we didn’t have any snow underfoot (or should I say underwheel?) It was one thing that we were quite concerned about, we’ve never driven the van in snow, I find driving a car in icy conditions hard enough so climbing the side of mountains in a 3.5 ton van really didn’t appeal!
Up in the mountains
There were no flags, fanfares or customs as we crossed into France, and although I didn’t really want to leave the sunshine and the lifestyle we’d been living recently, there was a warm glow at being back in France, not to mention the excitement of catching up with my sister and her family who I’ve not seen in 6 months. I’m not sure where this affinity comes from but I really do feel at home in this country. I like the French people, I like that they aren’t over complicated, they call a spade a spade, you know where you stand. And of course, it goes without saying really, there is also the gastronomy and the wine!
However, I’m not totally convinced that France was mutually happy to see us again, It chucked it down, what a horrid journey! It was exhausting, as we came up from the border and hit the French motorway there was a sign saying there was 11 kilometres of road works, more like 30 kilometres! Narrow lanes with a sharp and nasty looking barrier on the inside lane, I was relieved it wasn’t my shift to drive! It was incredibly hypnotic driving along in the lashing down rain, and the Hubster did incredibly well not to bump the van on the barrier especially when being overtaken by some mad Portuguese lorry driver that caused Harry to be swept a foot or so towards the iron barrier! We stopped for coffee as soon as we passed the road works and swapped drivers. I must be incredibly lucky, the weather dried up and I was treated to a wide, newly tarmacked, three lane motorway. Easy Peasy!!
In the meantime our little soldier lay at our feet, he is no trouble at all. Although I can say that he appears to have dropped into a depression, he doesn’t want to go out, it’s too cold and too wet. Last night, he woke me up at 4 a.m. I thought he needed to go out in the garden, but no he simply wanted a cuddle. He’s such a sweetheart, we need to get our tasks done and maybe we’ll be able to go and find a little bit more sunshine for the boy!!
I hope that wherever you are, you’re keeping warm and dry. Take care.
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to fill you in on our last day’s travel back to France … and then … who knows???