Winter 2017 (part 1)

We decided to try something a bit different this winter, instead of moving around in Jan/Feb we thought would try long terming on a Spanish site for a cpl of months, then moving on through Spain to Portugal once early spring arrived and the temps picked up a bit.

Well that was the plan, so how did stage 1 go?

Don’t just sit there wondering, read on …………… ūüôā

We decided to get the ferry this time as we were in no rush, and set off on Sunday morning for a steady run down to Dover. Nothing exciting happened and by 5pm we were parked up on the outskirts of Rouen with a glass of Vin Rouge and a DVD on. (7 psychopaths, which Deb says was good, but I can’t remember as I fell asleep)

We trundled on through France the next day, our winter travel routine is to drive 4-5 hrs then park up with a glass of wine and watch a dvd  fall asleep.

Central France is quite remote and Tuesday morning’s view from the bed looked pretty cold, the van’s heater was doing its best impression of a jet engine (once I’d convinced Deb that it was her turn to get out of bed and switch it on).

It’s cold out there

Time to get the van serviced and get on our way towards Sunny Spain. I failed miserably to convince Deb it was her turn to service the van.

By Tuesday Evening we had reached the French/Spanish border and decided to park up at the side of the Atlantic, which we won’t see again until we reach Portugal, sometime in April/May. It was brilliant sunshine but still very cold, our beach walk lasted all of 20 mins but I did try out my new stick on solar panel, which works well with the 2 on the roof.

We spent the next night (Wed) in central Spain, then arrived in the Mediterranean resort of Daimus on Thursday evening. The weather was absolutely appalling with hailstones the size of watermelons battering the van for several hours (ok Im exaggerating, it lasted about an hour). The rest of the night was torrential rain/hail there was snow on the beach just down the coast in Benidorm, last seen 34 years ago (when Mum and Royce were here on honeymoon!!) we had used a full tank of gas in 3 days, and tragically the wine was all gone.

Next day “Sunny Benidorm”

Well we arrived at the site, Camping Villasol, our new home for a cpl of months and it¬†was full to the gunnels. Luckily we’d booked (we never book anywhere usually) so at least we had a reserved pitch, in reality we had the last chosen pitch and as you can imagine it was the pick of the bunch!!

The guy on reception looked a bit sheepish when he told us “we’re full, you’re on number 101, you may be able to change in midweek as people move on”. Obviously this news filled us with joy, 101 has to be impressive if the check in instructions include a change as soon as possible clause. We wheel-spinned away from reception in eager anticipation of the delights of 101.

Orwell would have been proud, 101 had everything you need for a spot of mid winter camping (constant shade, the back of a damp car wash wall, inches from a main road, and the entire sites rainfall lifting the adjacent manhole covers) it was a gem.

Deb was getting a bit worried about the amount of water cascading down the site onto our pitch, and with good reason. Her last emergency water training involved her rescuing a rubber brick from the deep end of Bolsover baths, in her pyjamas. 

We spent the first couple of days touring the site, looking for free pitches. It became a bit of a sport really, we were near reception so could spot “leavers” and then tour the site looking for the empty spot. This sounds easy but in reality it wasn’t, the site is massive and it was absolutely tipping it down. To add to our problems Deb¬†didn’t¬†have a rubber brick to hand and it was far too cold to be out in¬†pyjamas.

Then it happened, we spotted a leaver and found the vacant pitch, right at the top of the hill, in the sun (when it eventually appeared) and away from the road. Deb sprinted towards reception in Leanne’s her new rain mac,¬†clutching our new number 703, whilst I stood in 2ft (602mm) of water unplugging the mains lead.

We were finally settled on a decent pitch and to celebrate the sun came out.

Now, a 2 month stay in Benidorm can be a dangerous thing, and we were determined not to fall into the tapas lunch/Rock bar trap. A¬†well researched trap, first experienced during the visit of Deb’s sister Paula last winter. It basically consists of visiting the old town of Benidorm and downing cheap wine and tapas for lunch, then failing to resist the temptations of live rock music in the bars along the sea front on your return journey. Poor judgement can result in lunchtime finishing at 3am and a “three dayer” of a hangover.

‚ā¨5’s worth of “tapas trap” stage 1

This holiday was going to be different, loads of exercise, walking, cycling, but absolutely no drinking.

We’ve always been surprised how quickly the landscape around Benidorm changes, 20 mins on the bike and you’re soon away from the hustle and bustle of the town and its high rise buildings. The coastline is actually pretty impressive.

On one of our rides into Altea, I noticed a sign indicating a path through the national park to the “ariels viewpoint”. I convinced Debs that this would be a decent ride so off we went. Now I’ve suggested some dumb things in my time, but this is close to the top (literally). Let’s just say it was steep, very steep, in fact so steep that if you leant back in the seat of the bike it weelied. “Lean forward and keep pedalling” I screamed, “no shit Sherlock” I think she replied.

I couldn’t actually hear properly as my lungs were coming out of my ears. Anyway this was the view at the top.

Deb’s birthday arrived and we had visitors, The Hudson’s had travelled across Spain for a weeks rendezvous, and for us to show them the results of our tapas research expedition. Time to spring the tapas trap. We started Deb’s birthday with a breakfast invite from Pete & Nina, this did involve a small intake of alcohol of the bucks fizz variety, but Deb soon learnt that the “no such thing as a free lunch” saying had an element of truth.

We had a good day though touring the tapas bars in the old town, then somehow falling into a karaoke bar till the early hours.

As we had gone out early (when the sun was out) we weren’t really dressed for the cool evening temperatures, so Pete made the decision to purchase additional layers, I wasn’t sure that wine wasn’t clouding his judgement so decided to give it a miss, shuddering wasn’t so bad after all.

The next few days involved a walk up to the cross, an evening in a restaurant in the old town and cycle rides to Altea and Villajoyjosa. We had a day out to Alicante on the tram, sampled the delights of a selection of tapas bars and had evenings of merriment and Dobble, all of which was enjoyed entirely without the consumption of alcohol. ūüėČ

Pete and Ninas visit was over, we bid them a fond farewell and decided to have a few days free of alcohol. Unfortunately the Spanish like to party and this was one of their fiesta weeks, our neighbours Bob and Mary had spotted the posters and asked us if we fancied accompanying them to watch the parade in the old town. We agreed that it would be a pleasant evening unaware that Bob’s nightcap brandy pouring arm was shall we politely say “less than steady” in fact it was on level 5 of the “Royce liquor 43 scale”. Day one of our detox was ruined, as were days 2-3 ūüė©

“Steady hand” Bob and Mary

There’s not much to add about “Benni” we had some cracking days, some decent walking/bike rides and once again met some great people. Here’s some pics to save me typing anymore………

Pancake day breakfast, Benidorm style

We left Benidorm last week for Ricote, a village inland from Murcia for a few days with the Hudsons, before we were due to head South towards Portugal (via, Gibraltar and Seville). Pete and Nina were then heading back to Benni to meet family.

Deb carried out a heroic rescue of a chicken that had escaped its compound, the look on its face demonstrated it knew full well that an “arse through the fence” cramming was imminent.

The chicken should think itself lucky, look what they do to the pigeons.

Pete was eager to demonstrate his new recipe of “Gambas” which were bloody lovely, he let himself down slightly though by overcooking the tea towel. (I prefer mine rare)

The village is as big a contrast to the coastal resort towns as is possible, with a multitude of signposted walks and cycle ways through the lemon groves and surrounding hills.

Here’s some pics of the area. (Note heroic cycling pic)

We’re having a few more days here, then heading back to the coast, for a steady (2hrs/day) trek south.

take care peeps


PS is honesty always the best policy ?????????



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