When it comes to writing at the moment, I am super lazy. My excuse is the amount of time I spend in my cave (spare bedroom) teaching on line. I began a post two weeks ago and am struggling to finish it. This is the edited version of ‘Meet Ziggy ‘ and I have no excuse not to write it….no excuse because I am sitting under the home made shade of Ziggy’s tailgate on a site called Orange Grove , five miles or so from Benidorm. Rocky and I are staying put while Walt walks in to Albir in search of supplies.I have to stay put because Ziggy is hooked up to a life support system ( battery charger) kindly lent to us by a van neighbour.
Ziggy is a 16 year old Volkswagen Caravelle that we bought in February after years of humming and hawing about one. We love a road trip, Rocky isn’t keen on kennels and Walt hasn’t flown for over two years. There is so much of Spain, Portugal and Europe that we would love to explore and this seemed the ideal solution. Oh golly…it is however a learning curve (1. we have a battery charger at home…remember it next time!) Ziggy came from Belgium and is in great nick for her age but checking the ancient battery should probably have been on our to do list. Having said that, this is our fourth outing with her and we had had no problems starting her up…until yesterday!
There have been other learning experiences but this one is the biggest so far! We are hugely grateful to ( I counted 4) English neighbours who are professional van lifers and who crowded round Ziggy resuccitating her and giving us some very useful tips. There is a local Baker who arrives on site at 9 every morning with fresh bread and delicious pastries…I think I will have to buy a dozen or so as thank-yous ! Luckily I have Madrid holidays and as tomorrow celebrates San Isidro, we have the whole day to get home!
Other lessons learned? We have solar panels and a Jackory power unit. We can also charge the unit when driving from main battery. We thought we could cope without an electric hook up and have done so – so far . We have even spent two nights wild camping in Almeria on beautiful, wild beaches . We were feeling very smug as we set up our solar panels and tailgate awning yesterday, dwarfed by the huge- home from home – mobile homes hooked up and toting everything from microwaves to TVs. ‘That’s not real camping’. Eat humble pie Team Barbour… I must have bumped in to a passenger courtesy light when we arrived. We had checked all the usual battery draining suspects, tail gate light, driver’s lights etc but it was super sunny and that one wee light escaped our notice. We made lunch, had a cheeky Cava to celebrate Walt’s birthday and a swim in the site pool. Very chilled! Then we decided to walk in to town for a treat…a birthday dinner out. When Walt turned on the ignition to wind up the windows, they creaked and groaned up enough for us to leave Ziggy safely but with the knowledge that next morning would mean either calling our road side assistance or asking neighbours for help. They have been amazing. The kindness of strangers.
Learning curve number one – remember battery charger. Two- buy new battery, ancient Mercedes battery in a volkswagen is a recipe for future disasters. Three- buy a hook up lead. At 3€ a night on European campsites, this is an inexpensive luxury when we choose to stay on site. Wild camping is great for escaping the madding crowd but every now and then Ziggy needs company and battery charger will not work from 500 watt Jackery! Previous lessons learned, four – put bed up before it gets dark! Our first night in Ziggy was beside a beach, just off a camino rural. It was beautiful. As the sun set , stars began to shine brilliantly in a light pollution free sky. We have had a very wet spring so frogs croaked nearby and the waves lapped gently just 20 metres away. Then we tried to put the bed up…it would have been comical if we hadn’t been so tired and the temperature was dropping to well below 10 degrees! It might be romantic to sit and watch the sun set but having a bed to climb into without a palaver is possibly better! Five- have little net or cloth bags that can hang from coat hooks or similar…put glasses, phone chargers, earrings and other easily lost items in these every night…do not vary the place. Finding things in a small space is a challenge especially for two oldies! Six- to be honest, we haven’t learned a sixth one yet but we will! There’s a whole lot more to discover and learn ! Now this is the honest edit of Meet Ziggy but I should also say that there has been lots of fun too and we have already explored new and wonderful places all less than 4 hours from home. ( The cost of diesel shot up just after we bought the van…Great timing and a learning curve beyond our control. However close to home in the meantime has been brilliant. ) After two years of living very quietly and in my cave, we have spoken to so many lovely people, Spanish, French , English and Argentinian …it’s what we have always loved about a road trip.
First night away.. Mojacar. Almeria.