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

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:
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 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.