Friends are the family you choose for yourselves
When we started this adventure, our (Iain’s) plan was to tour Europe and be in the warm all year round. Personally I would rather have had a small cottage by a river and eked out my days relaxing and “playing” with my crafting things and sewing. So neither of us got our dream (quite). I do love living the life we live and the way we live it but I would never have come up with the idea in a million years but then I would have missed out on so much.
What we didn’t expect was that we would stay put for 6 months. We have met so many wonderful like-minded people from many nationalities who are easy going and doing a similar thing to us, although a lot swap their motorhome for a mortarhome in the summer months. We can now count amongst the friends we have made this winter the Dutch (well some of them), Belgians and French. So that will be a lot of visiting.
So it was time to leave El Albir and the many friends we had made and relationships that we had fortified over the winter. Everything was ready to leave, the dog washed, the van packed and we had to say our goodbyes. It was really emotional, big hugs all round. Plans made to meet up in England in August to celebrate Joy’s birthday. Over the last three months the Ingles seem to have become a group of 6. We did do our own thing sometimes but quite often it was the same group of six that would be walking together through the campsite to go out for meals, events etc. At last we have a picture of the six of us without someone missing, taking the photo.
Here’s also a collection of my memories from the winter.
And I did promise Emma to post the video of the pseudo bull fighting – talk about last of the summer wine!!!! When I was younger I hated the program “Last of the Summer Wine” as (in my mother’s words) it just showed that men didn’t grow up, they just grew old and their toys got more expensive. But now, 30 years later, I’m in there amongst it and I laugh with everyone else. It seems it doesn’t matter that you have to be over 55 or disabled to hire a madge, there's no sensibility guarantee and they still get abused. Enjoy.
And for those of you with one of those posh, flashy, expensive,
Duck UpdateSorry there isn’t one!! After months of feeding by James and taming, the duck is still missing.
Moving onAs I said before, I hadn’t driven for 6 months, well apart from playing on Jo’s madge and if you remember I managed to crash that into their awning (actually into the van, but don’t tell James). Mmm – so tom boys don’t grow up either. It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I took to the wheel. I was feeling a little nervous, especially as the exit from the campsite is quite narrow with a 90 degree turn at the top into a narrow road and then a very sharp roundabout to navigate. I was also nervous because for the first time we don’t have any breakdown cover (explained in my last post). I’m such a worrier.
Before we had left, there were more people to wave at, so that is a little distracting and this wasn’t helped by Martina, one of the receptionists shouting her goodbyes and her surprise at the fact that I was driving. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy to get out of the campsite because one of their trucks had been parked opposite the exit and it meant that I had to do a bit of shuffling back and forth to get through the exit.
First stop Benidorm Repsol garage to fill up with LPG, about 4 miles away. I was absolutely stunned, I was a lot more comfortable than last year when I left the campsite but then maybe it was because I’d another 4,000 miles of experience of driving this truck behind me. There were no dodgy moments, no wobbly legs, not even at the “London Underground” junction to get out of Albir and onto the N332. WOW!!!!!
Sorry I haven’t got anything exciting to report but it did a lot for my blood pressure. We arrived at the garage with NO incidents. Refuelled, 200 litres of LPG later (the garage attendant couldn’t believe how much gas we bought) we left for Carrefour to do a stock up. There is a fantastic area for motorhome parking so it’s really easy to get in and out. Whether this is a rumour or not we weren’t taking any chances. Carrefour in Benidorm is apparently renowned for motorhomes being broken into. The decision was made – Iain would stay in the van whilst I did the shopping – yippeeeeeeee going to a supermarket and and a large one at that on my own. It was like a kid being let loose in a sweet shop. Some hour later (or maybe longer) I emerged with my trolley full of STUFF. But I’d forgotten the tyres and the innertubes for the dogs buggy. So I had to go back again, result, that meant that Iain had to find a home for all the goodies that I had bought. Lunch and then off about 100 miles to La Manga.
Again no dramas and only one time did we have strong words when the motorway split into two. The conversation went something like “Which way?” (me) – well that always starts something. “Head for Murcia” was the response. Both options were sign-posted Mucia so I was none the wiser.
The choice was becoming imminent – the chevrons were appearing and I still didn’t know which way to go. So I have to admit that I did shout “Which Way?” of course expecting that more volume would encourage a more positive response (I must have got that from my father). It worked – “Take the right” – now I’ve told you before that I’m left handed, on the wrong side of the road, in a left-hand-drive vehicle and I really do struggle with left and right when I’m behind the wheel so it always takes me a few seconds to react to a left or right instruction. If only I’d looked at the SatNag, I would have seen the direction I needed – something I had forgotten in the six months being off the road – a lesson to be learned.
Anyway we were on the correct road, which happened to be the right road, so no major drama.
We arrived in La Manga a little after 4pm so had plenty of time to pitch up and sort ourselves out. I was surprised at how tired I was, it was only just over 100 miles, but maybe it was the excitement of my trip to Carrefour.
We had been to this campsite before so knew what to expect. People either love it or hate it, with over 1,500 pitches it is the largest we have ever been on. I’ve written about it before so I’ll just point you to my post last year rather than eulogising about it – click the picture.
We have a toilet and shower block just next door – result. We have a washing machine at the shower block – result (except that I broke it this morning). We have fresh water and drainage on the pitch – result. We have a restaurant/bar and beach within about 100m – result. So facilities wise it is soooo much better than Cap Blanch – but it doesn’t have the town location so apart from the campsite you need to go on a 20 minute bike ride to get into town. We have done that once since we got here, but with the dog being so much older, she wouldn’t be able to walk that far so it’s the buggy for her and the bikes for us.
Not only that but I’ve been cooking. In Albir we ate out nearly every day, either for lunch or dinner, but in the four nights here I have prepared – healthy salad, chicken curry, spaghetti bolognese and pulled pork fajitas. Tonight we are going out – well it is Saturday and they do have entertainment on Saturdays. I understand that couples generally argue most over money, well we have most of our heated moments over food.
Iain is so fussy and eats like a sparrow. Sometimes I see him staring at his plate of food waiting to see if it is going to eat him first. I causes me so much angst and worry about what to cook. It’s not that I’m a bad cook, because although a little out of practice, I am not a bad cook, it’s just that I hate the thought of spending hours preparing nice food, only to see it being left on the plate. Often when we are in a restaurant and his plate looks as full when he is finished as it did when it arrived I am just relieved that I didn’t choose it and cook it. The waitress often asks if it was ok, only to be told that he’s had enough. I digress.
The Plan – Gibraltar, Seville, Portugal and then home for an MOT – OR NOTHaving spent a few days, just the two of us, and engaging in some useful conversation, we were just discussing on Wednesday that we hadn’t heard from Paul, who looks after our house in the UK and that surely we must owe him some money as we hadn’t had a bill for a while. I said that I didn’t want to contact him and tempt fate as it seems that every time we hear from him, something goes wrong with the house. We also discussed how nice it would be if our tenant decided to buy our house and what we would do if he left.
Lo and behold, that afternoon, Paul sent an email with his invoice for 3 months maintenance.
Then out of the blue, after Iain had gone to bed that night, an email arrived from our tenant giving us notice to quit. Oh no!!!! Not what we wanted to hear. Sometimes I just wish I didn’t look at my emails late at night. I couldn’t wake Iain up for that but then I just couldn’t sleep either thinking about it. Iain then awoke about 4am to use the facilities and I got my opportunity to tell him. There was no reaction from Iain but at least it meant that having shared the burden I could get a good night’s sleep.
So yesterday was spent contacting agents for re-letting and discussing what to do next. So looking at our options – 1. Head directly home and be there about the time the tenant leaves – approximately 1,450 miles, or 2. Do the original plan to go via Gibraltar, Seville, Portugal, Northern Spain and then home – approximately 2,450 miles.
We have decided to get back to the UK about the time the tenant leaves, which gives us a little less than 4 weeks and then we will be able to check the house over for new tenants and if necessary we will live in it until it is re-let. There’s not much available in the countryside that competes with our house at the moment, so hopefully it won’t take long. I have looked at properties for sale but that seems to be stagnant so we won’t bother putting it back up for sale at this time. I must admit though, I’m a little excited at the prospect of living in a mortarhome for a while, being able to shower when I want, do washing when I want and above all having a bath for a change. One thing I remember as a bonus of living in a motorhome is when you are cooking you don’t have to go too far for the bin – strange things we think about and compare.
Not only that but it would be a saving of something over 500 litres of gas.
The feeling is strange, we were to cut our journey home down from 2 months to 1 month. Most people (and us in our past lives) only get two weeks together for a holiday and here I was panicking that we only had one month to get home.
At least the tenant is leaving in late spring and we just have to come home early, if it had been in the winter then that would have been a lot more difficult for us.
So we’ll stay here for a few days more and then head up north again along the east coast of Spain. The weather is really rather pleasant now, although still not hot enough for me to want to swim. I’m sorry that we won’t be able to spend some time on the south coast during the nice weather, I’m sorry that we won’t be able to meet up with my old school friend Loreley who after years of looking for her, she finally popped up on facebook a few months ago living in Gibraltar and I’m also sorry that we won’t be able to go to Seville, where with my new found love of Flamenco I was really rather hoping to get to see and hopefully join in with some more dancing. Portugal – well I haven’t been there and whilst it would be nice to see it, if just to compare it with Spain, that doesn’t really bother me.
Well there’s always big adventure 3 ………………………………….