Where's Frankie?

There’s gold in them tha’ hills

Saturday 10th January

We left our wild camping spot on 6th January aiming for a Lidls in Vera but it was pretty obvious that nothing was going to be open, there was so little traffic and when we arrived everything was closed up for the day. We redirected Stella to the aire and she wanted to take us on a 17m trip round and around Vera but we are getting wise to her little tricks and ignored her and followed the blue motorhome signs.

The road we used was not in Stellas memory banks but we got to our destination without any problems. I went into reception and was rather underwhelmed with the response I received, I think he wanted to be having a day off like everyone else. He took my details but didn’t tell me anything about the site or where to go.


The site is barely a year old and terraced into the side of a hill with reception at the bottom and a large area at the top taking 150 units in all.


Not sure if you can see in this photo but they are decorating the areas with Gaudiesque mosaics and curvy surfaces. Like most of Spain, it will look lovely whine is finished.

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Most of the empty bays on the terraces were too small for Frankie so we parked up in the large area at the top which had the benefit of getting the sun for much longer in the day and was flat. It is a lovely site, restaurant, fast wifi, showers and laundrette but it is miles out of town so we missed the big night, maybe next year.

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I shouldn’t have joked about grotty weather in the last blog, guess what we got the first morning? Dark clouds covering the whole sky but every cloud has a silver lining (except for these ones), I managed to get all my accounts done and sent off to the VAT man, Osborne can now relax, he has just received a major boost to the economy.

The wifi on this site was top notch, super fast and all for just €9 per night dropping to €8 after three nights. By lunchtime the clouds had disappeared and since we were running out of food (apparently) I had to take Lucy for a slap up meal in the restaurant. Morrocon spiced kebabs with chips and salad and a pint or two. If you were offered Morrocon spiced kebabs would your first thought be lamb, possibly chicken. I was surprised when it was pork!


While I did my accounts I asked Lucy to do some planning for where we are off to next and she has now been presented with her Brownies map reading badge. She chose a lovely coast road with lovely sea views and gently twisting roads. This is the road ahead of us, we have to loop round the back of the mountain and as we get to the bottom of the mountain there is a lovely little white town called Agua Amarga where she had planned a short lunch time break while my shoulders have a rest.

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Car park right next to the beach, no way I’m driving this afternoon, this is swimming trunks time. Unfortunately my budgie smugglers are too small and I’ll have to look for some parrot smugglers next time I get a chance.

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We spent two nights here, lovely site, free, no water, no waste and most of the few shops in the town were shut for winter but we did get regular police patrols.

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As we have been moving around we have seen some of the same people again. There were four units we had seen from previous wild camping spots. 

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Here’s a picture for my mum, she is an expert on flowers. This flower is 4-5” across. What is it?

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After two nights we decided to move on, the English guy to one side of us was rather deaf and his radio was a bit too loud for us. To block out his noise we actually listened to some music in the van for the first time in 84 days, I only know it is that long because I did a quick add up of the money we’ve spent so far and it is working out to £27.60 per day. I can’t remember if we were aiming at spending €30 per day or £30 per day.

This is one of Lucy’s roads. It was 27km long, mostly single lane with very few passing places and for long stretches there were no safety barriers. Lucy had her eyes closed most of the way, I had them closed some of the way but luckily we only met three cars and one motorhome.

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Luckily I had pulled over to the only lay-by on this road to take a photo of this solar panel farm and to see if I could nick anything! Lots of solar powered cameras everywhere!

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Photo of Stella just in case you haven’t sen her before. I can safely say that I didn’t exceed the speed limit on this road barely getting out of 2nd gear,

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Yesterday I was reading about Spanish food and in particular Spanish cheese, much of which is made from goats or sheep milk and I realised that we haven’t seen a single farm animal apart from noisy dogs and we stop in a village and this guy is taking his goats for a walk.

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This is Sorbas, the outer part of it.

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Loads of houses clinging to the edge of the ravine. The town is famous for it’s pottery so when we saw the sign “Centro de Visitad” we knew that it meant visitors centre and there would be a large car park for us to get out and browse the town. Six spaces next to the blue P sign, the main car park must be further on…

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Lucy had used some choice language on the twisty roads, here she really went to town. The roads were barely wide enough to get through, there were cars parked at any old silly angle and overhanging brackets and signs were really trying to rip chunks out of Frankie. It went on and on.

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Here we had to half turn in, reverse a bit and have another go and then we have some plonker behind us beeping us to get out of the way! I kept my calm, kept my breathing under control and skilfully negotiated this lovely little town. After getting through the town we walked in to take the photos and by then the market had ended and most of the cars had gone.

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Taking the road from Sorbas to Tavernas and beyond you pass through Europe’s only real desert (other than Clacton) and it is where lots of western movies were filmed. Here is Texas Hollywood and you can just see the old cowboy town. In the summer they have bank robberies three times a day. You’d have thought the Sherif would have got wise to it by now.

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Heres another view with the indians to the left about to attack the cavalry.

Many spaghetti westerns were filmed here including The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More giving non speaking roles to locals. I want to know why they are called spaghetti westerns if they are made in Spain.

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We’ve stopped in an aire not in the aires book but in the Motorhome Parkings database, explanation later. It is very new, purpose built for 14 motorhomes with lots of shade which would be great in the summer. It is next to a picnic area with benches and BBQ points. Near the exit is a leisure centre with swimming pool and tennis courts but it is 2km out of town if you need the shops.

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 Through the trees we have views of the Sierra Nevada, a high mountain range, with snow on the peaks.

We’ve moved on to a site just outside Granada, it’s an ACSI site, we’re not sure how much it is going to cost us per night but we are going into Granada tomorrow, have already booked our tickets for Alhambra, will catch up with you later.

The countryside in Spain changes from minute to minute. In one day we’ve been on the coast, driven through mountains and seen snow on the tops of some of them. We’ve been through a desert, seen thousands of acres of polytunnels, thousands of acres of olive trees and then thousands of acres of scrubland. The following day we saw acres of solar panels, acres of solar water heaters, acres of wind turbines and last as we came over the Sierra Nevada acres of forests, the first we’ve seen in Spain. There seems to be no mix of agriculture, if you’re in a certain area then you grow what everyone else is growing.

Hundreds of you have been asking about our planning, there isn’t a lot to report because we really don’t do too much but we have been working at it and gradually tweaking things. We have a large AA map of Europe and if we read something about a place, either in a guide book or on the internet we circle the town. We put squares round places that are world heritage sites and we have a book bought second hand from Upminster library called Drive around Andalusia and the Costa del Sol which has driving routes which have been drawn onto the AA map as well.

We have an app called Motorhome Parkings which is a Dutch based organisation with over 500 aires in Spain and 200 in Portugal, i.e. double the numbers of the All the Aires Spain and Portugal book and for every aire we put a big black dot on the atlas. All we have to do then is join the dots, trying to make them go through places of interest.

We had/have been using a big dataset that Adam from www.europebycamper.co.uk has compiled which runs on MS Autoroute but Microsoft are about to stop supporting Autoroute so I have been looking around for alternatives. Autoroute only runs in Windows and my laptop is taking longer and longer to boot up at the moment so any alternative is welcome. I have found an android app called maps.me which uses Openstreet maps which can be used offline, we don’t have internet very often so it is very useful to have the offline maps. So far I have managed to get all the Lidl supermarkets and GPL stations loaded into maps.me which have proved to be very useful. I have struggled to get any of the camping cars-info pushpins loaded, there seems to be a problem translating them from tomtom format to KML so if anyone out there has some time on there hands??

9 thoughts on “There’s gold in them tha’ hills

    1. Mark Post author

      Chris, yes that is the right place. There are apps for for android and Ios. The app is free to start with so you can try it out but it is well worth the £4.50 ish to get the full version. Once you have that you can download the maps for whichever area you are in. I think it said there were 17,500 places in Europe in the database.
      The Dutch really go in for motorhoming in Spain, there must be some reason why there are so many of them, they outnumber the Germans,French and Brits easily.

  1. Clive

    It an Italian director, French film crew, shot in Spain, a few American actors and lots of locals making up the numbers.

    1. Mark Post author

      Sounds like you have far too much time to google. I still think Paella westerns has a certain je ne sais quo.

      Flower question – this is my mums response!

      I have gone through six gardening books, and I still haven’t a clue. While the pair of you sunbathe us over here get closer to the fire. Well done Lucy getting your Brownie badge. I had to wait years before I got my cookery one. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something! You are having a good time plenty of white knuckle drives Love to you both Mum xxxx

      Percy Throwers guide to Spanish flowers is the book you need, £7.99 on Amazon. Do a google flowers, spain, winter, images, I’m sure you can work it out. In the meantime it is a hibuscus until you let me know otherwise.

  2. andrew

    Glad you have returned your vat, you cant run forever , I will ok it in the morning . G O sends his love I got a tax rebate last week how lucky is that £££ like printing your own cheque. .if you had haggeled on LUCYs shoes you wouldn’t be running out of cash already !!!!!!!! Thanks for the photo of the sunset ,was that rons discovery on the beach ? I am no Barry Norman but The reason they are called spaghetti westerns is because they were directed by Italians with Italian money I think. . Sorry cant help you with your techno problems if I was helping you would still be in Hornchurch . keep it coming its a great read, photos make us jealous follow the sun and if that is hiding follow the warm rain, Parrots have tremendous power in their beaks ,stick to the budgies . O/O

    1. Mark Post author

      Thanks Giorgio, you’re like having you very own Spanish wikipedia. Lucy does have problems getting photos, we sit well back from the windscreen and she’s only got short arms so can’t reach to the side windows. By the time she has got everything in focus and composed there is a tree has usually popped it’s self in the way. I’m concentrating hard on the road, they twist and have ditches either side. I think on that photo I pulled over to the wrong side of the road and stopped.

  3. Ann and Eric McLaren

    So pleased you made Granada. Seeing the snow on the mountains reminded me of our lovely Los Lomas site 3500feet up in the mountains. Beautiful clear mountain air, as shepherd guarding his sheep in the nearby almond grove. A view of the snow and mountains one way from our pitch and down into the Dam/reservoir the other. We also had a good restaurant, bus stop right outside the door and about 45 minutes trip at almost no cost into Granada. A wonderful area. I could wish myself back there but a second visit would probably not be the same.
    We are doing last minute packing having had our week of family fair well visits. So must rush or the boss will want to crack the whip.
    Hope we will get you in Spain we will have to get a Spanish sim card EE can not support the dongal after all. Anything could happen. We can be contacted by mobile ******** ***** if you happen on Benicassim again Feb/March time.
    Till we meet up again. Regards keep on loving your tr[p.
    Ann and Eric

    1. Mark Post author

      Great to hear from you again, glad you’re getting on with the packing. We are continuing around Spain / Portugal in a clockwise direction so won’t be back near Benecassim for a long while now.
      Keep meaning to look into getting a Spanish sim but I need to work a bit more on my Spanish accent and remember to take the dongle (and passport) into town with me. We are managing without just about but if you are on a site then you either pay their extravagant wifi prices or end up in a bar!!
      PS I took your mobile number out, you don’t want all the strange people on here phoning you up.

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