Monday 19th of October
As days goes here, this one was action packed. It is rare that I’m allowed a cooked breakfast on a weekday but I don’t complain when one is offered.
The Navigator’s plan was that we would have a mid morning substantial breakfast then spend the middle part of the day at the beach before returning mid afternoon for a relax and early barbecue.
Before setting off however it was time for my mid holiday hair cut and I must admit The Navigator has improved her technique from the scalping she managed on her first attempt a few years ago.
It was midday when we set off for the beach and it wasn’t too crowded and the sea temperature was perfect so we could spend more time cooling off in the sea. We were almost three hours on the beach before returning to the campsite.
One of the sisters who own the site came out of the reception and handed us an envelope that had winged its way from Belfast with replacement stickers for Bessie.
When we left the UK I had not heard of the new regulation that from the 28th of September we must now have a UK sticker rather than the current GB, and in Spain it would be mandatory, so rather than risk a fine on the way home we had them posted out by Jill after ordering them from Amazon.
After I applied the stickers we sat outside talking to our new Dutch neighbours, Ad and Anja, until it was barbecue time and I cooked the pork kebabs that turned out to be chicken. Don’t ask!
Wednesday 20th of October
Today Garry and Carol arrived on the site just before lunchtime and after parking their van we all headed off for the bus in the direction of El Campello. Wednesday is market day in El Campello but neither of us needed much apart from The Navigator who topped up her herbs and spices collection to take home. That mission completed, we headed for the Social Club again and had another great value meal for €9.50 each.
With nothing much else to do in El Campello we took the tram back and after a refreshing drink at a cafe on the way back to the site we ended the day having (more) wine at Garry and Carol’s van until the light faded.
Friday 22nd of October
The weather forecast for today was not good and as predicted we were hit with a storm with thunder, lightning and heavy rain just as we set off for the tram to head for The Wok, the (all you can eat) Chinese Buffet a few stops away in the direction of Alicante.
Usually when we are here a large group of Brits from the campsite head for at least one of the huge Chinese Buffets in the area and today, and although our numbers were depleted, we joined Garry, Carol, Alex and Maggie for a meal as the downpour continued outside.
Yesterday I posted a fun picture of our beach umbrella as a Facebook ‘story’ with the caption “the only umbrella you need in El Campello” which seems to have tempted fate as the second picture below was taken the very next day!
I’m not sure if we stayed there eating until the rain went off or the downpour only lasted a couple of hours but it was off by the time we headed back on the tram to the campsite.
Saturday 23rd of October
As we were leaving The Wok yesterday, Alex was kind enough to invite the four of us up to their place in the hills behind El Campello today. He picked us up in his car and we headed up into a very different landscape from the built up coastal area we were living in.
The further we drove away from the coast the terrain became barren, treeless and more remote, in fact Alex said some people referred to it as the Alicante desert. When we arrived at their property it became obvious how Alex spends his days as the area around the house and pool was in pristine condition with not a weed in sight. After a tour of the house and grounds we sat out on the terrace having the odd drink or two chatting and laughing for the rest of the afternoon.
One of my favourite TV shows of recent years was the Netflix series ‘Breaking Bad’ and this property could easily have featured in that as it was surrounded by sandy coloured, rock strewn, barren soil but the major advantage Alex and Maggie’s property had over anything featured in Breaking Bad was the spectacular view down to the coast at El Campello and the sparking sea in the distance.
Back at the campsite the four of us rounded off the day with one of The Navigator’s trademark creamy curries and a few (more) drinks. All in all, a fantastic, memorable day and thanks again to our hosts for their hospitality.
Sunday 24th of October
Tomorrow Carol and Garry leave El Jardin to begin the long journey back to Nottinghamshire so we had a lazy day on the site topped off with a Chilly con Carne made with Garry’s usual expertise. Back on Thursday they had cycled into El Campello in the morning and had lunch with us on their return to the site and in the evening Garry cooked a fantastic tasty spicy sausage and bean dish which I hope The Navigator can replicate in the future. We’ve known Garry and Carol a few years now and have got to know them really well but that Thursday night was a revelation as I found our Carol enjoys a dram and so Carol and I enjoyed a few to round of the evening.
Monday 25th of October
Usually when we wake up it’s still dark so we lie and read until about 10ish before facing the day but today was an exception as we had to be outside the van at 9am sharp to wave off Garry and Carol who were departing El Jardin this morning to make leisurely progress towards Calais.
It is now noticeable that the weather is slowly changing. When we arrived just over five weeks ago it was scorching hot from the minute you woke up but now it is cooler first thing until the heat cranks up about elevenish then everyone who started the day in jeans and jumpers discard them in favour of shorts and t-shirts again.
We had breakfast then cycled round to Mercadona, not because we needed that much, but we are starting to fill Bessie’s nooks and crannies with goodies we want to take back for Christmas with the family, so today was primarily a wine and lager run with a few other necessities as well.
The rest of the day was spent having a lazy time sitting outside the van and I managed some work updating Fyne Editions on my laptop until a power cut on the site put paid to that. About half a dozen vans left this morning before they started to be replaced this afternoon, including a Belgian couple to our right who managed to hit one of the two huge trees on the plot reversing in.
Tuesday 26th of October
The aforementioned Belgian decided to move pitch and duly hit another tree on the way out. In a way I’m glad the tree was there as there’s every chance he would have hit Bessie!
Apart from taking the tram into Alicante and El Campello we have not ventured too far and today we headed back into Alicante as The Navigator is beginning to panic that there are only 60 days to Christmas and she wanted to have a look around the Spanish shops.
The tram was quite busy and is is very noticeable that every single person wears a mask and we saw one guy lower his mask to speak on his mobile to be immediately told to raise it again by other passengers. It was a cloudy, grey day and we had some drizzly rain for about an hour before it cleared enough to sit outside and have an excellent 3 course menú del día for €10 each.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering about Alicante and discovering streets we had never been on before. Back at the campsite Ian and Dee came round to say goodbye as they were heading home in the morning. They had been on the site three weeks before we arrived and we’ve chatted to them most days as they passed our van, but as of tomorrow we will be the only Brits in a motorhome, camper van or caravan on a site with 125 places. Changed days!
Sunday 31st of October
As I type this at 10.51pm on the 31st of October it is 80 degrees which is back to the temperatures of mid September when we arrived here. It hasn’t all been beer and skittles however as we’ve had a couple of grey days and one day of rain.
The site is chock-a-block today as it’s Halloween but also a Spanish public holiday tomorrow so the Spanish have arrived in numbers and there is a great family atmosphere. All the children are dressed up in all manner of costumes and the on site bar/restaurant is doing great business and the weather being so amazing helps. Fair play to the site too for creating Halloween displays all over the place which adults and kids alike are appreciating.
Today was a treat for us too as we were invited to visit Marian and Gerry who we first met on El Jardin a few years ago. They have since sold their van and put roots down in central El Campello in a superb flat and after a tour of the surrounding area we had a great meal on their balcony watching the sunset to the west.
We have now had a taste of two very different residences in this area. A remote(ish) detached traditional Spanish property up in the barren hills with a beautiful pool and a quiet rural life to a very modern apartment in a well maintained block in the centre of town within walking distance of all the amenities and great transport links by bus and tram right on the doorstep.
If we were ever to sell up and relocate out here do we have a favourite? While we appreciate the attractions of both properties in their own ways we still have so much to see in Europe that as long as we are fit(ish) enough to travel, that is what we want do continue doing for the foreseeable next few years anyway.
Tuesday 2nd of November
There was a mass exodus of the French yesterday and today and that is no bad thing for the reason that the French speaking Belgian near us, ‘DJ Fonzy’ or Alphonse as he was christened has far fewer people talk to near our van, and boy can this guy talk in a loud voice. He has seemingly mastered the technique of talking loudly and rapidly without drawing breath, no doubt a necessary skill required in his DJ(ing).
Anyway, today The Navigator decided that our time here is drawing to a close in a couple of weeks and we must do more ‘things’ and by ‘things’ she means Christmas shopping. Mercadona, our supermarket of choice, doesn’t do non-food items so we were to head into the outskirts of Alicante today to the Plaza Mar2 shopping centre, or to give it is full title, El Centro Commercial Plaza Mar 2. The centre has a massive Tesco type hypermarket called Alcampo which is part of the Auchan group in France.
The store is massive, and now that Halloween is past, it has taken delivery of most of its Christmas stock and the choice is huge, but as all the toys, books etc are in Spanish it cuts down the opportunities to buy anything for our granddaughters. The journey wasn’t wasted however as their food and booze range was good value and only limited by what we could later carry back on the tram!
We more than exceeded our daily steps target which meant we could indulge in yet another 100 Montaditos at the food court.
Thursday 4th of November
As well as the days getting much shorter the weather has changed as well. Tuesday night was stormy and it rained most of the night and the gale persisted most of yesterday but at least it wasn’t cold. The temperature now averages 70f instead of the 80f+ it was recently. Our only exercise yesterday was a cycle round to Mercadona for some groceries and wine to bring back for Christmas.
Today we headed north on the tram, then train, up to Villajoyosa, a town with a very pretty seafront on the coast between El Campello and Benidorm. To contrast things here with back home – the train was on time, clean and the return ticket was only €2.30 for a journey of half an hour each way!
We’ve been to Villajoyosa three times before and have arrived three different ways. First was in our previous van and the second was in a car we hired to get about and the third was when Garry and Carol brought us here in a car they had hired.
On all three occasions most of the time was spent on the seafront as it is the real highlight of the town but the train station is up the hill in the town proper so we had the chance to wander about the narrow streets which were nothing to write home about. So I won’t.
We headed down to the seafront and wandered up and down as we both had memories of there being a German owned restaurant but it turned out that it was Belgian and it didn’t have a menu of the day. We wandered further on towards the marina and came to the place the four of us ate the last time we were here and had a hit and miss lunch.
It’s British owned and the first surprise was that the waitress informed us there was no fish and chips even though it was first thing on their ‘specials’ chalk board. “The boats have not been out,” she said before offering us king prawns or garlic prawns! The Navigator chose the garlic prawns and I had pork medallions in a creamy mushroom sauce and to be fair both dishes were very tasty but we must have waited about forty minutes for them to be served. The fact that a German couple who ordered after us were served before us did nothing to appease our frustration at the slow service and to cap it all it was overpriced for what it was. Lesson learned, don’t walk past a busy Belgian restaurant to eat at an empty British restaurant!
A series of escalators took us back up to the town and we had another wander about before heading for the train back to El Campello.
As we sat waiting for the train to arrive there were a few spots of rain and fortunately the train arrived just as the heavens opened up and there was a torrential downpour. It rained most of the journey but relented just in time for us to walk back to the campsite but soon after we were back in Bessie the rain was hammering down again. It doesn’t rain very often in Spain, but when it does, it is torrential.
Saturday 6th of November
As I’ve mentioned before, when we arrived we would sit outside in the warmth of the evening until at least 8pm before the mosquitos would force us indoors. Since the clocks went back last weekend it is now dark and chilly at 6pm so after dinner we are now in bed for 8pm watching TV, but tonight we lived dangerously and went out for a few drinks at a nearby hostelry called L’Hexagone.
In the last few years it has been the ritual for up to half a dozen British couples to head there on a Friday night to put the world to rights but due to the lack of fellow Brits this year that fell by the wayside, but tonight, with the arrival on site of Alan and Ann from Wales, normal service was restored.
We haven’t seen them since pre-Covid March 2020 so we had a lot to catch up on and fuelled by a few drinks we had a lovely night in their company catching up.
Monday 8th of November
After a lazy day at the van yesterday it was time to ‘do something’ today and so we headed off into Alicante on the tram again arriving at Mercado, the 2nd last stop just on midday. When we are on our travels we often visit the town or city’s museum or cathedral as I love history and marvel how they built such magnificent structures back in the mists of time and The Navigator enjoys a moment of contemplation.
Today we were a mission to do two things in Alicante.
First was to visit Alicante Cathedral, or Concatedral Saint Nicolau de Bari d’Alacant to give it its proper Spanish name. It was built between 1613 and 1662 but only conferred the distinction of being a Cathedral in 1959.
Wikipedia describes the outside as ‘sober’ and that’s a fair assessment as you could easily walk past it without realising is was such an important building. The inside is fairly spartan and unremarkable with only the dome, the chancel and one of the side chapels of much note. What was notable to see and hear was an organist and a violin player practising a piece of music, no doubt for a future performance and we sat on a pew below them and listened for quite a while as they played.
The second thing we were on a mission to accomplish was to find a restaurant we passed by last week and have a taco lunch. When we passed it before I confessed to The Navigator that I didn’t think I had ever tried a taco in all my 67 years and she didn’t think she had either so today was the day to put that right. The restaurant had a sign outside advertising 8 tacos and 2 lagers for €9.95 which seemed a bit of a bargain so mustering up my best touristy Spanish I pointed to the sign when the waitress appeared and that was lunch ordered.
You will see from the above pictures that we shared 8 different tacos which were a mixture of beef, pork and chicken and they were delicious and just the perfect lunchtime portions to have.
We had a walk around the old town before heading down to the marina to sit in the sunshine and look out over the super yachts in the harbour. Walking along to where the harbour ends and the beach starts we saw our No.21 bus depart so decided to have a cafe con leche for The Navigator and a cup of tea with milk for me.
You know you are in a foreign country where tea is not consumed to any extent when the waitress makes you a cup of frothy milk with a teabag in it’s paper jacket sitting on the saucer!
No matter how hard I dunked and squeezed the teabag it remained a cup of frothy warm milk but at only €1 each it allowed us to sit down looking over the busy beach and up to the impressive castle while we waited for the next bus.
Wednesday 10th of November
Our time in El Campello is rapidly drawing to a close and we are now half way through our second last week here. The Navigator wanted one last walk around El Campello market and so we took the tram along just before lunch. There had been another tremendous downpour during the night to which The Navigator had been oblivious and this morning was dry but airy and maybe this was the contributing factor to the market being much quieter than usual. The product mix had changed as well with fewer sunglasses and summery items to more jumpers and jackets which disappointed The Navigator as she had a new top in mind from a particular stall, but they had changed their range too.
All was not lost however as we had our final lunch at the Social Club and yet again it was another delicious three courses, two glasses of wine each, bread and tea/coffee for €9.50 each. You will see in the following pictures that I chose a plate of ham in oil and paprika while The Navigator had what translated as a round cow ball in broth which might not be to everyone’s taste, certainly not mine, but she thought it was delicious. The next two courses of chicken in an orange sauce and then profiteroles were more normal fare and the whole meal was great value for money (again).
We got off the tram a stop before our usual one and walked along the deserted beach watching the waves crash in before heading back to Bessie. You’ll notice the change in attire for The Navigator with long trousers and hoodie as it was a bit fresher than normal. You can also see in the 2nd picture that there is not another person on the esplanade which is highly unusual for a mid-afternoon.
Sunday 11th of November
Today we should have been at the Lochgair war memorial to commentate the fallen from the two World Wars. My grandfather died at the Battle of Loos in 1915 and I am proud that my father passed on his name to me and the picture below is of me at my grandfather’s grave in the Niederzwehren Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near the German city of Kassel, our first overseas trip in Louis, our new Motorhome back in 2007. You can see the pot of heather we bought in a local German supermarket which the gardener planted for me. I hope it is still there and flourishing.
The other picture is an image on a postcard Angus sent to his sister Annie in 1908 in happier times with the message on the reverse, “what do you think of this”, meaning his piping outfit.
My great grandparents would also lose Angus’s twin, Donald, in 1918 a few months before the end of that horrific war. How they coped with the loss of their twin boys does not bear thinking about but the ultimate sacrifice of those young men led to us all living the lives we have today and for that we should always be grateful. I certainly am.
I did an incredibly stupid thing today and I might be able to tell you about it if I can rescue the situation in the next few days!!!
Tuesday 16th of November
Cast your mind back to pre-Covid February 2020 if you can. One day we were walking around Alicante and we came across a restaurant called La Mary which looked really good and I promised The Navigator I would take her there for her Birthday treat in early April but the world went mad in late March and we had to leave in a marked manner to head home.
I thought it only fair to take her back there this year for a slap up Menu del Dia to honour my promise.
The above right picture of our starters does not do The Navigator’s choice much justice and she asked me to take a close up so she could better commit it to memory.
It was a lentil stew with choritzo and onions but if ever a dish looked like mince soup this was it!
Friday 19th of November
Yesterday it poured the whole day and it was only in the late afternoon that it abated. We’ve had daytime rain once before but, although heavy, it only lasted a few hours. Yesterday’s rain had been torrential all night and most of the day.
Today, although a bit overcast, it was at least dry which allowed us to wash Bessie and get everything packed away ready for the off on Sunday.
Roy and Linda from Yorkshire arrived this afternoon on to their usual pitch on our right for their stay through until the end of January.
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Saturday 20th of November
Our last full day on Camping El Jardin and it’s another grey day but at least its dry and I am much happier today. On the 11th of November I mentioned that I had done an incredibly stupid thing – and I had!
In a nutshell I deleted my Amazon account (long long story) and not only did this cancel my day to day Amazon and Prime account but it deleted access to my KDP account which is the part of Amazon where my Fyne Edition books are hosted and sold. At this time of year with sales on the up this was a disaster. It has taken six days to get control of my KDP account again but at least I can start working on uploading new titles and updating the existing ones.
When I am mentioning Fyne Editions, you should check out the updated website HERE as it now has motorhome, camper van, caravan, camping and hiking links to the relevant Amazon gifts page for those categories so you can treat yourself or someone you know for Christmas.
This morning I am typing this to update it again before going over to pay Veronica and inform her we would not be booking for next year which I don’t think went down too well! I’ll explain more in the final blog of this series.
After lunch we said our farewells to Ann as she passed us then took the tram into El Campello for the last time to have a coffee with Gerry and Marian and say our farewells. In the evening we went out to have a Chinese meal with Roy and Linda to properly catch up with them. Usually we have a few months to chat but with us arriving much earlier than usual we only had a couple of days this time.
And that was it. Our 60 days on Camping El Jardin was over and it was time to head north.
Join us on the next blog for our two days in Madrid, and, well, not all goes to plan…
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For those who are not “friends” on Facebook you will have missed a series of pictures and short videos that I posted so below you will see some of those pictures I posted there, but not the videos. (technical problems)
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ARGYLL TO EL CAMPELLO - THE ROUTE WE TOOK
COMING SOON ON THE NEXT BLOG...
We start our journey north but before getting on the ferry we spend two days in Madrid…