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 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.



Did you get his phone number? 
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………………………………………………………..

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