I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday, 21 January 2019

Spain 2019 - Naturism? Not in January!

Wednesday 16th January
We entertained again today!  Liz and Phil, who we met while we were here last year, are also here again – this time for 6 months.  It was really lovely to see them and discover what they have been doing.  One of the things they have been doing is making the big decision to move out here.  They sold their house in the UK back in the summer and have decided to buy a small place in the UK and rent somewhere over here.  They are not sure if it will be a permanent thing so renting makes sense.  They are flying back to the UK next week for various reasons and will see how it feels to be back there – looking at the UK weather forecast they will be feeling very cold!!  It’s a massive decision to make and not one I would even consider.  I could not leave my family behind but then we are all different.

When we went down to the beach this afternoon there were low clouds over the mountains – the photo doesn’t really show the effect, but it was weird.

The mountains behind us are the Sierra Cabrera.  In the 18th century, the low mountains were covered with spreading oak forests but today they stand sadly deforested.

There are seven Sierra’s (mountain range) in the province of Almeria – we will try to visit each one.

Sierra Cabrera
Sierra Alhamilla
Sierra de las Estancias
Sierra de los Filabres
Sierra Gador
Sierra Maria
Sierra Nevada

Thursday 17th January
My iPad is playing up – the battery is on its way out, I think.  Sometimes the battery goes down too fast and then other times it shuts off at about 47% but after about 10 minutes charging it will come back on at 47%!  I had asked on one of the Mojacar Facebook forums where I could get the battery replaced and two places in Garrucha were suggested – so off we went.  The first place said no they didn’t do it but when I said that I had been told that they did do it I was told to come back on Monday when the technician would be there.  At the second place the chap made a phone call and said no.  We had a coffee then headed back to Mojacar where a third place had been suggested.  This time we were told that they were out of batteries but to go back in two to three weeks’ time when they would have new stock and could then do it.  I double checked that they could really do it and was told yes.

As we were in the Parque Commercial we had tapas in Masko – I had spare ribs in a barbecue sauce which, on the scale of difficulty to eat, came in about 11 out of 10!

 In the afternoon we went for a short walk on the beach and I found this pretty shell arrangement on a wall.

In the evening there was a tremendous thunderstorm out to sea.  It seemed as if it was right outside but there was no rain.  Muffin hates loud noises and thunder is one of them.  All the bedroom doors were closed, and we found Muffin in the family bathroom shaking – bless him.  When Richard wanted him to go outside for his last piddle he did NOT want to go, and Richard had to put his lead on to take him out.

Friday 18th January
We woke up to a cloudy morning – the first time we have really seen clouds.  They soon cleared, the sun shone again, and it turned out to be a very warm day.

In the morning we went to see a possible rental for next year.  We came across it last year but had already put a deposit on Claravista.  It is higher up than we are, and, in fact, we can see it from where we are now.  The views are amazing, and it is very well equipped.  The owners use it a lot, so they obviously have it as a home and not a rental property.  The view is amazing, and I think I could be quite happy washing up looking right down to the sea!  Both the master and second bedrooms have access onto the patio with their own areas, so it means that visitors will have a view too.  The two bathrooms have recently been refurbished and are lovely with walk in showers.

As I am not using my iPad, I have started to read a book – I haven’t read a physical book for years.  In fact, I haven’t really read a eBook for ages either

Saturday 19th January
It is quite difficult to write a blog when we aren’t doing very much.  It’s very much home from home and, being here for 2½ months means we can’t treat it as a holiday!  We have three lots of guests coming out so then we will be on holiday and take them out to places.  Trouble is we might be so busy that I won’t have time to write a blog post!

I did a load of jeans type washing and it is so nice to get that sort of stuff dry outside in January!

We decided to go to Vera Playa to the supermarket there.  It is a big one, but we were good and didn’t buy anything we didn’t need!  However, I did want hair conditioner and couldn’t find any – I’m not sure what the Spanish use!

Vera Playa is named after the small town of Vera, which lies around 8kms inland from the coast. The nearest town, however, is Garrucha. The Playa is a relatively new resort, which only started to be developed in the 1980s, before which it was pretty much untouched. Legend has it that this is where Hannibal’s elephants landed in the Roman age.  It is home to the Vera Playa Club Hotel, the only naturist hotel in Spain and the Playa is hailed as the world’s best naturist beach resort. On July 21st 2013 a local group called Vera Playa Friends organised a Guinness World Record attempt at the largest ever skinny dip. 729 naturists entered the sea at El Playazo beach beating the previous record of 506 set in New Zealand the previous year.  On doing some research I found a website of FAQs on Vera Playa.  This is one question with its answer!  How will I know if I am in the naturist zone?  In the summer it will be quite quickly fairly obvious!!

And no I didn’t take this photo!!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Spain 2019 - A chance encounter

Saturday 12th January
We have been quite cold in the evenings.  The house is open plan with a big atrium-like window in the roof, no doubt in the UK this would be double glazed but nothing like that happens over here – double glazing … why???  Anyway, Sandy arranged for a load of logs to be delivered this morning.  They weren’t quite what I was expecting but they are olive and eucalyptus.

After a quick visit to the supermarket we went for a walk to Macenas castle or watchtower - an 18th century military structure built to keep watch over the coast.  In 1849 it was occupied by the Carabineros - an armed carabiniers force of Spain under both the monarchy and the Second Republic. The formal mission of this paramilitary gendarmerie was to patrol the coasts and borders of the country, operating against fraud and smuggling. As such the Carabineros performed the dual roles of frontier guards and customs officials.  The force was established in 1829 and lasted until 1940 when it was summarily disbanded and merged with the Guardia Civil.  The castle was restored in the 1990’s.

We were much warmer this evening – Richard got a good fire burning.

Sunday 13th January
We were up bright and early as we wanted to go up the coast to Villaricos to the market.  It is a big market split into two – fruit & vegetables and clothes.  I wanted to get a couple of light jumpers.  I make copious lists for everything but somehow my clothes list for Spain was pretty useless!  I know that in a few weeks it will warm up and my clothes will then be OK but meanwhile it can be chilly.  T-shirts, crops and sandals are order of the day but once the sun disappears so does the heat.  I managed to get a couple of jumpers and also a few things from the fruit and veg stalls.

On our way back to the car we stopped for a beer in the sunshine 😊

In the afternoon we treated ourselves to tea and cake at Moca – an English run café where they have the most wonderful cakes 😊

Monday 14th January
We were having visitors today.  I had received a round-robin email from some boating friends, Jem and Trish, the other day who are on a 3 month road trip through France and Spain.  I didn’t know this, and they didn’t know we were in Spain either!  I checked out where they were and as it happened, they were a little way up the coast.  I invited them for lunch, so they popped in on their way south.

It was so nice to see them and their lovely flat coat retrievers.  Sadly, they lost one of their dogs at the end of last year and now have a year old puppy.  Roo is very bouncy and Muffin didn’t really know what to make of this large springy dog!  I was worried that she might take a flying leap into the pool but fortunately she didn’t!

Tuesday 15th January
We had a quiet day today – the highlight was going for a walk along the beach!!

While we were on the beach, we saw four motorised hang gliders coming along the beach – well they were in the sky!  One was very low, and we were convinced he was going into the sea but sadly, for us anyway, he didn’t, and any excitement was averted!

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Spain 2019 - Unpacking and catching up with friends

Tuesday continued
We arrived at Claravista 1 early afternoon and were met by the owners, Sandy and Richard Goldfinch.  We were given a walk through and then we had the car to unpack.  The drive down to the house is very steep and unfortunately Richard knocked the caravan electrics off the car as he tried to reverse down and grounded (we haven’t used the drive since!)  We had food to eat for dinner, so we didn’t need to go shopping so I spent the afternoon unpacking and sorting while Richard took poor Muffin for a well deserved walk.

Wednesday – 9th January
The day time temperature, at present, is about 15° to 17° in the shade but about 24° in the sun however it does get cold at night.  We are fortunate as we have some electric radiators and a gas heater – there is also a wood burning stove which we might just make use of, but the bedroom was cold.

The last two times we have been to Mojacar we have had real problems with the TV, so we had arranged to rent a special box which works off the fibre optic cable – the internet speeds here are so much better than at home.  We met Sandy and Richard at the shop and got everything organised – we now have 4,500 channels for all over the World!!!  I’m looking forward to catching up with Eastenders in Romanian!  One of our daily habits is to have tea in bed in the morning and watched BBC Breakfast.  We brought a small TV with us and Richard (Goldfinch) spent a lot of the day setting it all up for us.  Sandy and Richard are great landlords and all-round nice people 😊

In the afternoon we went to the supermarket to stock up on fresh food and then I had to find places to put it all.  The villa is very well equipped but that means that every kitchen cupboard is utilised!

 In the evening we went to Torre Bahia, a restaurant we hadn’t tried before, to meet up with Sue, Andy, Bev and Roly.  We had, in fact, only seen them in October when we were caravanning in Shropshire but hopefully, we will get to see a lot more of them over the next few weeks.  The food was excellent, but the company was even better 😊

Thursday – 10th January
I woke up with a cold though fortunately it wasn’t a pouring one, but my throat just felt so dry.  We had planned a quiet day – Richard read while I did some washing and caught up with the blog. 

I had been really cold in bed last night and as Sandy had said there were some electric blankets we could use I took her offer up!  Electric blankets and Spain don’t really seem to go together!!  Sue was saying that they have bought hot water bottles – so it’s not just us!  The trouble is that with the clear sky it does get cold at night.

Friday – 11th January
I was nice and warm in bed last night.  Richard said he didn’t want an electric blanket but I noticed that his feet were on it when I got into bed!

Friday is always Turre market day and usually everyone meets up at the Indian tapas place but a) it’s closed at present and b) Andy now has a cold too (no I didn’t give it to him!) so there was no socialising.  We walked up the market to sus out the stalls and then walked back down.  I bought a roast chicken for dinner plus fruit and veg from the same stall I have used before.  The grapes were a little expensive but absolutely amazing!  After Turre we went up to Vera to the Iceland shop to stock up on some food for the freezer.  We drove a route we hadn’t done before but to be perfectly honest most roads look the same – however on our way back to Mojacar we went a short way on a new road and could see that there is more road building going on.

In the afternoon I wanted to visit the most amazing shop – it sells everything!  It’s called Brico Centro Lopez Fernandez.  I knew it’s opening hours are odd, but I got it completely wrong!  It opens at 9am and closes at 2pm then reopens at 4.30pm until 8.30pm – they obviously enjoy their siesta!  My 3pm visit didn’t work at all!

The chicken that I had bought was really nice - 6 for a cooked chicken which will last us for two meals.

I’m still stuffed up with my cold.  My sister had one over Christmas and it’s taken her almost three weeks to get over it – great!!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Spain - 2019. The Journey

Saturday 5th January 2019 
Well I finally got out of the tornado!!  On Monday I felt as if I was in the eye of the tornado - Christmas was behind me and it was too early to start packing!!  On Wednesday I entered the other side of the tornado - my new Fitbit must have wondered what was going on!  I am a list person and made copious lists when we got back from Spain two years ago, I followed them except the clothes list - I’m sure we have too many again!!  We decided to pack everything (except for one suitcase) into collapsible crates and I found someone selling nine good quality ones on eBay and I only had to go to Southsea to get them - result.  It worked really well however I’m not going to let Andy and Roly, who helped us pack the car for our return trip in 2017, see the car this time as thy thought we had a lot of “stuff” then!!  There are times that I wish I could travel light!

Anyway Saturday finally arrived and after I had finished the packing Richard had the job of fitting a quart into a pint pot.  He was very concerned that there was too much but he got everything in and we had a little more space but I didn’t fill it!  I blame the dog as we have got food for him for the whole time we are away as he has a special food which we can’t get in Spain.  Still the box will be useful for all the goodies I buy while we are away.

Our ferry wasn’t until 23.30 so we sat around waiting to leave.  I got bored at 20.30 so we travelled the 11 miles to the ferry port in Portsmouth.  We were able to check-in but then had to sit and wait until about 23.00.  Etretat is an Economie ferry and it is!  We had an inside cabin but as all we wanted to do was sleep it was fine - we have been spoilt on the cruise liners!  We were tucked up by the time we set sail but I didn’t sleep well - I kept getting cramp and having Muffin on my bed didn’t help!

We docked at 08.30 (European time) and were on our way by 09.00.  Two years ago the satnav decided, in its wisdom, not to take us on the motorways and we went miles out of our way.  We now use Google Maps on my phone and put it onto the car's screen - it is so much better than either the Tomtom or the car’s satnav.  Anyway we pulled into a service area and discovered it was the same one we had stopped at 2 years ago!

The drive down through France was long and grey, it was Sunday and the roads were very quiet.  We came across a speed deterrent that we hadn’t seen before.  We passed under a gantry that said 130 - rappel.  Shortly after there was another gantry with a digital screen, at that point a car overtook us and his number flashed up on the screen saying that he was going too fast!!  Trouble is that he was probably going too fast to see it but hopefully it might jog others into remembering about their speed as the long straight road just lends itself to speeding. I like to use the cruise control on roads like that.

We found our hotel in Cestas or at least we could see our hotel but couldn’t find the way in! The road system was like a go-kart course and all the No Entry signs seemed to be in the wrong place.  On our third time round we saw what looked like the right road in and it was.  The hotel is new and very nice indeed.  We were welcomed by a receptionist who had excellent English, which is always helpful.  Our room wasn’t huge but we had plenty of space and the bathroom was big with a decent sized shower.  We had been told about a dog friendly restaurant a short walk away on the other side of the motorway.  The menu wasn’t extensive but we both chose a homemade burger, well done, which was delicious.

Back at the hotel Richard went to bed early and, as usual, I played on my iPad until it died about 11.15pm.

Muffin woke us up and when I looked at the clock it was 8.45am!  I guess our body clocks thought it was 7.45am but I had still had a good 9 hours sleep - unheard of!  The beds in our room were so comfy which I think helped a lot.

We got away just after 10am and headed on south in the grey weather.  We reached the Spanish border and about 20 minutes later we found the sun which stayed with us for the rest of the day 🌞. It was cold and there was a nasty north westerly wind but the sun was SHINING!  It started to get warmer - up to 8 degrees even when we were at the highest point of 3300 feet (about the same height as Snowdon).

As we drove along we saw lots of large planes in a field, it looked a bit like a graveyard but doing some research some are waiting for refurbishment and some are just waiting for the chance to fly again.  They are in fact at Treruel airport - a grass strip!  What a come down that must have been for planes that might just have landed at some of the greatest airports in the world!

Google maps got us to our “hotel” - I’ll call it a hotel but that is a loose term!  If I hadn’t seen a photo of it I would never have known it was where we were going to stay.  There was no sign outside - just the name, Casa Rural Del Carmen, on the wall.  It was also the other side of a large, locked gate.  I rang the bell three times before Senora came out.  Then the fun began as she spoke no English and our Spanish is very minimal!  We went inside and she tried to explain something but instead of speaking slowly she rattled on and we had no chance of catching the odd word.  Then suddenly she rushed out and came back with a woman in full motorbike gear who, fortunately, spoke fairly good English.  Senora had been trying to explain that there is no breakfast but we didn’t mind as we had our porridge pots.  Senora took us up to our room and was still rattling on in Spanish - I managed to grab the odd word so nodded and said “si” a lot!  Our room was very basic and cold - the radiators weren’t on 😟. I had chosen the place as it had a kitchen so we were able to heat our microwave meals up which was a bonus.  I’m afraid we won’t be going back there but can we can thoroughly recommend the hotel in Cestas.

The first part of our journey today was cold and high but then we started our decent to the Mediterranean.  Sadly the first sight of it is over an industrial area but hey, the sea was blue and the sun was shining - what more could we want!!  Google maps took us away from the usual route and we did a fair few miles on an ordinary road before hitting a brand new road, the A33, we could see that it was the first section of a much longer road - maybe next year the whole thing will be open.  

Suddenly there were police in the road directing the two lanes of traffic into one.  We could see further on that a lorry had turned over.  There was just enough room for HGVs to get passed thank goodness otherwise we could have been stuck there for ages.  As we passed the overturned lorry we could see the driver walking about, so fortunately he was OK but on the other side of the lorry there were oranges everywhere!

We watched the miles go down and before we knew it we were turning off the main road and we could see Mojacar Pueblo.  We had been to our villa last March for a look round so we knew where we were going.

I'm going to finish here as this post is about the journey.  Watch this space for our fun and games (yeah right) in Mojacar.  I won't be blogging every day - probably every third or fourth.

Monday, 22 October 2018

RAF Museum Cosford - Photos

While we were away in Shropshire we made a visit to the RAF Museum at Cosford.  I found it fascinating and took lots of photos which, if you like planes, you might enjoy looking at.  The first hangar had a normal type of set up with planes having their descriptions in front of them.  The second hangar was much more modern and had planes hanging from the roof as well as on the floor.  The only trouble with that is that I couldn't work out which plane was which, consequently most of the first photos have their maker's name and the plane type but the last ones don't.  The museum is free to go into but there is a £3 per vehicle charge for a stay of up to 3 hours and £4 per vehicle for a stay of up to 4 hours.  I can thoroughly recommend a visit.

Bristol 188

Gloster Meteor F8 (Prone)

Saunders Roe SR 53

Bristol M.1C

Hawker Hurricane 11c

Boulton Paul Defiant Mk. 1

Messerschmitt Bf 109G

Gloster Gladiator Mk. 1

Mitsubishi K1-46-111 (Dinah)

Focke-Wulf FW 190

Yokosuka Ohka

Messerschmitt Me410A-1 U2 Hornisse

de Havilland Mosquito TT35

Avro Lincoln B11

Avro Lincoln B11

Messerschmitt Me 262

Sepecal Jaguar ACT

Hunting H126