Week 13 & 14 – The Festive Period comes and goes at El Campello

Week 13  & 14 of the Grand European Tour

Apologies for sending out an e mail to our subscribers on Friday whipping you up into a frenzy of anticipation only to be disappointed! I was updating the blog and instead of saving it as a draft I pressed publish. Hey Ho.

Before I start this bumper 2 week edition of the blog I would like to answer a query on why we decided to try a 6 month road-trip away from the delights of an Argyll winter. Rather than type out a whole screed on the many and varied reasons I will let these 2 screen prints tell the story.

Ardrishaig weather forecast for the 30th of December 2017
Ardrishaig weather forecast for the 30th of December 2017 and beyond…

 

Alicante weather forecast for the 30th of December 2017
Alicante weather forecast for the 30th of December 2017 and beyond…

Now. Where were we…

Week 13 – Day 88 – Monday 25th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

CHRISTMAS DAY
Christmas Day dawned as ever here, cloudless and warm, but after my Christmas Eve excesses it took me a while to fully appreciate the day.

Christmas Eve carnage...
Christmas Eve carnage…

We had a Hangout with the girls in Belfast then had a tidy up and attacked the mountain of dishes from yesterday. Joel came round for their chairs and The Navigator filled him in on his movements after he left us as he had no recollection of them, and I got played a recording of me talking gibberish that The Navigator had recorded furtively! For non Scots reading this, furtively was a word made famous in Neil Munro’s Para Handy tales. Breakfast was the last of our British bacon butties which had a reviving effect on me, enough for me to finish last weeks blog and post it.

The day then settled down to relaxing in the sunshine and we saw Astrid out playing on her new scooter with a back brake which she is delighted with. Apart from that there was little activity on the site as there are only a handful of children here and some vans are empty with the owners jetting off home before returning to continue their time here, or their travels onward in the New Year. This week I will have to start thinking about the next leg of our journey when we leave here on the 14th of January. The original thought was to completely circumnavigate the Iberian Peninsula but that notion may be changing, we may have other fish to fry, but more of that anon…

As we had turkey yesterday, today’s Christmas meal was a 2 course BBQ extravaganza with my version of sizzling garlic prawns done in the wok and followed later by 2 steaks from Melton Mowbray. Dishes done, we sat out until it became too chilly. A very different Christmas from the norm, but relaxing and memorable nonetheless.

Week 13 – Day 89 – Tuesday 26th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

BOXING DAY
OK in the morning but chilly in the afternoon just about sums it up today, a reverse of the usual climatics. I did some video editing and am now as near as Valencia which merited 2 episodes as we saw so much in the city center and the City of Arts and Sciences so you will be seeing Valencia 1 & 2 as well as one of my favourite places we stopped at coming down the Mediterranean coast, Pensicola and this is one of my better efforts although I say it myself. As I was beavering away The Navigator did a clothes wash and then sat out and read a book. About lunchtime it clouded over and got decidedly much cooler, although there was no rain thankfully as I was pressed into BBQ duty again to cook 2 de-boned chicken thighs which were accompanied by salad. Very tasty although to cook it I had a t shirt, jumper and a body warmer on, but, with shorts as ever!

The site is absolutely dead today with everyone huddled in their vans, most watching satellite TV, a luxury we don’t have, neither the satellite nor TV! There are no kids out playing with their Christmas toys although Astrid did pop round to thank us for the gift we gave her for Christmas.

Astrid
Astrid

And that dear blog readers is just about it for Boxing Day 2017, a different day from our normal Boxing Day whether we are in Argyll or Belfast where we all traditionally wrap up and had a bracing walk to blow the cobwebs away.

Week 13 – Day 90 – Wednesday 27th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

“Oh what a night, late December back in 2017” doesn’t quite scan and Frankie Valli won’t be rushing to update the lyrics of his classic hit, but it was quite a night last night weather wise. It was not a good day yesterday and we were confined to the van apart from my BBQing and as the day wore on the wind got stronger and stronger and the van was getting buffeted about throughout the night.

Week 13 – Day 91 – Thursday 28th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

This turned out to be quite a productive day as I edited and uploaded videos to YouTube in the morning. Joel Phillippa and Astrid came round to say their goodbyes as they were heading off northwards up the coast aiming for Valencia. They think they will miss out France by getting a ferry from Barcelona to Italy and onwards from there. Good luck to them as they are a really lovely family. After working on YouTube to make the latest videos live we cycled round to Mercadona for some groceries and replenish the wine cellar.

In the afternoon we sat out in the sun and made the most of the day. In the evening we watched some YouTube videos of people we follow and then watched an episode of Subarra, the Italian crime drama on Netflix.

Today is a bit of a landmark as it is 3 months to the day since leaving Ardrishaig and maybe halftime on this trip so I thought I would do a mini-review of a few facts and figures to give an idea of the costs involved in travelling like this, so, since leaving Ardrishaig on the 28th of September…
91 days away from home.
3,230 miles driven = an average of 35 a day.
€703.26 spent on diesel.
€812.69 spent on overnights.
€81.94 spent on gas.
€260.00 spent on a new tyre and other bits and bobs.
TOTAL = €1,857.89 = €20.41 a day excluding groceries.
I am not counting groceries as we would spend money on food at home so its not a travelling expense but if I had to guess I would say we are averaging under €30 a day all in. These are obviously travelling and living expenses and don’t include costs before we left like travel and medical insurance.

Sadly more bad news from back home today with the death of the husband of Evelyn, The Navigator’s younger cousin. Joe was only in his early fifties, much much too early for anyone to pass away, especially the father of three children. We saw Joe back in the Spring and he was stoically facing up to his illness but his bravery and the treatment was not enough to save him.

Week 13 – Day 92 – Friday 29th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

Today we went into Alicante on the tram. It is a 12 minute walk from the campsite to the tram stop on the esplanade to catch the tram south to Alicante for €1.45 each, a bit of a bargain given the parking situation there, not that I would attempt to take the van into the city. We went to the end of the line this time to the main shopping area as we were on a mission to find a new coffee cafetiere as The Navigator has cracked hers. (I don’t drink the foul brew) but the mission was unsuccessful. Lunch was a slap-up KFC for all of €7 for 2 meals – half the price it would be in the UK.

Alicante Castle from the marina
Alicante Castle from the marina

 

Weird trees in Alicante parks giving much needed shade...
Weird trees in Alicante parks but giving much needed shade…

The above trees are situated in Canalejas Park, very close to the marina and one of Alicantes best known and most visited parks, famous for its centenary ficus trees that cover the whole length of the park with shade.

Week 13 – Day 93 – Saturday 30th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles

We decided to take the van off site today to fill up the gas tanks with LPG as its been 3 weeks since the last fill up. As we left the site we dumped the waste water from the underslung tank so Louis is ready for another couple of weeks on the campsite (we are leaving here on the 14th of January). There was an Aldi near the Repsol garage so we topped up on a few necessities when we were out. On our return there was a gathering of 4 Belgian couples on the pitch opposite us and they sunk quite a few bottles of Mercadonas finest €1.55 Cava in the hot afternoon sun. This must be the warmest day yet and it was nice to be offered a glass each from them, the first alcohol I have touched since overdoing it on Christmas Eve. As their guests went away, no doubt to sleep off their bubbles intake we had another BBQ and then the excitement, or what passes for excitement here, started. As I was walking back from the dish washing area the woman from across the way motioned for me to come and see something as was their next pitch neighbour, also Belgian, but not invited to the earlier shindig (same country / different language). There, crawling up the leg of the table the 8 Belgians had been sitting at only a few minutes before was a large praying mantis, the first any of us had ever seen in the ‘wild’ and an odd thing it is too with a triangular head!

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis ignoring the mayonnaise covered lettuce…

Have you ever enjoyed watching a film then discover with 5 minutes to go that you have seen it before. Well this happened to us tonight when we watched The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix, that said, it was a good film, well made and acted.

Week 13 – Day 94 – Sunday 31st of December 2017 (New Years Eve)
El Campello – 0 miles

NEW YEARS EVE
It was a quiet day on the site but there were signs that some of out foreign neighbours were preparing get togethers in their own nationality groups. The bungalows had filled up and a notice had gone up that the restaurant would be serving their €25 a head celebration dinner from 9pm onwards, but that was not for we Brits, oh no, we were off to Bernies, a ‘British Bar’ a few tram stops nearer El Campello for a 5 hour session with an 8pm kick off, and, as it turns out we, along with Alan and Ann from Welsh Wales, were first through the door. It filled up pretty quickly with Ann and I disputing the numbers there, I was a conservative 80 and Ann was a more bullish 100. Alan and I were on the Carlsbergs and the ladies were on Tonic Water, although The Navigator had a gin with hers that would have drowned a cat!

Once everyone was settled in and the drinks were flowing the proceedings started. A singer by the name of Ray Croft entertained us with a selection of hits, mostly from the sixties and he made a pretty good fist of it too, although there was no Tamla Motown songs in his repertoire which lost him points from me.

Ray Croft entertains...
Ray Croft entertains…

After Ray went for a lie down in the store cupboard, Bernie got the Karaoke going without much audience participation to start with. The first person that got up was someone in a mismatching tartan ensemble who abandoned his song half way through, although to be fair the backing music did seem too slow for the words. This was to the best of our recollection the first time that The Navigator and I had ever been to a Karaoke sing song and lets just say it was different!

Ray mercifully came back on to sing some more, then after he departed the stage it was buffet time which was not great, but for €15 a head including entertainment and the still to come Elvis and two New Years it was very fair value.

It was fast approaching midnight and Spanish New Year but before that it was ‘Top of the Bill’ time and emerging stage left from the cleaners supplies cupboard was Elvis, and any passing resemblance to the aforementioned Ray Croft was purely incidental. Ann thought this was Elvis – the anorexic years…

Elvis entertains - any resemblance to Ray Croft is incidental...
Elvis entertains – any resemblance to Ray Croft is incidental…

But credit where credit is due he was very good, although he lost a few more marks from Ann and I as he did not sing our favourite ‘In the Ghetto’ but he did manage to squeeze in a belting rendition of ‘American Trilogy’ before the clocks struck 12 – or rather they didn’t! When Elvis was giving us his all, mine host, Bernie was faffing about with the 3 large screen TVs and Elvis found himself performing in front of Graham Norton and assorted guests, which I bet he never had to do in his Vegas years! Eventually the TVs were put off before the rousing finale, with, sadly for Elvis, no female’s knickers being thrown in his direction, but, given the age profile of the audience that was maybe a blessing!

Before the expected ‘Bells’ we were all given a little plastic cup with 12 grapes in it and a glass of Cava to toast in the New Year. The Spanish tradition of eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight on December 31 is meant to lead to a year of prosperity. We shall see on that one. All well and good and another bonus for our €15 but there was one slight problem, Bernie might have got his TVs primed for the British New Year but they were not switched on to count down into the Spanish New Year so we never got to know see or hear the bongs from the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, their equivalent of Big Ben.

Once everyone had checked their watches and phones to confirm the time, the Cava could be consumed and best wishes exchanged. The way midnight had snuck in without any bongs meant no one quite knew what to do with the grapes, but we ate them anyway as a sort of midnight buffet. That was enough excitement for some people and about a third of the assembled guests left before, you guessed it, more Karaoke and a guest appearance from Bryan Ferry and other 60s and 70s stars, and again, any similarity to Ray Croft was purely coincidental.

Bryan Ferry entertains - any resemblance to Ray Croft is incidental...
Bryan Ferry entertains – any resemblance to Ray Croft is coincidental…

You know where you are with a good old British New Year, Big Ben strikes and its official, although with sadly we had no grapes left to try for a bit of prosperity. Here is an idea for you dear reader – why not try this next year as your party piece at the ‘Bells’, 12 grapes between the first and last strike and if your luck does change, and you do win the Lottery, remember who gave you the idea that changed your life!!
Tonight was another first for The Navigator and I, our first Auld Lang Syne with the words on the Karaoke screen – if only Rabbie was alive to see it…

By this time Alan, who, along with Ann were suffering from a heavy cold, had had enough and went in search of a taxi to get us back to the site which he achieved in double quick time so we were back at Camping Le Jardin before 1.30am.

THE VERDICT – A very different Hogmany for us – our norm is to watch the failing efforts of Jackie Bird, Ally Bain, Phil Cunningham and assorted 3rd rate guests trying to instill some Scottish entertainment on the nation before we give up and switch over to BBC ALBA to watch, but not understand, the Gaelic program which is usually much better.
Our first Spanish New Years Eve was entertaining and good value, and in Ann and Alan we had great company and a lot of laughs.

Week 14 – Day 95 – Monday 1st of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

NEW YEARS DAY
There was more activity site on our ‘street’ this morning and we wished our neighbours a Happy New Year and they wished us their greetings with ‘Bonne Annee’ from the French speakers the only one we understood, The Navigator even got a kiss and a cuddle from the wee French wife at the top of the street! It may be a strange thing from a Scotsman to confess to, but I survived New Years Eve better than I did Christmas Eve and was feeling no pain so far. The morning was lazy as most tend to be but we answered e mails and I did some Blog related stuff on the computer. The best day for page views on the site was December 11th when 233 pages were looked at, although I think a few were from hackers trying to gain access to the site. In the wee small hours I had sent out the Blog post wishing everyone a Happy New Year and with the links to our 41 (so far) 123 Seconds In… videos, and then, later in the morning I posted the link to that page on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get more visitors and share our experience of the places visited to date, and to see if I could top 233 page views in a day.
STOP PRESS – It worked – 242 page views and 2 new subscribers – a new world record for manvannoplan!

The afternoon was very hot so we sat out and had the last 2 steaks from Melton Mowbray on the BBQ. Other people can take pictures capturing soaring birds of prey and other exotic species but today I captured some of the friendly sparrows that visit us each day. Exciting stuff eh?

The friendly Sparrows...
The friendly Sparrows…

In the evening we had a face to face chat with the girls in Belfast and Leeds and that was about it for the first day of 2018.

Week 14 – Day 96 – Tuesday 2nd of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

Houston we have a problem! For a day or two we thought there was an odour from the fridge area so I took the outside grills off to see if I could see if there was anything obvious that could cause it but couldn’t, everything seemed in order but the smell has persisted. We asked the site Reception if they could call out the local Spanish mobile caravan/motorhome repair guy we had seen on the site quite a few times over the past few weeks and he was out to us within a couple of hours.

His verdict was that the ignition flame was not burning properly and causing fumes to congregate at the back of the fridge casing and seep into the van which was highly dangerous! The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that the prevailing wind blows against the side of the van with the vents, so preventing the fumes from escaping.

That was his diagnosis, but he wasn’t qualified to fix it so he gave us the number of the local Dometic repair man but this being Spain he never answered his phone all afternoon and evening.

Week 14 – Day 97 – Wednesday 3rd of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

It was another scorcher today and we had a cycle round to Mercadona again but can’t buy much fridge related products because of the fumes problem. Late yesterday evening I had e mailed Dometic in Alicante in English and Spanish (thanks to Google translate) and they replied this morning. The upshot is a service engineer came out and and found “muchos muchos problemas”.

Work begins to fix the fridge...
Work begins to fix the fridge…

It seemed that over the years soot had accumulated in the exhaust pipes and this now meant the pilot light was not burning properly thus creating the noxious smell in the van. Two hours later he had it fixed after spilling a bit of blood in the process!

Louis draws blood from the repair man...
Louis draws blood from the repair man…

In the evening we watched another episode of Suburra, and speaking of entertainment, I would like to publicly apologise to Charles Dickens, as in a previous blog post I accused the great man of running out of ideas with Donbey & Son and ending it with a lot of loose ends after 15 episodes. It turns out the BBC Radio Player were slow in uploading the final 5 episodes and we listened to them this morning – and it ended satisfactorily after all.

Week 14 – Day 98 – Thursday 4th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

Last night we watched the final 2 episodes (of 10) of Suburra and it ended as most crime series do, without killing off too many leading characters and setting it up nicely for series two. It has been good but not nearly as gripping as Gomorrah, another Italian Mafia crime series set in Naples that we watched a couple of years ago.

Suburra main characters
Suburra main characters

Week 14 – Day 99 – Friday 5th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

We had to go to Mercadona this morning for a ‘big shop’ as the supermarkets are closed over the weekend due to the anticipated arrival of the 3 Kings, the main Spanish celebration at this time of year and also the arrival of our own 3 Wise Persons tomorrow! Dare I say it was another scorcher in the afternoon with not a breath of wind which is a relief as it blew a gale last night which is never to The Navigators delight. In the afternoon we sat out in the sun and enjoyed the day. We are a long way from home but its days like this that makes the long journey so worthwhile.

I have started posting a picture a day onto Instagram and The Navigator, who foregoes Facebook and all other social media has also signed up to Instagram in her own right now! This radical move for her was prompted by wanting to follow the travels of Astrid, Phillippa and Joel who are posting pictures as they continue their planned year long journey round Europe, but now that she is on Instagram she can follow some of the people we follow on YouTube and a few random celebrities she likes like Freddy Flintoff, honest I typed that correctly – cricket legend Freddy Flintoff! To complete her profile I had to take her picture, well actually loads of pictures before she approved one…

Week 14 – Day 100 – Saturday 6th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

Its a big day today in more ways than one. As you can see above, today marks 100 days away from Scotland and we have mixed feelings. You will have gathered we are thoroughly enjoying life here in Spain and El Campello in particular, although if we were to return we would have to brush up on some Flemish as there are a fair few Belgians here. Our neighbours of all nationalities are friendly and welcoming and the weather for January is incredible. The downside is that we have lost two relatives from The Navigator’s side of the family and under normal circumstances we would have attended their funerals, but, we were there in spirit…

It is also a big weekend for our host nation as it is the day of The 3 Kings/Wise Men because in Spain, it is not the Baby Jesus, Santa Claus or St. Nicholas who brings gifts on Christmas Day, but rather the Three Kings, whose generosity is put to the test on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. Children, families, and entire cities throughout the country celebrate this major Spanish Christmas tradition. The site has filled up again but there are few children so it will probably be quiet here.

The biggest aspect of today for us is that Simon and the girls are flying into Alicante to spend a week with us on the site in one of their compact and bijou bungalows. As we were not together on Christmas Day to dispense physical presents this is our Christmas present to them. Next year it will be back to pyjamas and a tin of Celebrations! First to be picked up at Alicante Airport were Jill and Simon who were up at 3.45am to get to Belfast International Airport for their Easy Jet flight here which was on time. We took them back to the site, had lunch, then left them to have a siesta when we went back to the Airport to meet the Jet2.Com flight from Leeds which was also on time but  it took Emma an age to be reunited with her bag, necessitating in me doing 5 laps of the airport as there was nowhere to park the van. The weather they arrived to was grey, overcast  and chilly, such a contrast from the previous week and the previous day in particular.

Back at the site and all reunited again we had drinks and nibbles then a BBQ which I did in the pitch black with a head torch on!

Week 14 – Day 101 – Sunday 7th of January 2018
El Campello – 0 miles

Thankfully we woke to clear blue skies, if a little airy. After breakfast of bacon butties with the bacon flown in from Belfast, last nights dishes were done and after our showers we went to the bungalow to collect everyone, who, after a good nights sleep were ready and raring to go round to the Sunday market to get a bumper supply fruit and veg.

Sunday sunshine...
Sunday sunshine…

 

Our last Sunday market here...
Our last Sunday market here…

Jill and Simon fly back next Saturday and we will be leaving the site next Sunday and taking Emma to the airport so we may not be able to get to the market, but I’m sure there will be many more to find on our resumed travels.

We then headed down to the promenade for a good walk, seemingly with half the inhabitants of El Campello doing the same, whether this was a normal Sunday afternoon turnout or it was extra busy because it was the day after 3 Kings, in effect the Spanish Boxing Day.

Sunday stroll...
Sunday stroll…

We were heading for Sunday lunch at the beach side place we had cycled to before for a selection of inexpensive tapas type food which everyone enjoyed.

Sunday lunch - the first course...
Sunday lunch – the first course…

 

Sunday lunch - the second course - and more beers...
Sunday lunch – the second course – and more beers…

The top plate in the above picture had everyone guessing – it is breaded Gouda balls and the dip is strawberry jam which sounds odd, but was delicious!

And finally…

30 going on 10...
30 going on 10…

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To put this week into context here are two maps showing where we are…
The red dot on the first map shows us just north of Alicante.
The red dot on the second map shows our location on the outskirts of El Campello.


NEW VIDEOS POSTED THIS WEEK…

None this week although I have 2 on Alicante almost ready…

The full list of 123 Seconds In videos can be seen HERE


NEXT WEEK…

An action packed week is planned with les petits enfants so stay tuned for that.


YOU CAN HELP US…

If you are planning to buy ANYTHING from Amazon UK, now, or in the future, please click on the link below to enter Amazon. Your purchase does not cost you a penny more, but, in buying via this link, Amazon gives us a small commission for sending you to them. Your purchase from Amazon is private, we won’t know what it is. Your support is appreciated and may help contribute towards a litre of diesel for Louis – or a litre of wine for The Navigator!

Thanks.

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One thought on “Week 13 & 14 – The Festive Period comes and goes at El Campello

  • 9th January 2018 at 3:56 pm
    Permalink

    Another super blog, a very different Christmas and New Year but one to remember! Looking at all your
    pictures with blue skies was a pleasant change from the dark skies here (9.1.18) and the bitter cold.
    Today although the last three days of frost gone there is a bitter east wind that would cut you in two!
    Yesterday it was my turn to to drive to Ardrishaig for the country dancing. Well there was almost as much ice on the inside windows of the car as there was outside so I had some job clearing it all!! Then
    the hall in Ardrishaig was so cold it was worse than clearing the ice off the car. Such is life in January in Argyll.

    Reply

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