Friday, 21 November 2014

365 Days and we’re still talking

We’ve made it, one whole year of spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together, living in a small space.  No work, no fixed plans, just enjoying ourselves doing whatever we want to do, going wherever we want each day and for the things we don’t want to do - well there’s always manjana. There’s been a few small (occasionally  huge) arguments but mainly over travelling.
In the year we have only spent 5 nights not sleeping in the van, when we returned to England for Emma’s funeral and when we stayed with Iain’s dad (the road outside his house is too busy to risk wild camping) and  Iain another 10 nights when he went home to see Emma.  So that’s not bad.  When we started living in our van, most of our friends and family thought we were mad.  The questions went something like:-
Q: Would you like to come and stay over, we have a spare bed for you?
A: No thanks we have a very comfortable bed to sleep in.
Q: Would you like to come around and use our shower?
A: We have a perfectly good shower in the van.
Q: When you come back to England, will you rent a house?
A: We have a luxury motorhome to live in, we don’t need to rent a house.
Q: Won’t you get bored?
A: I very much doubt it.
Q: Would you like to come around for a meal?
A: We’re not living on road kill you know.
Q: Would you like to do some washing?
A: Now you’re talking.
And I would usually end it the conversation with “Don’t feel sorry for us, we have chosen this lifestyle, you’re the ones still working.”
So I thought I would think about the things I do and don’t like about our life-style.

Things I love

1.  We don’t have to work to pay for STUFF, our average cost per night is only £2 more than our council tax was and we spend most nights on campsites.
2.  We have the freedom and time to go anywhere we want.
3.  We have everything we NEED and a lot more.
4.  We are almost always in the warm weather all year round.
5.  We have met so many wonderful people from all walks of life, doing the same thing as we are, so we always have something in common to start with.
6.  We have seen many places that we would not otherwise if we just did normal “holidays”, Toledo, Avignon, Valadollid, Carcasonne, Albir, to name but a few, even in England, we visited Hadrian’s Wall, Scarborough, Lyme Regis, Seaford, Cheltenham  etc etc.
7.  Housework takes no more than an hour.

Things I don’t like.

1.  Sometimes it’s a pain having to go to the showers and toilet block if it’s a bit chilly.
2.  I can’t get my crafting stuff “toys” out and leave them out for when I next want to use them.
3.  I’m not a naturally tidy person and have to work very hard at it, everything has to be put away as it isn’t long before you have to clear a space just to sit down if you aren’t organised.
4.  Sometimes I miss our friends and family.
5.  I like to know where I need to go to buy things.
6.  I’d like transport sometimes so that I can “pop” off to somewhere. 
7.  You can’t always do your clothes washing just when you want to.

So to summarise, the things I don’t like are mainly “niggles” the things I love are fantastic. Weighing it up – I don’t regret a minute and I love the fact that we’re not working any more.

The weather here is still fantastic and in the words of Freddie - we’re having a good time!

It’s official – 19th November and 24C
A couple of days ago we decided to have lunch somewhere different and actually used one of the bars on the seafront (they are always more expensive).  However the view does make it worth it occasionally.
And just a reminder of the view from Albir across to Calpe
We’re still in shorts, sandals and t-shirts during the day, but the evenings are getting cooler and during the night the temperature is even sometimes dropping below 10C. We’re still managing to sit out some evenings until quite late, but you do need long trousers and jumpers now.  My Ugg boots have now made an appearance.
We’ve now been on this site for 7 weeks and I can’t believe how the time is flying.  Of course we’ve been here before so things are bound to be different but as we’ve been here longer than anywhere else in the last year, it’s getting to feel rather like home.
On another couple of trips out with Jo and James we went to a Spanish Fiesta somewhere up in the mountains by Alicante – I think it was Cocentaina.   The whole thing was a bit much for me, too many people, too many legs for the dog.  We didn’t really have any choice but to take her with us.  We would be out too long to leave her in the van and it was too hot to leave her in the car, so I’m afraid she just had to put up with it.  I did have to pick her up a few times when it got really crowded in the narrow streets. There were different sections to the fiesta; a medieval section, a Moroccan section, a food section, a children’s section.  There was so much to see, with street performers and market type stalls selling anything from magic stones to combine harvesters.  The problem was that there were so many people that no one could get near to the stalls to actually browse.  It was a great experience but I wouldn’t go there again.
Simple bunting made from strips of material just tied together, but very effective.
See the authentic “Medieval” Doner Kebab!!!
The Spanish love their fiestas and all the shops and businesses shut for the holidays.  Here in Alfaz del Pi they had a 5 day fiesta this month and we read about it in the local paper which told us that on one afternoon they throw fireworks into the crowd and said “Not for the faint hearted, wear old clothes and cover your head” – so we gave it a miss.  We could hear the fireworks from here so it must have been deafening in Alfaz about 3 miles away. 
Also this month they had the Benidorm Fiesta, we just didn’t get our a**es in gear to get there, but we saw lots of people in Albir dressed really weirdly as they met up to go to Benidorm for the fancy dress parade which is apparently the largest in Europe (but then they would say that!!!). Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time, well those that could remember anyway.
Another day we went up towards Javea again, but this time we went up to the peak at Cap de la Nau.  The view from up here was spectacular.  On a good day you can see across to Ibiza but as it was still warm and hazy we didn’t get the full experience of the view.
It’s not that far away, the hazy rock on the left is the Peñón de Ifach at Calpe


With all those mountains, you have to get around them somehow, or through.  This is the main coastal road between Altea and Calpe
On the way back we visited a very pretty village with a gorgeous cove called Plaja de la Granadella.  There was one very narrow and windy road in and it was the same road out.  We wouldn’t like to have taken our motorhome there and were amazed that there were a couple parked up near the beach.  These French will go anywhere in theirs.

Those rocks may have been there for thousands of years but I still wouldn’t live in that house on the top!

It’s not all new and exciting, we’re still eating out a lot because it’s so cheap, but we’ve changed things a bit, we’re drinking a bit more expensive wine these days, around 2E a bottle instead of 1.  I’m determined not to drink too much so I have a self-imposed curfew of generally no alcohol until 6pm at the earliest.  When I say generally, that’s not a hard and fast rule, if I fancy a beer with lunch then I’ll have one, occasionally, I just don’t want to get into drinking from lunchtime until fall-down time, it’s just so easy here if you are not careful.  The only real exception I make to this is on a Sunday, when we go to one of the local bars for a Sunday roast and have one or two, or even a few more drinks.  As I’ve said before, eating out is so cheap that it’s just not worth cooking with two courses at around 7 Euros (£5.60) including a drink.  The only problem with that is that if we are with friends then the walk home and the subsequent evening can become something like a scene out of “The Last of the Summer Wine”.
Jo has become a real bad influence on me!!!!!! I think not. But last Sunday we actually ate separately and then met up back at the campsite for a Soberano (Brandy).  Jo hurt her ankle some weeks ago (funnily enough on a Sunday afternoon) and James has now got her a “Madge” (mobility scooter named after the character in Benidorm who won’t get out of hers) to help her to get around. 
Well I decided that I’d put it away in their awning for them but then decided that I’d take it for a “Stability Test” first to make sure that it was safe for her to drive.  The men had both gone “for a snooze” by now so it was just the two of us and any unfortunate on-lookers who saw this despicable display of “Bad Brit” behaviour.  Luckily it is very quiet down our end of the campsite and so I had plenty of room as I don’t suppose for one minute that I kept to the 5mph site speed limit.  Well all I can say is that these things are so much fun.  Not much wonder that in Benidorm you have to prove that you are disabled or over 50 to be able to hire one.  Well I’m over 50 so that’s no real recommendation is it? I zoomed off at full throttle, leaving Jo giggling at the pitch.  After a few trial runs I found that you can turn full lock on full throttle and the thing still sticks to the ground.  After about 10 minutes fun I thought I would put it away for her as I had promised.  So at full speed ahead, I headed for their awning.  I managed to get through the door with no trouble and then cut the throttle.  What I had forgotten was that these things don’t have any brakes and they take a few feet to stop.  I suppose they can’t stop dead or you’d have all these old ladies catapulting out of them onto the pavement all the time.   So here I was already in the awning and still a few feet to go before coming to a stand-still.  Yes you can imagine, I had nowhere to go and it wasn’t going to stop until it wanted to.  I was screaming “It won’t stop” and then I managed to crash into the table and the step. Everything was starting to look horrible.  I then had to reverse back off the step to clear all the objects that I had sent scattering.  Of couse having been under the influence of copious amounts of Soberano (what an apt name for a brandy) I haven’t laughed so much in ages. I then scuttled off back to my own van in disgrace.  We also managed to get ourselves on the campsite facebook page (again) Cap Blanch facebook  but this time we were named!!!!  I’m still not sure whether the campsite owner is just putting up pictures of people enjoying themselves or if it is to gather evidence. It was a good job he wasn’t around when I was on the madge or I think we would have been evicted by now. At least being older, we don’t go on too late into the evening and have normally wrapped up our socialising by about 10pm – but maybe that’s because we start so early.

a-party campbell
16th November, early evening, jumpers but still in shorts - Javier, James, Me, Jo and Iain
The Spanish gentleman on the left is one of the campsite workers.   He’s probably in his 50’s says he is a free-man, travelling with his push-bike and tent and going wherever there is a bit of work.  During the summer he also did some busking, but unusually with a dancing puppet and at the moment he spends 4 hours a day sweeping up leaves.  He laughs a lot and is always happy. You meet people from all walks of life when you live like this and everyone has a story to tell, perhaps one day I’ll find out what his is.
I’ve been keeping myself busy lately, I’ve nearly finished the three leather cushions for our settee, I say nearly finished, that’s because I’ve now got bored and moved onto Christmas decorations. I’ve decided that I’m going to make all my decorations this year and I want to go a bit OTT as last year we were on the road so I hardly had any at all.  I’ll put them up on 1st December and then post some pictures. I’ve joined the craft club which is another on-site activity so I’m going to see what new things I can learn. Most of the attendees are Dutch (only one other English woman), but I’ve already met a very nice Dutch lady called Didi who’s husband is Irish, so her English is very good. 
Pilates has gone by the wayside, I was really enjoying it but I exacerbated an old netballing injury during one session and had to stop.  So I’m going to wait until I am fully recovered before I return.  I can still ride my bike though, but I think it’s time I got a ladies bike instead of a men’s mountain bike as it’s getting a bit difficult to “get my leg over” so to speak.
James is so desperate to get a pet that he has now adopted a duck.  The duck just flew in about 5 days ago and comes back every day (so far).  James has found out that she (we can’t agree whether it’s a she or a he) loves tomatoes and yesterday she even came when Jo called her.  We keep joking about fattening her up for Christmas but now “she’s” got a name – Daphne, I don’t think that would happen.

One of the young Spanish campsite workers made a pile of leaves for the duck and she has become quite attached to her day bed.
Late afternoon – Jo firmly ensconced in her “Madge” – there’s really no need to salute me!

Connie has got over her op, the stitches have come out and her fur is growing back.  She’s an old lady now and we are surprised at how much she has acclimatised to the heat.  If the temperature goes below 15C she starts shivering. It’s really funny to hear her teeth chattering.  Now I’m not one of those who agrees with dressing up your dogs, but I’ve bought her a jumper – I just couldn’t resist. As soon as she gets up in the morning she runs outside to sit in the sunshine.  I bought her a really cool shower-proof coat in PINK as well.  That will no doubt deserve a picture soon.
I keep promising to give the van a good clean inside, but we’re saving that for a rainy day and we just don’t seem to be getting any.
I’m sure I’ve missed loads but I’ve got Xmas decorations to make so I’ll be back another time ……………………………………………………… One things for sure, we’re having a great time in the sun.