A trip to …🌏

A trip to the market at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande … one of the top 100 markets in France. Until next time🌏

My second wheelbarrow… 🌏

My second wheelbarrow full of poo from Le Peyrail … well before you say it Phil, Yep I’m talking horse shit once again! Until next time🌏

We take the … πŸŒ

We take the dogs for a walk as usual. Despite the experience with them running off yesterday we still feel confident to let them off the leash. And all goes well. That is until the return when we reach the gate at “Casa Davis”.Β  Mini hovers at the gate and all of a sudden Barkley takes off up the hill. He is head down and with his arthritic legs waddling north on a mission. Mini looks at us as if to say sorry. F*ck. I race up the hill. As I run, Barkley picks up speed. Bugger! I slow and so does he. I pick up the pace … and so does he. Gradually the hill takes its toll on Barkley before it takes its toll on me and I gain ground eventually grabbing his collar and attaching the leash before he becomes a fixture on the front of a car bumber!

We plan our route to Peyrail and decide onΒ  travelling via Valencia to Pamplona and staying overnight. We spend ages finding a hotel, not that we are fussy … and settle on the Holiday Inn. Then we will take the slightly shorter trip to Peyrail on the A63, crossing the border to France at Irun.

Sunday

A tidy up day so that the house is looking good for Helen. A bit more than a tidy as it also includes the garden and watering everything down, particularly as Barkley likes to piss everywhere.

Eileen’s cousin Paul is over from Perth with his wife Glynes so we catch up with them and Dave & Fi at Chabada overlooking Arenal Beach as we won’t see them for a few months or so.

Helen returns without Steve as he is playing golf in Seville.

Monday

We leave Ambolo at 10:25 am for our 6 hour trip.

I pack the car. As I walk up the steps for the last time on this visit, Mini looks at me with knowing eyes. I’m leaving.

We set off on the AP-7 and then from Port de Sagunt take the A-23Β  to Valencia. The trip goes without hitch and we stop off at Sarrion for gas and a tapas break. Americano, cafe con Letche, patatas bravas and a pinch tortilla.

As we approach Zaragoza the landscape changes becoming more lush and greener. The dry dessert feel of Spain starts to phase into green. We pass Zaragoza and can see the beautiful snow capped Moncayo.

We stop for gas near Gallur. It feels bitterly cold and windy. I want to use the restroom and find the door with the little man on it. I pull back hard and there is a guy in there with his trousers around his ankles sitting on the loo. But not for long. Phone in hand he reaches to close the door and I retreat quickly. I decide as no-one is around I’ll use the facilities with the little picture of a woman on them.

Continuing on the AP-68, just after Tudela we take the AP-15 north to the Holiday Inn Express in Pamplona. It is cold and windy here too. Not too sure what to do for dinner as we are a little out of town. Its a nice functional hotel but a bit in the backyard of town. The bar is located next to the reception desk. It seems the staff multi-task from Check-ins to drink orders.

Before making a decision for dinner we go over to La Morea Shopping Center, past Aldi, just a 5 minute walk. It looks unattractive because we are the carpark side. Inside it is quite a nice shopping centre. It has the usual food court, but there are a couple of good options. Coming up the escalator we are taken by surprise. There is a stunning display of car tyre artwork by Angel Canas. It is just so clever.

In the end we return to the hotel after a brief excursion and eat in the hotel restaurant. The food is surprisingly good and typical spanish. The seating is odd though. Most of the tables are laid for one person facing the tv on the wall. Obviously for those single commercial travellers!

Until next time 🌏

I told you … πŸŒ

I told you that I thought the builder Boss-man Chris offered a shallow apology. Didn’t I tell you? I told you! The team arrive as usual and moments later two guys we have not seen before. They are installing a new air conditioning unit. Guess what you have to do for that? Yep, you got it … hammer another bloody hole in the wall! Not a good start to the day. But it is a first world problem!

Part of the morning and evening routine is to feed the dogs. A mixture of meat and biscuits. Barkley is a little older than Mini and has a problem with his back legs. To help him he has tablets with his meals. But dogs are crafty and so the medicine has to be disguised. I’m not too sure what Steve and Helen do, but I crush the 1 small and 3 large pills to a powder and then mix them with the other stuff in his bowl. While he takes his time, Mini scoffs her meal in about 3 seconds and then hovers threateningly over Barkley for anything he doesn’t eat, or most often nuzzling her way in. So we have to stand over Barkley and fend off Mini, not just so he gets his fair share, but also because he needs to have his medicine. I call Pamela at Jennifer Cunningham about my car insurance pack and speak to Kirstie. It hasn’t arrived, but I tell her we are travelling to France next week and then the UK. Later in the day, by email, I receive my Green Card which is basically an International Motor Insurance Certificate.

We set out for Denia to collect the official registration documents for the car that have now arrived. Not remembering exactly how Dave and Fi drive out of town we enter the details in Maps. I’m a bit uncomfortable with where we are going as it isn’t the way I remember. We are taken, by the voice, through the old town and wind our way up El Montgo along the Ctra. de Denia a Xabia. It is an interesting drive, but not the easiest of mountain roads. The main advantage is the great view from the top of El Montgo. A quick visit to Valgauto Motor. Having approached from the coast, I am now familiar with where I am and we take the Dave and Fi route back to Javea, via Ondara and the main Autopista del Mediterraneo (N-332).

Next stop is PC Solutions to look at printers, but before that we grab a quick coffee and then into the Mercadona supermarket. We grab a few things but can’t find the tinned tuna. After a major search we track it down. Not a great choice. There is a 900g tin, but not the 650g tin that Sarah can get in Consum. Because we didn’t bring shopping bags and we are on our way to PC Solutions the basket is abandoned in the aisle and we sneak out with the plan to get the shopping at Consum.

Round the corner to PC Solutions. Although we are digital nomads and we also have a printer packed up in storage somewhere in the world, it seems that we still need access to printed material. The reason being that in order to redeem the balance on our Opal cards (Bus, Ferry and Train prepaid cards used in Sydney) we have to print and submit a hard copy form. Also, although the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) have a pdf form you can complete on their website to register for overseas voting, you still have to print it off, sign it, scan a copy and send that back via email. Notwithstanding all this, we have also learnt that Spain still has one foot in the “Paper Age’! The mobile printer that we want isn’t in stock but are promised they can order it in within the next few days.

A visit to Blu to ask them about wireless mobile. They don’t do it so my options seem a bit limited. Although we have wireless at our various housesits, I also want to ensure that we have access when we are on the road, particularly if we need to be in touch with clients. Sarah has a major Virtual Assistant contract now and needs to be online to deal with business in Australia. There are lots of internet options in Spain, but so much is linked to home based products and you have to be careful as 2 or 3 of the suppliers only have regional coverage. One advantage is the recent move under the “fair use policy” to ensure you don’t get slammed for roaming charges when travelling in Europe. In the end we decided that we should be okay and that saves from entering into a commitment that we may only use on rare occasions.

I fill the car up with petrol and am reminded how expensive petrol is here compared to Australia. If we didn’t have to travel so much with all our luggage we would be happy with a couple of scooters. When we get to Senija that is probably what we will do … a few years to go yet unless our tenants in Senija, Leo and Marja, return to Belgium early.

The TV was playing up on Wednesday. There were pinstripe lines across the screen. We have tried every combination of the remotes and double checked connections. No good. So we watched Vera as though looking through a railing. My eyes are going funny. Today Sarah decides to switch off the whole set of technical mastery … in the prayer it all comes back on. It does. And it is fixed. Great technical solution!

Friday

Although the gym doesn’t open early Sarah has still been getting up at 4:30am as her body clock sets off a natural alarm. Now she is up for a different reason and that is to start work for her Sydney client who is utilising theΒ Virtual Global AssistantΒ services. This means changing her routine and going to the gym later in the day.

I get a phone call from PC Solutions. The printer has arrived. Great news and good service as we only ordered yesterday and it means again that we get it in good time before leaving for France. Sarah collects it on her way back from the gym. Its a very small box, but inside is a beautiful white and turquoise HP Deskjet 3720. I remove it from the box, sort out the bits and begin the process of setting it up. Again I am faced with one of the oxymorons of life. Blazoned in english on the label and across the very front of the printer is the statement “The Worlds Smallest All-In-One Printer”. And there is a selection of languages for set up to chose from: Spanish, German, French, Dutch … but not a single word in english … bugger! What would we we do without Google? Once again they save the day and after a bit of trial and error the printer is talking to me. The printer is wireless and later that evening while watching the TV it starts up all by itself and starts printing a page, which falls to the kitchen floor. I pick it up and read that an update has just automatically downloaded … cosmic!

The cleaner was meant to come this afternoon, but Sarah advised Helen that it wouldn’t be worth it with all the building dust that will probably be generated again next week. The notes Steve and Helen left mentioned that the 50 Euros were to pay Fatima, but we couldn’t find the money anywhere .. eek … just as well she didn’t turn up!

At 6:15pm the gate bell rings. When I say bell, I mean bell. Its one of those old school bells on a chain and rings just like the old school handbell with the wooden handle. It sent shivers down my spine. I nearly stood to attention in the playground then realised that I needed to run up the steps to greet the visitor. Not only that, but it set the dogs off on a marathon barking session so pandemonium was let loose.

The school bell immediately switched my mind to “authority”and true enough there was a motorcycle policeman at the door. I quickly ran through all my crimes since being in Spain this last 4 weeks, but couldn’t come close to justifying a police visit. I then recall the basket of shopping we abandoned in Mercadona yesterday. I guiltily opened the gate and immediately saw the bright yellow Post Spain scooter. It was the postman! I am relieved. The dogs are still growling and muttering behind me. The postman wavesΒ  an official looking envelope addressed to Steve and a handheld device for me to sign. But first he has to complete a tear-off section. He asks if I am Steve Davis? I think quickly. I did play snooker once. I think if I say no he may not leave the envelope. It looks important and I don’t want Steve to not get it. So I say yes, thinking I can just sign and go. But the Postman looks at me and says are you sure? I say yes. (Bugger, Bugger, Bugger). He writes my name and then asks for ID … Bugger. I point at the name written and say I am not Steve … shaking my head sideways. He looks at me with a knowing look, saying something in spanglish. I smile innocently and give him my name. He writes it down. I can take delivery of the envelope if I provide some form of identity. I point down the steps and go and get my UK driving licence. I return and proudly present my ID. He shakes his head and mentions an NIE. I fluster. I can’t remember where I put the certificate and I don’t have an NIE card yet. He then says Passport. Ahh, yes. I have one of those and I know where it is. I retrace my steps down and back up in the hope we are now making progress. I hand him the passport and in my rush leave both gates open. Barkley and Mini see their chance and in a flash are racing out of the car port and up the road. I’m in between shouting at them and trying to grab this bloody letter for Steve. I sign on the handheld device and take the letter. I look up the road and there are no dogs to be seen. Bugger, bugger, bloody bugger! The Postman gives me an evil smile and says he’ll get them. Does he mean run them down? Meanwhile I have nightmare visions of my Boy Scout days. My Mum was only laughing about this on the phone the other day.

As a young boy I was in the Boy Scouts and once a year we raised money through “Bob-a-Job” week. In those days the slang for a Shilling was a “Bob”… which became 5 New Pence. There are 100 pence in a pound so it gives you some idea of the value. Obviously worth a lot more at the time. In those days it was safe for young people to knock on strangers doors and and say “Bob-a-Job?” the idea being that you would perform some small tasks for a Bob and if you were lucky a bit more. I guess that the simple minded organisers didn’t consider the fact that a guy called Bob could answer the door and get the wrong idea! I remember once that some mean bastard had me cutting down bushes and tidying his garden all morning and gave little more than a Bob!

Anyway, the thing that made my Mum laugh was that one of my jobs was for a neighbour who lived in Hankinson Road, just around the block from home. I knocked on his door and within minutes was taking a fluffy little dog for a walk. It was only to walk the block. I went down Somerley Road and turned in to Maxwell Road, passing our house. I was approaching Abbott Road when a much larger dog approached. Its still just a blur now. All I can remember is that a dog fight ensued, or should I say one big dog ripping a small fluffy dog to bits. By the time the owner of the large dog had separated them I was left with a ball of red at the end of a leash. I was in shock! This poor animal limped home and I had to present the loved and bloodied pet to its alarmed owner. I still got the “Bob” … why I don’t know, but I did. This minor accident scarred me for life, yet it always makes my Mum laugh when I tell her I am looking after a dog!

So where was I … ah yes .. this vision of a previous situation racing through my mind as I went in search of the those chimps Mini and Barkley! I ran up the road, no shoes, the gravel biting at my feet. I turn the corner and the postman is parked across the road like a police barricade during a major incident and the two large black labradors are looking at me sheepishly. I bark at them and they race towards me. I wave at the nice Postman and grumble at the dogs who obviously are happy that they got one over me. Bugger … but they are safe and that’s all that matters.

I need a drink … were is that 3 Euro bottle of Cava from Consum?

Until next time 🌏

We are starting …🌏

We are starting to get sorted, or should I say more sorted. I load the VOIP and VPN on the new laptop which are basic requirements for virtual/remote working, especially for the corporate clients

Victoria from Golden Leaves rings with good news that Sarah’s right hip will not be an exclusion on the health insurance so now we can continue the process.

The builders finish the door at last … well … fitting it into the gap. There is still the cementing and plastering etc.

Sarah calls into the Senija Town Hall and this time it is open. Through body language, expression, pointing and pure desperation she is able to get the sweet lady to understand and print a new bill. I again walk into town to meet Sarah at CaixaBank on the corner of Calle La Haya and Ctra. Cabo La Nao-Pla in Javea to pay the bill. She is on the phone to Lexi so I take the paperwork and go into the bank. Only one of the 2 desks is open and customers are seated. It looks like a doctors waiting room. I look and ask if this is the queue, hoping someone will understand. An english girl responds yes and explains who is in the pecking order. It takes ages before it is my turn. This is Spain and I’m not in a rush … just as well. The spanish seem to be very patient … that is until they get in anything with rubber wheels and an engine!

We go to Golden Leaves to sign the health insurance papers, but as we are learning little is straightforwrd. Salus will not release the papers to sign until we have paid. A bank transfer could take 2-3 days. After a brief discussion we agree to go to our bank, Bankinter and transfer the cash directly into the Salus account. This seems to do the trick and after a pitstop at Cafe Romantica, just behind Av. De Paris, we return to Golden Leaves and finally come away with a carrier bag that has our papers, temporary membership cards, a calendar, two pens and certificates that we can use as part of a Residencia application. I looked over my shoulder for Bruce Forsyth waiting for him to say “Didn’t they do well!”

Later, back at “Calle Davis”, Chris the builder boss, who is english, but speaks good spanish, turns up at the door and Sarah tells him exactly what she thinks of his workmen and the mess they have made. Seriously, there is dust everywhere. When you go downstairs you can feel it under your feet. Its a worthless task to clean at this stage as it will just come back tomorrow. In a way we lived with something similar for most of our time in Sydney city. The combination of traffic fumes and builders dust from all the apartment buildings going up made the windows and balconies very dirty. Chris apologises, but I sense it is shallow, a lets do it and apologise afterwards situation. It does not carry much weight … the damage is done.

On the way home we call into the supermarket Masymas. This is a first visist for me. We get a few groceries, but also can’t get past a product that I have not seen before … Fried Egg Flavoured Crisps! We have to try them and as soon as we get back to the car the packet is ripped open. They taste just like they should, amazing. I can attest that they are a lovely accompaniment to a bacon sandwich at lunch time!

Until next time 🌏

I know that … πŸŒ

I know that Sarah is up. I am just dozing. The alarm will go off soon, but I hear a tin tin sound on the floor. Its something moving. Suddenly a heavy weight is on the bed. I roll over and then a wet leather thing licks my armpit. Mini has come down to say good morning!

Today we go to Moraira market in the hope we can find better vegetables than in the supermarket. But we don’t. It is disappointing. The displays are not so inviting as the Thursday Javea market, but we need to get some things and find an okay stall where we buy all that we need.

One of the reasons for coming to Moraira was to visit Matt the English Butcher. We had some of his Cumberland sausages at Keith and Eileen’s and thought we would get some for the BBQ on Saturday. And we do, plus steak, black pudding and bacon. English bacon is so match better than Australian. Matt whispers which is strange for such a big man … typical butcher stature. He whispers to us, as if some State secret, that he also does cooked ham, but we decline having already cleared the display cabinet of his Cumberlands!

In the afternoon we sunbathe on the terrace. But Mini joins me on the sun lounger, settled between my legs as if by royal decree. She has to be close. There is no peace.

I decide to clean the BBQ and fire it up to full power to burn away some of the grease. 30 seconds later it goes pop and the flame disappears. The full bottle I was promised was in fact a nearly empty bottle. Fortunately Steve has a spare so I connect it. I remove the grills and it looks as if it hasn’t been cleaned for a while. Probably since it was purchased. About 90 minutes later, covered in grease and ash … and having remembered where all the parts fit as I put the BBQ back together, we were now ready to cook something. I don’t think Sarah had the heart to make it dirty so decided to put the chicken in the oven and save the clean BBQ for Dave and Fi on Sunday!

Saturday

Sarah is at the gym and so I agree to meet her in Javea so that she doesn’t have to drive all the way back to Ambolo. I then walk down the hill to Javea along the Ctr. de la Guardia, stopping on the way for a scenic photo across the town and El Arenal Beach. I have been researching where to source a new laptop for Sarah. Its not quite like Sydney. There is no Harvey Norman, JB HiFi or cool Apple Store. Perhaps in Madrid and Barcelona, but not here in tourist Costa Blanca. There are no showrooms with lots of laptops to dazzle and play with. It seems you have an idea what you want, talk to the shop assistant and then buy one based on a picture. We tried this at PC Highway in Javea. Heidi was very helpful and there was a stunning looking all-in-one MSi large screen computer in the store. Armed with information we continued into the Port Town. Our next stop PC Solutions where Carl educated us a little more on the features and benefits of the Lenovo and MSi. We need something portable so the sleek MSi al-in-one is not suitable and in the end opt for the MSi GP62M. Enough powder to fly to the moon and a keyboard that lights up like a firework display.

Sunday is full of routine and planning. The morning starts with a walk along Ctra. Del Cabo De La Nao via the lighthouse that overlooks Cabo de la Nao. In the evening we host Dave and Fi for a BBQ.

On Monday morning Sarah begins the administration set up with Caltex IT. We have some thinking, planning and work to do, but unfortunately the builders are very noisy today and it is annoying. In fact it is really annoying. Earlier the foreman, or at least he seems to be the on-site go to person announces himself in very limited English and with arms outstretched draws a square in the air with his fingers and points downstairs … smiling. In my ignorance I nod that he can have access and the next thing we know a jack-hammer is blasting into the wall. It seems that they have decided to carry on with their plans regardless of the fact we are in the house and are now knocking a hole in the south wall to fit a double patio door.

Fortunately for Sarah her ears are treated to some peace and she leaves for her favourite place the gym. She now has two options. Sparta in Javea and The Gym in Moraira which has better opening hours. The plan is that on her return she will swing by Senija Town Hall to obtain an updated Water Bill so that we can pay it at the nominated bank in Javea. It seems that we are fated as the Town Hall is closed due to one of the many Fiestas and not only that Sarah is now stuck in Senija because the roads are closed for a wedding procession through the town to the church.At 4:30 pm finally the builders leave for the day. We go down stairs to ascertain the damage. There is obviously still hammering to do as parts of the wall are still intact. They have sealed the archway to the kitchen and then draped plastic sheeting all around. Its like something from a horror movie. The kitchen leads to a small lounge and beyond our bedroom. Their efforts to conceal the dust have been fruitless. Its a bit of a disappointment and very thoughtless of them to do this. We send a picture of the current status of work to Steve and Helen. Not to complain, but more so that they know what is going on. They reply surprised as they had told the builders not to start that job while we were there. But what can you do, too late.

Tuesday comes round and the builders are still bashing a hole in the wall. Its loud and driving us a bit crazy. Sarah does her repeat trip to the gym and then again to Senija town Hall … but it is closed once again! She hears English voices from the Pharmacy next door and goes in to ask what’s going on. Its still a holiday and the Town Hall will be open tomorrow. The good news, to calm Sarah down is that her laptop is ready and so we collect it along with bag and a wireless english keyboard. This is better for typing, but also gives an option from the Spanish keyboard which is just a little different. The stores are stopping selling UK laptops with English keyboards due to warranty issues … apparently. On the way home we stop at Blu for them to configure the language option to english on my mobile so that I can setup my voicemail.

We are gradually getting through things. We tend not to hang about and beat ourselves up for what we haven’t ticked off the checklist. But we have done a lot in the last few weeks since being in Spain!

Until next time 🌏

The builders arrive … πŸŒ

The builders arrive at about 8:00 am. Soon after a truck arrives and parks as close as it can to the roadside wall. It is a cement delivery. The stabilizers are set andΒ  the huge arm of the crane extends over the wall and is then lowered down the slope where it drops the load. I am always amazed that these trucks don’t just topple over. It reminds me that Dave needs to order the pebbles and so I send a gentle reminder via WhatsApp with a picture of the delivery here today. He responds with joy as he has already ordered the pebbles and they will be delivered at the weekend.

I sweep down the front yard as Berkley digs up the front garden area in his attempts to cover up his deposits. In the process creating even more mess. I then water the garden and path. The hosepipe is the longest one I have ever seen. Its like a small oil pipeline and seems to go on for ever. No problems reaching anything here. This is one of the daily routines for the remainder of our stay.

We take the dogs for their first walk with us. Steve usually lets them off the lead as the road is a cul de sac and so its not usually busy. However, I have already witnessed a mad Spaniard in a mercedes coupe who beeps his horn as a warning as he races up and down the road. The dogs are strong and the lease short. Mini tries to play with it as we bounce down the road. Berkley stops every 3 feet to sniff something important. At the end of Carrer Torre Ambola is a viewing point that overlooks Cala de Ambolo. We hold on to the dogs as on the other side of the road the bush goes a long way down to the rocky shore. I sense that they want a run. I run with Mini, but it makes Berkley want to run too and that’s not good for Sarah (I’m still conscious of that hip!) so I slow to a walk.

We decide to take the dogs home and return to explore the other side of the hill that has a path leading to the shoreline. We get half way down and I am nervous of Sarahs leg as the terrain is not friendly. I suggest that she return. She does so begrudgingly and I continue down the steps that turn into rocks, then rubble and tree roots before I reach the rocky shore. The promise at the top of the hill set my expectations high with signs and steps, that although old, obviously took a great effort to complete for something that leads to nowhere. Nature is never disappointing, but when I reached the small rocky edge that teased the Mediterranean there was no coke machine to wet my thirst or Mr Whippy ice cream to soothe my throat. I was glad that Sarah did not continue with me as it was difficult to maneuver … and of course having reached the bottom there was the return journey to the surface.

Again it was a hot day and the return journey upwards slow. But I was on a roll and once arrived onto fairly level ground continued back up Carrer Torre Ambolo, past the house and onwards to the main road. I almost immediately took a right turn into Calle Igor Stravinsky, then bearing right into Calle Giuseppe Verdi and then a sharp right down the hill along Calle Richard Wagner to the beach … Cala de Ambolo. Did you notice the trend? Most of the roads around here are named after various classical composers.

The beach at Ambolo is infamous for the fact it is a nudist beach. One of the many in Spain. Officially its closed due to the crumbling rockface. The council have put up nets to catch rocks before they bounce off cars parked roadside. I did go down there and to my surprise there were some bathers, about 20 or so in various levels of dress from full bathing suits to nothing. Although the sun was blazing the beach is pebbled and didn’t look very comfortable, particularly if you have even less clothing to cussion the hard stones. Having seen everything I needed to see and in some instances far more than I would have liked to see, I returned to the top of the hill and home.

That evening I fire up the BBQ. The flame is a bit weak and doesn’t seem to be very effective. Steve had told me that the gas bottle was full so I thought that perhaps the jets needed a clean. I’ll do it tomorrow!

Until next time 🌏

I give my … πŸŒ

I give my legs and feet a rest today, so no morning walk. We need to pack and load the car up as we are leaving Dave and Fi for the housesit in Ambolo. Its not dramatic as we will only be 10 minutes away from where we are now, but kisses and hugs. Dave and Fi are the salt of the earth and made us very welcome as always. I met Fi when I was working for Oracle Corporation in Wellington, New Zealand. That was well over 20 years ago … how time flies.

And so we retrace our drive from last week towards “Calle Davis”, arriving in good time. Steve meets us at the gate with Barkley and Mini. No bell to ring of course because the dogs respond to every sound and rush up the steps barking to warn us that this is private property. Two fierce looking black labradors ready to bite off your hand! Oh yeah … rather, 2 of the soppiest creatures on Gods earth. But they do a good job pretending to be wild. They are actually good protectors and from the moment we met them and Steve & Helen (S&H), we felt like old friends. Funny that really!

Helen is nowhere to be seen, but I can hear a hairdryer going so know that she is in the later stages of getting ready. And so I go through a quick recap of things with Steve: Light switches, door locks, the BBQ and some logistics. He fires up the BBQ and tells me that the bottle is full. Great! Printed are some notes and plenty of stuff on the dogs. Walks and food! There is a whole page dedicated to the 4 remote controls that contribute to the entertainment system. There is enough technology to launch a rocket to the moon and I am grateful for the notes. At least Sarah will be when I pass them to her. I have got as far as noting where the “On” button is!

Helen appears and clearly they are getting close to leaving. Within 30 minutes of our arrival I am helping Steve take the luggage up the steps to the cars. They are taking 2 cars to the airport as Steve will drive south for a golf tournament on his return from the UK. Steve takes me through all the keys and just hands them to me while Helen is trying to sneak more things into her carry-on luggage. Then they are off and we are waving goodbye. They leave the house as though they will be back in an hour. They have literally just handed everything over and gone.

But they are not coming back in an hour and will be away for almost 2 weeks. Soon the builders arrive to continue their work on the pool. Fortunately they are further down the hill and do not disturb us, although of course they are making some noise.

Barkley and Mini (B&M) growl at every little noise that they don’t like, rushing to the top gates and barking at the sound of a dog or unfamiliar footsteps. They know mine now and never bark whenΒ  I come to the gate … both of them waiting for me and we haven”t been here a full 2 days yet.

We unpack in our allocated quarters on the lower level. It is a lovely room. It also has access to a seperate kitchen with all mod cons although we will use the upstairs facilities as there is still some building to finish off on the balcony at this level … -4 … the pool on level -5. There are 6 sets of stairs. When you think you are up, you are only halfway and you get the same feeling going down.

The main balcony has nothing less than a stunning Mediterranean view across the small cove that is very popular for diving.On the other side of the peninsular is the infamous Ambolo Nudist Beach. It is exactly aligned with the house, but because there is no access or cliff path it takes about 20 minutes on foot as you have to follow the road round. We have a bit of lunch and take in the Suns rays and our new view. We found a bottle of bubbles to accompany our snack, but it must have been hotter than we thought as it evaporated quickly!

The ocean rolled in along the cove, gently caressing the rocky feet of the cliffs. Motor boats come and go. This is a popular spot for divers and so diving markers can often be seen bobbing on the surface. Today we notice 2 birds of prey circling. Perhaps Kestrells? And then a seagull that they are stalking. A series of dives and manouvours to escape the Kestrells seems fruitless as these large dark birds with huge wingspans menace the seagull. 2 or 3 seagulls now appear to distract the Kestrells and so their mission is now not so easy. More diving, more soaring, more acrobatics. A cry from the seagulls goes out and even more appear. The increasing numbers now taunts the Kestrells, perhaps even threatening them as the seagulls charge at them. Eventually the Kestrells give up their prey. I suspect only for another day. They will be back. Nature is a fascinating thing.

Until next time 🌏

Panjas, in southwestern … πŸŒ

Panjas, in southwestern France is a possible housesit opportunity with Richard and Lyndsay. Not too far from the Spanish border should we need to pop back to Spain. They live on 4 acres with their 4 dogs .. an acre each I guess… nestled among the Armagnac vines and sunflowers in the rolling hills of the Gers. The Pyrenees rise up in the distance and the coast is only 90 minutes away. Lyndsay runs a fascinating business called Neo-Walk making acrylic walking sticks in all sorts of colours. We catch up with them on Skype and they promise to settle on some dates and let us know.

In a few weeks time we are due to be in Le Peyrail, just 10 minutes from St Foy La Grande to housesit for Jo-anne. The house is in the Gironde countryside surrounded by the famous Bordeaux vines. This is an interesting assignment looking after 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 horses, fish, a bird and a pig! Although we have exchanged messages and confirmed the housesit we still haven’t spoken and tied down dates so Sarah and I are keen to catch up with Jo. But we are like ships in the night and just can’t seem to engage. Jo is an Artist and I guess becomes engrossed in her work, however we need to sort this out soon.

Dave fires up his BBQ for the first time this season and it is just warm enough to eat outside. Keith and Eileen come down to join us. The evening closes in and we pull the drapes around the marquee as the cool air starts to bite. The weather has been good since we arrived, but it is still cool in the shade even during the day.

Monday

We have vouchers again for breakfast at Scallops. I go for my walk and time it to meet Sarah, who comes straight from the gym and Dave & Fi who drive down from home.

The fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets here are not that impressive. Certainly, Wolloworths and Coles in Sydney put on a much better display … but the difference in price is significant. We hear of the Javea Municipal Market that is open during the week in the old convent where the nuns lived and worked. After breakfast we drive up to the Old Town. Navigating the laneways up through Calle del Gual to Plaza Baix we arrive at the Town Hall. Outside is a beautiful cross made of Red Anthiriums. Throughout the town crosses are made from flowers as on offering to Joses Nazareno during the fiesta week.

One more plaza up and we arrive at the market. It is quiet and not much going on. There are some interesting foods on display, but it isn’t as bustling as we expected and the fresh fruit and vegetables not much better than the supermarkets. We guess this is basically the Old Town convenience store. There is a much activity around the bar though. Should we be surprised? The outcome is that we will need to do a weekly shop at the Thursday market in the Old Town. We were here last year for that and it is truly amazing.

We catch up with Victoria at Golden Leaves International to present the completed forms for the health insurance. They have to be submitted and reviewed so it means waiting for about a week! Its then off to Playa del Arenal beach for a coffee at Nostro. The weather is good and the traffic is starting to build. We are on the cusp of the new season and it is starting to get noticeably busier. The biggest clue is the difficulty in trying to find somewhere to park. When we eventually do find a spot I remember to look for the visibility vests and triangle in the back of the car. I didn’t think we had them and thought we may need to go to the Chinese Bazaar as they are a statutory requirement to have in your vehicle. Surprisingly the red first aid satchel that I open reveals the brightly coloured vests, plus a neatly folded triangle.

Tuesday is a catch up day and apart from the quiz …which we won this week… at the Bull & Bear and packing ready for tomorrow, the day passes uneventfully.

Until next time 🌏

We arrange to … πŸŒ

We arranged to meet with Steve & Helen (S&H) on Saturday morning. We are housesitting for them during the first 2 weeks of May at their home in Ambolo. It is just a 10 minute drive from Dave & Fi, almost the length of the Ctra. Del Cabo De La Nao, turning off before reaching the “Head” and the Mediterranean. We hadn’t been up there before and were surprised by the traffic coming down the hill. I thought it was quite rural, but in fact the opposite and well populated. When we reached the top of Ambolo it was easy to see why. The views were sensational.

Because the houses are built into the side of the hill it reminded me very much of Wellington in New Zealand. The houses are difficult to see from the roadside, usually just a wall and a large gate as the roof level does not rise up over the wall height and you walk down to the villa. In this case a car port full of stuff from bikes to building materials. Thats fine. S&H warned us that they are in the process of renovating and part of that is building a swimming pool that is basically being latched on to the side of the house, but on the lower level of the property.

We are greeted by the 2 black Labrador’s, Mini and Barkley, a couple of softies! Sadly, Becca, the Boxer-Cross was put to rest only the day before. She was getting on in years and not well. We could tell that Helen was holding up as best she could, but obviously very distressed. Over coffee we had a good catch up and learned about Helens charity work. Steve is an avid golfer and very interested in Change Management. I’ll tell you more when we move in this week, but for now … the house is lovely, very cozy. There is still a lot of work to do, but their ideas and artistic touches are fantastic. The view from the balcony across to Playa La Grandella is just amazing. On the other side of the peninsular is the beach reached via the Calle de Richard Wagner … there is also a nudist beach there. Unfortunately to reach the main beach by road you have to double back on yourself and it takes 25 minutes although it is directly opposite the house. Hopefully when we do our discovery we can find a secret path down the cliff.

In October we are Housesitting for Trinity in Comares, Andalucia. We touched base via email and she has loaded the Welcome Guide for us to view online so all good there.

In the evening we went to the Bull running in the Javea old town. It is part of the Fiesta in honour of Jesus Nazareno. The Pl.del Convent and Ronda de Colon are lined with cages for spectators to safely watch the bulls. You can stand in the cage or climb on top through an internal ladder. Children on the top are eating nuts and the shells fall though the gaps in the make-shift flooring onto our heads.

There is an atmosphere of anticipation and the crowds grow. Many people are loitering outside the cage in the Square and I wonder if this is so dangerous after all, or are they going to sacrifice themselves? A cracker fires up and 5 hefty bulls charge through the Square. It is a small circuit and they return quickly. People, mostly young guns with 3 brain cells torment the bulls as they approach or pass. This goes on for some time and we quickly get bored. Apparantly this is the warm up … to what we don’t know, but an English speaking lady advises that they will now let the bulls into the square one by one. She is correct. A healthy activated bull enters the square and charges around. It is contuinually tormented by the young men and it is at this stage that we start to loose interest. The idea is to torment the bull so much that it becomes frustrated and angry, charging faster and harder all the while endangering itself. Its naughty to think it, but you want the poor beast to stick one of its horns where the light doesn’t shine and perhaps teach the young gun a lesson. But we are in Spain and in this part of the country this is what they do. We are guests, but there is a growing distaste for this among the Spaniards themselves hence many of the Bull Rings are now historical buildings or as in Barcelona, turned into shopping malls.

We retire from the scene and let Sarah have her first experience of Scallops, probably the best value meals in Javea. The waiters seem a bit miserable tonight. Hard to get a smile. Perhaps the chef is giving them a hard time?

At about 2:00am an alarm goes off. It seems to be coming from a suitcase in the indoor balcony that is used for storage. I fumble for the mini torch on the bedside cabinet and investigate. It is loud, but not a siren, although it does seem to be coming from the alarm box that is located on the external corner of the house. I go downstairs and the alarm can hardly be heard so I’m guessing Dave and Fi haven’t been woken. I look at the electric box and something has definitely been tripped, but the alarm panel doesn’t register any message. Rather than make things worse I decide to arouse the Glanville’s, but just as I approach their bedroom door it flies open and Dave appears in his dressing gown. He still didn’t hear the alarm, just couldn’t sleep and so got up. It is the usual problem with the electrics, fortunately this time the alarm sound is a loud warning beep rather than the ear pearcing alarm. Back to bed!

Until next time 🌏