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.  


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. 

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