Tuesday 20th October.
Well, after the deluge when we arrived in Portugal we've now had two days of scorching sunshine and we're not complaining, after all, that's why we're driving south - to escape the English winter. Yesterday morning we left Vila do Conde heading for the town of Melres in the Douro valley, we wanted to see a bit of inland Portugal rather than just the coastline and the stop had been suggested by a fellow member on the Wildcamping forum (wildcamping.co.uk). The fun began when we took the shortest route through a narrow forest track. The minor roads in Portugal all seem to be laid with granite setts which are hard wearing but cause the van and it's contents to rattle like nobody's business but eventually we returned to Tarmac and followed the coordinates we'd been given. Unfortunately one of us got them slightly wrong, we passed the car park overlooking the river, which looked promising but continued down a narrow track until we could go no further. Asking myself how many times I've done this I selected reverse gear and fifteen minutes and a few heart stopping moments later we got back to the car park 41.06806 -8.40275. To describe Melres as sleepy is a bit of an understatement, comatose would be a better description but the view across the river was beautiful so we decided to stop for the night.
During the drive I noticed a scraping/scratching sound coming from the l/h rear wheel. I suspected some dust or a bit of grit on the disc so when we parked up I thought I'd take the wheel off and investigate. Strangely enough I didn't notice the noise when braking but thought I'd have a look and see what I could see. This was the first time I'd had occasion to remove a wheel and, of course, the wheel brace wouldn't budge the wheel nuts, they'd been tightened with an air gun and I had no chance. There was a building site a few hundred metres away and I thought I might go and ask if I could borrow a shortish scaffold pole to get some leverage but realised my Portuguese wasn't up to such an enquiry. So, the tools went back in the boot and I'm now on a hunt for a scaffold pole. The noise starts after about ten or fifteen minutes driving so if anyone reading this has any ideas what might be causing it I'd be pleased to hear from you.
This morning we set off for Estarreja, a slightly larger town with some dedicated Motorhome parking in the car park together with electricity for a mere €2/24hrs, a bargain 40.75372 -8.56644. One of the advantages of the electricity is that we have a chance to use the slow cooker that we brought with us, which is mainly for use when we get to the campsite in Spain. As we've travelled around Spain we've often had a delicious dish of lentil, ham and sausage; sometimes as a starter and often as tapas. All the supermarkets sell small packs containing a slab of fatty bacon and one red and one black sausage and I bought a pack a few days ago. We had some lentils in the cupboard so after lunch today I set to. Everything is simmering away nicely and that's tonight's dinner sorted plus enough to freeze for another day.
Today is market day in Estarreja and we arrived in time to have a look around just before they started packing up. Phil bought a rather fetching pinafore for the bargain price of €1.50 and I bought an adaptor for my 10l water container for the same price so I can now fill up the van with water from the outside filler rather than inside thereby avoiding the water pump dropping off every few days.
Well, someone's got to wash up after the chef and she has got a new pinny.
I've also managed to find some WiFi in the town and I'm hoping it's good enough to allow me to watch Arsenal discover their form in the Champions League against arguably the best team in Europe, Bayern Munich, with possibly the best striker in Lewandowski.
Update on the WiFi - very weak signal aargh!!