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2020 – Enjoying the Costa Blanca

Enjoying the Costa Blanca – January 2020
If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know we arrived at Camping el Jardin at El Campello on Monday the 6th of January after a week long journey from our home in Argyll. The details of that journey are HERE.

The drainage and road surface in front of our plot were repaired the day after we arrived and it took a week of noise and dust but it had to be done and they did it as quickly as possible.

After a hectic Christmas with our family and the after effects of Man Flu we took the opportunity to relax in the afternoon sunshine and to be honest did not do very much for a few days apart from a cycle to Mercadona for some groceries.

On our first Friday night we met up with some friends from last year for Friday night drinks, and because it was a bit chilly, coupled to a heavy downpour, we stayed on site and frequented the re-opened cafe/bar there and it was pretty cheap at €2.5 for a glass of wine, but, as we later found out when the nearby Hexigon bar opened, a decent glass of wine could be bought for €1.60.

Saturday 11th January 2020
We did not overdo the vino last night, limiting ourselves to 2 glasses each as today was an up and at em day as we were leaving sharpish, well 11.30, to head up into the hills just over an hour away to celebrate the birthday of Carol at a restaurant we had never been to before, called Casa Susi.

It looks as though it’s in Mexico and we should be arriving on horseback…

So, in the company of Alan and Jean (who kindly drove us), Tony and Linda, Bob and Margaret, Melanie, along with Garry and the birthday girl, we set off in a convoy of 3 cars.

Normally if you head north from El Campello towards Benidorm you take the N332 to avoid the toll motorway but from the 1st of January the motorway is now free, probably to get the lorries and heavy traffic off the coastal route. Whatever the reason, it took a fair bit of time off our journey and we were soon bypassing Benidorm, Altea and heading for Jalon.

We made one pit stop at a large market where The Navigator and the birthday girl lashed out €5 each on a pair of leggings!

From there it was another short drive up into the mountains before arriving at Casa Susi, to be greeted by Susi herself.

It is a traditional Spanish restaurant and the speciality of the house is a Moroccan lamb tagine! Due to a bit of a bit of a ‘lost in translation moment’ not everyone had the aforementioned lamb tagine but The Navigator and I managed to share a lemon chicken tagine which was a taste sensation.

Lemon Tagine at Casa Susi… Some envious looks at our Tagine…
Melanie looking excited as the lamb tagine is revealed…

By the time we had a bit of tapas to start, our starter (lasagna), main course (tagine), and dessert (almond cake with nougat ice cream) almost four hours had slipped past, helped in no small measure by the unlimited free wine and a little shot of Limoncello to finish off with!

It was a lovely, memorable day with good food and company. I’m just glad I didn’t have to drive back!

Sunday saw us walking round to the little market next door for our fill of fruit and veg and the first barbecue of this year.

On Friday we had cycled to Mercadona for some provisions for the weekend and on the way back the panniers on my bike split apart and spilled everything onto the road, including a bottle of Cava we had bought for Carol. Fortunately she saw the funny side of getting a bottle that was all scraped from rolling along the road!

There is a huge Carefour about fifteen minutes away and we cycled there on the Monday to see if they had new panniers, but they had everything under the sun apart from panniers, so they have been ordered from Amazon.es

Tuesday 14th January 2020
Now that the roadworks are finished in front of us I was planning to wash the van today but just as I was about to start, Garry and Carol stopped in their hire car and offered to take us up the coast to Villajoyosa. As it was a lovely day, and the van could be washed anytime, we jumped at the opportunity and so off we set.

Villajoyosa is a lovely seaside resort just a few miles south of Benidorm, but a million miles away in terms of the relaxed air about the place and we had a lovely day there.

We obviously read the news from back home and saw the reports of the bad weather most parts of the UK experienced in mid January but we had a storm here as well called Gloria, and although the Costa Brava bore the brunt of it, El Campello missed the worst of it. Other parts of Spain were not so fortunate and there were at least 13 fatalities.

Our pitch was sheltered by the wall behind us and the two vans on either side so apart from being slightly buffeted and having to listen to the heavy rain on the roof, we were not affected too much.

The aftermath of Storm Gloria…

The one effect it did have on us (and everyone else) was the storm picked up a fair amount of Muchavista Beach half a mile away and deposited it on the site and the vans. After the storm abated there was competition to get a hold of the site’s ladders to get up on the roof to clean it, especially the solar panel as it was not generating much power.

Once the clean up was completed life got back to normal on the site as the sun came out again and we had a succession of days where it reached 70 degrees.

The vans on either side of us change on a regular basis and we have had Swiss, Dutch and French neighbours so far but on the 15th of February we will have British neighbours again when Roy and Linda arrive from Yorkshire. I managed to take this picture of Bessie and the space they will be in, between one French van moving out and another moving in only 15 minutes later!

The pool does not open until the 1st of April – the day we leave!

Although we have the small market next to the site on a Sunday, there is a much bigger one in El Campello on a Wednesday and we cycled along there to have a look, then it was down onto the front to have another cheap lunch at 100 Montaditos.

The fruit and veg part of the market is in what was probably an underground car park and is always busy.

The clothes stalls etc are on either side of a disused road and one stall in particular has always fascinated The Navigator as it has South American knitwear for toddlers and is above her capabilities with the pins!

Intricately knitted in Peru, shipped halfway around the world and on sale in Spain for only 12 Euros! A bit of a bargain – if they are to your taste!

If you have never read previous blogs from this part of the world and wonder why we frequent 100 Montaditos so much is the great value as most items are only a Euro each, so on this occasion we had 2 each, 2 drinks and a plate of frites with 4 sauces for only €7! Oh, and a free handful of crisps thrown in for good measure…

They also have other items on the menu and we splashed out on another occasion on the 2 for €7 menu and The Navigator had a plate of white Prawns which will be no surprise to anyone who knows her.

We have not ventured far so far apart from our excursion into the mountains for Carol’s birthday but on the 29th we took the tram into Alicante for a walk about and a spot of lunch which was lovely, but it did happen to coincide with the hottest day of the month so far.

If ever having grey hair worked in anyone’s favour it was on the tram ride into Alicante as the woman in the gold top got up and gave The Navigator her seat, all the more praiseworthy as she was not that much younger than the grateful recipient.

After a walk through the shopping area, we had lunch and then ended up on the Esplanada d’Espanya, or wave walkway as some call it, where we had a seat in the shade to watch the world go past.

There always seems to be something happening here and we were not disappointed as two models were photographed and videoed posing in front of us.

Don’t ask – no idea…

We finished off the month celebrating, or commiserating (depending on your outlook), our exit from the EU at the Hexagon Bar, not far from the campsite. The bar at the campsite, where we have been going to on a Friday night, had a bingo and salsa dance night on, neither of which appealed to us!

Talking about Europe, I have spent the last few weeks while not out in the sunshine to write another book, which is now available on the Amazon Kindle store HERE.
It is a quiz / trivia book with 650 questions on the 44 European countries, all with 3 multiple choice answers. The questions are a mixture of history, geography, general knowledge, music, sport, etc.
Perfect for a family quiz night or if you are looking for something fun and informative to do on a rainy evening in your motorhome or caravan!

So, that was our first month in El Campello, and, Storm Gloria aside, it has been a relaxing time in the sun, with most days topping 70 degrees. If you own a motorhome or caravan and you have never been to Spain in the winter, and you wonder if it is worth the effort, let me leave you with these two screenshots from the BBC weather forecast for the 1st of February.

Having just proved how much better the weather is in Spain over the winter months you might be surprised to know we won’t be back at this time of year again! More of our plans for the rest of this year and next year anon…

The only things that are planned so far are a mass exodus to a buffet in Alicante this week followed by our Christmas treat in Alicante later in the month which our family have kindly organised for us. We will also be heading up to Benidorm on the train to meet our next door neighbours who will be there for some winter sunshine…

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