The night was cool again but it was warm enough to sit out for breakfast after I had written the email for the website (no 3).Despite all the trees, the sun shone onto the washing and it all dried. I ironed some, so by now it was after 10.00.
We stopped at the entrance to the campsite and walked a short way along the shore, then decided to have our coffee here in this lovely situation, with the waves crashing onto the offshore rocks.
We found our way northwards, seeing all the massive amount of development everywhere. We could imagine it ending up like Benidorm (although most were no more than four storeys high). In contrast we passed a real shanty town and also some failed developments, with a very long road with lampposts - nothing else. There was also some empty land.
We came to a roundabout with brilliant orange marigolds then fancy lamp posts and some painfully neat roadside stretches as we neared Rabat. The road went right around Rabat. We stopped by a ruined fort and had lunch with the waves crashing below. Some families were enjoying Saturday and beside us a group of men had gathered. It had a happy feel. We ignored the old gent who asked for money for parking as we left.
We then continued on the busy roads, and before we knew it entered a tunnel, which got Adrian confused, as we were passing under the area we wanted to stop at. Rabat is very large, but we wanted to see the Kasbah des Oudaias. With perseverance Adrian found his way there, and we were able to park right near the entrance. We then wandered around the narrow streets of this delightful place, painted blue and white once again. Once more there were wonderful doorways.
We found our way to the Andalusian Gardens which were a peaceful haven full of lush plants - datura, strelizia and even roses. Dozens of cats cavorted around.
Pretty blue and white Rabat
The cloudy day had now become very warm and humid. We drove on to view the Hassan Tower - all that remains of the second largest Islamic mosque, but it was all under netted scaffolding. We stopped anyway, as it was next to the mausoleum of Mohammed V. This occupied a grand site beside all the stumps of the pillars of the mosque. It was very decorative, and there were some nice mosaics. Quite a lot of people were visiting too. The car park guardian asked for more money than we gave him, asking for £1 (English) or anything else, like chewing gum. We gave him and his mate a stick of chewing gum each and they seemed happy!
The Andalusian Gardens, Rabat
We now drove through the traffic to the ancient Roman site of Chellah. Just as we arrived, the dark skies had turned to rain, and it rained heavily. We had a cup of tea, hoping that it would stop, which it more or less did, so we had a wonderful wander around (10dh each).
It was a large site, with plants growing all around it. Storks had taken over the tall tower and could be seen on their untidy nest. There were cats here too. The whole place was very atmospheric - it was very rough underfoot, and you could wander all over.
The mausoleum of King Mohammed V
Now 4.30, we had to make for somewhere to stay tonight. The campsite we'd planned on was too far, as I wanted to visit some more gardens nearby, so we settled on a place to stay at Plages des Nations, several km north. It wasn't a pleasant journey! The rain returned (weren't we lucky at Chellah), so with poor visibility, heavy, unpredictable traffic and flooded roads it was awful!
We reached Plages des Nations - an area of up market accommodation, and took the road right down to the sea. A 'guardian' ushered us to a spot, and once more wanted more money than the change we had. After much to-ing and fro-ing, he took 40dh (we'd said 30) and later brought us 4 rolls (as he didn't want to give us the 10dh back). All this in the heavy rain which was still falling!
Later another man came and knocked on the van, saying that he was the guardian for the night - we hoped he didn't want more money!
The ancient ruins at Chellah
There were a lot of dogs around, barking at any vehicle or person. Adrian wasn't really settled here. The night watchman was still around when we left to drive the 5 miles back to the Jardins Exotiques.
We arrived early for the 9 o'clock opening, but when we went over at the right time, a man (watchman?) said '20 minutes'(as the cashier hadn't arrived). After a short while of waiting, Adrian asked if we could go in, and pay later, which we did. We hadn't been gone long when the man called us back to pay.
For the next quarter of an hour or so, we didn't find each other - I had waited while Adrian went back.
The gardens were quite fabulous - a packed in 'forest' of trees with tiny little paths leading off, like an intricate maze. It was supposedly arranged in different areas - Peru, Polynesia for example, with any signs in Arabic and French. We just enjoyed the continual delight of rickety bamboo bridges, uneven steps and ponds where frogs leapt,. Children would love it! It had been created by a Frenchman in 1951 and had been restored about 10 years ago, having become neglected. The Japanese Garden we did recognise, with its water sprays and red wooden bridge. Birdsong above added to the atmosphere. Recycling bins had been positioned aesthetically around. A Top Spot!
Sunday 11th October A wildlife day 88 miles
Plages des Nations
When we returned to the carpark at 10.30, we were still the only vehicle, although we had seen one or two people in there.
We drove on northwards on the N1, passing through a very Moroccan town with the market on the street. We turned off to Mehdiya, taking the turning to Lac de Sidi Bourhaba, a freshwater lagoon, which was a biological reserve. It was sadly unlooked after, with much litter. We were able to pull off to look for the wildlife - it was a long trail around the lake to a so-called parking area. We watched a group of black winged stilts and also saw flamingos, a grey heron, egrets and terns.
The fabulous Jardins Exotiques near Rabat
We drove back around the lake, and on to Mehdiya Beach. Being Sunday, this was quite busy with locals. The waves were high, but this didn't stop 2 young children from running into the waves with their surfboards!
A sign said 5dh for parking, but the man had 'not enough change' for our 20dh note, so only gave us only 14dh back! After eating our lunch, we walked onto the deeply shelving sandy beach with its unpredictable waves. The water felt warm as I managed a paddle - a Moroccan couple walked along in the water, fully clothed, and even sat in the water.
Black winged stilt and flamingoes at Lac de Sidi Bourhaba
As we returned to the van, two ladies 'begged', then smiled and said 'bye bye'.
The road now went inland to the large and nondescript town on Kenitra in order to cross the river. From here we took the motorway north. We were amazed to see policeman placed every half km beside the road. We guessed, correctly it seems, that the King was passing from Rabat to Tangier - Adrian reckoned that this would be more than 600 policemen!
We turned off to Camping International Moulay Bousselham, which was positioned right next to the lagoon, but with an unfortunate fence in front.
After pulling in, things happened very fast! We were sited next to a Swiss couple from near Montreux, also at the end of their tour of Morocco. We didn't really have time to talk to them, as a man came to the fence in his small boat to see if we wanted to go out on the Merdja Zerga (the blue lagoon) to see birds. We had wanted to do this, so quickly got ourselves organised to go off for 2 hours.
The campsite man opened a gate by the boat, and we handed over our passport, to register later.
We sat on a bare board seat on the little boat, while our man stood at the back. He was excellent at recognising and pointing out birds, although I must say that I sometimes found it hard to see them, or to understand his English pronunciation!
Last paddle in Morocco - Mehdiya Beach
We saw whimbrels, redshank, flamingoes, a Marsh harrier and a Caspian tern plus more. Our best siting though was an osprey, really close up, and then taking off. The man had wanted to take us (on foot) to see the African marsh owl, which is only found here. We would love to have gone, but had done enough for one day. The man also had some crabs which he'd caught, and as we'd forgotten to take our freshly caught fish out of the freezer, we agreed to buy them.
Then calamity came as we went to get out of the boat - I had to climb onto another small boat to get off. Adrian gave me his hand, to aid my bad balance, but wasn't aware of the row-lock which I got my leg caught on. I knew that I'd badly hurt my leg, and when we got back to the van I could see the large lump through my leggings. There was a nasty gash which had broken the skin! We dealt with it as best we could, before Adrian went up to 'register'. He couldn't make the campsite man understand about the crabs, which our man was cooking at home, then sending here (he had enticed us to have the three, when we'd only wanted two, so wanted a bit more money)
The calm, pastel lagoon
The flamingoes take off
An osprey watches!
Our trusty boatman
Around 8 o'clock, a young lad brought the crabs to our van. I must say that the boatman was better at birds than at crabs, as we had a whole lot of mangled crabs (reminded us of Simon's friend Ron in Calgary, who'd invited us for Canadian Thanksgiving, and had 'murdered' the cooked chicken!).
We spent a happy time fighting all the legs and crushed shell!
To add insult to injury, I'd got some viscous mozzie bites! - we've really had very few the whole time in Morocco.
Lovely sky over the lagoon as we wait for our crabs
Monday 12th October To the NW corner of Morocco 84 miles
It was 'write the diary' time this morning.
After breakfast, we went across for showers, with my leg wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent the sore from getting wet! It was windy this morning - we were glad to have had our boat trip yesterday. We didn't leave until late morning, enjoying our lovely situation beside the lagoon.
We drove up into the town, hoping to get some money from the machine, but it wasn't forthcoming. Moroccan currency isn't recognised outside Morocco, so we didn't want to be left with any, but needed to have enough. We walked across a large paved area to look back to the lagoon and to our campsite.
We then took the motorway to Larache, passing flat, mostly agricultural land. We drove around the large town, stopping above the rocky shore to have lunch at a scruffy parking area. A group of men were collecting bags of sand from the beach below, and loading them onto a horse and cart. Other men used this place above the sea as a pissoir!
Looking across the blue lagoon to our campsite and the fishing boats from Moulay Bousselham
Adrian walked out and was able to get some money. We looked across to a sandy beach on the other side of the River Loukos. The town was in blue and white again, from its Spanish days.
On the other side of the river, we found the ancient site of Lixus. As one book put it 'more an important site than impressive'. It dated from before Phoenician times. It had been partly excavated, but not restored, and had an attraction in its roughness. A pleasant young chap had asked if we wanted to know more - he seemed to be a serious student, rather than a tout. We just had a nice wander around, not climbing up to see the amphitheatre.
Men collecting sand from the beach at Larache
As we drove north, we passed absolutely dozens of stalls selling melons. We wondered what people did with all those not sold - they wouldn't keep!
We drove on to Asilah, another former Portuguese/Spanish town on the coast. We parked opposite the harbour, with its collection of fishing boats. It was a good town to visit for our last one in Morocco, as it was tidier and cleaner than most. Once more it was attractively painted in white and blue.
The ancient site of Lixus
Is this the future Visitors Centre mentioned in our book?
We walked on to the ramparts. It had rained here, and was now windy, but there were some nice vistas. It was a popular place for artists, holding a huge festival each year.
We now drove north to Camping Achakker, which is next to the Caves of Hercules, which we hope to visit tomorrow. We'd had some good sea views, but had also driven through a vast modern 'freeport' and then through a bit of a godforsaken stretch. The area where the campsite is situated is 'posh' and its price reflects it. We'd arrived at 5 o'clock, and later we ate the fish we had bought from the man in Ouilidia.
Asilah, a lovely town for our last one in Morocco
Tuesday 13th October Back to Spain 51 miles
The morning was sunny, but we were well shaded. For the first time we noticed that it was damp.
Just after 9 o'clock we drove out to the Caves of Hercules, which we found were right next door. We drove back into the campsite and Adrian went to say to the man that we were parking there. He came back laughing - the caves are closed indefinitely for refurbishment!
We drove on past the beautiful beach with the aquamarine sea to Cap Spartel - the most north-westerly point of Africa. The coast was rugged, and we could see across to Spain.
Driving on towards Tangier we drove through a wild, forested area before coming to a part where the roadside was really smart with fancy street lamps. We carried on through the town, which was a very different experience from when we'd visited on a day trip in 1996. It now seemed very cosmopolitan, smart and well looked after.
After driving through the town, we stopped by the lighthouse at Cap Malabata for coffee, with a view back to Tangier and over to Spain and Gibraltar.
Cap Spartel - most NW point in Africa
As we returned from the Cap we passed two wild boar on the road, and also an adult and baby donkey.
Two wild boar at Cap Spartel
There were some lovely beaches as we drove on to Ksar es Seghir, where we stopped to get some diesel (we shall miss the 60p a litre!), passing an old Portuguese fort.
We arrived at Tanger Med at 11.45. We had an open return ticket, and were hoping to get on the 2.00 ferry. There were plenty of touts around, and we were also very aware of the problem of illegal immigrants.
Looking back to Tangier
We had mixed feelings about leaving Morocco. Despite the many difficulties, particularly the hassle, we had become very fond of the country.
We joined the many queues for the various bits of bureaucracy, the worst being a really slow queue for drug checks, when we unfortunately got behind a whole lot of vans. We made up a sandwich which we ate for lunch as we slowly edged forward. When we reached this check the man asked Adrian to open the outside locker. At the sight of all the paraphernalia inside he said 'any drugs', laughing. It was so like Mexico. He didn't even look inside the van.
There was one check after another, but we were just waved on.
We at last reached our boat, now 1.30, and then the van had to rumble up to the upper deck. We got a seat at the front of the boat, but it was 45 minutes late in leaving (not a word was said). We spent the time working on our website.
There were very few passengers - no other English, and no other motorhomes. Luckily the crossing to Algeciras was fairly calm, as we couldn't locate our travel pills.
The only sign that we saw in English in Morocco
We arrived at Algeciras at 4.15 (5.15 Spanish). The driver of the car in front of us was late in arriving, and then had a flat battery, so we were practically last off the boat. We then had to wait for all the immigration checks, but although they opened doors and boots of the cars, we were just waved on, with only a cursory look inside the van.
Adrian then had the difficult task of finding our way out of the port. The first thing we noticed in Spain were the high rise buildings and the general cleanliness, and dare we say, the more courteous drivers.
We found our way to Carrefour, in Palmonas, which was huge. It felt more like 'home' and we stocked up for our return journey. We even managed to get some more dressings for my leg from the helpful lady in pharmacy.
We drove across to nearby Carlos', where we had stayed 6 weeks ago before our trip to Morocco, arriving at 6.15 (7.15).
Adrian cooked the bacalau (cod) he had bought, outside on the stove, but sustained many mosquito bites in the few minutes doing so. Then the back blind broke, and also we couldn't get a phone connection as hoped. We opened the bubbly!
Passing Gibraltar again
Wednesday 14th October Motorway across Spain 263 miles
There were some noisy lorries running engines, and then a short, sharp shower, which made Adrian get up to close the vents. With time being one hour on, the sun didn't rise until 8.45. It then rained hard briefly as we left at 9.15, but after that was sunny with a blue sky and fluffy grey/white clouds.
We travelled at first by toll motorway, the AP7 and AP46, which got us madly searching for our euros at the first barrier, as we had to pay €2. The next toll was €3.10! When we came to one for €4.60 we paid by card, and at the next one there was a lady to take our €3.25! After that we were on an 'autovia', which was free, the A92 and the A92N.
We drove at first through mountainous country, across viaducts and through tunnels, making us think of northern Italy. We could often see the sea, but we didn't enjoy the massive amount of development.
After passing Malaga, we took the road towards Granada (not seeing anything of either place), enjoying the patterns made by the olive trees in the fields.
Patterns of olive trees
After Granada, the road went through wild, empty mountains, with just a tinge of autumnal yellow.
We were listening to the next episode of 'Supertramp', and had trouble in remembering where we were, as it is set in USA and Canada and the scenery could have been either!
After an uneventful day, we arrived at our motorway overnighter at Velez Rubio just before 4.30. There was a large church in the town - something we hadn't seen for the past 6 weeks!
Velez Rubio and the view from our ‘aire’
Thursday 15th October More motorways towards Valencia 214 miles
The night had been quite cold, and so was the morning - we put the heating on for the first time. We hoped that it was because we were high up. Another motorhome had come in beside us, blocking our view of the rising sun, which was annoying.
We set off at 9.45, enjoying the lovely wild, hilly countryside from the motorway, with the clear blue sky.
At Lorca we saw the castle on top of the hill - the first of many today - before going into a tunnel beneath it.
The mountains were now of bare rock, but the flat valley of the Guadalentin River was cultivated with neat fields of cabbages and other vegetables and later there were vines and then orange trees.
We listened to episode 5 of Supertramp before turning off at Elda to get diesel from a Carrefour Express. (Adrian didn't like the fact that the petrol station on the motorway didn't have prices up!) In the small adjoining shop we were able to buy a loaf for lunch.
We were driving through wild, rugged mountain scenery, with more castles on top of hills. I was able to photograph the one at Villena.
Neatly planted veggies
We stopped in a really pleasant and clean rest area to have our coffee, being amused at the sign for 'picnic area' which looked like the 'Fred' cartoons!
Fred was very happy with his picnic table!
We had a short stretch of non motorway road between the A 31 and the A35, which we had been looking forward to, but it was a through-route for the dozens of lorries. One had broken down on a sharp bend on a hill, causing a long tail back in both directions while the police directed the traffic.
The countryside became greener as we neared Valencia.
At 3.30, we turned off the motorway on to the CV50, heading for the motorhome 'aire' we'd stayed at on our downward journey. We drove through the village of Carlet, noticing, as in other places, how quiet and tidy it was, with very few people about, whereas Moroccan towns were always alive with people and usually very untidy.
We arrived at the 'aire' at Turis at 4 o'clock in bright sunshine - a bit different from the thunderstorm of our previous stop. We'd remembered that the motorhome spaces were only just wider than the van, so had to park with enough room to get out!
The castle at Villena
Friday 16th October Back to Sitges 220 miles
The night wasn't cold, but the morning was overcast. We left just after 9 o'clock and made our way back to the motorway AP7 towards Valencia. A sign said that the temperature was 14°C, but by 9.30 the sun had broken through, and the rest of the day was sunny.
We were in orange country, and passed many acres of trees, with crates ready for loading.
As we drove northwards, we sometimes had glimpses of the sea, with the plethora of apartment blocks.
We stopped at a picnic place near Oropesa. There was a nice grassy area with trees and picnic tables, but it felt cool as we sat out with our tea/coffee.
The sky was clear as we crossed the Ebro River, listening to part 6 of Supertramp, which was more descriptive than exciting.
When we stopped for lunch we saw a motorhome just like ours. The Belgian owners came over - they were interested to see our van, and afterwards we went to see theirs. Although basically the same, there were many differences. We soon realised that we had little in common - their van was spotlessly clean for a start! They had no water tank, as they said that you couldn't easily clean it, and as they always went into campsites, they didn't need water! There was no glimmer of interest when we said that we were on our way back from Morocco, or when we mentioned grandchildren. Even so, it was good to compare.
We left there at 1.45, soon passing Tarragona, where I could see the Roman bridge from the motorway.
It was 3 o'clock when we arrived at Sitges. We took the first turning off the motorway as we thought that the signs said the real turning was closed. However we then mistakenly went right into the town, which gave Adrian a few nasty moments until we found our way out to Carrefour car park, where we were hoping to stay. Everywhere was packed out with cars - Tom had said that there was a film festival on, and that there might be a problem parking. Luckily we found what appeared to be the last space. Adrian set about cleaning the jet of the fridge, which had got blocked, so wasn't working.
We then walked down to Tom's, and he returned from work at the same time. Mar's mum arrived with Rita, who, unusually, had spent the whole day at Nursery as Mar was at a friend's wedding in Barcelona.
We walked across to the little park with Tom & Rita. When we got back, Tom made us pizzas for supper. We walked back up to the van at 11 o'clock.
Rita at the little park by their house
Saturday 17th - Sunday 18th October At Sitges
The film festival was 'Horror and Sci Fi' - not of any interest to me! There were stalls all along by the beach, and everywhere was busy and buzzing. We heard people returning to their cars in the early hours.
The weather was cloudy for most of the time, but we did sit on the beach for a short while, watching 2 people have a very quick swim!
Tom cooked a lovely fish meal for Sunday lunch, which we ate on their balcony with the wonderful sea view.
Later we went with Tom & Rita to a pond at the other end of Sitges to feed the ducks - but they had disappeared! We walked on to a children's park, which was very busy with children and their parents, including Rita's little cousin Noah and his mum. Rita was saying more in English, including counting to eight, unaided, which she was very proud of.
Fun in Sitges
Monday 19th October Back into France 179 miles
Tom came past to say goodbye on his way to work, then Mar came with Rita and we walked across to her nursery school to say goodbye before shopping in Carrefour opposite, ready for our return journey.
We then said goodbye to our 'neighbour' Nick, who was in a small van converted by his father. We'd talked to him quite a bit yesterday - he came from Oxford, but now lived in Bristol.
At 10.30 we left to drive round to the 'aire', hoping to dump and get water, which was desperately low.
The dumping area was horribly blocked, so that was no-go. The water - difficult to access here, as we knew - just spurted out all over the place. Adrian filled enough to keep us going.
By 11.15 we were on our way on the motorway, travelling north on the landward side of Barcelona mostly on the AP7.
There was a glimmer of sun when we stopped for lunch, but we weren't enticed to sit at the picnic tables.
We crossed back from Spain at la Jongera into France, at le Perthus. We wonder if there was a hiccup with the toll calculator for the AP7 motorway as the cost seemed ridiculously cheap.
We pulled into le Fitou rest area, as there was a viewpoint symbol. This was to the Etang de Salses et Leucate. It was a lovely spot, with views down over the lagoon. We could hear bird noise, and realised that there were many hundreds of starlings on the railway wires by the lake. They all took off when a train came, looking like a cloud. The sun was shining now, so it was a really pleasant stop.
We'd driven on the seaward side of the lagoon a few years ago.
At 4.30 we turned off the motorway to a camping 'aire' (4€) at Port la Nouvelle. The ride there was pretty - a bit different from 2 years ago, when the wind had been so violent that a lorry had blown over on the motorway.
Starlings at Etang de Salses et Leucate
Tuesday 20th October On through chilly France 310 miles
There was a nice sky as the sun came up to a partly cloudy morning, which later became sunny with blue sky.
We left at 9.15, noticing that it felt chilly. We stopped at Super U to get fuel and a baguette.
We returned to the A9 motorway and soon turned onto the A61 towards Toulouse, stopping at Aire des Corbieres for coffee. It was a nice, roomy rest area, but we sat inside because of the cool wind.
As we drove on past Toulouse there was some good autumn colour. We were listening to the last episode of W.H. Davies' Autobiography of a Supertramp'. We'd found the first half of the story more exciting than the second part, but it passed the time on the motorway well (10 hours playing time!).
When we stopped for lunch, we again found it too cool to sit outside. Soon afterwards we turned north on the A20. It was a toll motorway until we reached Brive, but was then free. Our map didn't show the difference.
It was a nice route that we were following, crossing the Lot and the Dordogne, passing so many places we have visited in the past. After Limoges, we turned off to an aire by Lac de Saint Pardoux. We reached it at 5.30, and immediately walked down across the large grassy area to the lake. This is a big recreation park, with a sandy beach and lots of trees and must be very busy in summer.
It felt very chilly as we walked back via the new swimming pool which was being constructed.
Nice view from the aire where we stopped for lunch
A pleasant place to overnight - Lac de Saint Pardoux
Wednesday 21st October Last full day abroad 318 miles
A disappointing day weatherwise for our last full day abroad.
It was a grey misty morning, which became foggy on the motorway. The sun tried to break through once or twice, but by the afternoon it had reverted to light rain.
We left just after 9 o'clock, stopping in Razes at the boulangerie before heading back on to the A20 motorway towards Chapeauroux. From here we took the D943 to Tours, stopping for coffee in a leafy rest area which would have been nice in the sun. We drove on through the long typically French village of Villedieu sur Indre before coming to the grey stone town of Loches, with its castle and large church.
We needed to get some LPG gas, but didn't locate the Carrefour which Adrian was looking for. On the way out of the town we passed an Esso garage where we were able to get diesel and LPG.
At Tours we found our way to the A28 to le Mans, having lunch at a dull picnic area.
We left at 2 o'clock, continuing north on the A28, which was an expensive toll road. We listened to 'Paddington Abroad', which Adrian always likes to hear when we are in France, reminding us of times with our children, when we always listened to it. We were passing places familiar to us from those times, but from the motorway and with the bad visibility, we didn't recognise anything. We saw several birds of prey, presumably kestrels, on posts beside the motorway.
We drove past Caen to Bayeux, where we were hoping to stay. Having left our book of motorhome aires behind, it had been difficult to locate these. The one Adrian had for Bayeux didn't materialise. We found an 'aire de service', where we were able to get much needed water (€3) and to dump. There was a map showing where we could stay in the town, so we made our way there, arriving at 5.45pm. This one cost €4. We counted out all our odd cents, and were able to use a lot, but not all of them, to pay.
Thursday 22nd - Friday 23rd October Back to England 66 miles (in France)
It was a grey morning. We both had showers in the van, now that we had plenty of water.
After breakfast we walked down into Bayeux, to the wonderful cathedral. It was the first church we had been in this trip. There was music playing, adding to the calm. I enjoyed the lovely stain glass windows. We both walked down into the crypt.
The motorhome aire at Bayeux - an idea England should copy!
We came out and walked around the typical French streets, finally finding a boulangerie and then managing to find our way back to the van.
When we left for Cherbourg at 11.30, the sun came out briefly but it then returned to drizzle, and stayed that way most of the day.
We turned off the motor road to drive though Carentan, where we had camped with the children in the 80's. We saw the campsite, but there was no easy access to dump, which we needed to do. We stopped at a 'square' in the centre to have our lunch.
We then continued to Cherbourg, stopping on the outskirts at a massive Auchan where we bought ham and cheese for the weekend get-together, and stocked up with wine. We then had to hunt for diesel, but after that we headed for the port. We were plenty early for our 6.30 sailing, but it was already busy, so we joined the queue and listened to the second part of 'Paddington abroad.' Just as it ended, we were called to board.
But we didn't leave at 6.30! We were In fact almost 2 hours late in leaving, setting sail at almost 8.30. We'd gone to the onboard cafe to get fish and chips, which were very mediocre - in fact my fish was definitely third rate.
Another passenger had spoken to us, saying that we could claim back some of the ferry price if we were delayed. Adrian emailed the company next day, and sure enough, we were granted 25% of the ticket price! Worth doing, so we thank that passenger.
The crossing was uneventful. We read through our recent diary, and looked up various past journeys - amazed that with our young family (and camping) we'd made the journey from northern France to Spain in less time than we'd taken this time.
We arrived at Poole at midnight. We were hoping to overnight at the dock. Another motorhome was too, and together we went into the departure area, where sure enough you could overnight for £5, payable at the cafe. This was closed tonight. In the morning we found it closed too, so it was a free night!
We drove to nearby Asda, where we bought a few more things for the Cape weekend which starts later today at a Youth Hostel in Dorset, (we'll be back in Hermitage on Monday) and also some fireworks for Bonfire Night.
In the greyness, we thought back to the heat and sunshine of Morocco. It had been a different and challenging trip, but with very many fond memories. We're glad that we went!
Some favourite places in Morocco
Oualidia - sandy calm lagoon, with rough waves breaking beyond.
Seafood meal cooked for us on beautiful beach.
Essaouira - clean, tidy atmospheric town with lovely feel.
Source Bleue de Meski - 'quirky' campsite by source of river, where a swimming pool had been made. Really busy with Moroccans at weekend but very quite during week.
Mohammed (who ran the campsite) played drums for us with his brother.
Sidi Ifni - huge site beside the sea, but only us there.
Agadir - spacious and relaxed.
Jardin Exotiques (near Rabat) - An amazing green haven.
Majorelle gardens (near Marrakesh) - beautiful and shady.
Chellah (Rabat) - great ancient ruins
Volubilis - huge site of Roman ruins
Sahara at sunrise
Dades and Todra gorges
Things we liked about Morocco
High temperatures with lovely evenings
Very few mosquitoes
Low prices - fuel, entry fees, food (bread)
Some very good roads
Nice, simple campsites
People appeared happy
Wonderful varied scenery
Very little rain
Full of character - unEuropean
Things that we didn't like in Morocco
Weather sometimes too hot, especially in and near Sahara
Not being able to trust anyone
Lots of flies
Dreadful topes (sleeping policemen)
Bad road conditions
Alcohol difficult to find
Felt very aware of women being 'covered up'
Cafes mostly men only - not easy to eat out comfortably
Campsite restaurants closed 'out of season'
Bargaining for goods
Fruit/veg of poor quality
'Call to prayer' (also non-muslims not allowed into Mosques)
Bad - or different - driving rules. No road 'manners'
Very little maintenance in towns or campsites
Bureaucracy in paperwork at campsites
Petrol stations/campsites etc rarely took visa for payment