Bush fires

Despite living in Australia and Spain I’d never seen a bush fire before. Until this year.

In the space of a few weeks, we saw fires both on the way up and down the N340, perilously close to houses, flames leaping into the air, and helicopters desperately trying to drench the flames.

Apparently some 50% of fires in Australia may be caused deliberately.

And in Spain? Well, apparently 95% of fires are due to people, whether deliberate or otherwise.

Farming practices, deliberate arson, people throwing bottles or fag ends on dry and brittle vegetation = fire.

Spain apparently has suffered the driest winter for 40 years. No wonder there were bush fires in May.

And while we drove past the first one at La Duquesa, the one near Sotogrande was a definite no-no – and we were sent back up the road by the Guardia Civil to take an alternative route.

Smoke at La Duquesa

Flames at La Duquesa

Time to turn around. No arguing with the Guardia Civil

Flames taking hold near Sotogrande

Helicopters to the rescue

Helicopter drops water over the flames

Please people, never throw your cigarette ends out of the window, or chuck them anywhere, in fact don’t smoke. Don’t leave bottles lying around in dry areas, in full sun, dispose of them sensibly.

Or this is what happens. Burnt trees, burned ground, houses luckily surviving. Where everything was once green and full of life, it is now, burnt to death.


On the road to Mongolia

This is a travel post – maybe not in a Landy – but natch, there is a Landy link.

Not long after we had embarked on our own travels through France, Spain and Portugal (in the Landy), we received a letter from a friend in the UK.

Like us, he had a Series III 109 with a V8, so there was never a shortage of conversation. Might have been a shortage of different topics – but who needs more than one?

He worked within a radius of up to 100 or so miles from home. When he rewired our Series after the rebuild – there was no charge. A genuine Land Rover mate.

Anyway, his letter told us he was off to work for a private company which ran maintenance contracts on a British Army base in a previously war-torn country. As with most of these international interventions, the role had changed to peacekeeping and reconstruction.

The next time he got in touch, he was off south – to somewhere colder. This confused us both. South is invariably warmer. Unless it is Antarctica. On his way back home, via what seemed like half of South America, he called in to see us in Spain – as you do.

In fact, he flew into Malaga, found the bus to our village, and when we were still busy cleaning the place for his arrival there was a knock on the door. Were we ever impressed. ‘Hello,’ he said, and smiled.

A good week or so ago, we g0t an email announcing the next short journey he’s going on. Mongolia. In an ambulance.

So below are some links – ones for his team, and the official web site for The Adventurists.

I’d never heard of The Adventurists before, but it’s a fascinating site, if a bit of a pain to negotiate.

And the other relevant Landy comment is – you can’t take one on any of The Adventurist expeds 😦 Unless – it is a public service utility vehicle, eg ex-mil ambulance or fire engine, but you would have to check up on that. If I’m wrong, no doubt someone will correct me.

Nevertheless – well worth a read. Suggested page on the official site if you want detail is the handbook download. Most of the rest of the sections are pretty pix but don’t tell you much.

Teams participating in the rally raise fifty per cent of their money for a local specified charity in Mongolia, and the other fifty per cent is for a charity chosen by the team.

Each team needs to be self-supporting as there is no official back-up or support team. When they hit the road, they are on their own.

Good luck to our mate and his colleagues from work in the Antarctica – not long to go now to the start date, 23rd July from Goodwood UK. Hope to read about your all your adventures on the team blog. Have a great trip.

Main links posted on here will also be included on the sidebar for easy reference.

Adventurists’ home page

Mongol rally link on Adventurists’ site (download of handbook available on this link)

Mongols blog

The ambulance(s)

Ready to go

Here we are, not long before we set off on our travels.

We’d done a total rebuild and she was pretty fit at this point.

New chassis, new 1 ton springs, second hand bulkhead, second hand back body, ex-mil doors, a load of others I can’t even remember. We’d even sorted the brakes.

But first up, a few trial trips around the UK.

More later…..

Not such a pane – the trip to Arcos

As this blog is about travels and trips as well as mending Landies, I thought I would finish the series of glass-hunting posts with some – ‘phone – photos of the trip taken on the return journey from Arcos.

We’ve travelled up the beautiful Cadiz coastline before, up through Jerez, via Sevilla, and into the Cota Doñana, and we’d travelled inland around the Medina Sidonia area, but we’d never been through the centre and the Alcornocales Natural Park.

So when we had to change our travel plans – due to lack of scrapyard at Jimena – I took a quick look at the map and off we set to Los Barrios to pick up the A381, which is the main route to Jerez.

I was most put out that we weren’t going to Jimena. It looked a good route, I had planned a couple of geocaches into the trip and all in all it should have taken about half a day.

One look at the map, and the trip to Arcos was a full day’s trip. Nearly three hours to get there, another three to get back, goodness knows how long to find the scrappy, and then if we were lucky, faffing around to get the relevant bits off.

And I hadn’t packed any sandwiches for our picnic. I would be STARVING!!

But once we started on the road, my bad humour disappeared. The scenery was stunning. The natural park is full of what seem to be huge lakes, but which according to the map, are apparently reservoirs.

The road cuts through the south-western part of the park across two reservoirs that seem to stretch for miles. Despite the main road dual carriageway status of the A381 it was incredibly quiet. It was like being on a toll road at the weekend, except there was no toll to pay and this was Friday, usually a busy day on the roads.

We came off at the Medina Sidonia junction, as I couldn’t face the idea of traipsing off towards Jerez, and then back on ourselves towards Arcos.

The road would probably have been good but it was full of hellish roadworks, and a huge wind had picked up, presumably the usual Poniente from the Atlantic.

Once past Paterna de Rivera, and the roadworks though, it was another lovely route, and eventually we hit Arcos with plenty of time to find the scrappy before lunch and the inevitable three hour siesta, or so we thought.

Finding the scrappy was the nightmare we envisaged. We had been told it was on the main road in from Jerez (it wasn’t), so we ended up having to ask directions every couple of kms as it was quite complicated to find. We took it in turns to get out of the vehicle and ask in our brilliant Spanish ‘Dónde está el desguace?’

It is, incidentally, on the road out of Arcos towards Algar – the CA5221. There is a sign next to the venta. (Pic on post from last year in May).

Post scrappy visit, we stopped at the venta and I asked where the road went. I figured we were heading in the right direction and shouldn’t need to traipse back through town. We didn’t. So we followed the road down through Algar, over the most vertiginous dam that reminded me of the famous Land Rover ad,

and back down through, towards Alcalá de los Gazules and to rejoin the A381. Well, admittedly we made the odd wrong turn in Alcalá and ending going back towards Medina Sidonia. But we got back on track in the end. Thank goodness for the GPS on my iPhone! *Blush*

If the first trip had been pretty quiet (roadworks excepted), this one was unbelievably tranquil. We had hit siesta time by now so the whole of Spain seemed to have gone to sleep and we had the road virtually to ourselves.

It was, in the end a good day out, a successful mission, and a lovely round trip. But damn! I wish we had thought about the striker plates.

And we still haven’t been to Jimena, so maybe that should be the next photo-trip post.

Arcos de la Frontera – stunning place and worth a visit

Spring flowers – reminded me of English countryside which doesn’t happen often in Andalucía

The winding road to ourselves

Alcalá

Entering the reservoir zone with trees growing in water

Crossing one of the reservoirs

Toll roads – Costa del Sol

And the good news is, the toll prices have gone down with the end of the summer holidays.

Mountains on the way up at the rest area between Estepona and Marbella.

It wasn’t all cloud though – blue sky looking towards the coast.

Dog.

So new prices:
Fuengirola – Marbella: €3.75
Marbella – Estepona: €2.55

(although I could have sworn on the way up it was €4.15 between Marbella and Fuengirola).

Finally we decided to try some tapas at Los Altos de Marbella service station/rest area/restaurant, narrowly beating a coachload of customers to the counter. Phew.

1 racion of pimientos asados
1 racion of ensalada de patatas (incl egg and olives)
1 portion of pizza
bread included
1 coke
1 18.75cl bottle of Rioja

Total: €14.60

Pizza.

Pimientos.

Potato salad.

And yes, the helpings were bigger originally. They were well demolished by the time photos were taken…

Macharaviaya .. and some travel updates

Macharaviaya is a tiny village in a cul-de-sac. Or, to be more accurate, it is not far from anywhere, but stuck in the middle of nowhere, and there is only one road in and out (unless my maps and navigation misled me)

It seems to have enjoyed good times in the 18th century when the influential Galvez family (who came from Macharaviaya) built a playing card factory there and sold the packs of cards in America. Strange tale. There is a large church in the village – San Jacinto – and a mausoleum to the Galvez family.

We went there some time ago, when we were exploring our local area. It was the sort of place that when you arrived, everyone stared at you because you were obviously so out of place. It felt rather intrusive to get out and do the whole tourist thing in somebody’s face so we cleared off.

Apparently it is home to lots of artists because of its tranquility and peacefulness. Isolation is the word.

Anyway, last month it suddenly acquired a geocache. Even more interestingly, no-one seemed bothered to dash there and claim the First to Find. We clearly haven’t quite got the geocaching bug because the first thing we did on arriving at the finca was not to dash off to Macharaviaya. In fact we had been back four days before we went to hunt down the elusive FTF – on my birthday.

Now while we had been before, my memory had clearly hazed over the detail. I remembered rolling hillsides covered with olive trees. I did not remember a vertiginious narrow road (it had actually improved since our first visit) that snaked along the top of the ridge with steep drops on either side and hugged the precipitious hillside on the ascents and descents.

‘Oh that’s it down there isn’t it?’ said my helpful chauffeur.

‘I don’t know and I’m not looking,’ I said, eyes firmly fixed on the reassuring hillside to the right of me, rather than the vomit-inducing drop to the left.

Pretty place, nice location, great views …………. but if you have problems with vertigo and heights – be warned.

The cache was fun. I was glued to the GPS and announced we were getting near. A convenient parking spot appeared and we pulled in. We set off down the road and I suddenly realised we were getting further away from the cache. We turned round – and realised we had parked right next to the location. Duh.

It was well hidden and in a good spot. I hope other people take the time to go and find it.

Other Landy travelling news: well, we have now tried out all the toll road stretches between Gib and Málaga. The toll road between Sotogrande and Estepona costs 2.90€ and in my opinion is not worth taking. Plus it has some horrid viaducts and tunnels. Even more horrid than normal. And the alternative coast road is pretty and usually not busy.

On the toll road between Marbella and Fuengirola, the cafe/restaurant at Los Altos de Marbella does great sandwiches – we got a bocadillo de tortilla para llevar (to take away) and it was great. They really had some excellent looking tapas too: some potato salad, a salad with tomato, onion and olives, and yet another delicious looking vegetarian one.

Down side, it is increasingly busy at this rest area at the moment, and the once tidy and clean toilets are no longer immaculate.

The rest area on the toll road that by-passes San Pedro is pretty quiet, and a great place to stop. I’ve only used the shop, so maybe I need to test out the bar food next time. It was pretty busy today though. The car parking area was quiet though.




Oh, and we sat in the border queue for half an hour today. No idea why. A first for us, we have usually been incredibly lucky with no queues.