Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Our last week in Albir

Brandy Update

No not an earlier sighting, although the Italian man refitting his pizza bar who Iain calls Super Mario apparently drinks it for breakfast – not yet witnessed.  However only in Spain would their most popular brandy be called – Soberano – and here’s the proof.  Talking of proof, it’s only 30% - so that makes it alright – doesn’t it?


Is your bottle half full or half empty?  Ours is definitely half full!

Fruit

Can anyone help me with this fruit which is growing freely on the campsite.  It’s about the size of an apricot and has a similar taste to the cape gooseberry – it’s definitely not an apricot.



Getting ready for the off


We’ve now only two days left in Albir and although we don’t take anywhere near as much time as caravanners to pack up we do have some chores to do.  But there is still some time to enjoy our last few days here.

Tuesday last week Martin and Jean from (near) Leeds arrived as our new neighbours.  We of course initiated them quickly about all the places to go and as they were only to be here 8 days they had quite a lot to pack in.  We strongly advised that a visit to El Cisne was a must and as it was our last Saturday here we also decided to go along, just for the Flamenco dancing.  Joy – this one’s for you – we not only kept up the support for El Cisne but I even got up and danced with them at the end.  Now I’m not normally a one for making a fool of myself in public (I can manage that well enough in private) but I just couldn’t resist.  Iain is terrible at taking photos as he struggles to see the screen in bright light but at least he did have a go at it – so here’s the evidence – top of my head job again, but oh well at least I have a photo. I absolutely loved it, even though I’ve never done it before and I couldn’t believe how tiring it was. Didn’t do much “tapping” though. 




There is one thing to mention though, every time I go to see the flamenco dancing it reminds me of when Iain and I hadn’t been together very long and I was trying to impress him and to pretend that I was cultured, so I organised a little treat for him.  Well he likes the opera and although I’d never been before, Carmen was being performed at Woking theatre.  I thought – mmm that’s a nice easy one to start with so I bought a couple of tickets and on the appropriate night we trotted off to Woking.  Well I thought we were going to the opera when in fact we were there to enjoy (as billed) a “Tap dancing extravaganza” – I remember those words well – we saw them on the posters as we were leaving the theatre.  It was nearly two hours of tap dancing to something remotely resembling the music of Carmen and the only bit that we actually recognised was some old women dressed in black, wailing in the background. But at least they did have a real dancing horse on the stage.  I think most of the rest of the audience was as stunned as we were.  It was actually pretty good but we certainly wouldn’t have gone if we’d known what we were letting ourselves in for.  I let Mr Always Right pick the operas after that – at least I tried.

The proper dancing was fantastic again and this was the third different routine they had put on in the four visits we had made.  As I said to Ronnie the other week, this is not what you would expect at an English village fete – these people are real professionals.

On Sunday (well it was our last one in Albir) we decided to have lunch with Jo and James who having come here for two weeks will be leaving on Friday the same day as us – and they have been here 6 months. So we invited Martin and Jean to join us.  This of course turned out to be yet another short day!!!!!!! I think it was dark when we got back!!!!! Now Martin and Jean are not big drinkers and we had to pop around the next day to see if we needed to apologise for anything –they said we didn’t so that was ok.  Feeling a little jaded on Monday so had an alcohol-free day and felt great by yesterday. 

We both said that we were NOT going to make it a week of – well it’s our last Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – get the picture.  I’m definitely not drinking (well not much) for the rest of the week as I want to be clear headed (and completely sober) on Friday for the move.  I’ve been good so far.

So this week it’s jobs to be done, yesterday we cleaned the outside of the van and it’s absolutely gleaming.

Retro look or what? All that chrome.

Look at that reflections - gleaming
Stand by your van.

Then as we were messing about with water I decided to give the dog a bit of a spring clean as well.

On the campsite there are very long hoses all over the place so I thought that I’d wait until the heat of the day had warmed up the water in the hose and use it to bath the dog.  Actually the water was VERY hot when I started.  It was a nice warm day and I also thought that it might help to cool her off.

Nicely scrubbed up I left Connie to dry but then a bit of cloud came over and it cooled considerably.  I checked on Connie and she was freezing – you could hear her teeth chattering – which despite feeling mean is actually quite funny to hear.  So I wrapped her up in a towel to keep the breeze off her.  As soon as I walked away the teeth chattering stopped – now was she really cold or just trying to make me feel bad?

While I’m talking about the dog, she’s getting on a bit and has been having some trouble with her water-works.  Poor thing, it’s only when she’s asleep or very relaxed.  I first noticed it a few weeks ago when she was sitting on my lap and suddenly I felt this warm sensation running down my leg and then a few days later when there was a small puddle at the back end after she’d been lying down for a while.  I knew that she didn’t know as she’s a very clean dog and I’m sure she would be mortified if she knew what was happening.  She’s now 12 or 13 and is very fit for her age and we’re not going to put her on the scrap heap for hopefully many years, so I got onto the internet to see if I can find out more. I did wonder if I could get some doggy nappy or something for night-time.  Apparently this is quite common in older spayed bitches and something that would have just been “one of those things” in the past, these days does have a treatment for it – what it is? Wait for it – HRT!!!!!! Now there’s a thing.  Who ever heard of HRT for dogs?  So as soon as we get back to the UK we will be making a visit to the vet.  Iain’s comment was something like – oh no – not two hormonal women to live with.

Today I have an appointment with the washing machine at 10 and we’ve to sort out the inside ready for the off on Friday.  Tonight we’re taking Liz, Gill and Mike out for a Chinese (last of the big spenders) and then it’s quiz – but I’m not going to have a hang-over tomorrow!!!!

Better go or I will be late for my washing machine.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Say Hi to Dawn

Hi Dawn.


Today I woke up feeling very happy for some reason.  I like to sleep with the window and blinds open (fly screens down of course). This is one reason that I don’t like wild camping – you feel the need to close all the windows at night.  I looked out of the window and could see a grey sky – oh what a shame it was going to be a cloudy day. Then I looked again and I could see that the leaves on the top of the trees were golden in colour and realised that it wasn’t a dull grey sky I could see but it was dawn and the sun had not yet risen enough to brighten the sky. Within a few minutes the sun was shining and the sky was completely blue. Another sunny day in paradise.

We sometimes just look at each other and laugh at the life-style that we now live.  Our thoughts are often with our friends and families at home who are going through some rough times at the moment and we wish them all the best. But we always take some time to also appreciate every day that we are given and just hope that we are lucky and healthy enough to do so for many years to come.

At the end of the month we have been four months on this campsite. We arrived on New Year’s Eve and although the weather was much better than what we had left, it was still quite chilly in the evenings and the trees were bare.

Now the trees are almost in full leaf and look so beautiful in the morning sun so I thought I’d share some early morning pictures with you.  It’s getting quite warm now during the days and we have to spend most of the day in the shade so it is getting towards the time that we should be moving on and I am quite looking forward to it now although nervous that I will be driving the van again after 4 months lack of practice.

Nice quiet campsite - just as we like it

Notice the catherine wheel on her buggy that we bought for Connie - actually it was for me.

Connie enjoying the morning sunshine - she stays out until she is absolutely baking


Fellow Motorhomers

Now I must tell you about Terry.  Terry has his own blog and you can find a link to it on the right of this page. Terry is travelling with his border collie Jack. It’s just the two of them, so anyone out there who thinks you can’t do this with without a partner, Terry is a great example that YES YOU CAN. 

We first met Terry and Jack in Wyndhams and we know him well enough to sit at the same table etc.  He’s from Burnley and has a lovely Lancashire accent which reminds me of the 8 month contract that I worked at Country Holidays when I stayed in Nelson with Debbie (who has become one of my closest friends) and her two children.  I loved the place, and the accent – if only people didn’t have to work it would be a fantastic place to live  - now I’m rambling again.

Terry is quite a few years older than us and it’s his first winter in Spain – and he’s absolutely loving it and wishes he’d done it years ago.  He’s the most chilled person I know, tanned, always has a smile on his face and spends most of his time, when he’s not walking Jack (or as Terry puts it “taking Jack a walk”) playing golf, pool and darts.  What more could a bloke want. 

Anyway my reason for writing about Terry is something that happened the other week. Terry has put this on his own blog but I wanted to repeat it as we were there with Terry recounting the story.

A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, Terry trundled off to the supermarket in Altea to get some bread.  Unfortunately when he got there it was shut, so he headed off across town to where he thought there might be a bakery open.  This was something of a 40 minute walk by now.  Again no luck, the shop was cerrado.  So on his way back, luck struck. He came across a café where outside there were some “emergency” items of grocery for sale, displayed in a box on top of a beer barrel.  So Terry picked up a baguette and walked into the café to pay.  The only other people in the café were a couple of old Spanish men drinking coffee at a table near to the door.  Having walked a long way Terry decided to have a quick coffee but when paying for the coffee and the baguette the girl behind the counter gave him a strange look and asked for one Euro – he thought – that’s a bargain, it’s normally a Euro just for the coffee.

So Terry sat down at a table to enjoy his coffee – baguette lying on the table.  Whilst drinking his coffee the two elderly gentlemen stood up to leave, as they approached the door they picked up their box of shopping and walked off up the street, leaving a very embarrassed Terry to finish his coffee and take home his baguette.

Well the way Terry told this story had us all in stitches, his accent, hand gestures, the sparkle in his eye like a naughty boy and the fact that he couldn’t stop laughing all the way through.  Terry if you don’t dine out on that one, we certainly will.

I just wonder what the wife said to her husband when he returned home with only two baguettes instead of three? Maybe the answer was “Some strange English bloke just walked over and stole it”.

Terry – keep it up.

Now there’s a thing

One for the motorhomers here.  It doesn’t matter how long you have a motorhome you will always find something that you didn’t know about it. Quite often it’s a switch, or a socket but our latest thing is our bedroom ceiling fan.

A few days ago it was getting quite warm so I turned the fan on – but it didn’t work – here we go I thought – something else to add to the repair list for when we get back.  We assumed that 1 – it was somehow connected to the vehicle battery which was flat or 2 – it was connected to the 12 volt circuit that is not working.  That’s a shame, when it’s getting hot in the van, fans are quite useful.  Then Iain said that the other day he had turned it on and it worked, so I had another little fiddle with it.  Lo and behold it came on, and I twiddled with the knob that had blue and one side and red at the other and the fan went off and came on again.  I’d learned something new – we have a thermostatically controlled fan.  Whoever would have thought of that – except the Americans of course.  Now we just leave it switched on all the time and if the van gets warm, the fan comes on.  How “cool” is that?


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Dad's visit and other things

Happy Easter to all my readers.  I've not kept a diary in years, well not since my mum found it when I was 12 and it caused such a fuss.  I decided then it's best not to write down anything that you don't want someone else to read!!!!   Although I don't add all of my innermost thoughts here - well it's hardly secret is it, I have always threatened to keep a diary of our travels but have never done it before. As I actually believe that some people read my blog (maybe I'm a little delusional), it does encourage me to keep it up.  I hope you enjoy this latest installment.

Stop Press – Brandy Alert

Record broken – brandy sighted at 11.05 am – and it had already been drunk.

Visit from abroad

I left my last post with the imminent visit of Iain’s dad, Ronnie.

The first couple of days we had  a lazy time, introducing him to all the sights of Albir, not that there are many and as this is a new town there is very little culture to see, so we decided to hire a car for a day so that we could take him up to Guadalest and Villajoyosa which were the most memorable places that we had been to.
Unfortunately we had to hire the car for 3 days as the rate was the same, so we had to make use of three consecutive days out and about.

Dad joined us for the quiz on Wednesday night but I can’t remember what our name was. We came second. See we’re in quite a little routine in our home from home.

On Friday we went up to Guadalest, which is an old town on the side of the mountain with a main reservoir below.  While we were there, we saw a bush fire up in the mountains and it was interesting to see the helicopters coming down to the reservoir to pick up water and then dump it up in the mountain. Then we went down to Villajoyosa and walked around the old part.  This is very pretty with all the houses and bars painted in different colours and is much more like “old Spain”.

Villajoyosa



Saturday we took Dad to El Cisne.  Although we were doing things that we had already done it was nice to revisit and remind ourselves what it was all about – and we did promise Joy that we would go back to El Cisne before we left.  The Flamenco dancers were brilliant again and it was a different routine this time.  The male dancer – who incidentally is no spring chicken – joined them again after breaking his arm and they were even better that we had seen before. 

That left Sunday with the car and we decided that as we hadn’t seen much of Calpe when we went there that we would  have a look at the “other” side. We’re not that keen on Calpe as it just seems a smaller version of Benidorm and we were absolutely right.  Not a place that I’d be too fussed to go back to.  Moving up the coast we tried to find Benissa, now there are two, one at the coast and one inland, of course, me driving and both the men just sitting back and expecting me to navigate as well, I took a wrong turn and ended up going inland to the wrong Benissa.  Now this was interesting as Mr Always Right isn’t keen on mountain roads and I’m not sure if it is my driving, well this road took us high up the mountain on some very steep and windy roads and of course there was nowhere for me to turn around until we got almost to the top.  The view to the sea was incredible on the way down and we even saw a motorhome on the road.  I would not want to drive the behemoth on that road so if anyone with a motorhome is reading, to avoid the mountain road, you can go to Calpe and then take the sea road.  We totally missed Benissa, probably because the road didn’t go anywhere near the beach, so we decided to travel on to Moraira where the coast road ends.  That was well worth a visit, a pretty seaside fishing village with a very family friendly beach.  There was also a fresh water lake which fed into the sea and this was formed from some underground caves.  The marina there certainly had some money in it with luxury boats of all sorts.  From Moraira you can see across to the other side of Calpe and the penon de lfach (rock at the end).  We really liked it there and have checked out the campsite which is a possible for another trip.


Moraira

On the way back, Iain asked if we could stop at what looked like an interesting church that he had seen from the road on our previous trip.  From the road in the direction of Calpe to Altea,  you can see some golden domes on top of a wooden building nestling in the hills.  I have to admit that I did say that he might be disappointed and that it might be an indian restaurant.  But Mr Right was right again and indeed it was a most stunning church.  In fact it was Church of the Archangel Michael which opened in 2007. This is the first Russian Orthodox Church in Spain which is after all a very Catholic country. Well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.

Church of the Archangel Michael

The best thing was that we would have missed the church and Moraira if we hadn’t been “kicking out heels” hiring a car for 3 days instead of the planned one.

The following day (Monday) we returned the car. Jo and James kindly looked after Connie the smelly one for the day and we all took a bus into Benidorm.  Well you can’t come to Albir without a trip into Benidorm.  

Honestly, we did take him to Benidorm

For us this was the fourth time we had been into Benidorm but Dad had never been there before.  I think there were several times when he was open mouthed at what he saw.  We did the usual touristy things and went for lunch in a back-street tapas bar which was very enjoyable.  A walk along the sea front and the myriad of shops, a couple of souvenirs later we hopped back on the bus and returned to the sanctuary of Albir.

Tuesday lunchtime we took Dad for a big English breakfast at Oasis and he left shortly after lunch for his return journey home.  Ten days had gone, just like that.

So back on our own again with only two weeks left on this site.  We can’t believe that we have been living on this pitch for nearly FOUR months now – where has the time gone;  got bored? – certainly not; got drunk? – only once (well only once badly); done any crafting – not while the sun shines.

We even found a new bar to frequent called MeetPoint.  We had been told it was good but hadn’t ventured there before so after a disappointing meal at a restaurant that was purporting to be posh, we popped into MeetPoint for the customary Brandy and Coffee.  Well this place is great, comfy chairs, flowers on the tables,  nice people and the general feel that you are sitting in your conservatory.  Makes some other places look more like working men’s clubs.  Sorry Dad that we hadn’t discovered it earlier and taken you there.

Saturday and we decided to cook at home – just for a change.  Now I spent about 10 euros on dinner that I then had to prepare, cook and wash up afterwards and you can eat out for not much more than that – so that explains why we go out so often.  It will be a very different story when we get back into France.

We knew that there was live music at MeetPoint on Saturday between 5 and 7 so I cooked dinner before we went out and we would only need to heat it up and serve it when we got back.  But as has happened before our plans always seem to go out of the window.  We got back about 9.30 ‘ish and not in a state to appreciate dinner, so Iain went to bed without any supper, while I dived into bread and salsa dip (home-made I might add).   Dinner will now be served on Sunday – I hope.

It is sad that we are leaving this campsite and we keep saying, only two weeks left here now.  This sounds odd, as we may only have two weeks left, but we are then moving onto somewhere else, we are not going home to our house and jobs etc and keep having to remember that most people only get 2 weeks a year away.  Today, we’ve been living in our motorhome for 5 months and whilst I had to be taken kicking and screaming for leaving behind all our friends, family and STUFF – I’m absolutely loving it.

Easter Sunday

Dave was disappointed not to receive an Easter Egg from us on Friday and we politely informed him that Sunday is the day for Easter Eggs.  But of course that gave us an idea.  So we bought an egg cup and I “blew” an egg (for him!!!!!!!!!).  I then painted it blue in Chelsea colours and decorated it for him.  The initials CFD were put on in “glow in the dark” 3d paint and of course some girly sparkles.  I delivered it to his table at 7.30 this morning and he has been past our pitch a couple of times today but has not yet said anything.  We are waiting until the curiosity gets the better of him to ask what CFD stands for – shouldn’t it be CFC for Chelsea Football Club – then we are going to have to admit our nickname for him “Chelsea F**king Dave”.  Enjoy!!!!!

Happy Easter Chelsea F**king Dave

The Weather

The weather has been fantastic the last couple of weeks.  We have had some really strange sea mists where Calpe totally disappears, but generally it has been getting hotter and hotter. It really is time for us to move on, we even had 28 C this week.  Today is cooler as there is a strong breeze but it’s still T shirt and shorts. If it gets any hotter then it will be time for us to move north. 

Iain keeps saying that he doesn’t tan and I’ve explained to him several times that he has to meet the sun halfway and actually expose some flesh for that to happen.  Even he is now in shorts and sandals and you can see from the picture exactly what I mean.

Nice legs Iain!!!!!



Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bits and Pieces

Bizarre

We had met a couple in Wyndham’s one day and that is the sort of place that you get chatting, it’s a very friendly place full of locals and campsite people, mainly English.  The ice was broken a few days before when France were playing England at rugby and everyone was supporting France (because if they won then England would win the Six Nations) but the lady was supporting Ireland – because she was Irish of course, so there was some banter to be had.

A few days later we got chatting to them and it turned out that they lived in Broadstairs which is the town in which I grew up.  It turned out that Greg had lived in the area as a child and that he went to the same school as Iain but was a couple of years older than us.  We swapped names of brothers etc (all our brothers went to the same school as well, as did the ex Prime Minister, Ted Heath) but there was no connection. Suddenly Greg said that he thought he knew Iain.  Well we thought it would just be some vague recollection from  school when he said – “You used to work for a freight forwarding company at Ramsgate Hoverport” – so he did know him after all.  What a memory – that must have been in about 1978. It turned out that they still drink regularly with an old friend of Iain’s.  Well what a small world it is.

Morning Brandy

You must be thinking that we are just on one big round of partying and boozing by now – well you are not far wrong, however now that we are almost here alone – the campsite is emptying, friends have moved on and the Dutch are going home to check their tulips (it’s an Iain joke that not many people get) - we are trying to have some much drier days (that’s drier in drink rather than the weather which has been great).
There is a real café/bar culture here and we have got into the habit of going shopping late morning and then stopping at a bar for a coffee (me) and pint before going back for lunch – I’m not much of a day-time drinker and only drink before 6pm on special occasions – of which there have been too many lately.  But Morning Brandy is something else.  While we are walking to the supermarket, it is not unusual to see people sitting outside bars drinking pints, however we are still stunned to see brandy drinking in the morning.  Here you can often buy coffee and cake or coffee and brandy, the latter is usually cheaper than the former so it is sooooo easy (check out the El Cisne photos).  So on the way up the main street  we go brandy spotting. The earliest we have seen brandy drinking is 11.30 am but the search goes on for an earlier time.

Weather

The weather has been very good ever since we arrived with only a couple of days having rain and even at night the temperature very rarely getting below 10C .  However they do seem to have some very strong winds here and it’s been very blustery although warm.  A couple of days ago we had a very strange sand storm.  I know that it has been reported in the UK but here it actually rained sand and it started in the early evening.  Firstly the clouds were a strange red colour, you could actually see it coming in.  We were out and the cars were becoming covered, it was like snow but very, very fine sand and just a fine mist of rain.  Strangely you add sand to paint to make it non-slip, but when mixed with water and dropping onto marble it was very slippery walking home. This was followed by  some heavy rain during the night and by the morning everything was covered in a layer of very fine red sand dust.

This stuff is a nightmare to get rid of, couldn’t be brushed off and  had to be washed off. By 8 am most of the Dutch were out cleaning their vans and cars.  Luckily our end of the campsite is nearly empty so we only had to share the hose pipes with a few others.  There was a lot of complaining about water pressure but hey, there were a lot of hose pipes being used and they were climbing on their roofs to wash them.  We just sat and watched everyone else and then when they had all finished we set about cleaning our van and furniture.
Poor Hannah and Tomas had only cleaned their van a few days before in readiness for their departure.  We did smile however that after they had again cleaned their van, their neighbour brushed off the sand from the roof of his van and we could see it picked up in the wind and dumped again onto Tomas and Hannah’s.  

Later in the week we have experienced some weird sea mists.  A mist cloud that can come in within 5 minutes and then you are literally walking in the cloud - a bit like December in the UK.  The other day there was a band of it across Altea, whilst in Albir we were experiencing great weather.  It was so bad in Altea that the buses had to stop running.  The other evening we came out of the restaurant and it was warm then only 50 metres away it was cold because of the sea mist - more strange weather.

Neighbours

Firstly I’d like to say that we have been very lucky with our immediate long-stay neighbours.  Hank and Jenny were very friendly, spoke very good English (which came in useful at times) and they had their dog Monty with them.  The other side we had Nol and Meerke who we also got along very well with.  You will probably have already read about our short Sunday when we invited Nol and Meerke to join us. 

In the week before Nol and Meerke left we had a few drinks with them and they took us into Benidorm for a meal.  There are some advantages to having a caravan in that you have a car so at least you are mobile.  It was nice to go out in a car to somewhere else for a change.

We went to a hotel in Benidorm and we saw more of what it was like to be on a package holiday there.  The hotel had about 250 rooms and as I’ve said before overshadowed the side roads.  There was a nice big pool, but I would suspect that most of that would be in the shade for some of the day.

The food was a pretty good buffet service and the dining room could seat up to 700 people.
Afterwards we went to a bar not far away for coffee (and brandy of course).  Now I would liken this bar to a northern working men’s club.  Very little in the way of decoration to soak up the noise and bench seats all round.  It was just what it purported to be “The Cheap and Cheerful Bar”. As you may have gathered by now we are certainly not on the “Cultural” phase of our travelling!!!!!! It sounds like we are constantly in bars – but then when you are over 3 months in a place you can’t do sight-seeing all the time.  And one for Nick, who likes a bargain – the beer was only 1euro a pint – the cheapest we’ve seen anywhere.

We had lovely company however one evening in Benidorm was enough. We came back to the campsite and joined them for another drink – Nol however was being very good, just drinking a couple of beers  as he had to drive in a couple of days.  I’m sure we will keep in touch with Meerke and Nol and hope to see them here again next year.

However………………… as I’ve said before this campsite is 80% Dutch and some of them were less than friendly towards us – we didn’t mind this but some of the short-term stayers near to us did give me a bit of a downer.  We had a couple behind us and another couple next to us who were friends – however we learned that one couple had been here before and no one liked them.  Anyway they seemed to have a problem with our dog, as did some other Dutch on the campsite.  Now dogs will be dogs and dogs pee and poo where they want to.  We never leave the dog outside on her own, always watch her, make sure she doesn’t stray onto anyone else’s pitch  and are fastidious about clearing up after her and straight away. This is a dog-friendly campsite and whilst we take her for regular walks she is a little sh*t machine and there will always be a time when she will pee or poo on our pitch.

Well I had a couple of run-ins with our neighbours,  I was sitting outside when she squatted for a pee.  The next thing I knew the window of our neighbours van was thrust open and heads came out looking at where she had been.  I promptly took her inside. Then the man came out of the van and walked all around and I saw him shaking he head at the occupants as if to say he hadn’t found anything – I knew he wouldn’t.  Iain was out and the neighbour didn’t say anything to me but I could see the looks and feel the vibes!!!!! A couple of days later we were walking to the entrance when she squatted for a pee in the roadway.  Now this is tarmac and although it’s still on the campsite she thinks it’s a road so she thinks it’s ok.  Well this Dutch woman started yelling at me and gesticulating wildly “Off the camping, off the camping”.  By now I was starting to get paranoid.  It’s a long way to the entrance of the campsite and there’s no way my dog is going to get there before doing what dogs do.  Iain said I should tell them to go away in no uncertain terms but I don’t like confrontation so I just scuttle away.

I do understand and respect that not everyone has or indeed likes dogs, however this is a campsite which allows dogs and dogs will do what dogs do, so really if they have that much of a problem then they should choose a campsite which doesn’t allow them.  Legally it is not fouling if you pick up.

Luckily one couple moved off a few days later and the other moved further up the campsite.

Now the campsite is very empty in the run up to Easter and we have no close neighbours, in fact there are only 5 vans on about 25 pitches up our end.  Whilst I wanted to move down the other end at the beginning because they get more sun in the morning, I’m actually happy up our end of the campsite even though it’s a long way from the “Servicios”.

Family

Having dealt with neighbours, I’ll do family next.

A lot of people who winter in Spain have a big pull on the heart-strings to see grandchildren back home.  Often one partner doesn’t want to come until after Christmas or wants to go home early which can cause some problems.   Regretfully,  we don’t have that problem.  I don’t have any children and sadly Iain’s daughter passed away in January and his son is severely mentally disabled and lives in a care home.  He is very well looked after and we will visit him often when we are at home although he probably doesn’t know that we do.

We do both have siblings but they are of course adults and whilst we worry about them all they can take care of themselves.

Both our mothers are deceased, mine 20 years ago this year and Iain’s mum last March.  But we do have two dads who are like chalk and cheese.

Mine – has his own life (and a wife) and having emailed our plan for when we return to England, refuses to see us even if we are in the area – I haven’t seen him for about 9 years now – well that’s his decision.

On the other hand Iain’s dad is 80 this year and I dropped him an email this week to see if he was ok as we hadn’t heard from him for about a month.  The response we received basically said – sorry my internet has been down, I’m fine, see you Sunday, arriving in Alicante at 20.15.  How fantastic is that!   I had emailed in January to say that as we’d be here until the end of April why not come out for a couple of weeks of sunshine which would do him good,  but I didn’t want to push it in case he didn’t want to.  Then suddenly he’s coming with only 5 days notice.  Having nursed Iain’s mum for many years he seems to be getting out and about as much as possible and making the most of things – long may it last.

We’ve booked him into one of the “Log cabins” on site and as the weather is now quite warm I’m sure he will be fine – it was 18c last night.  These are basically a shed but they are fully equipped – I think that’s what is now called “Glamping” – camping in a shed instead of a tent or caravan.

We’re looking forward to seeing him and have planned some days out and a visit to El Cisne again next week. 

Motorhoming Tips

Two new tips added (click the tab above) Vehicle security and Hot water - hope they are useful

Saturday, 5 April 2014

March Catch up

If you read on you will see that most of our friends have now moved on or returned home so I have had a break from partying and have had some time to catch up on my blog, I hope you enjoy reading it.

El Cisne – Saturday, Monday, Saturday

For weeks, Nick and Joy had been saying to us that we must go to El Cisne market as they really enjoyed it and seemed to go every Saturday since they had discovered it.  

El Cisne is a “flea” market on the edge of Benidorm on the main road and is held on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  It’s an antiques market and most of the outside part is tat but there are are some bargains to be had.  Now as we are not into collecting tat any more it’s something that we hadn’t been in a rush to do.  So having always had something else to do we had previously declined but a couple of weeks ago Iain wanted to watch the Rugby on TV so I decided to go with Nick and Joy to the market, thus saving Iain from something that I didn’t think he would like anyway.  

This was quite an experience to behold and I loved every minute of it.  An hour or so to go around the market, rummaging in the tat,  and then off to the bar (no surprises there), for a drink and lunch.  It is a fantastic atmosphere there and you get loads of free entertainment.  

Firstly you have John the Fiddler to entertain you with his eclectic mix of music. Ivan Travolta then often does a turn with his Grease Lightening and other rock and roll renditions – actually he is pretty good. During this you get a lot of people up dancing – some are really dressed up for the occasion and I did a lot of “Trannie Spotting".  I’m convinced that some of the ladies dancing were in fact men and I suspected that the ones that put the most effort into their appearance were indeed trannies.  It was nice however that over here anything seems to go and you are accepted whatever your tastes. 

Then you get a couple of dance acts.  Now these are professionals, not just amateur dance schools like you would get in England at a village fete.  The first act was a couple doing some very good dancing with some exciting throws etc.  I was amazed that they could put on such a good act in such a small space.   Then the highlight is the flamenco dancing – a group of 5 doing proper flamenco.  I was so mesmerised by the whole experience that I didn’t even think about taking any photos.  It was a fantastic day out and as I said the entertainment is absolutely free - we like free.

Now talking about free; El Cisne was to be open on the following Monday for St Paddy’s day so I committed Iain to coming with us.  They say there is no such thing as a free lunch but Nick, the social hand grenade, had blagged us a free steak lunch for the four of us.  It was one of the waitresses birthdays and she had booked 20 places for dinner.  Four people had already paid but had dropped out so there were four lunches going begging.  Well done Nick – we really enjoyed our free lunch.

Joy and Iain - St Paddy's day



As I said I had been so gob-smacked at the Saturday market that I hadn’t taken any photos but I did remember to bring my camera for Monday.  From the photo below you can see that a good time was had by all and I have never seen so much grey hair on a dance floor before.
Grey on the dance floor


We were sad to leave fairly early but we had to get back to the dogs who had been left home alone.
With the following Saturday being Nick and Joy’s last before leaving and as the Rugby had finished we all went along the following Saturday for a bit of a party.  This was the first of the “last” events that Nick and Joy would be party to during the days before they left.

That Saturday I did take my camera and got a few shots of the acts.  There was a fantastic act on first and they did all sorts of counter-balancing stunts to music.  That guy had arms like tree trunks.  Then he came on and did a brilliant act of a big black momma and her dancing partner.  The thing that made it great was that his legs operated the man and his arms operated the legs of the woman – if that makes sence.  Very cleverly done. The flamenco dancers were the same ones but as usual they were great.




Is Nick flamenco dancing?


Joy was very sad that this would be their last visit to El Cisne as I think this had been one of the highlights of her stay in Albir, so she was keen to have her photo taken with Ivan Travolta, just for posterity of course.

Those bar stools must be very uncomfortable?


We will return to El Cisne before we leave, especially as we are now we are going to have company. Where else can you buy Coffee and Brandy for less than Coffee and Cake - that's Spain for you.



Short Sunday

Another short day – this time a Sunday, and I can feel very self-righteous  as I was still not drinking (much).  A sober but very social day for me.

So it was Sunday morning, we planned to go to the market in Albir in the morning, stop for a swifter on the way home and then spend the afternoon relaxing, we thought we would have dinner at the campsite as we’d already bought the food – wrong!!!! 

So I’ll start again. It was Sunday morning and we went off to the market. We left the dog in the van as there are just too many legs for her – too many people and too much chance of her getting trodden on, along with the fact that we can’t really both browse while she is with us. Then, as often happens, we bumped into Nick in the market who had left Joy to search for some more bargains that they didn’t need.  We told Nick that we would be going to Oasis and he declined to join us - yes he did, he really did. They had booked a table at Wyndham’s with Jo and James for 2pm so could not join us for a drink.  Jo and James are also full-timers who have sold up their house in Nottingham and have been full timing for a bit longer than us.  

So still to plan we went to Oasis for a quick coffee and beer before lunch.  Lo and behold, we had not been there more than 15 minutes when Nick arrived to join us.  About half an hour later Joy came along and displayed the bargains that she had procured at the market.  We had a drink and then left together. N and J to go to Wyndham’s and us to go home to the van.  Joy and I were bringing up the rear when (he admitted later) Iain said to Nick that if they got a move on they could get a drink in Wyndham’s before we arrived.  I wasn’t very happy when I got to Wyndham’s to find Iain with a pint in his hand – here we go again I thought.  Jo and James asked if we were going to join them and if not why not so we decided that it would be rude not to especially as it was Nick and Joy’s last Sunday with us.

Joy and I went back to the van to collect the dogs and to give them a walk as they’d already been alone about 2 hours and it was quite a warm day. We came back and enjoyed a two course Sunday lunch, followed of course by some brandy (not for me) and at about 5pm we were all feeling very mellow!!!! 

It was of course too early to end the day so we ended up back at our van – easy to entertain now as the weather was warmer (we don’t have an awning) and we had acquired a site picnic table and chairs.  In fact it was a very nice sunny evening so we invited Meerke and Nol, our Dutch neighbours  to join us so that made 8. Incidentally Nol is short for Arnold. My maiden name was Arnold and I had never heard this abbreviation before, but rather liked it. My nephew was always called Arnie at school, but none of the rest of us ever had a nick name.

James was the first to crash and burn and we laughed as we watched him staggering back to his van for a well earned rest.

Nick, Iain, Jo, Joy, Me, Nol


Nick left next – also a little tired and confused.  And all this time I was still sober (‘ish).

Nol however was on a mission.  Meerke showed us some pictures of Albir that she had taken 34 years ago when there were just two buildings along the sea front.  It must have been lovely here then.  At about 8.30pm Meerke decided that she’d had enough and returned to her caravan next door.  Before leaving she said to Nol in English to “Come home after you have finished that drink” to which Nol surprisingly readily agreed.  As soon as Meerke was out of sight he moved his drink away and asked if he could have another glass – because if he didn’t finish the one he already had he would not have to leave – nice one Nol.
About 9.30 and now well into dark, there was just me and Nol left and due to the amount of alcohol consumed communications in two languages broke down irretrievably. Nol decided that it was now time to finish his original glass of B&C and return to his wife.

I must have been sober as I decided to clear up before going indoors.   All of a sudden I heard an almighty crash from next door and ran around to see what had happened.  Nol had decided to take a trip to the toilet and to use his bike to get there.  Not a good idea and it would appear that no sooner he had got onto his bike one side, he promptly fell off it the other.  Now Nol is not the most diminutive of men so this could be a problem. Meerke came running and once we had ascertained that there was no blood or lasting damage, some strong words were spoken by Meerke and Nol was ushered back into the caravan to use the local facilities.  Oh dear, I hope she doesn’t think we always do this?!?!?

Next day all the men were bright as buttons – it’s so unfair, I always suffer so much after a skinful.
A good day was had by all and yet another early night. A good last Sunday for Nick and Joy. This was the second of the “before we go home” celebrations that Nick and Joy attended with us and they still weren’t leaving for 5 days – it was becoming obvious that we would need a rest by the time they left.  

Quiz

Every Wednesday evening, Wyndham’s put on a quiz with Drew.  Drew is (as his name suggests) Scottish and we believe he lives alone, somewhere up in the mountains and we are sure that the Quiz is one of the highlights of his week.  He takes it pretty seriously but the questions are not particularly taxing and the quiz can be won on how many lucky guesses you make to pretty obscure questions rather than actual knowledge.  Some of the locals take it very seriously as the prize is a 3 course Sunday lunch for two at Wyndham’s.  We usually go to the Chinese opposite for dinner first and then turn up late at about 9.00pm just as he’s starting.

We of course don’t take it very seriously, the first time we joined a group of locals but they were so serious and there were a few arguments amongst the existing team that we decided we’d rather be alone, however sometimes we have a little help from our friends.

We try to brighten up Drew’s life with a different quiz team name each week and so often he just doesn’t get it and about half way through the quiz the penny drops. So far we have been:-
Quizteam Aguilera – took him half a quiz to get that one.
Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits – say it fast – he got in quite a dither and hasn’t forgotten this.
Les Quizerables – he just couldn’t say that at all
Otrivia Newton John – one of his favourites
And one of my favourites, The Spanish In-quiz-ition.
And we’re saving Onward Quizteam Soldiers for our last week.
Everyone thinks we are really clever coming up with these names but I have to admit we just get them off the internet.

We’ve done pretty well so far even if it’s only been the two of us – but there were two memorable weeks:-
The quiz finishes about 11pm but unfortunately a couple of weeks ago we stayed on for a bit afterwards.  Having intended not to drink too much I had a vodka and coke rather than wine.  That was followed by a Bacardi and coke and another (we think there was another after that but I’m not too sure).  Over here they don’t do bar measures and by just pouring a drink you can get a lot more than expected.  Even at home, when I do drink spirits I always measure them so that I can keep an eye on what I’m drinking. 
Unfortunately events seem to have overtaken me on this occasion and I was a bit “wobbly bob” (as Iain put it) to say the least on the way home.

The next day I felt really ill, not the normal headache hangover but simply ILL.  And the next day, and the next day – I’d like to say that I had a “bit of a bug” but I’m afraid that I really believe that it was all self-inflicted.  In fact I didn’t touch ANY alcohol for 3 days and then nothing more than a couple of small beers a day for the next 4.  I’m still not drinking very much at all, except a glass of wine or two with dinner.  I think my body was trying to tell me something so I’m really trying to cut down as this can be too easy over here and I don’t want to make a habit of it.

The following week we attended the quiz but a very sober attendance for me!!!!! This time, Nick and Joy were going home the following day so they agreed to join us for dinner (only) before the quiz. We had met Steve and Claire in the week and invited them to join us.  Now Steve and Claire appeared to be on a Gap year of travelling Europe and then getting married in Spain in August.  Some take a gap year at 18, some like us take gap yearssssss at retirement and some like Steve and Claire seem to be taking a gap year before settling down and having children (although with the body clock ticking and so much fun to be had travelling that that decision seems to be more difficult for them now than when they started their adventure). Anyway with the “youngsters” on site it brought the average age of the campers down at least 5 years.
After dinner Nick and Joy (well Nick) thought it would be a good idea to join us “Just for the first half of the quiz” he said.

The quiz over – and we had won!!!! A free meal for two at Wyndham’s was on offer – Nick and Joy were leaving the next day and as it was so were Steve and Claire – so yours truly were left to enjoy the spoils – thanks guys.

Anyway after the quiz we all went back to our van – but as it was gone midnight then and I was still sober, we would not be able to sit outside (midnight curfew on noise) so I invited them all in – and Paddy the dog.  I thought Iain had gone to the loo, when I saw a lump in the bed and realised that no he wasn’t pleased to see me but he’d come home all confused and tired and gone straight to bed.  So there were six of us and two dogs in the van. It was a bit of a tight squeeze and reminded me of having friends round when I lived in a bedsit.  Now this isn’t the first time that I have gone partying after Iain has gone to bed but that’s another (and very expensive) story.



I chucked them all out at about 1 am and of course Nick and Steve had long drives the next day to look forward to.

Iain got up in the morning and said “I don’t know what happened last night, but someone broke into the van, drank all my booze and left me a pile of washing up to do”.

Joy and Nick going home

If you have read about El Cisne, Short Sunday and the Quiz you will already know that leaving celebrations abounded.

On the Monday evening we went out with Nick and Joy for dinner  to a very nice restaurant called Leonardos which is run by a Dutch couple. Not much to mention about this, just the food was excellent and the same great time had by all - again.

Tuesday we given a rest but N&J were still in party mode and  went out with Hannah and Tomas, they'd already had a long lunch with Jo and James a few days before. Wednesday was the quiz, which I have already written about and Thursday morning they were off.

N&J had spent days packing up their awning and fitting everything into the van. We on the other hand don’t have an awning (mainly because of storage space when on the move and also because I’m such a woos that I’m always terrified that it will get ripped off the side of the van in a storm and cause a load of damage). 

Their awning had however proven very useful for entertaining on cold evenings.  Not having an awning does however mean that we can be packed up and ready to leave in about 45 minutes and not take days like everyone else.  The time it took to pack was at one time extended  by Nick’s friendly face arriving at our van with two cans of beer saying “I thought I’d bring these up here to see if they taste different, do you want to find out?” – any excuse for a beer.

So come Thursday morning after a very late night, we all turned out  to say goodbye to them.  It was quite a send-off and the rumour was that “hard-man”  Chelsea F**king Dave was blubbing. We have never been in one place so long before that we had a chance to make friends but we do feel  that although we have met a lot of very nice people here this winter,  we will make life-long friends with Nick and Joy.  Iain said that Joy was the cherry on top of the icing on the cake and we will certainly be visiting them when we return to the UK. 

We knew that we were going to miss them greatly and they were the first of the group to leave. It just doesn’t seem quite the same without them, very quiet.  Since N&J left, Claire and Steve headed off the same morning (Claire had to drive due to Steve’s delicate condition after Quiz night), Hannah and Tomas left a week later, Nol and Meerke two days after that.  That only leaves Jo and James who like us are full-timers and of course Chelsea F**king Dave who lives here permanently. Like us Jo and James have decided to stay until after Easter as it is rumoured that campsites are really busy over the Easter holidays and the prices are hiked to peak season.  We have said that we should leave on the same day, otherwise there won’t be anyone except Chelsea F**cking Dave and his boxer dog Max to wave us off.  By the way, Chelsea F**cking Dave gets his name because he supports Chelsea and every other word is, well I think you can work that one out.

Claire, Steve, Joy, Iain, Nick, Tomas, Hannah, James and Jo



By the time of writing this Nick and Joy are already back in the UK. Love to you both (and Paddy) and see you soon.

Before I close off for March .............. Last weekend we put the clocks forward one hour.  This means that we now have lovely long daylight evenings until well after 8pm and with the weather being warmer in the evenings we are able to sit out until quite late. It took a while to get used to the darker mornings and the loss of an hour and we have been sleeping in until quite late , we missed the bread man at 9.30 the other day and bless him, he left us a loaf anyway. it was 10am before we woke  - but hey, we're busy doing nothing. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Double Madge

As I’m still on catch up, things may be a little out of chronological order for the rest of March. I’m treating this blog as a diary of things that have happened so I’ll do it in headings rather than order. I hope that you enjoy reading some of our memorable bits from March 2014. What I can’t believe is that we have now been on this pitch for 3 months, a quarter of a year.  It’s by far the longest we have stayed anywhere because previously we were always on a two-week holiday so you packed as much into it as possible.  It’s now beginning to feel like home and the normal way of life.

Benidorm trip

In Spain, you can’t take dogs on buses or trains so we have been a bit restricted on what we can do.  We don’t like to leave the dog for more than about 3 hours alone in the van and if the weather is warm even that is really not practical as it can get warm inside.  We wanted to go to Benidorm (well you have to do it once) and the roads are a bit fast and scary for us to cycle. Thankfully, Joy and Nick offered to look after Connie for the day so that we could go on the bus.

It’s only 1.5 euros each and although it is only about 4 miles it takes about 45 minutes to get there by the time it’s been all around Alfaz del Pi.  Taking the bus is a bit of an experience, they are every 15 minutes so this is a great service but one thing we found is that the bus drivers here have no regard to the comfort of their passengers and don’t give a dam about speed bumps or screaming up to junctions and then suddenly applying the brakes. However the trip  gave us a good opportunity to view a lot of campsites on the way.  This did highlight that we have picked a really good campsite in Albir, it may not have all the facilities of the others but it is in walking distance of all amenities including the beach and town.  If we stayed on the others we would have to bus it everywhere and that’s no good if you have a dog.

The only experience we had previously had of Benidorm was the journey to and from the airport when the coach went around all the streets to pick up and drop off passengers.  At this time we weren’t in the best frame of mind so we hated it.  Also we had driven through and couldn’t find anywhere to park and there were so many traffic lights that it was a very scary experience (again I was driving and I was knackered from the concentration needed).   On all occasions it was a “Get me out of here” experience.

We had been advised to get the bus right into Benidorm and wait for it to turn around before getting off near to the old town.  The main road once you get into Benidorm seems to be filled with tourist shops, English (and Irish) bars and high-rise tower blocks which put most of the side streets in permanent shade.  We were sure to hate Benidorm but just wanted to walk around it to see for ourselves.

We headed from the bus stop towards the beach to have a look at the seafront.  The streets were buzzing with people and it is out of season, I wouldn’t want to go there in July or August, but I can see why young people would want to go there for hen and stag weekends (and give us all a bad reputation). Not to mention the TV series Benidorm that has made it even more popular.  Everyone wants to see where the series is shot and spot the celebrities. My view is that whilst I have to admit that I love it, the series is little more than “Shameless Abroad” and makes me even more embarrassed of my fellow Brits.  And before I move on yes they do ride around on Madge buggies.  Apparently there have been so many young people hiring them and racing around the town that now you have to prove that you are over 50, or that you need one.  And to whet your appetite here's a picture of a "Double Madge" - absolutely marvellous.





So what did we think of Benidorm?

Well to say that we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement, if you removed all the high-rise blocks it would be an absolutely beautiful place. Two fantastic crescent beaches stretching for over 4 miles, Levante Beach in the east and Poniente beach in the west.
Levante Beach

Poniente Beach
Separating these two is a rocky outlet which is where you will find the old town. I wouldn't fancy staying in this hotel though.


I can fully understand why it was developed as a holiday place and why people want to go there.  These fantastic beaches surrounded by mountains.  It’s just a shame that what has made it famous has also ruined it somewhat.

It’s well worth the visit to the Place de Castell which is a fantastic viewing point towards both of the beaches and where I took the beach photos from. 

Place de Castell

So time for lunch.  

Having joked that we were going to Benidorm to be Brits abroad and have a “full English breakfast”, we had been told that the old town is famous for it’s tapas bars – which is actually much more up our street. We found some pretty commercialised bars and then found a back street with some bars where the Spanish seemed to be eating – this will do nicely we thought and purchased 8 tapas and a bottle of Rioja for the princely sum of 8 Euros. 



Time now to get the bus back and check on the dog.  Having arrived in Albir, feeling mellow from half a bottle of wine each, and as the bus stop was just outside, we “popped” into Wyndham’s for a quick one.  Who should be walking along the road but Joy and Nick with Paddy and Connie (the dogs) and of course they just had to join us.  A couple of drinks later we left to return to the campsite and as we said goodbye to Joy and Nick, our “friendly” Dutch neighbours Meerke and Noel invited us to join them for a drink.  “Well it would be rude to say no” I said.  Another early night!!!!!

Benidorm Trip – part 2

Well we enjoyed our day out to Benidorm so much that we thought we would make another trip before Nick and Joy went home so that they could look after Connie for us.  No photos this time just a quick walk around and an enjoyable lunch planned.  This is worth a mention because it didn't turn out quite as planned. We wandered around the old town for a while to see if we had missed anything before.  Found the bar that we had used before for later reference.  It was a glorious sunny day and quite warm and I was wearing shorts and sandals although we did bring jumpers with us just in case.

We decided to stop for a quick beer before lunch and found a back-street café where the Spanish were eating – this looks like a good place we thought.  We bought our beer and I must admit that I do like seafood (or is it seefood and eat it) and as this was a seafood restaurant decided to take a look at the menu.  It certainly wasn’t as cheap as the tapas bar that we had intended to visit but hey, why not splash out once in a while.  

So having picked a back-street restaurant we expected something special for our money and awaited our meal.  Suddenly the wind picked up and it became quite cool, plus fairly heavy clouds had gathered in the sky.  I said to the waiter that it was a bit chilly so he beckoned for us to follow him inside.  I’d much rather eat al-fresco if I can but it was quite cold so I duly followed him.  We entered the restaurant which was a long thin building and then suddenly we were out on the street the other side.  

So wanting and thinking we’d found a back-street place we were suddenly out on the main drag, the one place that we had wanted to avoid. We’d already ordered so we decided to stay put – but this was a big disappointment.  The food was good though and the waiter showed us how to eat the small fish without spending ages picking at the bones with a knife and fork.  

It was getting pretty nippy now and the waitress brought out blankets for the diners – I was very grateful as I was wearing shorts. 

A bottle of wine, a couple of coffees and a brandy for Iain later, we left the restaurant having parted with 40 euros – not quite the 8 euro tapas that we had planned - c’est la vie, but we won’t be going back there again.

Motorhome Practicalities

Those who are not motorhomers don’t understand the necessity to have your holding tanks full and empty in the right order.  Fresh water in, waste out.  With regard to fresh water we just fill it using a watering can and it is amazing how little water you actually use when you have to go and get it. 

As as our black waste is a fixed tank we find it much easier to take the van to the disposal point and empty black and grey at once which we do on a regular basis.  

Normally with motorhomes the vehicle battery is trickle charged when on hook-up so it’s never a problem starting the vehicle.  However ours is American and it doesn’t seem to work the same.  So come the time to start the van what happens – yes you guessed it, whirr, whirr, whirr…………… nothing.  

No problem we say, we have an emergency start button.  This puts some charge into the battery from the leisure batteries  and hey presto we spring into life – or not.  Again absolutely nothing, not a flicker. It worked last time so why not now. Time to troubleshoot and I’m not the most patient person!!!! 

Firstly I’m using my set of keys and before starting you have to press a button which does something with the ignition (I don’t really understand what) and you get a set of lights on the dash which tells you that you are ready to start.  Now what is the problem, is it that the emergency start button isn’t connecting or is it my set of very clean keys.  Why are my keys very clean? Well that’s simple, Iain insists that I always carry my keys with me and a couple of weeks before, they were in my pocket when I washed my trousers in the washing machine.  I wonder if I have actually drowned the chips. 

So it’s now key button override time – apparently there is another thing that you can use to override the button – this is all getting very complicated now. So as I can’t reach the override while my keys are in the ignition, I use Iain’s keys – still no luck.  By this time I’m getting into frustrated mode (good job I’m up to date with my HRT) and we were both racking our brains to think what to do next.  I was looking around on the dash and as I flicked an unknown switch, I said to Iain, “You know this switch that we don’t know what it does” and before I could say any more all the lights came on.  Emergency start button depressed and hey presto – life.  So we’ve now learned what that switch does. 

It’s amazing how many switches and stuff that you have on a motorhome that you never seem to find out what they do and no-one can even tell you, they all have their little foibles. Often these things are fitted because there is a problem and it’s easier to put in something which by-passes the problem rather than fix it.

So we trundle off to the service point.  Me driving and Iain in the passenger seat.  Now an observation about people who have a lot of time being busy doing nothing.  Whenever a van is on the move it becomes a spectator sport, especially when a woman is driving.  Also because our van is a bit different it does attract a bit of attention.  So with this exercise being performed by us on a frequent basis, by the time we return to our pitch  we generally have an audience of about 15 people to see how this woman manages to park this large truck.  

There’s nothing like an audience when you are trying to manoeuver into a small space – but of course I’m well practiced now and take it in my stride – I even got out the other day and gave a little bow to a round of applause.

Still to come - El Cisne, goodbye to friends, quiz, morning brandy!?!?!?! Another short day!!!