Happy New Decade

After N.Y. Eve, we spent quite a lot of New Year’s Day with Tony and Gill, David and Gail. We had set off walking towards Marsden around 10:30am and took a fairly easy route to begin with as Sharon had a sore heel. Once we got to Park Gate Road, we left Sharon to hobble on into Marsden, whilst the rest of us did a bit of hill work. 

We all met up outside The Riverhead, just before it opened. Then we had a couple of drinks and walked back to our place, where I had prepared us all a nice warming lunch of Leek and Potato soup.

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We arrived back in Spain on 3rd January.

Jim and Yvette where staying in 916 at the time, so we joined them at Marleen’s for a pizza. We’d ordered a take-away as we would possibly be late arriving (and it was quiz night) but they were going down anyway – so we had a few beers and a late-ish supper.

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Over the next few days, until they returned home on the 8th, we joined them to visit various places for food – some successful, some not. Sharon and I had been turned away from Casa Pepe’s one Sunday in December (we’d spent a few days here after my birthday) because they were entertaining a private party, so we were surprised when the same thing happened again when we tried to get in with Jim and Yvette.  I think the party must have been breaking up because ‘William’ started chasing us and shouting (presumably, “don’t go”) as we walked towards Marleen’s. We pretended deafness.

Jim, Yvette and I walked up to Mijas one day too.  And back down!  We ate a late lunch at Bar Pepe in Los Boliches – which was delightful. Sharon picked us up afterwards. IMG_2687

After Jim and Yvette had gone home, we had a few days alone before Billy and Angela joined us for a week. 

During our time alone, we took a stroll around the Decembocadura del Guadalhorce. There, we made it as far as the beach and had a lovely picnic overlooking the sea and the river mouth.

Billy and Angela are looking to buy somewhere that they can stay in over winter but where they can rent out over summer, to make the place pay for itself. At times when they were not looking at properties, we took them to see various places in the region. These included a trip to Castillo Monumento Colomares, and a visit to La Cala de Mijas. We also attended a quiz night at Marleen’s – we didn’t win, but did come second.IMG_2705The weather here, for the first three weeks of 2020 has been fabulous. Nevertheless, it’s colder now and rainy, but we cannot complain really.

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Back to Blighty

We’re home now, after our long time away. We know that we’re very lucky to have the opportunity and the ability to visit Spain for so long each year. Long may that opportunity and ability last.IMG_2355

We showed Graham and Sue the way to the Stupa, high above the Benalmádena coast on their last full day.

Our walk took us past the El Higuerón restaurant, where we stopped for breakfast. The views from here are terrific and on a clear day I suspect that you could see Gibraltar. We could see Africa in the very pale distance.

Sharon and I have walked past El Higuerón many times before but have only just recently stopped there for a coffee. Their coffee is nice and tasty and like the breakfast, reasonably priced. The evening meals however, look quite expensive. Maybe one day, I’ll save up and try it.

IMG_9995The views from the Stupa (which is close to the Butterfly House) are also terrific, but here and here abouts there is a lot of building work going on. Spain seems to have recovered big-time from the recession.

Just before we set off on our walk, I had been by train to Benalmádena to collect my Tarjeta Dorada, but found the office closed! Grrr. I did eventually go back again the following Tuesday and managed to collect it. That day (the day I eventually collected my card) I arrived, joined the queue (which was out as far as the entrance door) and watched the shutters come down on la taquilla (the ticket office). Groan.  Much of the queue then disappeared but two folks in front of me stayed put, so I thought ‘they must know something’ and decided to stay – we like queueing, us Brits.

Fifteen minutes later the shutters came up again, just after two security guys walked out of the side door with wheelbarrows full of cash. So that was the reason he was temporarily closed. The envelope that contained my new ticket was stamped 9th October, so it wouldn’t have been ready the previous Tuesday anyway. I do wonder though, if the office closes at the same time every day, or every Tuesday.

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We flew back on the Thursday, exactly six weeks after arriving there. We left the apartment at 07:50am and walked down to the train in the semi-dark dawn. The colours over the Mediterranean, as the sun began to rise, were stunning. I managed to use my new card today too – the price of train travel on the Cercanias rail line have risen recently (Sharon paid €2.55) but my card allowed me to buy my ticket for the old price of €1.25!  Bargain. However, the train we had gone for (the 08:24am) was cancelled and we had to wait for the 08:44am.

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After that, everything went really smoothly. EasyJet to Manchester, 14:20pm train to Huddersfield, picked up by Betony, Josh and Chester and then out later, to Carol’s to enjoy a lovely meal she had prepared for us and Mick. Thank you.

Prior to coming home, Huddersfield has been deluged for weeks, but on the day of our arrival it was gloriously sunny and as warm as you might expect for mid-October. It’s back to wet and miserable now – but thank you for allowing the sun to welcome us home.

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It was another week before David and Gail flew back home to the UK, so we did see more of them for meals etc. which was nice.  David also took me back up to the Opal Garage on their last Monday, to pick the car up after its quite expensive repair at the Opal Garage.

On Tuesday, the 24th September, Sharon and I caught the train into Benalmádena, so that I could apply for the new supplementary security card to go alongside my Tarjeta Dorada.  I’d had to have a photocopy of my passport and a passport photo prepared for this document.  We had walked on to Fuengirola to do this first, but the queue there was very long.  We then found the queue to be no shorter in Benalmádena!  We waited 45 minutes to hand in my application, pay my €2 and be told to return in ‘ocho dias’.  Suffice to say that I have been back since (after catorce days) and it still wasn’t ready.

The weeks since we arrived have been particularly hot, but we did manage to walk on to the castle on Thursday. We had to keep skipping in and out of shaded roads though. We ate at Café Cosa del Sol on the way back.

IMG_2278Sue and Graham arrived on Sunday 29th, so we met them at teatime and walked into Los Boliches for a couple of beers and some tapas at Bar Pepe. Sharon and I had a quiet couple of days then, on Monday and Tuesday eating Carrillada on the Monday (with mashed potatoes) and then baked salmon and ratatouille on Tuesday.  We joined Graham and Sue for tea at their place on Wednesday, for vegetable curry – which was nice.  I tried to make some nan breads to go with this but they didn’t work out that well.

Then on Thursday 3rd October, it was quiz night at Marleen’s.  We were a team of four, with Graham and Sue, and we did quite well – we didn’t win but came second or third. We’d tried to eat early so that the table was clear during the quiz, but that didn’t quite work out.  This was out second quiz night, we did the one two weeks ago with David and Gail and we did come second that time – however, we found that eating and quizzing did not go together well.

IMG_2266On the 5th October, we went with Graham and Sue to the cheese festival at Teba.  This was interesting and well worth the hour plus journey to get there.  Teba isn’t too far from the lakes close to Caminito del Rey, so it’s well worth another visit one day.  The choice of cheeses was superb, there were over 50 stalls, all providing tasters. We bought some cheese, some bread, some croquettas and some plastic forks and drove over to the lakes for a picnic in the sun.

Monday 7th was the big parade in Fuengirola for the Feria del Rosario. We’d hoped to see lots of horse riding and horse and carts but the main event was seeing hundreds of people dressed in traditional dress (the women were stunning) and either carrying, or following a huge statue of Rosario.

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Graham and Sue joined us that evening for dinner as the sun set.  We planned to see the evening’s fireworks which would celebrate the feria.  We were not disappointed.

The fireworks lasted 15 minutes and they were fabulous.  We had some of the blue cheese we’d bought on Saturday, on sesame biscuits with fresh fig as a starter and then followed that with Baked Salmon and ratatouille with a cheesy potato on the side. Sharon had made some chocolate pudding, but we had some strawberry tart that Sue had brought first – two puddings!

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Things have been quiet since then, we went into Los Boliches on Wednesday, forgetting that Bar Pepe closes on a Wednesday and ate instead at Grand Café Santé.  Review on Trip Advisor.

Car problems and some days away

Well, the car passed its MoT (ITV) and had its service, but because of some odd ‘warnings’ I’d seen on the dashboard earlier in the year, we decided to have a full computer diagnosis too. This turned out to be inconclusive. ITVThe car therefore, had to go to the main Opal dealer, which it did on our second Monday.  On each occasion, I scootered back from dropping the car off, but David very kindly took me to collect the car at the end of the day.

The guy at Opal, Francisco, spoke good English and seemed to know exactly what was wrong with the car, according to the computer. He gave me a quote, which wasn’t cheap and showed me the two things that were causing our problems – one of them was quite a meaty piece of kit. So, once again, it was booked in for the following Monday (our third).

Before the second Monday above, we had a quiet weekend, which started with dinner at David and Gail’s, in 916.  Then on our second Tuesday, after being assured that the car was ok until its upcoming repair, we set off for the Costa Tropical.  David and Gail hadn’t visited the area before, so we were the tour guides.  We stopped at Almuñécar, for a walk around and a bit of lunch, before finishing our journey in Salobreña, where we were to stay in the Hotel Avenida Tropical.

It was a little grey and overcast as we arrived in Almuñécar, so we didn’t do an awful lot before stopping fimg_2192.jpgor lunch just up behind the botanical park. The (free) tapas here was a large plate (for four) of fried calamari, baby squid and one mussel (I was lucky!). David had a little, Sharon none and so Gail and I had a ball. It was delicious. Sharon had a lovely tuna and tomato dish, while Gail and I shared a quite poor seafood paella. David had a sandwich.

After dropping off out bags at the hotel, we all walked up into the white town, but just as we were about ready for a drink all of the shops and bars up there had started to close. So, we decided not to venture up there that evening, just in case they were closed on Tuesday evenings too.  

We had a drink in a chiringuito on the beach later and had pickled fish and sour olives as tapas.  We then headed for one of the restaurants that Sharon and I had liked previously but it too was closed, so we ended up with a less than average meal at la Bodega.  Gail had a fairly small fish dish; David had a Solomillo dish, which was ‘ok’, I had a fabulous piece of cod in a very tasty tomato sauce and Sharon had a very poor salad, topped with all sorts of tinned goods, overcooked eggs and not much tuna.

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The day after, Wednesday, we drove up into the mountains, the Alpujarras. Sharon and I had explored the area last year, so we simply headed for Pampaniera, as we knew that that was the place to see. The day was very hot and the journey up the winding mountain roads hadn’t been easy for Gail, so it was far enough. We managed to find a parking place easy enough and spend a lovely few hours exploring, viewing and best of all, eating.

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We stopped at one of the small backstreet bodegas. It initially looked closed but once we’d managed to rouse the bodega-keeper, we were treated to some excellent food. We simply asked for a plate of ham, a plate of cheese and a plate of tomatoes. It was wonderful. The local tomatoes were simply delicious.

We then, slowly worked our way back down the mountain and although we might have had a coffee in Orgiva, it was closed! So, we headed back to Salobreña, where we were able to have a short break before going out for dinner.

We had dinner at Restaurante El Penon, which is built onto the rock that separates the two main beaches of Salobreña.  The restaurant is a lovely venue, where you can watch the sun set in the west while you eat.  I’ve written a review on Trip Advisor.  I’ll link directly when it’s been published. Direct link

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September 2019 – 1

We arrived in Spain again, just less than a week ago. Because of delays to our flight we didn’t actually get into the apartment until after 11.00pm. It’s worth noting here too, that the frequency of trains from Malaga Airport changes from three an hour to two an hour after 10:00pm. So instead of xx:02pm, xx:22pm and xx:42pm, they become 10:12pm and 10:42pm until 11:42pm.

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Friday was spent sorting out the apartment, cleaning the car (it had become very dirty again as the local roadworks were being completed) and shopping. We then joined David and Gail at Marleen’s that evening for dinner.  They are both here for most of September and when they go, Graham and Sue will replace them in 916.

As there were quite a few bits of ‘stuff’ in our tiny freezer, I decided to use as much of it as possible before we set off for Salobreña (next week).  So, on Saturday I defrosted some chicken and made a make-shift curry, with basmati rice.  Sharon and I went up to Mijas on Saturday too, to see what their ‘feria’ looked liked.  I’m afraid it hadn’t really started, so we were not up there long.

Mijas

We both walked on to Fuengirola on Sunday morning for a spot of light lunch at Café Costa Del Sol. They do a sandwich called Entrepan, which is basically two slices of toast, with filling. I tend to have the one with smoked salmon. That evening, we accompanied David and Gail to Bar Casa Pepe.  This was our second, David and Gail’s first, visit to the restaurant since it had new owners. It tends to cater for the tourist, rather than the local Spanish, but the food is tasty, even if the portions are a little on the large side.

Monday was ensalada rusa day – I made a pot of it and that what we had with salad, for tea and for lunch on Tuesday. We spent Tuesday morning at the Ayunamiento in Fuengirola – sorting out some bills, which the bank had missed, when changing from Santander to Sabadell. It was much quieter today than whenever we’ve been before, we will have to remember: the day children go back to school in September. All four of us walked down to Los Boliches that evening to eat at Casa Mavi, which is just up the road from the Santander bank. Sadly, this wasn’t our best choice and we were fairly underwhelmed. My pizza was rock hard (in a nice way, but impossible to cut even with a steak knife) and the promised (and eagerly anticipated) topping of ‘Italian Sausage’ was quite disappointing. The wilted ‘Napolitan’ broccoli (friarielli) was soggy and tasted very overcooked.

Castle

Today, Wednesday, I took the car in for its annual service. Tomorrow it will have its MoT (ITV) and all being well, it will be ok for another year (two years in the case of ITV). The British Mechanic is based right over the far side of town, so once I’d dropped the car off, I scootered down to the front, by the castle and then back along the paseo. Lovely morning.

A few days away

We arrived at Michelle and James’s apartment just before lunchtime, unpacked and then set off to buy food etc. at Mercadona, down in La Linea.  What we should have realised, but didn’t give it a thought, was that July 16th is ‘chuck a virgin in the sea’ day!  Although we have experienced this celebration before, we ate out that time, so we hadn’t realised that it was a bank holiday and that all the supermarkets would be closed!  Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour and Mercadonna in La Linea were all closed. Cerrado!  We’d left our passports back at base as we had no intention of going in to Gibraltar today – however, if we were to eat, we would have to go into Morrison’s in Gib. (We did later see a Dia Market open – but by then it was too late).

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A river, seen on our way back from Jerez.

So we came back, picked up English money along with our passports and joined the always-there queue into Gibraltar. The queue started at the car park just outside Gib, which was full (completo), and almost an hour later we were in Morrison’s car park – about 15 minutes of that was me getting lost looking for Morrisons!  As we had things to shop for (exclusively in Gib), including Sharon’s wedding anniversary present, we marched straight up to Main Street, shopped and returned to the supermarket.  Here, we had our, by now late, lunch in the supermarket café – we shared a salmon sandwich and a scone.  Then, we packed up the car, filled it with lead-free (£1.01 per litre) and set off to join the queue to get out of Gib!  Just 20 minutes this time though – six columns of traffic being allowed out two at a time (those two merging in to one at the gate). This might have been slightly quicker, but traffic was held up in La Linea. Where we would normally turn right to drive around the coast, everyone had to turn left due to the feria set up just outside the border.  We spent that night reading.

On Wednesday morning, we set off for a walk down to the beach about 09:00am.  At one point we were escorted off the golf course, because we had strayed too far – lol.  We strolled along the beach and then back for a coffee in ‘The Square’.  After walking back up the hill, I went for a swim in the pool before it got too busy – because it does get (and has been) busy.  We didn’t do an awful lot more that afternoon, simply read and relaxed.

On Thursday, we drove up to Jerez for the night.  However, Jerez, deserves a post of its own, see it here: https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/jerez-de-la-frontera/

We got back on Friday after detouring along the way to go around some lakes. But that diversion wasn’t too successful. There were lakes, but they were pretty inaccessible; there were also miles and miles of heavy-duty roadworks for us to shake, rattle and roll along.  We called in to Gibraltar, to refill the car (£1.01 per litre) and then spent an hour getting out of Gib and back in to Spain. Getting in was easy at this tme (16:00pm) but getting out was ‘something else’.  Hey ho.

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That evening we ate at La Finca, just up the road from where we were staying.  Michelle and James had been delayed en route back from the UK, so didn’t join us there as originally planned.  We began with a couple of nice starters.  One was lettuce leaves with a tasty, sharp/sweet topping and the other was an empanadilla of feta cheese and caramelised onion both of which were delightful. We then shared Massaman curry and Hoi Sin Noodles. Neither were easy to share, but both were really tasty – we took at least half back for the Gracias.  The pudding was weird. It was like they had put the weirdest flavours of ice cream into some Durex, shaped these into balls and then re-froze. Truly unpleasant.

After a nice breakfast in The Square with Michelle (James and Ewan had gone surfing) we came back to base in Torreblanca, where Billy and Angela were waiting to greet us.

Worth a read.

https://drinksint.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/8026/Sherry:_Needs_a_new_course.html

Early July – ’19

IMG_1739We don’t usually bother with Spain in July or August as the heat can be oppressive.

However, due to the building repair works required towards the end of our last visit, we had to leave the apartment in some disarray.  With Billy and Angela due (according to both our diaries) on the 14th July, we have come out to put the place right and to enjoy some time with Carol and Mick who are staying elsewhere in Edeficio Alessandra and for us to have a short stay at James and Michelle’s place near Gibraltar.

We arrived late on the Thursday evening, having caught the 16:30pm (ish) Ryanair flight to Malaga.  Leeds-Bradford was chaos this time, absolute bedlam!  There were lots of Jet2 flights leaving mid-afternoon and it being just before the school holidays, they were jam packed.  However, our plane left on time and although it was still light when we arrived, we had plenty of time to unpack before going down for the take-away pizza we’d ordered for 22:00pm.  Carol and Mick joined us for a drink (and to watch us eat our pizza) when they came back up from Los Boliches. We spent pretty much all of the Friday rearranging and cleaning the apartment.

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Everything had had to be removed from our terrace and was scattered around the apartment, mainly in the spare bedroom. So there was much cleaning and vacuuming to be done too.  What’s more, because all of the roads around our block are being dug up and repaired, we had to clean the car as well – it was impossible to see out of the windows and some scallywags had written all over it. It’s only been a couple of months!

We met Carol and Mick that evening for a few drinks in Los Boliches and eventually, a meal at Mason Salvador.  I had Abanico Iberico, another new cut for me to remember alongside Secreto and Pluma, other non-prime, but delicious cuts of pork. Splendid.  88639969-7a77-45a6-8058-593233046071

On Saturday, Michelle had arranged to come up with James and see her mum.  We eventually joined them on the beach and after a while had a delicious (late) lunch at the Chiringuito Andalucia Playa. That evening, because we had had a late and filling lunch, Carol and Mick joined us for some cheese, some nibbles and some drinks on the terrace.

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Fuente de Niña

On Sunday, we drove up to Mijas, again with Carol and Mick and strolled around there for a while.  After ice-cream and coffee, we drove over to Benalmádena Pueblo for another stroll and a light lunch opposite the Fuente de Niña.  As we had thought that Billy and Angela were arriving today, we had booked a meal for that evening at Restaurante Montemare, so despite being down to four, we ate there anyway.  Billy and Angela are in fact coming next week, so we will still see them, but not today.

We spent quite a lot of Monday on the beach with Carol and Mick before having some apple pie and coffee at Granier in Los Boliches and catching the first bus back up the hill.  Later we ate at Bar Casa Pepe, re-opened just this year.  Now called William’s Casa Pepe, the menu has changed completely. There are now dishes on there, from around the world and we were none of us stuck with what to order.

Carol and Mick flew home on Tuesday and we drove down to James and Michelle’s place, that morning. More soon.