Animalcouriers stayed the night in Alcacer do Sal in Portugal, where we were lucky enough to get a bargain rate at the local pousada. Portuguese pousadas are similar to Spain’s paradors and, like the paradors, many are ancient buildings which have been sympathetically restored.

Our accommodation in Alcacer do Sal β€” a 15th century former monastery

Our accommodation in Alcacer do Sal β€” a 15th century former monastery

Two characters wondering if there was room in our van!

Two characters wondering if there was room in our van!

A very seasonal image on the side of the chapel

A very seasonal image on the side of the chapel

Santa on his rounds

Santa on his rounds

We collected lovely black cat Babi from Ana’s mum, who’s been looking after Babi since Ana relocated to the UK. Now that Ana has found a home and settled in, it’s time for Babi to join her.

Ana's sweet black cat Babi

Ana’s sweet black cat Babi

In the Algarve we met up with Sam, his neighbour Charlie, and Sam’s bearded dragon Jon Jon. Sam and Jon Jon are heading home to Essex for Christmas, and will then travel back to Portugal in March, in time for the start of the surfing season.

Sam (L) and his neighbour Charlie

Sam (L) and his neighbour Charlie

Handsome Jon Jon is very low maintenance β€” his favourite foods are worms and rocket

Handsome Jon Jon is very low maintenance β€” his favourite foods are worms and rocket

We stopped for elevenses and couldn't resist a traditional Portuguese custard tart

We stopped for elevenses and couldn’t resist a traditional Portuguese custard tart

Next stop was to reunite gorgeous cat Mia with Angela and her husband in the Cadiz area.

Mia started meowing with pleasure as soon as she heard familiar voices

Mia started meowing with pleasure as soon as she heard familiar voices

Such a happy reunion

Such a happy reunion

We have double luck on this trip as we now have two black cats on board! In Malaga we met up with Allen who’s travelling with us to Brentwood.

Slinky Allen, getting nicely settled in

Slinky Allen, getting nicely settled in

Gorgeous hound Rubia is travelling to the UK with feline chum Floyd, who is devoted to Rubia.

Floyd would like to have shared a bedroom with Rubia

Floyd would like to have shared a bedroom with Rubia

Rubia enjoying an early walk in the morning sunshine

Rubia enjoying an early walk in the morning sunshine

Even Jon Jon got to enjoy the sun β€” we left the van door open while dog walking, so that he could feel the warmth on his face

Even Jon Jon got to enjoy the sun β€” we left the van door open while dog walking, so that he could feel the warmth on his face

We couldn't drive past Nerja without popping in to see Oscar (and John and Margaret). Oscar was so excited, bouncing and running around. We were glad to see him in such good form, as he's just got over a nasty time with a tumour in his paw.

We couldn’t drive past Nerja without popping in to see Oscar (and John and Margaret). Oscar was so excited, bouncing and running around. We were glad to see him in such good form, as he’s just got over a nasty time with a tumour in his paw.

We met New Zealanders Mike and Joy with their lovely young dog Lolita in La Herradura. With family and grandchildren beckoning, they’re heading back to their homeland. Lolita is going to board at partner kennels near us until early February, so that we Β can oversee the preliminary tests and treatments required for dogs to enter New Zealand. Mike and Joy are taking advantage of a dog-free time to visit places in Europe they want to see, before they fly off.

Joy, Lolita and Mike on a wonderfully sunny beach near their Spanish home

Joy, Lolita and Mike on a wonderfully sunny beach near their Spanish home

Rubia also enjoyed that sunny beach

Rubia also enjoyed that sunny beach