Week 22 & 23 Christmas and the New Year

Well we have set up camp in good time for Christmas and for the last time this year as it will be 2014 when we next move.

The coloured lights have been put up in the awning, mince pies and sausage rolls made. Looks like we will be on our own over Christmas as we don’t know anyone here - well, there are two other caravans on site, both Dutch, and three motor homes and although one had a Brit plate they were too far away for getting to know.

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We had a drive to the nearest seaside town today - Matalascanas and went for a long walk along the sea front and saw several groups of men walking calf deep in the ocean pulling a strange metal contrivance - what an earth were they doing? It turned out they were collecting Coquina a very small pebble like clam, it looked very hard work for the rather meagre rewards. The eating of them also seems like hard work for little reward they are so small 50 to 60 is a normal portion each with a tiny meat morsel that has to be picked out of the shell.

Christmas Eve and the place has started to fill mainly with motor homes but there is a caravan directly behind us, it has a Portuguese plate but the owners are ex-pats who live in Portugal. They too have a large twin axle van but with no mover at all. It was great fun getting it in on the soft sand, it made us realise that, with all it’s shortcomings, our single axle mover is far, far better than none at all.

The site restaurant is open Christmas day and has a special four course “Menu del Dia”, a meat menu for €18.00 and a fish menu for €20.00. A group of us went and had an excellent meal that, although we left the restaurant around 5.00pm, Rosemary & Frank, the ex-pats, came back to ours and didn’t leave till well after midnight.

We had some dreadful news last night - my sister Pam suffered a stroke and has been rushed to hospital. We wait for more news.

A visit to La Rabida today and like at our last visit two years ago, it was closed. For those wondering why we would want to go there and what there is to see, it was from there that in 1492 Columbus set out on the first of his voyages to the Americas and there are replicas of the three ships that formed the first convoy.

While looking around the local area we were standing at the end of a short pier looking out to sea when a young boy, apparently alone, approached us rabbiting ten to the dozen in totally unintelligible (well to us anyway) Spanish, eventually dad appeared and after listening to what the lad was saying explained to us that he was offering us one of his chocolate sweets. We spoke to dad and mum (when she arrived) while the young lad continued to chat seemingly fascinated that we were English. The boy then sang us the Christmas song he had learnt at (nursery?) school. The family live in a village west of Salamanca near the Portuguese border where the temperature at this time of year goes down to minus 10 degrees while in the summer it rises to plus 45 degrees, so they take holidays in the winter and travel to the south. While we were chatting they explained that New Year was party time for the Spanish all shops etc would close for New Years Eve and New Years day. New Years Eve would be party night and New Years day spent recovering. At the end of the conversation mum and dad told the lad to say “decir adiós” and dad, in whose arms he was, by then, sitting, then held him forward while he kissed us both goodbye and then with a big grin and still waving he was carried down the pier to continue the family holiday. We could not help thinking that had we been approached by a child apparently alone in UK we would certainly not engaged in conversation but would have left the area in case we were seen by the parents and thought to be up to no good - how sad is that!

Good news. Pam seems to have improved a little.

New Years Day.

The local Spanish certainly partied last night. The fireworks - the Spanish only use one sort and thats the sort that makes a very loud bang - started around lunch time New Years Eve and continued right through the night reaching a peak between 11pm and 2am and, as I write this around 11am New Years day, fireworks can still be heard. The site restaurant is open today and has another four course “menu del dia” for €20. We met fellow Brit Chris there at around 5.00pm and had a splendid meal.

Thursday 2nd January 2014.

Yesterday Pam passed a swallow test and was given a number of spoonfuls of pureed food and some thickened water. She sat in a chair for several hours and joined in a ward sing-song. That is good news.

It’s raining today and not forecast to improve so we went for a drive and finished up in Portugal (we are close to the border) so, while we were there we visited the next site, one that had been recommended by Rosemary and Frank. We had seen the site earlier in the year from a train (the railway runs at the bottom of it) and were not overly impressed as it looked a bit “shanty townish” however when we went in the front it was very pleasant with 10 well kept toilet shower blocks dotted about (that also indicates how big the site is). It was quite full but the lady in reception said that quite a number of motor-homers would be leaving soon. We are glad it’s a good site as we plan to stay here for a while and use it as a base to explore the Algarve. On the way back we passed a sign to Pinheiro and remembered that was where friends of ours stayed all last winter and for some weeks the winter before so we went looking for the site they used, we had visited them there once so knew roughly where we were going. We found it fairly easily and had a look around. The site is a bit rough and ready but the views are good. Sue insists that we go here for a while before we move around 10km further on to Camping Olhao.

Friday 3rd January 2014.

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We thought we would try for a third time and return to La Rabida today and lucky we were. The site at La Rabida has lots of displays and information about Columbus, his journeys and the natives he encountered as well as the three replica ships, two of which you could clamber all over (the third is being refurbished). Virtually all explanations, information etc., are in Spanish  but we still found much of interest.

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On the way back we tried turning off the main road to get to the coast which we knew from the map was just a short way in the Donnana National Park. Unfortunately much of the park is closed to the public and we found difficulty in accessing the coast. By turning down every turning on the right getting only a few metres till we got to a gate necessitating a turn around Eventually we found a road that was not barred, it led to a disused police training centre, and by following indistinct tracks down hill we eventually found ourselves on a deserted beach. It appears that since the training establishment had been closed this beach had been walked on by very few people, there were no footprints and there was no litter or rubbish that had not come from the sea. It was testament to how often people went on the beach that the lobster pots and marker buoys that had broken loose and finished up on the sand were still there and had not been filched by a passing fisherman.

Last Updated - Sunday 27th April 2014.             © Seve  Ghost 2014