Monday, 29 September 2014

Where’s Noah when you need him?

On Monday we very regrettably left Alegria Campsite in Benicarlo.  We had really enjoyed the campsite and will definitely visit again. 

As you will have seen from my last post, the heavens had opened  in the early hours of Monday morning and we had to pack up and leave.  I had taken the precaution of taking the towels in and putting the buggy under the van but we really didn’t expect this.  Most of the campsite was flooded and it was still chucking it down.  The owner was out digging channels and putting a pump on.  The water was being pumped over the wall yet still the awning mats were floating and it was about 4 inches or more deep in places. We would have stayed put but in my infinite wisdom I had booked us into Eden from today and with a hefty deposit paid there was no way we weren’t going to pitch up.

Inside was only a little better.  I had woken up to find the bottom corner of the bed wet and cold, was it the dog? had one of us not made it to the loo in the night?  Then we noticed that the skylight had been open during the night and the rain had been coming in.  The carpet in the lounge and bedroom was wet.  We know that in heavy rain we get some water ingress somewhere around the slide-outs, but we’ve never worked out how this comes UP into the carpet.  The rug was soaking where the skylight had been open in the lounge – I even had to move the power supply for the laptop because it was sitting in a puddle.  Needless to say the dog wasn’t going anywhere – it’s amazing that she can get me up in the night to go out, but if it’s raining chicken licken might not go out until midday. 

The dogs buggy was sodden inside and out and the bikes had to be loaded.  Everything had to come inside and was immediately dumped in the shower where it could drip dry(er). It takes a good half an hour to load the bikes and we would normally load them the night before leaving but as the pitch was small we could not put the bike rack back on until we moved the van.  So this had to be done in the driving rain.

It could have been worse, we could have been in a tent and at least it wasn’t cold.

Once we were nearly ready, we waded over to say goodbye to June and Brian and found that their awning mat was literally floating.  They were staying firmly indoors – very sensible.

We had two choices to get to Peniscola, the short way along the seafront road or the long way on the N322.  Having come the short way, I chose to go that way back.  Then Iain reminded me about the road that was liable to flood, but we had to go that way anyway.  We approached it slowly, at least we had been that way before and knew there weren’t any great holes in it, and also we are quite high off the road so I thought it would be ok.  We got through safely.  When we came out of the other side of Benicarlo we saw the supermarkets that I said in my previous post didn’t exist.  The satnag said to turn right – only we couldn’t turn right because the road was closed – because it was flooded.  We pulled over and re-assessed the situation.  There really was no choice, we had to go straight on, down the narrow service road with bollards each side. There were no signs of nothing over 3.5 tonnes over the bridge, nor were there any other signs to stop us, so we proceeded with caution (don’t the police say that?).  The road was indeed very narrow, we had to watch both sides, a cobbled street with bollards.  I had about 6 inches clearance each side so there was no room for error.  Slow and steady keeps us sane, sorry to all those behind us.


I forgot to mention that the other day I asked Iain if he felt more confident with my driving these days and the conversation went like this:-

Me: “Do you feel more confident with my driving these days?”

Iain: “If you mean, do I think that one day my life with end with a heart attack while sat in the passenger seat, then that is what I think”.

Me: “Mmm – I think the same sometimes and I’m driving”.

About 10 minutes later we arrived at Eden – for the second time.  This time we knew we wouldn’t be turned away as we had booked.  I had such high expectations of this campsite. Wow, people had told us that they crammed them in down there and they weren’t wrong.  The first pitch they offered us was a lovely big pitch, only we couldn’t get onto it lengthways and there was a bloody tree in the middle of it, so we couldn’t have got on widthways either.  Ok so we had a second choice (I think these were the only two pitches available) and we chose the long, narrow pitch.  Narrow isn’t the word, we can’t even get our awning out all the way and we have to move the table and chairs every time we want to get to the back of the van. There’s hardly any sun on our pitch, we get 45 minutes a day, which you really need early in the morning this time of year before the warmth has arrived.  We went for a walk along the seafront and I had a real grump on.  I said to Iain, it isn’t the rain, it isn’t the small pitch, it’s isn’t that I can’t find the gym or that the swimming pool is closed, it is just that this doesn’t live up to expectations and I wish we hadn’t booked in for two weeks and if this was my only two weeks holiday I would have wanted to go home.

But the next day the sun shone, so all was well again.

It is a lovely site though, and close to the beach and shops.  The swimming pool is massive and very deep. Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worse and is much cooler than we expected for this time of year.  A lady told me she had been here this time last year and it was still in the 30’s C.  However there seems to be a lot of rain all over Spain at the moment which is keeping the temperature down to around 25C.  This is not really hot enough for me to need the pool so we could have gone straight to Albir.  The gym I insisted on is small and how is boot camp going – not very well I’m afraid.  Full of good intentions but nothing getting me there yet.  But we have had a good walk or cycle ride every day and I have been in the pool a couple of times so at least we’re doing something.  The people seem to be quite “cliquey” and even the English don’t seem to want to know, the most personal thing about the site is the toilet blocks which  have opaque glass doors and panels so you can see the outline of anyone in close proximity. Ridiculous design. Nothing like as friendly as Alegria in Benicarlo.

We chose Peniscola because it had a castle and an old town which is always something worth having a walk around and we were not disappointed.  There are miles of sandy beaches here and between the main beach and the small beach there is a rock and the castle and old town are on top of the rock.  They seem to have loved building on big rocks overlooking the sea in Spain and we have come across a lot of these such as Benidorm, Tarragona.  I always think that I wouldn’t want to live on the side of a rock but the buildings have been there for hundreds of years, so it must be ok. The castle gardens looked very inviting, but unfortunately they weren’t inviting us in unless we parted with some cash, so we just perused them from outside.



View of Peniscola from the castle gardens along the coast as far as you can see

Papa Luna – doesn’t look very happy
The Spanish like building on top of rocks


Typical narrow streets full of tourist tat shops

Back to the campsite, now I said that the pitch was narrow and I wasn’t exaggerating.  To save tying Connie up, all we had to do was to string some green netting from the wheel to the tree.  All she needs is a visible boundary (we’ve done it with just a row of stones before) and people think it’s hilarious that she stands the other side spinning wildly whenever any dog passes, but she knows not to cross the boundary.  We have always been careful not to let the dog get too hot and she does seem to have acclimatised to the warmer weather as the other morning she was shivering so much that her teeth were chattering and it was only about 20C so not that cold.

We should have called her Jenny because of all the spinning that she does
She’s spun so much that she’s now banana shaped and can’t go the other way round
Of course an alternative name would be Taz – after the Tazmanian Devil – she certainly was a devil dog when we got her. Just look at those eyes - actually it’s the cataracts reflecting the flash, I don’t think she sees too well these days. Sporting her new fluorescent orange collar that I made her while we were here.


At the back of the campsite there is some marsh land, this area actually has a lot of natural water and this is a bit of a nature reserve.  But it makes great dog walking and you can walk right into town and then make a circular walk coming back along the seafront.


There is a very nice park area in town with lots of water and ducks and fish and stuff.  Other than that and the old town, it’s basically a concrete tourist destination.  Loads of bars, restaurants, hotels and tat shops.  The beach is fantastic though and if you like the touristy sort of holiday it would make a great place.  We ventured out the other evening and I tasted cuttlefish for the first time.  It was lovely, I’m a bit of a fish fan and love calamari and this was very similar (go on some smart arse, enlighten me and say it’s the same thing – it may be).  We went back to the same restaurant last night and had paella and I have to admit it was the best paella that we have ever had. I would certainly recommend Mr. Rabbit’s (strange name for a restaurant) for their food.

The weather is not very good for Spain in September, a bit of rain but the temperature is ok, staying around 25C.  If only the sun would come out it would be lovely.  We’ve been watching the weather forecast all over Spain and it seems to be the same, so we’ve decided to cut short our stay in Peniscola and will be moving on on Thursday 2nd October to Albir where we will stay for the winter. Jo and James are also heading for Albir from the other direction and Jo emailed me to say they are also fed up of the rain, I wonder who will get there first.

Unfortunately the boot camp hasn’t got off the ground (another reason to move on) but I’ve been keeping myself busy with some crafty things with recycled plastic bottles and tins and I’ll post some of my creations next time when I have decorated our winter pitch. I think Iain is getting embarrassed with my “bin diving” for unusual plastic bottles and I’m sure that French man down the road is beating me to all the good ones. It’s getting quite competitive. Meanwhile Iain keeps asking me if he’s drinking fast enough to keep me supplied with cans!!!!!

Will we come back to Eden and Peniscola – probably not – it’s nice, but hardly paradise.

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