Tuesday, 14 October 2014

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

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

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

Our first week (and a bit) in Albir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I suppose to summarise:-

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

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

Be back sometime soon.

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