Friday, December 23, 2011

Crown Jewels - Guest post from Cathryn Glennon

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Cathryn and I am the owner of a company called Crown Jewels. I supply high quality costume jewellery, clutch bags, and many more hand made items and accessories at the lowest possible prices. I pride myself on my prices and my professionalism, and I insist on giving the best service possible.
I started out at the beginning of October this year with my first party being held at home on the 6th. I asked all the ladies to “Dress to Impress” so we could all see how fabulous they would look with their new 'Bling'! which they all did and we had lots of fun. I set up my display and supplied drinks and nibbles and my guests were able to peruse the goods at their leisure. There was background music playing which prompted my Spanish neighbours to start dancing! Overall the evening was a total success and there was lots of great feedback as regards the beautiful displays, the service given, the presentation of the goods when they had been purchased (I like to present everything in a pretty bag so that it is all ready to give as a gift) but perhaps most importantly, the super low prices.
I understand that everyone is feeling `The Crisis' and cannot always afford something different but because I run my business from home and online, I have no overheads which means that I can really keep my products at absolute rock bottom prices which in the current climate is essential.
November and December have been exceptionally busy in the run up to Christmas and I have worked incredibly hard to make sure that all the parties have been as successful as possible.
I am also involved in several “Ladies Lunch Clubs” in the local area such as Catral, Dolores and Quesada to name but a few. It is important to me to ensure that I have plenty of goods for the ladies to look as there may well be 40 – 70 ladies at any one time in these groups so that involves lots of motorway travel to see my Spanish supplier for the ‘blingy’ items and the satin clutch bags, and using most of, if not all of my spare time sitting at my dining table with my husband, Chris Holmes with our little factory production line!! So far we have made beaded necklace/bracelet sets as well as earrings, bookmarks, cufflinks, bag charms etc. We are busy now preparing Valentines Day gifts!
Currently, I have regular presentations in my local area which is Catral but also in Villa Martin and further afield too and I am looking to expand wherever possible so I am always happy to travel to parties.
I will be presenting my display at Marjal Camping at Guardamar, as well as the new site at Crevillente and I am always looking for new organisations to get involved with.
I will be at the ‘This Is Spain Exhibition’ on 24th 25th and 26th of February at the beautiful La Zenia Hotel.
For parties in bars/restaurants. I supply everything myself and require a space of 4 meters in length. There is no cost to the bar owners and my posters are available on the website so it can be well advertised.
For private parties at home, I need the same space but the home owner will be expected to supply tea/coffee and a few nibbles and of course, their lady friends! In return, they will receive commission on all goods sold which I will be happy to discuss.
My contact details and website are as follows
Website : http://www.facebook.com/l/KAQHck-SUAQHOks4prkb8fIKXNQ2FsHPKiFAPWKvU7JuA7g/www.crownjewelsspain.webs.com:-
Email : www.crownjewelsspain@yahoo.co.uk
Alternatively I can be contacted on +34 647 149 849.
Lastly, I look forward to hearing from you with any suggestions, bookings, ideas etc.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On the Roof

The talented Joaquin is putting our roof to rights. We knew it would have to be done buts its not a summer job, its dangerously hot up there when the sun is blazing. Anyway having waited to see how much it leaked, like a sieve, we knew a lot of work needed doing. In fact Joaquin found some of the tiles where held in place by mud! John would have liked to have a go at doing the job but he has no head for heights, plus it really calls for someone a little nimble, the tiles are so easy to break. To be honest its calls for a lot of Spanish know how too, most especially on an old roof like ours. So it will soon be sound rather than like a sieve above our heads. Tiles have been checked one by one, ridge re-concreted and the chimney will be rebuilt, told you he was talented. 

One worrying thing, for me anyway! Yesterday Joaquin found a full snake skin up  there. He said its OK because there wont be snakes in the winter only the summer.. Oh well that’s OK then I feel SO much better now.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Calasparra and Sanctuary



On Thursday we had a drive over to Calasparra, it is a pleasant town with a nice square where you can get a good cup of coffee and a pastry or cake, there is meant to be a cheesecake factory in Calasparra but we can never find it, however we did find the Sanctuary of the Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza, our lady of hope - the patron saint of Calasparra, it is several kilometres from Calasparra in a gorge with the Rio Segura running through it, The sanctuary dates back to the 17th century, it is a place of pilgrimage and many people travel here from all over Spain and beyond. The church which is beautiful is set into the cliffs and a mass is held on Sundays and bank holidays at 12:00. There is a gift shop, childrens play area and large restaurant with a varied menu that is very reasonably priced, There are several waymarked walks and a barbeque area down by the river. Entry is free but donations are accepted. On the way from the sanctuary there is a viewpoint where you can look across breathtaking views of the mountains, river and the rice paddy fields that Calaparra is also famous for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Rain in Spain

It is all or nothing, right now its all. What to do on a raining winters day, the roads are awash, the roof of our house is not behaving itself so we are on leak watch. Well then, its light the fire, get the log burner warmed up and cook something warming for a family dinner tonight. The beef cassorole is in, found some wonderful shin of beef in the butchery department of Mercadonna today, with fresh herbs from the garden, loads of vino tinto (red wine) and local vegetables, its smelling wonderful. I always used shin of beef for stews when we were first married, it a cheap cut still, and slow cooking, the wood burner oven is perfect, produce a melt in the mouth result.
We have now tried out the oven at the top of the woodburner for a number of different dishes, roast chicken comes out moist and delicious, pizza is ready in a very short time and rice pudding turns out like the good old fashion ones of childhood. Now eager to try out baking and breadmaking in it. What a good idea to put an oven on top a wood burner, really get full fuel value out of it. We only got our winter supply of logs delivered this week, just in time it would seem, this weather is forecast for the rest of the week. Somehow it doesnt seem like a hardship to us, rather nice in fact.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

UK shopping in Spain

I happened to notice the other day that now it is possible to buy from several large UK stores online and get courier delivery to your Spanish address, Argos-Spain have around 8000 products, any amount delivered for 9.95 euros, Next, has a delivery charge of 5 euros, John Lewis delivery charge 7.50euros  Theres also Marks and Spencers with international shopping. There is also the "UK shopping in Spain" company based in Mazarron where you can order from over a dozen different UK stores and they will deliver the whole order to you, you pay for delivery by weight and this one seems to work out quite expensive in my opinion.
 To buy a new laptop or PC from Marks and Spencers or Argos could be ideal as the operating systems are English where as it is not easy to get an English version on a laptop from a Spanish store.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Branching Out and Exploring Costa Calida


There’s no denying that the Murcia region is something special. From brilliant beaches which remain free from the wildfire of mass tourism, to enchanting countryside primed for exploration, you’ll never tire of things to do in the captivating city of Murcia.
It’s worth branching out a bit further though, because the 250km expanse of the Costa Calida coastline is calling and it starts practically on your doorstep. It stretches from El Mojon near Alicante, all the way down to Aguilas on the border of Almeria. Arrange Murcia Airport car hire and start exploring further afield; aside from picture perfect views, you’ll find plenty more to enjoy.
The ex-fishing village of El Mojon pinpoints the start of the trail. It still retains its original charm but it has now been transformed into a modern resort. There isn’t a huge amount to do per-se, but the secluded sandy shore can answer all your prayers if you’re a beach lover.
Not far from El Mojon are a couple of local towns which you may not have heard of, but will prove to be a valued visit. The first is the larger town of San Pedro, just over 1 mile away from the beach. Brimming with character, the old harbour has a certain charm to it and there’s a market on Mondays that’s worth a wander, packed with fresh local produce. Also worth a look is the town of Pillar De La Horadada where you can find some fantastic local restaurants and authentic tapas bars, plus a host of shops to peruse.
If you branch off from the AP-7 after a visit to the Mar Menor and opt for the smaller scenic roads, you’ll be acquainted with Mazarron Bay which is sheltered by its impressive backdrop of peaks. With its own port, filled with brightly coloured fishing boats, a hive of activity scents the air. You will need to travel around 7km inland to reach the town itself and it certainly has some delights up its sleeve from the 15th century Castillo de los Velez to a collection of 16th and 17th century churches. In addition, you can climb the Torre de los Caballos watch tower which dates to the 16th century. Sample the delectable selection of fresh fish and tapas during your visit and simply soak up the sunshine.
Just a few kilometres away from Mazarron Bay lays the tiny medieval village of Bolnuevo. Referred to as the “enchanted city”, the rocks here have been eroded by the elements over many years and Mother Nature has crafted a series of sandstone shapes and creations. They are an impressive natural sight which appears to defy the laws of gravity. Some of the rock and clay even contains micro fossils which date to around 4.5 million years ago. There are a multitude of tiny snug coves and sandy secludes to choose from, perfect to enjoy the mini microclimate which brings 300 plus days of sunshine every year.
Before you move on from the area, take a trip inland to explore the beckoning backdrop of the Sierra Espuna Mountain Range. The journey will take approximately 45 minutes, but it’s a small price to pay for the beauty that awaits you. The regional park offers a wealth of enjoyment amongst its 25,000 hectares with the option to traverse some of it on foot via the spider web of walking trails or by a scenic drive along the well-kept mountain road. Pack a picnic and stop off at one of the many viewing points; it will transport you to tranquillity. The village of Aledo clings to the side of the mountain and is one of many worthy stops during your time in the park. Climb the 11th century tower for further dramatic and inspiring views.
From here, head back to Mazarron and embark on what can only be described as a fascinating journey south towards Aguilas. You will see some fantastic and varied sights encompassing desert and mountain scenery, broken with colourful bursts of mineral stained mounds and slate hills. Upon arrival at Aguilas, close to the border of Almeria, you will soon classify it as a charming port town. Spend some time at the Plaza de Espana Gardens, see the city hall and step back in time at the 16th century San Juan de Aguilas Fortress. Below this, you’ll spy the port and the black and white striped lighthouse. The 34km stretch of coastline boasts rocky coves aplenty and beaches with crystal clear water. Some of the best scuba diving in the area can be found close to the rock of Cape Cope, so it’s the perfect opportunity to slide on your wet suit and meet the fishy underworld.
This simply scratches the surface of the Costa Calida; there are a huge array of other towns, villages and places of interest that are worthy of your time up and down the coast. The point of this post is to encourage you to stretch your imagination…branch out from the Mar Menor and Murcia and discover what the rest of the region can offer you. You won’t be disappointed.
Guest post by Kerri Ware (Economy Car Hire Ltd )

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jet2 At Corvera

The first of the budget airlines has registered its intent to fly to the new Corvera airport. They plan to operate from November 2012, their 50 plus staff at San Javier will be transferred to Corvera, to supply the support required as they also will be providing inclusive holidays at the La Manga Club resort via Jet2holidays.com

Pool closed

Well, thats it for this year, we have put the winter cover on the pool. we are not emptying the pool as some people do but have thoroughly cleaned it and made sure the balance of chlorine and PH are correct in the water and hopefully when we take the cover off next year there will not be too much work to make the pool useable.
as the water is at the normal depth we shall run the filter pump for a short while each week to keep everything functioning.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Feast on the Best Seafood in Spain


When a native English speaker hears terms like seafood and fish, he or she usually conjures up images of a fish and chips stand on the corner. We have become so used to beer-battered, deep-fried, and tartar sauce soaked seafood that it is the norm for most of us to think about heart disease being a part of any pescatarian dish.
If you want to get a glimpse and see how seafood is meant to be prepared and enjoyed, taking a trip to Spain is the most effective method. You won't find any Red Lobster, Long John Silvers, or Captain D's locations in this Mediterranean country because fast food is generally frowned upon. You will however find a traditional atmosphere of people actually enjoying freshly prepared seafood dishes in fine and casual dining establishments.
Because of their unique proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Spain has been gifted with some of the best seafood variety in the entire world. Whether you are staying across the way at Club Méditerranée or discovering the country Don Quixote style, here are some of the best seafood dishes Spain has to offer:
Paella
What started as the city of Valencia's signature dish, this blend of delicate ingredients has become a staple in Latin America and is starting to gain positive reception around the world. Paella starts off with a broth made from shrimp heads, garlic, and bay leaves. Rice is added as a base and then comes an array of shrimp, cuttlefish, lobster, and mussels. After that, the dish is topped off with one of the rarest and most fragrant herbs on earth, saffron.
Canned Seafood
When thinking about canned seafood, it is easy to limit your purchasing decisions to tuna. The Spanish have been known to take great pride in preparing, preserving, and canning their seafood for many years now. As seen on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, Spanish know what they are doing when it comes to canning their fish.
Instead of being limited to traditionally salty and fatty fare, Spanish canned seafood is a little more expensive but consists of delicacies like mussels, scallops, baby eels, and octopus. Those who would never eat a sardine or anchovy should try them the Spanish way to get the authentic texture and flavor from the commonly derided food.
Calamares Fritos
Perhaps best known to English speaking people as Calamari, this entry is the closet to fish and chips you will be able to order in Spain. This is a simple, yet delicious piece of culinary ingenuity which takes thinly slivered pieces of squid in a light batter, flash fries them, and serves it up with red sauce and a squirt of lemon. While not enough to serve as an entree, it can certainly warm up an appetite for what is up ahead.
Suquet
Suquet is a seafood stew which gained traction through the Catalan regions of the country. Most common recipes call for clams and other shellfish to be prepared in a combination of garlic and olive oil while a seafood stock is prepared along with almonds, tomatoes, parsley, and other non shellfish. The kicker to this dish is the addition of a Spanish sparkling white wine called Cava, which gives the dish a light fizz.
English misconceptions about the different ways seafood can be prepared are easily shattered by the Spanish culinary creations. Living a healthier and more active life is possible because of such things like fresh produce and healthy fish fats that the Spanish rely on for most of their diet. Even if you enjoy the usual preparation of seafood, make sure to get a different perspective when in Spain.
(Guest post)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Picking The Olives


We only have one tree but it has quite a big spread , when we arrived back yesterday Bec, Quin and Jude had already starting work on picking the olives, as the tree needed cutting back quite a bit we chopped branches off that needed it and picked some of the olives like that, we were surprised to pick 3 crates full, which took untill mid afternoon today. Our next door neighbour will take them to be processed and then we will have some of our own Olive oil.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Safely back home again

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Anglet to Naverrete del Rio

Wet again this morning, but as we approach the mountains it looks brighter and by the time we are over the Spanish border the sun is shining, and its a lot warmer.  Its surprising how much quieter the roads are after the UK and France. we stop at Longares, a small village off the A23 and have a picnic lunch and a walk round the village then set off and arrive at Naverette del Rio at 15.30. the hotel - Rincon de Naverrete is amazing,  it is full of antique furniture and very comfortable. The owner, Bernard showed us the bar and told us to help ourselves to drinks and write down in the book what we had. After dinner at the restaurant we were having a drink in the bar and Bernard asked us if we would like to look at his house, we entered into a  large arched courtyard with old carriages and a fountain then we had a guided tour of the house which was set out like a museum, the house originated from the 16th century and the furniture, paintings and decor were amazing, in every room from the wine cellar to the bedrooms everything was antique and set out as if being lived in. Bernard told us he had been creating the place for twenty years. and he actually lived in modern rooms adjoining  but occasionally used the old part.

Ruffec to Anglet


Biarritz seafront


We woke up to another dreary rainy morning and after breakfast set off along fast motorway type roads which is the trend for most of the day, most of the time lorrys are not allowed to overtake and have to stay in lane so you dont have the problem of them blocking the whole carraigeway, but instead you get continual streams of lorries nose to tail. The N10 is also busy route for heavy transport to and from Portugal, most of the aires in this part of the journey are terrible, dirty, smelly and untidy.maybe they are not being maintained because of the bad financial situation in France that the French will not admit to.
We arrived in Anglet around 15.00 and went down to the sea front at Biarritz 6 kms away, the sea was full of logs, trees and other rubbish as there has been torrential rain and flooding in this area in the past couple of days. there is enough driftwood to keep the log fires burning for years.Even though there was still a couple of dozen surfers trying to ride the big swells, There are some great walkways and cafes and restaurants along the seafront and in better weather it will be really nice here.
Tomorrow across the border and back into Spain and hopefully some sunshine.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Senonches to Ruffec

We started off on another dreary morning, driving through flat countryside on narrow country lanes, The grass verges are very soft so if there is an oncoming vehicle you have to be carefull as the wheels sink in. we pass through some nice villages with amazing architecture and chateaus. For a Sunday morning we see more people around than usual, most have been or are off to the bakery for their baquettes. later although we are on a minor road, it is so straight that at one point we can see for 5 kilometres along it. The weather  cleared a bit and we arrive at the bed and breakfast accommodation mid afternoon, there are four other guests so our evening meal is enjoyed with plenty of wine and good company.
today we travel from Ruffec to Anglet near the Spain/france Border.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Calais to Senonches

And still it rained, in triplicate! Dark and very wet as we left Callias but we left with a very different impression of the town to the one we gained on the way. Lots of nice looking restaurants and the best meal we have ever had in France. Thank you Calais.
Our first destination for the day was the little village of Harponville on the Somme. My great Uncle, my mothers uncle, Crp. William Taylor was killed there in the final months of WW1. It was a moving experience for both of us. Despite never having known great Uncle William it really brought home the loss of a generation of young men, who stepped forward to when called to arms. It also left us wondering at the futility of war.
The British war graves commission is responsible for the care of the graves and the Harponville cementery is a credit to their work. As we drove through the Somme  many fields had had there autumn ploughing giving an eerie reminder of the mud covered battlefields and heightening, for us, an echo of the horror of the historic events that touched our family as it did so many others.

 The cemetery at Harponville
The River Seine near Vernon
We head of towards Senonches in thoughtful mood stopping for lunch by the side of the river Seine. A busy river for for work and leisure with huge barges, they often carry a car for use ashore, and fishermen drifting in the rain. The countryside was quiet as we took the more scenic route, the only people around seemed to be "La Chase" in pursuit of their supper.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Eastwood to Calais

The Calais Hotel de Ville -Town hall
It was a horrible morning to start out, rainy and dull, the motorways as usual was crowded with thick spray flying  we got stuck for twenty minutes in a tailback in Bedfordshire, but then the weather brightened up, we tried to visit Dover castle but it was closed , only open weekends...then on the ferry across to Calais, staying at the Bonsai Hotel that has just under gone renovation, as we were taking our bags out the car a police car screeched to a halt in the car park and this blokesprinted past us, when he saw the police had him cornered he put his hands in the air and surrendered, the police appeared to jump on him, handcuff him and march him away to the police car and away they went. We found a really good restaurant opposite the hotel "The buffet de Gare"where we had a really excellent meal, delicious home made cream of vegetable soup, beef in gravy, which was thick chunks of beef. included was bread, a quarter carafe of wine each, and coffee. ---11.50 euros each, the hotel was next to the railway but we didnt hear any trains, but from our window an amazing view of the Hotel de Ville.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bargain Cafe

We had a walk round Eastwood town yesterday afternoon, had a look around the 5 charity shops, and also  found a cafe ("The Coffee and Cream") that had just opened .and was doing everything half price for the first week, We had a Sirloin steak meal, roast lamb meal with all the trimmings and i had steak pie, chips and peas with 3 drinks the total price = 7.50p.What a bargain.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Calais to Nottingham


We stayed at Balladins, Calais for the night and got up bright and early for the Ferry, amazing sunrise as we left Calais, -- when we pulled up in the line for embarkation we parked behind an identicle car to ours even the same colour, sitting waiting and all of a sudden the back door of our car is opened an this guy is looking for something, so i asked him what .. and he realised he was in the wrong car , that he was from the car in front of ours, poor guy was embarrassed but it was funny. my first thought was we were being searched by customs!.
Onto British soil and the traffic is nose to tail virtually all the way to Nottingham, the weather - dreary and wet, Oh well.
Our return journey starts 4th November, we will blog the trip back.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Villiers de Morhier to Calais

Another day of the french leg of the trip draws to a close. The  nearer we get to the channel the colder it gets, even John has donned jeans and sweater.
today we have seen so many sights to its hard to list them. The iconic Eiffel tower loomed up at us as we negotiated the city of Paris. It seemed even larger than the time we were moored below it whilst working on a hotel barge through France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Paris trafffic was as crazy as ever, thank goodness for the Sat nav we say.
We set off today through very rural france, tidy villages and little towns, took a detour to look at Roman remains and drank coffee at a cross roads where stood a depiction of Christ crucified. All the time looking around and trying to make sense of another centuries descent into madness that was the first world war. In these very fields thousands of young men lost there lives. Roadside cemetries with row after row of white crosses marking a lost generation in the corner of some foriegn field.

The country roads where sometimes alarmingly filled by roaring lorries taking sugar beet to local refineries. All very indicative of East Anglia in UK, same flat vista, same tooth rot crop!

The last leg of the day took in busier and faster roads, three accidents spotted along the way, can driving like lunatics be a national trait, or maybe a national pass time?

Now Calais for the night and the ferry early tomorrow, cheapy hotel today, yesterdays was a more expensive B and B, but thats a long story for another time. At which point we will share with you "thoughts from the french (self styled) middle classes". Watch this space.............

THE CROSS

ROMAN RUINS

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Isle to Villiers de Morhier

THE CHURCH OF NOTRE DAME IN CHATEAUROUX



                  LAZING AROUND

First of all a word from our sponsors! we rather think the hotel we stayed in last night had a not so hidden agenda. The hotel was described as being handy for anyone visitng the local hospital, bit surprised to find it was surrounded on all sides by what seemed like the biggest hospital site in the EU. "It feels like a hospital in here" I said, I looked at the info on display in the reception area, no local places of interest, all about health insurance and the like?? What was strangest of all though was finding the bed linen had the words "university hospital" woven into it.(in french of course)We have stayed in some strange places but I mean really.
It rained last night and was still  very damp looking when we set off, another real autumn start to the day. We planned to take a couple of stops to look a the towns of Chateauroux and Vierzon.
The weather was holding so we where able to take a good look at the two places, both with interesting old quarters.  We stopped for coffee in the main square in Chateauroux,  must the say the coffee was non too good, the cups tiny and it was twice the price of Spain. However its always fun to sit and observe local daily life in a new place.
Vierzon  has a real water theme going on and we crossed three bridges over the shallow fast running river before we got to the main town area. All very attractive with lots of well maintained flower containers to brighten the streets.
When we set off again we could see we were heading into heavy rain.  We were soon through it however and a rainbow told us it was a good time to stop for a picnic lunch.
The afternoon took us by the awesome, in the true sense of the word, Chartres cathedral which dominates the landscape for miles around. For some reason most of the churches we are seeing put us in mind of rockets. Begining to wonder if God has extra terrestial connections.
Tonight we are staying in a converted farm building over 200 years old, will there be any ghosts I wonder.
Tomorrow  our destination is Calais to stay overnight for the morning ferry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Auch to Isle (Limoge)

We got an early start this morning, it was just getting light, though the drive is only 360 kilometres we were ready so we left, i set the sat nav to NO tolls, so we followed the motorway on country roads for 200 kilometres then joined the non paying for motorway for a 100 kilometres, we stopped at  an aire for lunch, a really nice picnic area with great relaxing surroundings the only problem was the weather is getting worse the further North we travel, and it was quite cold and very windy. but we still have not had any rain.
 While we were on the motorway today we there was a Red Kite hovering about fifty foot above our carraigeway, just as we were near it it started swooping down in front of us so i blasted the horn and it veered away but it was a close thing. but we had an amazing view of it, A noticable thing the further North in France we travel the faster people are driving, but the traffic so far is nothing in volume compared to the UK.
Tomorrow we travel from Isle to Villiers de Morhier

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Huesca to Auch (France)

The second day of our drive proved to be a little longer than we had planned. Having arrived in Ainsa we took the turning towards the tunnel that would get us part way through the pyranees, only 52 kilometres till we crossed into France. Its was a most unpleasant surprise to see a digital road sign telling us the tunnel was closed. Time for a stop and rethink on the route. Thinking we had a short driving time today we had taken a wonderful, and very winding road to Ainsa, the unavoidable change would now add an extra 100 kilometres to the days journey.
We decided to look on the bright side however and enjoy yet more spectaculer scenery. The day was bright and sunny, a little autumn chill in the mountain air but wow how fantastic the trees were. The gold of the poplars mingled with colours that at times seemed unreal. We were delighted by ever more alpine style villages and towns. Empty roads for the most part through passes that held rivers and little meadows. Several times we came upon lazy cows grazing on the road sides or indeed standing in the road. We saw groups of hunters setting off from their 4 wheel drives for a days shooting in the forest, camp sites that were busy at the start of the hunting season. Whole families seemed to be taking part.
We hope very much that the hunts people will repect the law and the very many birds of prey  will continue to thrive. Red kites seem to be doing particularly well, we saw them in large numbers. Also caught sight of Jays, a lovely bird.
We checked in to our hotel which is on the outskirts of Auch and then went into the town, where we had a look at the cathedral and walked through the historic quarter and by the River Ger.

Travelling in Autumn when the weather is this good is just great. Tomorrow we wend our way to Isle near Limoges. As for tonight we are just about to settled down for the rest of the evening at the hotel Robinson, surrounded by squirrel filled trees, ah bliss.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blanca to Huesca

We left home around 8 oclock, It was still dark, being Saturday the roads were very quiet, i had set the Sat nav to the shortest route to Requena so we had an interesting drive down some country roads, it was single track at one stage! from Requena to Teruel there are some fantastic rock formations, landscapes and the autumn colours were amazing. we stopped in a small village called Libros for coffee, this village is between the mountains and has the River Turia running through it. After Teruel we got onto the A23 which is a fast, fairly straight road most of the way to Huesca, we did stop for lunch but the flies drove us away. The landscape is very flat and we saw quite a few Vultures and Kites on this part of the journey. We found our Hotel and after sending some emails on the hotels free Wi Fi went for a walk around the town (city)? there is some amazing architecture, and a cathedral, thinking we were going to an art gallery we went to the Cultural centre the exhibition was of the sculptor (Steve Gibson) had created around a hundred pidgeons of cardboard? which filled the Gallery floor space, they were placed as you would probably see them feeding in a public square, very unusual as some of the pidgeons had no heads. After that, time for dinner but the Chino was closed up, and it appears that most restuarants dont open till after 9:00pm. We were hungry and as there are many Tapas bars, decided on a selection of tapas and a couple of glasses of beer each. and sat on a terrace watching the world go by. Its much colder here than down in Blanca, the hotel receptionist tells us the early morning temperatures are near freezing. Tomorrow we will drive from Huesca to Auch in France. around 270 Kilometres and crossing the Pyrenees. I will be wearing Jeans and Jumper tomorrow instead of shorts and T shirt.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trip to The UK

Tomorrow we start our journey to the UK, we are driving up through France over 5 days and will explore a bit of France on the way, hopefully will be able to post any events and highlights of our trip. so will keep you posted. Tomorrow night we have a hotel booked at Huesca which is roughly 600 kilometres from Blanca and we hope to leave around 8.00 in the morning. Our son Jude is house and pet sitting while we are away and really would like to come and live in Spain so he will have the chance to check out the possibilities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tales of the river bank

When we think about the many places we have lived its seems that being near water is a theme. Having been brought up, met and married in a city that is about as far from the sea as you can get in UK we still found water to enjoy. It may only have been inland waterways, canals that is, but walking the tow paths provided us with relaxation and a way of getting away from the hustle and bustle, still does in fact when we go back to visit. Living in Cornwall we were never far from the sight and sound of the sea. Then in the Highlands we lived for many years by the deceptive River Enrick, such a mild little stream in summer but quite capable of becomes a raging torrent that flooded the area in winter. Likewise the River Ness which we also lived near. On moving to Spain we were close to the Rio de Segura in both Formentera and Guardamar, in the latter we also over looked the Mediterranean with all its changing moods. Now here we are in Blanca, close to the source of that same river, but oh what different river it is in this time. Not mostly sluggish, always muddy sometimes smelly. Instead its a babbling and beautiful fast running body of water. We have not seen it in full spate as yet but the clarity of the river is such a delight, when nearer the sea it becomes rather like an Australian river to look at muddy in the extreme, though I think at its tail end its not a clean as Australian rivers we have seen and been afloat on. We have swam in the mighty Murray but i would not do so anywhere in thelast few kilometres of the Segura. As I said its a different story here. we have all been in the river where it is easy to access down in Blanca, especially before we had our own pool. The river also provides us with a winter activity we look forward too. Just as we enjoyed walking the towpaths back in UK we plan many walks along the side of the river here. We started this week with a walk from the recreation area at our side of Abaran. Lots of things to hold our interest, including a huge red squirrel we watched for sometime as it tried to decide a good hiding place for its winter stash. This part of the river that circumnavigates the town of Abaran takes you past many little allotment size plots where local people grow there own food. We do wonder if the up and coming generation will put there hands to the plough as the older ones hang up their hoes. It may be just a well this area had a reputation for longevity, our neighbours are in there 80s and still working hard in there market garden. Only time will tell if they will be able to hand on the land to others who will care as much and work as hard.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heart Warming Stuff

The weather remains glorious, albeit a little cooler in the morning and evening. During the day however its better than summer, not to hot but sunny and warm. On Sunday we took full advantage by cooking and eating outside. We have a great wood fired oven outside which is amazingly efficient. A surprisingly small amount of wood soons brings it up to cooking heat. As I say yesterday we made good use of the fine autumn weather. Rebecca and Joaquin came over with local lamb, wine and local vegetables. Theses were pretty soon cooking away nicely, the lamb in red wine with fresh rosemary and bay from the garden, also in the horno was a pear and apple crumble, again local produce. I also knocked together some ratatouille using the excellent quality aubergines we get here. As we sat around the table we all expressed amazement that here we are in the middle of October enjoying the outdoor life that makes living here such a pleasure. Our brick oven, know here as an Horno ( dont sound the H of course) is built of red brick, as is all of our outdoor kitchen. I actually like the red bricks, reminds me of the most common building materials where i grew up in the midlands of England. The tradition of these type of solid fuel masonry ovens can be found all over the world. Historicly they where used by the Romans and in precolumbian Americas, similar ovens were often made of clay or adobe. In India, tandoors are traditional clay ovens. The open-topped tandoor is a transitional design between the earth oven and the Roman-plan masonry oven. I guess they have lasted so long because they not only work so well, baking in them is a joy, bread turns out so well. They are also not reliant on a fuel supply which a third party has control of, a bit of wood is all you need. As i say great for baking, in fact I popped in a couple of trays of biscuits after the lunch was ready making use of the residue heat. Waste not want not, thats our motto.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cooling pool

Here we are in the middle of October and still swimming in the pool at least twice a day, at night the air certainly is a lot cooler and this is cooling the water a bit, but because we have a solar cover on the pool, the sun in the day is warming the pool water up to a certain extent I do think we are also aclimatising to the water temperature as it must be dropping slightly all the time now, the question is how long will it be before we find it just too chilly to be enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The postman always rings twice!

Well maybes that’s where we are going wrong, we haven’t got a bell, we haven't got what you could call a postal service either it seems. Here in Spain the service has never been what you might call first class. In Formentera it was hit and miss, our bank had to use am alternative delivery method to get important documents to us. In Guardamar we got everyone’s post but our own, SOMEONE out there is no doubt enjoying the House DVDs my brother sent me. When we moved to Blanca we were hopefully it would be better, even though we are in the campo. The odds seemed good as Rebecca has an good service, in fact when we lived in Guardamar I did get packages sent to her, which arrived, as it seemed safer. Well as I always say travelling in hope is sometimes better than arriving in disappointment. We arrived here safe and sound, not so the majority of our post. The story so far: We call at the Correos in Blanca, we are told that post is delivered to the house, hurrah. No sign of a postman. We were called on by close neighbours, British, who have been away. On there return they find "someone" has thrown a bundle of post over their gate, its addressed, correctly and clearly to us. "You need a post box" they tell us. We return to the post office and are told A. post will be delivered and B. not worth getting box till the new year starts. We eagerly await our post. We get an email from the estate agent, we have some of your post, another British couple brought it to them in the hope they would know us. We collect the letters and return to the Correos. We speak calmly, aren't we good. We leave a map, an invitation to the postie to stop by for a drink. We eagerly await our post We get no post, we call at the correos, we call at the correos, we call, oh you get the idea. We start to politely protest, we are waiting for important documents, we have had no post for weeks, we have a real problem now. "I am on the case" the head honcho informs us, We eagerly ( well maybe not quiet so eagerly )await our post, trusting souls us. At the beginning of the week we call again, the counter clerk she says no, no post for you today. We protest, a little louder than usual, we say we await insurance documents for the car. She asks the previously mentioned Head Honcho. He picks up a letter from behind the counter which is ours, seems the counter clerks vision is somewhat blinkered! We tell him again, and maybe even again that we are waiting for important mail. He disappears into the back office and to our utter disbelief returns with several letters, all ours, all properly addressed. Whats the story? the regular postie has been on holiday, he has the map we gave him, so the holiday relief did not deliver. What could we say, well we could say it seems to us the usual guy needs some lessons in map reading in our humble opinion for a start. Trouble is they are all so pleasant and apparently trying to get it right and goodness knows we would not want to upset them, well they might not deliver the post if we do! Footnote. John worked for many years a a postman in Rural Cornwall, it particularly galls him that the services is so bad here. He frequently struggled along muddy tracks and fought off farm dogs and marauding mad geese to get the post through.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Shall Have A Fishy

Even though we live inland now its still possible to get some wonderful fresh fish. Mercadona has its usual wet fish counter, there a branch in Abaran and two in Cieza. However there are also some extremely good dedicated shops dotted around. Our nearest is the little one in Blanca on the Calle Gran Via is called ROSA opposite the hotel ( I think every city town and village in Spain has a Gran Via. There is also fresh fish for sale in Blancas indoor market, so lots of choice. The little shop in Blanca gets our vote as it happens. On Saturday Rebecca and Joaquin came over for lunch and brought a nice big piece of Mero. Maybe it is because it feeds mainly on other fish, crabs and octopus that it tastes so good. It is very greedy and one of the major predators in the Mediterranean sea, a local fish and thats a major factor with us we do not want to buy imported foods. Mero is consider the finest of fish here in Spain.A member of the grouper species it has wonderful firm flesh and a taste somewhere between halibut and sea bass.The Spanish say 'De la mar el mero y de la tierra el cordero' (From the sea the dusky grouper, from the land the lamb). With freshly picked lemons to season it lived up to its reputation as a very special dish indeed. Sitting outside in the early autumn sunshine enjoying a family lunch, how good can it get? no better indeed.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Two for Joy

The thieving magpie, magpies are often referred to as "thieving magpies" due to their attraction to shiny objects, such as jewellery and shiny coins - They are also consider to be bad luck by some. In Scotland a single magpie near the window of a house is not just bad luck but the sign of impending death; the somewhat scary idea that they carry a drop of the devil's blood under their tongue adds to this tradition. When we lived in the Highlands of scotland we missed this striking bird, it is the one part of UK were you do not see them. Take a close look next time you see one, they are not just black and white you know. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. Remember to salute them too to ward off bad luck, better safe than sorry, As I say moving to the Highlands from Cornwall meant we left the magpie behind. Living down on the costa blanca we had no sightings of them either so its been a real pleasure to make their acquaintance again. They are a noisy chattering species who will get up to all sorts, they are many things,scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers. To us they are a welcome, homely site and we rather prefer the view the chinese traditionally have of them, in China their name translates as the happiness bird. Magpies usually mate for life so seeing one on its own is as sign of sorrow because it's lost it's mate, whereas if you see two it's is a sign of joy as it's with it's mate. This is why when you see a single magpie you ask after it's wife, thus suggesting it has a mate and is in fact happy - hence the rhyme one for sorrow , two for joy! The magpie is consider by some to be the cleverest of animals, I suppose by stealing other birds eggs it is eating well and cutting down the competition. Personally I would not rate its intelligent by the fact that it can be taught to speak as parrots can, I am sure the clever ones stay well away from we humans. if you have missed hearing the little rhyme about our feathered friend here it is: One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

you'll be older too.


Its nearly here I am almost a fully paid up Pensioner or pensionista as they say in Spain. I will receive my UK pension from mid November although I have been 60 since the beginning of this year, this is due to the movement toward equality in pension ages in UK. As I often say back in the hippy trippy sixties this day seemed light years away, note to self stop repeating yourself its a real give away, not to mention being to ramble! So back to the point.
Having filled in the 23 page form that Newcastle sent me, question like have you ever lived in UK, YOU HAVE MY NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER I YELL. Duly received the information and paperwork necessary to tackle the Spanish health care system, so off to Cieza to do the business.

All went well and our Spanish held out, we had every piece of official paperwork known to man, and woman, with us, we've learnt a few things about how to do things here over the last 7 years. Then at the last hurdle, the processing of Johns form as my dependant, we fell. The very nice and very helpful chap in the office wanted the form to be completed by "Newcastle".
Back home and a couple of weeks of emails to the UK later we have our answer. Using the very efficient appointment system we phoned and got an appointment for 9 o’clock the following day. The man from Newcastle he says no! What we have is what they issue.
We explained what we have learnt, took original emails and translations, printouts from EU websites giving details of law and procedure. Our man in Cieza is again as helpful as can be but his Jefe (boss) wants an officially filled in form. He will do his best and explain what we have told him and ring us. We have no doubt he will, on the morning of our second appointment he rang just after 8 to ensure we took our marriage certificate.
Its all been a bit frustrating but throughout the local office have been polite and helpful, we figure they have just never done this before. Its a learning curve. We have no doubt it a will all be sorted in the end and Spain will get the payments from UK. And after all its good to keep the brain active at my age.

Whilst we are on the subject we just love the Spanish word for retirement, its jubilación,. Sounds so celebratory doesn’t it.

Photo is of me aged 6.

Friday, October 07, 2011

True Colours


If you ask many people to name a plant you see in Spain they will almost certainly say Bougainvillea, its brilliant magenta blooms are seen in town and country alike. We tried for years, without much success, to grow them on our Formentera terrace. The only one we had a little success with was a hybrid gold one but we longed to have the "true" original one.
When we bought our house here there was already an established one out back. We immediate set to to bring it back to life., it had been neglected for quiet a few years whilst the house stood empty and uncared for. So it was a case of cut back, prune and prune again. All the work has paid off in triplicate, for summer and now autumn. We have a truly beautiful plant that is starting ramble over the gazebo that shelters our newly tiled terrace (thanks Joaquin, nice job done).

Better give a few facts about bougainvillea before any expert gardener readers puts us right here!
To begin with its not a native European plant it originated in South America.It was brought to this continent by French botanist Philibert Commerçon who was travelling with Louis Antoine de Bougainville a French explorer in the 18th century. No guesses on how they named the plant.

Bougainvillea are evergreen if they have significant water and are in fact a vine. And here the interesting fact, the coloured "petals" we love to see are in fact bracts* not true flowers. The flowers are the tiny white part in the centre. You learn something everyday, if your not careful!

*A bract is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower. Bracts are often (but not always) different from foliage leaves, for example being smaller, larger, or of a different colour or texture.

I took the above picture yesterday, stunning colours I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A Mellow time of year



A slight chill in the morning is telling us Autumn is really with us, mind you its still very warm during the day. Morning are glorious at the moment though, golden and hazy with smoke as the local market gardeners light bonfires early in the day. All very atmospheric and mostly sweet smelling as long as its not prickly pear that's going up in flames. Can understand why its being burned, its so invasive. but oh the pong! It must be such a relief for those people who work so hard in the huerta when the weather cools down, its certainly far better for gardening. We are really pleased with how the garden is coming along. We had a trip to the local garden centre recently, only went to look of course, came back with a car full including a fine Buddha that now sits on the side of the pool. it was well worth the time we found a great variety of plants which are all looking nice and healthy in our wee plot. The guy who runs the place is really pleasant and presented me with a huge basil as a gift as we were leaving.
Although the front of the house is mostly patio there is a decent sized border of garden, problem has been the local feral cats, of which there are many had gotten used to using it as there litter tray. I know the whole campo and they choose the garden. We tried various method to deter them, lemons, cuttings from our rose bushes nothing was working. We have been reluctant to put in new plants because of this and then inspiration struck, rocks, of which we have many. We have gone for a Zen inspired look, lots of rocks with plants growing through. if we want to add more plants we can just move a rock and pop one in, perfect. We have seen a number of disgruntled looking moggies in the last few days though.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Its a Wild World


Before we moved to Spain we spent most of the previous 30 years living in the countryside. We loved to be able to see the changing seasons bring different flora and fauna to our doorstep. Moving to Blanca has been like coming home for us. As a family we are keen bird watchers, our daughter and family over from Australia were thrilled to see the Beeeaters which come here for the summer to breed, they have been a joy to see and hear all through that season. We know know there are wild boar in the area and would like to see them, from a distance! We did have a lovely welcome visitor the other day. I was busy in the kitchen preparing an evening meal,the layout of the kitchen means I can work away with a faboulous view through the sitting room window to the front patio garden and the surrounding hills. Imagine my surprise when a red squirrel leapt through the rejas onto the window ledge. I think it was just as surprised to see me. It looked for a moment and leapt down, hurrying to the window I saw it standing on the patio look around and then run up the cypress tree we have. Later that day whilst swimming in the pool Mr.(or mrs.) Tufty came over the roof and down on to the garden wall. What a treat we was able watch this beautiful creature make a dash for the carob tree that borders our back garden, no doubt intent on finding a hearty supper.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Follow on to Wierd Experience

Apparently there has been reports from around the world of meteorite showers, fireballs and large meteors in the last 12 hours, reports of green/yellow glowing balls and Red fireballs. When reasonably close, meteors are known to emit sound and also smells that can linger in the air. So most probably this is the answer to what happened and would explain the very short time span of my experience, This Meteor must have been really close to light up the sky and create the sound that i heard.

Wierd Experience

Around 3.00am this morning, i was woken by the dogs around the campo all barking like mad,then i heard the sound of what seemed like a very powerfull engine go overhead, i sat up in bed and looked out the window and the sky was a bright red which faded silhouetting the hills over Blanca. I jumped out of bed and went to the window but by then the red glow had faded completely,and there was no sound,(even the dogs had stopped barking). what ever it was moved very fast although the engine seemed like it was just idling, because this happened in no more than 5 or 6 seconds. Today we have been smelling a indistiguishable chemical type of scent in the air, Was the happening chemical spraying? was it a UFO?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ancient Siyasa

CIEZA FROM THE SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF GOOD SUCCESS
THE REMAINS OF SIYASA CITY Cieza hospital right centre background
Yesterday we went to Cieza Market and while we were in Cieza visited the Museum and art gallery on Calle San Sebastian, they have an very interesting display of items dating as early as the Palaeolithic periods, It appears that 3 kilometres from Cieza there is the ancient city site of Siyasa with around 750 houses among which about 200 have been found to have plaster arches and porticos, the city was finally abandoned in 1266 and the inhabitants left behind thousands of tools,ceramics,ornaments and items of interest, many of these are on display in the Museum.
We decided to find the site for ourselves, we pinpointed it on Google maps and drove up to a parking area that serves access to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Success and the hilltop Arab castle, and followed the track around the side of the hill to where the city stands, it is surrounded by fencing which is understandable, but is still amazing to see, as we got closer to the site, there were many pieces of broken pottery and stoneware lying on the ground and its hard to believe they were from the 12th century. Archeology groups from several universities are investigating the site and this is still in progress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Old Truck in Cieza


This is the vehicle one of the Cieza market stall holders transports his produce with, its got to be 50 or 60 years old! the thing is if you get stuck behind it in the road you are down to 10 mph

5 Different Things to See and Do in the Murcia Region

The sun doused region of Murcia is one of Spain’s largely undiscovered gems. Compared to the rest of the Costa Calida, it remains relatively untouched by mass tourism meaning it retains much Spanish charm. The region also boasts fantastic weather, beautiful countryside and sandy beaches all waiting to be enjoyed.
There are plenty to of things to keep you entertained here, but the expats and tourists who do venture here on holiday will find themselves too overwhelmed by guides offering the same attractions to visit with seemingly nothing different on offer. That’s where we step in; we’ve done some research and suggested 5 alternative things to see and do in the Murcia region that you may not have known about.
Wine Route
Whilst Murcia is known for some local specialities, it isn’t particularly well known for its production of wine. Wine lovers and tourists may well be pleased to learn therefore that there is an excellent 87km long circular wine route which takes you past a high concentration of vineyards growing the distinct Monastrell grape. Beginning in Jumilla, around 1 hour north of Murcia, the route then heads to Yecla and onto Pinoso.
In Jumilla, you can soak up the wondrous views of the vineyards which flank the mountainous terrain from the top of the castle here. The Case de la Ermita vineyard on the outskirts of the town is a real gem as is Bodegas Pedro Luis Martínez and Bodegas Silvano García which are more in the town centre.
Bodegas Castaño vineyard should be your first stop in Yecla – take the MU404 road across the vineyards to reach it. Each winery offers tours, walks amongst the vineyards and of course wine tasting! Anyone who likes wine should consider this “do it yourself” tour.
The Veronicas Market
Visiting a local market is always a good experience, you can really get a feel for the culture and there’s always a noisy, busy atmosphere bubbling away all around you. The Veronicas Market in Murcia is of course no different and well worth a visit for residents and visitors alike. Soak up the sights and smells and be sure to purchase some authentic Saffron – a wonderful souvenir and considerably cheaper than you’ll find it elsewhere.
If the car park opposite the market is full, just head down to the underground car park right next door. To get in, just turn around using the mini roundabout and traffic light system just opposite the gardens of Malecon a little further up.
The Mining Park at La Union
This is a great place to come to escape the searing afternoon heat and is also an individual and interesting attraction. As a visitor you will travel 80 metres underground into a 4,000 square meter old mine. You will also spy an underground lake which appears to glow orange!
Learn the fascinating history whilst clambering through underground passageways (don’t worry, they’re well lit) and be amazed. When you’re done with the tour underground, there’s plenty to see above ground, all found within 50,000 square metres of land.
Rincon del Hornillo, Aguilas
If you happen to be in Aguilas, this is the best place you can go for a refreshing drink quite simply for the building itself. Words won’t do it justice but it is simply the epitome of artistic inspiration. The small bar is hidden away in an urbanised area just behind the El Hornillo beacg in Aguilas.
One retired man is to thank for this work of art; steps, the building itself, the garden- basically everything in the surrounding area is completely decorated with small mosaic patterned tiles bringing life and colour to the area the whole year round. Whilst the bar is only open during July and August, be sure to head there at any time just to see it and get some snaps. Not to be missed!
Navidad Fort
You may have heard of the Fuerte de Navidad in Cartagena which is well worth visiting, but you may not know there is a lot more to it than just the fort. If you travel to it by car using car hire Murcia Airport, there is plenty more in store! Once you have arrived at the fort, instead of going across the bridge, why not carry straight on and be a little bit more adventurous. You’ll reach a track but don’t be deterred, keep going and you’ll be rewarded with civilisation in the form of a tiny time warped village. Whilst it isn’t glamorous it’s a wonderful small exemplary Spanish village that’s simply a real treat to see.
Have a little walk around and enjoy this small sheltered bay and then continue on the road through the village until you begin to climb into the headland. Park up at the car park and then drink in the views from the old military lookout with a small cove at the bottom. This place is a well-kept secret that you’ll be able to enjoy, most probably, completely by yourself.
Whilst the phrase hidden gem is certainly somewhat overused these days, Murcia is home to several genuine gems and with a little research, you can discover some wonderful places that may otherwise slip under your radar!
Guest post by Kerri Ware-Economy Car Hire

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calasparra

Calasparra Village Street behind the church
Yesterday we had a drive over to Calasparra, Calasparra has the remains of an Arab castle of which there is not much to see but a nice walk along walkways to it original site, there are great views over the countryside from its highest point. The town sits on the confluence of four rivers, the Segura, Quipar, Argos and Benamor which enables them to grow rice here, which incidently we saw in a shop for 7 euros a kilo. there is a pleasant square with bars and cafes, and a popular attraction is the Santuario de la Virgen de la Esperanza-The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Hope, which is worth a visit,The archealogical museum near the church is closed on Mondays but open 10.30 -13.30 other days entry is 1 Euro.

Monday, September 26, 2011

solar pool covers

Now the days are getting shorter and cooler ,we have put our solar pool cover on the swimming pool, basically it is high quality bubble wrap with a coating and seams, but it is doing an amazing job it takes just a minute to pull it over the pool where it floats on the water and the same to wind it back onto the roller, but we are finding it has lifted the water temperature by up to 8 degrees centigrade so we will still be comfortable swimming for a while yet. Last night we even had a swim after midnight.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I cant believe it

“ I cant believe it” I have just watched the man who owns the property across the campo from us throw a double bed and mattress over his wall to get rid of it. Out of sight out of mind. Now we have the prospect of la view of a red and white striped mattress until it rots away.
Actually this man is getting annoying, he does not live at the house, but visits to feed his dogs and pidgeons and water the trees. Two dogs run free, another an alsation is chained continually on a short leash, they wake us up nearly every night with their barking and howling. I think they are meant to be a deterent to someone stealing his pigeons.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bargain ferry


Have just been organising the ferry trip for our journey to the UK, now the Boulogne to Dover ferry has stopped we are going Calais to Dover, I found that there is a discount of 40% on SeaFrance ferries available through a UK company called Astus UK Ltd, basically, you phone them, you tell them your preferred date and time of booking and they book for you and you receive booking confirmation by Email.
The ferry worked out about 20 pounds cheaper than any other fare I could get.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Peugeot for Citreon


As we plan to drive up to the UK later this year we have part exchanged our Citreon Saxo for a Peugeot 306 estate, the citreon was getting a bit tired and was too small as we have items to bring back to Spain. We are very happy with the peugeot as it has lots more room, a bigger engine (2.0 HDI), and yet is as economical as the Saxo.
The company we did the deal with is Rayban Motors in Murcia, they have around 100 cars on offer, do all the paperwork, and offer a year guarantee for some vehicles. They are extremely obliging and speak some English.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Visit to Valencia and Madrid

THE ROYAL PALACE

PLAZA DE AYUNTAMIENTO, VALENCIA
We recently made a flying visit to Valencia and Madrid, Mary won 2 train tickets and two nights in a hotel in Madrid in a newspaper competition, the tickets were for the High speed train which runs from Valencia so we decided to drive up and explore the city at the same time. We have never been to Valencia before so we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the grand architecture and historic buildings. We parked the car at Victoria Car Parking for 4 days as driving and parking in Valencia is no fun at all, and got the very efficient metro to central Valencia where we stayed for the night before getting the AVE train around Midday. The speed the train goes is amazing, hitting 300 kilometres an hour at times and provides a comfortable and fast journey taking just 1 hour 35 minutes. Our Hotel in Madrid was on the Gran Via which is likened to Broadway and life never seems to stop, loads of people around all the time and the shops never seem to close. In our two days in Madrid, we visited the Royal Palace,the Prado Museum and the botanical gardens among other places. We did find nice Tapas bar with a terrace where with every drink was included a large tapas and found an evening meal was never needed after that. The time soon went and before long we were speeding back to Valencia to drive back to Blanca the following day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of August already



Wow what a busy month, we have been very busy tidying up the garden and planning the layout since the pool has been finished and also have changed our car now for a Peugeot 306 Break, which is a little bigger than the Citreon Saxo, it was really a good idea as we plan to drive up to the UK in October/November and the saxo was getting a little tired to say the least..... The August weather has been typical and really it has been too hot to do much between midday and 17:00 the temperature being in the mid thirties everyday, though yesterday we had some tremendous thunderstorms Mary has been making ginger beer which well chilled has kept us well refreshed. We are off to Valencia and then Madrid next week for a few days to experience life in the Big city.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Views from the Virgen of Blanca




Last night i went for a walk to the statue of The Virgen of Blanca quite a rough walk up the track but amazing views of the area.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Earthshake again

We were woken up at around 01.00 this morning with the bed shaking, a rumble and loud bang,it appears that there was a Richter scale 3.0 earthquake centred about 300 metres from the house, at around 10 kilometres deep, having a look round this morning there is no visible damage to our property.
my fear was the pool might be damaged but it looks OK, the contracters are arriving tommorrow to fit the plumbing and electrics so hopefully we will soon be swimming.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tiled


The guys arrived at six o clock in the morning, It was just getting light and finished about 4.00 in the afternoon

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Next stage - Tiles

Which we have been reliably informed will be put on tomorrow, i hope the guys have sunglasses because the forecast is hot and sunny, so there will be a lot of glare and it will be like being in an oven.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Concreting the pool


Last night i met a few of the neighbours as i had to tell them the road would be blocked for several hours. So bright and early this morning the machinery and ready mix concrete lorries arrived to gunite the swimming pool, the process is that the concrete is power sprayed over the steel reinforcing. A noisy and smelly process but another step further.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Work goes on


Quin is in the outside bathroom doing the tiling and doing a great job, and the workman are putting the steel reinforcing cage in the pool structure, it was so hot (38 degrees) we sorted out a cover to make a sort of canopy for them to work under i dont think they could have carried on otherwise. even the breeze is hot today.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Five hours later

The hole is dug


In extremely hot weather the hole was finally finished the excavator kept breaking down because of the heat so that held things up for awhile, anyway today the builders have arrived in force to start building the pool, again today looks like it is going to be very hot, i wouldnt like to be down that hole laying bricks i know that much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birth of the pool


Yesterday the contractors arrived to start construction of the swimming pool, all paperwork is in place so excavation begins, access is difficult so a small digger arrived and squeezed through the gap between the house and the wall, the alternative was to knock down the wall, instead there was a justchip taken out the corner of the house, Quin says 15 minutes to fix.
surprisingly the ground is mainly sand and boulders and hard work for the digging machine, temperatures are in the mid to high 30ś and the engine of the digger keeps overheating, but at least it gives the workmen a break from the intense heat. At least the excavated ground is not having to be carted away as there was lower terrace to the garden that we are infilling.