Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

Home Travel StoriesNorthern Spain 2018

The Good, The Bad And The Musty

By Sharon Parker

Day 9 31st May 

The thing  is when a person dies the world does not stop. The deceased's heartbeat has stopped but the sun still rises and the earth still turns. It feels so wrong to get up today and carry on as normal, to continue with my holiday when my sister's world has fallen apart. But there is nothing else for it is there, we may feel all disjointed and out of sync but a new day has begun and I must live in it.

I feel guilty too because Ren has to share my troubles. I don't believe in bringing out violins on my behalf but I am aware I have had quite a bit to deal with over the last few years and Ren by default has to become entangled in my web of misfortunes. 

I am the Queen of guilt. I feel stupid amounts of guilt over an array of things. I will feel guilty about Ren if I now cry and become miserable. I will feel guilty if I laugh and carry on having fun because that feels like I don't care about my sister's grief. But hey if life is so much shorter than we even think it may be then we have to smile and make the best of what little time we may have. I take a deep breath, open my eyes and begin the day.

Despite my inner turmoil once on the bike and riding I feel my troubles slip away as my mind now needs to concentrate on the challenge of the road ahead. We pass a police car parked up in a side road. As we pass they pull out behind me and follow. I feel nervous with them following me and I am glad when we pull into a supermarket and they carry on. 

After a quick bite to eat we ride the C626 Villablino to La Vecilla and what another fantastic road it is. The C 626 cuts through wide open flat valley floors. Rather than next to the rock face itself this section of the road allows us to to view the mountains from a distance. We are surrounded on all sides by spectacular mountain ranges looming large and imposing. The horizon expands and with it so does my soul. I feel my heart swell up with beauty and I give thanks to nature's glory.
We can pick up speed on some undulating straights, a speed dictated by ourselves as there is very little traffic, then the road becomes twisty once again as it begins to wind itself up into the mountains. I want to stop every few minutes as another amazing scene appears. However there is few places to stop so the pictures are for myself alone locked in my own memory, they cannot be shared. The few pictures I could take do not really do justice to all that I saw.

Rocky outcrops atop a hill behind a handful of houses along the CL626
Looking out over a broad field and flat green valley in the background grey rocky hills
A large suspension bridge over a reservoir, Embalse de los barrios de luna
A road winds it's way alongside the reservoir amidst hills and valleys covered in trees and scrub
Spain equals space enough to breathe and set your own pace.

We cross bridges and reservoirs. We get the opportunity to stop off at one reservoir as parking is provided as well as seating and a stunning viewpoint. I relish the silence, the peace, the space and the views. What another stunning view? Yes another one but I am far from bored with them.

Looking over the reservoir there's a space to sit and take in the scenery
The waters suddenly stop at a beige concrete barrier, this is the top of the dam that forms the reservoir
From a vantage point we see the large reservoir set between the green valley sides
Perfect place to sit and admire the view

It is rather cold today and I begin to feel really chilled especially the top of my arms as we continue to ride. I did not have the best of sleeps last night and I am beginning to feel tired. I am therefore somewhat relieved when we approach the campsite, Camping La Cota is the place we have chosen for tonight.  

As we enter the campsite I am not beginning to feel a warm glow. This is not what the pictures portrayed. I have been deceived before with photos on the internet, looks like this is going to be another disappointment.
We get off the bikes and go into the cafe. We are greeted by stares. I feel rather uncomfortable. I feel like I am in an old Western movie. I may have walked through a modern PVC patio door but in my mind the salon doors are left a-swinging. I take off my cowboy hat (helmet) while the locals eye me warily. I flex my fingers ready to pull out my gun (phone) at the first sight of trouble. I hear in my head the tune for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  The locals here don't speak my lingo, I squint my eyes, it is all getting rather tense. The guy at the back reaches for his pocket, he is armed, quick on the draw he pulls out his weapon of choice in one swift movement. My hands grip my own safety device. He begins to brandish his tool in the air demanding we speak. Will this be the last words ever spoken by us.....?

Thankfully his phone (tool) comes equipped with Google translate and once it is understood that we strangers are wanting a place to rest our heads it is all smiles. We are transformed into family and are given free drinks and food and smiled at a lot. It is all a bit overwhelming for me. I feel all wrong, all out of place. They are so enthusiastic and happy to be of service. 

I suddenly feel like just being left alone. The reality of my sister's fate suddenly slams back into me with the force of a bullet and I am left reeling. I feel outside of myself. I can hear them talking about our bikes with joyful smiles across their faces. They have motorbikes too so they are even more enthused with us now. 

They notice I am shivering, more the shock setting in I think than the cold but the lady here wants to show me her caravan because it has a heater and it will be warm for me. The caravan is dank and musty but she also has another, it too is dank and musty. Ren is unsure, what should we do he asks, caravan or tent? I just want everyone to kindly just sod off, so in the hope of being left alone as quickly as possible I say we will take the first caravan. Maybe the heater can take away this terrible chill that has crept over me. 

As Ren goes to make payment I sit in this musty, broken down caravan and see my sister in my mind back at home sitting in a plastic chair in her empty house and her bright future now an empty shell. My daughter calls on the phone, she is not well and is going to have to go into hospital to be looked at because the swelling she has been experiencing has increased. I grow colder still, I put the small heater on and sit close to it trying to will it to warm my frosty soul. I ask Ren to leave me alone for a bit. I need some time to sit, to dwell, to feel my sadness and put it in a box so I can carry on. 

Once I am able to function again I take stock of my surroundings and realise I was definitely not myself when I agreed to staying here. I have refused better accommodation than this in my day much to Ren's embarrassment. We were away in Wales and in need of a bed for the night. We called into a B & B and I asked to see the room. It was damp and smelled of mould. "Will this do?" asked the owner, "No", I say, "- it smells of mould ".  I turned on my heel and left. Ren looked mortified but hey say it as it is. 

So no I wasn't myself when I agreed to staying in this musty caravan, it is so wrong it is actually funny. I now have the theme tune for the Clampets running around in my head as I sit down on a sofa that would have done them proud. But I do not want to offend our hosts as they were so friendly, so wanting to please. There is no need here to cause upset when there is upset enough around at the moment so it looks like I will be staying here tonight.

A montage of the inside of the basic, old, faded and ramshackle caravan
Now listen to a story about a man named Ren, a poor motorbiker barely keep his family fed.

The Clampet House is not really very cheery so once I have finished with my sad  contemplations I go in search of Ren and we decide to take a stroll into town. La Vecilla de Curueno is a typical Spanish town of houses both loved and neglected residing together. A small town, the population stands at around the 400 mark, it is nestled in a valley below limestone mountains. Farming is very much in evidence in this region today and dates back to Roman times. The Church of La Vecilla is from the 18th Century and is adorned today by a huge nest which I later realise is the home of storks for we see them sat on other huge nests as we walk back to the campsite later that evening. 

A collage of houses, some smart and crisp, others broken and run down
Renovated and neglected stand side by side in many Spanish towns.
A small Spanish style church in the town, quite basic
Church of La Vecilla 

We stop at a bar for a coke and sit outside as the locals chat and the swallows swoop low along the street catching insects on the wing. The grey clouds suddenly break up as we sit and blue skies and sunshine guide us back to the campsite. 

Ren smiles and tips a bottle of pop as a toast while sitting outside the bar in the town
I like this guy 

I guess life is like the weather, sunshine one minute, grey gloom the next. We can never know when the rain may come or the destructive storms will lay waste to our best laid plans. I guess we have to make hay when the sun is shining and as the setting sun bathes the town in its golden glow I feel its warmth and my chill abates a little.  Life is fleeting, it can be gone all too soon so let us smile for a while at the beauty of sunsets.

As the evening draws on the skies look different in this montage of shots around the town
Sunset reminds us of lifes ups and downs 

It has been a strange day today made up of the good, the bad and the musty. 

If you'd like to advertise with Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Building Up To España In the prologue to their journey Ren can't help but feel that the forthcoming journey might be a costly disaster. Forever the optimist.
Getting Ready For Spain Sharon is determined to be ready, organised and prepared for her forthcoming trip to Spain. However life is even more determined to ruin her plans.
Bodging Daaan Saaaf Ren bears witness to an impossible event. Then there's some last minute bodging to be done.
Motorway Miles And Muses Sharon's derriere proves more than tough enough for the big ride across England. Can she manage to lose them emotional luggage while securing her physical luggage though?
To The Ferry What are the chances of Sharon getting out of bed very early twice in the same week. Well she'd better had otherwise the Muppet's will miss the ferry.
Ocean Blue Sharon's more excited than nervous but this is the first time the Kwakker has been aboard ship. That's if customs let her on board.
Lost Off The Ferry The great adventurer and motorcyclist Ren is proving that he is in fact a useless idiot. He can't ride and he can't find a campsite that is open. Oh what will become of the BAT muppets?
Campsite Conundrum Sharon is having way too much fun while Ren is trying to find a place to sleep. Well someone has to be happy when Ren's such a grump.
Discovering The Picos After a troublesome first day in Spain hopefully Sharon and Ren's luck will improve. Thing is they have a 187km detour to reach their destination. There have been worse detours though.
Heaven's Mirror Putting fear and doubt to bed for a while Sharon enjoys the wondrous ecstasy of nature and the joy of riding a motorcycle through it. Oh and a lot of sharp corners too.
Rain In The Picos Will the rain bring doom and gloom to the already grumpy Ren? Luckily there's enough scenery and interesting things to keep him going.
The Sound Of Silence In spite of a dire weather forecast Sharon's day in Spain is filled with the beauty of nature, fond memories and the creation of great new memories.
Riding to Burgos Is motorcycle touring a non stop stream of excitement, beauty, wonder and exploration? Erm, nope. It's a rather ordinary day on the road to Burgos.
Tin Tin It's both a good and bad day for Sharon as she travels from the delights of the mountains to the grim reality of the city and the rain. At least her hair is looking good.
Higher Than I've Ever Been In spite of the weather forecasts. In spite of no longer being in The Picos. In spite of Ren being a pessimist. In spite of all this it seems Northern Spain has more delights in store.
Magical Kingdom Sharon's having another amazing day riding around Northern Spain. She's on a high, metaphorically and literally.
Boots And Burgos Ren is suffering a footwear malfunction and it's time to go and do that city thing. Can Burgos convert Sharon and Ren into city lovers?
Burgos Bimble Sharon explores the city of Burgos, Spain. Architecture, stone masonry, pilgrims and tempting food. But can a city really endear itself to this country girl?
Lost In Luxury How to turn a fortuitous and splendid day into a nightmare. Just follow Ren and he'll sort the rest out. Still, it could be worse.
Dam Lost Fearing the weather Sharon is braced for a drenching. Thing is the weather isn't really the problem.
Gritty Northern El Bierzo There's time to explore a different part of Northern Spain today. It might not have the beauty of The Picos De Europa it is however a fascinating area.
Blink Of An Eye Sharon has an interesting day poking around north west Spain. There's a something of a shock in store for the evening.
Back To Beauty, Dodgy Caravan It's time for the dynamic muppets to saunter their way back towards the ferry and Ren is in reflective mood. Wonderful scenery, weird accommodation.
The Good, The Bad And The Musty It's a day of confusing emotions for Sharon, but life is for living. Will this evening's accommodation be as luxurious as the previous evening's?
Beautiful Potes While going to a now familiar town is hardly intrepid at least it means Ren is calm, chilled out and not lost. For once.
Head In The Clouds Sharon is calmed by the wonders of Northern Spain's wondrous scenery as she returns to the comforts of Potes.
Sun, Sand, Sea And Santander The weather has improved now it's time for the dynamic muppets to head back to the ferry. Ren is intrigued by stories or walking across Northern Spain, will we see "Walks And Travels" or W.A.T.?
Splish Splash Santander The beauty and grandeur of the The Picos means Sharon does not want to leave, ever. It's back to the city, ready to sail home. Fear not, there's still pleasures to be found.
The Ferry Home It's the dynamic muppet's last day in Spain so it's time to catch the ferry. A mixture of sadness and relief for Ren, but what about the other riders in the queue?
Final Thoughts On Spain Ren crosses the T's and dots the I's on the Spanish trip.

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