“Well that pays me back….”

“Oh My God we can’t have that all the way down! We didn’t check did we?” Those were the first words I said as we hit the amazing speed of 30mph with only 1300 miles to go.

The three weeks leading up to our departure to Lubrin had been pretty hectic and I was getting increasingly twitchy. We’d just managed to get some tenants into the flat, the garage was let but the car was still playing up and I seemed to be repeatedly thinking and occasionally saying “we’re not going to have enough time!” Sam by contrast was her her normal cool and laid back self saying “it’ll be fine we’ve got loads of time.”

Tuesday 28th August 6.30pm and Sam is painting the hallway walls and the overnight ferry leaves at 10.30pm. The car isn’t packed and we haven’t even emptied the fridge or freezer yet. Our stuff isn’t going to be delivered until 21st September so we need to take quite a bit with us including both of the dogs. Luckily by this time the engine head had been replaced along with a pinched head gasket which spat out large amounts of oil a week later, caused by shoddy workmanship and the oil warning light which was due to it being overfilled? So the car was fine. My good friend had come round earlier to help and I’d assigned him the jobs of sorting out the stickers for the headlights and securing all the stuff that was going on the roof rack. A perfect job thank you James. I’d said to Sam previously that we must check it before we left to make sure it was secure. However, James is a master of that sort of thing so I wasn’t overly concerned.

By 8.15pm I’m kicking the doors shut trying to cram the last few bits into the car and running back up to the flat to collect plastic bags full of food to throw away along with a myriad of other stuff that was impossible to get in. Even Sam is stressed. It’s a 45 minute journey to Plymouth and we need to be there at least one hour before departure. We squeeze Sam into the passenger seat and stuff our last few belongings around her. “You can’t travel all the way down to southern Spain like that!” “It’ll be fine I’ve got loads of room.”

8.30pm and we leave. A few days beforehand I’d spent some time going round the charity shops buying audio books for the journey down as it was a long trip. Bill Bryson for some light comedy and Sebastian Faulks for something a bit more cerebral. Fantastic. Combined with plenty of dance music and 90s Brit pop it should be great! We head out of Exeter breathing a huge sigh of relief with Sam making apologies for underestimating how much we’d needed to do. “Oh well its done now we’re on our way. Everything is fine we just need to get to Plymouth on time.” That’s when we hit the motorway and a speed of more than 30 mph. It’s difficult to describe the noise level inside the car as the straps holding down the stuff on the roof rack began to vibrate against the roof and so inside the car itself. We couldn’t listen to a single thing all the way down and needed to stop at least every two hours as by that time the ringing in your ears had become unbearable. I tried numerous times to make it better to no avail. Tucking, tightening and adjusting made absolutely no difference. We either sat and said nothing or shouted at each other above the noise.

Of course there were roadworks and so diversions on the way to Plymouth. Not surprisingly we were the last to the ferry with just enough time to get the dogs to have a wee and poo. They were going to have to spend the night in the car while we were able to relax in a cabin. The crossing was fine and so began our journey directly south to sunny Spain. Apart from the noise, things went pretty well. We had to pull over a few times to rest and get some more sleep as were both extremely tired and feeling the effects of the anti nausea  pills we had taken in anticipation of the ferry crossing.

We’d been on the road for about twelve hours when we got to the French/Spanish border and quite typically of the Spanish they just waved us straight through. No delays. We pulled over at a service station and I was getting very tired so we decided we’d try to find a hotel that was both dog friendly and had secure parking (roof rack ). I’d looked when we were in the UK but gave up. In the end we found one just outside Pamplona, where they run the bulls and headed off. It’s about 10.30pm when we arrive at what looks like a Travel Lodge type place and the alarm bells start ring. I go in and in my very rudimentary Spanish say we have a room booked for two “y dos perros”. Completely blank look. “Y dos peros?” “Si, y dos perros!” Very confused look and shake of the head. “Y dos peros?” Perro=dog. Pero=but. You need to roll your Rs more David so not to say “and two buts.”  In the end it made no difference as the website was bollocks. They didn’t take dogs no matter how you pronounced it! So off we went into the night. We pulled over twice during the night to sleep and get some relief from the incessant noise. Finally, at about 2.30pm on 30th August we arrived in Lubrin after 42 hours of travel. As we got out of the car Sam pointed out her ankles, which had swollen up massively due to the cramped conditions and so being unable to move throughout the journey. ” Well that pays me back for not starting to pack earlier!”

It took us three or four days to recover from the journey but its definitely been worth it. The place is beautiful and HOT!

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