Today we left Cabopino as early as we could to get a head start on our last official journey south. We were heading for Tarifa, a wee town right down on the southern tip of Spain, west of Gibraltar and within spitting distance of Tangiers in Morocco in North Africa. The ACSI book told us to go to a campsite called Valdevacqueros, about 10 km west of Tarifa on the road to Cadiz. It didn’t tell us that we would have to climb a couple of killer hills to get there, so steep that even the Audi had to work very hard in 3rd gear to haul the Magic Caravan to the summits. We didn’t know there were hills down here, did you?

As usual, Victoria told me to shut up and drive and, despite her insubordination and cheeky tone, I did as I was told. Maybe I thought she was Mary! I could just hear her saying in bed “Turn around when possible!” So of course we arrived safe and sound at the latest camp site but this time at 12.30 p.m. way ahead on the clock. We set up quickly and erected the awning at once, determined to get ourselves organized. Lunch was taken under the awning as we avoided the 26º C as much as we could then we set up the satellite and put the bedding out to air. Who should pass us at that moment but the Dutch folk who were our neighbours at Cabopino!

At 15.15 we got back in the car and set off in the direction we had just travelled but at least we weren’t towing the caravan this time. 50 kilometres up the carriageway we reached Sotogrande where we parked up as arranged next to a sports field and Mary called her cousin Paul who came down to meet us and got us to follow him back to his house. Originally we were going to pop in on the way past with the caravan but I was uncomfortable about turning up late at the new camp site after visiting Paul and his family so we had decided to get set up first and then drive back.

We had a lovely late afternoon and evening with Paul, his wife Gillian and their 2 kids, Chloe and Sam and our hostess did us proud with a terrific selection of tasty morsels. Their house is big and beautiful with swimming pool and outdoor bar – very handy in this climate.

While Paul and Mary caught up on family matters I spent a bit of time with the bairns on the piano and on the computer, although Sam seemed to require a tour of the garden at breakneck speed on his bike every three or four minutes. A real laddie! Chloe is a truly lovely little girl and today, dressed in Blanc de Nil, she epitomised the kind of daughter everyone would love to have. Paul and Gillian are indeed fortunate.

While we were there, the whole house and outdoors were a buzz of activity with workmen all over the place, cleaning the pool, repairing slabs and reseeding the grass, all in preparation, Paul told me, for the imminent royal visit of his parents, our own auntie Marie and uncle Ian. He told me to mention tonight that I had seen the handyman install a new shower screen just for the advent of his Mum and Dad.

The good news is that we have been invited back on Sunday to a family barbecue when we will be able to meet Marie and Ian, a couple who only live a couple of hundred metres away from us in Dundee. It’ll be a bit like meeting my brother Joe and his wife Mo when we were in Melbourne a few weeks ago. Both these situations are a bit surreal but I suppose that’s the kind of thing that makes our adventure so interesting.

Paul and Gillian were struck by our tanned appearance today which is novel as normally we wouldn’t meet anyone who can see the difference on our travels so don’t quite see it ourselves. Having said that, my feet are stripier than a zebra’s behind thanks to my very comfortable sandals which I wear pretty much all the time and Mary’s aren’t far behind to be honest.

Home safely, we tidied up then hit the hay, having had an excellent time with Mary’s cousin who is probably quite happy to have survived a visit from the 2 gypsies!

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