The trials of moving on. Facing my past. Mr Know It All. Oranges, nets and kiwi. Secret “winterers”free masons and hitting the matting jackpot!
We pack up in Benidorm, we have enjoyed our three days. I don’t think my opinion of it not being my cup of tea has gone down so well but I did say I’d be honest when I started this blog and it is after all only my opinion. I realise its loved by many, a lot of which, my friends.
After setting off on a short journey of 79km we are heading towards Torrevieja or La Marina on the Costa Blanca, two hours from Benidorm. We are actually going to visit Baxter’s sister and brother-in-law (Vicky and Tim) for a couple of weeks, who have had a villa in La Marina urbanisation for many years but are now moving there permanently, so its exciting times for them. We are looking at staying on the campsite near there but I have always had a soft spot for Guardamar Del Segura, which is literally over the road from them, so we decided to look at both. It is in fact ten years since I have been in the Torrevieja area and in all honesty, I never intended to go back there. If it wasn’t for visiting Vicky and Tim I wouldn’t have. I have nothing against the area at all, just bad memories of years gone by.
I’ll briefly explain. I decided in 2005 it would be a great idea to leave my very well paid job in Leeds and move to the Costa Blanca region of Spain. It was the 2nd of January, I was having a cigarette (I no longer smoke) looking out towards the dark arches in Leeds, on one of those days where grey sky meets grey land, there’s grey fog, grey miserable faces at work (mine well and truly amongst them) after two weeks Christmas cheer and the first day back at work everyone feels . . . well . . . grey! Rather than ride out the grey mood I decide there’s more to life and right there and then have the brain wave to leave the UK for sunnier climes! It appeared my niece also caught the “grey bug” because she decided to come too. I’m not sure you want to hear a brief account of my life in Spain but lets just say it was not a good one. Within three months I sold my house and car, put a deposit down on an apartment in Formentera, off plan. I dragged my dad to Spain on a moments notice (bless him he was bossed by us girls) to come and look at properties with me. We went on one of those trips where they pick you up at the airport and put you up in a hotel for 2 nights, they ferry you around to areas you’ve never seen before and don’t have the foggiest clue about, while they chew your ear off, laugh a lot about nothing, take you out to dinner and fill you full of . . . how do you say politely?.. shit. Well that’s how they did it in the boom, so to speak. They still do actually, as whilst having a coffee on Guardamar sea front, I heard a woman (I was totally eavesdropping actually) in full sales pitch, doing the exact same crap to an older couple. Don’t get me wrong you have to make money and we chose to go but it was so sickly sales its unbelievable. And I’m sales! Never like that though – honest! I digress again, anyway I moved into a rented apartment in an urbanisation in Torrevieja whilst my apartment was being built. To cut a very long story short, a lot happened in that time. I could write a book on that period alone but anyway it turned out to be the worst time of my life, some of the decisions I made were plain stupid and mistakes many. As all this was going on I lost my dad very quickly and un expectantly to cancer. I cut my loses here in Spain and returned back to the UK after two years, a wiser, sadder (temporarily), more sceptical person than when I left. For a long time I wouldn’t and couldn’t talk about it, I hated Spain with a passion, for some reason it was partly ITS fault (ridiculous) and I really was fighting with myself having to return even for two weeks, ten years later!!!!!! Turns out it wasn’t Spain’s fault after all (obviously). I spent the first day showing Baxter where I used to live and where I had the business and told him some of the times I had (good and bad). It was the first time I really talked to him about this time in my life so it was actually quite therapeutic. I’m not going to go all hippy on you, start wearing tie dye dresses, dreadlock my hair, start chanting, and burning incense sticks (although I do have some for aroma purposes) but it was good to go back and face it. I realised I didn’t see anything whilst I lived here, I was always at work, very unhappy, wrapped up on my small world and unwilling to give in on a failing business etc. I didn’t even recognise some of the places that were right on my doorstep. Yes it had changed obviously. There are more buildings and commercial centres, a lot unfortunately are empty, a sign of the times and hopefully better to come shortly but even so, I realised I didn’t know the place I lived. I know more in the 8 weeks I have been here (I’m still well behind on this blog I know but we haven’t moved far and things are changing as we speak!) than I did whole time I lived here. It’s all actually a haze. I hope that wasn’t information overload but I felt you need to know a bit of my past times here in Spain, which I have actually fallen in love with again. I did pick myself up and dust myself off, as you do. I returned to my previous career in recruitment and within six months was seconded to work in Australia, which I did for three wonderful years.
Right, carry on with the here and now Dicko. So we arrive (without a hitch – good eh? Its us I’m talking about) at La Marina Camping International which is €34 per night (not in ACSI) its huge, too expensive and not really what we want. In summer it would be horrendous. It’s got amazing facilities but full of kids (great if that’s what you want, me personally? that’s a no) it has slides, pools, playgrounds, in fact everything you can think of. We decide to look at Majal in Guardamar. It’s a 5* resort with 162 pitches and bungalows. Its beautifully well-kept, has a large outdoor pool, heated indoor pool with spa, gym, on site shop and restaurant. We couldn’t get in the first evening but they were very accommodating on reception and allowed us to park just outside the complex until a pitch became vacant the following day. This is one of the most reasonable sites in Spain for what you get for your money. With ACSI its €19 all in, including WIFI. Again it was full of “winter campers” who couldn’t wait to tell us, you have to book years in advance to get in for the full winter season. It appears they all have the same pitch every year. Being new to all this it was mesmerising. They all had perfectly manicured pitches, with this floor matting (it’s like Benidorm all over again) that we can not find (even though we’ve covered every shop in the Costa Blanca so far) I’ve got floor matting envy! You HAVE to have this stuff or you’re just SO not with it! Where are they buying this stuff? Is there a “winter campers” free masons club meeting in secret at midnight??? Each pitch has small manicured bushes and the real serious “winterers” were quite easily spotted as they sported a net bag full of oranges swinging from their vans. I felt quite left out and wanted to go immediately buy a dozen oranges and add a few kiwi’s to keep up with the Jones’s.
We arrive at our pitch, this being only the second one we have manoeuvred into being newbies to all this . Having a brand new van is like a flashing light saying “look at us trying to get in here, we’re crap so watch it’ll be a good laugh” Within minutes we had an audience, arms crossed, nodding and shaking their heads, proudly displaying their bags of oranges. We finally get in, decide to put up the awning, which is enormous, it’s never made an outing before and clearly wont fit but Baxter insists on giving the neighbour’s more entertainment value by insisting it will fit on an angle. It’s at this point our next-door neighbour appears. Now to say he’s a “know it all” is an understatement. This is where the low bush dividers come in. NOT GOOD! Everytime we step out we’re told snippets of advice. Now don’t get me wrong, all advice is gratefully accepted, we had great people opposite we will stay in touch with forever, who gave us great advice but this guy could give Harry Enfields’s “ah you don’t wanna do it like that” character a run for his money (80’s Harry Enfield TV character along with loadsamoney and Stavros, I’ll add a photo to refresh your memory). At one point you daren’t step out in fear of getting ambushed. Baxter stepped out one morning thinking all was quiet next door when he got pounced upon and endured an hour lecture on sweeping brushes! I would have rescued him but I was too busy killing myself laughing on the floor of the van. We had five days peace when they went on holiday to the mountains, which was heeeeeaven. Unfortunately there are no Mountain lions or bears in Spain for him to irritate, therefore he didn’t get eaten and returned intact. Not even a passing Bull! He wouldn’t need a red flag, just opening his mouth would be enough for a good rear end puncture. If you ever want to know everything about everything or everything about nothing, go to Majal, Guardamar in winter, pitch 17 or 19 and bobs your uncle, Fanny’s you’re aunt. You may lose the will to live but you’ll definitely know how to cook muscles!
We stayed three weeks, saw Johns family which was great. Met a fantastic couple from Wales, Gary and Sharon with the singing dog (Sooty) who should be on Britain’s got talent (the neighbours opposite who gave us much-needed valuable advice and many laughs over a few rosado’s) We cycled a lot, although the cycle paths aren’t great, It’s a shame actually as it would make a big difference to the site, plus the beach is a 10 minute walk away which isn’t far at all and a pleasant if walking isn’t a problem and it is spectacular. It rivals any beach I’ve ever seen. The site is brilliant value for money and Guardamar is a lovely Spanish town, with lovely restaurants and cafes. A negative to the campsite is there’s a lot of stagnant water around, which is a nightmare for mozzie sufferers like me but it’s also a natural nature reserve so the wildlife is also a big bonus especially for birdwatchers.
HOW could I nearly forget . . . Baxter returned from the camp shop after nipping off for a french stick and milk with a huge triumphant smile on his face, I thought he’d won a scratch card (he’d never do a scratch card EVER. Those who know him will get this. It’s a con and not worth the odds bla de bla) plus he is a walking money computer brain as previously mentioned, so I tend to go along with him on such topics. Anyway NO! its better than a scratch win! . . . Its floor matting!!! Whoop de whoop. Turns out the camp shop sold it. He bought enough to cover Japan but we have it. Net bag, oranges and kiwi’s here we come! Must tell Baxter a small net bag will suffice for fruit, not enough to catch a weeks tea in the Mediterranean.
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