Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cast out of Eden

In my last post I said we were off to Peniscola to Eden for my bootcamp, where I would transform myself into a sylph-like fitness goddess – perhaps that’s a bit much to ask in two weeks. This was one of the rare occasions that I got to choose the campsite and I chose it for it’s luxury. No shopping to get as we would be close to the town and hooray, no LPG to get either.  This would be a doddle of a drive.

Well we trotted off on the short drive, only 80 miles, that day and arrived at Peniscola around lunch time to find that they were FULL, COMPLET, no space at the inn. We couldn’t believe it, that had never happened to us before out of season.  What next then? Well the girl on reception told us to come back tomorrow at 8am as they might have some leavers, but that there would probably be other people doing the same.  It was nearly 30 C so I really didn’t fancy wild camping.  Now I don’t mind when you can sit inside, but it was far too hot for that.  This meant that if we found another campsite for the night we would have to get up early and be away by 7.30am – another not very appealing idea.  This scenario could also go on for days as there was no promise of vacancies.

We sat in their arrivals area and perused the ACSI book to find an alternative, but I really had set my heart on Eden.  There were a few campsites in Benicassim, about 30 miles south that were interesting and a couple around the Beniscola area, only 5 miles away.  I soon realised that if we went further south now to Benicassim there would be no way that we would come back again so we decided Beniscola was the better option.

However before leaving, I had another thought.  Why not actually book to get into Eden the following week.  So I went back into reception and made a booking for the first day she could guarantee availability which was for the following Monday – 5 nights to fill then – whoah, 5 nights reprieve until boot camp begins.

So off we went to find another campsite.  I said I didn’t care where it was as long as it had a pool as the weather was still hot.  Just a short 5 mile or so drive to Benicarlo and we arrived at Camping Alegria.  There were some very narrow lanes leading up to it, one the book said was prone to flooding  and I was very glad that we didn’t meet anything else coming the other way. We pulled in, hopefully, and were greeted by a lovely English girl at reception.  “Of course we’ll manage to fit you in somewhere” she said, it was such a relief, I do hate going from campsite to campsite hoping that we might get in, to be turned away like disappointed idiots with our tail between our legs for not booking ahead. As we were parked up at reception waiting for the paperwork, a couple came up to us and said hello.  Then we realised that it was June and Brian, who had been our neighbours in Lloret de Mar.  Now this was a real coincidence as we had no plans to stay at this campsite, and neither had they. 

I have to say, this campsite is a bit of a jewel, very friendly, small family run campsite.  I think the family consists of a couple, their 4 daughters and respective husbands and possibly some other family members thrown in as well.  There is a bar and a reasonable restaurant, a necessary swimming pool and the beach (although shingle) only 50 metres away. It’s actually very nice here. There’s also a small shop to get essential supplies, such as beer!!!!!  And it’s got very good internet (2 Euros a day) and you can even connect to their satellite to get English TV for 2 Euros a day.  We didn’t bother with the TV though.

The first morning we cycled into town (only about 15 minutes by bike) which whilst fairly small and uncommercialised, rather than being a pretty town is pretty uninteresting.  There is a small harbour which seems to be a working harbour and a maze of small streets.  We haven’t yet managed to find a decent sized supermarket but that’s not too important as we’re back into Spanish eating out prices so I haven’t actually cooked since we have been here. People who long-term on this site have told me that with the town, what you see is what you get and it stays like that all year round. I was disappointed though to see how many shops and restaurants were closed.  Was it because we were now officially out of season, or was it because they had closed down through lack of trade?  I don’t know, but it did give the town a sad appearance.

I was desperate for a hair-cut so whilst in town found a hair dresser and made an appointment for manana. The girl didn’t speak any English so I thought this might be a bit of a challenge, but hey, it’ll grow again. The next day I actually cycled into town on my own to get my hair cut.  Iain and I do get on well,  but it was lovely to have a bit of time to myself and it meant that I didn’t have to trail the buggy around.  I had forgotten how much easier it was to cycle without dragging 30kg behind me, plus any shopping.  At last I could actually free-wheel along the flat, instead of peddling all the time.  I even managed to get back to the campsite almost all the way in top gears, normally I’m struggling with anything more than the slightest incline in the lowest gears.  I was early so I had a little cycle around the town but there really wasn’t much to see. When I got into the hair dressers I had a quick look through the books to find the sort of style I wanted, I thought a picture would be the easiest thing to do.  Of course now I keep my hair short, there’s hardly scope for a full make-over, but I have to admit that I had taken the scissors to my barnet a couple of weeks ago and whilst I’m actually pretty good at stopping myself looking like a shaggy dog, I can’t do the back, so I didn’t want just an all-over trim.  Now I’ve always been proud of having very thick hair and I hate two things when I have my hair cut NO THINNING SCISSORS AND NO RAZOR CUTTING.  What did I get – BOTH.  I just sat back and let her do her worst, after all we couldn’t understand a word each other said.  It looks ok and as I said – it will grow again.  It’s no good being precious about your hair cut when you can’t go to a regular hair dressers. Iain wasn’t expecting me back until 1pm as I thought I’d have a mooch around the shops, but I was back by 11.45 – so that just shows how uninteresting the place is.  Mind you Iain had already done a load of housework and was now relaxing with a well-earned (he says) – EARLY  beer – CAUGHT YOU!!!

Last night I took the dog out for a late night wee walk and between here and the beach is some scrub land.  It was lovely to hear the noise of the crickets in the scrub, it really reminded me of my family holidays in Spain as a child where there was very little of the built-up areas that tourists now commonly visit and at night you could just hear the chirping of the crickets . 

This morning, Iain went off on his own to get some cash.  When he left, June was talking to me and she was still there when he got back, she can really talk, that woman and you can’t get a word in edgeways so it’s a one-way conversation.  Iain reported on his return that he had seen a coffee and brandy at 10.30am.  That’s earlier than in Albir, but I suppose it was Sunday and they were probably on their way to church. Sunday afternoon was F1 at Singapore so while Iain watched from the bar, I took Connie for a walk around the lanes.  It was ok, very quiet, but as I walked past one house, I suddenly saw the guard dogs, they had smelled Connie and were barking furiously and rushing towards us.  Now I like dogs and have very little fear, but I was terrified.  You always worry that this will be the first time they will jump the fence, or break it down. I’m sure they would have ripped her apart and probably me with her.  Connie was dragging me away and I have to admit, I did run.  The worst thing was that they had put all guard dogs in the area on full alert. No sooner had we left their enclave another one was barking and jumping up the fence at us. Then as we turned the corner back to the campsite, another deep woof and the whole fence started shaking.  I was so glad to get back to the safety of the campsite and never went down that way again.

As I said, this campsite is a jewel and as I’ve no pictures, here’s a link to their website .  It is a very friendly place.  We had a few drinks with June and Brian and another evening with another couple who live in Spain called John and Sandra.  As fellow motorhomers we swapped a few stories and I have to admit that we all seem to terrify ourselves when on the road, but the lifestyle does make up for it.  Brian shared a story about having gone down a sandy road and had to turn around at the bottom, only to find that his front-wheel drive van would not grip on the sand on the way up and they were just sliding into the wall of a house.  They had to be pulled out by a very kind Spanish man with a digger who just happened to be working further down the road.  June was crying, but it seems that she does that a lot.  John and Sandra shared a story about their awning.  While they were on a site they had a problem rolling away their awning and so asked the campsite owner if they knew of anyone who could sort it out for them.  The campsite said they knew a man who specialised in Fiamma awnings (his make) and gave him a call. The man came out and examined the awning, he struggled for a while and then took out a stanley knife and cut the whole canopy off. John said he was absolutely stunned.  There they were with no canopy at all, he could have done that himself.  The man then left, left them to dismantle all the poles etc in a state of shock.  He even had the cheek to charge them 35 Euros for his expertise. These things cost hundreds of pounds and he simply cut it off.

We are off in the morning and I’m up early again – but this time I was dreaming some strange dream of some electrical works going on in my bedroom while I was asleep.  The workmen kept saying that they couldn’t believe that I could sleep through all that noise.  Then I woke up and discovered that actually I couldn’t sleep through all that noise.  During the night a thunderstorm had started and the wind had picked up.  We have never left our awning out all night before coming here – I am paranoid that this very expensive appendage to our van will be ripped to shreds during the night and we will end up with holes ripped out of the side of our van. The weather had been very still every night before and the main reason we had left the awning out was because of low branches of trees on our pitch.  It was obvious that when our awning would be retracted we would be wrapping a couple of branches up with us. So here we were, 4.30 am and our awning banging and crashing.  Iain says I make such a fuss, it’s designed to bang.  But if I can’t sleep through it then neither will our neighbours.  So I got him up to help me put it away.  I think I was right as the Frenchman opposite was also out, probably sent out by his wife to investigate the noise.  So awning away, towels in and the buggy dismantled and folded and put under the van, I have settled down with a cup of tea, initially sitting outside watching the electric storm and since it started raining, sitting inside, updating my blog.

I’ve been very lazy with my camera this week, mainly because I’ve been uninspired, so here’s what we woke up to on the day we were leaving.




Chicken Licken says she’s not going out there –
the sky’s falling down

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