Where's Frankie?

Granddad’s been to Icelands

Monday 29th December

Well, I hope you all had a great Xmas and didn’t eat too much! We had to spend the day sunbathing but enough of that, let’s take you back to Xmas Eve.

The campsite owners, (we never did get their names, they struggled with English, I struggle with English and by the time we’d worked out what we were trying to say to each other time was getting on) invited everyone over for papahoches. That’s what it sounded like, we were just lucky that the Dutch lady parked next to us knew that we had to be over by reception by 12 noon.

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When we arrived some of the ladies were busy wiping clean a stack of lemon leaves. Each leaf was dipped into batter and then placed in the deep fat fryer.

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After a minute or so they were taken out, drained of oil and then dipped in sugar. They tasted just like national lemon day pancakes but the lemon flavouring came from the leaves themselves.

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All washed down with generous servings of Mistela, a vey sweet liqueur similar to pineau.

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And here is an orange tree close up. It;s picking season and they are all ready to eat.

While we were at the supermarket Eroski I found a packet of paella in the freezer section. Lucy doesn’t like shellfish and this had pictures of mussels, langoustines, prawns and calamari so she choose something else and I had to cook my paella outside incase it made a smell. Whenever there is a set of cooking instructions on a packet it gets given to me and I have to translate the instructions into English. What Lucy doesn’t realise is that I make up most of the steps, if you see agua and 10 in the same sentence you can make a guess at add water and boil for 10 minutes and 9 times out of 10 it works.

The paella had three steps, heat some olive oil and throw in the contents of the bag and push it around for 5 minutes. I open the bag and tip it into the saucepan and there is a clear bag inside so I fish that out and then work out that after the 5 minutes I have to add the contents of the clear bag and a litre of water. There is no rice that I can see, it must be in the clear bag with all the sauces and herbs. After 5 minutes tip the clear bag in with the water and give it a stir. The rice still seems to be a bit lacking so now I really have to concentrate and work out that now I’ve got to add 300g of rice. Must have rice in our larder – 200g of basmati is all we’ve got so that will have to do! Anyway, paella soup is very nice and I’ve satiated my urge to have paella until I can get someone to make it for me.

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This is our pitch for the 8 days that we were at Alquerias, two days cycling into Murcia, two days walking into Alquerias and four days just sunbathing. I did pick a couple of lemons off of our tree and they were the best, juiciest and nicest smelling lemons I’ve ever nicked, but then I would say that wouldn’t I?

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Another view towards the toilet block and services. There are about 38 pitches here, mostly Dutch and German with occasional Swedes, Belgians and French. Some of them are there for extended periods, one of the vans on the left has been there for 6 months. The Bailey on the right returns here every year for one or two months. Not sure that’s what I would want to do, maybe when I’m older!

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Our friendly Dutch lady made us a couple of napkin rings as an Xmas present so here is that table all set and ready to bear the huge roast and all the trimmings. Our hosts also gave everyone a bottle of cider which was very nice of them.

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Luckily our oven is a sensible size and roast chicken, potatoes and broccoli is about all that we can cook at a time. it meant that we didn’t suffer after dinner regrets on the amount of food we had just stuffed down. Didn’t even need an after dinner snooze or a motorhomes nap, all i had to do was remember to rub more sun lotion on!

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All good things come to an end and we left Alquerias on Saturday knowing that the site owners had organised a paella for everyone that evening, hope they remembered the rice. Just outside San Javier is an Icelands. We’d heard about them before, about 10 shops along the coast operating under franchise and since it was on our way…

Good job we went in after Xmas because otherwise we would have come out loaded to the roof with Aunt Bessies Yorkshire puddings and honey roast parsnips, Xmas cakes, turkeys, hams, brussel sprouts, etc, etc…  Half of the shop was taken up with Waitrose goods, the other half with mainly Iceland branded produce, all with the price in sterling but rounded up a bit and more into Euros. All the staff were English and most of the customers too.

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Granddad bought himself a present or six and Granny bought herself some Crabbies. We did spend a few hard earned pennies but the experience left me feeling that I had done something wrong. Why go to Spain and then want to buy all your stuff in an English supermarket? There was an upside, it was the first supermarket that we have been in on our travels without a begger outside.

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Our destination was Los Alcazares (38º45.611, 0º49.665) a wild camping spot given to us by a chap in Benecassim. We were obviously in the right place, there were hundreds of motorhomes there. In our car park were at least 50 units, there were two more car parks between us and the sea all ram jammed and when we went for a bike ride we found lots more lurking down side streets and back alleys. 95% Dutch and German units, most looking like they had been there a long time and looking like they weren’t about to leave any day soon.

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By the time we had found a spot and switched the engine off we were given a leaflet. The unit above (The roof comes up and both sides pulled out making it three times the size of Frankie) has set up shop selling solar panels, LED lights, batteries, torches etc. Every morning a bread wagon came round and later on in the day a chap on his bike trying to sell salad stuff. The local cafes on the front were doing a roaring trade selling drinks and food to the transient population.

After a day or two we did start to notice people wandering off with the toilet cassettes so there was somewhere to dispose of that waste, some would wander off with buckets of grey water but it wasn’t really a great place to stay for extended periods, doable but not convenient

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Can someone get Denis Davis to source some of these solar panels, he is the equipment officer after all! The chap next to us had this on his roof. Every morning he would climb up and lift the panel up on the gas struts and in the evening he would push it flat again. I think it might rattle about a bit in the wind which is why he folds it down. I don’t know if the struts came with the solar panel or you can by all the bits separately but it does increase the amount of sunlight falling on the panel

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We took a bike ride into Los Alcazars along the lovely smooth, level front – Lucy doesn’t like hills, rough bits or roads and found a huge nativity scene in one of the shopping centres. It was about 40 feet long and 10 feet wide and had scenes from all the bits of the nativity, not just the bit in the barn. We’ve been told that Epiphany is the big day in Spain when everyone gets their presents.

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The second day we took a walk towards the airport. Our car park lies immediately under the flight path of the local airport and we had as many as five planes fly over head one day. the walk took us through huge swathes of Pampas grass until eventually we reached the airport and it was all fenced off. On the horizon you can just make out blocks of hotels on La Manga strip, a narrow strip of land enclosing the lagoon that Los Alcazares is sitting on. To our left is San Javier and to the right La Manga, the infamous campsite where all the silver birds go for the winter.

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Three jellyfish in the lagoon. The water is a bit chilly for swimming in and having seen these three monsters of the deep I’m quite happy to stay dry.

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Motorhomers top tip. Not sure if I should share this with you since I don’t really know why they are doing it!  Put a peg on the windscreen wiper arm and it lifts the blade off the windscreen, you could use a cork if you’re posh and don’t drink out of wine cartons. I have two theories on why they are doing this, one is the heat of the mid day sun melts the wiper blades and when they cool down they have set to the shape of the windscreen or it stops dust accumulating between the blades and the screen. I do have a very fine scratch across my windscreen caused by the dust and have been carefully cleaning the windscreen every time we move off. In one of the photos above (the eighth one down) study the wipers on the van on the left, he has “wind screen wiper gloves” made out of silver screen material.

6 thoughts on “Granddad’s been to Icelands

  1. Giorgio

    Get ready to celebrate “El dia de los reyes” or the day of the royal (magi) kings on 6 January.
    Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, representing Arabia, the Orient, and Africa, arrived on horse, camel and elephant, bringing respectively gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Children polish and leave their shoes ready for the Kings’ presents before they go to bed on the eve of January 6. The next morning presents will appear under their shoes, or if the children are deemed to have misbehaved during the year, coal.
    It is a big thing over there – enjoy it.

  2. andrew

    I was in La Manga in 83 there was one hotel by the lagoon then ,I think its changed a bit since then.Glad you have found some decent ale to wash down your lemon leaves ,keep posting its the only time we see the sun . Happy New Year .

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