a good meal with my parents and others, on Sunday 14th January,
we set off from Millstream to drive the Toyota Hilux with the trailer,
digger and all our tools down to the ruined Mill we have bought
in southern Catalunya. We went down to Portsmouth to catch the night
ferry to Caen. In the evening in Portsmouth, we visited Pondson
who has just started at Portsmouth University and is studying Computer
Graphics. After a meal with him and his girlfriend, we went and
queued for the expected customs inspection and loading on the ferry.
we were waved straight through customs and after a couple of other
queues were onboard the Brittany ferry, Mont St. Michel.
journey went well although the going was a bit slow on the uphills.
We cruised through all the border customs and found hotels to sleep
at relatively easily, even though we were out of season.
We were very tired on the first day and welcomed the sight of our
first nights sleep in the hotel Chateau de la Tour. We got a bottle
of wine, took it up to our room and took turns to lie in the bath
or flick through the TV channels.
dinner the food was great and the maitre d' gave good advice on
the choice of wine. Apart from us, he had a party french utility
company managers on an organised bash. For them, the maitre d' had
prepared 6 wines from the region to complement the courses. He had
a wine chart made up and happily told us all about the choices and
left us with a copy of the chart.
the next morning we were on our way down and across to Perpingnan
and then down to Barcelona and beyond.
the way we stopped for a break at an otherwise unassuming rest stop.
Crouch and aim toilets :) except there was an amazing Roman ruin
out the back. What is that all about ?
looping down onto the Mediteranean stretch of the motorway, we had
to crawl up the hill to Spanish customs to be waved through again,
then it was down past Girona and into the maelstrom surrounding
Barcelona. We popped out the other side and started looking for
somewhere to stay. At this point, we could have driven on to the
Mill but would have arrived very late and we could not safely take
the trailer into Tortosa. So we decided to stop short and the get
a good run to the Mill the next morning.
a few false starts, we found a small seaside hotel in Sitges, just
south of Barcelona. It was quiet enough to safely leave the van
and trailer on the beachfront parking and we walked back to book
a room for the night. Sitges is a lovely town. It was not very busy,
so we wandered around and had some tapas in the Navarrin bar, before
moving on to a restaurant on the front near the church. It was very
busy, with people pouring in. The table behind me in the picture
seated about 20 people. The food was very good, but so different
to the previous nights'.
at the Mill
Wednesday luch, we got to the Mill and got the digger off the trailer,
then started putting the tools away. The next day, we built a temporary
access path across some broken land at the side of the Mill.
tons of boulders some soil and hey presto, getting to the Mill was
easy. In the future there will be other access, but for now we needed
a straight run down to the front of the building.
Friday we hacked back some of the undergrowth around the road side
trees and grasses while we waited for two architechs who we hope
will want to be involved in planning the restoration. After they
arrived and had seen what a terrible state the Mill was in and talked
to us about our ideas, they said it would cost a lot, but would
be a great project. It had been a boiling hot day. If that was the
norm, we were in for problems. In the event it was a recordbreaking
went up into Mas de Barberans on Saturday to find out if the apartment
we were palnning to rent was finished. The old guy in the shop only
had Catalan or Castillian, both spoken in a torrent which made you
take a step back. Still, after a bit of too'ing and fro'ing, we
got the message across that we wanted the apartment from 1st Feb.
and left them with person to contact if there were any problems.
Then we drove back up to Reus airport dumped the van in the carpark
and persuaded a check-in girl to book us in as the Ryanair desk
had just closed. Soon we would be back in storm wracked and soon
to be frozen England.