Twelve hours and nearly 200€ in fuel later, we made it to the hotel, plus Spain is an hour ahead so that’s 5 AM arrival time after leaving at 4.15 PM. Sure, we got a late start but Ariel can’t swim fast and it’s a long way, three fuel stops, one off the main road somewhere and a food stop. We had a plate of french fries after I chased some sheep through a gate, what? That’s the adventure of being on the road, strange random occurrences, unforeseen and bizarre meetings, in this case with the locals in a little village. Opposite the restaurant, a man and a woman were herding sheep across the road, I had my camera and followed. By the time I got to the gate, the sheep were already gone, scurrying down into the fields. But the couple beckoned to me to come through and started calling the sheep back before emptying a big bag of potato peel on the ground down the pathway away from the road. The sheep were nowhere to be seen, disappearing somewhere down the hill but the potato peel and the calling were impossible for them to resist and they were back in a flash, munching away, friendly sheep, friendly people.
The restaurant had a friendly waitress and a noisy barmaid. She had a really abrasive voice and another older couple was also bothered by her. What an annoying voice she had, shrill, loud, unaware. The customers at the bar were locals, friends I suppose, it’s all fine, have fun, but the place was echoey and we actually ate outside with the chill because inside it was unbearable. Just before we left I thought I’ll bring the plates back, as I did I dropped one of them on the floor and it smashed into pieces, throwing aioli everywhere and echoing around the room. I apologised profusely to everyone, funnily enough, they had also dropped and smashed a bottle just ten minutes before, they all laughed at the mishap, perhaps quieter people would have been more annoyed. No carpets in Spain, you drop something, it’s done.
On the way through the Portuguese countryside into Spain, you could see the devastation of drought and fires, burnt ground and dead trees. Apparently, the ‘needle trees’ (coniferous trees) need a lot of water otherwise they die and the landscape was littered with dead brown bodies, starved to death. It became markedly colder as we drove north, of course, it was also later in the day, but our southern European habit of T-shirts was becoming insufficient as autumn slinked down from the north. But it was great to be heading out for a nearly three-week excursion, starting with the Anekdoten show and travelling through France to England and back again, hopefully with some more things from the storage, we’ll see if we get killed by the customs on the way back.
Today, the day we left, I finally got an email from immigration, telling me I have an appointment to get my residency card, on the day I’m leaving, can you believe it? As it happened I was able to get an appointment for October 14th so we need to be back before then. One of the reasons we are going is because I need a stamp out of the EU, due to Portuguese/German red tape, long story but when I get this residency card, this won’t happen again and I’ll be free to travel through Europe (I think) as an EU resident without restrictions, or at least without stamps.
So here we are hitting the sack at 5.30 AM in Olite in Spain and that will do for tonight, big day tomorrow.
Music today on our new radio/CD/AUX/USB player has been a struggle because Ariel is loud but we managed to fill in the gaps on Revolver (1966), Pet Sounds (1966), Abbey Road (1969), Best Of Bee Gees (1969), The Definitive Monkees (2001), After the Gold Rush and the Best of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (1967), who I realised today are the sixties Duran Duran. But the album of the day was most definitely Badfinger’s Straight Up (1971), I love that record.