Surviving the Beast from the East

I’m currently in the UK and staying in Rayquaza, despite one of the coldest winters ever, and tons of snow!

I was curious to test Rayquaza’s ability to cope with conditions like these and I’m pleased to say she kept me warm and dry, without a problem.

I run the gas heating throughout the night on a low setting, boosting it a bit with the warm air blower from the aircon before bedtime. And then I invested in a really good electric mattress topper that is heavenly.

That made a big difference and again I keep that on a low setting overnight, just to keep the edge off. (we’ve had nights of – 5)

I can’t exactly tell how quickly I’m consuming the on board gas but with the snow melting quite fast now I’ll go to the local garage tomorrow to fill that up again and then I’ll know. I suspect however I’ve not used much.

I even managed to get a run in this morning, I’ve not been able to go for almost a week now.

All in, I’m well pleased with the way the motorhome retains heat and how well insulated she is. Easy to see how one can use her ever for a winter ski holiday. Well done Hobby for the good German engineering.

However I am very much looking forward to warmer times ahead and am dreaming of my Balaton summer already!

Desperation in Bilbao

I am catching the Bilbao to Portsmouth ferry today, with a special cabin booked where Olli can come inside as well. Its a 24 journey.

The ferry company allows you to check in the afternoon before, and then sleep in your motorhome in the Q. Having done this journey before and trying to get the timing right in the morning, I thought the overnight stay would be a good idea.

However during a quick Olli walk I started seeing a few suspicious characters weaving through the lines and when I saw one guy feeling the lockers on some motorhomes I knew I would not sleep much. (despite my garage being so full you won’t get a mouse in there)

It turned into a busy night with lots of police activity. I easily spotted up to 20 wannabe migrants being escorted out of the port (which is all they seem to be able to do with them)

It was upsetting in multiple ways since (and I took a short video of me talking about this but will have to upload later) the sheer desperation of these young people to get to England is very sad to witness. Their home situation must be utterly rock bottom. It’s freezing cold, the ferry will take 24 hours and you are very likely to be caught… This morning every motorhome is being inspected by the Guardia Civil.

My heart goes out to these people. In the motorhome two slots in front of me they removed a young guy from the boot and the look on his face was just so desperate.

But what can one do?

Bilbao, Spain

When your home gets stolen

Yesterday early evening Rayquaza, my motorhome, got stolen from a public car park in my old stomping ground of Castelldefels, near Barcelona.

To return to the spot where you left all of your belongings and indeed your house no more than 30 minutes ago, to find it all gone, is as horrible a feeling as you can imagine.

Short story, I got her back. Minus cash, wallet, passports (both my British and South African), Olli’s papers (a huge concern as I’m not sure how I’m going to get him back to England now) and my beloved, new Macbook. (now remotely set to auto destroy itself when it comes back online, enjoy, bastards)

They did not steal the drone, other cameras or the harpeji or even the bike, as they simply did not have the time, but it obvious from how we find her parked in a dark alley, they were going to take it all.

And here are some lessons.

Car safes can be open. I kept passports and money in a floor car safe thinking it’s safe in there. Would have been better having it under my pillow!

Use the wheel clamp, always. Even if just leaving for 10 minutes to pop to a supermarket.

I had Olli with me, luckily, but it could have been 50/50, I do sometimes leave him in the motorhome.

Spending more on really good stuff worked – the 4g router I have has a bult in online tracker. (which till now I thought was a really expensive add-on with no real value) With that, I was able to guide the police and take part in quite a hairy police chase, sirens going and all. That allowed us to get to the motorhome before they could rip it further apart, and they only got away with what they could grab.

Luck. I could have been out of phone battery, and I would have missed the opportunity to track them, or call the police in time, or call friends (thanks Edd!) to help with the tracking. (I had 12% battery left)

Luck. They could have turned off the 12v feed or unplugged the router, and I would have had no way to trace it.

Luck. I could have stopped for dinner in town, and totally missed the timing mentioned. I came really close to stopping at an international beer bar I know in town.

They did absolutely trash the inside but damage wise its only one window that’s missing. With some rain forecast I’ll have to board it up.

Obviously checked the insurance. Does not cover laptops or cash. How convenient.

The local police in Castelldefels has been absolutely brilliant. They must have bad 10 cars out tonight, lights blasing, giving chase.

So my week next week is going to be filled with visits to the counsulate and hoping there is more good luck in getting Olli back to the UK.

I had zero sleep (parked outside the police station at their request) but obviously mind spinning and with the broken window, extra noise etc.

Could have been much worse.

– Riaan

Seeking warmer climates

I’ve been using the UK as a base for Rayquaza whilst I traveled to Asia and Australia and spent the last few days preparing for a much anticipated return to Spain.

I decided to take out the main dining table that came with the motorhome as it is very heavy, too big and consuming much needed floor space with its big leg.

Typically this table offers a second bed but I never use that option anyway, and the replacement is from a UK comany (Teak Marine) which can swivel in a number of ways. (and lock in place)

It also makes much better space for Olli to be more out of the way and all in, a great change.

I also managed to update the “garage” and put some shelves in, and had some clearing out.

So, all set for the warmer weather in Spain. First stop is Castelldefels just outside Barcelona to visit old friends and collecting / dropping a few items at the storage I have there.

Then I’ll head further south to near Huelva, my brother Melt lives, and I’m likely to make that area the base for the winter.

Whilst it’s going to be great to be back in the road, I did enjoy being back in Suffolk albeit briefly. The opportunities for running in this area are endless and I managed to capture this picture along the river here in Woodbridge on one of my runs.

I am however looking forward to being back on my old running track along the beach in Castelldefels which ends at the marina, where I can continue dreaming about the next step after motorhome living….

I packed way too much stuff!

This week I took the motorhome for a test run in Terragona, with the McArdles, who rented a bungalow at the same campsite.

The most obvious thing I soon realised was that I packed way too much stuff. And the awning “tent” that comes in two big bags, weighing a ton and taking up half the garage, must go. The same with the “portable” air-conditioner. And the subwoofer and desktop speakers. What was I thinking?!

Luckily, the storage space is just outside Barcelona so I popped in there after dropping the McArdles off at the airport, and dumped a load of stuff. And wow! The difference not only in space in my garage (the bike now actually fits) but also the way she drives. Much better.

I also learned that the “two man” tent I got for guests (over and above extra bed in the motorhome) is too small for the very nice blow up mattress I have. So I got a slightly bigger pop-up tent, but I also put in storage all the extra fillings one need to make the guest best in the motorhome. No need. If you are visiting me, I’m putting you in the tent outside! I promise that will be comfortable and a lot less hassle than making the second bed.

Then I left Spain and am now on the road to Bulgaria. It’s a long drive (2500km) and I’m taking it in stages, obviously.

Tonight I’m staying near Nice, in a campsite in town, near the coast, and tomorrow I’ll head for Treviso in Italy, where my friend Andrea lives. It will be good to see him, and I can also find a Fiat mechanic to look at what seems to be a leaking aircon problem, and a few other small items I’d like to fix. Nothing major but if I can find someone suitable for that in Treviso, I’ll happily spend an extra day there!

 

 

The apartment is finally empty! 

It’s been an incredibly long day but the apartment is empty, and Olli and I are now in the motorhome! 

Ironically we are staying the night in the street right outside the apartment since I’m seeing landlord first thing in the morning to have the handover. And we can then do a last run on the familiar path. 

So, it begins! 

Shoutout to Ms Mily in Australia on her birthday, and to big brother Melt on his home purchase in Spain! We are a busy bunch. 

#alienineurope