Over the Border

Moving on from Ribadavia, we headed for a potential stopover at Pontedeva. This one features in all the aires guides and to be fair none really do it justice. OK, there are some light industrial buildings behind us, but the views to the sides and ahead are stunning, with mountains, and the wide Rio Miño below the trees. Great facilities plus a big barbecue area. 

A couple of weeks ago the fridge started to play up when on gas. I’d taken a look at the top, readily accessible parts of the flue, but frankly I did nothing except put the bits back, and then I left off the outside cover, which some advise in hot weather. Strangely, it then gradually came back to life after I teased up the thermostat, and then it was back to normal. 

However earlier this week it decided to pack up again, so it would only click at me then go silent. I randomly tried it from time to time but it had made its mind up that we’d had enough ice cream for this trip. 

Inspired by our pleasant surroundings and weather to match I thought I’d delve in to the back of the fridge from the outside again, thinking if I could somehow undo that infuriatingly positioned screw, then perhaps I could access the other parts of the flue and maybe clear out any debris or whatever. I even manufactured a tool using plastic ties, a small spanner, plus a screwdriver bit, which impressed me but I could not shift that rusty old screw. I then tried with the pliers from above and whilst I’m not sure they did anything I did find I could wiggle the tube it held a bit and eventually pulled that free. Dangling inside on a piece of wire was what I presume was the “baffle”, like a long metal ribbon. I then poked about inside what I presume was the flue with a long piece of wire. 

Realising how far the wire went I then removed the lower fridge vent and gave the gubbins at the bottom of the flue a gentle few taps plus blew hard into the area in the offchance of shifting any unwanted debris. Anyway, after all that uneducated poking and not a lot else, I managed to get it to ignite again. I’m not holding my breath, but at least I have the self-satisfaction that maybe I made a difference temporarily. We won’t be rushing to the Lidl ice-cream counter straight away, but let’s see what happens. 

I’m now pleased to report that Sophie has sanctioned an overnight stay here. As this aire has one of the most stunning aspects I’ve seen from a motorhome stop, I’m not sure why she’d have wanted to move on. In fact, I had to take her by the hand and point out the remarkable mountain/lake/tree views, and told her that I think that’s Portugal just over there. I think she’s slowly getting it.

We did hear a cockerel in the neighbouring garden, so I wondered if I’d be in Sophie’s good books in the morning or not. 

(Blog continues after these photos):

An idyllic overnight spot at Pontedeva/Trado, although we could have done without the 5:28 early morning call from the neighbouring cockerels, followed shortly at 6:15 by the hounds that lived in adjoining cages to them. As we’ve seen before in Spain, it’s not uncommon for dogs to be left on their own with their owners clearly living somewhere else completely, and so not disturbed by their dogs’ noise. 

After a business conference call lasting almost two hours, I then indulged in the rare treat of a shower. Don’t get me wrong, we take personal hygiene very seriously, but are generally not bothered to actually do the full on shower thing that regularly when travelling. I feel a great weight lifted as I share that with you. We had access to unlimited water, no time pressures, and it was a warm sunny day, so why not. 

My lunch treat today was cheese on toast, after which I programmed in several Park4nights and we threw caution to the wind and headed off in a general Portugal direction. This actually was never in our master plan, so I blame Philippa and Pete, who we met a couple of nights ago, for sowing that seed. We’ve just heard that they too crossed the border this afternoon. 

The border crossing was as uneventful as most EU borders are, and you have to watch carefully to see the sign that tells you’ve actually transitioned into another country. That being said, and following Sophie telling me yesterday that Portugal apparently has the worst motor vehicle accident rate, I did notice that there was always someone on my tail, visible in the rear view camera, and that’s not happened in the previous 2,500 miles. 

First we tracked down a perfectly respectable Park4night in the town of Mancao. There was a generous tree-lined carpark around three sides of a large fort, and that would have done nicely if it had been the right time of day, and in fact there was a French motorhome there. 

From here we headed South, and it turned into a tortuous route over a mountain. On the way up we could see the smoke rising from a number of forest fires, which gave it the feel of an active volcanic region. Once we reached the bottom of the mountain, eventually, we then had to deal with almost third world standard bumpy roads, albeit with very, very patchy tarmac. 

Next objective was Lidl, where amongst other essentials, we indulged in some ice cream to celebrate 24 hours of our fridge still working. 

A few kilometres away was the town of Ponte de Barca. It seemed particularly pleasant and had a very leafy carpark next to a park, only a short stroll away from the town, and the Park4night reviews were very favourable. Sophie suggested we stay and I agreed immediately, liberating a freshly purchased Sagres beer from our newly repaired fridge. 

Progress as follows:

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