The Journey. From one home to another through France, Basque Country, Extremadura to the Sierra Aracena, Andalucia.

With a long road trip ahead of us and the car laden with stuff to take, including all the wood carving tools given to me because of the sad closure of Heston Woodcarving Club, I was just a little bit anxious that our old car would make it. I was also sad to leave London, and all our family and friends but was also missing our little hidden valley in the South of Spain. Almost 2000km between us. I feel split between two worlds but am fortunate to have that choice.

Travelling through the green of France made me really think France could feed the world. So much agricultural land and such an industry with tractor factories all over the place too! Later I read that France was going to pass a law about waste food in supermarkets. Ironic and sad in a time of food banks for many.We had decided to go on roads without tolls and although a bit slower it was much more interesting and gave me more of an insight into being in France. Hopefully, it was also more fuel efficient and would save at least 100 euros in tolls.
I know Northern France quite well and am always amazed by its peacefulness as we used to take school trips to the World War 1 battlefield sites: Vimy Ridge and Beaumont Hamel, the Canadian sites are both historic and a reminder of a Europe torn and devastated by war, a hundred years ago. We passed to the south of some of these but did pass some graves still immaculately kept in small villages. These places are an important reminder of those who fought and of how now we need to continue to fight for a better world for humans and all species to live in. So many died so young and of a similar age to my 17 and 18 year old A Level students. So we travelled through minor roads near the Somme and even further back in time to Agincourt and finally came to the land of the rich. We stayed at Chateaudun, just south of Chartres. Here is supposed to be the first chateau to be found when coming from Paris to the Loire region, famous for all its chateaux along the river. Holiday homes for the rich. And then the revolution and the French love of Egalite, Fraternite,Liberte and all things French, like good food and wine. On the good food and keeping the French language French, there are some popular eating places such as Macdonalds and Buffalo grill which seem to be doing well as fast food chains, though along with Flunch, a cheap way to self service French dining. We enjoy finding Flunch and can easily even share a meal there!

By the small Loir in Northern France.
By the small Loir in Northern France.
Chateau by Loir, without an e.
Chateau by Loir, without an e.
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Tree lined road of planes near Dax in South West France.
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A not so narrow road but well used by the big trucks avoiding tolls.
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The only way to go in France, by bike!
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The only traffic jam on all the N roads but with a view of the Pyrenees, near Spanish and French border.

The journey through the Basque Country of Spain was beautiful and there are now some amazing roads but the Spanish do charge on these new super highways with major long tunnels through the mountains. The amount of road trucking transport is phenomenal. It is times like this that I do wonder how all this will have to change and hope that by reading Naomi Klein’s book ‘This Changes Everything’ a bit more I can get some insight. It seems to me from the book that there is too much control and investment in the fossil fuels industries which has slowed down the technologies we could all be changing to now. Will these be the giants like the dinosaurs bringing us and other species closer and closer to extinction. Or will it be me, one little ant with a lot of emissions. Could I have been driving a solar powered car? Well, certainly the sun shone most of the way this time!
We then stopped in Salamanca, always worthy of a return visit and always something new to see.mthis time it was the historic Paza Mayor,made all the more interesting by a political demonstration by the new found voice of local people. Ganemos in some way connected to Podemos, the fast growing alternative to the big two party system that has run the show for so long in Spain.

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Near Monfrague national park. Time to look out for vultures.
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Long roads through hot and dry Extremadura.
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The sandy track through the abandoned chestnut fields.
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Inside Navasola and down my magical track!
Wild gladioli outside the gate to Navasola
Wild gladioli outside the gate to Navasola

Finally home in our hidden green valley. And was it green. I had worried more about lack of but had been told it was often raining in April! I had to rejoined ice in the exuberance of the wild things growing or despair as my vegetable area was covered in all types of grasses and vetches.some time will need to be spent finding the beans and fruit bushes. Time will also have to be spent in looking at all the wild flowers. There are so many will keep me busy for months but suspect they will not last into the heat of late June.

The journey without tolls was from Dunkirk to Chateuadun to Dax. (with some help from the AA non toll maps.)Dax to Irun and then we chose the highways to Salamanca,mfinally paying a toll near Burgos of 27 euros. We have done this section without tolls but the new autoroute is quite spectacular.

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8 thoughts on “The Journey. From one home to another through France, Basque Country, Extremadura to the Sierra Aracena, Andalucia.”

  1. Like you I too wonder what will be the point where there is no return. Yes, we little ants are part of the problem, but so is everything else. I would love to read that book, This Changes Everything, Also, I wish I was traveling along with you through France and Spain. I often wonder in densely populated Europe, how things can be “fixed”? Our country is headed in the same direction, cities and suburbs with nothing but people and pavement. At least what I saw in Eastern Europe, cities mattered more. People cared more too. I thought I would love to live in at least two of these countries.

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    1. I think the book opens our eyes to how it is not only us smaller folk who are the problem but how governments and industries have slowed down the progress we could have been making to a low carbon way of living. But the book is optimistic too and us ants might be able to shift the dinosaurs! France and Spain also have a lot of civic pride and trees and parks. Would like to go further east too. Some friends are visiting Romania in a week in order to escape the Spanish heat. Do come to this part of the world one day too.

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  2. How lucky to be back and forth between Spain and London and city and country – so much beauty and history. A friend is leaving June 4th for a three week bicycling trip in France – not sure exactly what part. Her husband is unable to travel so she is meeting a friend who went earlier to brush up on her French. I shared your post with Lynda and she enjoyed it.   During my stay, found the political situation in Buenos Aires interesting but need to do more research. The taxi driver who drove me to the airport was very friendly and talked about Cristina and apparently is counting the days until her “exit” as Presidente – others don’t want her to go! Wondering what will happen in August?   Back in Oregon in the Cascade foothills with deer, raccoon , squirrel, wild turkeys, and pine trees my wild garden is a mess, so that will keep me busy for weeks to come. None of the surrounding Douglas firs came through the roof while I was traveling – something that comes to mind occasionally when I’m far away. It’s green and beautiful – drastically different scene than Buenos Aires. There have been two small earthquakes in the last week off shore in the Pacific Ocean along the West Coast. No one I know felt them. We are told to prepare for forest fires and other calamities this summer since it’s so dry – hoping none of that happens.   Have a wonderful summer in the countryside or the city or both!     Sue

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    1. Glad you are safe back too. Sounds like we both have wild gardens gone wild. I have managed a bit but really too hot after 11! I would love to travel more in South America. I went to Peru with my two girls when they were 9 and 12 and we always said we must go back. One of their Godmothers lives in Lima. Politics in these Latin countries is complex but very vibrant. We have come back to a Spain full of campaigning in local elections and then state ones. Hope your friend enjoys France and the cycling, definitely the place to be for that. Look forward to hearing about your place in Oregon.

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  3. I read this again. Your place in Spain sounds idyllic to me and I love your description of the journey, carbon footprint, and heart-wrenching.
    Best wishes
    Opher

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