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Saturday, 27 April 2013

Aranjuez - Madrid - Burgos

Left Marjal on the 25th April and made our way up to a site in
Aranjuez staying for 3 nights. The sat-nav took us on a tour of cobbled narrow streets through a lovely tourist-flooded town. I have come to distrust our sat-nav and despite my numerous insults while triple-checking our route on old fashioned maps it still led us astray! Eventually arrived at the site which was in need of radical updating but at least the facilities were clean (although I wouldn't like to meet what chewed the bottom off one toilet door). The electricity supply was as erratic as Hull City AFC's score board and our pitch was not only covered in sticky leaves but turned out to be the love shack for the local scruffy feral cat population. Mr H and I slipped into a routine of scraping the sticky stuff of our shoes and shoo-ing away the love cats in between cycling along the river bank into town.

Aranjuez Palace is where the Spanish royal family would holiday for the excellent hunting and fishing apparently. The parade ground we cycled through was the meeting place of a vintage scooter rally and we enjoyed a brief glimpse of these loved and pimped machines.  Mr H was able to identify many of the different models proving his days as a mod were not in vain. Sods law we didn't have the camera with us that day but here are a few of my photos of the town.

We managed to squeeze in a visit to Madrid as planned and it did not disappoint. Buzzing, big and so OTT! we loved it. 

The Plaza Mayor

The indoor market

The Royal Palace

The Royal Cathedral

The Royal Theatre

The Royal Backside

The Royal Bottle Tops
Travelled on to Burgos and the journey took us much higher above sea level, in the weak sunshine we were aware of the temperature dropping so I cranked up the heating in the cab for the first time this year!

The baby tiger known as Deano guarded the pear drops (kindly donated for the journey by Rosie) as instructed.

The many tunnels through mountains and regular ear popping were an indicator of how high we were climbing.

Once again the sat-nav had some fun by sending us down a closed road. I leapt out of the RV in my new slippers to move a large red plastic thingy blocking the road, an elderly lady on the footpath giggled and shook her head at my antics but we were determined to get to the site. The road was wide enough to avoid the overhanging trees as we drove down the middle enjoying the luxury of no on-coming traffic until we realised the road was now a dead end! Plan B yet again, we had to take the trailer off to enable Mr H to turn the bus around, reconnect the trailer and go back the way we came to the amusement of the aforementioned lady. Mr H's directional instincts kicked in and he drove without hesitation to the site. We stayed for one night at where we had our first snow since starting our adventure, ok just a few flakes but cold enough to dig out the thick fleece bed throw, fluffy socks and hot soup!

And back to Marjal!

After spending a couple of nights near Benidorm to see a few of the Almafra Mafia we finally arrive at Marjal for our winter stopover in comfortable and familiar surroundings looking forward to catching up with old friends and making some new ones.

I'm sure Mr H needs a welcome break from driving and constantly dismantling and setting up camp.  After a warm welcome from the reception staff we met last year we decided to relocate to a quieter and larger pitch (180sq m) for our 6 months stay. Rosie and Big Nige have pitched nearby to provide back up if needed. In the first few weeks we met up with many familiar faces from our last stay while organising our pitch and getting back into the swing of cycling, swimming, spa-ing, quizzing, eating out, drinking and general fabulousness!! The December sunshine gave us a deep tan and helped us relax, all was good. We hired a car for our stay, if anyone asked it was to explore the whole region and afar but in reality it was for food shopping and the beer run! Again the car was a left hand drive and Mr H soon stopped trying to change gear by grabbing the drivers door handle!!! 

Wise Bob and Hilary arrived in November parking their RV on the pitch next to us. Wise Bob is a gentleman and a legend in his own life time, nearly 80 and seen it, done it and travelled the world while working or travelling in his RV. What he doesn't know about the workings and electrics of a RV are not known to mankind! He also wears the best leather cowboy hat and boots. Bob can jive, line dance, drink gallons of tea, eat quality chocolate biscuits and play dominoes like a demon! Respect. He set up his pitch in record time and started planning his Christmas decorations before anyone else, so proud!

Hilary is a lady and devoted to Bob who treats her like a queen. They joined us in our busy social calendar and Hilary is a not-so-secret dancing diva when the wine flows. Bob stays sober so he can escort her home to sober up before the family Skype them and find out the truth!! We love her infectious giggle and wicked sense of humour. 

December arrived and Mark, Elaine and Spook pitched up across the road (not really, just a pitch in front and down a bit) they are the party king and queen and provide the best home-made paella, french wine, comedy moments and company for us all. They also introduced us to many campers we did not previously know and hosted regular do's for various birthdays, anniversaries and foreign exchange days!! Some fellow German campers got together and treated us all to an extended afternoon of food and drink. They cooked white sausage, served with mustard, salt bread and white beer, accompanied by jolly banter and a sing song. We Brits returned the favour by inviting them for afternoon tea of bacon and sausage sandwiches followed by British tea and cream scones. The beer and wine flowed as a specially created playlist of Britpop played. We do need to report that drunken cross-dressing and many loud choruses of the banana song resulted in a complaint, this was handled politely by Big Nige (our elected P R man and minute-taker) who told them to **** **f!!.

Mr H achieved his new personal best for beer can-stacking during one jolly, although Big Nige said that the Guinness Book of World Records were not impressed with this.

We flew home to spend 10 days over the Xmas and New Year period with family and friends. Packing for a visit home has become an art and highlights our differing priorities. Mr H is of the hand luggage only brigade "who needs more than 3 pairs of pants, a hankie and a change of t-shirt!". His laptop, I-pod and kindle being his priority (other devices are also available ). I need several attempts to get my case under the allotted 22kg limit! (a girl needs her shoes, makeup and Molton Brown products to survive!).

Going home is always manic but so lovely to be with family and friends once again in Blighty. How sad that I now become excited about visits to SainsTescMorrAsda!  marvelling at the shelves full of products not available on our travels. As usual Mr H takes things in his stride but draws the line at a 5 hour trip to M & S!! With a bulging suitcase for Mr H to manhandle packed with my favourite honey, his coffee and prized Hull City FC flag prezzie we returned to sunny Spain in the new year. Our friends had spent Christmas sunbathing, eating and drinking, poor things and we arrived back in time to celebrate the festival of the Three Kings with them.

Mr H erected his flag with the appropriate solemn ceremony. We salute the flag regularly and it has created many a conversation with fellow campers and visiting Spanish families. 

We get fabulous sunsets most evenings. 

but January brought some gale force winds which created a problem for Mr H and many of our fellow campers. Previously, the mechanics and maintenance of quality windbreaks was a mystery to us both, but oh how we've learned. The winds made light work of our windbreaks launching them straight out of the ground like kites. Mr H and I spent many 3am's outside in bitter winds trying to recover our windbreaks or dismantle them. Many campers awnings and tents were demolished by the winds so we were lucky really. Our kitchen tent and storage/shed tent survived luckily but Mark and Elaine's posh gazebo was destroyed by the winds.  Mr H is now a fully qualified erection technician, complete with professional knee pads.

Thank the lord for Lidl & Aldi. As well as the knee pads Mr H's weekly purchases include a large garden storage box (empty until the day we left); a pair of walkie-talkies (still in the cupboard); a harmonica in case Mr H puts the band back together (I stopped him buying the electric organ and stand); a games compendium (with instructions in Spanish); various garments for cycling, fishing and scootering and numerous tools and gadgets that will come in handy one day! (never!!). I've also realised it's not safe to let the lads go out shopping, they returned from a mission to get milk with a kitchen tent!

As soon as the wind drops we try and get out. On one trip out with some fellow campers we were amazed to discover this Morrocan Tea house off the back roads behind Crevillente. Can thoroughly recommend a visit, a real oasis of calm and tranquillity! Although I would not like to polish all those ladles.

For anyone who follows Mr H's angling exploits, after 6 months of meticulous planning and several fishing expeditions with Big Nige this was the only the fish to show for it. They put it down to the inclement weather conditions ;)

And finally, during our 6 month stay we have met so many fellow Brits and enjoyed their company and giggles. The poker crew, the line-dancers and here goes with an anonymous tribute to those lovely people (you know who you are) and the things that made us laugh together;
"Pawll  shattttapp, naaa u shatttapp"
The pomegranate, lemon and coriander harvesters of Callosa
The quiz king and queen, "lordy lordy is that a cirrus nimbus"
"They better put sugar in my next coffee enema!!"

We've put our windbreaks and tents in storage (got to use the storage box at last :)) and will return later in the year. Safe travels and hope to see you all soon.