WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 106 | BACK TO REALITY

Good evening everyone, and a happy Sunday to you. As you’ll know if you read my last weekly blog (published way back on 24 April – a month ago), I have been away on a little adventure. I’ve had a week to get back into the swing of normal life (whatever that is), and so this weekly blog will be a bit of a catch-up, a summary of my road trip, as well as some notes on what I’ve been up to this week.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog Episode 106

Three weeks off work is pretty wonderful, I have to say. It’s the longest period I’ve had off work since our big Zartusacan trip back in 2016 (see all my Zartusacan posts), when we took a ten-week break, an unpaid sabbatical of sorts, to ride our motorbikes over in North America. Now that was a fun adventure! But it was also a while ago, and I like to think I take all the opportunities I can to capture more of that when and where I can.

A Road Trip Summary

There will be a blog post or two featuring my recent road trip coming (that is after I’ve written those Iceland and Coast to Coast hike blogs, but you know how that’s been going for me). In the meantime, I thought I’d give a little summary in this weekly blog to catch you up on what I’ve been up to.

I spent just under three weeks road tripping in Spain and Portugal with my husband and friend. We took our motorbikes over using Brittany Ferries service from Plymouth to Santander, riding a little over 2,500 miles, slowly meandering our way down to the south-western most point in mainland Europe and back. I very quickly got into the swing of living the road trip life, planning just one or two days at a time, and with the very simple aim of having a nice time.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
Mirador de Montefurado

Exploring on Two Wheels

Our objective was to explore Portugal in the main, and we spent most of our time there. But we also had a little time in Spain as it would be rude to just blast through without seeing more of what we loved when we road tripped there in 2019.

We made good use of Simon Weir’s suggested biking routes from Biker’s Europe: 60 Must-Ride Motorcycle Routes, linking some of his ideas up with particular mountain views and other interesting-looking places we’d earmarked on our travel Google map. This map shows our approximate route, with a bit missing that didn’t record properly down in the south east of Portugal.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip Route
Our Road Trip Route (ish!)

Quiet Riding

Spain and Portugal have some truly amazing roads, great for motorcycles, or any other vehicle for that matter. There is everything from twisty mountain passes with hairpin bends and steep hills, to wide winding roads with sweeping bends and no need to change gears. And the scenery is as varied as it comes – mountain views, seascapes, open plains, rolling countryside, farmland, vineyards, and more.

One of the best things about the trip was how quiet the roads were, even when we were in super scenic places. It’s one of the reasons we travel to ride; it’s just so ridiculously busy in the UK by comparison.

Of course, we were there before the main season kicked off (not all campsites were open yet), and spent most of our time in rural areas with not much tourism, which helps. But with it being so quiet, it gave us all the space and time we needed to enjoy the roads and the views without distraction. Wonderful.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
Moto Camping in Salema

Best Bits

I haven’t quite processed all the best bits yet, but I think I can name a few highlights of the trip.

These include the ride over to and taking the cable car up Fuente De, the ride up and around Serra da Estrela, eating local mountain cheese in Covilha, the little dirt road over to Ponta de Castelo in the south west, the ride up and view from Foia near Monchique, our day off exploring Leiria, riding through the Parque National Pened-Geres from Portugal back into Spain (even with the steep cobbled hairpin bends), and the AS14 and its amazing view from Mirador de Montefurado as we came full circle back to the Picos.

And that really is me naming just a few – there were so many standout moments for me on this trip. It genuinely felt like we explored well, enjoying the journey and act of road tripping, as well as discovering something about each place we stopped in. Having three weeks helped with that, I’m sure – more than your standard week-long holiday, it gave us time to meander along rather than rush around.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
Chilling in the New Palace, Leiria

50,000 Miles

One cool thing to report is that while I was away, my bike clicked over the 50,000-mile mark. While not all those miles are mine (it was on around 12k when I got it in late 2011), it’s still a big milestone. My GS and I have explored the UK, mainland Europe, the west of North America and Iceland. There’s still a lot of life in the bike yet, and I am looking forward to more miles later this year and in future. I shall be very sad indeed when this bike eventually gives up!

Anyway, that’s enough on this trip for now – more another time. As always, if you have any questions about our road trip, please do let me know, either in the comments below or over on twitter. I’m always happy to chat motorcycle touring and adventure travel in general.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
View from Ponta de Castelo

Back to Reality

Now I’m home, I have to go back to thinking about all the things I’ve been allowed to avoid for the last three weeks. Oh well.

We opened the front door after getting the ferry back to England from Spain, and my mind instantly filled up with the noise of chores and admin and work and other commitments. No complaints, none of it bad, but definitely very quickly full of stuff.

It’s the nature of removing yourself from the routine of normal life for a while. The inevitable return to normal can be bit of a culture shock. I know I was only away for three weeks, but in that time, I was able to totally let go of anything that wasn’t directly related to exploring Spain and Portugal by motorbike. I love that about travel – it’s bliss.

I’m aware that it is a huge privilege to feel this way. The fact I can go away for a decent length of time, ride off into the sunset is you will, is not something everyone can do. But here I am.

Things I’ve Done and Things I Haven’t

I wouldn’t say I’ve hit the ground running by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve certainly managed to get back to some things successfully.

I have at least got the tent dried off and put away, caught up on the laundry, filled the fridge with healthy-ish food, and prepared some home-cooked meals. I’ve also gone back to work, of course, which has taken up most of my time and headspace this week.

What I haven’t done is pick back up with any kind of exercise, restarted daily Spanish lesson on Duolingo (which did help on the trip but there is a lot of work still to do!), or done anything about my filthy motorbike (out of sight, out of mind!). I’ve also not sorted out the hundreds of photos I took on the trip, or sat down to do any adventure-storytime-blogging (other than this post!). But there’s still time for all that. What is it the Spanish say? Manana!

Splodz Blogz | Pittville Park
Tree in Pittville Park, Cheltenham

My Adventure Revolution

I really do want 2022 to be the year I have lots of little adventures. I want to get back to filling the space between the bigger things with lots of fun experiences and activities. It’s how I ran my life pre-pandemic, was the main topic of conversation here on my blog, but I’ve got out of the habit and I’m missing them.

These short and low-commitment experiences are a bit part of what brings excitement and happiness to my life, and I want to keep all that topped up. I love the bigger adventures, too, but the weekend stuff is what keeps me going. If you’ve not read Belinda Kirk’s Adventure Revolution, in which she talks about how adventure is a necessity, I would highly recommend it.

There have been a few already – surfing and glamping at The Wave, pottery at Eastnor Pottery, and celebrating International Women’s Day with Adventure Queens and Love Her Wild. I’m not doing badly.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
Serra da Estrela

Wales Coast Path

With that in mind, I have booked a short solo camping trip next month. I’ve been hearing a lot about the Wales Coast Path recently, probably because there’s lots going on to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this amazing-looking long-distance trail. And rather than just adding it to my long list of some-day adventures, I decided to book a couple of nights away so I can walk a teeny bit of it.

Maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity (and time and money) to walk the whole path – and the rest of the UK coast. In the meantime, I’m excited to head to Pembrokeshire for a couple of short circular walks to get a little taster. I’ll take my tent, maybe my kayak (that’s right… I’ve got an inflatable kayak on the way), and definitely my hiking boots – it should be a fun couple of days.

And let’s face it, any excuse to go camping, hiking, and enjoy being outside for more than a few minutes at a time, has to be worth it. If the weather could play ball, that would be great!

Are there one or two-day things on your adventure list you’ve been meaning to organise for a while? I’d love to hear that you’ve gone ahead and booked those in this week.

That’s Entertainment

Considering I have committed to more adventure in 2022, I’m doing very well at wasting hours watching random things on YouTube, without any real purpose.

You know how it is – it’s so easy to end up in a YouTube hole thanks to the “what to watch next” algorithm. And after realising I was wasting time I could be having adventures watching other people have adventures, I decided it was time to streamline my subscriptions and be a bit more intentional about what I consume on there.

That’s not to say I don’t watch anything. I still really enjoy adventure stories, especially when they are people doing things I have done or would like to do myself.

Splodz Blogz | Spain and Portugal Road Trip 2022
On Fuente De

Fit For Adventure

In fact, through that streamlining process getting rid of a bunch of channels that no longer “fit”, I’ve ended up with two new-to-me channels on my watch-list. One of which, especially, I’ve already found to be massively inspiring.

Sarah of Fit for Adventure shares hikes and other adventures she has in Wales, Scotland and elsewhere. I came across her when YouTube recommended her Cape Wrath Trail series to me, which was such a good watch. Her videos are full of amazing scenery, edited very well, and most importantly, are very real and down to earth.

Sarah comes across as someone who just really loves to go on adventures, and has heaps of fun with them. Worth a watch, if you’re looking for some real-life-adventure-based entertainment this week. She’s also got a blog, if you prefer.

Failure is an Option

I’ve got a new audiobook on the go, too – Failure is an Option by Matt Wayman is a new Vertebrate Publishing title. I’ve only just started it (it was published on Audible last month), so I’ll be back with one of my mini book reviews in a future weekly blog, but so far it’s super interesting. Narrated by Matt himself, it tells the story of how an average runner sets out to see just how far he can go.

Do You Like Butter?

Remember holding a buttercup under your friends’ chins to see if they liked butter? Not exactly scientific (apparently the yellow glow is there to attract pollinators – and no other plant reflects colour and light in quite the same way), but it’s a happy memory none-the-less.

I met a friend this morning for a walk on and around Cleeve Hill. It was lovely to spend a couple of hours wandering and catching up, enjoying the warm sunshine, and moving my body a bit after a month of pretty much no exercise.

Splodz Blogz | Buttercups on Cleeve Hill
Buttercup Meadow

With all the views we saw in our six miles, it was this field that really caught my attention. So much so we both stopped and stared for a while, taking lots of photos. A whole, huge, field of buttercups. So lovely. Thank you to the farmer who left this one as meadow this year.

Maybe we should make an effort to fill our Instagram feeds with buttercups this month in the same way we did for bluebells last month?!

The Week Ahead

It’s looking like the next week will be super busy away from my blog, with work and other commitments really gearing up a bit, but there should still be some fun things going on which will make good fodder for a weekly blog next weekend. I will be attempting to make my own flour tortilla for the first time, making use of a present we received as a Christmas gift which has so far gone unused.

And I have a horse riding lesson booked for next Saturday. You read that right. Horse riding. Me. In the Monmouthshire countryside. It’s billed as a mini hack along trails (rather than a lesson in a School). Should be a very interesting way to spend One Hour Outside. I’ll let you know how I get on – you won’t want to miss that blog!

Until next week, then. Here’s to a good one for you and me, with plenty of time outdoors (at least One Hour Outside every day), maybe some adventure planning, and as many smiles as possible.

Splodz Blogz | Weekly Blog Episode 106

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