10 weeks in

It’s exactly 10 weeks to the day since we left Exmouth. We’ve covered about 3500 miles across France, Spain, Portugal and back into Spain. We’ve parked up next to beaches, rivers, lakes and mountains; stayed in laybys, aires, car parks, motorway service stations and the occasional campsite. Since the last update we’ve driven a large chunk of the Iberian coast, as well as navigated our way through five cities.

I admit I’ve been a bit slack on the blog front, but I haven’t had time. Which sounds ridiculous when, for me, one of the biggest attractions of travelling was to have more time to write.

Before we left I had aspirations of being parked in idyllic locations, sat at my laptop, wine in hand, leisurely admiring the view while the kids played contentedly outside. Living the Insta #vanlife dream*. Ha! Thinking back, I’m sure I almost experienced it for about five minutes in the Dordogne, until Ivan probably declared that he needed a poo.

The obvious reality is that van life is still normal life. The kids wind each other up, moan that they are bored (yes really) and we all get on each others nerves. We still need to do day-to-day stuff like shopping, laundry and cleaning, as well as spend time planning journeys, researching, budgeting, maintaining the van, keeping in touch with family, dealing with stuff back home and of course homeschooling, all while trying to keep to some sort of routine where the kids don’t go to bed at 11pm every night.

To be honest, when we haven’t been out doing stuff, driving or dealing with life admin, I’ve just wanted to enjoy being in the present moment. So the blog has taken a back seat. I’ve kept Instagram fairly up to date, and I expect I will write about some of the places we’ve been to in more detail at some point. We’ll be living in the Alps for while during the winter so maybe then (if my fingers haven’t got frostbite)…

In the meantime, here’s a brief update of what we’ve been up to over the past six weeks:

We spent a week in Hossegor (I’ve actually half written a blog post about this) where Eden learned to catch her first waves and stand up properly on her own surfboard. Here she is looking pretty pleased with herself.

We then had eight amazing days in San Sebastián being looked after by our very good Basque friends Igor and Esti, who treated us to the full Donostian experience of pinxtos and fiestas.

Followed by a week in Galicia where the kids went fully feral, running wild on unspoilt beaches, while Jim had the waves to himself. We absolutely fell in love with this area of Spain and have already planned to return.

We celebrated Eden’s 9th birthday exactly how she wanted – at a waterpark in Portugal!

We discovered our favourite city so far – Porto.

We got back to our happy place on the beaches of Costa Nova do Prado and Peniche.

Jim ticked off his bucketlist when we visited the surfing mecca Nazaré (although we need to come back when there’s waves).

We experienced very British weather at Cabo da Roca.

We had an amazing couple of days in Lisbon, mostly spent admiring the trams and beautiful buildings and eating all the pastel de natas.

We melted in beautiful Seville, our fifth Iberian city.

Now we’re back on the coast, in Tarifa, the most southerly point of mainland Europe. It’s famous for kitesurfing and has a beautiful beach. Which has reminded us all of home a little bit. At least if we’re homesick we can get our fix of all things British at our next stop – Gibralter.

*Instagram accounts like these are to blame for my unrealistic expectations of van life. I also need to stop looking at Pinterest photos of converted US school buses and beautiful people driving through the Canadian Rockies/Australian outback.

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