Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Back to housesitting in Altea la Vella

It’s our last day looking after house and cat in Altea la Vella before we collect Richard and Elizabeth from the airport tomorrow lunchtime.

After our very hectic week with Simon and Diane we’ve settled back to a more leisurely pace, partly as we fancied easing back a little, but mainly because of the weather. Simon and Diane just don’t know how lucky they were, they left on Saturday and it heralded a big change in the weather as on Saturday the wind really picked up and the forecast was for things to change for the worse, which in fact they did.

The sunset from the balcony on Friday night. Nice or ominous?
We were going to have Saturday as a day of rest, but after seeing the forecast we decided we’d better go out climbing if we were going to as the following few days were not going to be suitable. It was breezy, but the temperature was still about 23°C, so it was quite pleasant. We went to the crag Simon and Diane had recommended and visited on Friday at Alcalali. Nice easier up to quite hard gradings we decided it was time to try and climb a bit harder so, after starting on a 4 and the a 4+Jackie tackled a 5, which went very well. I led it after her, found it OK so decided on another 5. However this one I found quite exposed and with a few hard moves high up, went a bit off route, struggled to get back on route making some tricky moves and generally felt a bit jittery. Jackie went up, stayed on route and reckoned it was about right for a 5. We were going to leave the ropes up and try a 6a on top rope, but just as Jackie was topping out it started to rain – and rain and rain! She abseiled down, we collected the now wet ropes and gear and headed home.

It dried up again but the wind gradually got worse and by evening it had got to storm force. Trees were swaying, wind was whistling round the doors and things started to blow about. We were in and out bringing stuff inside and moving other stuff against walls and out of the wind to protect it. Big, heavy plant pots got blown over, ornaments screwed to walls took off and we were starting to feel quite vulnerable. There are large trees all around (and our car is parked under several), would they all stand up in this? We went to bed and, I have to say, I slept, but I don’t think Jackie did.

The next day it was still very windy but the temperature had noticeably dropped. We spent a good few hours sorting things out including an hour or two attending to the swimming pool. So much stuff had blown into it and a lot settled on the bottom so, the long pole net was in use fishing it out, which took forever! The downside of having a swimming pool!

The weather pattern had changed and we were now in the grip of a cold northerly wind with a big drop in temperature and it is still with us now (Tuesday). It’s not freezing or anything, but probably well into single figures at night. Today the temperature is 13°C with a forecast of 20 tomorrow so, hopefully the worst is now over.  Yesterday afternoon was not only cold, but also rainy, pretty heavy rain all afternoon and evening, so we were in the lounge with the fire lit watching an afternoon film. Is this really southern Spain, or England on a cold wet afternoon in November?

There was a bright spot on Sunday, however, after catching up on the news (shocking as it currently is!) by reading online the BBC, Telegraph and Times, we went out for Sunday lunch at our favourite seafood restaurant in Calpe. The sun shone and we were in the partly outdoors section next to the beach and the blue shimmering sea, wearing sunglasses eating squid, mussels, sea bass, swordfish washed down with a bottle of white wine, so it’s not been all bad!

The house here isn’t really equipped for cold temperatures as they are seen so infrequently, so there’s no insulation or anything to keep heat in. As a result it feels really cold and we’ve had a log fire for the last two nights, wrapped up really warm and felt very cold everywhere else.

Don’t know how long this cold north wind will last, but it is sweeping down right across the continent and, on the positive side it’s bringing snow into the alps. Where we’re going skiing there’s already plenty of snow with more forecast so, if it continues we may head off sooner rather than later to catch some early skiing!

Anyway, we’re getting the house sorted for Richard and Elizabeth’s return tomorrow, so we’ve been cleaning, Jackie inside, me outside. I’ve baked a cake for them and Jackie is cooking a yummie smelling Boeuf Bourguignon, so it’s all looking good.

Pepa finding a warm sunny spot on the balcony
Pepa the cat is still her usual elusive stand-offish self, except that one evening she did grace us with her presence, but only as we were eating steak! She came very close, allowed us to drop bits of steak in front of her and I even got a single finger stroke in. A full handed stroke attempt was obviously too much and she headed off at that. Still, she’s not quite so elusive, but still keeping her distance unless she wants something, food or to be let out etc. She hasn’t enjoyed the cold either, each day she has gone to a sheltered corner on the balcony in the sun and just sat there to warm up, but she won’t come right into the lounge to sit in front of the fire in the evenings, obviously we’re too scary!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, hello. Just caught up the last 3 blogs. Lots of climbing! Glad you have had fun. Such a shame the weather has changed, mind you it is no where near as horrid as here, so think yourselves lucky. Hearing that lots of snow is / fallen in France and Scotland! Are you excited?! Sending love, Helen and Ian xx