Category: Spain

The Rambla Rages, and Finding Jacarandas

We’ve had some fierce storms in the last few weeks, and twice our normally dry rambla…

…became a raging river.

As far as the raging rambla was concerned it didn’t affect us that much – not like the folks who use the rambla to access their driveways.  They were unable to leave their houses for a day or two each time as the rambla is the ‘road’ that leads to their driveways.

The torrential rains did do a number on our driveway, though.  We already knew we needed to get it fixed up a bit but now it’s got huge ruts from where the water washed down.

The day after the first big washout I drove down to Albox to do some grocery shopping.  As I went down our driveway it was very rutted but as I turned left to enter the ‘road’ we share with our neighbour-across-the-way I almost stopped and turned back.  The dirt/mud road was so deeply rutted I wondered if I would get stuck but I made it down.  Then all the way into town I was wondering if I was actually going to make it back up to the house.  When I was finished the shopping and was back at the bottom of the shared drive I just put it in first and gunned it, barely slowing down for the sharp right-turn onto our driveway.  I fish-tailed a bit but made it!

We also encountered a couple of other issues – we had small floods from both the front door and the french doors as they don’t have proper weatherproofing on the bottoms.  I spent some time mopping and laid down some towels to prevent more seepage.

And another problem we had was a drip into the kitchen very near the fridge.  It wasn’t from the rain but from a backup between my shower and the toilet in the guest bedroom.

Carlos – when he was able to get out of his house from the flooded rambla – came over and unplugged it, and is partway through re-caulking my shower as that’s where the backup was going, and from there down into the kitchen.

We’ve been out for lunch a few times – at the bar in Chirivel and also at the bar in Los Cerricos.  The bar cats are still there, and there are a couple of new babies that are very cute.  They hung around our table and got lots of little nibbles.

The second time we went there the bar cats weren’t around, but the ‘dumpster’ cats were.  I, as usual, had leftovers of my pork tenderloin so ended up giving it in little bite sized pieces to the many stray cats as well as one very cute little dog.  I wish I could help all of them but the best you can do is catch them and take them to the local vets to have them ‘fixed’.  Apparently the vets do this for free and all you have to do is catch them, take them in, then return them to the street they came from.  They’ll still be scrounging for food but at least they won’t be having six kittens four times a year…so sad.

Colin and I both got haircuts – mine is the shortest it’s been since the cut I got in Navarrete in Sept of 2018 – I love it!

We took a trip to Ikea in Murcia almost two weeks ago to have a look at kitchens.  Looking in the online catalogue is one thing but we both like seeing something in person to really get a feel for what it will be like. We did pick up a book shelf for the snug and have since rearranged the furniture.

All around the area are beautiful flowering trees with lavender coloured blossoms.  We found out what they are – jacaranda – and the local plant store finally got a delivery in – they’re very hard to get.  

We picked three of them up this morning along with four more oleanders and I can’t wait for them to be planted.  The jacarandas are very tall, but of course won’t flower until next year.

The winter pool cover has been removed but we’re having a heck of a time drying it out to put away – it rains at least a bit almost every day so it’s been impossible.

We’re having solar panels for electricity installed – hopefully next week right before Colin returns to France for some medical appointments.

The ‘giant asparagus’ hasn’t changed much – we’ve been told it will be a few weeks before anything happens.  And it’s not a yucca (as I called it previously) but an agave and once it’s done flowering it will die.

They’ve completed a new display at the south end of Albox and it’s a very good one – showing the story of the area and the people.

Great Relief, and Back to Spain

Colin’s doctor’s appointment was a great relief – he was asked why he wasn’t still getting the twice-yearly shots and was taking the one-a-day pills instead.  He was instantly given a prescription for the shot and we took it right away to the pharmacy in Mansle.  The nurse came to the house the next morning and administered it.  Hopefully that does the trick with the very high PSA.

While back in Mansle we did the usual – had a lovely fish-and-chips lunch, visited Tony and Joyce, said hello (a couple of times) to Edith and Sylvain at the bar.  Also on Colin’s birthday Tony and Joyce joined us for a lunch at the Marmite – very nice.

We started the return trip to Spain a week ago, and since we were in the car it was much quicker.  We stopped at a hotel just outside Zaragoza that accepts dogs – we’d stayed there before.  Arriving at the house mid-afternoon was wonderful – we even had water!  Except until the power kept cutting out and thus the pump wasn’t working.

After a call to Carlos he came right up and got it running again, but not for long – apparently something got wet and just needed to dry out.  It was very frustrating until partway through the next morning when all was working again.

Our ‘handyman’ Steve has done a bunch of stuff – stained the outside doors and some of the window trims, installed several solar powered motion triggered lights and another security camera.  Lots to do but it’s all coming along…

Our fantastic gardener was hard at work again – one of the large yuccas is about to flower, and then will die – it looks like a giant asparagus.

Colin and I made a trip to several different places to collect flowers and trees for Ali to plant for us.  We now have orange, lemon and lime trees, two bougainvilleas (one of my favourites!), several small cypress trees and a bunch of various colourful things for the planter boxes.

I’ve spent three days vacuuming and cleaning – first day the ground floor, second day the sun-room (including washing the floor) and today the upper floor – so much dust!  Slowly but surely the boxes from Worcester are being unpacked so it doesn’t look so much like a storage place.

Everything is starting to look so lovely – more like a ‘home’ than just a house.  I sit outside in the evenings and just drink it all in – can’t wait to get the pool uncovered and jump in!  Although right now it’s probably a little cold – we need to get a solar heater and summer cover.

Housework in Spain and return to France

We’ve been fairly busy at the house arranging jobs, etc.  The gardener is  working diligently clearing out old dead stuff and trimming all of the plants as needed.  You can see a big difference and we’re super glad we found her.

We also got a sweet little painter who was recommended to us by Carlos.  She lives in a house across the way that we can see from the terrace.  She did the entire lounge in one day, and the exterior of the sun room and laundry room over the next two – she even painted the outside lamp fixtures.

She’s very keen to do the house exterior as well but we’re not sure when we’ll get to that.  She really doesn’t speak any english and my spanish still needs a lot of work, but on her last day I discovered that she speaks a bit of italian – it would have made a couple of conversations easier if I’d known that before!

The furniture from Worcester arrived on time and was mostly piled in the middle of the floor of the freshly painted lounge.

The movers were a bit sub-par – the young fellow wasn’t too bad but his girlfriend/partner was a bit surly.  They complained about the driveway, refused to even try to get Colin’s wardrobe up to his bedroom and also wouldn’t put the beds or anything else back together (as was part of what had been paid for).

As it still gets pretty cool at night we got a gas-heater that warms up the snug – that’s where we have our morning tea and it sure makes a difference.  The days are getting quite warm now – up to 28 or 29 one day so the many loads of laundry we did dried nice and quick.

Sadly we had to leave to return to France and Colin’s doctor.  The evening before we left we realized we were just about out of water – the upper tank was almost empty, which implies that the lower tank is completely empty.  

Luckily Carlos arrived just as we were about to leave on Saturday morning and is going to arrange a re-fill for us.  He’s also going to get the wardrobe up to Colin’s bedroom and re-attach the banisters we had removed for the furniture delivery.

The drive back to France in the campervan went well – we did it in two days rather than the three we thought it might take.

Stopping for a bite to eat in the lower parking area of the mall in the town on the french border we saw an unusual sight.  Many folks travel with dogs in their campervans and we’ve seen the odd cat as well – this time it was a parrot eating it’s lunch while sitting on top of his cage outside the van.

Getting around Bordeaux was not a problem – we made good time and arrived back to Mansle in late afternoon.  Colin went to his doctor’s clinic on Monday morning and has an appointment to actually see him in two days.  

Until then we’ve been taking it easy and not doing too much, other than a jigsaw puzzle…

…and a quick visit with Tony and Joyce.  Tony’s done a couple of paintings of Colin’s house in Worcester and they are, of course, beautiful.  He’s going to frame them and we’ll likely end up keeping one in Mansle and the other will go down to Spain when we return.

Henry – or Henri as we’re now in France – got a grooming/haircut today and it’s the shortest it’s been.  He’s turned from a wooly looking sheep to an almost hairless goat.

I had thought he was getting a bit chubby under his thick coat but with all of his hair gone he’s actually rather trim.  I think he likes his new cut as he’s strutting around now as if he knows how cute he is.

We’ve been watching all of the spring classics on GCN – some really great racing happening, and every race we look for the place we were watching from a few years ago.

Italy to Spain via France

Leaving the Poggio early the morning after the race we went west to Nice where we turned north, stopping for the night at an aire in Bédoin which is near Mt. Ventoux.

The second day of driving took us to what we refer to as ‘the windy place’, which is Lachamp-Raphael.  Everything was closed – even the cafe/bar, although it was a Monday so that might explain it.

The next day got us back to Mansle – nice to be in a house again.  We spent several days getting organized – picked up the Renault that is going down to Spain, got some things from the charity shop, had a nice lunch at the fish-and-chips place.

We also saw Tony and Joyce and I showed Tony a photo of my little guy Sly that he offered to make a painting of for me.  Several days later we went back as he’d already finished it – a real masterpiece!  Sly is a very cute kitty but doesn’t seem to like posing too much – I was lucky to get a pic that shows his beautiful green eyes.

We were all packed up for our trip down to Spain when Colin had a blood test the morning before we were planning to leave.  That evening we went to the bar where they had a steak and chips dinner – very delicious.  We were just getting ready to retire for the night when Colin got the results of his blood test by email – not good.  We decided that going to Spain was not in the cards at the time and both went to bed with heavy hearts.

At 6 the next morning Colin knocked on my door and said we should go to Spain anyway – the campervan and trailer (that I will pull in the Renault) were all packed and his furniture from Worcester is on the way so he figured we might as well go.  We were on the road before 8:30.

Getting used to driving again and pulling a little trailer wasn’t that bad – shortly after we passed Bordeaux I started to relax a bit.  Very near the Spanish border we encountered a road-block – no police or road-works folks but just a barrier.  Like those before us we went around it and down a very narrow road.  After several km Colin in the campervan was trying to turn around while I continued forward past another barrier.  It seems there was some kind of rally on with quads, but there were no wardens or any diversion markers and it seemed very unorganized.

Rather than try to find Colin I drove on to the small town just across the border where all the French folks go for the cheap shopping – I parked in the lower parking lot of one of the shopping malls that we’ve stopped at before and waited for him to find me.  I waited 20 or 30 minutes and he and Henry arrived – we had lunch in the parking area and then continued on our way.

We got past Zaragoza on a secondary road and stopped for the night at a trucker’s stop just off the motorway – it was surprisingly quiet and the sunrise in the morning was lovely.

We got to the house in late afternoon – I felt like I was coming home.  Seeing the work that had been done while we were gone was great – bathtub installed, Colin’s re-done bathroom, the pellet stove.

The only problem was that there was a layer of dust everywhere – some strategically placed poly would have been useful when the work was in progress.

I did many loads of laundry and washed every dish in the kitchen because of the dust, but eventually started to relax and just enjoy being here.

The full moon came and went and it was Easter.

I made a roasted chicken pie, except I burned the bottom crust.  I’m not used to a gas oven yet, but as long as you scraped off the burnt part it was delicious.

We got an excellent gardener to tidy things up – a lot of things to trim and prune as it’s probably been several years since it has been properly taken care of.  She seems to know what she’s doing and is giving us advice on what to plant behind the wall, etc.

We went for our first ride of the season this morning – we have a bit of fitness to find but it was nice to get out.

Nice Rides, Good Food, Back on the Road

More bike rides – we alternate direction each time, going either south/east to Taberno or north/west to Los Cerricos and beyond.  There’s a small village on the way to Oria that has some pretty blue flower pots all over an old stone wall.

About ten days ago there was a festival up at the Sanctuary – it actually started the evening before with dozens and dozens of people walking up the rambla beginning around 8 in the evening.

The procession continued the entire night – every time I woke up and looked out the window I could see individuals or small groups with flashlights moving along up to the Sanctuary.

The next morning we took our ride up to Los Cerricos and were astounded by the number of vehicles – hundreds of cars and dozens of buses, and even police directing the traffic and parking.

The village has a lot of cats – some of them strays that forage for food in the dumpsters, and others that belong to the bar.

The folks came to put on the winter pool cover but it didn’t quite fit so they took it away to trim it a bit.

That’s ok, though, as I’m able to get in a few more swims.

They’re starting to bring in the almond harvest – there are piles of them in the strangest places.

We went out for lunch on my birthday, intending to go to the bar in Los Cerricos but it was all closed up.  We then decided to go up to Chirivel, but…same thing!  On to Veliz Rubio where we had success at the steak house, and was it ever good.  The portions were so large that even Colin couldn’t finish his and when the waitress came to collect our plates she looked very concerned and asked if we didn’t like it.  We assured her that no – it was delicious and we would like to take the leftovers home – she was very pleased to hear that.

I must say that I’m not feeling my age!  The next day we met Carlos and Maria for lunch at the restaurant just south of us – it was another excellent meal and we were there for over four hours.  They are great to visit with and Carlos will be doing a lot of work on the house for us over the next few months.

We’re really looking forward to having all of the work completed – new pellet-burning stove, having my bath-tub installed, and a complete re-do of Colin’s bathroom, just to start.  

Lots of other things as well, both inside and outside, including screening of the sun/pool room.  Sitting out there is lovely, except for the flies and wasps so having it fully screened will be great.

Oh – Remco won the Vuelta – woo-woo!

Leaving on Thursday morning was kind of sad – I love the house and the area so much already, but have really missed travelling and seeing the races live.

We chose to take three days rather than just two to get up to Mansle, and stopped the first night at Horche, which is just south of Guadalajara.  It turned out to be a lovely hotel just outside the town and we spent a couple of hours on one of the outside terraces enjoying some refreshing beverages.

The drive up to Logrono the next day was much shorter and we passed through some spectacular scenery.

We’d been to Navarrete before, staying in the campground just south of the town.  This time we were in a hotel that used to be a seminary – it was also very nice.

Our friend Richard met us there around 6:00, delivering two cases of Rioja and some floor polish for Joyce and Tony back in France.  He also gifted us with some local chorizo that he says is very tasty, although quite spicy – we’ll have to eat it sparingly!

The last day of travel was somewhat longer, but not stressful.  In fact getting past Bordeaux was possibly the best ever – hardly even had to slow down, let alone the usual bumper-to-bumper crawl.

Getting to Mansle in late afternoon we had time to go down to the bar and were warmly received by Edith and Sylvain, as usual.

Riding Flats and Finally Getting Deliveries

We’ve gone on a few more nice, slightly longer rides.  A couple of times to Taberno for coffee, also to Los Cerricos, again for coffee.  The little bar cat has had her kittens but we’re not sure how many – she looks like a baby herself but apparently this is her second litter.

Another ride was to Chirival, and it ended up taking much more time than expected as there was a diversion just before the town that sent us west.  We knew we were going a bit far out of our way when Colin hit a large, unexpected pot-hole and got a flat!

Even the smaller roads here are in so much better condition than almost all the roads in Italy that perhaps we weren’t being as careful as usual.  In any case we made our way to a nice cafe on the ‘main’ east-west road through the town and had a nice coffee.  Then Colin hopped on my bike and rode back to the house to pick up the car and return to retrieve me and his bike.  The wait wasn’t too bad – I had one of his phones so was able to read the news, etc, and also they had a very nice red wine.

A few days later we rode towards Albox and stopped for a coffee – we were halfway back when two things happened.  The first was seeing an old woman hand-washing her laundry in the water channel.  My first thought was ‘oh, she’s getting free water’ – then Colin mentioned that if we were downstream from her we could be brushing our teeth in water she’d used to wash her knickers in – yuck!

We were a few km further on when once again Colin had a flat – this time the front tire went.  Luckily we weren’t too far from Las Pocicas, where once again he rode my bike home while I sat and enjoyed another nice red wine.  I especially like it when it’s chilled, and it’s always served chilled in Spain.

We’ve been out for lunch a few times now – twice to the restaurant in Los Cerricos.  We’re usually one of the first tables to order food as they eat so late here.  The last time we went the place ended up being totally packed – I had a delicious pork loin dish with fries, with enough left over for at least one more meal at home.

We’ve been watching the Vuelta on tv rather than going to the north coast as we normally would.  They moved down to our area on the rest-day and young Remco is still in the overall lead.  He rode a blistering time-trial yesterday and we just hope he can hold on for another 10 or 11 stages.  There are others I would cheer for as well if he cracks in the mountains, though.

Finally we had some deliveries get to us – IKEA met us at the restaurant/gas station and we exchanged one of our light fixtures that had been missing a piece for another that was complete.  Then a couple of days later the bathtub finally arrived – the delivery company had it for 3 weeks and it finally took Carlos (our plumber) to speak with them for them to bother finding us.

Another thing that got completed was the metal gate being installed for the french doors – it was the only really vulnerable entrance to the house so now we feel a bit better about our security.  They also fixed a metal plate to the bottom of the new gate in the back wall so Henry can’t squeeze through any more – he seems a little confused that he can’t get out now.

I’ve still been swimming almost every day, although it got very stormy yesterday so I gave it a pass.  The wind overnight was fierce – it blew a couple of my shutters back and forth so bad I had to close them and I haven’t done that since we were here back in frigid May.  The storm was worse in other areas, though, as I read about hail the size of tennis balls.

Housework Continues, and Henry Houdini

The metal works folks came and installed the balustrade just in time as Colin’s friend from England arrived later the same day.  She’s bought a house at the coast and stayed the night with us before getting the keys.

The gate to the water pumps was also replaced, although we realized later that while it looks great the spaces between the bars are a little too wide as Henry Houdini can squeeze through and disappear behind the wall to eat last year’s rotten fallen almonds. Mo, who is much smaller, hasn’t yet tried to follow him but it’s only a matter of time.

For now we have to block the lower part with a barrier but will get it fixed when they come back to install metal bars outside the french doors in a couple of weeks.

In any case we had a lovely visit with Ann and Ernie, spending the evening in the sun room talking and some of us having a nice dip in the pool.

A few days later we took a day-trip to the coast to have lunch and see Ann’s new place.  It’s a lovely 3-bedroom 2-bath bungalow in a gated community and has three different outdoor spaces, including a roof terrace.

Lunch was nice – there’s a restaurant right on the grounds and it’s right next to the swimming pool, and not to mention about a five minute walk to the Med.

We’ve been on a couple more nice bike rides – the longest one being to Taberno, although the 42 km we covered was only because we took the ‘scenic route’ there.

Another ride was up to the village of Los Cerricos where we had a coffee before continuing on west towards Oria.  We only went a few km before turning back as it was starting to get hot – we’ll start earlier next time so we can go further.

We’ve ordered a beautiful claw-foot bathtub for my bathroom but once again are having problems with delivery.  The transport company insists on phoning before they arrive, but they won’t call a foreign number.  We finally got a spanish number this past weekend so hopefully will hear from them this week to take delivery.  Still waiting for IKEA to find us with the replacement wall lamp.

Having gotten tired of having no water when the pump continually turned off we got a new pump.  No water problems anymore!  But now we’ve had a couple of electric issues with breakers tripping, once in the middle of the night.  Maybe solar back-up would be nice, but we’ll see.

We also had some pool people out to measure for a winter cover, as well as a ladder at the far end.  We’re still waiting for the ‘gardeners’ to come but will likely have to find someone else to clear out weeds and brush behind the wall.  There are some nice aloe plants currently being overrun by the weeds, and also a lot of junk has been tossed over and needs to be gotten rid of.

I’m still having a running battle with the wasps, and I’ve broken another swatter. I like to believe I’m getting the better of them, but that might be only wishful thinking.

Water Woes and Wasp Wars

The last few weeks have been a combination of busy and slothful.  Colin took a little trip to the town of Murcia one day and got a bunch of household things from Ikea.  One of the wall lamps we got was missing a piece and when I got hold of their customer service they told me they’d deliver a whole new one in a few days and exchange it for us.  Unfortunately the driver couldn’t find the house, even after we’d what’s apped him our location to his phone.

We’ve done a lot around the house – Colin has hacked a bunch of weed shrubs from along the drive, and the carpenter has done several things including installing new locks on all the outside doors and putting up the new light fixtures in the foyer and the sun-room.

We’ve also had the hunky furniture removed from the sun room and some nice patio furniture put in, as well as doing a thorough cleaning of the floor, table and chairs.  The dust from the storm back in March is still almost everywhere but we’re cleaning it up bit by bit.

We’ve gone on a few bike rides, mostly trying to find our way around on the back roads without getting lost.  It starts getting hot fairly early now so we need to get going at a decent time in the morning to try to beat the heat.

On one of my solo rides I passed a field that may have been the site of the fire some weeks ago – all recently burned black right up to the road.

Getting the pool filled wasn’t as quick or easy as we thought – we had to call the local co-op guy every day to get our allotment bit-by-bit but it was taking forever so in the end a different fellow with a tanker did the final filling in no time, although for more money.

Then we had to deal with the sludge that was still left.  A quick lesson from the carpenter, then another from a friend of his that takes care of pools and we were finally on our way!  I can’t believe how much I enjoy going out and just jumping right in – it’s so refreshing on these hot days.

The Tour de France came and went and we watched every stage on tv – a much more interesting and exciting race this year than any I can remember.  No more of one robotic team controlling everything, and lots of surprises.  In fact on one hard mountain stage two Canadians were on the podium – Hugo Houle in first and Michael Woods in third!

We’ve got an ongoing problem with wasps – there was one nest on the ledge of Colin’s dressing room window, and another under one of the roof-edge tiles of the sun room.  They like to dip onto the surface of the pool to collect water and we’ve been killing them like crazy with our fly-swatters.  One of them got revenge on me yesterday, however, when it stung me on the upper neck right behind my ear.

Going by my reaction the last time I was stung I dropped my watering can and ran into the house shouting for ice.  I lay on the sofa holding an ice cube to the spot and praying that wave after wave of throbbing pain would not hit me like they did last time.  I was very lucky and nothing much happened but some redness and swelling.

In addition to the wasps we’ve swatted we’ve scooped hundreds of dead ones out of the pool that have died from some other cause – perhaps they drowned trying to get water, or maybe someone snuck poison into one or both of the nests.

The fellow that’s doing the balustrade/railing for the stairs came the other day to see if they were going to fit properly and should be returning to install them tomorrow – that will be great as they’re a bit scary right now.

I added a strip of white tape to the edge of each step so you can at least see where the next step is on the descent.

Another water issue we have is the pump to the house.  There’s an 18-thousand litre tank at the bottom of the property that gets filled from a pipe by the co-op.  That gets pumped up to the smaller upper tank that holds 3 thousand litres, which then gets pumped to the house for showers, toilets and sinks.

An ongoing problem is that the second pump sometimes shuts off and we can’t get any running water, sometimes for hours.  One of the many great ‘pleasures’ of having an older house that’s partly ‘off-grid’.

Back to Spain to make a House a Home

We got away from Mansle nice and early on a Saturday morning and even made it past Bordeaux without having to slow down much.  Crossed the border into Spain same as usual, only knowing we were in another country by the slightly different road signs.

We made good time and arrived at the hotel just outside Zaragoza before dark.  It looked like at one time it was a pretty fancy place – marble stairs, etc., and every second guest had a dog.  Spain isn’t quite as dog-friendly as some places so where dogs are allowed you’ll definitely find lots of them.

Another early start the next morning and we headed generally south and a bit east.  At one point we saw some smoke off to the left and not much later saw a convoy of army fire trucks heading towards it – they’re not wanting anything to get out of control in the current dry conditions.

We followed fairly main roads all the way home – the car’s GPS didn’t seem to know some of the newer roads but we knew where we were headed and I had my ever-present maps so it wasn’t a problem.

We got back to the house mid-afternoon and were glad to unload and relax for a bit – it’s been a lot of travelling in the last few weeks.

While we were gone the solar panels for the hot water had been installed as planned and the pool drained – not as planned.  Apparently there was so much mud in the bottom from the dust storms in March that the filter simply couldn’t handle it and it had to be drained and several inches of mud shovelled out by hand.

Since then we’ve arranged several more things but the most annoying has been the water situation.  Apparently not only did we need to take over the ‘rights’ – it was even part of the deed of purchase – but also had to become members of the local water co-op.  The plumber’s wife – who is also our pool cleaner – helped interpret for us at the water office so we could get things rolling.

A few days after arriving back we saw a small pillar of smoke coming from the north just below the sanctuary.  Not long after there was a spotter plane, then a couple of helicopters with water buckets dousing the blaze.  Again – taking no chances, thank goodness.

We’ve done a bit of outside work as well, such as chainsawing the old and rotting wooden rails around the decks, and planting some lovely colourful flowers in some of the windowboxes and planters.

Also putting up some of the artwork from Papiano has made the inside seem more like a home and less like just a house.

The days are usually quite sunny and are getting hot but there’s almost always a nice cool breeze in the evening and again in the morning.

Sitting on the terrace beside the pool is very relaxing – jumping in for a swim will be even more so once it’s filled a few days from now.

Saliente to Mansle

Removal of the skanky jacuzzi contraption made the terrace look a lot better.  

And it’s lovely to have a garden that is well planted and laid out.

Leaving the house on a Sunday was a bit sad – we’d just started to get used to being there, but at least we’ll be back fairly soon.

We drove generally east and up the coast before turning inland just past Valencia.  Originally intending to stop around Zaragoza we ended up finding an aire well short of that in the town of Teruel.  The aire wasn’t too bad – right across from a guarda-civil station and next to a skateboard park.  Lots of activity and noise until a certain time, then remarkably quiet.

As usual when going a long distance we passed through lots of beautiful countryside and saw many sites of interest – although also as usual we didn’t stop except to let the dogs out now and then.

We originally planned a three-day trip but the second day’s drive went so well that we made it to the border and decided to keep going all the way to Mansle – stopping of course for a few things from the cheap shops right on the Spanish side of the border.

We hit the Hope Charity shop for more books and jigsaw puzzles, and the next day had a lovely fish-and-chip lunch with Tony and Joyce.  The owners of the restaurant have several dogs, and are caring for several others that were rescued from Ukraine – I believe they have 9 now!

We have, of course, visited the bar a few times and it’s so nice to see Edith and Sylvain again, as well as many of the other regulars.

There’s a fund-raising ballet in town tomorrow for Ukraine, and their flag is flying along the side of the church right across from the bar.

Snoopy is doing well – getting a little bit plump from all of the treats they give to all of the doggies.  Mo and Henry like going to the bar at least as much as we do!

Walking home the other afternoon after coffee I noticed a door-knocker on one of the houses.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve walked along the street and never noticed but interesting door-knockers are everywhere…

The hands are actually a bit creepy – reminded me of Thing in the Addams Family.

We’ve had some rain but also some lovely days and the spring blossoms are beautiful.

The birds in the neighbourhood are ravenous – we’re not sure how many fat-balls they’ve eaten, and the seeds in the blue ball feeder go down super quick.  I guess the birds are feeding their little ones right now so need all the extra food they can get.

The Giro d’Italia is on right now and for the first time in six years we’re not going to see any stages live so we’re compensating as best we can by watching GCN-plus on tv (via Colin’s phone).  Hopefully next year…