Monday 4th May
I offered to take her out for dinner and what happens? She blows me out, just as well really, the rain started hammering down. We are in a free aire in a large mining town. It’s on a slope, motorway and railway line on one side and flats daubed in graffiti on the other. Behind us is a piece of waste ground used as a dogs toilet when they can’t be bothered to use the aire but it is free and we are here.
As we are eating our dinner a motorhome turns up and parks in the service bay, then another motorhome turns up and then a third. Great, we think, we’re not on our own tonight but it looks like they’ve all been out with their local DA and are only dumping waste and filling with water ready for next weekend.
Luckily Spain doesn’t seem to suffer with gangs of yobs on street corners at night and the motorway did calm down, we had a really good sleep despite being downstairs since the upstairs bed is looking really sad for itself.
Up in the morning and after a quick breakfast we head for the Fial Service Centre in Mieres to get the engine light sorted. I had practiced my Spanish all night and he thought I was a local because he started jabbering away. It turns out he can’t help, I have to go to the main agent in Oviedo 20 miles away.
We arrive at the main agent, having to have held the bed up as we bumped over some lousy roads and eventually get an interview with the main man in reception. He tells me it is nothing to worry about, if he was to have a look it would take two days. I asked him about getting the bed fixed and he gave us an address in Pruvia. Stella had never heard of Pruvia and the address consists of the name of a road and a distance away from Gijon in km. I also got the postcode which is slightly less accurate than an English postcode, a whole town will have the same postcode. To cut a long story short we eventually found the motorhome dealers and explained the problem using photos, signs and pointy fingers.
The engineer really didn’t want to fix it, “mucho mucho trabaljer” he kept saying but we talked him into fixing it and went off into Gijon to see what was there. Sometimes we plan a city visit but not this time, we randomly wandered, got Lucy’s hair cut and dried, found a bar for tapas, looked around and spent most of the afternoon wandering. The workshop had explained that it was a long job and we might have to stay in their workshop overnight so it wasn’t until 7.00pm that we arrived back to find out that they had fixed the bed, it seems to be even better than it was originally. It has totally blown our budget for this month, Lucy worked it out to the same as 275 litres of Sangria.
We found an aire just outside Gijon and the sun is out and we are looking over the sea to the other side of the bay, looking through the palm trees and I have two big weights off my mind. Any little problems just seem to be so much bigger when you are miles from home. I’ve decided to stay here a couple of days, we’ve got everything we need.
PS. Sorry about sending three blogs to you in one day, I know some of you can’t read very quickly but I seized an internet access opportunity while I could. I was sat in the hairdressers picking up wifi from the shop next door.
Once all the dog walkers had gone home and I’d had a chat with a motor homing Spaniard who couldn’t believe that you have to pay to park everywhere in England the aire went very quiet until the storm hit us, Frankie started rocking in the wind and the rain hammered down. It really is sunshine or storm here at the moment.
We were woken at 7.30am by the noise of strimmers going full belt outside the window, don’t they know that Lucy (sponsored by Sleepeasy) is a member of Team GB, part of the synchronised sleeping team, currently on her international tour promoting her latest book, “Aires what I have slept on”. Following the success of her last book “Ironing? Dream on” she is now thinking of sleeping full time.
The sun was shining and we decided to go for a walk.
It was only going to be a short walk so Lucy wore her flip flops but we ended up walking all the way round the bay on the lovely wide promenade.
One of three beaches in Gijon.
And this is what we find the other side of the bay – big black clouds. We had just sat down because the sun was getting rather warm and it looked like that was the type of thing us old people do, we were trying to blend in.
Behind us was a sign saying Roman Baths but the doors were closed and it all looked locked up. It turns out that it was open and it was devoid of people when we got inside (for some reason). Gijon doesn’t really have any old buildings, it was the major Muslim port for the Bay of Biscay and the seat of the King of Asturia but until the 19th century was very underdeveloped. It then got blasted during the civil war and much of what you can see nowadays is fairly modern. This was an old part that was only discovered recently when excavating the foundations for a new building.
All the usual things, hypercaust, mosaics, wall murals. It was a fairly large structure but all the notes were in Spanish.
It was also very dark and we were warned off using flash.
Once we were out of the Roman baths we made our way towards the harbour and found a perfect sculpture. 3,200 cider bottles which set the thirst buds anticipating.
To cure our thirst we had to find a sidraeria again and here we have our happy drinker doing what she does best. (Please don’t forget to comment and say how much you like her hair, it cost the same as 39 litres of sangria).
And this is our waiter doing what he does best. This was a posh place and they had mobile buckets to pour your cider into. If you could zoom into his eyes you would see that he isn’t looking down, he is gazing, zombie like, into the far distance.
We ordered lunch, veal for me and chicken in garlic for Lucy. Mine turned up and in an unusual restrained way I managed to make it last twice as long as normal but Lucy still had nothing to eat so we asked and it hadn’t been ordered, somehow every Spanish meal we’ve had has had a problem.
By this time we were on our second bottle of cider and we’d given up waiting for our man to pour us half an inch of cider every couple of minutes so I took the liberty of helping myself. One of the other waiters came over and put our bottle on the naughty shelf behind Lucy out of reach and tutted loudly, I need to practice my zombie stare.
We have found another place of interest in Gijon but Lucy has put her foot down and won’t let me visit. Gijon is home to the International Bagpipe Museum, whatever will they think of next to put into a museum?
Sunset over Gijon. We will be back to this city, don’t know when but it ticked all the boxes for us.