Saturday, 25 April 2015

Onward Quizteam Soldiers– South

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.
6 go together

Here’s also a collection of my memories from the winter.
Cap Blanch

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.

video

video

And for those of you with one of those posh, flashy, expensive, crappy apple devices that can't open files that everyone else can, because the company wants to convert the world to their way of doing things - here's an Ipad/Apple version. Sorry about the rant, but I just don't like Apple!!!!!

Duck Update

Sorry there isn’t one!! After months of feeding by James and taming, the duck is still missing.

Moving on

As 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.  
52marmenor

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 NOT

Having 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 ………………………………….

Sunday, 19 April 2015

We’re Off

Well tomorrow anyway.  After over 6 months in one place we are finally on the move again.  What a great 6 months it has been. This place really feels like home.  So what will I miss? Friends; dancing; the social life; knowing where the shops are; the town being minutes away; the beach; the views.  Yes all that.  What I won’t miss is being so far from the toilet blocks, the other day it suddenly hit me that I was fed up of having to use my bike to go to the showers.  That is one of the big downsides of this campsite, it’s basic but clean and could do with another shower block – and a swimming pool. Everyone comes here for it’s close proximity to the beach and the town – location, location, location.  We have chosen to be right down the far end because we are away from some of the people who think they own the place because they live here permanently; it is more relaxed and we can let the dogs wander (yes, for those anti-dog people, we do watch them constantly and just in case they have got out of sight, we do a poo hunt several times a day) but at least we don’t have to tie them up.  Also sometimes we don’t have to worry if we are socialising late as there is no-one else around and the 12 midnight curfew doesn’t really need to be considered. 

 

The campsite is pretty empty now, there is just the three vans and Dave (who lives here permanently) at our end and at least two blocks of 6 pitches free each side before we encounter another camper.  Most of the people who are leaving have gone now and we know at least 3 vans (including ourselves) who are leaving on Monday.  So all in all, it’s time to move on. After all, the plan was to tour Europe, not necessarily to stay in one place living in a motorhome.

 

Duck Update

b-guard duck

 

The duck has gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We’re missing it a bit, but at least we don’t have to clear up every morning after it.  We have to throw away our outside matting because it has been washed down every day for the last 4 months because of the duck sh*t all over it.  We took a right ducking every night.  I think it liked our matting because it was green and reminded it of grass – and there’s not a lot of that around here.

 

So after it’s brief encounter with Max, where is the duck.  Did it just decide that enough was enough and fly off to sunnier climes, did it meet up with that lovely male Muscovy along the road in Altea and go off to lay lots of eggs and raise a brood of 20 ducklings.  No - it left in a box.

 

No – it wasn’t dead.  It was given away to a good home.  Having fed and watered it and provided a bath for it since November, James had become concerned about his charge and what would happen to it when they leave in about 2 weeks.   Iain just wanted the mess off our matting.  We did suggest that he might get it a cage and take it with him but Jo wasn’t having any of that. But a solution was found.  Jo and James had some friends visit from near Cordoba (about a six hour drive) and as they live in a village and have land with animals they offered to take the duck back with them. clip it’s wings and buy it a male friend.  Plans were made, a suitable box was found, breathing holes were made in the top and the duck just needed to be caught then.  Spectator sport or what!  We all stood around with our cameras, this had to be good for a laugh.  We were so disappointed though.  James had tamed it so much that after only about 5 minutes he was able to catch it and put it in the box.  There was a lot of fluttering around – this thing had a wing span of about 3 feet – but it soon settled down in the dark and it was on it’s way.  James was almost tearful to lose his friend – but it was for the best.

The duck arrived in Cordoba about 6 hours later, safe and sound, it was fed and watered and settled down to it’s new home.  The next day it flew off and has not been seen since.  We just hope that it’s not a homing duck and will turn up here again in a couple of weeks – now that would be something.

 

Connie

 

Connie is getting on a bit, she’s about 14 now and her eyesight has been getting worse over the last few years – her eyes are milky and the pupils are constantly open to let in as much light as possible.  However over the last couple of months she has been a bit naughty – ignoring our commands and wandering off a bit.  We’ve now decided that she is deaf or at least nearly deaf.  So she hasn’t been naughty, she’s simply not heard us.  We started noticing it when we could walk right up to her while she was asleep and she didn’t wake up.  It’s a good job there aren’t any quick brown foxes around here or they’d be jumping all over her.  She’s also started refusing to walk.  If it’s hot or we’ve been out a bit long she will drag behind and then put the anchors on and refuse to go any further.  She still runs around and spins like the tasmanian devil when it’s time to go out for a walk, but that doesn’t last long and after a mile or so she’s had enough.  She’s also become a lot more clingy and woofy – it must be very confusing for her. This of course means that we have to deal with that.  It now seems that her eye-sight is better than her hearing so we have started to use more hand signals and she’s doing well at that – but of course you have to get her attention first.  It also means that she will have to be walked on a lead, always, as we have very little recall because she just can’t hear us.  We’ve also started letting her smell our hands before we touch her, particularly if she is asleep, otherwise the poor thing is jumping out of her skin as she hasn’t heard us approach.  We’ll get used to it and dogs are also so adaptable.  If anyone has any tips on dealing with a deaf dog, we’d love to hear them.   We’ll get her ears checked when we next go to the vets, but we’re pretty sure this isn’t being caused by an infection or anything – just old age.  I don’t suppose they have any hearing tests – no response to the clap of hands is probably enough to decide.

 

Preparations for leaving

So with moving on to be considered it has been a week of sorting out cupboards, picking up any bits and pieces that we need, storing things we have bought – it’s funny to think that if you buy, for example a toaster, then you have to find somewhere to put it or throw something else away.  Of course there has been a lot of socialising but I’ll come onto that later. 

I have moaned several times over the winter that I would like an awning – an extra room.  But at least this means that we don’t need to spend days packing up, dismantling and cleaning the awning – and of course finding a home for all the things that are in it.  I often wonder how people get all that stuff into their vans and still have room to move.

One of the things is to get the van in ship-shape condition in preparation for our next journey. Cleaned and the chrome polished.

As I’ve said, we’ve been in the same place for 6 months and haven’t once started the motorhome.  There was little point – we know the vehicle  battery is shot and we will replace it when we get back to the UK (they are very expensive here), so what was the point in getting it charged up just for it to go flat again.  I’m also well-aware that we chose NOT to have breakdown cover this year.  With me being such a worrier,  I would have loved the peace of mind but  it would have added £700 to the cost of our insurance. Now I’m not one for false economies but that does give us £700 per year in the bank to off-set against breakdown.

 

OK, move on.  We know we’ve got a duff battery and to most people with cars that would be a big problem, but hey this is a motorhome and they work a bit differently to a car.  Most European vans trickle charge the vehicle battery when on hook-up, but ours doesn’t – that’s one of the problems.  BUT as long as we’ve got a quarter of a tank of petrol we should be able to do anything, why? 

1.  We have an emergency start button which allows power to be drawn from the leisure batteries to give a boost to the vehicle battery. 

2.  Should the leisure batteries be flat (we’re on hook up so they shouldn’t be in this case) we can fire up the generator to charge the leisure batteries to then use the emergency start.

3.  As long as we have a quarter of a tank of petrol, we can fire up the generator – and we always make sure we have that.

 

So with all this confidence that we WOULD get the van started with a flat battery, after the tidy up, the oil and water levels were checked, the slide-outs were retracted and I took up my position in the drivers seat.  Of course our friends were well aware of our need to get the van started and not leave it until the day we were due to depart, so this had become a bit of a spectator sport.  You’ve probably heard me talk about the spectator sport before.  That is when a lot of people, with too much time on their hands, stand around and watch other people whilst giving advice and help but of course you know that really they just want to laugh when things go wrong.  I think they were secretly looking forward to this.

 

There I was sitting on my throne, keys in hand waiting for the moment of truth.  Like many vehicles these days, there is quite a complicated security system to overcome before you can start then engine and I hadn’t had to do that for 6 months.  I won’t go into the details, you never know who’s reading these blogs,  but with a flat battery (and I mean not enough charge to open the central locking) I need both sets of keys to override the security system and once I have all the lights flashing on the dash then at least I will have a chance of starting.  So pressing the emergency start button for a few seconds and going through the procedure – nothing, no lights, NOTHING! Absolutely not even one attempt at turning the massive 6.8 litre  V10 engine over.  Here we go I thought – perhaps that £700 saving was a mistake but at least we had a few days to get it sorted and it’s not as if we have to be anywhere else.

 

After a while of watching and waiting, Iain decided to come and offer his assistance.  His first offering was “Keep your finger on the emergency start button”, I said “I am but my finger hurts and I’m just changing fingers”.  Still nothing after about 30 seconds.  Then he spotted a switch and asked “What does this do?”  and I went “Doh”.  Flicked the switch, tried again and voila – lights flashing and He (our van is definitely male) turned over and the sweet sound of the engine was music to my ears.  We’ll it’s more of a grunt actually, this baby really makes a throaty noise.

 

What a relief.  Big smiles all round.  I suddenly felt all excited about getting on the road again.  So the worry about whether the van would start is now over and I’ve stopped worrying – well not quite – I haven’t driven for 6 months – not anything – so in the final words of Gone with the Wind – “I’ll worry about that tomorrow, after all, tomorrow is another day”.

 

Our Last Week

I hate leaving anywhere and this is going to be hard.  We’ve built on friendships that we made last year and made some new friends.  For the last 3 months it seems as though we have been a group of 6.  Although sometimes we do things just in couples (normally our respective couples I might add) it does seem that if we are doing anything, it’s often the 6 of us.  So it’s been a week of last visits, last meals here, saying goodbye to the locals we have met.  Very sad really but at least we all plan to be back next winter.

Last weekend we paid our final visit this season to El Cisne – where Joy got her man.  Well a photo at least.  Joy’s been oogling him for months.  He’s the dancer in Big Bang and I have to admit in the words of an old friend “I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers”.  The first picture I took, Joy was so shocked that she beamed a smile.  The second, she’d gone all shy.  She said “Oooh, he’s all sweaty” but then if you’d been dancing for over 30 minutes, throwing your partner around you’d be all sweaty too.  They really are a fantastic act and last week we saw them twice in one day. Once at El Cisne and once at Kaktus in the evening.  Joy just can’t get enough of them.

 

 

joybigbang
Did you get his phone number? 
bigbang
Fantastic acrobatic dance act – BIG BANG

 

I also had a chance to get up with the flamenco dance group and do the Sevillana – this dance is really complicated but I do know enough now to be able to get the spins and crosses and the final “Hola” in the right place for each section.

On Tuesday, Clara, the flamenco teacher, came back to the van for a few drinks and some dancing took place, including some comic flamenco from Iain and Nick  – I’ll have to sort out some photos later but I really want to post this today.

 

Wednesday, Meerke and Nol left to go back to Holland.  We were all choked.  Whilst we hadn’t seen that much of them over the winter, we had been neighbours last year and had become very good friends over the two winters we had spent here. We very much hope that we will see them again next winter.  Perhaps we will get back to Holland in the late summer and  see them then, but who knows where our travels will take us.

 

We had a last cheap chinese – then ended up in Wyndhams (again) having too much to drink and staying up too late – but at least I was a bit sensible and had loads of water to drink when we got back so I didn’t feel rough the next day – it was a late night 3am but that was another story not really for public airing.

 

Friday we knew the Flamenco dancers were performing again at Kaktus so we went out for a last meal at Brisa Del Mar (where we had our anniversary party) and then toddled off to Kaktus to watch the flamenco dancers.  I got a final chance to dance the Sevillana – after months of practice I wanted every chance I could get.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to dance with any of the professionals and was really disappointed to be put with a man, simply a member of the public whom I’d never met before.  This was to be a nightmare – I really needed to dance with someone who knew what they were doing and this was going to be my last chance.  If you end up with someone who just stands there jigging, it spoils everything.  I was so keen to dance that we’d been out for hours just so that I could, the dance act was late and didn’t start until after 11pm .  He must have been looking at me thinking almost the same thing.  “Why have I been put with this (fat, old) English woman to dance a traditional Spanish Dance”.  Well it all worked out ok in the end because he turned out to be Spanish and knew the dance.  I was thrilled – my last chance and he knew how to dance.  It really made my week, but this meant that a late night was had yet again.

 

Saturday was a day to chill.  We had planned to leave on Sunday, but Joy and myself just wanted that “last” visit to Goa so we’ve both decided that Monday it will be.

Today, we’re having lunch out and then going to Goa to watch the flamenco band and hopefully do a bit of jigging around.  It’s not a late night and I will NOT be having a heavy drinking session.  I want a clear head tomorrow to finish packing up and to drive the 185 miles to La Manga.

 

Sorry I’ve rushed this post and not put many photos in, I’ll try a catch up later when I have more time (where does the time go). Now I’d better post my blog and get a bit more sleep, ready for our last day this season in Albir.  I’m sure there will be a lot of tears and photos tomorrow.

 

Be back soon – our adventure continues………………………………………………………..

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Long time no see

I just can’t believe how fast the time has been going.  We’re due to leave here in a couple of weeks and then we’ll be on our travels again so I’ll have more travel news to report then and hopefully a lot more time to do some blogging.

So it’s nearly two months since my last post, here are some of the highlights well things that particularly stick in my mind.

Nick and Joy finally arrived in January and our feet haven’t touched the ground since, almost literally, I haven’t been out dancing so much in years – I don’t know where Nick gets his energy from.

In February, there was a Dutch 50th wedding anniversary party and Clara, our flamenco teacher did a performance and the flamenco group had a photo
DSCF4194
Joy, Ronnie, Betty, Frieda, Fabienne and yours truly. Missing were Hortense and Cora


This brought me onto doing a website for Clara to help promote her business.  So one afternoon Joy, her friend Ellie who was visiting and myself went onto the beach to take some photos and videos.  Here’s a couple – they were pretty good I thought for amateurs.

pic3pic2

Then another day, Clara and myself went up into the mountains and took some more pictures and videos. This then got me into photo manipulation and I rather liked the result of this one. Clara is dancing with her shadow which is in black and white and she is wearing vibrant red.

bw3
If you liked those then have a look at her website www.claratierra.sbw1.co.uk

I have really enjoyed doing the website although it has taken up quite a bit of time.  But anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve always got to be learning something new and I’ve learned a lot about photo manipulation and videos and YouTube – so for me it was all worth it.

After some inspiration from Joy, I’ve also been working on a couple of websites for myself that I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but they took a bit of a backseat because of Clara’s so they haven’t been finished and will be revealed soon. Oh and look, I’ve got into Pinterest and you can now pin any picture on my blog.

Clara, bless her, than offered in return to give me some private Flamenco lessons and I’ve been learning the four parts of the Sevillana, which is a dance that all Spanish people seem to know but it really is very difficult and takes ages.  I think I’m just about there now and I can get up and dance with the Flamenco dancers at El Cisne and Kaktus and actually look like I know a bit of what I’m doing instead of just jigging around – more of that to follow.

In March, there was another party to celebrate the Dutch leaving – sorry that was for the Dutch to celebrate the end of the winter season, when they all go home to check on their tulips.  Apologies to our Dutch friends Meerke and Nol, Henk and Jenny, we don't see you in the same way as some of the others.

So in one of those inebriated moments, we thought it would be a good idea to put on a “Flash mob” during the party.  Only planning it a week before, we actually only had 2 hours to put together and practice the dance (I did mention the Sevillana takes ages to learn).  Clara was brilliant and this is the result which also gave me another opportunity to play around with videos. It’s only a couple of snippets but hopefully it will give you the idea. Even Iain, Nick, Jo and James were involved as they were the “Clappy Happers” backing group.  Hope you enjoy it, it was just a bit of fun and it proves that old birds still like to get up and dance, the oldest in our flamenco group was 82.


We’ve met some new friends

a1Paul and Ruth from Wiltshire stayed for a couple of weeks.  Paul has just finished his self-build and it’s all orange inside – yes, even the orange squeezer. Apart from the fact that they were real party animals, my most vivid memory was of a fairly cold evening (still able to sit out until gone 9pm) when Paul was sitting outside wearing an orange and black “Tigger” style onesie.  I couldn’t believe that he would actually wear that in public there could have been a bit of the confidence-juice that had been consumed responsible for that.
                                              Ruth and Paul

Mick and Shirley returned again, we had met them last year and that meant another few nights out. They’ve now moved off to Calpe for a couple of weeks before returning home.

Dave and Pam from Grimsby became new friends and they are planning to come back next year.

We’ve had some birthdays to celebrate

nick card

Jo and mine fell at the same weekend in early March so we did a whole weekend’s celebrations.  Meals out, dancing at Kactus (posh hotel on the seafront) – you get the picture.
Nick’s fell on 1st April and I made him a card.  Inspiration is always the problem, but just recently, as I said we’ve been out dancing and partying a lot and Iain and James are a bit light-weight when it comes to staying up late, so Nick always seems to be left with the women.  He was left to entertain 5 women one night, so we have “Nick-named” (rather apt I thought) him “Sultan Nick of Albir”.  Of course he loves all the attention.  Here’s the card I made for him.  We then did a surprise lunch at Wyndhams for him and managed to pull it off without him finding out.  But I don’t think he appreciated this picture too much though.
a-nick

We’ve also had some falls

James was the first – fell over and dislocated his finger – mmmm well they do call it falling down water. So that meant a few visits to the hospital and a couple of weeks in a sling.
Then Pam, tripped in the street and ended up 4 nights in hospital.  Badly bruised but gladly nothing broken.
The following night,  Liz who lives in Albir  – fell on her way home from the quiz on Wednesday night and we haven’t seen her since but we have been getting regular updates. Hope you are doing ok Liz and also hope we will see you before we go.
Jo finished it off (we hope) by tripping on a piece of metal  on the campsite.  With her already dodgy ankle that meant a trip to the hospital but thankfully nothing broken. But that does of course mean that the Madge is back in action.  It was the day of “all day” rugby so nearly everyone was out at the time.  I’m sorry to say this Jo, but it must have been a sight to be seen with only Jo and Pam down our end of the campsite at the time and Pam, who had only come out of hospital  that day had to walk using her walking frame over to Jo and help her up.  Glad that it’s improving now Jo, hopefully you’ll be up and running again soon.

We’ve found some new places to go

Kaktus

– the posh hotel on the seafront. Last year, Nick always took Joy out on Saturday nights to the Kactus – they do a really good act each Friday and Saturday and there’s dancing of course.  Last year we just didn’t get ourselves organised enough to go, especially as the act doesn’t come on until 10.30pm which was always far too late for us.  But this year we have been making the effort sometimes.  The acts are really good and we do have a great time.

Goa

– not the holiday resort in India, but a Spanish bar just down the road and on the seafront.  I can’t believe we didn’t discover it before.  On Friday nights (late) and Sunday evenings they have Spanish entertainment.  This normally consists of a Flamenco band (no dancer though) which we think is one family. They are fantastic and whilst Iain really doesn’t like the wailing singing that they do, the guitarist is brilliant.  Having done some flamenco lessons we have learned not only the dance but also an appreciation of the culture and the rythms.  I’m really getting into flamenco and I’m sure it is mainly because I understand it so much more and can appreciate it – even the singing sometimes.

Of course all this makes it sound like we are forever in the pub and getting pi**ed.  Well it would be so easy to do that.  There are loads of ex-pat communities over in Spain, retired, not working, loads of time on their hands, living very cheaply off pensions and with a pint at anything from 1.50 euros and large brandies at 3 Euros a shot it is very easy to fall into that way of life.  I for one, don’t want to.

Yes I’ll party, yes I’ll have a drink (and too many sometimes) but I also want to keep myself busy doing other things.  I’ve been doing a bit of crafting stuff but not enough and the days still seem to fly by.  It’s amazing the things that you did automatically seem to be a job these days – even just having a shower, or doing water in/water out is something  to tick off the list of “jobs to do” each day.  It’s also very easy to get lazy.  Each day seems to start with – “Our neighbours are up, let’s pop around for a chat and see what they are doing today”.

Jo and James, Nick and Joy and ourselves are all next to each other and it is getting like one big commune.  Even the dogs just seem to wander from one van to another as if it is just one big pack with separate kennels. Paddy often pops in for a bit of Connie's left-overs.  It’s rather nice really and we do like the campsite life, but we need to leave here for a rest.   You wouldn’t get this lifestyle in an apartment.  However it is lovely when on the odd occasion we just stay in for the night and watch TV together, just the two of us.  However with the warmer weather and now the longer evenings – already the sun doesn’t set until after 8.30pm those nights are getting fewer and farther between.

But we have taken in a little bit of culture

A couple of days ago, Joy and myself actually ventured into Altea Old Town.  It is lovely, pretty white buildings, narrow streets, a church on top of the hill.  As with a lot of Spanish old towns they are on top of hills and it’s a bit of a climb to get up there but worth it. This is much more real Spain than Albir which has really only come into being since the 1960's. For anyone thinking of visiting – we do actually walk there from Albir, it’s about 2 miles along the promenade,  then the climb up.
a-altea1

a-altea
You can just see the massive hotels
at Benidorm in the distance
a-altea2
These young people –
just couldn’t make it to the top without
a rest



Last week saw the return of the Classical Flamenco Group which we saw in November (I think).  Iain and Nick declined to join us and said it would just be wasted money on them.   flamenco pasionAs usual (this is Spain), there was very little information about it beforehand, loads of posters everywhere but nothing explaining what it would actually be – so we didn’t really know what we were going to see.  I googled everything I could and we were still none the wiser.  We thought from the poster that it might be a male dancer, if any dancer at all, but we did manage to find out that the guitarist would be the same as the previous performance. I wasn’t sure about seeing a single male dancer because I love to see the ladies dancing in their flamenco dresses, however as Joy hadn’t seen the last performance and the poster did show a man half naked,  we thought we would give it a go.

It was fantastic.  Norman (the dancer) was about 6ft 4 and was like an albatross.  How he moved his long arms and legs at such speed, I just don’t know.  His name is Norman Contreras and here’s a brief snippet of his dancing.

video

 He must be quite new on the scene as I could only find one YouTube video of him.



The guitarist was Antonio Munoz Fernandez and he must be quite famous as there’s quite a bit on YouTube of him, if you would like to have a look and listen.

So if you ever come across these people, they are well worth seeing.

DUCK UPDATE

max
The duck has become very tame, it will let you stroke it, James can even pick it up with no fuss and it dominates the two dogs, Connie and Paddy who avoid it at all cost.

However the stupid duck thinks it is a dog and kept visiting Max – now would you torment this dog? Max didn’t know what to make of it and was very curious to say the least.  We had to keep rescuing the duck from a good sniffing and chewing. One day I saw Max had pinned it to the ground.  Another time Max was standing on it’s wing and chewing it’s feathers and the duck didn’t even try to get away. Then Max must have realised that this might be food and one time the duck was rescued after Max picked it up by it's neck.  Things were getting a bit dodgy.  Understandably, although Dave was fed up with the duck tormenting Max, more seriously, Max is a big softie and he didn’t want him to actually taste blood.

One day however the inevitable happened, Dave was throwing the ball for Max and the stupid duck got too close.  Max chased the duck which didn’t take off quick enough and he caught it on our pitch.  Everyone was reluctant to get too close to Max as you don't know what a dog on the hunt might do if you try to take it's prize away. In a matter of seconds, Dave came to the rescue and managed to get Max to drop the duck. Was it curtains for the duck? Well not quite, but it was pretty roughed up, looked very sorry for itself and it lost a few tail feathers so it won’t be flying off anywhere for a while.  It seems to have recovered now but it doesn’t mess with Max any more.

So for now were still stuck with the duck and it's muck.

A couple of days later an egg appeared under James' van.  James was soooo excited - thought he was going to be a grandad. More research on Muscovy ducks revealed that they can lay up to 30 eggs in one batch so preparations were being made for the new arrivals.  Was it the shock of the encounter with Max that had spurred on the duck to start laying? Or was it just a chicken egg!!!!!  Sadly no further eggs have been produced so one solitary egg lies underneath James' van and the duck is totally ignoring it - perhaps she isn't ready to be a mother yet? I think James is now in mourning over what might have been. No one is owning up to the joke but I just wish it had been my idea.

That’s about it, I’m sure there is loads that I have forgotten and apologies to anyone who didn’t get a mention.  We’re on the move again later next week, so there should be more of our travels rather than just our living.  But to anyone thinking of spending winter in warmer climes – Spain is great. Winter lasted about 6 weeks, cool in the day and quite cold at night but I only saw ice on the ground once, early one morning where a small puddle had frozen and I still only wore a coat once and that was because it was raining.

So did we get bored staying in one place for 6 months - what do you think?

See you soon when we are on the road again.