Tuesday, 19 April 2016

300 (Perhaps the signal's better outside)

Perhaps the signal's better outside....
As I was uploading the last piece, I happened to notice it was 'Heels for Dust' post number 299, which makes this, due to the inexorable workings of arithmetic, number 300. Say on average each post takes a little over an hour to put together, then the whole caboodle represents almost three months of full-time work. That takes me aback somewhat, but I don't regret it; somehow the daily ritual of writing the blog has become an integral part of travelling long term. It's great to know that people do read it, but primarily I do it for myself, as a way of capturing some of the 'inner journey' that travel entails, the thoughts and feelings that photographs and video cannot quite capture.

Some Moho bloggers have gone one step further and have attempted to monetise their travels by consciously maximising hits, linking posts to Facebook and Twitter then raising revenue through advertising. Others have pulled posts together into books that they have then published. I have thought about the this, especially as over the past year or so I have developed some ebook authoring skills while working on other projects. For the moment though, I am happy enough blogging away to myself, knowing that sometimes others read it. My hope is that perhaps it will inspire others to take to the road, in the same way that the blogs Gill read during our somewhat fraught final years in work led us to become part-time itinerants.

Jason and Julie - thanks for the inspiration...
Talking of inspirational blogs, Jason and Julie's 'Our Tour' blog certainly helped us through the stage of Moho longing to shock purchase and Gill still dips in from time to time to see how they are doing. A couple of weeks ago Jason posted a piece about motorhoming to Europe's natural wonders: http://ourtour.co.uk/home/10-natural-wonders-of-europe-by-motorhome/

He invited others to list their favourites, which I duly attempted to do -

1. Zugspitz, Austria - from the summit cable car station the mighty Alps stretch as far as the eye can see. You can spot peaks in four countries from here.

2. The coast of the Peloponnese, from Gythion to Corinth. There are few stretches of near pristine Mediterranean coast remaining in Europe, but the roads that hug the these remote bays and promontories wander their way through stunning scenery which at times, in the low season, you might have to yourself.

3. Etna - There can be few more impressive 'natural wonders' than an active volcano. Etna is probably unique due to the fact you can park your motorhome 6000' feet up, among the ash cones and spend the night there. Sadly we missed its last eruption by a few days, to Gill's eternal chagrin. If she were writing this it would definitely have a more geological bent.

4. Cabo di Gata

It may be surrounded by a lagoon of plasticulture, but parts of this small national park a few kilometres east of Almeria can feel remote and other-worldly. Nowhere more so than the hidden Eden couched in the extinct Caldera de Majada Redonda.. Though the Cabo di Gata is designated as the only hot desert in Europe, the shelter of the old crater had created a micro-climate. Whereas the surrounding landscape is dusty, and distinctly 'Spaghetti Western' the old crater is full of flowering shrubs and buzzes with bees.

In the far northwest of Sicily a 3000' mountain drops vertiginously into the deep blue of the Golfo di Castellammare. Most tourists head from Marsala and Trapani straight to Palermo missing out this spectacular site. In some ways the mix of mountain and sea, the wandering cattle and neatly cultivated fields on the narrow coastal plain looks more like Corsica than Sicily. The local town hosts a famous cous-cous festival - and there many free camping places to the west of the cape - just how many reasons do you need to put it on your bucket list?

So, five 'natural wonders' by motorhome - I could not quite match Jason's ten. I think the reason for this is to do with differing motivation. The Our Tour blog mentions that the intrepid pair have plans to head for Nordkapp, and many motorhomers seek out wild places, as we do occassionally. However we have a liking for the pastoral as well as the sublime. Perhaps we are not seeking Natural Wonders by motorhome, but seeking some little frequented Arcadia - hmmm, post 301 perhaps?


  1. Hi Gill & Pete, we are still at the planning stage until Easter 2018 when I finally retire. Busy sorting our van and finances out ready for our first big adventure to France & Spain (thinking around 3 months). Busy reading all the blogs and books both at home and while stuck at my desk. Sharing your travels is certainly an inspiration, thanks very much and keep up the blogging! Thanks Steve & Jill.

  2. Hi, I wish we could keep up the blogging, but right now family issues mean we have to stay grounded for a while. We got back today from a 5 day trip to Malta via Ryan Air - no moho though. Good luck with managing the transition to retirement, ours were a somewhat bumpy resulting from unexpected opportunities for worklessness prompted by the coalition govt.'s reduction in public sector funding, but hey, every cloud has a silver lining! The way we extended our trip beyond 3 months was to travel in 10 week blocks each side of Christmas, storing the van in Southern Europe and flying home for December/January. That way we avoided driving through France in the coldest months - or this year, we used the Plymouth/Santander ferry - a little more expensive, but not inordinately so when you factor in additional stops and the fuel costs. Anyway, you are doing the right thing by researching others' experience - the Our Tour blog in particular has lots of practical advice.