25th, 26th, 27th January………La Cala de Mijas
We left El Torcal and, of course, had to drive down the same perilous road until we got down to the main roads to take us on our way. We headed back to the free site at La Cala de Mijas where we had spent 5 nights between the 6th and the 11th of January but there was one big difference. Our coughs and colds were just a bad memory away and this time we could properly enjoy the lovely town of Mijas.
The authorities have changed the rules about the free camping site and Tom and I had to report to the police station with our documents to get a pass to be able camp there for a further two days. A gun toting police officer sat at a desk and proceeded to log our details onto a computer at the slowest, one finger typing method I have ever seen and soon the waiting room was crammed with other travellers, all waiting their turn. Tom panicked as he suddenly realised he had brought Jo’s passport instead of his own. He phoned Jo and thought he might have to wait at the back of the long queue. The officer took so long processing my details that Jo had time to get to the police station with Tom’s passport and she arrived just as he was about to hand over my pass to camp. The good thing about this rule change is that it caused lots of conversations with the other campers and as people arrived they would see the official looking letters in peoples’ windscreens and that made for more chats with people from other countries and fellow Brits.
We were all set to go into town when Elaine announced that she had lost a filling so suddenly we had the urgent task of finding a dentist with an available appointment within the next 3 days. The first we visited couldn’t help us but luckily the second dentist came up trumps because they had a slot for the following afternoon. Any guesses whether we could find the same service anywhere in Britain? Tom and I had been discussing the idea of buying snorkels, masks and flippers so we could look at some of the marine life when we near to the coast and we found exactly what we wanted in a couple of stores in town. Tom already has two wet-suits from his paddle boarding equipment but the waves were a little too high to try our new hobby at Mijas.
The following afternoon Elaine’s tooth was fixed and because we had fully explored the town the last time we were here, we did a lot of relaxing there and spent money in the food stores replenishing our supplies. We enjoyed the food and the drinks from the Irish bar in the middle of the town and Tom and Jo would disappear there in the mornings to enjoy their traditional Irish breakfast.
28th, 29th, 30th January……..Cabopino
The dirty washing had built up again so Jo and Elaine were both voting for us to return to the large campsite at Cabopino for a few days to get the laundry up to date. As we all enjoyed our last stop there then we were soon all in agreement. We drove the few miles along the very busy duel carriageway and we were soon set up on adjoining pitches and Elaine and I quickly went towards the campsite entrance so we could walk down to the lovely beach there. What a small world; as were going out of the gate we met Ginge and Bobby who we had met on our last trip during our long stop at El Campello. They told us that they were leaving the next day and were heading towards Portugal as well so who knows, we may meet up with them again. We checked out the surf down at the beach and it looked perfect for Tom and my snorkel experience and the sea looked as clear as anything.
The washing went into the machines and washing lines were soon strung up on the two pitches. The internet is good all around the site so it was a good place to update satnavs and other important apps on our various IT pieces of equipment. Later Tom and I went along to the bar/restaurant to check out the menus as we planned to eat there later. Of course we had to test the beer there to make sure that it was up to scratch and we tested a second one just to make sure it was as good as the first one.
The four of us had a great meal there and as we were finishing it started raining so we left the restaurant and went back to the vans for an evening of our favourite board games. Later on the thunder and lightning started and continued unabated to about 4.30 in the morning. The rain was torrential and we heard lots of sirens from passing emergency vehicles. A couple of people had gone into Malaga and had left two small dogs back at the campsite. They talked about the horrendous conditions they went through to get back to their pets because they knew how frightened they would be because of the thunder. When they got back they found their Dutch neighbours had taken both dogs into their van to look after them.
By 10 o/c that following morning the clouds had all disappeared and the sun was belting down and the previous nights’ high winds had died down completely. After lunch we went off down to the beach and Elaine was soon helping me get into Tom’s full wet suit.
Without the assistance then I would have found it impossible to get inside this complete rubber suit because those that know me will know of my recent shoulder operations. It probably would have been better if Elaine hadn’t been laughing so much whilst she was helping me. After posing for Elaine we made our way into the fairly calm sea and then we found that our aim of seeing fish and other marine life was not going to happen. After the night’s storm visibility under water was nil as the sand had been churned up and the water was a yellow colour. We stayed in the water anyway and took the opportunity to get used to using our new toys. We certainly aroused interest from people as they walked along the beach and Elaine and Jo enjoyed watching us two as we moved around in front of them. I know Elaine enjoyed helping me get out of the wet-suit as she was laughing even more than she was earlier.
31st January, 1st February………Gibraltar
We went to Gibraltar together during our last trip so we didn’t need to do the tourist thing like going up the Rock but we wanted to visit this little bit of England for the shopping and the bargains that can be found there. We went to an AIRE very close to the border crossing and as it was a Sunday we took our English money and our passports and made our way by foot to get into Gibraltar even though we knew the shops would be shut. We spent the afternoon window shopping and checking out where we would be going the next day. From where we were parked we got a great view of the Rock and then sun bathed in the beautiful afternoon’s sun.
Monday came and we headed back to do a little more than window shop. For those of you who have never been to Gibraltar then once you have passed passport control you come across a lot of taxis all offering sightseeing trips up the Rock. Walking on and you come to a large Eurosky supermarket where you can buy lots of Waitrose foodstuffs.
Further on and you have to cross the runway of the airfield and the people and the traffic are stopped at barriers either side whilst planes are landing or taking off and taxiing to either the RAF hangers or the commercial airport buildings on the other edge of the runway. It can lead to a lot of hanging around when getting in and out of Gibraltar. Fuel is so cheap here but the hassle of bringing our motorhomes onto the island meant we just wished we could fill up here. Throughout the main street there are lots of shops selling cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol because of the incredible low prices. For instance, a liter bottle of Bombay Sapphire (an upmarket gin with a very distinctive flavour) can be bought for £8.90 and Jo bought one for herself and Elaine bought one secretly for a present for me for my birthday. We went to Roys “famous” fish and chip restaurant for our lunch time meal and then made our way to Morrisons to buy a few more English food items before crossing over the runway so we could enter Spain again. As we hadn’t done any tourist activities on the island then we were soon back at the vans enjoying the sun with that magnificent backdrop.
2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of February………Conil de la Frontera
We drove away from Gibraltar and headed for Conil de la Frontera. We parked up for another free night on the outskirts of the town right by a river and within a couple of hundred yards from a beautiful beach.
Conil is a white town and most of the buildings are painted white and the quite distinctive pure white church building stands out because of the stone coloured tower that is attached to it. We walked with Tom and Jo when they took Taz (their dog) for a walk on the perfect sand on the beach and laughed as the staffy enjoyed running on the sea’s edge.
Photo bombed by Tom and what’s in that black bag you are holding?
We decided to go on to a proper campsite for my birthday so we drove to the other side of the town and booked in for three nights at the nigh on perfect camp site called La Rosaleda and here we would have free internet coverage. Secretly, Elaine made a dozen muffin size cakes and even put a candle on each muffin so I had a rendition of that traditional birthday song before blowing out the candles.
After a relaxing day we all enjoyed the curry she made for our evening meal. We had a superb evening with lots of laughter and music and Jo opened her bottle of Bombay Sapphire for her and me to enjoy and she was still sleeping off the effects when I got back at lunchtime the following day after a brisk walk into town. We haven’t had any complaints about her antics outside the van so she only has her sore head to worry about.
We are now only a couple of hours away from the border of Portugal so we plan to spend our first night in Portugal either on Saturday or Sunday depending if we decide to make an extra stop on the way. We are all hoping that the weather will be better this time but have all decided that we will explore the country whatever the elements have in store for us.