Shakedown trip to Spain - big trip - preparation - spain trip

We decided to nip down to Northern Spain for a test run to see what it would be like sleeping on the landy roof and find out what equipment we still needed to get.  We set off from Basel late after buying a 600W amp and some connectors.  Barry had to drive in Switzerland as I'm still technically banned until the end of May (due to the wickedly loud exhausts of my TVR last Autumn).   While he drove I connected up the new amp to power the two rear speakers and the two fronts and the tweeters.  This worked fine but the other amp we had turned out to be knackered...and I'd bought the wrong connectors for it.  600 Watts would do for the time being...   I also wired up the interior light and a 3 way cigarette lighter socket thingy.  The new OME suspension on the landy was a massive improvement with body roll reduced to even less than before the roof tent was fitted, even the steering felt lighter for some reason...maybe the wheels were coming off.

Camping in a cold, windswept field near Le Puy

Refuelling between Le Puy and Lourdes

The 5 dorises we 'rescued' then left behind...

We made it to Le Puy in mid-south France after gallantly rescuing 5 dorises stranded with their crappy old Citroen totally dead.  We towed them almost all the way home to Le Puy until the 'driver' braked too hard and snapped the tow strap!  They were close to home and called their mates to come and get them.  The driver gave me a gold necklace as a thankyou which was later presented to the landy as he did all the work!  It now swings in tandem with the mini glitter ball from the mirror.  As it was Saturday night we hit the local disco after a brilliant meal.  We left the disco a bit worse for wear at 3am or so and trundled up a road into the countryside and stopped in a field.  It was freezing cold, windy and foggy and we spent a while fiddling with the roof tent as we were still not used to its foibles.  It was cold inside too as we'd parked sideways into the wind where the tent is one layer thick instead of two!  Lessons learnt the hard way!

We drove on the next day, Sunday, to Lourdes at the foot of the Pyrenees.  It was a weird place, nobody about really.  We walked down to where the special healing place is to find thousands of people in a big procession pushing people in wheelchairs around and singing in all sorts of languages.  We saw one German group with a sign saying 'Grimm Reisen' (Grimm travels) which was pretty appropriate!  Leaving quickly, embarrassed by our relatively healthy bodies, we found a restaurant with a wicked waitress doris to stare at.  We drove out of Lourdes in darkness to find a campsite on the side of the mountain.  Following a narrow track we got to the end and camped in a 'lay by', devoid of cold wind but still foggy.  The roof tent was put up much more efficiently this time.

In the morning we drove up the hill to the Col d'Aubisque.  At the top a big barrier blocked the way with 'Route Barré' written on it - we thought it must mean 'Route Barry'.  There was a mud ditch at the side and it looked like we could drive through and get around the barrier.....of course I drove the wrong line and the landy fell into the ditch and was completely stuck (much to the amusement of some French guys who came out for a laugh)!   Jacking up and putting the sand ladders under the wheels didn't help so we got the hand winch out and realised we didn't know how to use it!  Eventually worked it out and got it connected to a big concrete post.  The winch managed to pull the concrete post out but not the landy!  We then tied it to another post more deeply buried and this worked fine.  Still needed to use the sand ladders to get the landy out of the last bit of ditch.  More lessons learnt, for now.  We made it to Pamplona by evening, Spain at last, less Citroen C15 vans trundling along at least!  We found a decent camp site populated by Bosnians and the ubiquitous Germans.  On the way the front right wheel was squeaking like crazy so I had a quick look at the campsite and noticed stones stuck between the brake disc and the disc mud shield.  So I just whipped off the mud shields and threw them away.  Won't have that problem again!

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The next day was warm and sunny so we set about fitting the front A bar, lightguards, high lift jack clamp, the spotlights and organising the plastic boxes a bit more.  We worked non stop until we realised we hadn't eaten anything and it was nearly 6pm.  Afterwards we left for Bilbao and camped in the forest twenty minutes outside the city.

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Some inbred farmer type winched our Landy

At Bilbao we visited the Guggenheim Museum which was full of women's clothes...not very interesting.  We found the docks and drove around a bit through some giant puddles.  Met a bloke who has to paint chains red.   These chains are massive, one link must weigh 250kgs, I got a pic of him and he was well chuffed.  Found an excellent off road track along the cliff tops eastwards and promptly got stuck again.  This time bottoming out in some really deep water filled ruts - the diff guards resting on the hump in the middle of the track.  Worst thing was we could have easily driven around this bit too!  Resorted to winching out backwards on a tree after some unsuccessful attempts with the high lift jack and the sand ladders.  At least it was sunny!  Found a campsite with showers, cooked dinner, downed a wicked bottle of rioja and 6 beers.

San Sebastian (Donastia) was next, which got the vote as the best place of the trip , two beaches, good nightlife and friendly chicas too - even spotted one posing for a TV advert in her bikini.  We bought the correct connectors for the amp here.  The landy was parked in the town centre and, as had been the case on the whole trip, we were getting maximum respect from everybody.   People were smiling and staring in amazement at the awesome presence of such a magnificent vehicle!  We stuck a big Basque flag in the back window too.  The evening was spent drinking and partying until 5am when we decided to drive straight to Bordeaux.  This proved to be a bit mad as we were both half pissed and dead tired.   We somehow made it in time for tea and a sandwich.  Bordeaux looked a bit minging so we thought 'f**k it, lets go to Geneva'.  Off we went, taking turns driving and sleeping in the back.  At one little French village we tooted the horn at a couple of girls in the street who waved at us.  When we got stuck in traffic further up the road we waved them to come over and they came running down the street.   Unfortunately our tiredness and lack of decent French prevented any further testing of the Landy suspension capabilities and we continued on our way, arriving in Geneva at 10pm for more disco madness thanks to Sandra, a wicked Italian doris who showed us a good disco.  Driving the last 2 hours to Basel at 3am was a nightmare...we just about made it despite stopping for a piss break with the handbrake off the the landy rolling down the road.  I had to run after it with my tackle hanging out!  Lucky it was dark....

Lessons learnt:-

Read the instructions to the hand winch before you get stuck!

Don't winch off moveable objects!

Don't bring bikes, especially under low toll booths.

All recovery equipment gets covered with mud instantly.

Bits fall off Hi-Lift jacks.

Crappy old army tyres are bollox in the mud, especially when pumped up to 4 bar!

Everyone loves the Landy!    Yeah!


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