Sunday, 28 October 2007

Sunday 28th October - The King of Pies

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Saturday 13th October

Saturday morning brought with it the sunshine.

And a chance to see the wall down without water.

The pool area was almost dry.

As it was the last day I took some pics in the villa, this is the living room.

The dining room.

And heres the view from the balcony of the bedroom on the top floor.

And still on the balcony, my attempt to get Amber to climb down the roof.

View from the living room back to the kitchen / dining room.

From the dining room back to the living room.

The wardrobe - Ange liked it, say no more.

Around 10 in the morning when we were meant to be out of the villa the owners turned up to look at the damage to the wall. I carried on washing while Ange chatted to them. I should mention that we had to wash using bottled water as we still had no running water, for reference, no of bottles used: Angela 11, Andrew 1/2. {I smelt of roses and he smelt of pooooooooo.] We set off to Alicante to kill time before heading to the airport in early evening for our flight home. Tried to go down through Calpe but the roads were still flooded so instead, we climbed again to Moraira before switching on the TomTom to guide us safely to Alicante. Stopped off briefly in Moraira to take a picture of an interesting roundabout. [mates of Orgi's!!!]

Parked again at the marina and had a quick lunch before heading up to the shops for a last minute look around.

Getting towards 5 now so we headed off to the airport, booked in, flight was on time and we got back to Dunblane around midnight - and I slept for most of Sunday.

Friday 12th October

All night it rained. And thundered. And lightning lit the sky. And of course there was more rain. Also, intermittently the power would go which meant a trip in the dark to the fuse box. Then, around 7 in the morning there was an almighty bang - Ange thought the lightning had blown the tv while I thought someone was trying to break in the front door. So, I got up to have a look, and found that outside, it was flooded:

In the pic above, where the water looks like a pond, that should be a step down onto the lower level of the patio. Had a look round the corner and found the cause of the big bang:

The side boundary wall had collapsed with the force of the water coming down on to it. Satisfied that nobody was trying to break in and that the tv was still viewable (for the one English language channel I could understand, CNN) I took a few more pics of the villa. See below for the water streaming down the steps onto the lower level of the patio.

Below see the side of the villa, water coming down off the roof onto the pool of water below which was creeping up to the bottom of the silver vent. Not sure what the vent is for, but the tv was still working so I wasn't that fussed.

Out the front door we had a lovely scene. Waterfall from the roof together with streaming water coming down the steps which led off to the right to the car which was getting a jolly good wash.

Another view of the lower patio showing the water coming down the steps.

Heres the car getting the wheels washed.

Another view out the front door, the rain doesn't want to stop.

In fact, the rain is getting heavier and has filled the pool and its overflow and its all still streaming down the steps to lower ground.

Better view of the full pool:

Now, you remember Orgi who I had to rescue last night? Well, Amber had got hold of him and apparently he had a broken nose and fins so had been confined to bed. [comment from Ange here........ "that was Orgi?? jeez I thought it was you having a nap!!"]

Finally, it stopped raining, so we took a trip out and about to see what damage had been done. Getting to the car was an achievement. Had to roll up our trousers and bare foot it to the car before putting back on our shoes. We looked like 3 masons. Water was so high. We got along to Moraira and as you can see, the sea is a bit rougher than yesterday. Stopped in the town for a sandwich and a drink and the cafe had the local news on. Even though we don't speak fluent Spanish, we got the general gist that there was an awful lot of rain damage, in fact, as we watched one report, the reporter was standing on a bridge over a river, about 18km up the road from our villa, showing cars being thrown down the river into the bridge - and then the bridge collapsed. Suddenly, police everywhere clearing people off the bridge, a very clever bit of reporting I thought.

In the pic below, you can see a wall thats fallen down beside the road. I hasten to add I [Ange] was the photographer for the next few shots which is why you get more of the inside of the car than the interesting outside scenes. [Nice air vents in the car dash]

And another one. [great air vents..... so I included them in this shot too]

This part of the road had a landslide on it so a bulldozer had to sort things out. [what a groovy windscreen wiper don't you think?]

More stone wall in the road. [sneaky peak of the old wing mirror]

Almost back to the villa now, and the pic below shows the beginning of the hill climb up to it. Imagine a single track road with zero visibility, it has a reverse camber at the bottom which you can see, then you turn 90 degrees to your left and hope that nothing is coming down the hill towards you as the incline is much steeper and theres no way they'd back up, you'd have to back down the hill. You can see the water still streaming down this hill, going up the spray was coming up onto the windscreen.

Finally, a break in the rain, so there was an opportunity to get a better picture of the wall that had fallen down.

Another surprise did await us though when we got back to the villa, the water was now out. We reported this to the rep who told us she hadn't been able to get out of her villa all day as the roads in Calpe were flooded. Playing it safe, we headed the other way again to Moraira to get some bottled water - just as the heavens opened again.

Thursday 11th October

Having breakfast on the terrace, this was the view over to the sea.

And looking back at the villa, this is the view. You can also make out Amber in motion.

This was the dining area inside.

After a lazy morning at the villa, we headed down to Moraira to have a look round. Unfortunately having arrived at 3 in the afternoon, everything was pretty much shut however, we managed to make it down to the beach for a quick paddle. It was too cold to sunbathe - which perhaps should have given us an indication of the rain that was to come.

After Amber had made a fort, we headed off to the local tourist information office to ask where the restaurant Girasol was - this was a 2 Michelin star restaurant that had been recommended in our holiday literature and we intended to head there for our evening meal. Unfortunately though, the tourist information lady told us it had been shut for 3 years. Good that the holiday company are up to date ehh? She did however recommend a restaurant called La Bona Taula which was on the road out of Moraira so we took a drive out to it. I thought it looked a little bit run down from the outside [ comment from Ange here......... he actually said it looked SEEDY!!!] so sent Ange in to have a look [like I know my way around SEEDY joints!!!], her report back was that it was lovely inside so as she couldn't see anyone inside we rang up to book a table for 3 that night...

Coming back for dinner around 8, the restaurant was very very good. The staff were very attentive and helpful and the food was as good as anything we would have expected from a 2 Michelin star restaurant. The only downside was that for most of the night we were the only diners, another couple arrived around 10, for the quality of food you'd have thought the place would have been booked to capacity. Leaving the restaurant around 11, the rain was coming down quite heavily, this was the start of the storm that lasted all night.

Back at the villa, after Amber had been put to bed, Ange was worried about Orgi (the blow up dolphin, remember?), anyways, I was sent out in the driving wind and rain, dressed only in my boxers (not a pleasant sight for anyone watching) to rescue him from the pool and leave him in the shower for the night. Madness.

Wednesday 10th October

Today was to be another road trip. As advised earlier in the week by the local tourist office we headed north up the coast to Moraira then took a left turn to Valencia. It was a little bit more complicated than that if I'm honest but luckily, the Tom-Tom came into its own and navigated us to Valencia easily. The Tom-Tom took us through several small towns where it looked like time had stood still since 1972!! Old style ironmongers shops and people wearing simon shirts..... remember those???? The odd building had been demolished.......... usually it was a building which stood attached to two other buildings. But hey it's ok, they seemed to use this disgusting rust coloured compound which they generously painted onto the exposed walls. Not sure if it was to prevent damp or.......whether they simply had bad taste in paint colour!!! But this rust paint was all over the place. Must have been a cheap batch of 400 gallons dumped locally somewhere and they thought........ hey, that would do for.......

Parking in Valencia though, that wasn't so easy. [parking is never easy for Andrew BOOMBOOM] Ended up in a strange little underground car park behind a "El Corte Ingles" (a department store chain in Spain) then we headed off for a wee walk around the shopping district.

Found a great little kitchen shop in one of the side streets and Ange got a new clock and coffee maker for the kitchen. After a little bit more walking we ended up back in El Corte Ingles where we had a coffee in their 6th floor cafe - the view from the window is below. Amber also got her new winter boots, what with leather being cheaper over there.

By now it was closing in on 7pm and as we had a 2 hour drive back to the villa we started heading back to the car park. En route though, we passed a lovely little pastry shop, it was calling our name and we were forced to go in and buy loads of pastries and the like. It was an old fashioned store, like something from a scene from the film Chocolat. You picked out what you wanted and they were placed in a small tray with a lace doily on it then wrapped and ribboned for you to take home. They didn't last too long. You can make out the shop in the background below.

Made it back to the car park and this was the landmark building just outside the entrance.

The driving through the town was awful. A combination of rush hour traffic and just to keep you on your toes the roads seemed to lose a lane every now and again. And it was always our lane!!! Not for the faint hearted. Soon we left the townscape behind and thereafter a slightly quicker journey home using the motorway it was a quick tea and off to bed.

For those of you with a curious disposition, ask Ange about her "tent".

Andrew wrote the last line. OK OK ......... my tent. Now there is one thing I cannot stand about holidays in hot sunny places. MOSQUITOES!!! Hate them, loathe them, cannot stand them. It was a night time ritual to apply the BOOTS mosquito repellent. Now add to that, the bed in our room was tiny, just short of a double bed. So if you were like me, prone to randomly flapping at the air in the middle of the night at alleged mosquitoes......... it's not a pleasant night sleep. Amber had also not settled well and had woken several times during the night since we got there. So a good nights sleep was in order and I had therefore packed Andrew up to one of the redundant numerous spare bedrooms in the villa for some peace.

Still with me??? Right........ the tent.

In the absence of a mosquito net I cleverly devised a homemade version using the bedposts and a bed sheet. So there I was alone in my room tying up the corners of the sheets onto the bedposts when Andrew came clambering down stairs wondering what the banging noise was on the me tying up the sheets!!!! I didn't hear him approach so he quietly poked his head round the door and saw me.......... well.......... saw me doing something weird with the sheets!!!! Naturally it was obvious to me what I was doing but I admit to an outsider looking in it must have been a rather weird sight!!

And then my tent was created!!! Great thing too!!! Just tucked myself under it and no mosquito could get into my safe haven now.

Tuesday 9th October

After yesterdays long trip down to Alicante we decided to stay more local today. Drove down to the centre of Calpe and parked up and headed towards the beach overlooking the big rock. Bare feet at the ready and we strolled along the beach front passing bairns carefully building sand castles and some rather elderly folk wearing not alot and exposing way too much leathery looking skin!!!! eughhhhhh!!!

Our villa is up in the hills but as you can see from this picture the hotels housing all the tourists are located immediately behind the beach. I think we chose well!!! The seafront was typically touristy with a selection of tacky gift shops and cafes/pubs.

Beyond the beach we headed up onto a sweeping paved area and followed it round the hills. Lovely views of the sea with some more spectactular villas overlooking the sea.

You could also see the Timon Restaurant where we had dinner. It's the blue and white building in the picture below. We went there twice the food was so good.

Amber decided to do a spot of spying on one of the hilltop telescope thingys. Looking very much the scientist don't you think?

I had a look through the telescope too and managed to locate and few choice villas overlooking the sea. This one in particular caught my eye. It seemed to have various levels / stories. Could quite easily lose myself in this villa.

Monday 8th October

Today was going to be dedicated to a trip to Alicante. Having arrived at Alicante Airport 2 days before and darkness quickly decending on it, we were keen to head back and see it in daylight. Andrew has already been to Alicante in previous trips.

Driving down the N332, between mountain roads and tunnels, suddenly Alicante starts to greet you with some pretty cool looking hillside villas. Andrew's friend Clayton has a villa there and I'm so jealous he must get some fab sea views. The townscape then comes into view, a cross between traditional and cosmopolitan. Leaving the N332 we enter the town centre area with the town buildings on the right and the yacht lined marina. Now which one shall we buy??

A wide pavement edges the marina area and it's a lovely place to walk with shops and restaurants right on the marina front. Naturally Amber stops to pose for a few shots!!!

The white building with the circle cut out of it that you can just see on the top right hand corner of the picture is the start of a massive building that houses cafes, shops and restaurants. It's been cleverly built to look like a massive sea liner. We stopped for lunch at a lovely fish restaurant called the Taberna del Puerto.

We then headed towards to city centre, walking down the most amazing mosaic promenade lined with palm trees. Dozens of folded wooden chairs are dotted about at regular intervals. Folk just seemed to unfold them and have a seat under the shade of the palm trees and just watch the world go by.

Oh and the marina has a rather unusual statue. It's of a naked man, Icarus to be precise ........ and he's green ........ sort of jolly green giant type character...... and he's holding a small surf board. He has a small head that's totally out of proportion to the rest of his body. Stands just off the side of the edge of the marina............ how weird is that eh?

Sunday 7th October

Daylight brought with it some beautiful sunshine so we headed out onto the terraced area for breakfast. Amber wandered down to the lower terrace to our pool and made a new friend...........Orgi the inflatable dolphin. This is the view from the terrace......the sea in the distance.

This was a self catering holiday so we went in search of a supermarket to stock up on some basic provisions. I had remembered passing quite a few of them the previous night so we did not have far to go before reaching a big supermarket called Eroski. The Spanish parking in the supermarket carpark was laughable to say the least. I don't know why they bothered painting white lines for each parking bay. No-one seemed to work with them!!

It's hard to work out how the Spanish distinguish boundaries between different regions. And we discovered it could vary depending on who you asked!! So we were in a villa somwhere in the regions of Benissa, Calpe and Moraira. Work that one out!!! Not that it bothered us; we were very happy with the location. Calpe as "we knew it" was a typical townscape around a round lake. Several hotels [big posh one called Hotel Diamonte], tall apartment buildings with a few shops at ground level. The lake looked stagnant to be honest and a spot of dredging would not have gone amiss. You must surely suspect something when the local bird life hang about on top of bits of floating wood rather than dip their toes into the lake.......... hmmmmm. Still, not as if we were planning on stepping into it.

The road out of Calpe and up to our villa........... where we called it Benissa......... took you past some more coloquial stores. A large ceramics place, Luigis Deli and the Timon Restaurant to name but a few. Not overly touristy...... more rustic and real I would say. Very charming. Of course we had that steep, poor hill to climb so it was back into NASA key position every time we headed back to the villa. And Andrew and I have become "road planning snobs" we decided as we tried to compare UK road standards to Spanish road standards. The old "70 metres visibility rule" was more the exception in Spain rather than the minimum standard. An interesting combination with cliff edge roads and Spanish drivers pelting out at you from blind access roads!!!! Jeez........ it had me reaching for the old rosary beads at times.

The seaview from the villa terrace gave us the prospect of a beach close by. The more touristy hotels back onto the sea front - nice for a brisk walk along and that's about it. Too many bairns flicking sand and old age pensioners who had developed that "leathery" look from excessive sunbathing!!!

This is a view of the bay as evening was approaching........... gets dark around 7.30pm.

I should mention what Calpe does have though is this giant rock/mountain called Penon de Ifach (rock of Ifach) at 335 metres high and claiming to be the biggest rock in the Mediterranean. I have no idea who Ifach is but he sounds like the 13th disciple!!! The rock is a nature reserve.

The local Timon Restaurant had been given a mention in the James Villa information pack and with it being closeby we decided to give it a try for dinner. It didn't disappoint us. We got a table out on the terrace with a view of the bay and the Penon de Ifach. Food was very good - Andrew had sea bass, I opted for sole and Amber chose a pasta dish to be on the safe side. Staff at the Timon were very friendly. This next picture is our view from our table:-