Sunday, 18 May 2014

Adios Espana

Life here has continued in much the same vein, pottering, reading, sunbathing, eating lots of lovely food, drinking too much….. and all of a sudden it’s come to an end!

On Thursday we went to Cartagena, full report from Father:

First coffee (and beer for some) of the day

On Thursday last we all went on a day trip by coach to Cartagena, the Carthaginian/Roman/Arab/Spanish port in SE Spain steeped in history. Two thousand years old, the city is built on the side of a large, almost enclosed, bay, which forms a secure and safe anchorage. Because of the Spanish navy (called, surprise, surprise, "La Armada"!) and mining activities, it was one of the wealthiest cities in Spain. I won't go into the history (you can do that at many sites, such as,_Spain (but it fell into decay ) and became very tatty in the late 20th century. 

Yours truly on stage

You should see the state of the 'electrics' on some house walls! With liberal access to EEC money for tourism, the city is being transformed and returned to its former glory. Some parts of Carthaginian/Roman remains in the centre are actually being excavated even as I write. Well worth a visit. We've been going for 20 years so have seen the changes.


Sue, Elizabeth, Jackie and Richard at the Roman amphitheatre
We - Jackie, Brian, Elizabeth and I, together with Jane [E's sister], Michael [her husband] and Sue [a friend from Jane's Red Cross days who was staying] - left Altea at "the crack of sparrow f**t" for us retirees (08.30 to the rest of you), Cartagena at 10.45 , then coffee (natch!) and our culture bit, going round the old Roman theatre in the centre of town which has been cleared of the old 'slum' dwellings once on it, then up to a castle at the top of the hill for a view over the city. We spent a lot of time doing that - there is a great deal to absorb, not the least being the old photos showing what it was like back when history was bunk.

Panorama of the amphitheatre with the city beyond
After that, the 'drinkies' urge came upon us (quite out of the blue, of course!) so we found a bar with Guinness as well as normal beer 'n stuff. Then lunch. On their 'pre-retail therapy' trip, Elizabeth had spotted a sign offering a large seafood plate (squid, calamari, Boquerónes, small flounders, baby hake,) for €9 for two. Too good to be true? Not in the least! Excellent lunch (almost more that we could eat though Jackie is definitely her father's daughter in that respect!), including two bottles of wine, water, bread & ali'oli, for €8 per head. Pretty good for the centre of town, we thought.

Then a stroll to see more of the city (settle the digestion) and round to the harbour for more coffee and back to the bus and home. A little tired but definitely rabbits of positive euphoria!       

A statue of Christopher Columbus

Afternoon tea at the port
In fact, afternoon tea (beer and wine for some) for us all!

Panorama of Cartagena port with the amphitheatre just to the right of the modern theatre
R & E ready for our night out

Friday we had a great night out at Benidorm Palace, Spain’s equivalent to the Moulin Rouge. The show was spectacular, dancing girls and guys, magician, comedian, amazing balancing strong men, but sadly no pictures as we were not allowed. The four course meal and bottles of wine followed by dancing in the interval all made for a lovely evening, albeit a late one, out.

Pre Benidorm Palace drinks in the garden
Jackie abseiling down a two pitch route

So got up gently yesterday to go for a last climb, back to Toix where we repeated some climbs we’d done many years ago, before moving to the other side of the crag which was in the shade. Sadly as it was the first place to be bolted in the area the bolts are all a bit sorry for themselves, so having looked at two climbs and even got the trad gear out, having found a rusty broken bolt on the floor we decided discretion was the better part of valour and returned to lounge by the pool – well I have got a wedding to go to!

Great views from the crag, pity about the suspect bolts on the climbs!
A dodgy old bolt and the remains of a broken bolt!
Elizabeth has written a few words, as one of our most avid readers it only seemed fair she should contribute!: 

Brian (in Elizabeths old clothes) and Richard discuss tree cutting
Jackie and Brian are now at the end of their stay with us and we have all had a super time. We’ve not done the long walks or climbing but the time has just flown by.

Brian has been a great help in the kitchen, doing what he likes best – baking cakes! I have introduced him to “Miss Kenwood” and he is now hooked. Jackie is less than impressed – how are they going to fit a mixer in a campervan? We could have come to blows over each others methods but I just ‘stepped away’ from the kitchen, and the mess and the washing up, until all was back to normal! Jackie is very easy, if she wasn’t climbing or reading or trying to ingratiate herself with Pepa (our very scaredy cat) she was stretched out by the pool, tanning.

Brian up tree, directed by Richard
Brian has earned his keep, helping Richard topping trees under my beady eye, and it is much better. Dare I admit it, I came close to being silenced! He has also done the odd bit of painting for me so it should last until the next time! I’ll just have to keep more old clothes for him. Worrying how good he looked in my trousers and t-shirt!

Jackie sunbathing by the pool

We will be sad to see them go, we have enjoyed lovely evenings eating and drinking on the terrace – great fun! We have booked them in next year, trees to be done, cat to be sat, we might even go away! Have a great time away on your next travels and keep writing! 

The view from the terrace post tree chopping
And how it looked before. A lot of effort and scratches went into that (not to say anything of Elizabeths ruined old clothes!)

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