A quick trip home…. 26/11/17

When we set off from the UK we had already planned to be back no more than six weeks later which seemed a little odd but worked out well.  Having settled into our routine in Alicante and got ourselves a little bit of sunshine, just over a week ago we caught the tram and then bus to the airport, injected a little of Starbucks caffeine (Gail) and before we knew it were being picked up at Gatwick by my mum – how easy is that?

Although the first morning on English soil was only about 2 degrees when we went out for a run, it soon clouded over and warmed up leaving us with warmer (about 11 degrees) although slightly duller days for the rest of our stay – can’t really complain.

 

We were back in the UK naturally to catch up with family but that came as a bonus as this trip was a well planned 50th Birthday celebration for Keith’s sister Shaz….. several months in the pipeline!

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Who would have thought that we would manage to see one of the most beautiful sunsets that we have seen in a long time on home ground, just a shame that it was on the Friday and no-one else managed to enjoy it with us ….. I have to admit it was pretty chilly though!

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Not one to really celebrate in a big way, it was a small family affair down in Bournemouth staying at the Sandbanks hotel for a couple of nights and checking out two lovely restaurants – The Cliff and Rick Steins, we couldn’t have asked for more.  We walked, ate, drank, chatted, drank and ate some more …. all in all a lovely weekend and it would be fair to say that Keith and I both managed to consume more than our fair share of Bacon whilst at the hotel ….. it is still something that the Spanish just don’t know how to do.

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Bournemouth, Bacon and the trip home feels like ages ago now though as we have been back for six days and life is back to normal…..although within a couple of minutes of being home (it was 10:30 at night) we had our neighbours knocking on the door as they thought we had broken in – scared the life out of them apparently they thought we were still away – its nice to have people looking out for you!

Although it is still mostly sunny the temperature has dropped and this morning it was about 10 degrees when we got up to do our morning routine …. definately time for thin gloves and a long sleeved top when running although it does generally warm up as the day goes on.

We have been doing a bit more cooking over the last couple of weeks so I have added a few more recipes to the site.  I cooked up one of our favourites ‘Salmon Monster (coulibiac)’ which is a bit of a center piece for both mums before we headed back to Spain,  made Cheesecake (and dare we say it, it was delicious) at the weekend when Manolo and Santi came over for lunch and a Quick Stewed Squid with Pasta dish for lunch a couple of days ago.

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We have also bought some of the cheapest gin we have ever come across …. 70cl for just over 4 euros to make some Gravadlax and I also had my second attempt/failure at making soda bread rolls.  I’ll share the recipe for Gravadlax next time assuming it turns out as good as it has done at home (although we used to make it with vodka….) and I am not convinced that you want the Soda Bread recipe unless you would like to use the rolls as ammunition to take out a neighbour as they were so dense and rugged they would have killed a small child or animal if thrown with force ….. next time maybe?

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Settling in for the winter….. 13/11/17

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Sometimes I wonder where time goes as we manage to fill the days and constantly be out and about.  Before we know it we are watching the sun go down along with the rest of our Northern European neighbours shuffling their chairs, desperately trying to make the most of the last bit of sunshine before it disappears for the night.  There have been mornings over the last couple of weeks when I have looked at some of our fellow motorhomers slowly venturing out of their vans to put their chairs and table in a sunny spot to eat their breakfast at 9:30am and smiled to myself as they are probably thinking we are lazy buggers doing the same…… little do they know that we have been up for at least an hour and a half and probably had a lovely run along the seafront for 45 minutes …. We just smile and try and wish them a good breakfast in the appropriate language 😊

It is strange to be back but a couple of weeks in and we are settled with a lovely private spot in the corner out of everyone’s way and view so we can socialise when we want to but also have our privacy!  It is also great for when we have our Spanish friends over as we were always a bit conscious of the noise levels, I am sure our neighbours are quite glad that we face out into the field as no-one wants to hear the political debate of the independence of Catalunya for the umpteenth time!!  There are only a couple of people here who were here a couple of years ago, everyone else currently appears to be transitionary, stopping for a few days or a couple of weeks before heading back home.  It is however nice and peaceful and we get good practice of switching between French and Spanish (as well as English) on most days…. If only we spoke German and Dutch too!!

There is no doubt that our fellow motorhomers think we are weird but they have reason to express surprise again as we have now done our first haircut of the winter in the gents toilet/shower block – you never know we may build up some business by the end of the winter as it always sparks a lot of interest and this year there is no Michel and Teresa – Michel having been a hairdresser….. 5 euros a pop?

As this is like a second home and we plan to be here until the end of March, we decided to join the local gym where we occasionally swam two years ago if the sea was too cold/rough.  We aren’t using it for the gym, but instead trying out the Yoga, Pilates and Body Balance classes which so far have proved to be pretty good…. Although surprisingly busy at 11:30 in the morning which possibly says something about the level of the clientele (unemployed by choice rather than force).  However,  this means that the last two weeks have been fairly full on from a fitness point of view, exercise first thing, breakfast (….. around 9:30), Class, 20 lengths in the pool and lunch – before we blink it is 2:30pm….. I am still trying to work out how we ever managed to fit full time work in, although there is enough time to catch up Spanish style!

In the evenings we have been making sure that everything continues as we remembered – the cinema still offers ten tickets for 40 euros …. Bargain, so we went to see a Spanish Comedy called Toc Toc last week which was good fun (and all the better accompanied by some delicious Turron (nougat)….so much better than M&M’s).  We have also been trying out the local bars, although so far have only ventured to L’Hexagone which is more of a restaurant, owned by a French couple but they do good wine and Pepitos …. The old favourite!

We are lucky though, the weather is still unusually warm for this time of year – rising to 20+ during the day and dropping to around 12 overnight.  We have had one night of rain which freshened everything up a little, but have been able to walk, run and entertain outside until around 5:30pm when it cools down rapidly and get dark.

We have been cooking outside on the Bar B Q most days and have added some more recipes to the website that we have made during the last couple of weeks including Flapjacks, Pumpkin Soup, Crumble and Brownies.  We also did our first bit of entertaining, a quiet Bar B Q with Santi and Manolo last weekend, despite being distraught by the closure of our favourite butcher we managed to provide ample sausages, chorizo and morcilla (black pudding) to fill the bellies but the crumble and custard were the stars of the show – Birds Eye are definitely missing an opportunity not marketing to Spain, the Spanish love it! After lunch and feeling rather full, we all hobbled along the promenade for a walk (at 6:30pm), stopped in our steps by the beauty of the bright orange moon slowly appearing out of the water – Absolutely amazing, just a shame that the camera on my phone couldn’t capture it.

Tuesday brought us surprise visitors, Amanda and J – which was lovely as we struggle to see each other in the UK. After lots of catching up, copious amounts of Dijon Chicken, Coleslaw, Lentil and Goats Cheese Salad and a walk along the beach the world was a far better place…although it definitely still has some improving to do!

Miguel and Elisa had their first bar b q of the year on Saturday … some might say slow starters as the 11th November seems more like the time to put the Bar B Q away than get it out but none of us are complaining!  We have now had our fill of red meat for the next two months and will be focusing on eating salads and fish for a while hoping to reset out iron levels before Christmas 😊   It was lovely and we were also pleasantly surprised by the banana and chocolate ice-cream Miguel brought home from work…. not a flavour either of us would choose, but it wasn’t bad (and went pretty well with the brownies!!).  One of those days where you start off wearing shorts and a t-shirt, happily eating outside and by 8pm they had lit the fire in the living room…. That’s autumn in Spain for you!

Yesterday was a far quieter day, a lovely walk along the seafront admiring the Harley Davidsons, a quick trip to check out the local Sunday market to see if it had changed at all, then back for a home cooked ‘rice’…. Our version of a paella. Yum!