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Monday, 21 November 2011

Marjal Costa Blanca

Well, we've been here a week now. The site is enormous, the largest in Europe we think and we like the amount of space generally and of our pitch in particular.




Such a treat to have brand new ultra modern facilities at hand and the option of an activities programme including archery, painting, dance classes, poker, boules, tennis, golf, walking, bike-riding, swimming and cribbage to name a few! We have agreed that the first mention of basket-weaving and we are gone. A few hiccups with the wi-fi and pool heating but the site have delivered thus far.

Because we are staying until the end of March we have a very good deal on the rates and because we're guinea pigs we currently have wi-fi, electricity and access to the spa & fitness club included gratis!!

The camp is buzzing and a continuous stream of motor homes, caravans and campers keeps Mr H busy with his self-appointed role as arrivals and departure monitor. No badge or hat required just the ability to angle your lounger, sunglasses and foot rest to the best vantage points.
  
We threw ourselves into the opening weekend celebrations by joining hundreds of people in the sunshine at an outdoor paella feast. As we waited in line (a very very long line) in typical british fashion, we chatted to fellow campers and the sites website facilitator while Mr H acquired numerous free beers for us. Many in the line arrived with an array of large receptacles for the paella including washing up bowls and huge cook pots which were duly filled by the caterers without question as we were handed ours on paper plates. Mr H managed to eat most of his but the chicken skin complete with feathers and animal vertabrae was rather off-putting for me. I must be in the minority because all seemed to relish the dish and many were heating it up the following day for lunch.


We have sampled a 3 course meal in the restaurant at 9 euros per head and it was excellent, the staff on site are numerous and friendly. Mr H has made friends with the hard-working, ever-present, ever-pleasant gent who manages the camp supermarket and they practise their language skills at every opportunity.  It has to be said that the prices in the shop are comparable to Lidl (other supermarkets are available) and the local supermarkets.

One downside to this fabulous new site is the rural location so you really need transport to get out and about. Catral is not too far to walk to and we have visited the Saturday market at Almoradi; excellent fruit, veg, cheeses, olives and leather goods and well attended by the local spanish community, always a good sign. We now have our hire car so finding our way around the local towns, villages and markets. Have been to Alicante, Elche, Crevillente and Guardamar so far. Even with the aid of a current spanish ordnance survey map we find ourselves driving around various roundabouts several times and occasionally still manage to miss our exit. Mr H says it all adds to the fun and I agree. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bye Bye Benidorm

The wind and rain has been with us for a few days but the sun is now glorious. Officially the gun powder plot is not celebrated here so the locals just pick a fiesta, any fiesta will do and set off very elaborate, noisy, expensive and above all spectaclier fireworks.

Just to be sociable Mr H and I ventured to the bar for the Friday night live entertainment and beer at a euro a pint as you do! The singer was a very talented man, with a Liverpool twang, who entertained us for a good half hour before his set with, one-two one-two, ooonnneee tttwwwoo and "where's the bloody echo button Billy?" Eventually, he drove off somewhere to get his own echo gadget before singing some great songs interspersed by cheeky banter while downing a bottle of vodka, a great night by any standards.

We take the number 10 bus down to Benidorm or venture out on our bikes. Mr H maintains his cool in the manic traffic as we cycle along the N332 but I am close to tears as I dither and sweat just waiting at the lights to turn left! Benidorm is a great mixture of old and new, love the old town's movie style beach vistas, shady alleys and funky shops but have to say some of the newer parts are equally 'interesting'. 





Mr H and I bit the bullet and borrowed a car and members card to visit the ex-Pat's cash and carry. We were becoming anxious as we needed the vital supplies of Fairy wash liquid (non-bio), branston baked beans, marrowfat peas and Pukka Pies.

We cycled to Albir beach today, 24 degrees and a gentle breeze made for a lovely, chilled, sunbathing day. The sunbeds and brolly cost so much Mr H thought we had bought them and was devising a system of strapping them to his cross bar to get them back to the site. Following a jaunt across the road to a cafe bar for lunch we were nicely settled back on our sunbeds when a star of 'Benidorm' (no names but he was without his wig and roller boots) turned up on the next sunbed and proceeded to flick through his lines :)



The crowd around us here on site are brilliant, seasoned 'f**king abouters' with the same daft sense of humour, oh how we will miss them when we move out on Friday. Thanks to Noel & Sharon, Geoff & Pam, Fred & Linda, Peter & Jean, Richard & Judith for their help, afternoon tea and cakes and very good company :))

We're heading 80 miles South to a brand new site at http://www.marjalcostablanca.com/en/ for a while. They've really cracked on with this development which is opening a month ahead of schedule. Looks great but we'll see!!! Will report again soon.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Hola from Spain

We're going to http://www.campingalmafra.es/index.php near Benidorm. The English version of the web-site was unavailable so Mr H had to complete the booking by translating each section.

Thursday was a bit of a nightmare. Mr H has developed a gammy leg, we were late setting off and we took a wrong turning which delayed us even further. Eventually reached the toll roads and headed South towards Toulouse (NB the toll booths here are exceptionally tight!!). From Toulouse onwards the rain was torrential and horizontal, as darkness fell I retreated to the rear and left Mr H to it until we made it through to Perpignan (rain, dark and RV headlights are not a good combination). We managed to find an Aire for the night at Collieure and took a well-earned rest.


By Friday the weather had improved so we made an early start and travelled across the border into Spain, breathing in whilst looking down into deep ravines (Ice Road Trucker style). Followed the main Toll roads down the Mediterranean Coast which were busy due to it being a holiday weekend and allowing an hours break for lunch we had a relatively trouble-free journey down to Benidorm. Once there we entertained ourselves by driving up and down the main road for an hour or so looking for the camp site!


We eventually found it and negotiated camp reception protocols before heading for our pitch in the dark. This was were things picked up considerably thanks to a cheerful welcoming committee of fellow Brits who guided Mr H and our bus seamlessly onto our pitch. Nothing was too much trouble, fresh tea and sympathy was very therapeutic after the trauma of zero visibility and two scratched wing mirrors at the tolls! We were made to feel at home immediately and were able to settle in for the night. Mr H's gammy leg persists so a rest and recovery day was in order as the weather was wet although very warm.

Brilliant sunshine now and Mr H has been inducted into the 'Brotherhood of Almafra', a secret masonic order dedicated to eating out, f**king about in lockers and supporting the local economy through extensive shopping in a local chinese euro shop and the purchase of dodgy club watches;


bartering the price down from an extortionate 5 euros to 3! I have laughed till I choked at Mr H and the brotherhood's childish antics, they are like ten-year-olds let out to play.

Halloween here is a public holiday and a big festival so we have been invaded by fellow spanish campers in full costumes trick or treating. The language barrier was no problem for the children as they called upon us wearing some very elaborate costumes and make-up. Luckily we had stocked up with sweets and lollipops for all. We have settled into no particular routine here and have had the luxury of being chauffeur-driven by a fellow club member in his stunningly beautiful, one-off, mother of a Harley Davidson V10 truck



to the local supermarket and restaurants. We compare notes on how to find the freshest fruit, veg and bread and cheapest alcohol whilst planning a strategy to deter the bike-riding children from spoiling our community water feature (corner puddle!!!)  

Sorting out our TV reception and accessing the internet has involved endless cable exchanges, trips to the euro shop and committee meetings but the lads seem happy with this for some reason - it's a man thing. Mr H is once again fully mobile so we intend to explore the old town in Benidorm further as our club visit for a full Sunday dinner highlighted how lovely this area is.