This was an unusual week – this was the week that Paul had to go back to England for three days. I had not been looking forward to it as I knew that the days would be long. It was also our last full week at Castillo de , which is a sad thought. It really has begun to feel like home and we have definitely also fallen in love with the area. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We had the usual weekly get together on Monday morning and the group meal in the evening. This week’s dinner companions were as entertaining as usual (an ex Head Teacher and his wife from Derby and an ex London PA and her husband, now living in Cornwall) and we had a lovely evening with lively conversation.
On Tuesday we went shopping, to stock up for me for Paul’s absence, as I would not be going anywhere. And Tuesday evening was mainly domestics – stowing all the valuables from the car (as it would be left at Malaga airport) packing and showering, ready for an early start.
Paul was gone by 06:30 on Wednesday morning, having walked and fed the boys, for which I was very grateful. They eventually woke up again about 08:45 and we went out for the first of many walks. It’s nigh on impossible to take a good picture of my pesky boys on the beach – I did try, but here is one of the beach instead.
And that’s pretty much how the days passed. Reading punctuated by walking during the day and watching the box similarly punctuated by walks until bedtime. I took advantage of Paul’s absence to watch some stuff that he would be less keen on – including “Young, Welsh and Pretty Minted” – which was actually a really quite interesting look into how young bloggers and gamers and other “new occupations” earn their money – fortunes in some cases! I also started watching Shrill, set in Portland Oregon, which I absolutely love and recommend.
He arrived back at about 10:30 on Friday evening. The boys were naturally overjoyed – especially Ted, who squinnies if he just nips out to the shop! I was surprised how quickly he adapted to life with just me, actually.
Churros day! I had been wanting to have some since we had arrived in Spain and today was the day!! I had researched carefully and found that
Cafeteria Churreria Toledo was the the highest rated churreria in Motril and we set off to find it.
We found underground parking nearby and walked with the boys to its location on the corner of the market place. Trade was brisk and they actually had a queuing system, with numbers, like a cheese counter!
I had a look round the market – nothing I needed – and then sat in the sunshine until a table became free. Interestingly, there was another churreria on the other corner that was nowhere near as busy. Trip Advisor had clearly sent us to the right place.
Our waiter, a really lovely, friendly young man, spoke very good English and we were soon chatting away about his plans to move to England with his girlfriend, a nurse. His mama cooks the churros and I said she’d surely miss him. He was interested to know where we lived and said they planned to go to the Manchester area as there would be good work opportunities for them there. I told him the weather was better down South. They have no idea what it’s going to be like, bless them! I hope they don’t run into any post-Brexit issues, poor kids.
The churros were wonderful. And not at all like those extruded ridged ones we usually see in the UK. They were actually more like the “funnel cake” that we had tried on Coney Island a while back. They were light and crispy with a slightly soft interior and not greasy. Dipped in the gloopy hot chocolate they were simply glorious – reader I nearly swooned!
We paid our bill, said adios to our new young amigo, paid our compliments to his Mum and departed, happily. We needed one or two bits of groceries but decided to shop later so as not to have to worry about refrigeration.
The town of Velez de Benaudalla, with its very square (and much restored) Arab castle was our first port of call on our drive into the Sierra Nevada (again – we just can’t keep away!). The attractive little town, nestled in the Gaudalfeo River Valley, looked a very pleasant place to live.
We kept seeing signs for Jardin Nazari but failed to find it, which is a shame as later research showed it would have been worth a visit. Maybe next time we’ll make more of an effort to find it?
The castle is built just where you would build a castle – on a rocky crag overlooking the town. I was much taken with it. It was restored by the town and is illuminated at night – I’d like to have seen that. The town is also notable for the fact that it won €30 million in the Spanish Christmas lottery in 2010. The Spanish Christmas lottery, dating back to 1763 is reckoned to be the world’s oldest. Apparently King Charles III needed some extra money for the state coffers and so the lottery was born! Tickets aren’t cheap mind you at €200 each. They are often bought by consortia or groups of friends/families.
We followed the road along the opposite side of the reservoir to that we had visited previously. It leads eventually to Granada but we didn’t want to spend the whole day in the car for the dogs’ sake. It was very hot and sunny. We saw the quaint little towns of Izbor and Acebuches and then returned to Motril and a quick trip to Al Campo.
Whilst in Al Campo, I bought a bottle of Liptons Green Iced Tea – White Peach flavour. We love it! We discovered its sister tea – the Lemon Mint Green Iced tea last year – although it’s pretty hard to come by in the UK. Both much recommended- not too sweet. I have tweeted Liptons UK but they say they have no plan to stock it in the UK as “iced tea is not as popular here as elsewhere in the world”. Well it flipping well should be. Lobby Liptons – now !
We arrived back “home” to find we had new neighbours. Reader – there were 4 empty pitches either side of us (so 8 in total) – and other spaces as well. So where had they parked? Yep. You got that right. On the pitch right next door to us! Why? Why do people do that? Grr!!!!!
We (I) did some washing in preparation for our imminent departure. The washing facilities here are excellent. And it was warm and sunny with quite a stiff breeze. I planned to leave it out overnight so that it would be dry by morning.
I should mention that they have some very clever sinks for hand washing. They are stainless steel with a built in washboard. I have never seen anything like them in the UK. I really like them. If I had a biggish utility room I’d certainly think about getting one.
Sunday 1st March
We woke up at 7 am – disturbed by a very frisky wind. That stiff breeze had stiffened still more. We closed the roof vent – just in case. We wondered if we were getting the tail end of Storm Jorge?
Paul couldn’t get back to sleep so set off with the dogs to tick off another of his Castillo de Baños bucket list. He wanted to climb to see the 16th Century “Torre Vigia” or watchtower just on the edge of La Mamola.
It’s called the “ Torre de Cautor” and is built on an 80 metre high rocky promontory overlooking the sea. Once again, it was well worth the climb. And Paul doesn’t know who was more surprised when 4 young deer bounded past! The boys weren’t quite sure what to make of them!
He and the boys returned hot and thirsty from their exertions.
I had looked at the weather forecast and – quelle horreur! – it seemed that there may be a little rain in the next couple of days and also will be pretty breezy. We decided that as we are off on Thursday morning to pastures new, we’d use today to take down the awning and have a general tidy up. Nothing worse than stowing a damp awning! Incidentally- the washing was dry and ready to fold.
Why is it that nothing will EVER fold down to the size it was when you unpacked it? We took the awning down, folded it very carefully and, yes, it fits in the bag it came with. But it’s the kind of fit that you don’t want when you get a dress out of the wardrobe that has been there since the previous summer and it has inexplicably shrunk over the winter. Snug!
Incidentally, the awning is a SunnCamp Swift Air Plus and we have been very impressed with it. Instead of tent poles, you have a blow-up rib. It was easy to put up and was up for a month with no need to re-inflate.
Anyway. It’s done. And more washing today – bedding and towels. And steak and chips for dinner. It’s a tough life!
And then it was Monday again and my last coffee morning and our last group meal. Tuesday was a relaxing day although it was really very windy. Blue skies, sunshine and massive gusts! We drove to Motril for the very last time in the evening and stocked up with road-trip essentials and driving back we followed “a high-sided vehicle”. The wind socks on the viaducts were vertical! The HSV was driving very slowly and we could see it being buffeted onto the hard shoulder by the gusts. I’m a little worried about our journey on Thursday to be honest – but I’m a worrier. Paul said it would be fine. Hmmmm…..
On Wednesday I went to my last craft morning and did some “emergent painting”. More like emergency painting in my case!!! And I’m a little bit concerned about what is actually emerging…….
I spent the rest of the day packing up and stowing things back in their rightful places – you get sloppy being in one place for so long! In the evening we went to our last quiz and we won. Resoundingly! Nice to go out on a high!
But all good things must come to an end which, as a child, I thought was grossly unfair and as an adult I don’t think my viewpoint has changed much.
My quick review of Castillo de Banos – a truly wonderful little site. An oasis of green. Great facilities – 3 fast washing machines, 3 tumble dryers, hand washing sinks, ironing board (own iron required) washing up sinks, showers galore and lashings of hot water. Great location right on the beach. Really well stocked village shop with a butchery department, run by a lovely and very hard-working Chinese couple. A restaurant and bar on site, plus a restaurant in the village just a 1 minute walk. Good size pitches, nicely separated by hedges. Fully serviced . Cutest little electric supply – plastic tree trunks. Would I go back? Hell yeah.
Thursday 5th March
We were up and at it from 07:45 and left at 09:40. We had said our goodbyes the previous night. We travelled about 120 miles to Turre – a town just inland from Mojacar, on the coast. In so doing, we left behind the Granada Province and entered the Province of Almeria
One thing I have hardly mentioned so far – largely because it wasn’t an issue – but our campsite was bordered by plastic greenhouses. They were unnoticeable, really. But driving through Almeria on the “Costa del Polythene” was mind-boggling. Everywhere you looked – plastic. There is a very interesting article about it all here. Apparently the area can clearly be seen from space. Unreal.
We drove through the big city of Almeria (on the by-pass). We saw – in a perfect location – an amazingly well-preserved castle/fortress. It was the Alcazaba – a 10th century Moorish fortress – apparently used as a location in Game of Thrones. It was a sight to see – even from a distance.
We stopped for refreshments all round after an hour and a half. The landscape is different again – very arid, scrubby. almost desert-looking. It’s very interesting to see the landscape changing as we drive further up the coast.
We arrived at Camping La Cañada at around 12:30. Access was down a very bumpy track so we took it very slowly. The grass growing down the centre of the track was very long and we could hear it giving our undercarriage a good clean up!
This site is very basic. There is no hook-up unless you are staying for 3 days or more, no fresh drinking water and you have to take your rubbish out with you. BUT – what a great view! And it was quite rural. And the showers and toilets were very clean. We liked it immediately, despite all the apparent “hardships”.
Once set up, we needed some bread for lunch so decided to pop into town. We ended up in the port and resort of Garrucha where we called in to a newish-looking LIDL I bought bread plus some stuff for our lunch, which we ate in the car.
As we were on the coast, we thought we’d carry on to Mojacar, where I remembered Paul’s paternal Grandmother liked to holiday.
It was mid-afternoon by then and we really fancied an ice-cream. We found just the place! An Italian gelateria called Gelateria Italiana Alberto. It gets a very good rating on Trip Advisor – and rightly so. The menu was extensive and the choice was mind-boggling! Paul eventually plumped for a Peach Melba sundae, while I had a half metre board with scoops of 5 different flavours. The flavours I chose were (left to right in the pic below) Coffee, Turrone, Spekuloos, Kinder Egg chocolate and banana. The Spekuloos was my favourite. Paul’s was the banana. They all look a bit beige in retrospect but they were, each one, delicious in their own way. As was the Peach Melba.
We went home to relax (well I did – poor Paul had work to do). I had a snooze while Paul worked and then we went for a ride on our bikes into Turre along the “rambla”. It was a safe track on which to let the boys off lead (and out of their back-packs)) and they loved it, running, fighting and scrambling around in the dust.
One of Ted’s claws caught my arm as we put him back in his carrier on the outskirts of the town. It did not hurt but just would not stop bleeding, so we had to call in at a pharmacy and buy some plasters. I’ve seen it written on Elastoplast packs so often, I actually remembered that the word was – “tiritas”. I remember some right rubbish!!
The assistant was very sweet and cleaned it up for me before applying a plaster. We walked round the plaza and I was particularly taken with some trees which had both fruit and blossom growing on them. I still can’t get over the novelty of seeing heavily laden orange trees. And the orange blossom is so pretty.
We set off for the journey back to the site, once again managing to resist the call of a mobile churreria!
We arrived home just as dusk was falling and were rewarded with a really stunning sunset.
The temperature today peaked at around 27C but you can tell it’s still early in the year as it chills rapidly once the sun has disappeared.
We were a little low on battery (no hook-up) and we sat for a while in the dark, chatting and catching up with the world on our phones. I have to admit that I’m a little over the whole COVID-19 story. More pandemonium than pandemic. All this stupid hysteria, whipped up by the press. So annoying – particularly the panic buying. We are not seeing this in Spain so far, I’m pleased to say.
We drifted off to sleep to the barking of all the dogs in the surrounding area. Must have been the Spanish equivalent of the “twilight barking” (see the book “101 Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith for reference, which I loved as a kid). Perhaps “el ladrido crepusccolo”?