Tuesday, 28 October 2014

It ain’t half hot mum

At the time of writing it is 28th October, the clocks have gone back, the evenings are drawing in and the autumn leaves are falling.  The sort of time in England that you are thinking that it’s getting cold and damp and winter is just around the corner. But boy, is it hot here.  We never expected it to be so hot at this time of year in Spain.  Yesterday it got up to 28C again, in the shade, then it’s wall to wall sunshine and the sun is still really fierce so we have to spend a lot of our time hiding from the heat.
We’ve now been in Albir nearly 4 weeks, where have they gone? Some people thought we’d be bored retiring at our age, but it’s amazing how the time goes when you are busy doing nothing.  So what nothing have we been up to?
Jo and James hired a car and we all went up to the Waterfall just the other side of Altea.  Some say that it is too commercialised and some love it, well we were somewhere between the two extremes.  It was a really nice walk and interesting to go and see it, but it was disappointing that the water course had obviously been changed and dammed in places to create more interesting and consistent pools etc.  There were several places to swim and one pool that you could dive into.  I say YOU, because that definitely wasn’t ME.  I don’t like cold water!!!! There were a few teenagers enjoying the cold water and I touched one on the shoulder and she was icy – leave the youngsters to it I say.  The steps were quite steep in places and Connie had to be carried.  It’s difficult for dogs to go down steps anyway and these were too steep.  I’m glad we went there to have a look, but wouldn’t rush back.  But anyway, I took a few photos to give my readers an idea.
The mountains around here are quite spectacular

On the way back to the car we saw some trees with the most beautiful flowers. They were about 8 inches long, really intricate and hung downwards like trumpets from the branches. We hadn’t seen them before and Jo couldn’t resist picking one but I settled for a photos. Back at camp, Jo looked them up on the interweb and  found them to be Angels Trumpets which are poisonous, or at least narcotic.  So I’m glad that I just kept myself to photographing them. 


Later that week, we decided that it would be nice to meet some of our neighbours and to have a chat with some of our returning friends.  So having obtained a campsite bench table and the weather still being lovely in the evening we thought we’d host it on our pitch.  Now this wasn’t meant to be a big party, more of a soiree for about 10 people (Mrs. Bucket eat your heart out).  But what we did do was to make it an international event which was quite nice.  So our guests included, English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Finnish and of course there were a couple of Irish in attendance.  All our Belgian neighbours declined the invitation though.  During the evening the campsite owner came around (word gets around quickly here) and took some photos of us all enjoying ourselves.  We  weren’t quite sure why he wanted photos and thought it might be for evidence should we get a bit noisy and he needed to kick us off.  However the photos turned up on their in-your-facebook page a few days later.  Now before you go thinking that this was going to turn into the typical boozy night, this was the first time I had ever been to a party where there were more non-drinkers than drinkers.  Of course we didn’t let the side down, but I couldn’t believe it when I only threw away 4 empty wine bottles the next day.

The following day I felt a little jaded so I decided that I’d have a rest from drinking for a while and apart from a couple of glasses of wine with dinner on the Tuesday (when the wine is included it’s difficult to turn it down) actually managed 6 whole days (and nights) without alcohol.  I’ve only managed that long before when I’ve been on anti-biotics. So I’ve been feeling very proud of myself.  I’m determined not to get into the drinking culture that it’s so easy to slip into.  I’ve also managed to keep going to pilates twice a week and with cycling to the shops and stuff (did I say that you need a bike to get to the toilets here) so I am feeling a bit fitter.
It’s been a difficult week for the dog.  Connie had been to the vets for her annual jabs and I asked the vet to check a lump on her side.  She’s an old girl so these things are expected.  We weren’t unduly worried about it but thought it would be a good idea to get it checked out.  The vet tested it and said it wasn’t fat so best take it off.  On the Tuesday morning we set off to the vet with the buggy.  Now that was an interesting morning.  The vet decided that as she’s getting on a bit it should be done under a local anaesthetic.  I knew this was going to be fun (not) as she’s very nervous of strangers and turns into the tasmanian devil if we’re not around.  This therefore meant that I had to be there for the actual op.  Firstly she had to be shaved and she sat fairly well for that, then the vet gave her a sedative, but as soon as the local anaesthetic injections started she went berserk.  We were all on the floor holding her down, poor thing.  They trust you and just don’t know why you are doing this to them.  Another load of sedative had to be given before she calmed down enough.  The vet wasn’t taking any chances and thought it best if she was muzzled. I agreed, knowing what she was like when we first got her I thought this was a wise precaution.
Now I’m not too squeamish but have had a couple of wobbly moments before when I’ve seen blood, but that was my own. There was no way that the dog would be still unless I was with her, so I sat on a chair at the end of the operating table and lowered my head down to Connie’s level.   There were two reasons for this, 1. to try to keep the dog calm and 2.  I can’t stand seeing the actual cutting of the skin.  She was actually very good but every time the vet moved away from the table the dog thought she could make her escape, so there were a few struggles. I did pop my head up a couple of times to see what was going on though. The whole thing took about 15 minutes but it seemed like ages.  8 stitches later and bambi was on her way back to the waiting room and to her dad.  She couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  We walked back with the bikes and the dog in her buggy, which was a great idea.  She’s a bit too heavy to carry very far.  Connie has been back to the vets to have her wound checked, which is healing nicely and the results of the lump are that it is a benign cyst, so that’s good news.  To stop her scratching the stitches, I have tried several things.  One was to cut up an old T-shirt of Iain’s for her to wear, the second was to cut up an old t-shirt and try to wrap her in it like a bandage, but both of these made her look like she’d got caught up in someone’s washing line.  However we did buy her a child’s t-shirt and this works well.  The stitches come out on Friday and I expect that will be fairly traumatic for us all.
Connie, looking kind of cute and stupid all in one go, sporting her “Princess” t-shirt and her new Union Flag tag with our Spanish number
This week we have moved home.  About 20 feet from where we were.  Flo and Frank were leaving so we moved onto their pitch.  Iain had been settled where we were but it was next to the road which is quite noisy and a very shady pitch.  Whilst the leaves would be off the trees soon I saw an opportunity to move to a sunnier, quieter pitch and jumped in.
a-old pitch
Nice and shady, but noisy and the winter is coming
It’s a bit like claiming Everest with that flag – the dog wasn’t going to be left behind
So now we are settled for the winter, a nice sunny pitch and he will thank me for it later. The only trouble now is that we have to have the awning out to get some respite from the heat.
9.30am, 28/10/14, already hiding from the heat of the sun
Jo and I had been threatening to go swimming in the sea for a few days and finally we made the effort and went for a swim on the Albir beach.  The beach here isn’t that good.  It’s pebbles and shelves steeply so you need to wear shoes and it’s very difficult to get out.  Jo has hurt her ankle so this proved to be quite difficult for her, but I have to admit it was very funny to watch.  No disrespect, but the sight of Jo trying to get out of the sea was nothing like the picture below.

We then sat on the beach and laughed again while a lady had to help her husband out of the sea.  It’s a shame that they don’t push the pebbles out so that it doesn’t shelve so much.  So anyway in search of a better beach, on Saturday Jo and James took us up to Javea, about a 45 minute drive. We had been to Javea last time we were here, but we must have missed the best bit as we weren’t very impressed.  The beach there was fantastic, lovely golden sand and you had to go out a long way before it was deep enough to swim.  A great place for families.  We had lunch and then left the men and the dog in the bar and we had a lovely swim.  Again Jo struggled to get out of the sea as although it was gently sloping, her feet sank into the sand and she could not walk on her ankle.  Again, I’m ashamed to say that I laughed and laughed as she sat in about 6 inches of water being lapped by the waves.  At least she was laughing with me.  I did have to help her out in the end.
Javea - It’s so hard to believe that we’re swimming in the sea at the end of October

So we’ve been busy doing nothing and it feels like August in England.  The evenings and mornings are getting cool now and we have actually had to put jumpers on until the sun warms us up.  I still haven’t got out of shorts and sandals though – it’s only dropping down to about 20C at night.  Unfortunately busy doing nothing meant that I missed my great-nephew’s first birthday.  I just completely forgot, I still think we are in summer.  So sorry James, Kerrie and Spencer, I’ll send something soon.
I’ll end my blog on a sad note – this week an old family friend passed away.    Pat and Derek were friends of my parents when I was small. They used to stay with us a lot but for some reason unknown to us kids they lost touch when I was about 12.  Their daughters, Diane and Pauline tracked me down on Friends Reunited some years ago and I’ve met up with Diane a few times since.  On the first meeting she opened the front door and said, “This is bizarre, we are older than our parents were the last time we met”.  Diane has been very kind to us when Iain’s daughter was ill (she lives not far from where Emma was), finding us somewhere we could park the van and collecting our “special” clothes from our hotel after the funeral when Iain had flu, and due to our whistle-stop trip to England last summer, she’s still looking after them. I hope we won’t be need them for a long time, but I promise we’ll collect them on our next trip home.  So sending love to Diane and Pauline for the loss of your mum and best wishes to your dad. We’re thinking of you all at this sad time.
I’ll be back when I’ve something to say………………………………………..

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I know how to make my husband a very happy man!!!!

Well it’s probably not what you think…………….. but I’ve subscribed him to the Daily Telegraph digital pack.  I should have done this before but he’s such a technophobe and despite being an avid history book reader absolutely refused to have a kindle.  He does enjoy a newspaper and in the UK could quite happily while away a couple of hours a day reading his newspaper.  The offer was 30 days free trial, so I had nothing to lose.  English newspapers are quite expensive over here, 4.5 Euros a day and the digital Telegraph is just £10 a month (and you get a lot more content) – so it’s a bit of a no-brainer not to do it, it’s even cheaper than buying the paper in the UK.

The only downside is that the internet on the campsite is very slow and unreliable. It takes nearly an hour to download the paper and I have to go up to the toilet block to do it. But if we go to Wyndhams – which encourages a pint of slimline to be consumed, it can all be over in about 3 minutes – now where have I heard that before? Just a bit of techie stuff, this means that it can be downloaded and read off-line which is a great advantage to the web version. I did have to connect to the VPN (WatchUKTVanywhere) to kid it we were in the UK to be able to subscribe though.
So now I have at least two hours a day with Iain happily reading his newspaper while I can get on with anything else I want without interruption. Now he’s getting used to that, perhaps I’ll move stealthily onto some Kindle books and see how he copes, he does like the “feel” of a book though.  At the moment it’s still me who seems to have to download the paper – one day I’ll move him into the 21st Century!!

Our first week (and a bit) in Albir

We arrived on Thursday 2nd October and plan to stay until the end of March. Some of our fellow motorhomers would be appalled at the prospect of staying in one place for so long, but we are trying to balance the travelling with the staying put, and for a long stay it is only costing us 12 Euros a night (our council tax was over £8). Since full-timing, which is nearly a year now we have averaged just £10.45 a night even though we mostly use campsites and don’t  wild-camp or use aires very often – not bad eh? Also by staying put you don’t have any fuel costs – so it works out much cheaper than moving around. 

We thought we would pop into Wyndhams on Thursday evening to see what had been happening while we had been away.  It’s funny but we keep being tempted to say “last year” when we refer to the last time we were here, because when you return to a holiday destination it is usually a year later – but we had been away only 5 months.  Mike was in situ when we arrived and was pleased to see us and about 10 minutes later Liz came in with Tina the dog.  Big hugs all round and Liz later said that she almost cried when she saw us. Wyndham gave us a good welcome and we caught up with the news – nothing much had changed.

We had a few drinks with Jo and James on the evening and James offered to take us out for lunch on Friday – we actually declined.  I don’t want to get into the boozing all afternoon and then wasting the day.  We did however suggest that Sunday might be a good day to go out for lunch as I don’t mind writing off one day of the week. As I’ve said before, we tried very hard not to be “Brits abroad” last time, but Dave at Oasis does such a great Sunday lunch and all-day breakfast that it’s difficult to resist.  We also hadn’t had an English breakfast since we left at the beginning of May, so we thought we’d treat ourselves. We toddled off to Oasis on Friday for a big breakfast which consists of 2 bacon, 2 eggs, 2 sausages, beans or tomatoes, toast and hash brown.  All for the princely sum of 3.50 Euros (about £2.80) – it just can’t be beaten and having consumed that for lunch we don’t need any dinner.  Dave was genuinely pleased to see us again and it was good to be back.

Saturday was used to get some shopping and relaxing, then early evening we had a half-price burger in Wyndhams (last of the great spenders), so that was another 2.25 Euros each, plus of course a wapping 1 Euro for chips.  It’s just not worth cooking.  We popped into MeetPoint to see who was around and found to our dismay that MeetPoint had been sold and was closing the following day.  Such a disappointment as we had planned to have our 10th Wedding Anniversary party there in December.  So we’ve now got to find another venue. We did however get invited to the “supping up” of the stock on the Sunday afternoon – oh no – that would be after lunch!!!!!!!

Sunday came around and it was very hot and humid. We popped up to the market for a look around – we didn’t really have anything in mind to buy but just to see what was around.  Lunchtime arrived and we had booked at Oasis for 1.30pm. We collected Jo and James from next door and left at 1.15pm giving us plenty of time to get there, but we didn’t arrive until after 2.15.  Too many bars on the way you might think, but no actually.  Just as we were leaving there were a few drops of rain.  We had the joke that we didn’t need an umbrella because we were British and used to the rain, but we decided to take one “just in case”. We had only got as far as the toilet block and the heavens opened so much that we had to shelter there, the umbrellas weren’t enough.  The dog was terrified of the thunder and lightening and hid under the sinks, we kept saying that it would ease soon, but it didn’t, the campsite was getting flooded and we were there about half an hour.  Once it eased we made for it, the quickest route possible, passing Wyndhams, but we were already late so stopping there was not an option. Again the heavens opened and we had to take shelter under a building overhang.

Eventually we were able to make the rest of the journey – paddling across the roads.  The “dry” river bed was fast filling with rainwater and we’d never seen water in it before.  We eventually arrived at Oasis and Dave looked really relieved, at least he’d had some customers make it – late maybe but at least we arrived. The rain started again and we sat under the awning with our umbrellas to the side stopping the splashing of the rain coming up at us.  I felt very sorry for the dog who had to lie on the wet floor.  27mm of rain fell in just 90 minutes.

There were two missed photo opportunities, I just wish I had my camera with me.  One was a woman on the campsite coming out of the washing up area with a casserole dish on her head – it looked just like one of those old-fashioned German helmets. The second was just the amount of rain so I’ve pinched one from the internet which was taken in Benidorm, just 4 miles away.
As I said earlier, 90 minutes later it was all over, but we had soggy feet for the rest of the day.  Having had an excellent Sunday lunch (we hadn’t had one since July in the UK so we felt it was justified) it was now time to go to MeetPoint where regrettably we imbibed a little too much. On the way back to the campsite it was getting dark and Jo spotted a lone bench table for us to acquire.  So in true “Last of the Summer Wine” fashion we picked it up in the four corners and strutted off down the lane to the pitches.  The only problem was that we had all picked it up at different heights, so we had to put it down and get organised.  I bet the Dutch were thinking “Disgraceful English”. 
Monday and Jo and I had decided to go to Pilates – which is provided twice a week free on the campsite.  But we had to cancel that because we were feeling a “little jaded”.  Monday was then, like Sunday a wash-out and we sat around all day recovering. I’m definitely not getting into that habit. Monday evening we went to eat at one of our favourite places Brisa del Mar and booked our Christmas lunch. They said they had just taken a booking enquiry for 30 and didn’t know if they could accommodate us.  Oh no, first MeetPoint, now Brisa del Mar.  But it turned out that the booking for 30 just wanted one main course for 10 euros and then they would leave.  Now Christmas lunch is a whopping 42.50 Euros each – but then you would expect that on Christmas day, so they turned down the booking and we were in – that’s a relief, we had really wanted to go there for Christmas day.

Tuesday and things were back to normal, feeling much better.  Wednesday Jo and myself went to Pilates – wow I ached in places I didn’t know I had.  I even struggled to get up from the sunbed - I'll bet you're feeling really sorry for me now - not!  We’re determined to keep it up though. 

Wednesday night saw the return of the quiz.  So we planned to walk the dog late afternoon, go for a chinese – less than 5 Euros each including a bottle of wine and then go to the quiz.  However we were much later than planned.  Upon returning from the dog walk, disaster struck.  Well that’s a gross exaggeration, more of a severe annoyance.  We came back to the van and put the key in the habitation door lock.  Unbolted both locks and pulled the handle – nothing happened.  Had the locks stuck? We didn’t know, after some repeated locking and unlocking, nothing changed. Luckily we were not in a caravan or we would have been sleeping in Jo and James’ awning.  But of course with a motorhome we have 3 doors.  So we had to get into the van using the passenger door. 

Now this is a great inconvenience, 1, it’s difficult, 2, there is no fly screen to keep out the mozzies and 3, it’s too bloody hot to have the door shut.  Iain spent the next hour trying to get the lock off from the inside but to no avail.  He said that was more important than going out but I said I’d rather he left it until the following day as I’d rather have a door that didn’t open, than a door that didn’t lock.  So we went out anyway – more about the lock to follow.

Chinese rushed, we arrived at the quiz just as it was starting. Drew was still the quiz master and we had a warm welcome from many of the regulars.  Unfortunately we joined another team of two so couldn’t use our name of “The Campbells have arrived”  but we did come joint first and then lost on the tie break which really annoyed me.  The question was what is the gift for the 10th Wedding Anniversary.  The reason I was annoyed was because it is our 10th this year and I had meant to look that up the other day – never mind I’m not a bad loser and it’s only a game.

Thursday morning we got up, rather late due to the time the quiz ends (and a couple of swifters by me and Jo before bed) and our plan was to stock up on some shopping, visit the locksmith, top up the phone and a couple of other things.  We left the dog in the motorhome and took her buggy so that we could carry plenty.  Now this is Spain and no-one had remembered that this was Valencia day (any excuse for a day off) and all the shops, including the supermarkets, were shut.  So we came back, having only achieved the phone top-up.  Another day before we could get the locksmith out as we weren’t about to pay him holiday rates when we could get into and out of the van, albeit at great inconvenience.

Friday we planned to go out and do what we should have done Thursday, but James had hired a car so he and Jo took me to Carrefour to do a big shop – beer deal 0.71 Euros (56p) per litre so that should keep Iain going for a while.  Iain went up to the locksmith and was told that he couldn’t do caravans, only houses and safes, so Iain was left to have yet another look at the lock and having taken the lock apart as much as possible from inside found that he still couldn’t shift it – this was going to be a real pain – it was evident that the only way to get the lock out was to get the door open, but we couldn’t do that because the lock was jammed. 

A quiet evening in, watching some TV brought Saturday – and another go at the lock.  Iain phoned Motorhome Medics who suggested trying to get the door off from the outside but Iain wasn't happy with that. So from inside off came the door frame, the bolts were pushed back with a screw driver and some hefty kicks to the door and ……………  nothing.  It just wouldn’t shift. Finally we discovered that the main lock had not retracted quite far enough and a bit more persuasion with the screwdriver (not a hammer) and another kick and the door flew open. This had taken a total of 4 hours and from the inside and was a brilliant advert for the security of the locks.  Great – we’d got the door open and hadn’t damaged the door itself. One problem now of course is that the door was open and we had no way of locking it. Quickly Iain took the lock apart and we found the problem.  The bolt on the main lock had sheared off, the spring had become dislodged and the handle could no longer pull the bolt back.
I have now written to the lock manufacturer asking for advice on whether or not they can get us the part of if we need to purchase a new lock.  I’m waiting for a reply.  The good news is that the deadlock part still works, so having replaced it in the door, we can actually secure the van again – phew!

Yesterday (Saturday) must have been a good day as we also had some good news.  Our tenant has told us that he would like to renew the lease at the end of November (although nothing is actually signed yet) so that’s a headache removed and one I can stop worrying about.  Well it was good until Iain fell ill.  I think he must have eaten something that disagreed with him because for the first time ever in the 13 years I have known him he was actually sick.  Not a nice subject I know but he really was very poorly, shaking and shivering.  I know it wasn’t too much alcohol because he would never waste it.  So today we’ve had a very quiet day to give him a chance to recover and for me to catch up with my blog.

So I suppose to summarise:-

We’ve settled very well back into life at Albir and I’m sure we will be very happy for the next few months.  I don’t think I will have much to say without boring my readers senseless but if anything exciting does happen you can be sure that I’ll tell you about it.

We are of course hoping that the weather stays good for the next few weeks.

Be back sometime soon.

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Campbell’s have arrived

The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!

The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!

The Campbells are coming to sunny Albir

The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!

Now before you think I’ve gone completely mad. If you don’t know this song, it is actually attributed to Robert Burns and is believed to be about the infamous Scottish Campbell Clan  descending on Lochleven Castle in an attempt to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.  Obviously they weren’t going to sunny Albir, (they were actually going to “bonnie Lochleven”) but I rather like the sound of it and it has quite a good beat for driving. Driving you mad actually.

I can of course adopt this song as we are Campbells but Iain’s immediate family is from Northern Ireland, not Scotland. Probably descendants of those who emigrated to Ulster in the 17th Century and of course now in England.

Anyway enough of that and I’m sure Iain will correct me if I have got it wrong.

So we are here in sunny Albir

I can’t believe we have been here over a week already so it’s time to update my blog.

Ok so my last post said that we were leaving Peniscola early and going down to Albir because the weather forecast said it was the same in both places and it meant that Albir had cooled down.

The drive from Peniscola to Albir (about 150 miles) was for a great change pretty uneventful except for a couple of irritating human/satnag errors.  Firstly I wasn’t sure what destination the satnag was taking us to so in my haste to re-program I did manage to select the wrong LPG station.  I do wish that my navigator would learn how to use the satnag so that I don’t have to press things when I’m driving.  We were intending to head south and the fuel station we were heading to was actually North West.  Luckily we had been in Peniscola a week and were familiar with the place so we went the way we wanted to, not the way the satnag told us to until I realised my error.  Reprogrammed we were off in the right direction.  Second mistake, earlier in the week I had checked out a walking route to the supermarket in Peniscola and unlike the old Tom Tom which asked you each time what sort of route you want, the Garmin defaults to the last used.  So then we were programed to go the shortest route and again, until I realised my error the satnag and the navigator wanted to go in different directions.  The wonders of modern technology!!! So there I was giving instructions on how to re-program for the fastest route.

Unlike many of our fellow motorhomers we generally use the toll-roads for convenience and fuel economy – as I’ve said, at 9 miles to the gallon you want as much fuel economy as possible. But this time I decided that the N road looked ok and we’d use that to get to the fuel station.  It wasn’t long though before we changed our minds.  In Spain, most of the lorries use the N road rather than the toll roads, so these roads are pretty congested.  Whilst we are not in a hurry and the general speed is ok for us, there are a lot of nutters on the road who have to overtake you, screaming past and then cutting back just in time to escape the oncoming juggernaut.  Also with the roads not being that wide, I do have to make sure I’m well over to the right when lorries are coming in the opposite direction.  Added to that is the stop-starting for roundabouts and traffic lights (I did speak about fuel economy) and it was no more than 20 miles before we decided to take the AP-7 and pay up.

empty stress-free roads

The toll roads in Spain are not that expensive, with some of them being only a few euros and they are pretty empty, I can virtually stick the van into cruise control and relax on our journey. So for lowered stress levels and fuel economy  that’s the way we prefer to travel.  Unfortunately unlike France, the service stations on the motorways (apart from at San Sebastian) do not have LPG, so we have to come off the toll-road, pay, get fuel and then get back on but we’re getting used to the foibles (pain) of running on LPG.

Only one stop for fuel along the way and funnily enough our nearest fuel station was the same one we had used on the way down last time.  We had been running on reserve for some time and by the time we stopped at the garage we were on all four flashing lights whilst the engine gasped for gas.  But we didn’t actually run out.  We knew this would be the last time that we would need LPG for some 6 months so we just put in enough to get us the remaining 100 miles or so.  So 100 litres later the gauge was showing 1 light, which now tells us that most of our tank is on reserve – what’s the sense in that?

Wow, I managed to ramble enough on something that I said was “uneventful”  and I’ve just remembered there is a bit more to come.

Back on the AP-7 I have to admit that once we got to the Costa Blanca I was getting quite excited.  I had forgotten just how pretty it is around here with the deep blue sea, the mountains and of course the torrential rain. Yes, once again the rain had followed us.  It was about level with Valencia when the heavens opened and we were quite high up – not like the central plains, but the road does go up and down a bit, even though it’s close to the coast.


So with visibility reduced, wet roads, our speed was down to about 40mph.  This added a bit to our journey time but not enough to worry us – we’re in no hurry, we’ve got all winter.

Cap Blanch, Albir/Altea

We stopped for lunch and arrived at the campsite at about 3pm which was a good time.  Jo and James had beaten us there and had been in situ for about a week already.  Hank and Jenny also greeted us and they had been here for two weeks.  Jo and James had emailed us the day before to say that there was plenty of space on the campsite and we were able to choose our preferred pitches the day before. However that day seemed to be the day everyone and his brother arrived and when we got there, all our preferred pitches were taken.  This meant that although we got a pitch in the area we wanted we are now up against the road.  A bit noisy but hey what difference would 20 feet make.  Iain’s not keen to move and the ones we want don’t seem to be coming available anyway so here we are, firmly ensconced on pitch D6 next to Jo and James.

The campsite is very much as earlier this year – Chelsea F**king Dave is still here, despite his threats to move back to Ireland, there is a new Doggy Douche that wasn’t there before, but apart from that it’s very much the same – still full of Dutch.  The wifi may be free but the broadband is cr*p.  It’s ok for general browsing and email but you can’t download anything big, so unfortunately we still have to go to Wyndhams to get our TV.  The dog has become really chilled and seems to have a smile on her face as if she’s “come home”.  We’ve put up a green netting fence at the back of our pitch to give Connie a visual border in case we get any neighbours like the ones last year that glared out of their window whenever the dog encroached 2 inches on their pitch even though they never had the guts to say anything.  And the weather?  Well despite the “work of fiction” as Eric calls it is VERY HOT, generally in the mid to high 20’s every day.  Much hotter than I expected for October and it doesn’t even cool down much at night.

I haven’t taken any photos yet of Albir, so here’s a library one from last time.

campsite 1


So let’s get this party started.


Just a quick note to all my fellow bloggers to whom I subscribe for email updates.  You might have noticed that I have been unsubscribing - that's not because I don't want to see you travel updates, but simply because I'm using a different email address.

I have given up with my gmail account because for some reason when I download my mails using windows mail it sends me 3 copies of everything.  Sometimes if the internet is slow I get 6 copies because the "read" flag takes too long to set and it thinks I've not yet got them.  It's become a real pain as the broadband on this site is very slow.

So I haven't got bored, I really enjoy reading your blogs - I have simply changed the email account.

Also to our friends who regularly read this - I will still pick up my gmail emails, but I'm trying to move away from using it - I have several other email addresses.

Thanks for reading and keep blogging.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gawpers, Spectators and Well-wishers


As you may have realised by now, we have a very unusual motorhome. It’s American, it’s got slide-outs, it’s got a retro-look chrome truck-like front end, it’s quite big and it’s gold coloured.  In fact the name Dutchmen Dorado loosely translates as the golden traveller. And it causes quite a a lot of interest most places that we go.

Our Van png1


We’ve seen a few similar and most of those were at the RV show in Stratford and with such a large gathering of RV’s you might expect to see some.  But on our travels peoples reactions are quite amazing.  So we have now given these inquisitive people a collective name – they are GAWPERS.  We love to watch the Gawpers; some sidle up pretending not to look; one little girl, as we turned the corner on the campsite alleyways on the Breda site shrieked “O…… M……. G…….  – mama come see!!!”; some simply come up to us and ask questions; some take photos; some kids and dads stand discussing “Wow look it’s got bits that come out the side”; one old man brought his stool and sat there looking; but the ones I like best stand there, for ages, just gawping, totally blatant.  We love it, whenever we spot someone we say “Gawpers ahead”.  Oh dear have we really got nothing better to do with our lives. We actually love our van and enjoy the gawpers, so if you see us about, don’t just stand and stare, come up and say Hi – we don’t bite, well the smelly one might.

Spectators and Well-wishers

As I’ve said above, having nothing better to do, people on campsites are usually pretty chilled and hang around busy doing nothing, so there is nothing better than to spend time idling away about 20 minutes watching the poor sods who are arriving or leaving; having to squeeze through tight spaces; negotiate trees and bushes; ground the back end; mis-understand their partner’s instructions and end up shouting at each other; the occasional bang or crunch .   We all do it; watch the caravanners take 3 hours to set up, when motorhomers can be sitting down with a chilled beer in about 20 minutes. Sometimes a crowd will even gather for a bit of banter or sport.

The other day, I watched a caravan arrive. The man was driving and the wife was giving directions.  I’m not sure what signs they had agreed, every couple has their own, but as he reversed his caravan onto the pitch, her effort to advise him that “darling it’s time to stop now”  was to furiously bang on the side of the caravan.  Like he was going to hear that sat at the wheel of his 4x4 – hilarious.

Then you also get the well-wishers who think that you need help.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before. They wave and give you directions, little motions that it’s safe and you’ve got plenty of room.  Well thank you, but if I think I need help, I ask my husband to get out and check.  I haven’t got a clue what their little gesticulations mean and it’s not their very expensive and precious home that they are kindly settling onto a pitch.  So thank you but no thanks.  I suppose that’s why most of us just stand and watch!

Where is this going you might ask, well leaving the Campsite Eden in Peniscola we had a bit of a conundrum.

Firstly we had to get off the campsite and we were really packed in with narrow alleyways, 90 degree turns and a lot of trees.

As usual, before moving off or manoeuvring our van, we discuss the intended plan.  Now the easiest way was to pull forward (minding the trees of course), do a bit of “wiggling” and go down the alley way that was almost in front of us. This  would then put us in a perfect line for the barrier exit from the campsite. There was only one problem with this cunning plan and that was half-way down the alleyway there were two large vans on opposite pitches and the gap between the tow-bar on one and the front end of the other was rather narrow  So narrow that Iain and I actually measured the width of our van and then went with the tape and measured the distance between the two vans. There was a gap of about six inches – that was total, not on each side, but  I decided that was enough, I’d manage to get all 28 feet through a gap with only 3 inches to spare and a huge tow ball to rip into the side of the van,  of course I would. I do wish I’d got a photo.   Of course we have our own signs and signals so whilst being well-meaning these well-wishers can often be more of a hindrance than a help and I generally smile sweetly, thank them and ignore everything that they do and say and rely on Iain to guide me through.

So having actually gone down and measured the gap, the people in the opposing vans were expecting something large to come by and a crowd was already gathering. This included all three categories, gawpers, spectators and well-wishers. So not only did I have to do some pretty nifty manoeuvring but I had a large audience. I did quite a lot of “wiggling” to get off the pitch in the first place, the pitch was narrow and I didn’t have a lot of room to swing round.  But of course I managed quite successfully, even though I say so myself.  Next was the baying crowd.  All hoping for a crunch or two and hoping it wasn’t their van that got crunched.  No seriously they’re not that bad. 

So I edged my way down the alleyway – slow and steady that’s the answer.  With a narrow gap, Iain has to make sure that I am positioned correctly to start with, once the gap is past my wing-mirrors I can see perfectly all down the side of the van where I am widest and can do it myself. So with him walking in front of me like a funeral director (ooh, not a nice thought) I edged my way through.  No problem, I had my eye on the tow-bar and had to pull my wing-mirror in on my side to avoid windscreen of the “A” class to my left but we were through without any scrapes and bangs.  What made me laugh was that as soon as I was through there were a lot of thumbs up from the women spectators all down the alleyway and a round of applause from the men. Now all I had to do was to do the “wiggle” at the exit, a doddle after the last bit.

And so………..  Onto our travels ………………..