We are now fully one year on from when we departed the UK – and it’s such a different world we now live in.

This week we have had a long stretch of poor weather, with lots of rain coming in from the West. This has made Spain seem like Ireland in the Summer, 16 – 18 degrees and rain most of the time! With the local towns locked down by the daily numbers of Covid, we have had it quite good, as the numbers where we are – Barbate - are modest. There are updates every weekday that let you know the status of every town in Andalucía.

A lot of motorhomes seem to trundle up and down the road and it seems that foreign van owners do not feel the rules apply to them. Plus, of course, the surfers that arrive from all over Spain. For our part we view the situation differently, and we have decided to stay put while following the rules to the letter.

This meant getting a certificate of justification to allow us to drive to a dentist to get Karen’s tooth looked at, as she has chipped it. We were not stopped or questioned, but regardless, you should have the paperwork to travel across town boundaries. We will be making several trips over the coming weeks to get the tooth sorted. Thankfully, she is not in pain and there is not much else to do! We now have two follow up appointments in February to finish the job.

On the other hand, the Barbate municipal area, where we live in is large - over 25km wide with three little villages and the main town. When the rain stopped, we took ourselves off to the other edge of the area, doing the Z to Z run Zahora to Zahara - very original with the names around here.

We found that a beach restaurant was open and had some locals sitting out wrapped up against the cold. The usual menagerie of family pets were running about, plus one we had never seen out before, calmly walking on a lead: a lamb, and the owners name… María. You could not make it up!!

The bar owner’s daughter, Maria, took the little lamb for a walk, perfectly well behaved apart from a tendency to eat napkins. The goats cheese salad was worth the 50km round trip on the bike, lovely. If Covid does not reach 1000 per 100,000 people in the area, we will be allowed to continue to visit.

Where we are pitched, we do have a few neighbours: Alan and Judy from the UK, Helena from Sweden, another UK couple Kim and Sue, plus a new German couple who arrived this week. Kim has a huge US RV with a full size washing machine in it!

With our direct neighbours we trekked the 22km round trip to Barbate and stopped for a tapa. By the time we got back the fog had rolled in and we were freezing. Thankfully, Judy had made a wonderful beef stew. We sat around together (all staying the requisite 1.5m apart), fully wrapped up and ate and laughed about the weather.

The next day we returned to Barbate on our bikes to pick up some shopping, wine mainly and to check out if there was a laundry for next week’s washing. The interesting lives we lead! The journey back reminded me of the dangers of electric bikes, as mine ran out of power on the way back and I was knackered by the time we got home, but the wine made it back safely. Note to self: recharge batteries after each long journey.

Most of the rest of the week was taken up by going for walks and then finding ourselves soaked to the skin by the time we returned. I try and challenge myself to doing 10,000 steps a day and we do manage to cover quite some mileage every week. This week’s total coming to 113,695 steps, and, as I write, a total of 87.8Km. Not to mention the 75km of cycling! It does keep us fit and we are now finding new forest walks to add variety to our day. It is looking like we will be locked down here for the foreseeable future, so exploring the area as much as possible is the best we can do.

Today, as a group,we trotted across the road and had a socially distanced lunch. Filippo says he has checked out our blog, but we don’t think so.

Again, we should point out it is not a bed of roses here. It rains and rains and although it may not get as cold as back home, it can feel like it! For those of you that think that it is all Sun, Sea and Sangria here in Spain during lockdown it is not! It is more like Wind, Waves and Whiskey.

 

As we have looked back on the year we thought we could give you some numbers on how much this has cost, how far we travelled, plus some other highlights.

Statistics for the Trip so Far:

Countries visited: France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, France, Italy, France and Spain. As you can see, we looped around a bit due to Covid.

Kms travelled in total: 22,793 Source: Polarsteps

Miles Driven in Buster: 11,500

Kms Cycled: 2,281 Source: Karen’s Bike Odometer

Kms walked: 3,180, Steps walked: 4,259,604, Floors climbed: 6,798 Source: All from Pedometer!

Van Fuel: Total Litres: 2118.39. Total cost in £2,180.93. Average MPG 25.20

Price per litre: Lowest £0.67 (Turkey March 2020), highest (£1.19 Italy Feb 2020), approx. average £1.03

Gas for Van: Cooking and heating. 139 litres, costing £88.33

Ad Blue: 80 litres, costing £73.47 - we thought that this was a lot.

Source for the above: All recorded in our fuel monitor app.

Money spent: Lots! Approx. £89 a day. This includes all ferries Italy – Greece, Greece – Chios, Chios – Turkey, (The Isle of Wight is not the most expensive in the world per mile, this is!! 18km just over €200), Greece – Italy, and finally Spain – UK in April.

This is from the only account we have used for the trip: the Santander Zero credit card. It has proved a boon, no charges for withdrawing cash if you clear the balance the same day. The exchange rates have been particularly good, on a par with Revolut rates. We would recommend this card to anyone. It worked everywhere.

Lockdown weeks: So far, we have been stationary for 24 weeks of the year due to Covid, 12 in Turkey and the rest here in Spain over two periods, before and after Christmas.