Well, we were back at Le Poulsieu (our midi Pyrenees helpx base) last Monday. Did a couple of days work around the house and then headed off on our motorbike for a run through the Pyrenees for a few days.

Our planned trip was to Barcelona and down the coast from there but our HelpX host, Michelle and some of her guests, suggested we do the scenic route through the mountains for some spectacular riding and views. We took their advice and at the last minute changed our plans and headed off in the opposite direction with just a few starting directions and a quick look at the map to earmark some place names so that we knew we were in the right general direction to cross the Spanish border over the top of the mountains!


Our phone sat navs are always available in case of losing our way but we do like to “wing it” because it’s amazing what you discover when you get lost sometimes! We do enjoy the unexpected pleasant surprises …. sometimes we get a few unpleasant ones to deal with too. But it’s all part of the experience and learning curve in our new way of life.

Needless to say, with last minute changes of this sort … all the usual research on weather (very needed when riding on a motorbike) places to stay along the route etc etc, all fall by the wayside! You head out on a wing and a pray and the knowledge that you will make it because you have each other to rely on!


So …  40 minutes into the ride … We hit our first mountain thunderstorm! And spectacular it was! When the rain first started we started looking for a place to pull over to put our waterproofs on before it got too heavy. But we were on mountain roads, twisting and turning continuously with no lay-bys. So by the time we came across a small section where it was safe to stop, the rain was already quite heavy. Fortunately, opposite the lay-by was a farmer’s wood shed with a small undercover roof section. We hopped off and ran for cover to wait it out. Thank you to that unknowing farmer! And boy did it chuck it down! Over an hour we waited for the heavy downpour to stop and the road that had become a river in minutes to settle down to being ride able again.


We rode the rest of the day in waterproof gear through intermittent rain and odd spates of sunshine, but to counteract that and put us in amazingly high spirits, were the spectacular views and enjoyable riding surfaces with amazing corners, twisting and turning, so that you alternatively saw where you had been and what was to come!


The immense beauty of nature astounded us and continues to do so wherever we go. This ride in particular was absolutely amazing! We were enjoying the mountain roads with all its twists and turns and magnificent, breathtaking views so much that we ended up taking a 2 day ride through the mountains to get to the Spanish border! It was only actually about 3 or so hours away from our starting point!

We found ourselves (by accident) on the Tour de France route. We had found an Airbnb to stay at as the day was suddenly at an end and it was on the route! it was only a couple of weeks before the race so there was loads of activity and preparation going on.The following day,after we left our lovely French Airbnb hosts, we continued on that route all the way through to the top and then through to the Spanish border   What an amazing ride!

The views just got better and better. Every corner we turned produced more spectacular and breathtaking views than the one before. Words cannot describe the scenery and wonderful feelings that mother nature gives us … totally for free … if we simply take the time to go and see!




We hit the road on the packed PC800 from the overnight ferry at Le Havre at 8.30 on Monday morning 18th June and started the journey to the Pyrenees. We’d had a number of email conversations with our HelpX host and we were looking forward to getting there. She sounded lovely and her place sounded amazing … the Pyrenees had been on our travel list since September 2017.

We, unfortunately, didn’t have time to really wander around the places we drove through and take time to explore on the way. This is what we usually do. But we had some awesome views along the route and a couple of “oops, we took the wrong turn” moments which produced some interesting sites, some great bike riding roads and photo opportunities! Like the wonderful old windmill we found on a detour we were forced onto by a road closure.

It was a wonderful road for motorcycling too. We have found that the D roads in France are awesome for motorcycle riding as long as the surface is in good nick…. you do sometimes have to watch out for the loose gravel! This particular road gave us an awesome ride for a good few miles and made the ride more enjoyable and seem less like a race to the finish line.

We stopped at about 8.30pm, due to the expected numb bum syndrome, in a great little place near Limoges just for an overnighter. Airbnb to the rescue again.


We had been travelling without using toll roads as we always do because usually, on toll roads … all you see are cars. We do enjoy the scenery and driving roads with less traffic. On Tuesday morning we decided to change that and take the fastest route as we were behind on our planned schedule and still had about 4 – 5 hours travelling to get to our destination. Then there was still fuel and coffee stops to fit in.

We left the Airbnb and found our way to the A20 again on a lovely winding D road which took us through some wonderfully picturesque French villages with stunning scenery. Of course, I do get to enjoy the scenery while we’re riding much more than Rich does … he definitely has to keep his concentration of the winding roads and keeping us upright! Lol


Then it was heads down, twist the wrist and get to our destination with no further ado! Although I must say, our first view of the mountains in the distance very nearly caused another stop! The anticipation to get there after that was hugely increased, so on we went.

Arriving at Foix! What a wonderful little town, with a magnificent castle which totally grabs your attention as you pass through … mental note to spend a day there in the near future!

After winding through a few further hamlets and having to phone our perspective host a couple of times to check we were still on track… It really did look like we were going to be lost forever in the twisting and turning mountain roads with very few decipherable signs … we arrived …  in Paradise!



Besides camping, Rich and I mostly use Airbnb for our accommodation needs when travelling. We have been to a good few countries where we have stayed in Airbnb accommodation ranging from just a room to an entire place to ourselves. This is what we prefer but is not always available at the last minute and we often decide near the end of a long day riding that we fancy having a comfortable bed instead of the tent for a change.

We have never yet (touch wood) had a bad experience and on the contrary, have actually had some wonderful homes to stay in and met some wonderful people when we have stayed in a room in their home. Like the time we stayed in Rochefort, France with Raymonde. What an absolutely lovely, friendly lady who made her beautiful home, which she was rightly so very proud of,  so comfortable and relaxing to stay in and provided us with the most fantastic breakfasts … most of which we really could not eat, although we made a concerted effort on the first morning! Lol We ended up ordering a whole bunch of her homemade jams to be sent to us, back at home in the UK!

We have had many such experiences which is one of the reasons that we recommend Airbnb so highly.


The booking system with Airbnb is very easy. Simply JOIN, download the app and start booking your next holiday let, wherever you are going.

You can also earn some travel credit through Airbnb’s “Refer a Friend” program. Everyone user has access to this program. Simply click on your profile pic and select Travel Credit. They will generate a unique code through which they track who has joined via your link. This is how you earn your credit. The good thing is that both the new user and the person who referred (in this case us if you join via our link below) earn the travel credit! A win-win situation if you ask me!

This is our Unique code www.airbnb.co.uk/c/jacquip399. Please use it to click through and join Airbnb, then you can also start earning some travel credit to save yourselves thousands of £’s on future travel accommodation, just as we have.


You get to stay in a fully equipped, clean home with all the necessary facilities that one would have in their own home, without the cost of, or need to do any of the cleaning and/or maintenance. I mean … really? What more could you want? Home away from Home without the hassle! And if you are staying in a local person’s home you will get loads of local info on places to visit, which are the best place to eat at and also how to get around.

Invaluable information to make your holiday experience that much more enjoyable.


The rewards for using Airbnb, beside the obvious one above of earning some travel credit, is that you get top class accommodation for very reasonable prices. There are various levels of accommodation available and there is certainly going to be one that suits your tastes and your budget. From simple single rooms in a private home, to studios and even to high end entire flats, houses or villas.


This is quite an important benefit for ourselves, (Rich has CAD and I am Diabetic) and anyone who is

  1. a) on a budget
  2. b) likes to eat healthily and
  3. c) Has health issues or diseases eg Diabetes etc where there are specific dietary requirements to deal with.



Airbnb have a good review system where you can read up on previous user’s experiences, likes and dislikes. They also have a rating system for hosts and have a Superhost level which usually guarantees you a great stay in clean, well kept accommodation with amazing customer service from the host!

Superhosts are experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests. Look out for the Superhost badge, which appears on their listing and profile to help identify them to guarantee a wonderful stay.

Palermo, SICILY

Palermo, SICILY

Well, here we are … lying on sun loungers overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea on the North coast of Sicily. This is our first holiday of 2018 and it is a break away doing a hotel review before we head off on our road trip of Europe.
I kinda like this lifestyle and hope we can get it going full time soon. Lots to learn still, but we will keep on keeping on until we get there ….

We are staying in the Domina Zagarella Hotel, which is a 4*resort in Solanto in the Province of Palermo, previously owned by the infamous Salvo cousins of Mafia connections.
The view is spectacular … there is something about waking up to a view over the sea, watching all the fishing boats going about their business, in and out of the harbour, that just makes you feel good. Of course, all this gorgeous warm sunshine topping up the vitamin D levels helps too.
We took a walk yesterday along the rocks (well a bit of a clamber over rocks,broken walls,sand and unfortunately plastic rubbish)  to the side and front of the hotel to have a look at the derelict home of the Salvo cousins that is next door to the hotel.

The story goes that they were tax collectors for the Government of the time but had all the “right connections” in the Government to make them very valuable to mafia bosses. One of the cousins died from cancer and the remaining cousin, Ignazio was murdered at his home by the Mafia! Apparently the home, which has become this derelict building which fascinates Richard, was “taken into custody” in the investigation and could not be sold or used and so has fallen into this unkempt state and nothing can be done about it!
What a waste of what was obviously an amazing home … 2 stories of innumerable rooms, the floor partially covered now, in what was once beautiful Italian tiles, very upmarket wallpaper, a wonderful patio with steps leading down to the calm, clear sea for your daily swim and what must have been an amazing Mediterranean garden set on terraces going up the hill behind the house. Now stripped of most of its glory and been used as a party venue for the locals we guess by all the broken beer bottles and distasteful graffiti on the walls.
The feeling of this area of Sicily on the whole is a little rundown and unkempt, and feels poor but the people seem happy enough. Not that our Italian is any good mind, to be able to have that kind of discussion. Thank goodness for that wonderful translation app.
The hotel building is obviously pretty old but has been refurbished recently into this resort on a beautiful part of the coast of Sicily. The new owner has colour themed each floor with each colour being specific to its own theme e.g., blue for music, red for automotive etc. Very bright and dramatic!
The road leading up to and away from the resort in both directions is untidy and unkempt and not really suitable for walking comfortably and it certainly doesn’t forecast what you will step into when you walk through the doors. It is like entering a different world and obviously the intention of the owners is to get you there and keep you there for the duration of your stay. The outside areas are fantastic with 3 swimming pools, albeit only 2 operational while we were here, surrounded by beautiful, wonderfully scented gardens. There are relaxing areas of solitude with classic music playing in the gardens if you are into that. The sea is literally one level down from the lower pool deck with calm and clear water .. that was a tad chilly still in April but wonderfully refreshing after a walk.
To my mind, the location and view from the hotel and it’s fantastic outside areas are what this resort is all about and if spending time relaxing in the sunshine on great sun lounger and enjoying the pool bar is all you want, then this is a wonderful place to do it. As a 4* establishment it does however lack some of the finer things e.g. coffee/tea facilities the room are non existant, cocktails are expensive and don’t use the room service as the service charge is €10 a pop …no matter what you order. The other thing that is very off putting is the lack of pricing before you spend. There is a mini bar in each room but no prices on what each item costs. You would be forgiven for thinking this was a perk and free, but it is NOT! Again over priced, I think. There are surcharges on almost everything including being seated at the restaurant alongside the pool even before you order.
The staff are fantastic…extremely helpful, friendly and working around the hiccups of a new establishment still finding its feet.
So … essentially, a beautiful spot to unwind and relax, enjoying the weather and amazing views! Not sure if it is worth the inflated prices at this stage but hopefully some of the points made in the reviews will swing things and there will soon be some of the finer, extra items in place to improve the customer enjoyment. It is also a time share resort and I have to say that those prices are not bad at all and there are a number of Domina resorts around the world you can swap your weeks to, which can turn your 1 week into 3 or 4 holidays a year.
Most people staying here hired cars because of the “unfriendly” roads for walking but we are more adventurous and besides our seaside rock climbing visit to Portobello harbour on the first day, we also wandered up to the archeological site high up on the hills behind the town of Porticello. It is still actively being excavated. The views over the towns below from all sides at the top was magnificent. Well worth the climb of 1.8kms up that hill.
We are going off in the other direction this morning to visit Casteldaccia and an apparently great little Mediterranean restaurant on the sea front for lunch. More on this later ….




I have looked at cash back sites before but never signed up, mainly because I didn’t really understand how they worked and always thought “it must be a con, I mean who is going to give you money just because you bought from them…right?” so never took the time to investigate further! Now, as much as I know you shouldn’t take anything at face value without checking … you should also never simply bypass something without checking too, because you could be missing a big opportunity!  Well, apparently, I have …. so time to rectify this now.

Some info so that you too don’t bypass such a good opportunity …  You do not pay anymore than you would if you bought direct from the company you were going to buy from anyway, but you get some cash back so that’s like getting a discount isn’t it? Except you get it in cash, paid into your account and they have hundreds of shops you can buy from. Your cash back % differs depending on which company you shop at and what product you buy but nevertheless, it is money for nothing really … just for making your online purchase through them!

So, as an example, if you are planning to buy something through …say … Amazon. All you do is join up through our TopCashBack link and then choose Amazon on their list of partners and proceed to do your purchasing as you normally would, and WooHoo you get some cash back once your purchase is confirmed and paid for!

You do, of course, have to join them first and become a member in order to get cash back ….

So one of the best UK cash back sites and the one we use is TopCashBack.

Check the small print because they also have a Plus Membership which will cost you £5, so check it out properly and make the choice of Classic account (free) or Plus (£5)

It’s totally free to join and when you buy through them online … they give you money back … paid into your PayPal account or your bank account. Choice is yours. You also have the choice to pay your money into the wallet to use to buy from other partners. Doing this will give a bonus as an additional percentage on top of your earned bucks, which translates into a little more to spend depending on which provider you choose to save your earnings with.

You will earn an extra £5 amazon voucher if you click through our link so go here to JOIN NOW!  … and enjoy some well deserved money back…

PS:  We earn a small referral fee if you join through our link, so if you feel so inclined please click through our links on our blogs as we are trying to make a living out of our blogs and recommendations of companies that we use and trust. It will be much appreciated.

Which Bike

Which Bike

Hey everyone! Rich here … when we first said the word travel, our thoughts straight away went to Motorbike touring as both of us love motorcycle riding. After all, you get to go places out in the open, feeling free and see all the bits along the way and have fun doing it! All you need is some money and your bike … lol … some money and a bike?! Hmmm, didn’t have either! So we saved up a bit and got some money. 1st box ticked …

Now for the bike. Then I realised I didn’t have a clue of what bike to get. I haven’t ever had a touring bike before, they have all been fast sports bikes and I’ve enjoyed them and enjoy riding fast. You know, I’ve seen them come through the shop and read articles in magazines but I never had “the hots” for a touring bike. Soooo anyway, we looked at a number of them and couldn’t find any that we both liked in our price range, until a very good friend of ours (Hi Dave!) came round with a bike he had just bought. We hadn’t seen one of these before … it was a red and black Honda Pacific Coast 800! Jacqui fell in love with it instantly, saying: “THAT’S THE ONE WE NEED!”

I wasn’t so sure … lol. Dave then said he had seen one on a very popular auction site that we all know … haha … so we looked, placed and bid and won! Yay!

My gorgeous wife and I went to pick up the bike the next day. When we arrived and I clapped eyes on it … I still wasn’t sure, lol, but anyway, I checked it over and all seemed good. I road tested it and that’s when it all made sense! It was so comfortable. 2nd box ticked …

You should always remember when you’re on a budget … looks are not everything! Can’t wait for France!


The awesome Honda Pacific Coast 800



Well, after our Western Cape trip we came back to winter in the UK. What a shock to the system … brrrr. All we could think about was the warm sunshine we had left behind in South Africa and Richard had seriously got the travel bug from that trip but all we had to look forward to at that stage was next year’s annual leave!
Not where we wanted to be …

We saw through November, Christmas and new year because we had to basically, but by the time March came round, we were desperate for some warmth and some sunshine, so Rich put in for a portion of his leave and we took a short break … to Paphos. It was simply a look at where there was a higher temperature and a shortish flying time and that’s the choice we made … pretty much like closing our eyes and putting a pin in the map! lol

We chose to do something different to our norm this time as it was a spur of the moment decision so I found a deal on one of the holiday comparison site and we got an excellent price for hotel and flights for 5 days. This worked out really well, the studio flat was amazing as were the staff, except for the cleaners who simply unlocked and walked in at round 7am every morning regardless of whether we were still in bed or not … lol. In the end we got used to the door opening and we pretended to be sleeping, totally ignoring them … and eventually they got the message and left to come back later!


What a good decision … we absolutely loved Paphos … from the harbour , the archeological sites, the history to the beaches and, of course, the sunshine. Not to mention Coco’s Bar, the karaoke bar with just the best cocktails in town and absolutely awesome customer service.



We decided to go for a short walk to find a good beach to do some tanning on our 3rd day there so we set off and walked along the beach where we could, enjoying the feel of the warm sand, the sun and the views, stopped for some breakfast along the way and then … 15 miles and 5 hours later …. we found coral bay! Beautiful bay which was quiet as it was still out of season and quite protected from any wind. There were lovely sun loungers out on the beach so we collapsed on them and absorbed some vitamin D for the remainder of the day!

We did a lot of walking around the town and archeological and burial sites for the short time we were there. Very interesting history and really amazing mozaics that have been uncovered in the archeological site of the old city. And before we knew it … it was time to fly back to the cold and to work. There is still so much more to explore that there will definitely be another visit to Paphos in the future. 


We did manage sundowners and a lovely sunset on the beach on our last evening. Until next time Paphos!


5 things you should Never miss in the western Cape

5 things you should Never miss in the western Cape

5 things you should never miss??

That seems a little silly because, to be honest, there is sooo much to see and do in the Western Cape area of South Africa that this blog could be titled 45 things to do and we still wouldn’t have made a dent in it. As our time there was limited, we only got to a very small section of the area. Not a problem because we obviously have to return to experience the rest … maybe again and again. What a beautiful place!


There are a number of ostrich farms in the Oudtshoorn area of the Western Cape. Did you know that the Ostrich is the worlds largest flightless bird? 

We chose an ostrich farm in close proximity to the Backpackers we were staying at (Paradise Backpackers) so as to fit in the Crocodile Dive on the same day. We had such a lovely guide … with this lovely lilting Cape accent and such a good sense of humour. The tour started with a talk on the history of the Ostrich Barons and farming and some exhibits of the birds (touch and feel) feathers, eggs, “leather” for the making of handbags etc. 

We then moved on to examining the eggs for fertility and a description of how they are tested and incubated and then were introduced to the birds!  


Rich was the bravest of our bunch and stepped into the enclosure with the bird first … even stretching out to touch … lol.  So, I had to step up to the plate too. Obviously, if he can, so can I!     

Next was climbing aboard to ride one … really? Not everyone tried that and it is not easy or even comfortable but they have “jockeys” who ride these birds in the regular ostrich races!

And then for the neck massage ….. this was so funny.


Basically, the ostriches know that their food is in that bucket so if you stand with your back to them holding the bucket, they will all stretch over your shoulders and round your neck to get to the food! Not my kind of neck massage. hahaha

Well worth the visit peeps! When you make the trip to South Africa …. because it surely has to be on your bucket list … right? Go check out the ostrichs!


Just down the road from the ostrich farm is Cango Safari wildlife Park. Loads of animals to see and the guided walk around the park with all the interesting facts from the knowledgeable tour guides is awesome. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole tour but the crocodile dive was what we went for so …


Now let me tell you that I am petrified of crocodiles and if Richard hadn’t been there to hold my hand I would probably not have taken part in this particular little adventure! In the end it was an awesome experience to be so close to one of these scary creatures from the dinosaur age. The water was cold so he was not as active as he would have been had the water been warmer. We would definitely recommend the experience.

The evening at Paradise Backpackers was amazing and we had an awesome meal of ostrich and homemade bread cooked on the open fire! It was a good night spent with some lovely interesting people from all over the world. We left Oudtshoorn the next day, both with serious hangovers (Rich was worse than me lol ) after being introduced to Witblitz by the barman, to make our way back to Hermanus for the Whale watching and shark dive.


This is a must on anyone’s bucket list! Such a wonderful and humbling experience being so close to these huge gentle beasts. Every year between June and September, the Southern Right Whales come to this coast to breed and have their young, called calves. They are quite inquisitive, playful creatures and so come wondering in towards the boats filled with us just as quizzy humans to investigate and show themselves. Some getting in really close and others swimming around with their young in tow. Showing off their tails which they sometimes use as sails to let the wind push them along when feeling lazy.  This was the highlight of our trip.

We stayed in Hermanus Backpackers Hostel to experience both the Whale watching trip and the Great white shark cage dive, both of which can be booked through the backpackers website when you make your accommodation booking! Owned by Braam and Hayley, it is a wonderfully friendly and helpful place to stay with a variety of fantastically decorated rooms from dorms to doubles and a choice of en suite facilities.   




Well, this was the main reason for our choice of the first place to visit. We started out at the office of the cage diving tour operator for our pre-dive talk. Everyone was pretty nervous and also worried about being sea sick as the sea was still a tad bouncy plus the visibility was not good. Only about a metre. First thing we had to do was eat! lol … seems strange when you’re worrying about being sick but the guys who run the operation insisted that we would fare better with a good breakfast before hitting the high seas! They were right!

After breakfast, we were taken onto the boats and given the safety rundown and then headed out to see sharks! The boat crew kept throwing out chum on the way to the cage to entice the sharks to come to their boat. The sea was cold and because of the visibility being as restricted as it was the sharks who came to visit were only visible when they were virtually on top of the cage so you couldn’t see them coming in or up from a distance. The view was way better from the top deck of the boat and that is where we got our best shots. You could actually see them rising up to the surface from literally the bottom of the ocean until they broke surface in an attempt to get the bait that was on offer. 



On our last day in Cape Town, we took a drive to Hout Bay. I have fond memories of a trip there many years ago. We sat on the wharf having lunch, drinks and watching the many seals that frequented the harbour, popping their noses out the water to watch the humans watching them and hoping for some food. I remember it being so quaint and special.

Needless to say things have changed over the years and it is much more commercialised, but it is still beautiful and one of my favourite places. The colourful boats, the changing blue hues of the water, from turquoise to almost deep  navy blue, the “flea market” with all the local traders, the seals or in this case … the one seal named John! Being fed by one of the locals … mouth to mouth … as a tourist attraction and a way of earning and putting food on his table or perhaps a bottle of Paarl Perle wine? hahaha 

The view from Chapmans Peak coming down into Hout Bay is fantastic. Richard took a stunning panoramic pic from the harbour wall, which has become my absolutely favourite photograph of the trip!                                               

A MUST DO is to have a meal of lobster tails in the Seafood restaurant that overlooks the beach on the side of the harbour entrance … with a nice glass of something alongside of course. What a wonderful ambient way to spend our last day.




The Western Cape- South Africa

The Western Cape- South Africa

The Western Cape –South Africa

When we decided on our first holiday together, it had to be to South Africa to cage dive with sharks! Richard has a love and fascination for sharks, great whites in particular, so from the minute we met, me being from South Africa, and loving to travel and he having this desire to see sharks in the flesh … we spoke about travelling to see sharks and it seemed the obvious place for us to start!
So, the holiday was planned, basically around the shark cage diving adventure and wanting to see as much of the area around Gansbaai, the most famous place on the cape coast for shark diving and viewing! But first things first … Rich had never had any desire to travel prior to this and therefore had no passport! OMG! … I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, I soon put that to rights …. and about 3 months later, all paperwork sorted and passport in hand … the planning and saving began in earnest.
I wanted to show him as much as I could in the 12 days we had available and booked us up solidly. Boy did we travel far and wide in that time …. from landing in Cape Town, collecting a hired car and on to Hermanus to go on a whale watching boat trip, to cage diving with sharks in Gans baai, to Oudtshoorn (What a drive … forgot how big the area is) to see and ride ostriches, to cage diving with crocodiles, drive back down to Cape Town on the famous route 62 with a visit to the famous (or is that infamous) Ronnies Sex Shop along the route and back to Cape Town to the beautiful Hout Bay, to finishing the trip by spending 3 days in Durban with my family.
We had to be a bit flexible even after having all the planning down to a T, because the weather didn’t behave! We got to Hermanus, to find that all sea adventuring had been cancelled due to a huge storm having hit the area the day before. We went for a walk along the coastal path to see the sea … lol …it was hectic, huge waves crashing over the harbour wall, huge swells and really really rough seas. Took loads of pics but they don’t really give a good indication of how rough it was to show why all boats were grounded! So after a couple of ‘phone calls and help from the friendly helpful peeps at Hermanus Backpackers, we turned the planning around and headed off to Oudtshoorn first. The sea adventures had to wait for at least 3 days for the surf to settle enough to attempt the shark dive.