Happy Mother’s Day…. 11/03/18

As we aren’t able to spend it with our mothers it is very kind of them to have arranged to get together anyway with the rest of the Anderson clan.  Although we are very jealous of the lamb roast that Keith’s mum is cooking so we thought we would join in and celebrate so took ourselves out for lunch for a good Paella at one of the restaurants that we have been wanting to try for a while…. by the way, just in case you were wondering it was a black rice which is with Squid ink…. very rich, but full of flavour…

I don’t know where the time has gone but the last two months have just disappeared and the blog appears to have gone with them.

It won’t be of any surprise though to find that the time has been filled with food, drink, discovering new places and a bit of planning – I know, it is unusual for us but we have been putting quite a bit of thought into the plan this year – normally we don’t think much further than a few days ahead, if we are lucky – however we have extended it a little further than normal …. deciding to bite the bullet and go to New Zealand for three months towards the end of the year. Don’t get too excited though as all we have done is booked the flights and hired a motorhome (after much contemplating of whether we should be shipping ours over there). The rest of the planning will probably happen on the plane in October!

We are however coming towards the end of our time in Alicante, so with roughly five weeks until we set off we should be thinking a little more about the next part of our adventure to Eastern Europe…… that will come I guess, probably the week before we leave or possible after we set off as we know we need to get to Venice first …..

In the mean time, whilst we haven’t been planning, we have had a fantastic weekend in Madrid back in January, doing a bit of a tapas crawl through Malasana which is an area just north of the center with hundreds of small bars, each heaving with people catching up with friends for a couple of drinks and a few tapas on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. We hopped from bar to bar enjoying everything from Spinach Croquets to Mussels before giving in to the proper hunger and indulging in two perfectly cooked (which means with the eggs slightly oozing) tortillas and a lot of Chorizo in Cider in the early evening …. possibly a little bit over indulgent for four people but, we were four very happy (and a little fat) people afterwards !!


It hasn’t all been food related, we have ventured a little further afield towards Benidorm with Pilar, Nuria and a couple of other friends to do a lovely wooded walk…. getting to see the nicer side of Benidorm from above before heading back to Villa Joyosa for a lunch (Ok, I lied – it is all food related!) with the most amazing dessert Keith and I have had away from home for a long time …. Tarta de Turron – which basically consisted of melted down nougat (almonds) on a pastry base …. it was heavenly!


We have had a few visitors over the last couple of months or so and on Richards’ (Gonzo) request, we agreed on a grey day to venture over to Benidorm to see where the show ‘Benidorm’ was filmed… it was a bit of a disappointment to find that the hotel was being renovated, the bar was shut and actually much of it was filmed elsewhere …. that said, as the day went on the sun came out and we did get a reasonable sunset but I don’t think that he will be in a rush to go back.

After a couple of slightly cooler and windier weeks – believe it or not there was actually snow on the tops of the mountains here for a few days – the sun has started to come out a little more, rising to around 20 during the day and only falling to 10 overnight…. Summer is finally here (well British summer anyway!) so the bar b q has come out a little more and we have even started to eat breakfast outside again … pure luxury!

I have added a few more recipes onto the blog just in case you fancy them, CassouletDijon Chicken and Meatballs… just to keep things ticking along!


Over Indulging …… 10/1/18


Happy New Year! and I apologise for the lack of blog for a few weeks, time has taken hold of us and I was about to publish one two weeks ago and run out of time before we jumped on a plane back to the UK …. so I am afraid you now have a condensed summary of the last four weeks as I don’t want to bore you to death …..

It was a reasonably relaxed lead up to Christmas for us, the weather was mostly dry with a couple of grey days and the temperature hovered somewhere around 14 degrees during the day (obviously feeling warmer if the sun popped out), falling to 5 or 6 degrees over night …. some may say a little fresh! Needless to say the heating was on most evenings if we were home and we even had a bit of a boost on the occasional morning whilst eating breakfast …. even I resorted back to the odd bowl of porridge in the morning to keep me warm!

We can’t complain though …. it isn’t the snow that the UK and North of Europe (and Spain to be fair) have been getting…. but I don’t plan to be going skinny dipping any time soon.

Keith has had another two rounds at the dentist, the first of which demonstrated that something wasn’t quite right with the mould as the crown didn’t fit so they did another temporary filling, then the second (Friday just before Christmas) appears to be ok. The dentist however likes to ensure you get your monies worth as he has only put in temporary cement to ensure that the crown sits correctly which means yet another trip this Friday….. hopefully to be the last. Anyone thinking that they could pop over here for cheap dental treatment would get several breaks away which I am sure would be enjoyable…. but I am not convinced that four trips for a new crown would be economically viable!

After moving the motorhome a couple of weeks ago we found that we couldn’t get the satellite to work for Spanish TV …. disaster, as although we don’t watch much TV, we were really getting into a couple of the TV series they have been showing. We tried pretty much everything to the point that our neighbours were bemused as to why the dish was going round and round in circles. Finally we gave up and the next morning Keith called up Oyster in the UK who were really helpful and advised us that Spain was in the process of changing its frequencies (i.e. where you point the satellite to) and had obviously done it earlier than expected and not told anyone …. all resolved, although the satellite dish definitely needs a bit of oiling!

We also managed to do a bit more trekking around El Campello in December trying out a few more Tapas bars in the ‘El Duelo’ challenge …. although the last time we went we only made it to two …. the tomato triple, which unfortunately looked far nicer than it tasted and the beef stew which tasted far nicer than it looked…. so you get to see the former rather than the latter which was a bit tasteless…


Christmas has been quiet but lovely, kicking off with prawn fajitas for lunch on Christmas Eve and in the evening enjoying posh tapas – Bellota ham, Chorizo and other cured meats, Gravaldax, Herring, Cheeses and home made focaccia. All washed down with some lovely Faustino V Rioja.  This was of course after we did our Gin taste challenge ….. a £35 bottle of Lymington Gin from the New Forest vs a 4.50 Euro bottle of Spanish Gin …..


I am ashamed to say that the result was that we could both definately taste the difference drinking the neat Gin (not something that we do very often I would like to add), however once mixed with a Fever Tree Tonic and a quarter of a lemon….. they were pretty much the same – apparently we can save our pennies going forwards!  We even broke out Settlers (board game) on Christmas Eve which Keith won 2-3 (obviously something to do with the Gin!)

Lunch on Christmas Day which was a little unconventional … although perhaps we are starting a trend now – BBQ Steak …. the sun was shining and the steak was cooked to perfection.

After a few more days of Spanish holidays we then flew back to the UK on the 29th for a few days to catch up with the family and friends, eat Christmas Cake, Dundee Cake, Mince Pies and of course Turkey sandwiches! And that is without mentioning the incredible Beef Wellington and Mojito Cheesecake that we had on New Years Eve in Bath….. It was a great few days that felt like a lot longer as we crammed so much in.  It is difficult to believe that we have already been back in Spain for a week…. where does the time go?

So, just to continue the cooking theme into the New Year and I will add to the recipes, we dug out an old recipe given to us by Dave and Nicky to make Mejillones (Moules or Mussels)


Keith has been trying his hand at making fish fingers (with Cornflakes I might add) which were really tasty, I made a mushroom and Spinach risotto that we haven’t had for ages but was delicious, we did a BBQ for our Spanish friends with copious amounts of meat and a Bakewell… although to be fair to them this time they lapped up the Avocado, Tomato and Mozzarella salad which was a pleasant surprise! We also cooked our first Lasagne in the motorhome for Miguel and Elisa which worked a treat … and Keith made a batch of Millionaires Shortbread which although the shortbread was slightly on the crispy side, it still tasted delicious!


Turning on the heating ….. 9/12/17


After my failure with soda bread you will be happy to hear that I have returned to making rolls again, although we have now completely run out of our Waitrose flour that we stocked up on before we left home and the mix is pretty much 50/50 White and whole meal, with a handful of both Sunflower seeds and Linseeds thrown in for luck…. although I forgot the linseed this time!  They were however super light and fluffy, although to be fair anything would have appeared light and fluffy after the rock like Soda Bread rolls I made previously, which was why it surprised me so much when Keith bit into his first roll and found something hard – I was distraught – thinking I had lost my touch until Keith realised that it was a tooth that had finally given up and decided to make the most of the soft bread cushioning to break free!  Thankfully Keith wasn’t in any pain but it was a tooth that had a large filling from a long time ago and the tooth had cracked so a visit to the dentist was inevitable!

The dentist was friendly and reasonably priced and Keith is certainly getting his monies worth as despite the Dentist originally planning on doing an ‘inlay’, he soon realised he couldn’t so has given him a temporary filling until next week when he goes back to have a crown…. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we have survived this long without needing any dentistry work abroad.

Having been here for just over five weeks and with the nights getting colder (yes, believe it or not it has been down to about 6 degrees in Alicante …. positively chilly!) therefore we have required a bit of heating over the last week or so, we decided that we should probably go fill up with LPG, give the water tanks a bit of a shake and clean, whilst at the same time popping into Decathlon.  We were amazed by the fact that we didn’t come out with our arms full as we normally do – I would like to say that we are reigning in our inability to control our (ok maybe it is just my) sports clothes/accessories addiction but I think it was simply the fact that they didn’t have such a great selection this time…. he ho, saved for a couple more months at least!

As we have now entered December the Duel of the Tapas has started again in El Campello. So as always we feel obliged to go along and try a few to get to know some new places as well as enjoy their culinary skills.  We were fairly reserved last Friday night and only tried four places, the first was a waste of space as every time the barman was asked for a drink he huffed so loudly we felt that we were imposing on his personal space, needless to say he couldn’t be bothered to do the Tapa or perhaps just didn’t have the ingredients but whichever it was, we won’t be going back.

The second place offered an aubergine stack … I was going to say quite impressive for Spain to have a veggie Tapa but apparently there was some bacon hidden in there somewhere – it was also very good. The third was a wine bar whose Tapa also appeared to be veggie from outside but they had also sneakily added a bit of cured meat but it was exceptional, a small slice of bread topped with goats cheese, caramelised onion, cured beef, watercress and a fruits of the forest reduction. The final Tapa of the night was a roll made with squid ink, filled with Calamari and crunchy fried onions …. taste was excellent and presentation the best yet … scoring a 5/5 from us all.


The Duel of the Tapas goes on for a month and each time you try one you get a small beer or wine and the Tapa for 2.50 euros (although you do normally pay a little more if you choose wine) and you vote for the winner of the competition…. I am sure we will be trying a few more before the end of the month!

December 6th and 8th are two public holidays in Spain, so along with a couple of friends we headed off to Cuidad Real which is South East of Madrid, just under 400km away where Alfredo, another friend of ours lives.

Cuidad Real isn’t really known for much apart from its food which always bodes well for us but may not be high on everyone’s list.  The town used to have a 4km wall and 132 towers protecting its Christian, Jewish and Muslim population but over the centuries they have all pretty much disappeared leaving a fairly new shopping centre and only one or two buildings that date back to the 13th Century.

Needless to say we met for tapas and lunch trying out some of the regions specialties including ‘Migas’ (breadcrumbs fried with Chorizo and Pancetta and other lovely things) and ‘Caldereta Manchega’ (Lamb stew with potatoes) before heading back to Alfredo’s family country house where we lit the fire and baked potatoes in its ashes to eat with lots of lovely cheese and meats, all washed down with a mixture of red wine from the region and beer whilst watching the football.

Although the skies were blue and the sun was shining, the open fire was welcome as the temperature dropped to around -3 over night, although we did also have central heating in the house.  The morning brought blue skies and frost on the ground and set out to explore the garden with Alfredo’s father who had arrived to do some pruning of the grape vines and tend to the garden – 5000 sq.m in total giving them a sizeable veggie plot, tennis court, swimming pool and chickens.

After a Spanish breakfast of Panetone and coffee we set off in the car to find the setting of Don Quixote written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.  For those of you who haven’t ever heard of Don Quixote it is a Spanish novel that was written in early 1600’s, considered to be the most influential piece of Spanish work of literature of all times.


Don Quixote talks of the tilting of the windmills …. and we found the windmills that are described and it is fair to say that it is a fairly stunning setting.  However, with not a huge amount more in Consuegra than the windmills we headed off to the ‘Lagunas’ (Lakes) for lunch and a short walk.


Lunch was excellent, enabling us to try some more local delicacies including ‘Atascaburras’ which is mashed potatoes with cheese, eggs and walnuts and I tried something I can’t remember the name of that was eggs with chorizo, cheese, mushrooms and pancetta – delicious!  All the starters were followed by meat – what else in La Mancha – and home made desserts of rice pudding or cheesecake.

Despite spending a fair amount of time in the car during the day we still decided to head back to Alicante which was another four hours drive …. slightly longer than expected as the cheesecake had disagreed with Manolo so we had a couple of enforced stops!

A good couple of days away but happy to be back at the motorhome and in our own beds again.  The food was excellent but it was rich so although we were out again last night with some other friends, it is nice to be eating slightly less rich food and doing a little bit of exercise!

We have had a busy couple of week of cooking as well so I have added some of the recipes that I haven’t shared previously onto the blog.  Keith made his first motorhome Gravaldax with the 4 euro bottle of gin and it was great (and has subsequently made teh second), he also decided to try his hand at Pitta breads which came out brilliantly and take less time to prove so possibly another option if we don’t have two and half hours to make bread! We have also made a couple of dinner dishes – an old favourite Kedgeree, although they generally don’t have smoked fish in Spain so we just used cod loin.  We also made BBQ Baked Beans with Sweet Potatoes which is a veggie wonder – full of flavour and warmth for the winter.  Finally today, we risked enforcing a bit more of England on Manolo and Santi  by making Fish Pie which went down well…. although we still can’t get them to eat any veg if it isn’t actually part of the dish itself!  As it is coming up to Christmas the first batch of  Fruit Cake Muffins also came out to come with us to Cuidad Real which were very tasty although could have probably been cooked for a couple of minutes less in our oven to keep them a little bit more moist.

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!


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!


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.


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.


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?


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


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!

Clearing the air…. 28/10/17

After more heavy rain during the night we woke to a fresh, clear day – ready for moving on to Calpe.

The journey was short but followed windy, narrow roads with beautiful scenery arriving at Camping Estrella Polar (9 euros per night GPS n.38,6579 e.0,0776967) just before mid-day to set up in our wooded location looking out into the mountains.  The Aire is slightly different to the others in Calpe as it is just outside town and err’s towards nature rather than being one of the huge sites for 100+ motorhomes on concrete pitches. Part of it is still under construction and the rest is a little higgledy piggledy…. or perhaps I should just say rough and ready! It suited us as it was a lovely location and had fantastic views but it had more than its fair share of tiger mosquitoes, which as everyone knows aren’t my best friend!


From the motorhome we walked down to the first beach and decided to climb to the summit of Penon de Ifach, which surprised us in its complexity.  Watching the people who were going up we would have thought it would be straight forward but there were parts that were more complicated than expected and I am still not sure how the Russian family who were on their way up to the summit when we were coming down ever got down as the mother was hugging the rock and looked like she was suffering from Vertigo.

Despite being very built up the views were spectacular from the top and it was well worth the walk, definately wear decent shoes and I don’t recommend going to summit if you suffer from Vertigo!


After a rough nights sleep fighting off the mosquitoes – seriously we must have killed at least ten in the night and they were probably only half of  those that were in the motorhome – I set off for a run along the two beaches. I hadn’t realized quite how hilly it was and arrived back to the motorhome a little more red faced than normal!

As we hadn’t been to Calpe before but had heard so much about it we set off to explore the town and the other Aires as we had heard that quite a few had recently opened. There are four open and one more coming at the beginning of November and you can’t not be impressed by what the company who owns the most recent Aire (and the one due to open in a week or so) has done – it appears very Germanic … i.e. clean, solid and excellent facilities however we understand they are apparently both owned by Italians….rumours say, Mafia ….

The rest of the town reflected the clientele – Northern Europeans.  Therefore the shops were a different level – and price.  The Old town was typical white wash houses in a pretty quarter with lots of little restaurants and bars looking out over the town and to sea.  It is easy to see that the local council has done its best to encourage foreigners to visit the area – it was buzzing with tourism – in a nice way, albeit a little too busy for us.

On Wednesday we left Calpe and headed 50km south to San Juan Playa, just north of Alicante.  This time stopping at Area 7 (13 euros per night GPS n.38,4049 w0,409628) for a few nights to catch up with Michel and Teresa before we get to Campello Beach.  The Aire is also new, only having been open for 5 months and it is run by a lovely couple who go out of their way to help anyone and everyone …. their showers and toilets are also hotel quality!!

We ended up cooking for Michel and Teresa on Wednesday and the Bakewell came out perfectly – although I added a second egg by mistake which may have helped.


We have done quite a bit of cooking over the last few days so not only will you find the Bakewell recipe under the ‘Recipe’ tab at the top of the page but also focaccia, bread rolls, Spiced Onion Chutney (we had run out and they don’t do chutney over here so I thought I’d try turning my hand to it) and Tzatsiki.

Since being at the new Area we have checked out our neighbourhood and despite it being a nice,  it is slightly further from the places we go to regularly to meet up with friends and doesn’t have any bars/restaurants around it to feed Keith’s football addiction.  We have therefore decided that El Campello Beach works out better for us so we are moving back over there tomorrow – only time will tell whether it is the correct decision!

25 degrees and rising ….. 21/10/17

Where does the time go?  Each time we blink another week appears to have flown by – difficult to believe that we have been in Spain for a week and have already arrived in the land of the Oranges


The weather has been strange as most of you would have heard, with fires in Northern Spain and Portugal which on Wednesday were thankfully put out by the torrential rain, bringing with it different problems, although 24 hours later in many parts you wouldn’t have known there were storms.

We have been lucky where we are as despite it being very dry, there hasn’t been fires and although we had two torrential downpours on Wednesday and Thursday there doesn’t appear to be any lasting damage – it is just unfortunate that the rain fell so quickly and heavily it won’t have allowed the ground to soak up enough of the goodness, or enabled Spain to build up any reserves.  As much as us Brits complain about the rain, spending time in somewhere like Spain really makes you appreciate the beautiful lush landscape we have in the UK.

Back to the day job…. waking to the busy sounds of Huesca, we set about our morning routine, went and stocked up at the local Mercadona and headed on our way to Teruel.  The route saw the landscape change even further, having been lush and green as we crossed to Spain, Huesca was almost desert-like sand coloured rock and then on this journey changing again to a dry red soil and rock lined with vinyards.  Teruel is known for its Mudejar architecture which is a mixture between Gothic and Islamic, using beautiful green and blue stone mixed in with brickwork.


We parked up in a car park near the Guardia Civil building which allows overnight parking for motorhomes (GPS n.40,33171 w1.09255) and went for a nice walk around the walled town.  Teruel is still fairly high at 900m, so despite being 24 degrees during the day it cooled down overnight making it rather fresh for our morning exercises!

As we left Teruel in the morning we were consumed by the fog where the temperature dropped below 10 degrees for at least ten minutes before we emerged on the other side to blue skies, Valencia’s smog and a rapidly rising temperature gauge.

We had decided to stop for a couple of nights in a little place called La Alqueria de la Comtessa which is right in the heart of the Valencian Orange Groves (GPS n38,93878 w0.15277 10 euros 1-3 nights, 8 euros after, or 6 euros 30+ nights).  Although we had heard a lot about the aire from Michel and Teresa we hadn’t been here and thought it would be a good place to catch up with them …. needless to say they left on Tuesday morning and we arrived Tuesday afternoon – we might start to take the hint!

The Aire is just off the main road in a little village roughly 3km from the sea but there is a cycle route that runs to Oliva – 3kms to the right and Gandia – 4kms to the left so we decided to stay a few nights to explore the area a bit more.

As we knew that it was going to rain on Wednesday we decided not to venture too far … unfortunately we got to the seafront and got distracted, stopping for a drink, then to pick up some bits and without us realising it the clouds had us circled… in fact I think we can only say that we were well and truly consumed – the heavens opened…. unfortunately not only had we left some of the windows open, we had also left all our towels and sports gear out, thankfully it was due for a wash!  Everything was a little soggy – including us!

We woke to clear skies on Thursday so got a wash in early…. not wishing to take any of the wet towels back into the motorhome until they were clean and dry!  The forecast again showed that we were possibly due for more rain so although we headed to Oliva – a pretty little town with a nice historic area up on the hill – to explore, we made sure we were back by 3pm, enough time to collect the clothes in before the skies opened again at 5pm.

With rain out the way, we put another wash on and with confidence headed off on the bikes to Denia which is roughly 28km along the coast towards Alicante. The route was mainly through Orange Groves and really quiet except for the last 10km or so which was Restaurant after Bar, after restaurant ….. highlighting the Northern European influence on the area.

Denia is a good sized town which appears to have got its mix right, a big castle, a lovely market on a Friday, lots of restaurants and bars (both local and to suit tourist needs) and a bit of culture …. it is also helped by the fact that it is actually on the seafront where Oliva and Gandia’s main town center’s are 3km from the sea….well worth the visit despite being a little achey by the time we got back …. I had been for a run as well in the morning!

This morning and we both set off for a run with the sun shining down on us before a walk back along the cycle path to Gandia to explore further.  Not knowing anything about the town we were pleasantly surprised by the size of it and its ‘normality’.  It didn’t feel touristy at all and had a really good selection of local shops, restaurants and history.

So, although not many photos to show, we have managed to fully explore the area, taking in many an Orange and Satsuma tree along the way.  Tomorrow we move slightly further south but would definately stop here en-route again, even if it wasn’t just to avoid Michel and Teresa and to take cover from the rain … which incidentally was far worse further North.

Since crossing over into Spain we had switched back to speaking Spanish together which has been difficult to say the least – so Keith is currently speaking some kind of ‘Esperanto’! We have also bumped into several French people who we met a couple of years ago so it has been difficult to just focus on Spanish…. good practice at switching if nothing else!

Just in case you haven’t noticed, I have added a link for some recipes at the top of the page – this week we have had both Lentil Chilli and Mixed Bean Curry and have managed to demolish about half of the Sienna Cake so far, but there are a few more of our favourites up there as well – Enjoy!