Tarifa – my new favourite place

We didn’t get out much over the Easter weekend – we aren’t ones for traipsing around in the rain – done that and got the t-shirt living in the Lake District. Instead we waited and bided our time waiting for the sun to come back out.

It didn’t take long and so yesterday we loaded the car up with food, beach paraphernalia and headed off to discover Tarifa.

We first went there on a touring holiday about 10 years ago. At the time we were searching for somewhere to live (we ended up in France) and my only memories of Tarifa were that it was dirty and windy.

Well, the last 10 years have seen a lot of sprucing up going on and there are a lot more restaurants, bars and shops than I remember. The wind is still there – this is the wind capital of Europe after all; but the whole place has a laid back hippy/come surfer chick kinda feel to it and I really liked it.

I could quite happily live somewhere like this, there is plenty going on, lots of yoga, windsurfing, some juice bars and organic shops, sunshine but alas I couldn’t cope with the wind. This time I went prepared and tied my hair back which was a big help as being whiplashed with one’s own hair is never good and the untangling process that follows is long, painful and not worth the aggravation.

We sat on the beach, had lunch, sun bathed for about an hour by which time I was covered in about 2 inches of sand and conceded defeat. It is such a shame as the beaches here are soooo inviting but being sandblasted is actually quite painful and only the really hardy survive.

But, I loved Tarifa and recommend a visit. Here are some photos….

Lots of kite surfers, they go so fast, very impressive.

Harbour entrance with statue of Jesus standing guard!

With Africa just a stones throw away there is a moorish influence to the architecture

This statue erected in commemoration is of Alonso Pérez de Guzmán known as Guzman El Bueno, who successfully defended Tarifa against the muslins in 1294.

The Church of San Mateo -  late Gothic style, dating back to the 16th century. The neo-classic facade, was designed and built by the architect Torcuato Cayón in the 17th century.

Old city walls and new buildings make for an interesting alleyway
Jerez Gate; the plaque on top of the entrance  recalls the capture of the city by Sancho IV of Castile in 1292. The original wall was built by the Arabs, but the Christians restored and expanded it between the 15th and 16th centuries.
  The harbour
Tarifa to Tangers in 35 minutes!
Me enjoying my day out!
The point at which a sea and an ocean meet – to the left you have the Mediterranean Sea and to the right the Atlantic Ocean – cool eh!
And just up the road ‘Gibraltar’
The whole area around Tarifa is covered in wind machines. They always remind me of the ‘Martians’ in War of the Worlds.

Gearing up for the Easter Weekend…

With the Easter weekend approaching the campsite is beginning to fill up and every time I stick my head out the door there appears to be yet another tent gone up and another car door open with music blaring out.

We are going to be in for a noisy few days and we are trying hard to stay cool. Trouble is most of the groups of tents that have cropped up are young lads who sound like they are at a football match. At the moment one of the said groups are driving around the campsite hanging out of their car; some in the boot, with their music blaring out chanting at the top of their voices. They have been drinking since yesterday lunch time with a brief respite at around 7am this morning when they finally shut up – I guess they passed out.

There are some Spanish families on site with small children and you would think that they would have said something but I guess the girl on reception isn’t keen on confronting a group of 15 or more drunken lads on her own!

So, what to do. Keep our heads down and hope for the best or stand up and say something. I’m pretty certain hubby won’t be able to keep his cool all weekend!

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for people enjoying themselves and having a good time but when that crosses over to making other people feel intimidated and fearful then that is not on. Why should I have to sit and listen to someone getting more and more lairy and pissed up and wonder where that may lead to???

The only thing that we can hope for is that the weather does what it is forecast too. Suddenly I am grateful for the rain which hammered it down all morning. It is due to be wet with thunderstorms tonight so that should dampen spirits a little – I hope. And the forecast for the weekend is pretty dire. :)

I’ll keep you posted ….. bar humbug……

Cadiz

We drove into Cadiz on Saturday to have a look around.

Cadiz was founded about 1,100 years B.C., which makes it not only the oldest city in Europe and but also probably in the western world. Cadiz enjoys a long (over 3,000 years!) and illustrious history and has been home to many cultures and civilizations – Phoenicians, Greek, Visigoth, Roman, Moorish, Spanish, to name a few.

It is situated on a ‘spit’ with the old part of the city at the far end. After parking up we walked through the old city walls to explore the narrow streets and history that this city offers.

Unfortunately we picked the wrong day to do our sightseeing as the wind was still blowing up a storm. Hubby left his sunglasses in the car and later commented that ‘all he got to see of Cadiz was the pavement as the wind was blowing so much sand around that he just had to keep his head down’

We walked down one side of city towards the end of the spit and the Castle of San Sebastian. This is a military fortification that is unused today at the end of a narrow stone pier with the sea on both sides. It was pretty blowy by the time we started to walk down but by the time we got halfway along we were having serious trouble standing up. Being sandblasted at high winds is actually rather painful and we quickly made the decision to abandon our walk and retreat. We could see by this stage that the castle was all shut up so it was an easy decision to make. Unfortunately at this point my sunglasses got pulled of my face and flung out over the sea wall. Luckily I’m not a ‘label’ kinda girl and so didn’t feel the need to throw myself in after them!!

Safely back at the other end we retreated into the narrow streets and wandered around for a bit. Cadiz is a strange mix of very old and new; although the new cannot really be described as new with peeling paint and masonry giving everything a rather ‘tired’ feel to it.

On the other side of the spit is the port area and there was a big cruise ship docked up for the day, which made for quite a shock as you came around a corner and it was just there towering above you.

In the end the wind got the better of us and we retreated back to the relative shelter of the campsite, but not before I took a load of photo’s. Hope you enjoy and they give you a feel for the place.

The old and the new skylines jostling together.

The city walls built after an invasion by the British led by Sir Francis Drake

One of the many towers dotted around that once helped protect the city from attack

Loved the multi colored pyramid tower in between the two domes

You can see how narrow Cadiz is, we are on one side of the spit and this cruise ship is docked up on the other

A colony of cats lived just the other side of the sea wall on the rocks. There were dozens of them all sheltering in bushes or laying in the sun. Lots of fish bones littered around so they obviously eat well.

Castle of San Sebastian. It is closed at the moment whilst it is refurbished.

Being blown around in the wind – prior to losing my sunglasses

The old hospital!! Thank goodness they don’t still use it.

Hubby reluctantly posing!!

Cruise ship up close

The smell of the blossom on the trees was overpowering in this square – no idea what the building was though!! Probably the town hall.

And finally, for my friend Candi; bet you had no idea there was a street named after you in Cadiz did you??!!


Fire Drill

A friend/or work collegue of my brother’s – can’t remember which, used to have regular fire drills for his family where they would all have to evacuate the house as if there was a fire. We used to think this was pretty hysterical, I think even the family pets were involved!!

Turns out it is quite a good idea as this morning we had the opportunity for our own fire drill and knowing what to grab and take in time of an emergency saves for a lot of faffing!!

Picture the scene – 5 o’clock this morning – I know but we are early risers and Oscar’s body clock is set to receive tuna at that time so no-one sleeps past 5 in our caravan! Hubby had made tea and come back to bed when he uttered the immortal line ‘can you smell burning’. Well I hadn’t up until that point but as soon as he mentioned it sure enough I could smell burning plastic. Now seeing as everything electrical in the caravan was off at this point and the smell was strongest up the bed end it didn’t take much deducing to work out that it must be coming from the electrics that are all situated under the bed. Ok, at this point in time it didn’t seem like a good idea to be sitting on top of said burning smell and so I exited the bed pretty swiftly.

And so began our fire drill which I have to say we executed quite well and fairly calmly under the circumstances. Within 5 minutes the cats were in their cat baskets in the back of the car along with all our important documents and financial details; and of course the laptop and the electrics to the caravan disconnected. I also suggested that it may be a good idea if we got changed as if the whole caravan went up in smoke I wasn’t keen on the fact that the only clothes I would own would be my bed clothes. I put on clean underwear, jeans, t shirt and a fleecy but hubby just pulled on his ‘gypie’ trousers i.e. his oil splattered old tracksuit trousers that he does all his DIY and car mechanics in!!! Answers the question of what he would save in the event of a fire I guess…..

5 hours later we have located the problem and are trying to deal with it although with all shops closed today it is looking unlikely that we will sort it until tomorrow. Once we pulled the bed up and got to the electrics underneath it was pretty easy to locate where the smell was coming from. The main power management system box (sounds very fancy but in reality is just a little grey metal box!) was the culprit and once we managed to get inside it – not easy at it was sealed with rivets!! we discovered some shockingly bad wiring that had obviously been shorting out and burning for some while. Cue an opportunity by hubby to bemoan the standard of workmanship that has caused said problem and the realisation from me that the burning smell that I have been smelling for the past 2 months or so had obviously not been coming from a faulty light as I had assummed!!

So, hubby is now working out what we need to replace it all and at the moment I am camped out in the awning. Luckily we have an outside power supply that we can still connect to the mains so we have some electricity, the cooker is gas (for hubby), we don’t need heating at the moment and we have candles for lighting so we can cope without electricity in the caravan until tomorrow when hopefully we can get it all sorted.

Not quite the way I had planned my sunday morning to look but at least we know what to do in the event of an emergency now!!!

Laundry….

Hmmmmm….a post about her laundry, now she’s really scrapping the barrel you are probably thinking and you may be right but bear with me as I try to explain.

Part of coming on this epic journey (there is another reason other than the sunshine honest :) ) was to see how I could make my life more simple. How I could manage with less baggage around me and with less paraphernalia to use.

It has always seemed to me that everything rely on to get us through the day requires energy of some description to make it work. Electricity, gas or oil and lets face it all those things are not in unlimited supply; well electricity maybe if we can find another way to harnass it that doesn’t require using water, gas, oil or nuclear power.

So when we decided to travel in a caravan I was interested to see how much energy we could save by living this lifestyle. That we no longer have to heat and light a whole house is obviously a big saving and that I only eat raw food and have upped hubbies intake has also lessoned cooking times so another there.

Obviously we still have to fuel the car but we only use it once or twice a week for the shopping and I am hoping we can lower that as well by cycling to the shops when we can.

The other thing I got to thinking about was the washing and this week I have started an experiment in washing most of our clothes by hand (gasp). I have done three lots so far and it is actually strangely satisfying to me to be doing it this way; yes maybe the sun has gone to my head!

At home and also back at the other site I seemed to be doing about 5 loads a week, which for 2 people seems a little excessive so my hope is that I can reduce that to maybe just one or two load a weeks for towels, sheets and the really smelly stuff; remember I exercise every day!!

Of course it helps immensely that the sun shines so brightly that getting things dry without spinning them is not a problem and wringing the clothes out is also really good exercise for the hands and wrists (please control the need to comment further on that point!). I’m sure I wouldn’t be trying this if I was back in wet and grey Diss.

I am thinking that maybe I can buy a little mangle (if they still make them that is!!) I can remember helping my Grandma put her washing through one when I was little and I loved it. Seeing all the water squeezing out and everything coming out the other end all flat and smooth.

Ok, now I am sounding like I am a little odd so I’ll stop there but will keep you posted on how my experiment goes – bet you can’t wait…

 

Piccies…..

Our new pitch

Taking it all in his stride…

Exploring – ‘what’s around this wall?’

‘Oh….just more grass’

Never seen a grasshopper this big before!! he was a monster….

We are on the Atlantic coast now and its a lot wilder but very picturesque.

Long stretch of white sandy beach in the distance to be explored at the weekend…

It has a very different feel to it here than up in the mountains at Iznate. It is hotter although the last two days have been very windy (about 35mph). This area is notorious for its winds (ahem) with the world windsurfing championships regularly being held just up the road in Tarifa.

We are about 30km from Cadiz with our nearest town being Conil de Frontera. We are not far from Gibraltor and you can easily get ferries across to Tangers from here. From Cadiz you can take the train into Sevilla, which we plan on doing during our stay.

So with lots to explore and fit in around work I think we are in for a busy month…..

Back on the road

Our five month stint in Iznate came to an end yesterday as we packed up and headed down the coast to Cadiz. We had spent the day before packing up and loading up the car so we would be ready to make a quick getaway in the morning. Maria came down bright and early to disconnect the electricity and we soon had the cats loaded up in their baskets and everything ready to go. But as with all our plans this one was not going to go smoothly.

I jumped in the car ready to reverse up to the caravan to hitch up and nothing. Nada, not a bean. We asked our neighbours if they would give us a jump-start and still nothing. Suddenly all our well laid plans slipped away as we realised that we would have to phone the breakdown insurance (again) and get someone out. I have to say though that the service we got was fantastic, just like the first time we used them a few months back.

Within an hour we had a mechanic on site who quickly diagnosed the problem to be our battery. He got us started but said that it was borderline and so with a long journey ahead with caravan and cats on board it didn’t take much to decide to go and get another one. Hubby followed him down to our nearest garage and he explained what we needed. 85 euros lighter he returned and we were ready to go again.

Farewells made to our neighbours and promises to stay in touch we were finally off. Maria came to say goodbye at the gate and more hugs ensued. On our way out I saw our little stray cat ‘Daisy Duke’ who I have been feeding. She was sat with some Spanish caravaners and looked like she had already found someone else to look after her!! Such is the way with cats but I was relieved that she had already sorted herself out with another ‘gravy train’.

The journey was easy and uneventful until we got closer to our destination. Signage in Spain is always a little on the scant side but there was nothing to indicate where the campsite should have been. We followed the directions we had got but nothing. It is always a worry when driving with the caravan that you will take a wrong turning and get lost. With a 37ft rig you can’t afford going the wrong way because there is not much chance of turning around!! We eventually decided to come back on ourselves and found that the site was now well signposted from the opposite direction!! Frustrating to say the least.

So, we finally arrived at our new campsite at around 7.30pm. It is a lot bigger with around 240 pitches and about 100 or so bungalows. It is empty though with 10 or so caravans and the same amount of motorhomes. We found a quiet spot and pitched up for the night leaving the unpacking for this morning.

Oscar took the journey in his stride, sleeping most of the way but Molly hated every minute, meowing and biting her blanket to shreds. She is having ‘intensive cuddle care’ and around the clock attention and managed to sneak onto the bed in the night when hubby got up for the little boys room. He didn’t notice her cuddled in beside me so she got to stay where she was!!

Pictures to follow and exploring to be done but we are glad to be here and on the next stage of our journey……

Visitors..

We had my best friend and hubby visiting for the last few days and have had a fun time being tourists, eating too much and partaking of the odd glass of beer and wine!! The sun shone brightly for two of the three days and we got to see more of the coast line just before we move on from this area.

We explored the stretch of coast from Malaga to Marbella, taking in Benalmadena on our first day which is built up and very touristy. Despite the abundance of ‘English style’ bars along the beach we managed to find a really nice spot on the sand and wiled away an afternoon eating, drinking and catching up. That evening we went down to Torre del Mar for an Italian which wasn’t overly good unfortunately. Despite attempting Spanish we were given blank looks back from the waiter although we tried the exact same phrases with another waiter the following night with success – go figure!!

The following day we went up the coast in the following direction to Nerja. We all enjoyed this pretty seaside town which is totally different from the coast the other way. It has the right mix of bars, restaurants and shops but manages to keep a ‘Spanish’ feel to the town. We found a lovely little cove and bar for lunch followed by a little mooch around before heading back to base. Another evening out in Torre del Mar for a much nicer meal before we headed back to the campsite with some bottles so we could all enjoy a drink together.

On their last day we headed back towards Malaga so we would be on the right side for the airport. This time we stopped at Fuengirola which supposedly has the ‘nicest marina on the Costa del Sol’. It is a bigger version of Benalmedana and with grey clouds and showers it felt more like Blackpool. Stepping off the sea front was like stepping into a ghost town as most of the shops are shut on Sundays but we managed to find a little square and a nice bar for lunch. If you walk around a bit you can find some nice parts of Fuengirola as everything ‘British’ is concentrated on the sea front. I personally don’t get going abroad and wanting the exact same of what you have at home but I guess some people like the familiarity.

All too soon the weekend was over and we dropped our friends back to the airport for the flight home. It was great to see them and we had a brilliant time, so thanks guys for making the trip and I know I promised not too but here are some photos of your few days in Spain!!!

Lunch in Benalmadena

Me and my ‘bestest friend’!!

Me and the boys!!

Nerja

Me and hubby

Secret garden..

Beautiful crystal seas, so inviting on a hot day!

View from the beach bar

Fuengirola in the rain!

Group photo!!