Where’s the Ticket?

(Wooden door)

We arrived in Fontenay-le-Comte in the evening but left after a visit from the policeman. I’ll start at the beginning… Everything went to plan at the garage and we were able to collect Ruby at 6pm. We said our thank yous, merci beacoups, goodbyes, au revoirs and sat in. It was great to be home.

(Fire hydrant)

Then we drove off to Fontenay-le-Comte where we could park for the night and fill up the water. All along the 20 km journey one or other of us would say, she’s going great isn’t she? Or, can’t hear the clunking, can you? And then we’d smile, Ruby was reliable again. That’s nice.

(Red berries)

It was dinner time when we were filling the water and paying the parking meter and we were starving. With all the excitement of going to get Ruby back we had missed the narrow French lunch window and had not eaten since McDonalds breakfast… and yet we were unusually chirpy. We had decided eating out one last time would be ok and give us an opportunity to chat about the whole experience. We’d looked up restaurants and found a little tapas place so when we had finished filling, we parked up, pulled the blinds down and set off.

(This sign was in the tapas restaurant)

The tapas place was open, the nice man even had a sign up to say we speak English. Unfortunately, they were only open for drinks, they serve food at lunchtime, inside my lunch tummy was crying. But he could recommend the restaurant across the road. My dinner tummy was thrilled. Unfortunately, they didn’t open for another half hour. My dinner tummy started growling.

(The view out the window of the tapas bar)

We had a drink and the nice man gave us a large bowl of peanuts, we ate every one of those peanuts before it was time to go across the road. There was one other couple at a table in the middle of the restaurant when we arrived. We said our bonjour to the owner (should have been bon soir, oh well) and indicated we would like a table for two. Did we have a reservation? Nooooo! Both my lunch tummy and dinner tummy were on the verge of tantrums. I was resigning myself to another bowl of peanuts in the tapas bar. After a nerve wracking few moments of checking the reservation book, they found a spot! Yippee! Here is your table… right beside the one other couple.

(Save the snails)

And God love them if they thought they were going to have a nice private conversation… turned out they were Irish. The first we’d seen in two months and we could understand every word they were saying. They were very quiet but Denis jumped in with, is that an Irish accent we hear?

(Love daises!)

Now to be precise we were actually overhearing… aren’t you supposed to pretend you don’t hear what you’re overhearing? They didn’t seem offended by our bad manners, yes we’re Irish. On their way to the Dordogne, they always stop here, stay the night and have a meal, great food. Yes, they did have a reservation.

(Might be a carnation?)

We all stopped talking when the food arrived and it was truly delicious. We were only having a main course so we were first to leave and you know how the conversation gets better as you’re leaving? It’s like everyone sees an end in sight and we’re all more relaxed. That happened and it was a lovely thing and then we were on our way back to Ruby. We never did get to chat about everything at dinner so we chatted on the five minute walk. Who needs longer?


In the morning we slept late and were very cozy under the covers when a knock came to the door. It was 8am. Yes, remember the policeman? Well in all our excitement the previous evening we forgot to put our parking ticket in the window. We both jumped out of bed to greet him in our pajamas. He was undaunted. Le ticket?

(Here’s the ticket!)

We searched every one of my pockets, my purse, my coat… no ticket, he went off to check on the other campers and would be back. I searched again, upending my handbag, the glove compartment, the door, nothing. Eventually Denis checked his jeans pocket… there it was.

(These smell great)

The policeman came back and saw the ticket and told us where the market was and the bins, all in French. It was a lovely experience.

I’m kinda glad we forgot to put the ticket up, Mairead.

(Fontenay-le-Comte, parking €8, water €2. Restaurants nearby. Policeman visits in the morning.)

We have electricity!

2018 5

(Just as the sun was rising at Ortiguera. Can you see the fishing boat coming home?)

We have moved from our lighthouse location overlooking the Bay of Biscay, but before we left I took some pictures as the sun was rising. Now we’re at a new location on the edge of a small town called Ourol, it’s further west and inland a little, there’s a map below. The lovely people of the town provide free electricity, free wifi and free water!

2018 7

(The little beach this morning)

This is our first time this trip availing of free electricity and it means we could stay here a second night. Normally we generate our own electricity, by driving. It’s not enough to run a heater or the blender or the coffee machine but it’s plenty to charge our laptops and phones for the day. Depending on how far we have driven the previous day we could possibly get a second day’s worth of charging. We’ve been travelling short amounts so we keep moving to keep generating.

2018 1

(Huge tourist map)

Free wifi on the other hand is unheard of, except for that time last year in France when there was an aire beside a McDonalds and we were able to reach their wifi. Of course the smell of the frites was too great a temptation. Because we have wifi here there’s a project I would like to do.

Map 23rd Feb

(The red marker shows where we are now, the black circle where we were last night. Map from Google Maps)

We have a camera on the dashboard all the time as we drive and I thought it might be interesting to put a few clips of the roads we travel each day so you can see how beautiful (and sometimes scary) it is. The wifi means I will have enough “power” to upload the video. (I will put a link here where you can watch it.)

Now I’m really looking forward to coffee for breakfast, Mairead.

Can I check your oil and water?

2018 2

(That’s a ginormous sign)

We now have a petrol station to add to our locations. I think this is the first time we’ve ever stayed the night at a petrol station, but I know petrol stations… My Dad ran a petrol station in Cashel for over thirty years and as young children it was one of the favourite places to visit for my brother and I. The other favourite place was the Rock of Cashel. (In case you didn’t know that’s a famous and beautiful historic site.) When we got a bit older and started working in the business it wasn’t as much fun but we did enjoy meeting people and earning money. The smell of petrol still brings back memories so I feel quite at home here. If not for the lack of language skills I could probably offer my oil checking skills.

2018 3

(Our view today)

We hadn’t intended staying here tonight. I had picked a different stop just half an hour to the east. It looked like a lovely town and we found the aire without too much trouble but we needed water again and their black water drains were blocked, so we didn’t want to chance their water. We searched the Parkings app and headed here instead. On the way we passed a supermarket with petrol station and I had a bit of a realisation…

2018 4

(Cute Spanish church in the distance)

When my siblings and I were younger and going for a drive with our Dad, he constantly had to drop into the petrol stations we passed. Either to chat with the owners or to slowly drive past the pumps and check the prices. He got great craic out of comparing their prices to his own. A favourable comparison meant his business would do better but I don’t know if favourable meant a higher price at his competitors or a lower price.

2018 5

(There’s a grove of trees beside us)

Well anyway the supermarket with petrol station (that we were passing only because the previous aire drains were blocked (I know, it’s a confusing story)) had the lowest diesel prices of the whole time we’ve been on the road! How do I know? Well, Denis has been constantly checking the prices. On Monday the fuel low alarm bell came on and do you know what he said? He said, “don’t worry I’ve been keeping an eye on that for a while, the prices are too high around here we’ll wait until we’re nearly empty.” And he drove on… So when he saw the lowest prices, he was thrilled and couldn’t pass it up, despite our half full tank. My realisation? Denis might be channelling my Dad…

From a Repsol petrol station on the north coast of Spain, Mairead.