Monday, 15 November 2010

30 Even More La Manga

Tuesday 9th Nov
We went off exploring again, only locally to a little place called Los Nietos, it looks like a pretty little fishing village, but most places were closed.  We had a stroll along the beach and saw some of these monsters which reminded me of a boil on the bum.

No matter how old we get, we never grow up...
Ghost town ....Ghost beach

We had a wander around the village, and having had a bar recommended to us, but this was also closed, however we did managed to find a tiny little Spanish bar that was open, and for a change, there were no other English people there and they only spoke Spanish, it was really seedy and full of smoke, but we really liked it. 
The only place on town that was open

We headed from there back to Los Balones and had lunch, in another predominantly Spanish restaurant, plenty of Tapas.
I am not sure if we mentioned it before, bet we were having problems with visiting cats squaring up with Leon. He was able to hold his own, but the poor little sod is getting on now and there is only 95% of him left so we thought we had better help out. Now, we still like (other) cats and would not want to harm them so water is the only answer left. We had previously bought a Rambo style pump action water pistol. Since we bought it we have not realy had any problems with them despite not using it. However, it was not for the want of trying....

Karen practicing her SAS techniques

Oooops - nearly blew that one - duck NOW !
Wednesday 10th
It was a relatively quiet day, we were saving ourselves for the evening when we were going out for a meal with Dick, across the way and another couple, called Jacky and John, (Jacky was originally from Dumfries and used to live in Lovers Lane when she was little), and another female called Fran, who was recently widowed.  The restaurant is called the Casa Rufino, again in Los Balones. The speciality was a fabulous lamb dish, where the meat is slow cooked on the bone and when it arrived it was served with these great herby roast potatoes.  This was our first meeting with the others and we had a thoroughly good evening.  We all laughed a lot and finished the evening off with a couple of glasses of wine in Dick’s motor home.
Thursday and Friday during the day were quite quiet again, although on Thursday Ray and I went to Cartegina again and we found a fabulous shopping centre, so I’ll be going back there for a spot of retail therapy soon. Friday morning, Ray and I went to the gym. I know I shouldn’t swear on the blog. We followed that up with a swim in the indoor pool.  There were two German women in there already and then another female, possibly Dutch joined in. You are probably wondering where this is going, but stick with me, the Dutch lady got into the pool and swam her first few lengths in breast stroke.  Then she turned into an exocet missile.  She started doing back stroke and all of us had to dive for cover.  She actually had boobs of a mammoth proportion, and once she was on her back, these things took on a mission of their own.  I admire the old girl for actually getting into the pool and looking after herself, but when the rest of us are put in danger… She was trying to throw her arms back as you do with back stroke, unfortunately her limited movement from her arms meant that her arms went out to the side and slapped the water, the side of the pool or the nearest person to her, until we learned to get out of her way.  This in intself was quite difficult, because she would start at one side of the pool and crabbed to the other, taking no prisoners.  It was quite amusing and she did manage to clear the pool, so maybe she got it right after all.  She must have realised that we were all laughing whilst trying to make our escape.
Friday night we all got together again and went for a Chinese meal in St Javier.  Fran was returning to Britain on Saturday, and is not sure when she will be back, so we had round 2. It is a buffet meal, and you can have all you want and lots that you don’t, and they will also cook your own concoction in a wok infront of you, it was all very lovely.  It is very useful having all these really good restaurants to go to and people who know where they are, otherwise it might have ended up very hit and miss.  Finished the evening, with wine at Dick’s again. Poor Dick hasn’t had to do so much washing up for a long time.

Sat 13th Nov
After thew previous lazy couple of days we decided to take Wallace out for another expedition.
We teamed up with a couple on the side that have a new Yamaha XT660Z, the same as the one we part exchanged for Wallace.
The couple, Chris and B (we still do not know her full/real name) are here on a semi permenant basis and spend 8 months on site and 4 months in the UK driving large motorhomes around for pop stars, racing drivers and people with lots of money and no ability to do it for themselves.
The Badlands

So, remind me, which end ids the front...

The smiles say it all

Short break before the mad bends of the national park
The team at the end of the road
Karen and Bea by the lake


We went along a similar route to the one we did last week but took in a lot more of the good roads.
We drove to the mountain range and found a restaurant and had coffee. Chris was looking at a small side road and said "where do you think that goes". We had just driven past "The badlands" as mentioned in the last post and it was likely that this road went into them.
No contest, off we went and what a fantastic time we had on the undulating dirt roads. We were likes kids in a fun fair. We found a rain damaged dirt track and we were off. We rode around for about an hour. I will let the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday and Monday again have been quiet, Dick has connected us to his huge satelite dish and we can now get BBC, so Sunday was spent watching the grand prix and a bit of housework, unfortunately reality is never that far away.  For some reason, it still takes me as long to do the housework in my little motor home as it did when we had a four bedroom house, I really don’t know how I had the time to go to work aswell!
The weather, although sunny, has been a bit windy, okay a lot windy, and pretty cold, we have had to put jumpers on, Ray has been complaining that it is freezing, goodness knows what he’ll be like when we come back to Britain. (It is actually 18 or 19 degrees compared to your minus temperatures). We have been keeping an eye on the weather over there, and it does look horrible.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

29 The campsite.

The campsite we are on is not like anthing most of us are familiar with. It is enormous. It is a full kilometer long and 300m wide.

About half the camp has permenant sites, not like mobile homes we have in UK but more like permenant bedouin encampments. Some are mobile homes that have been extended to resemble bungalows and others are brick built stuctures that have had bits added or have one peice corrugated iron roofs place over the whole plot (usually 10m x 10m). They are owned by people from all over Europe from Finland to Spain and all points in between. We are currently surrounded by 2 Brits, an Austrian and a Dutch.
Campsite or village - who knows ?

The site has its own supermarket, not just a shop, but a small version of Tescos, like a "metro". It also boasts an internet room, a church and a dog wash - yes - a dog wash.
It also has a bar/restaurant, 2 swimming pools, inside and outside, a gym, numerous squash, tennis and table tennis courts. 
"LAVAMASCOTAS" = wash pets - bizzarre !

Ya wanna tap my keys honey ?

How many campsites can cleanse your soul

You can even partake in the line dancing - it thats what floats your boat.

Is it me, or does the woman in blue on the left look like photo negative ?

Monday, 8 November 2010

28 Around La Manga

Wednesday 3rd Nov
We packed a picnic today and headed off for a walk in the hills that surround us.  Ray had planned a route of about 12k’s and we set off. 

The weather was lovely, not too warm, but definitely a lot warmer than you are having in Britain.  The area is National park and is quite a gentle walk from one side of the peninsular to the other.  Whilst we were strolling along, I noticed that the soil was very hard caked and red in colour, and made the mistake of asking Ray if it was clay.  I then got a ten minute lecture on the size of grains of grit and soil, consistancy and blah blah blah, (he was a civil engineer for a while), needless to say I was very careful with future questions, so when Ray pointed to the rocks and asked me how they got that gorgeous purple colour, I was a tad hesitant in how I answered, and then was totally floored when he burst into the song, Purple rain, the one by Prince.
"Purple rain, purple rain" ,,,,,
At about halfway we stopped on the beach for lunch and a beer and finished off our trek. Unfortunately whilst we ate, I was eaten by an assortment of bugs, in all I had about 20 bites. We actually did about 9ks in the end.

Who's eating who?

It's alright, I'll carry everything!

Thursday 4th Nov
We decided just to do a bit of shopping, and once done, headed to the Irish pub. 
Traditional Spanish Irish Bar

It was probably the sunshine and the wine, but we both got quite happy and after leaving there, decided to get the push bikes and cycle to another English bar and do the quiz night.  At Brambles Bar, we thoroughly enjoyed the very Spanish size measures of vodka and gin.  Unfortunately they didn’t help our brain power and we came second last, didn’t even manage the booby prize.  It was really weird being the youngest people in the bar, apart from a couple of the staff, and as I remember, the questions reflected that.  That is my story and I’m sticking to it.  Anyway, we left there, and got onto the bikes, well I did, Ray, got on and promptly fell straight off.  It was all I could do to keep myself upright and I couldn’t stop laughing.  Ray was flat out on the ground laughing as well and although it seemed like a long time, I suppose it was only minutes before a couple of OAP’s came out to see if they could help.   After declining their kind offer we set off along the beach for home.  I’d like to say that it was all plain sailing after that, but I can’t.  I fell off in the sand, luckily it didn’t hurt, and between us I think we must have cycled an extra mile with all the side to side riding we were doing.  Somewhere in the fog, I do remember getting off the bike and pushing it through gravel so that I didn’t fall off and hurt myself there. One little bit of sense that survived the night, I don’t know how though.
I apologised to the camping neighbours the next day for our noisy arrival back home. They were not bothered at all but they went to the same bar the day after and we were the talk of the pub with everyone laughing at my demise. Hey, as long as they enjoyed it!
Friday 5th Nov
We felt too sorry for ourselves from last night, so a very quiet day had by both of us.
Saturday 6th Nov
Back to being fighting fit, raring to go.  On Wallace we headed off into hills, another set this time and much bigger. We went via the supermarket again and this time, saw all these lovely Flamingos at the bird reserve on route.
Shy flamingos
The journey from there took us back past Cartagena and into the mountains to the West of Murcia. It was a bit of a drag on the motorway for an hour or so but when he hit a small town called Alhama De Murcia it was all change, lovely tight hairpin bends with steep drop offs at the sides. Just my kind of  touring. We stopped for a bit of lunch at a lovely bar cum hotel on the side of a mountain that looks out onto what is described as “badlands”. 

It consists of uninhabited semi desert with a large lake interspersed between. Unfortunately, the lake is hidden behind the first row of hills. 
View from the lunch terrace

The grub tasted great and the place was run by an English couple and their son was the waiter. He also takes groups of people out on quad bike rides and kayaking around the badlands. We may partake at some other time.
We set off again and after about 6 km I turned onto a dirt track that I had programmed into the GPS. It did not take long to get used to the bike skipping about on the gravel and I thought “well, this is not too bad for Karens first proper dirt track riding”. 

We rode for about 15km on this track and then suddenly things got horrible.
We rode round a bend and the track changed to a rock strewn nightmare with rocks about fist size covering the whole track. 
Lumpy bumpy roads

It was so rough that the only way to ride it was standing up a-la motocross fashion. This is not normally a problem with one person on the bike, but with 2 it’s a bitch. However we both stood up, unfortunately at different times to start with and Karen had my bum firmly placed in her face. We eventually got our act together and Karen learned quickly how to be part of the ride as opposed to just a passenger. We drove along this nightmare for about 4 km and it eventually got better so we stopped for a long earned rest. 
Enjoying the view

I was competely knackered and Karen although also knackered had survived her trial by fire very well. A couple of kilometers further on we rejoined the tarmac and set off towards home via a long and twisty road back down the mountain. I modified the route back to get home quick as the sun was setting fast.
We did not quite make it home,  just before sunset we popped into a English bar, “Hotshots” in Los Balones,  the next village from the campsite. I managed to get a proper Fosters and lime. Do you think we should be integrating more ??  We are struggling to find places that are not festooned with brits. It’s nice for communication reasons but we are not getting a chance to practice our Spanish.
Sunday 7th Nov.
A slow start with Karen cooking a fry-up breakfast.  She got halfway through and the gas turned itself off. Luverly. I messed about with the regulator and bottles for a couple of hours to no avail having had a luke warm breakfast of the bits she managed to cook. We were now flapping a bit not knowing if we could get it fixed in Spain. I had another go later and the bloody thing started working again.
Monday 8th Nov
Dick, a guy in the plot opposite us, took me to the local caravan shop and I managed to order a new regulator – another 120 euros! On the way back, Dick took me to a local butchers shop, again run by Brits, as well as meat they also sell Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, custard pies and Walkers crisps – absolute heaven – thank you God. They buy the pastry in all the way from Cornwall. Needless to say I came away with bags of goodies.
Dick needs a bit of explaining, Karen has mentioned him before, he’s the guy from Buckhurst Hill. Anyway he has retired from a family run manufacturing business and lives here permenantly but his wife Jenny still works in finance in central London and is a work-a-holic. So he just sits here sunbathing  every day. The man has made doing nothing and laziness into an art form.  Before Jenny came out for a weeks visit, Dick put out a deck chair for her with a broom against it.  When she got here, the first thing she did was swept up! 
I have arranged for him to give me lessons!    

Always knew your medic course would come to serve you well dear.

Are those clouds ???

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

27 La Manga

Our apologies for not updating this sooner, we have been enjoying the sunshine and getting things cleaned up, and strange as it seems, for two retired persons, relaxing.
Thursday 14th of Oct
We set off from Blanes on our journey south.  We had a place called La Manga in mind, my friend Marietta has a place down there and had always talked very fondly of it, so we decided to check it out for ourselves.  We drove all day Thursday and stopped overnight on a site in Valencia, the following day we drove another couple of hundred kilometers and finally reached Camping La Manga at about 1.30pm.  It was gloriously sunny and warm and we went into reception, not knowing how long we would be staying for.  As it turns out, we can stay for as long as we like and pay at the end of our stay, which will probably be early to mid December.
The site is over half a mile long, from reception to the beach, and has an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, plus a beach bar which has different theme foods everyday and music at the weekend, and also a supermarket.  We had a long walk around and found a pitch that suited us. We are in amongst several Brits who come down every year for the winter, and also some who actually live here all year round.  Infact, some of the mobile homes make ours look positively tiny, which is strange because we are used to being the big guys on the site.
Our first couple of days were just getting to know some of our new neighbours and getting to know where the big supermarkets are and local bits and pieces, (you know, like where to get Sunday roast and all day breakfast and the obligatory Irish Pub in any Spanish town).
Monday 18th  Oct 
We carted the canoe down to the beach on the back of the bike.  It was a beautiful day again and we set off to row, with our picnic and headed off for a bit of land in the distance.  We actually got the hang of it quite quickly, although I was slightly envious of the guys motoring past us at a great rate of knots in their motor boats.  We parked up, or rather moored up and had our picnic, enjoyed the sunshine and after a wee while decided to paddle back to our bit of main land.   It was really enjoyable, and very relaxing.
 We have some work to do before the 2012 olympics

Tuesday 19th  Oct 
Started off by riding into Cartegena, which is one of the bigger towns nearby.  We were after a motorhome/caravan shop for a couple of bits and pieces and we managed to get lost a couple of times, but found it just as it was shutting for the siesta time, so nothing for it but to go for a little ride around and get a beer.  We went down to the harbour area and sat watching all the tourists and people off of one very huge ocean liner.  A very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.
The fauna are friendly, obviously learned early about the table scraps.
Wednesday 20th  Oct 
Leon needed his stitches removed from his tail and also a couple of booster jabs, so today was about finding a vet and making an appointment.  We found a great little one and he spoke a little English, but I had written down keys phrases in Spanish, so we were able to explain what we wanted and he seemed to understand and booked us an appointment for tomorrow. Today we toured La Manga itself, and found a lovely restaurant on the beach for lunch.  I don’t get fed up of the views or the sunshine.  We then rode as far as we could along the peninsular, sea on one side, lagoon on the other. Ray decided to do a bit of off roading, it took us ten minutes to pull the bike out of the sand, I made him take me for another beer.
At the beach bar in the campsite.
The lagoon at La Manga

Thursday 21st. Oct
Across the path from us on the site, is a lovely bloke called Dick.  He is from Buckhurst Hill, which is near where I worked when I was stationed at Chingford. When we arrived, he assisted us with directions and getting a signal for our new sky+ box. Infact he gave us a clue as to where the vets were and all the things that we Brits hold dear.   He spends about 6 months of the year here, whilst his wife works in London. She arrived for two weeks on Tuesday and her first trip was to take Ray, Leon and me to the vets, as she couldn’t bear the thought of him (leon that is)  being strapped to the back of the bike, not literally you understand, he would have been in his box, covered up. If I’m honest, I didn’t want that either, but you know Ray, and I quote “he’ll be fine” The boy is 78 in cat years, he has been through enough.
Anyway, I digress, Dick and Jenny dropped us off at the vet and Leon passed with flying colours, and he was very brave.  He is back exploring around and is totally chilled out.
Leon doing the  - its cool for cats thing.
I don’t think I’d mentioned our sky box before. With all the rain we had previously had, unfortunately in a double whammy, the rain came in through a small bit of the roof, and it was right above the sky box, Ray was sitting in the lounge and saw a flash, heard a bang and then there was no more sky box.  The roof has been repaired, but the sky box proved trickier.  We got a free view box and were able to get some channels, but as soon as we were south of Barcelona, we couldn’t get a signal, anyway we were looking at having only news channels, when we saw an advert in the reception area of the site, someone had a sky+ box for sale, second hand and only 40 euros, it now has pride of place in our home, we can’t get BBC, but we are back with most programmes, and again, thanks to Dick for helping with his satellite meter.
The last few days have been very relaxed, topping up the tan, having a Sunday roast (saddo’s I know). We’ve had BBQ’s, made our selves very much at home.  I have to say that I can understand people staying here for months at a time.  (Apparently, you either love or hate this place, and I love it). The weather has been lovely for late October.  We have only had one or two small showers and the worst part was some very blustery winds, and when it blows, you need to tie everything down.

Whist karen was sunbathing, I was working my cotton socks off. Wallace suffered realy badly with the salt from the tornado in Blanes and the spokes and discs were suffering badly with rust. I spent 3 days stripping the wheels apart and cleaning them up and coating them with laquer. All nice and shiny now but I have placed a warranty claim with Yamaha and I await the outcome of that. Actually I lied about karen sunbathing all the time, she also did all the washing and cleaned Lizzy like a new pin.
I hate salt - except on my chips

One of the funniest things was on Halloween, in fact on the 30th,  Saturday night, we heard a knock on the front of the motorhome, and were greeted with shouts of trick or treat. There were two Spanish kids dressed up brilliantly in full scarey costume and we gave them a euro each, (we are pensioners now) and to be honest who would have thought they would turn up on the site, no one warned us about that, so the next night, I made sure I had plenty of sweets and sure enough, we were got again.

This photo does not do this justice, these costumes were good - fair play to them.

If I’m honest, I’m not convinced it wasn’t the same two and they’d swapped costumes…….  They got a handful of sweets each for their efforts.  We’d also visited the local market on Sunday morning.  I have never seen this area so busy.  If you have a certain purchase in mind, I’m sure the market is great,  but we couldn’t wait to get out of there quick enough however, I will make another trip to I in a couple of weeks when I’ve forgotten how crowded it was.
Monday 1st November
We have had a thoroughly indulgent day today.  We went on a road trip around some of the smaller mountain villages.  We visited Portman, which has black volcanic sandy beaches and then via all back roads, industrial areas, (wrong turn), back to Cartegena and then to parts of La Manga that we hadn’t seen, a lovely little place called Cabo De Palos, and at every stop off, we tried a couple of different Tapas, Spanish starters and just enjoyed the ambience.  Everyone we have met, have been really friendly and happy, and that in itself, is very infectious.
Portman bay.

It looks cold but the jackets are needed for protection. The air Temp is relatively cool but the sun is marvellous.

Black sand on a surfers beach - like Lanzarotte

Rugged coastline and surf

Ray doing his Jesus act

Thursday, 14 October 2010

26 Finally - respite from the rain

Wednesday 13th
Another 12 hour rain session. 7pm to 7am. What a long night !
At about midday the sun finally started to filter through so decided to go for a cycle ride into town.
I uncovered the pushbikes and saw that the sea air had rusted the discs very badly. I spent about an hour cleaning the rust off and then we rode into town in our shorts and T shirts.
The promenade was under several inches of sand that had been thrown up by the surf and the diggers were shovelling it back into the sea.

We rode around in the weak sunshine eventually found a place to eat on the promenade.
We had just got our food and guess what, it started to rain......luverly. Fortunately we were under a canopy.
We then rode home whilst stopping off at a bar en route.
On arrival at the campsite, it was in complete darkness. All the communal lighting had been turned off. Fortunately we have lights on our bikes but we are the only people on the campsite and there are a lot of empty caravans still  here - some wrapped in clingfilm or under tarpaulins for the winter.
It is very spooky, all we can hear is the crashing of waves on the beach - not as loud as previously fortunately. The weather report is good for tomorrow but in all honesty, their forecasters are crap compared to those in the UK.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

25 When is it going to end...

Tue 12th. 
Another long night of rain pelting down on Lizzys roof being driven horizontal by gale force winds.
The Surf has calmed down somewhat so the flooding is at least fresh water (mixed in with salt spray).

This is a piccy of the weather system as photographed by our friendly robots named "Geo" and "Stationary" up high in the sky where Neptune and Thor have no influence. 

We are sat at the point of the arrow and that large white blob that surrounds us has been going around and around over our heads for 3 days so far. 

What I cannot figure out is, what did we do to deserve this ?

Everywhere we go to chase some sunshine, the opposite happens. Everywhere we have been rained on in this photo is currently basking in sunshine. 

For Gods sake - we are in Spain - what the f--- is going on ?????

Thor, when I get up there we are gonna have serious words !

Monday, 11 October 2010

24 We love bad weather - at least God thinks we do...

The last 3 days Sat/Sun/Mon 9th to 11th have been a bit damp. We have had a tropical tornado pass slowly by. 

Sat 9th. 
The weather was not too bad but we just sat in Lizzy, read books and played on the computers and just generally took life easy. That night we had a mother and father of a storm with lightning and thuinder crashing all around us. It was quite surreal in Lizzy with the whole place lighting up beside the blinds being down and the thunder claps felt like trees landing on the roof.

Sun 10th. 
The next morning the place was awash and the beach (to our right) starting to suffer....

The quiet, serene, setting on the previous post had gone and the sea was starting to get rough.
 This is just in front of Lizzy.

The beach (to our left) was realy being eroded....

  We are parked on this beach !

Mon 11th. 
The next morning we were starting to get concerned.....
The weather was improving fast but the eye of the storm was now in the Med and the sea was getting rougher.
The beach had eroded for about 10m on our right. The plumbing was all exposed and King Neptune had taken the fence for his garden and presumably some of the pipework for his new toilet.

Some of the waves had reached to within 3m of Lizzy, see the grass pushed between the kerbs.

Unpreterbed by the potential of King Neptune adding Lizzy to his expanding garden, we showered and jumped on Wallace and drove through the sea flooded campsite and off to a small place called Lloret de Mar, where we had one of our first holidays some 10 odd years ago.
By now the weather had changed to bright warm sunshine and we rode to Lloret in our shorts and T shirts.
On arrival we had a nostalgic walk around and came accross this pretty looking church.

Karen found a palm print of her late hero, Colim McRae, in a paving slab next to the beach. This was from when he won the Rally Catalunya in 2000.

My hero,he is the reason I am a petrol head.

We then decided to do what we do best and found a bar on the beach for a little lubrication.

Karen then decided it would be a good idea to go for a paddle. I decided to let her, thinking that paddling on a 4 feet surf just isn't going to work.
I was right (for a change I hear you think).
Karen was doing all right in the lee of the surf. Things changed when the first wave came in. I missed the shot but even I got wet - she got soaked, even her bra got wet - it was going to be a cold ride home.
I chuckled - a lot.

We then decided to go find some grub and went for a short stroll around with Karen dripping wet (he he). We found a small Tapas bar. The food was simple but tasted great. 
It was then time for home so we fired up Wallace and headed for home with a stop at the supermaket on the way. 

On arrival at home we saw this...the camping sight to our right was disapearing fast. Our campsite owners had the foresight to place large rocks as breakers in front of their bit of beach. We may keep Lizzy yet.