Perhaps fortunately, Julia pulled out of joining our family for part of our trip. We were never sure how five in our van for more than a few days would work. Not bound to meet her in Bilbao, we radically changed our route into Spain, and went via Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a popular starting point or staging post for a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. We are likely to make the journey in Amarillo, and not by donkey as tradition suggests.
It was nice to be back in the Pyrenees, my fifth visit, the most memorable being when I cycled along them from Hendaye to Cerbère over nine days crossing no fewer than 29 mountain passes, unsupported, carrying full camping gear.
As we crossed the green lush foothills we realised that we would be passing by Pamplona, the town where a former au-pair studies medicine. Blanca lived with us the previous summer, helping with the boys and Meg’s litter of six border collie puppies. We gave her a call and she was in and she was free for the afternoon. We stopped in Pamplona to meet her, and she showed us her town. Remarkably, Ben recognised Blanca immediately, running straight at her for a hug, he was only 2 1/2 when he last saw her. Meg seemed to remember her too, making a fuss and bouncing as she does with familiar people.
We arrived late at the campsite, and decided not to pitch the drive away awning, but to use our new side panels for our wind out awning to make a safari tent. It works brilliantly giving ample stowage space for child seats and sufficient luggage to make up the lower bed without fully unpacking.