Thursday, 11 February 2010

It's Official - we have become "Snowbirds"

It’s Official- We have become “Snowbirds”

We overnighted on an aire, near a town with two names-Le Boulou and El Volo, a stone’s throw from the border with Spain. Received info is that the facilities in Spain aren’t a patch on the French, hence the decision to overnight here. We filled up with LPG, because we’d read that that too is difficult to get in Spain, but we set off the following morning with an open mind.
That said, there is an awful lot of urban sprawl along this route through Valencia. But it’s interspersed with lovely areas of acres of orange and lemon groves, and nearer Alicante, almond groves. The vegetation is suddenly Mediterranean. The Almond Trees are splendid at this time of year- almost on their own worth driving 1600 miles! Dark, almost black, knarled, twisted bark, which looks so unpromising most of the year, but covered in delicate pale and deep pink confetti petals in February. When you catch a glimpse of an almond orchard in full flower, it really is one of the wonders of Winter and really cheers you up! Van Gogh painted such a tree set against a vivid turquoise sky, so he must have been captivated too.
However there’s no turquoise sky today, although it is quite bright, with a strong, cold wind. Our first stay in Spain was in a town called Oliva, right near the beach, behind the sand-dunes. Sounds a lot nicer than it was. A bitterly cold wind. Packed together like sardines, between German and Union Jack toting “snowbirds”, who’d set up camp for the winter, complete with plants set in breeze blocks! Shoot me if I ever begin positioning plants around the van!! Very basic facilities. Not far from town, but it was too cold and I couldn’t be bothered walking in. As we drove through Oliva the following morning, it didn’t appear to have a lot to say for itself!
The good thing about being here was that we were able to get away early a.m. to visit my cousin and her husband who moved out here a few years ago. We weren’t able to stay long, because they were off to a Spanish evening class, and then off to Benidorm the following morning. We’d booked the only one of two remaining pitches on a large, all the bells and whistles site nearby and wanted to arrive in good time, so it was a flying visit. They’ve got a lovely single-storey house with a great roof-terrace in an urbanization not far from Orihuela. Pauline moved out here mainly because of her health, and the chronic arthritis she suffers from has certainly improved a great deal since she came out here.
They gave us directions to the campsite, which included turning right at the brothel! It was strange, because both of us had seen a number of oddly-clad females, freezing their wot-sits off, waiting at the side of the road, swinging their handbags! It seems that their not Spanish, but possibly East European ladies, and the authorities try and clean them out but they keep coming back! But this is a quiet, out-of-the-way place, miles away from built-up areas, and you can’t imagine where their customers are coming from!!
We arrived at the camping complex, complete with fitness centre, indoor swimming-pool, club room, restaurant, washrooms, laundrette, fantastic showers, roomy pitches. We needed about 25% of what the site offered, and would normally avoid this site during the Summer. But if the weather wasn’t going to be good, there was somewhere to exercise and great facilities. Our first meal out since we left- we splashed out on the Menu Degustacion, whilst the Germans and English around us were all on the Menu del Dia, which was half the price! Spot the “holiday-makers” versus the snowbirds, who are here for the duration!
Anyway I’m off now to sing some beer-drinking songs, laugh very loudly, and try a spot of line-dancing!!!

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