Sunday, 21 December 2008

Took a wander round the Ark Royal when it came into Gib as part of British Forces Open Day.

It is huge. Or rather the aircraft hanger is huge as you would expect. The aircraft hanger was as much as we got to see, but there was some interesting stuff in there.

Not least this. Being ignorant in all things military I had to ask one of my sources what it was. He told me it was an AWD tractor, used for moving aircraft both on board and on land. A Douglas Tugmaster apparently. Thanks and credit to my source for finding out for me.

Of course there were a couple of Defenders to look at too, parked up at the Royal Naval Dockyard on the Open Day.

Next up - latest on our Landy and what he wants for Christmas........

Monday, 1 December 2008

A few pix

A selection of Land Rovers seen over the last few weeks.

So first up, three LRs parked near to each other in one of the car parks. Two Discoverys, and a Defender SWB.

Note the Maggiolina on one of the Discos which Partner is lusting after (the roof tent not the Disco - there are limits).

In the background of the shot with the red Disco, is the British War Memorial.

Lastly, what looks like the same Landy I posted about back in March, although slightly different appearance. One day we will catch the owner to speak to them.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

109 ambulance

Went for a walk this arvo, and set off down the street. Suddenly realised it would be more sensible to go uphill.

Whereupon, I spotted this fine 109 ambulance.

After chatting for a bit, I ran off down the street to get Adrian who needed to be alerted immediately to the presence of a Land Rover being fiddled on very nearby.

1981, fitted with a 19J four cylinder turbo diesel, Kenlowe fan, and Defender front end. Of course Adrian may have got some of this wrong. The engine looked very well fitted, pix next time maybe. Previously fitted with a V8.

Then I left them to it.

A good way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Yes?

Mine was spent taking pictures of Fedra - here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

No posts because no Land Rovering for ages.

But anyway she was looking a bit dirty and scruffy and abandoned so she got a wash down at the weekend and is now as beautiful as ever.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The price of petrol

Having very smugly written about the price of petrol/diesel back in March, when it was 54.9p a litre, I thought an update was in order.

I am not quite so smug now. Just as well we don't drive much. At this rate it will soon be through the £1 barrier.

Similar prices elsewhere, 89p (petrol) and 83p (diesel) at the BP garage.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Spanish bureaucracy

Today I decided to brave Spain and the long queues in Spanish banks and - to get the forms from the local traffic department to bajar the coche, ie take it off the Spanish system.

Taking it off the system means we won't keep getting bills for Spanish road tax, and I might even get a refund for what's left of this year ie six months, 30€ or so.

First I went off to pay the telefonica bill in the bank. My dear and faithful readers who are now familiar with the Spanish banking system, thanks to my incessant moans, will remember that you can only pay bills in a fifteen minute window on the one day of the month which does not have a y in it. OK, I exaggerate slightly. But at the bank I normally use you can only pay on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8.30 and 10am. I think one of the others lets you pay on the days of the month that fall between 10th and 20th. Before 10 am, natch. As this is far too complicated for simple Kate to successfully remember I don't bother with that bank.

I cruised in at my usual time of just after 9.30pm having walked through Gib and crossed the airfield and the frontier. Normally this allows enough time to get seen by 10am. Sometimes it is 9.59 but I've always made that critical 10am deadline.

There must have been 30 people in the queue. Now, on a good day, the Spanish banking system is not so efficient that they process people at the rate of a person per minute. On a bad day I have stood behind four or five people for half an hour. While I can't remember the complexities of which different banks are open for bills on different days of the week and the month, I can do the sum that says, 30 people in front of me means I will not get to the cash desk before 10am.

I walked out. I tried another couple of banks. No, you need to have an account with us to pay bills. The second one however suggested I used the post office. The only time I have tried to use the post office before was to pay the water bill which naturally they wouldn't accept. And in our village in Spain the post office (open for an hour a day) is not automated, so I'm guessing you can't pay bills there and I always use the bank.

Well the post office was a piece of cake. Fast (in Spanish terms) ie a queue of ten meant I was only waiting ten minutes, efficient and friendly. In fact I was so impressed that if I want to open an account I might well use the post office. Inspired by this I skipped off to the Tourist Information Office to ask them where I would find Avenida Principe de Asturias which is where the traffic office is situated.

Of course there are two TIOs in La Linea. One for the town and one for the whole of Andalucía. Naturally I ended up at the one for Andalucía and not for La Linea. But I figured they would know where it was anyway and I didn't feel like walking to the other one.

Helpful woman beamed, and produced a map of La Linea. The traffic office was very near. I was on a roll. I skipped off yet again.

Traffic office found, no problem. There was the usual crowd of people all milling around and a take-a-ticket system for your place in the queue that wasn't working. Then I spotted an information desk that was also a dishing-out-of-forms desk. Exactly what I needed.

I waited patiently behind someone who seemed to have to come back later despite having all her paperwork. Then two people got some forms very quickly and it was my turn.

"The husband of mine would like to bajar his coche and I would like the forms for that," I said in best Spanish.

"Bajar el coche," said Mr Unhelpful suspiciously to The Stupid Foreigner.


"You can't do that here. You have to go somewhere else. Where are you?"

I thought that was a very silly question given that I was standing in front of him so I said "Here".

"Well you need to go to Algeciras." Then he decided to make a bit more effort and asked his colleagues whereabouts in Algeciras I needed to go.

"Calle something or other," was the answer.

"Do you think you could write it down?" As five Spanish syllables rattled off in a very fast La Linea accent meant absolutamente nada to me.

Then he pointed to a list on his glass screen and a security guy came round to point out the one I needed.

Scrapyards and places to take your vehicle when it has come to the end of its useful life, it said.

"Oh no," I said to security man. "This is not what I want at all. I do not want to get rid of the vehicle. I want to take it off the system. I still have it, but it now has a number plate for Gibraltar."

Security man repeats this to his colleague.

I go back to Mr Unhelpful behind the glass screen.

"So what do you want to do?" he snaps.

Well I thought I had made this clear but I repeated it again.

"I want to bajar the coche." Then I added for clarification that it now had a Gib number plate and I didn't want to pay Spanish road tax any more.

Well, why did I not mention the money first? Of course the centimo then dropped. Muy rápido.

"Oh, you want to bajar the coche," he said. No sweetheart. What on earth did you think I asked you originally?

"Do you want to export it to Gibraltar?" I'm sure I imagined the surly look on his face that read that irritating place on the end of the Iberian peninsula that should really be Spanish. Or maybe he was just fed up with dealing with The Stupid Foreigner who hadn't said that she needed to bajar the coche. Much.

"It's already done. It has a Gib number plate," I smiled back.

At which point he wandered off and found some forms. He handed over four. Then he repeated everything all over again and asked if I was exporting it and if I wanted to bajar it.


So then he took two forms back and said I only needed the remaining two.

I pointed to yet another notice on his glass screen. It said if you are presenting forms on behalf of someone else then you need bring their ID and signed authorisation. So I told him the husband worked every day and I wanted that form too.

And then off I went. Step one completed. Now all we have to do is fill out the forms and I go back to the hellhole of bureaucracy and try and well and truly finish this bajar the coche job.

I bumped into Adrian on the way back up Main Street (along with 50 million people who had descended from the latest cruise ship). I foolishly recounted the morning's achievements (?). I suggested we could take the forms in together. But it seems work is very busy and he won't be able to take any time off. Hmmm.

Oh I stopped at The Angry Friar for a beer. I figured I had earned it.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

On the road......again

Spotted a few weeks ago down at one of the main car parks in Gib. A well-kitted out Defender.

Looked like a nice outfit having a fine trip somewhere. Or coming back from a fine trip somewhere?

And even we managed to get away for a few days in Spain at the Bank Holiday weekend.

Parking up....

And stopping for a break.....

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Camping in Spain (4) - Costa de la Luz

Isla Sancti Petri

We were getting sucked into staying at Tarifa. It's one of those places where time just passes. And suddenly you realise that a week or more has passed by and you have a slightly surreal existence.

Make friends, they move on, new people come, make new friends. Fortunately some noisy young people arrived and determined to party on into the middle of the night so that was a suitable incentive to clear off and find a more tranquil camp site.

We packed up - it was dry, the weather had improved, and we hit the road. We basically took the main road (N340) up through Cadiz province.

For no particular reason - it was probably lunchtime (ie Spanish lunchtime so halfway through the afternoon) - we decided to stop at Conil de la Frontera. There were little triangles on my maps so there were obviously camp sites and we cruised into town. Being practical we found a supermarket and bought a few supplies and then stopped off at a fine cheap bar for a tapas or two.

Back in the Landy we followed the signs to the campsite. It took us out of the town and along the coast and into some pine trees. Virtually all the campsites along the coast line are set in some sort of pine forest, to a greater or lesser degree.

We booked into Camping Roche and went to find a pitch. The site was pretty empty. Apparently it had only just re-opened for the season. We decided to take up two pitches - hey, why not? One for the vehicle, and one for the tent and the trailer.

We hadn't been pitched long before Mike and Mary wandered over to speak to us. They came from Yorkshire. Usually they wintered in India but this year they had borrowed somebody's brother's campervan flash motorhome or whatever they are called, and were touring Portugal and Spain.

We gave them a few beers. Later they gave us a few beers back and some wine. They gave us some cast-off books which I devoured in no time.

Behind us we had Gunther and Ute. They were Swiss and possessed a rather new 4x4 of some indeterminate brand (all the same to me) and a matching new caravan.

We started with Schnapps over the fence but soon ended up with wine, beer, Schnapps and olives in their caravan. We felt duty bound to finish off the dregs of our malt whisky from the Hebrides with them. (Can't remember which, but it was probably Jura or one of the Islay ones).

We developed a nice little social circuit. When we weren't socialising with the Tykes or the Swiss we were chatting with the Brasilian worker who did most of the maintenance and everything else on the site. Or the other couples in tents (there were only three tents including us).

I have no idea what this site is like now, but a few years ago - it OOZED hot water. For washing up, for washing machines, in showers - all at no extra charge. This was truly Paradise on the Costa de la Luz.

A fine social circuit and hot water too? Unbeatable. We walked the dogs along the cliff tops in the morning and the evening, and sometimes we wandered down to the wonderful beaches. And the sun came out and the weather warmed up. Very nice. We watched the Spaniards improvise with bits of plastic and twigs to make amazing sunshades, so we did the same with a groundsheet and a nearby tree.

A groundsheet for a sunshade

Conil was a nice resort. Not hugely touristy, more of a holiday destination for Spaniards than foreigners. We found our way round the shops and got sucked into staying there for over a week. The Tarifa Syndrome had struck again.

We even had time to sort the leaking hub oil seal and fit new brake shoes to the rear wheels.

Then we explored down the coast as far as the Cape of Trafalgar, admiring the absolutely stunning beaches on the way. Barbate was pretty naff looking, and on the way back, Vejer was ok but nothing special, but the unspoilt scenery was lovely.

We went inland. Gunther and Ute were visiting friends in Medina Sedonia which has loads of history and heritage so we went for a look. Seemed like another boring place but the roads around were quiet and the driving was so peaceful.

And we went up the coast as far as Sancti Petri in the Bay of Cadiz. More beautiful beaches and a guy's coche stuck in the sand.

Could we pull him out? No. Didn't think so without pulling off his plastic bumper. There was absolutely nowhere to attach a tow rope to. NB. At this point I should remind everyone that towing in Spain is illegal but we were not going to tow on the road, merely get him out of the sand. Anyway we weren't even going to do that.

So the two guys and the solid strong Spanish woman pushed the coche out. What did I do? Took photos I suppose. They didn't really need me.

Parked up to help the Spanish car out of the sand

But like Tarifa, Conil's sell-by date suddenly arrived. Easter. Or more precisely Semana Santa. Holy week. Mega holiday in Spain and half of Andalucía's noisy youth suddenly descended on Conil. We moved to a quieter spot. We even had to confine ourselves to one pitch.

Our social circuit changed. We were near some charming Germans with yet another flash motorhome. It rained and they asked if we wanted to dry out inside their flashmachine. We politely, stoically, and Britishly declined. So then they came out and assertively insisted we joined them for drinks and snacks which they had already got ready for us. They were teachers. They had a flat in Hamburg, a boat in Turkey, and the flashmachine that they travelled with through Europe. Their English was impeccable. The drinks and the snacks were good too.

But a couple of nights of rain, noise, and a cramped pitch was too much so we left. We said our goodbyes and hoped to see people again. As you do, although never expecting to.

And so we set off on Easter Saturday towards Seville, on our way to Portugal, via Cota Doñana.

Mileage for trip

Tarifa to Conil (approx) - 37 miles
Conil to Cape of Trafalgar (approx) - 28 miles
Conil to Medina Sedonia (approx) - 47 miles
Conil to Sancti Petri (approx) - 37 miles

Landy problems
Replaced hub oil seal and new brake shoes on rear wheels

Landy help
Would have towed guy stuck in sand - but pushed him out anyway

Monday, 24 March 2008

So how much does it cost you to fill up?

Went shopping today and decided to fill up as the warning light was flashing.

Cost for a tankful? £25. At 54.9p a litre.

That's at least a couple of trips up and down to the finca and running around locally too.

Big Gib smile. :)

(Apologies for the smug post)

And just in case anyone has forgotten - no road tax and MoT every two years.

Friday, 21 March 2008


The alternator seemed to be a bit iffy.

It didn't seem to be holding its charge.

Bloody alternators cost a fortune in Spain. We know because when we arrived the one on the Series III started playing up.

At the time we got it checked out at a local robo, I mean autoelectrical garage, but they gave us the sad news that we needed a new one and charged us hundreds of euros for it.

As we needed it there and then, we were in a bit of a catch 22 situation, so we couldn't really order one from the UK and then fit it ourselves. So the garage got the pleasure of doing an easy little job too.

We thought we would have a quick checky out to see if it was the same one on the Series III as is on the Santana.

Just to prove I can actually lift the bonnet....

Trying to see the number

Reading off the number

The Santana alternator

Yes, looks the same to us

Looking very similar here. Both the same French company. If we could see the numbers on the Santana - they have worn off - we could have confirmed it. Anyway we reckoned it was.

So out with the relatively new one (from the Series), and it was added to the ever-growing chest of spares to travel permanently in the back of the Santana.

Tightened up the fan belt in the Santana and it immediately seemed to charge better. Maybe it's just a short somewhere. I really must buy that Haynes guide to electrics for idiots though.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Bajar el coche

*Trigger alert - a little Spanglish is needed for this one*

When we imported the Santana into Gib the nice customs man reminded us to bajar the coche.

I am struggling to translate this but basically it means to take it off the Spanish system.

Anyway I looked some stuff up on the internet and it seems you have to fill out a form at a Spanish traffic office. Downloadable on the internet. No. I don't think so. I have tried.

But there was a brief sheet of instructions that I did manage to print off.

When I psyched myself up to dealing with half a day's Spanish bureaucracy, mostly queueing, I suddenly read the sheet and realised that before I bajared the coche I needed to notify my local council where we pay the car tax. Unlike the UK, where road tax is national.

Just to recap. My Land Rover Santana, 3.5 diesel, known as a camion - a truck - here, attracts a hefty 60 euros a year in road tax to the local ayuntamiento (council). But in Gib, there is no road tax. Even better.

Off to the road tax office. Well, did we time it lucky or what?

We walked in - and there was no queue.

"Si?" says woman on desk, or "Dimi?" or something similar.

"Well, I have a question about my coche."

"Off you go to the end to my colleague who is free."

(No it wasn't in English but I thought I would translate that bit).

It was the same guy we had dealt with a couple of years ago when the bill hadn't come through because we had only bought the Santana a few months previously and the change of name wasn't on the system.

He beamed at us. I explained that we had to change the number plate on the Santana because Adrian was working in Gib now and we had to import it.

I'd got the information sheet and it said I needed to get the approval of my local council tax office. I gave it to him. So much easier than me trying to explain in my mediocre Spanish. So what did I need to do? And what did the approval mean?

It didn't mean approval at all. (Or maybe it did in Spanish terms). It meant I had to be paid up for the rest of the year before I could bajar the coche. It meant I had to pay Spanish road tax for the whole of this year, get a receipt for it, then take the vehicle off the system, and apply for a refund.

Then he grinned.

"That's Spain for you. You always have to pay."

He explained it beautifully, and more than once. All in Spanish though. Don't know what would have happened if we didn't speak Spanish - but we do - or enough. And we all laughed.

He told us where to go to get the refund. He was patient, helpful, and informative. A good guy.

Nothing achieved? For us yes. We know what we need to do now.

1) Get the bill for this year - which doesn't come out in our area until the end of this month. We can go directly to the office for it next week though.

2) Go to the bank and pay it - which gives us the receipt.

3) Go to the Traffic Office and bajar the coche - with the all-important receipt that you have paid tax for the rest of the year.

4) Go back to the council (different office) to claim your refund.

Progress report later.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Some 4x4 trucks

So this isn't totally Land Rover related, but we do stop and look at old trucks.

And they are 4x4s.

So here are a few pix.

Seen today, a German truck with a winch and a half.

And a nice little escape hatch in the roof. So cool.

We saw a similar truck two or three years ago down the beach. The guy only stayed one night because he got hassle from the police.

His truck was from East Germany and this one looked pretty similar.

From last summer, the Bedford truck that we helped get back on the road.

And a Unimog spotted down the beach last year too.

Oh and finally, a Land Rover - of course. Seen in Gib. Right hand drive - looks like an ex-mil ambulance. Kiwi or Aus? by the look of the brush bar.

ETA: Thanks to Stu for pointing out that "it looks like a Marshall-bodied ambulance which was the standard military ambulance of the time, and those brush bars were common on Landy fire tenders (TACR1) of the same era, so I'd say it's from this side of the globe."

I think you are right Stu. Apart from anything else it is a long time since Adrian was in Aus (and me too), so anything he saw could well have come from the UK in the first place. However I have had a little lookie at the brush bars on the TACR1s, and you are spot on with that - they are exactly the same. Maybe it came from a TACR1 on the Gib airfield?

And thanks for doing the research for me that I didn't bother to do! Cheers mate.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Air filter

Adrian wasn't looking forward to cleaning out the air filter.

He'd been promising to do it since before Christmas but it seems it was one of those dirty jobs he doesn't like doing.

Lesson One Adrian. Have Land Rover - get dirty.

Anyway, he finally promised that he really really would do it yesterday. And he did. He didn't even get very dirty.

Step 1
Unbolt from housing. The bolts were tight but not too difficult to undo. Take out, and give the hinges a quick spray.

Step 2
The bolt on the top of the element cover had been overtightened and needed a shifting spanner to undo it. Take element out, wipe Spanish campo dust off the element and the housing with cloth.

Step 3
Put back together.

Pretty simple really.

Part details
Mann filter no C14179/1 - the same as for a Land Rover Series III 109 3.5 V8.

Taking it out

That didn't take long

A quick spray of the hinges

Clean element and clean housing

Element, housing and hose

Putting the element back

Screwing the butterfly bolt back

Fitting the top

Screwing the butterfly bolt on the top

All back together in the housing

Putting it back in the bay

Hose connected back up

Last step - tightening up the butterfly bolts