Apparently it's an artistic interpretation of Tower Hamlets High Street

Apparently it's an artistic interpretation of Tower Hamlets High Street

MONDAY 31-12-18

Yesterday we went for our nice long walk along the promenade and beach towards Castellon. It really was a lovely morning and what is nice about Spain is that Sunday is a family day. The supermarkets and most shops are all shut and do you know what? - Nobody goes hungry or starves. Just how it should be. It was lovely to see young families out with their kids and parents (they don't advocate euthanising old people here, just so long as they can still baby sit).

When we'd had enough we turned around and made our way back. That was a lovely way to spend a warm, sunny morning after which we had a lunch of toast-and-whatever, to use up the dried baguette leftovers.

In the afternoon we sat around outside the awning soaking up the sun doing our impressions of old people in a nursing home.

In the evening we made our way down to the campsite restaurant for our Sunday roast. I think they overlooked us as we waited ages for the meal, but following an enquiry by one of the waiters, out it came, with loads on the plate presumably by way of saying 'sorry for the wait'. It was all very nice and what's nicest of all is that it gives The Chef a night off. In my defence here, I have offered to cook some meals whilst we're here to give her even more nights off. But first I need to check the level of cover on our travel insurance to see if 'Repatriation following food poisoning' is covered.

In the evening we watched the Christmassy film 'The Polar Express' on video. Ok, I suppose it was pushing it a bit and have a feeling that when we get back it will finish up in the car boot box.

It was another cold night, at the moment the temperatures are currently dropping to around 4˚C, which is pretty cold, even for a brass monkey.

We awoke to another warm, sunny morning, but we did have a bit of a lie-in. Not intentionally, it just worked out that way. And that's the dilemma, if we get up early, the brass monkeys are still swinging through the trees, and we'd need a coat on to get to the shower block, leave it until later and the temperature becomes more pleasant, but that's half the morning gone. The Chef and I are reconsidering our 'Spain in winter' options which we'll share once we have the answer.

Due to our late start we had to cut short the 'today's do list' and settle for popping down to Lidl for a whole chicken and some hand soap. The chicken will be spatchcocked and barbecued tomorrow, accompanied by a bottle of bubbles.

This afternoon we went up to the Petanque pitches with our neighbours across the way Steve and Jane. They've played before but not for ages. We showed them the ropes and had an enjoyable hour with them before the 'regulars' turned up at 14:00. The Chef stayed there for the two-hour session but I had to go shopping- reluctantly.

This morning I noticed that the warning light was on for a low vehicle battery. What should happen when we're hooked up to mains electricity is that once the leisure battery has been topped up the vehicles battery should then be charged. Before we came away I paid a lot of money to have an intelligent battery charger fitted, this will take good care of the new leisure battery fitted a few months ago in Plymouth. However it would appear that despite having funded my auto-electricians next foreign holiday, he has failed to connect the two batteries together again, so once the new (expensive) charger has charged the new (expensive) leisure battery it sits and does sweet F.A., rather than go on to charge the vehicles battery.

So after my hour of Petanque off I went in to town to try and purchase a battery charger. This task was complicated by the fact that it was national lie-down-and-suck-a-thumb-time, and most shops were shut for the afternoon. Only the Chinese shops were open and they had nothing suitable. On my return to the campsite I enquired at reception to be told that maybe I could buy one in Castellon, a long bus ride away. So guess where we're having to go on Wednesday?

Looking at the BBC online news I see there are a rising number of illegal  migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats. I have only one question - 'What took them so long?' I have to assume that all those illegal's in the previous Calais camps were the really thick ones who couldn't work out how to cross that narrow strip of water other than in the back of a lorry. They have now been relocated to numerous hostels throughout France, presumable to be processed and given an EU passport allowing them to cross the Channel to the UK legally.

Now we have the clever ones, the Iranians, who soon worked out that water = boat, but it completely threw our political elite.

Now the bit that annoys me is this - I turn up at an airport with a micro-chipped passport and my necessary documentation and baggage. The authorities then proceed to treat me as a potential terrorist. My bags are scanned, I go through a body scanner which is powerful enough to know whether I dress to the left or to the right, know what I mean, know what I mean?  And also my passport is inspected and questions asked. Following such an interrogation I may find myself touching my toes whilst I endure a rectal examination with a lubricated gloved hand and a bright torch following a request for a second opinion.

At the same time in the English Channel, the British authorities come across  small boats full of people who have no passports, no documentation and no baggage, absolutely nothing to identify them as either ILLEGAL economic, spiv chancer's or terrorists. But while I'm being treated like a bloody terrorist at Gatwick airport or abroad, these people are being 'rescued' at my expense and feted with all that a gullible British Establishment can throw at them. And if that isn't enough there are do-gooder charities waiting in the wings to fill any gaps. "Please forgive us gentlemen for not having five star hotel rooms at your disposal, at our expense of course. But this being Christmas most rooms are taken. Ooopps please forgive me for having mentioned Christmas, I hope I have not caused you offence since you do not celebrate it in your country".

So it's time to stop feeling sorry for these people criminals. Let's replace the term 'Rescued' with 'Arrested whilst attempting to enter the UK illegally'. Take them back to France or failing that, sling them in the back of an HGV heading back to Calais and fast-track the lorry through the port and on to the ferry.

And to spare our nation further humiliation, in that these 'desperate' terrorists immigrants are so easily able to find a people smuggler, which our authorities are incapable of doing, give the job to the SAS. Go under cover, find the people smugglers and then kill them discreetly, and a crate of beer for the trooper who bags the most each month. I think that should solve the problem. Let's face it, we've now no Navy to deal with the situation, and that's before we try and deter French trawlermen after we take back control of our fishing grounds. 

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to come across a reputed rehearsal for the first all-inclusive New Year message from the late King George VI, he of 'The Kings Speech' fame.

The Chef and I will be going in to town to see in the New Year. Not because we want to, but because we'll never get to sleep on the campsite given the number of feral brat Spanish kids and their shouting, bawling parents who are renting the bunglalows for festivities. Add to that peed-up Brits in the bar and we have no chance. At least if we go in to town we may get a free firework display and if I'm really lucky I might get to see a brat Spanish kid spit-roasted or stuck on top of a bonfire. 

What an interesting time 2019 is going to be. In the meantime a very Happy New Year to you, and all of those you love and hold dear.

SATURDAY 29-12-18

Well we got to see the Christmas edition of 'Call the Midwife' online last night which was quite nice. Yesterday was another quiet day though we did get to play Petanque with the usual crowd. In fact there were one or two new faces there this time, a total of about 20 of us. There is one Sveed, about a third of the group are Germans and the rest Brits. It's a really nice friendly little group. Our neighbours across the way bought some Petanque balls from the Chinese shop in town today and they've asked us to go to the pitches with them for a knock about and show them the ropes, so we'll try and squeeze that in tomorrow together with a nice long walk which we're hoping to do.

Last night's meal was fine dining indeed, with The Chef rustling up fish fingers, chips and baked tomatoes. Not just any fish fingers I'll have you know, but Spanish fish fingers. I am keen that we try as many local food items as possible whilst we're here. The more we know and like, the less we have to bring with us. Next I want to try their mince by making some beefburgers before biting the bullet and trying some fresh fish over a barbecue in the very near future.

Last night was a pretty cold one, though we were rewarded this morning with a lovely blue sky and sunshine. Trouble is we still need to wear a jumper until about 11:00 when the sun warms things up. I say 11:00 but really it's 10:00 'proper' time as the Greenwich Meridian passes through here only about six miles away, in fact we're probably further east back home in the UK than we are here, but understandably they've elected to adopt EU time, the same as their neighbours by adding that hour.

I see in the discredited New Year's Honours List there are more awards for the over-paid luvvies of showbiz, though I don't begrudge Michael Palin an award because he does produce some very interesting travel programmes, long after he could have afforded to retire. One of his co-stars in Monty Python, John Cleese could also have afforded to retire by now if it wasn't for the fact he married smarter women than he, who screwed him good and proper in the divorce courts. So much so that he appeared in 'Hold the Sunset' an absolutely awful TV so-called sitcom a year or so ago. He should have just given his ex's the shirt off his back and not made the series, keeping his self respect, though not his humour, that went years ago.

We have lots of Spanish arriving in the bungalow complex across from us today. They could be just staying for the weekend, but I'm fearful they could be here until New Year. Over Christmas we had a batch of them but they were much more civilised. Begger, this shower of peasants are a noisy lot. They don't talk, they shout at each other in a passionate way. The Swiss and Austrians came up with yodelling as a way of communicating across valleys up in the Alps, but this lot never needed to, they just talk normally, mountain to mountain without any problem.

BBC News online informs me that the MP for Peterborough, not a million miles from us at home, Fiona Onasanya, recently found guilty of perverting the course of justice following a retrial regarding a speeding offence, has stated that she intends to remain in the House of Commons. And why not. She's on the Westminster gravy train now, and she won't give that up willingly. She's earning something like £88,000 a year, lives in a council house in London valued at £750,000, and had her grown up son working for her as an adviser earning something like £40,000 pa, I say 'had' because he was forced to resign after being convicted of a drug offence.

She could, and should, go to prison when she is sentenced, and if her barrister pleads hard enough, maybe she could serve her sentence in Peterborough prison. That way she could still undertake her constituency clinics, though I think her constituents will soon become fed up visiting the prison and having their body cavities searched with a well lubricated, gloved hand and a bright torch.

It's 17:00 now, and the sun is going down enough for it to be a bit fresh outside. I'll remind The Chef of the time shortly as we're having a stir-fry tonight and I don't want her wok-stirring hand to get too cold.

Our walnuts

Our walnuts

Plenty of olives if you like them

Plenty of olives if you like them

Note the dried oxen testacles in the foreground!

Note the dried oxen testacles in the foreground!

FRIDAY 27-12-18

Blimey, we slept well last night and awoke later than usual. I think it was because it was a cloudy night, and as the cloud acts like a blanket retaining the earth's heat, so it was mild, and thus more comfortable. It's normally quite fresh and I've had to consider going for cold showers, morning and evening to toughen myself up enabling me to cope with it better. We could always put the fan heater on 'low' but we're fearful of getting a huemungus electricity bill after the meter is read at the end of our first month.

Even though I arrived late down at the shower block there was only one other occupant and he was in the shower cubicle next to the one I use. Whenever I arrive at 'my' cubicle there's never any evidence of it having been used before my arrival. I think it's because the door is a bit of a begger to lock, requiring it to be lifted on its hinges before the bolt can be slid across.

Every Thursday we have a van come on to site selling oranges. After parking up on the main drag through the site one of the two guys comes around the pitches trying to sell them. We don't buy them as they're twice the price they are down at the market, and certainly no better. Having heard the chap trying to get The Chef to part with her money whilst she sat in the awning (if he knew her he'd have known not to waste his time) it was a timely reminder that it was indeed Thursday and thus market day in town, at last, an excuse to get out and about and stretch our legs.

We didn't need anything really, but we did end up buying half a kilo of walnuts as we hadn't been able to buy any at the supermarkets in the run up to Christmas.

On the way down we spotted a husky dog in a modified sidecar attached to the owners motorbike. It bought a smile to my face and I asked them if it would be ok to take a picture of it. Had 'Herman wiffout der Husky' seen it I am certain it would have bought a tear to his eye.

After the market we made our way down to the promenade. On the way we passed the town's sports centre and popped in to enquire about their bike hire. I told The Chef that I was certain they had a large advertisement in their window the last time we were hear stating 'Free Bike Hire'. Sure enough, it was indeed free. We would be required to bring ID, passports for us really, fifty euro's cash deposit per bike, and we could then have access to seven days free bike hire in any month, including helmet, lights and lock. So we'll be back down there at the weekend to sign up. It's good that they provide such a tourist-friendly scheme because it looks as if the miserable old sod next door is going to recover, so no chance of me having his.

Once we arrived at the promenade we enjoyed a nice long sit in the, by now, lovely warm sunshine taking in the views and ambience. This was after all, the reason we've come all this way. Not to get a suntan, but to be able to be outside doing things without dying of hyperthermia.

This afternoon has been spent sat in the awning, me working through a few more mince pies washed down with a rum and coke and The Chef with a coffee.

This evenings meal was simply a plate of cheeses (including my Danish Blue - not to be recommended in a confined space unless ventilated), black grapes (yeah mun, dems is de best), crackers and chutney. Food we had planned to eat over Christmas but never had space in our tummies for, washed down with a drop of port.

After The Chef has finished sewing a tear in the knee of her old trousers which she wears to go to the shower block, we shall attempt, yet again, to watch 'Call the Midwife' on the BBC iPlayer.

Yeeaah mun....dems really, reeeeaaally, is de best.

WEDNESDAY 26-12-18

So much for us watching 'Call the Midwife' online last night. The best I could manage was to call it up on the screen at the point it was transmitting live back home, press 'Start from the Beginning' and then that was that. It just froze and despite several further attempts, it was having none of it. Such was the demand on the campsite internet service and my own Mi-Fi mobile network based internet that I just couldn't get in for anything at all, not even emails. Hopefully we'll be able to catch up with it on BBC iPlayer during a low-demand period in the coming days.

This morning it did the usual and started off cold and then warmed up. We needed to pop down to the Lidl store for a couple of bits, this being a normal working day here in Spain, and it was cool enough to warrant  wearing a light coat and jumper, but within an hour or so, the sun came out and it was warm and glorious.

We sunned ourselves in the awning with the side wound back, before moving the chairs outside in the run up to lunchtime. We didn't eat too much as we'd planned to have a barbecue this afternoon after returning from Petanque, and before the sun got too low in the sky.

The Petanque session was quite enjoyable. The Chef and I ended up playing on the same side in both games we played. This was made more enjoyable by our playing with folk who didn't take it all too seriously and we had a good laugh.

On our return out came the barbecue for its first outing on this trip. We normally carry a small portable Cadac barbie and although it's the right size and weight, it  just doesn't do the job as well as the Weber. The meal was very enjoyable and I'm sure we'll be using it a lot more during our stay here because I've got an awful lot of Spanish propane gas to use up.

I saw on the internet news this morning that a record 157,000 emergency cases had to wait at least an hour for an ambulance following a '999' call. As this was my line of work for many years I could write pages on the matter but won't. Suffice to say that over the past fifteen to twenty years management and administration costs across the whole NHS has mushroomed and is sucking the life out of the NHS. So many of these managers are overpaid professional meeting attenders, promoted one grade above their ability and do nothing to make the life of the front line staff easier, rather, they frustrate it. And when something tricky comes along they buy in the expertise of Management Consultants to tell them what they should already know.

In the Ambulance Service right now a high percentage of its middle and senior managers will be away on leave. The last day they'll have worked would have been Friday December 21st and they won't return until Monday January 7th. This will leave Paramedics and other front line staff functioning without support. It happens every year and this year will be no exception.

There will be the odd exceptions, but if those on the front line (and the same argument applies right across the NHS) can manage without these managers during that period of such high demand, then they can manage without them full stop, saving millions in salaries, lease cars, phones, laptops and other on-costs, which could be ploughed back in to more ambulances and Paramedics, and with less managers on their backs trying to justify their existence, they can be left to get on with what they do best - looking after patients.

In fairness, the public's expectations of what the Ambulance Service can deliver are unrealistically high. Patients won't moan too much if they can't get to see their GP for three or four weeks, they won't moan if they have to wait six months for an operation, they won't moan if they have to wait around in the outpatients at their local hospital because the clinic is behind schedule, but woe betide an ambulance being just one minute late when they demand one.

Christmas dinner for the homeless

TUESDAY 25-12-18

This morning started off with a lovely blue sky and sunshine, but then proceeded to cloud up and turn a bit cool.

After scrubbing up we sat in our nice warm awning and opened our gifts from the family, then it was a matter of doing lots of nothing until it was time for dinner.

We had tried to make contact with a few folk but it's easy to forget that most people back home are making their way somewhere to visit for the day, making phone calls themselves or in the kitchen up to their elbows in Brussels sprouts.

We changed and made our way up to the restaurant, arriving at about 13:45. Most of the tables by then were occupied and folk busily munching away, as the restaurant opened at 13:00.

We skipped the first course as it was prawns and pineapple. Neither of us do prawns and The Chef doesn't like pineapple. Whilst tucking in to the second course of very nice minestrone soup, a group near the door started singing 'Happy Birthday'. 'Blimey', I thought, 'Jesus is making a guest appearance', but no, somebody on a table over there was also celebrating their birthday, and were presented with a cake and a lighted fuse fizzing away in the top.

The main course was a choice of a whole fish or the turkey dinner. We both opted for the turkey, served with what The Chef described as 'hard' carrots. "Philistine" I said, "el dente, el dente", plus chips, obviously the Spanish equivalent of roast potatoes, stuffing of sorts, two speared Spanish pigs in blankets and Brussels sprouts. I have included pictures of the meal as I promised a family member that I would.

Dessert was the very nice apple crumble, though we didn't get a sprig of holly stuck in it. Then we were served with a glass of something bubbly, with quite a unique taste I felt. Something akin to 90% stale water from a motorhome water tank, blended with 10% cheap white wine, and then carbonated. The Chef had one sip and that was it, whilst I persevered to the bitter end.

Then it was coffee, during which another 'Happy Birthday' struck up complete with yet another sparkling fuse stuck in the top of a cake. Then soon afterwards another fused cake appeared. This time I was considering diving under the table for cover before it went off. Nowhere do you get that many birthdays in one place. But sure enough, it was presented to one of the waiting staff, and quite a popular lad, given the applause he got with it. 

All in all, it was a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, everybody was friendly and happy, and now we know how it feels to have a Christmas dinner provided in a hostel for the homeless, which all of us here today are, albeit temporary, and no matter how you look at it, eating chips and hard carrots is vastly superior to being invited by the Germans to climb out of your trench and play a game of football in 'No Man's Land'.

This afternoon has been spent sat in the awning listening to the boom, boom, boom from the music and vocals back down in the restaurant in our left ears and the sound of an old musical being played loudly on the telly of the old couple next to us (they've got satellite TV), it sounded a bit like something starring Judy Garland, playing in our right ears.

It seems the old couple have not been very well and have been hold up indoors for the past few days. They've certainly not been well enough to say a passing word to either of us since we arrived here, miserable sods. I'm sure he'll recover, but if not, I might just pop round and ask if I can borrow his bike as he won't be needing it anymore, thus saving us money on bike hire.

This evening will be spent trying to watch the BBC Christmas special of 'Call the Midwife' online. Though with all the potential for buffering it will probably take all evening to watch. I shall be supping a drop of the mulled wine I made yesterday in the slow cooker using a bottle of cheap red wine, fresh oranges, which I squeezed myself, and a sachet of the spices. After the Chef's recent experience with red wine I think it likely I'll get it all to myself.

So that was it then for another year. I hope you managed to spend it with some of those you love, I know I did, and it doesn't get better than that, hard carrots or not.

We Wish You A Merry Brexit

MONDAY 24-12-18

Well we awoke to another nice sunny morning yesterday and made the most of it by going for a nice walk towards Oropesa along a former railway track which is now enjoyed by walkers and cyclists. Having learned a lesson the last time we decided to go for a walk, I carried a backpack with jumpers in it just in case we ran late on our return and the temperature dropped. I guess we walked for about an hour and a half, about two-thirds of the way to Oropesa before having a sit on a bench looking out to sea taking it all in for twenty minutes or so, before making our way back.

The evening meal was our regular Sunday roast up at the restaurant €21 including a carafe of wine plus tip, which is pretty good really. Before going there I had drunk a couple of glasses of red wine to empty a 5ltr box of red wine, one of a few I bought back at Cite Europe in Calais. We carry wine in boxes because it's lighter and safer to transport than bottles. Anyhow, because I had already consumed a bit I did say to The Chef that I wouldn't drink quite so much out of the carafe of red wine we have with the meal. Kindly she helped out and drank that which I didn't. Sadly this morning she felt a bit rough and it took her until lunchtime to get right again. As I type this nonsense I have the slow cooker on the go, creating a quantity of mulled wine, which, due to last night's excessive consumption by The Chef, looks as if I'm going to have to drink myself.

Yesterday evening two motorhomes turned up and parked in what I assume are the transit pitches, just over the hedge from us. Unfortunately one of those vehicles unloaded a fairly large dog with a very loud bark which it did continually. I did deploy 'Henry Horn' through the lounge roof vent to clear the wax out of its ears, but to no avail. This thing was impervious to everything. I said to the Chef that it would be Christmas ruined for a lot of people if that thing stayed on site.

This morning we popped down to Lidl to get a few bits for Christmas including some more walnuts as we'd eaten the small amount we'd bought last week. Sadly there were none available, it seems they'd run out days ago, and I had intended that we walk further in to the town to try and buy some from local greengrocers in the 'High St', but The Chef was in no fit shape to go any further than Lidl, so we won't be having any walnuts for Christmas, even though we bought another set of nut crackers from the Chinese shop because we'd lost the ones onboard, only to find them two days later.

Thankfully when we returned from Lidl both the Italian motorhomes had gone. What a relief. Presumably they're heading further south to ruin Christmas for another group of people, but at least it won't be us. Maybe they're on their way to the 'Italian Shaved Apes' annual jamboree.

While The Chef sat recovering outside in the sunshine I cracked on with the housework so that we were straight for Christmas. After lunch we sat out in the sunshine before our neighbours across the way, Steve and Jane invited us across for a drink which was very hospitable of them.

This evening the 'Bonterra Park Singers' toured the campsite singing carols and festive songs, becoming slowly more lubricated as they went. It comprises of both Brits and Germans and they sing songs in both languages. I managed to capture a couple of them with the camera when they sang a few songs across the way from us. I shall upload them to today's offerings. I think the second song I captured, sung in German translates as 'We Wish You A Merry Brexit'

So that's it then, Christmas is here again - Bah Humbug! I loved it when my kids were young and all that magic and excitement of Father Christmas, never mind the worry of how we could afford it all, but I wouldn't have swapped a moment of it, some of the happiest days of my life. For me though now, it's all a big non-event. I don't suppose it helps having spent so many years on the front line of the NHS. It makes you aware that this time of year is a very unhappy, reflective, and lonely time for so many people. More people than you may realise. So if you know a neighbour who may be in that situation, go give them a knock and invite them round for a drink and a mince pie, tell them they don't need to bring anything, just put on a coat. The joy you will bring to them will be exceeded only by the warm glow you'll experience yourself.

May you be fortunate enough to spend Christmas with those you love.

The outside pool area with the bar & restaurant in the background

The outside pool area with the bar & restaurant in the background

SATURDAY 22-12-18

Well, yesterday was a very nothing day, though it was lovely and warm and sunny once the sun got high enough in the sky. I didn't feel much like playing Petanque and so The Chef went up there on her own. I stayed here and carried on with my 'Sign Language for Dummies' book.

This morning was even nicer, finally reaching 21 degrees, and we made our way down to the Lidl store where we picked up a few bits. The shops are nothing like they would be at home. Here, although it's nearly Christmas it seems to be business as usual rather than the war zone created in the UK with folk pushing and shoving to fill their shopping trolleys with far more than they need, or can afford. It's so much more civilised here, though sometimes you miss the way it is back home.

I'm sure everyone is looking forward to the usual Christmas television repeats, no doubt including, 'The Great Escape', 'The Sound of Music', 'The Two Ronnies Christmas Special', and no Christmas would be complete without 'The Morecombe & Wise Show', it's just a matter of guessing which episode it will be. Maybe the one with Angela Rippon dancing with those legs that go up to her neck, or the TV presenters dressed as American sailors singing 'There is Nothing Like a Dame', the one with Shirley Bassey or perhaps Andre Previn with Eric at the piano, "I am playing all of the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order". I swear that pair have been on the telly more since they died than when they were alive. However if there were to be a 'Celebrity Pointless Christmas Special' I swear I'd find myself on the cliff edge at Beachy Head.

Our awning continues to get attention over the rear garden hedge. Maybe because it's quite a tall one which we need as our habitation door is quite close to the roof, and anything less would foul on the awning roof joining it to the motorhome. Something which is called a 'drive-away awning', as, should we wish to, could detach at the top and go out and about with the vehicle. It's a 'Ventura Freestander', part of the French 'Isabella' group, who make probably the best awnings on the market. I was so lucky in being able to buy it second hand from a chap up north for £400, half price, and when it arrived I swear it had never been used as the tissue paper was still around the awning side panels.

I see in the news that homelessness has increased by 24% over the past 5 years, which is a disgrace. As I think I've mentioned on a previous trip, I cannot for the life of me understand why illegal immigrants, yup, those who have committed a crime, are showered with help, both in housing rights and benefits having not paid a penny in to the system, but for some absurd reason go straight to the front of the housing queue. Well we can't have us being called racists now can we? Yet our own folk, many of whom would have worked and contributed to society, or fought for their country before things went wrong for them, have no rights at all, not even the right to a clean cardboard box.

My solution is quite a simple one, and would spread the load throughout all authorities nationwide. Any homeless person in the UK would have the absolute right to be housed by the authority in which they were born. They just need to get back there, present themselves to that authority and they will have the legal right to a roof over their heads, it won't neccesarily be a three bedroom detached council house, but would at the very least be a bed and locker in a dormatory, but hopefully a small bedsit or flat. Support for drug and alcohol abuse would be provided, and attendence would be a condition of accepting the accomodation. Bit of a bugger of course if they were born in Scotland. Who'd want to finish up back there? The cardboard boxes, shop doorways and soup kitchens would then be reserved for those who arrive here illegally.

..........And don't get me going on the Foriegn Aid budget.

More Spaniards are arriving here at the campsite and moving in to the bungalows. I think they're here for Christmas, so we may have to endure noisy evenings and feral kids for the duration, but as I said to The Chef earlier "It is their country, so I suppose we'll have to put up with them".

The Chef and I seem to have our Christmas Fayre worked out. Christmas Day is to be Christmas dinner in the restaurant, four courses, though I don't think either of us will be doing the first one. The Chef has developed an allergy to shell fish and I don't do seafood full stop, well except for fish fingers and cod. Dessert is to be apple crumble, I know, I know, don't ask me why. Maybe it's the only dessert the restaurant's chef has a recipe for. Never mind, maybe we'll get a sprig of holly stuck in the crumble. Later we'll enjoy a cheeseboard with black (can we say 'black' these days?) grapes and a bottle of port. Boxing Day is going to be a lovely big steak barbecued in our 'back garden' as we're in business now, the Spanish gas cylinder I'm renting having been delivered yesterday. For dessert we'll be having a small Christmas pudding, well I will, The Chef will have a small steam pudding affair, both served with vanilla ice cream. Strangely enough neither the French nor Spaniards do proper dairy cream, neither single nor double, and they call themselves food connoisseurs - my bottom.

Tomorrow we're going for a nice long walk, in what is forecast to be bright sunshine, but those BBC forecasters have been known to be wrong, followed by a Sunday roast in the restaurant.

THURSDAY 20-12-18

My word, it was a cool and cloudy morning, too cool to sit outside that's for sure. Never mind there were chores to do before we set out for a look around the local Thursday market. Basically it's fruit and veg stalls, all selling pretty much the same thing, together with stalls selling clothes, some with them hanging up on coat hangers while others sought to achieve that shabby-chic, jumble-sale-rummage look.

We bought some bananas, clementine's and dates from one stall. It was good to see that the old lady selecting the dates from the box and putting them in to a plastic bag for us, was using a pair of plastic tweezers, because while she was doing so, her son, I assume, walked behind her coughing and sneezing in to his bare hands.

Now as we approach the edge of town ready for our left turn for the market, there is a disused railway bridge above the road and adjacent roundabout. It wasn't until last Wednesday that I learned it was designed by none other than Isambard Kingdom Brunel. How do I know that? Because it was a question in last week's campsite quiz, and I suggested we put him down for a laugh, after all, who else have most of us heard of, when it comes to bridge designers. Well, blast me, it was the right answer, earning us one of very few points that night.

But since then I've wondered why on earth he would have even bothered with such a small commission, after all this is the man who designed the Royal Albert Railway Bridge which spans the River Tamar in Plymouth. Maybe he just drew the Benicassim railway bridge on the back of a fag packet during his tea break.

The Sun finally broke through at about lunchtime, eventually leaving us with clear blue skies, and it was worth waiting for, giving us the opportunity to sit out and soak up the sun, a bit like basking seals ( I did say I needed to lose weight).

During this period of relaxation The Chef kindly offered to cut my hair as she could see I was about to start hacking away at it with a thinning blade. She made a pretty good job of it I have to say, as, to keep things fair when comparing her effort to 'Blind Brian's' back home, I asked her to cut it with her eyes closed.

While I think of it - when we get the toll road bill in for our passage through France I will attempt to put together a price comparison, Portsmouth to Benicassim, via Bilbao, versus Calais to Benicassim. We know already there's virtually nothing in it, and when I've got the figures I'll put them at the bottom of the page 'To Benicassim', as that seems to be the logical place.

So that's been it then, a rather nice day, and god-willing we'll wake up and get to enjoy another one tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY 19-12-18

Today was a lovely sunny day, a most welcomed reminder as to why we go to the trouble and expense of coming this way. I sat outside and finished reading David Jason's book 'Only Fools & Stories' which was both entertaining and a good way of making yet more money having already written his autobiography called something like 'My Life'.

In the afternoon we went for a couple of hours of Petanque, and on the way up there a managed a quick couple of pictures of 'Herman wif der Husky's' motorhome, though sadly he must now be referred to as 'Herman wifout der Husky'. The Chef reckons it's a different vehicle, but I'm pretty sure it's the same one. When I get round to it I'll take a look at some photographs taken on our last visit here which I keep on a portable hard drive. In the meantime I'm telling myself that, when it comes to the decalling, this is the finished article.

Before play commenced I managed to take a couple of photographs of the satellite dish beside a large motorhome parked up very close to the Petanque pitches. How the hell do people transport something like that? I did buy a 85cm satellite dish, larger tripod and decoder with the intension of bringing it down with us but because I had not had the opportunity to practice this black art before leaving, and the lack of storage space onboard, I left it all behind. But I must admit sometimes it's nice to be without the telly. If there's something important we want to watch we can do so via the internet, though it does keep buffering, but we don't really bother with it. Besides we've got loads of DVD's with us, all removed from their cases and stored in two pouches, probably about 190 in total.

Today's Petanque session went better than the last, I think because we're getting back in to the swing of it now, and feel we're contributing to the team effort. The Chef is actually quite good at it.

On our return to base camp I sat and had another read of 'British Sign Language For Dummies'. I've fancied having a go at it for a while now, so thinking I'll have time on my hands during this trip I'd put it to good use. First I've got to crack the 26 signs of the alphabet- the basics, before I can start turning more pages. I've even got a set of DVD's on the subject and bought a cheap portable DVD player so that I could sit and learn at the same time. I am though, considering being a bit inclusive in this age of 'Let's make oddballs feel normal' - I'm going to learn sign language for stammerers - the Arkwright Method, named after the leading character in 'Open All Hours'. So if I want to say something like "ter, ter, ter, ter turn that thing off" I just keep bashing away at the letter 't' on my hand. I reckon I'm on a winner. We'll see how it goes.

Just over the side hedge on our pitch in the 'back garden' appears to be a couple of transit pitches which are allocated to folk who are just staying for a night or two, or in last week's instance, a weekend, a weekend of a Spanish family and their motorhome and two brat kids. I imagine kids must be breaking up for Christmas about now. I just hope we're not going to be subjected to Spaniards and their ghastly kids over the festive period

I bet a horrid Spanish kid spit-roasted over an open fire would taste better than hot chestnuts any day.

The evening's entertainment was the Quiz Night, this week our neighbours across the way had invited another couple to join us, so we were a team of six - result, more points than last week, far too few to win the prize and far too many to win the booby.

The Chef gives it some wellie

The Chef gives it some wellie

TUESDAY 18-12-18

Yesterday was a lovely sunny morning, but with a cool breeze. We took the opportunity to take a walk up to the Petanque pitches for a bit of a practice so that we wouldn't look too silly this afternoon, not having played since we were last here nearly two years ago. On the way up there I told the Chef that I was sure that I'd seen our neighbour from last time 'Herman wif der Husky' over near Reception the previous evening and that I'd find time to walk around the site sometime to see how the decaling on his motorhome eventually turned out. Then blow me we passed the top of one of the cul-de-sacs and saw his vehicle sat there. I had a quick word with his neighbours who said that he didn't have the husky with him, which made sense as the poor thing was getting old a couple of years ago. What a shame, it was a lovely dog.

After an hour or so's knocking about we made our way back to 'base camp' for lunch and a sit out in the sun before we had to go back up to the pitches to join the serious players for the 14:00-16:00 session. As always they were a welcoming bunch and we joined them for a few games. We don't usually stay for the full two hours, but enjoy the time we're there. I was also kept entertained by the sight of a motorhomer setting up his huge satellite dish (I'll try and remember to get a picture of it tomorrow) assisted by his next door neighbour. Yesterday it looked to have been secured in to the ground, but today they were mounting it on wooden pallets weighed down with bricks and things. I think they were both part of a Caravan & Motorhome Club rally that's here, judging by the nearby vehicle with a damned great pennant flying off it.

As our bacon rashers were getting close to their 'best before' date, and with no space in the freezer to store them we ended up with bacon, egg and chips for our evening meal. Fine dining indeed. The evening being spent watching a few more episodes of 'Blacklist' Series 3 kindly bought for me by my daughter Clare. There's an awful lot of viewing in each series, but we enjoy watching it.

This morning we sat out in the awning soaking up the warm sunshine which permeated through the high cloud. It acts just like a conservatory back home. It is proving to be worth the effort of dragging it down here and setting it up, providing us with valuable additional living space.

This afternoon we went for a walk towards town, with the intension of walking far beyond its boundaries, but it started to get cooler, and rather than get caught out far from home and feeling cold, we cut it short, lesson learned though, and in future we'll do what we normally do - carry a backpack with jumpers etc in, a shopping bag and a bottle of alcohol soap should we wish to eat whilst out and about.

Whilst checking out the BBC news online, including the newspaper front pages, I noticed the 'Guardian' had picked up on the matter I mentioned on the front page of this trip, that is that the Parliamentary Pantomime Season has indeed begun.

This year apparently it has a truly cross-party cast with The Wicked Witch (Tories), Pinocchio (Labour), Yoda (LibDems), Jimmy Crankie (SNP) and Cruella de Vil (DUP) cast in the starring roles. The geezer leading the Welsh wasn't cast as he hasn't been in the job long enough to get his Equity card.

This year's pantomime is a newly written farce entitled 'Who Cares What You Voted For - You'll Get What WE Want'. Apparently it's the story of a wicked witch and her group of clowns who travel to the Castle in Never-Never Land, home of Baron Barnier and his little green frog, Macron, where our heroes beg for their freedom with hilarious and embarrassing results.

........... "Oh no they didn't!"

.........."OH YES THEY DID!"

Never mind, maybe after Christmas we'll all wake up and it will have been a bad dream.

The Bonterra Singers taken with my smartphone

The Bonterra Singers

The Bonterra Singers

1130am and still no sun!

1130am and still no sun!

A full-size train of this type will soon be on display in the town

A full-size train of this type will soon be on display in the town

The Benicassim miniature train station

The Benicassim miniature train station

Stacey Dooley & 'Kevin from Hull'

Stacey Dooley & 'Kevin from Hull'

SUNDAY 16-12-18

I didn't post anything yesterday as it turned in to a bit of a nothing day really. We ended up doing the housework in the morning followed by a sit out in the awning with fleeces on in the afternoon. It had been cloudy most of the day and we really do need the sun to come out to get any real warmth.

There was a red sky at sunset which suggested today would be nice, and the highlight of the day was being able to watch the final of 'Strictly Come Dancing' live via the internet. We were very pleased that Stacey Dooley and her professional partner, 'Kevin from Hull' won it because we'd had our money on her right from the beginning. She and fellow finalist Joe Suggs were what the programme is supposed to be about - none dancers, and seeing them progress and improve throughout the series, but their two fellow finalists, Faye & Ashley both had dancing experience, so it was a good, and fair result.

We awoke this morning to another cloudy start to the day. We wanted to get up in reasonable time nevertheless because I wanted to have a walk down to the miniature railway site they have not far from here. According to the Tourist Information Centre in town it is open from 11:00 to 13:00 on a Sunday at this time of year.

When we arrived, apart from one young lad and his dad having a ride around the track there was nothing much happening. One other train was on the track being tested, it looked like just a chassis and a bank of batteries. Apparently it was a 'diesel' unit and had just been built. The bodywork to it was over in the sheds. We (that is I) were fortunate to get in to conversation with a Brit who is a member of the railway club and spends quite a bit of his time out from the UK involved with it all. He kindly offered to show us around inside the 'engine shed'. On entering I was expecting to just see locomotives sat on their tracks on the floor of the building, but they were in fact suspended in the air so that their owners could walk down some steps in to the 'servicing pit' and could walk under the trains for servicing.

Then it was a nice walk along the seafront back towards the campsite. By then it was about 11:30 and the sun was still trying to get out. It did finally succeed at about 14:00 which was most welcomed and it was lovely to be able to sit outside the awning for a couple of hours enjoying the warmth.

At 16:45 it was time to take a walk down in to town as the 'Bonterra Singers' from the campsite were singing Christmas carols outside the church on the High St. Very nice it was too, a much nicer way to spend the run up to Christmas rather than charging round the shops with all the other hoards spending money unnecessarily.

Then it was back to the campsite for our Sunday roast in the restaurant and a carafe of wine, all for €21.

The new Petanque pitches

The new Petanque pitches

......Looking in the opposite direction

......Looking in the opposite direction

Benicassim High St

Benicassim High St

FRIDAY 14-12-18

My word that was a windy, gusty night. I had to get up at one point and go in to the awning and move the furniture against all four walls to stop the canvas flapping about.

It was still pretty breezy this morning but eventually the sun came out and it became lovely and warm.

On each pitch there is fresh water, though, as I found out on our last visit, sourced from a well, and a grey water dump. The only problem is that the connections are for UK small bore piping, sufficient for incontinent old men, but no good for us as we've got a 2½" bore outlet. So after carrying four buckets of grey water up to the chemical disposal point to dump, I had an idea, and after a visit to the recycling bins to source a large bottled water container I moved in to creative mode and came up with a DIY funnel - sorted.

After attaching my only two guy ropes to the awning and a bit of re-pegging we were ready for a wander in to town. I was searching all the Chinese shops for bits and pieces I needed including a rocker switch to put in the wiring from the ceiling light on the awning and the mains plug. Due to the height of the awning it isn't possible to reach the on/off switch high up near the bulb, and instead has to be turned on and off by pulling the plug out.

After returning, and lunch sat outside in the sunshine, we wandered off to take a look at the 14:00 - 16:00 Petanque session. Things had changed. They'd built a very nice basketball pitch right where the Petanque pitches used to be, and constructed four new pitches further round the perimeter of the campsite. My word, we recognised just about everybody there from our last visit here nearly two years ago. They really are a friendly bunch and we informed them we were just there to watch today and would join them on Monday (we plan to go up there on our own tomorrow morning for a bit of a refresher).

The rest of the day has been spent sat out in the sunshine in our 'back garden' watching the comings and goings of folk on the roadway on the other side of the hedge.

I did get my hair cut about six weeks ago and planned to return for a quick trim before we came away. But the last cut was not one of Blind Brian's best efforts, not one he'd want to take a photo of and include in his CV, in fact even his guide dog rolled his eyes at the finished look. Thinking back it wasn't until I spotted a book on his counter that I became aware that 'Hairdressing for Dummies' had also been published in Braille. I shall have to charm The Chef a bit in the hope she'll give me a bit of a trim. I could be sporting and give her a fighting chance to beat the last effort by cutting it with her eyes closed.

The Chef's workstation!

The Chef's workstation!

A Benidorm-style long term resident right here in Benicassim!

A Benidorm-style long term resident right here in Benicassim!

THURSDAY 13-12-18

Well we almost won a prize at last night's Quiz Night. It wasn't hosted by the regular couple who run it, and those who stood in for them made it a really difficult quiz. Even the really serious teams who come back every year were moaning about it.

After dishing out the cash prizes for the first three places at was booby prize time. "Has anybody scored 25?...........26?...........27?.....28?........29?.........30? DAMN! the team on the table next to us put their hands up. We'd scored 31 (I won't tell you out of how many as it's too embarrassing) so were pipped at the post for the sixteen Euro booby prize.

Before we sat down in the restaurant-cum bar we paid for our Christmas dinner which I'd order by phone on the very day we were allowed to do so, 1st October, which made me the first entry in the restaurant's diary. Fifty-nine euros for the two of us which isn't too bad, and we also booked for our Sunday roast, which gives The Chef the night off.

This morning it was raining cats and dogs, so different from yesterday when we'd enjoyed sunny skies and 20˚C, never mind, the weather forecast is for things to return to normal tomorrow.

We donned our macs and went over the road to the local supermarket to buy a baguette for lunch and on the way back popped in to Reception to pay €18 for thirty days internet use, and enquire about bike hire. Fortunately they do it at around ten Euros a day per bike, so we'll be renting on odd days throughout our stay since we were unable to bring our own.

This afternoon we went for a walk in to town where I went to the Chinese shop to try and buy some guy ropes. For some strange reason I only have two with me, which in my mind were to act as spares, but in fact turned out to be the only two onboard. These Chinese shops sell a bit of everything, but sadly not guy ropes. Never mind, I'll attach the two I have and keep our fingers crossed the awning doesn't blow away during our stay here.

Then it was a quick look around the lovely Lidl supermarket down the road. I think we shall live quite well during our stay here, though I need to lose some weight during this trip. It won't be easy, but I need to try.

The interior of the awning continues to evolve, creating a work station for The Chef, and somewhere to sit out in for a bit of extra living space. I'm hoping to finish off tomorrow so that we can focus on getting out and about.

One of our close neighbours here, a caravanner, has decorated his awning etc ready for Christmas. If ever you wonder what campsites look like in Benidorm - this is it!

Looking at the news I see that Theresa May survived her vote of no confidence. Little wonder really, she's a 'Remainer', most of her party are 'Remainer's', and the deal the EU wrote for her is the nearest thing they're going to get to staying in the EU whilst pretending to be out of it.

I think ultimately there will be a second referendum, engineered by the EU and pro 'Remain' political establishment since the day the result of the original 'Leave' result was announced. Remember when the Republic of Ireland voted NOT to sign up to the Lisbon Treaty? Brussels threw in a few titbit bribes and made them vote again - result  - they voted to join.

We didn't vote in the referendum as we were out of the country at the time, but would have voted 'Leave', though rather reluctantly. I felt getting back control of our borders was the most important thing of all.  I am registered locally for postal voting, but before we left I contacted the Returning Officer and asked for it to be withdrawn, as I didn't want the taxpayer having to pay the postage costs on my ballot paper since I have no intension of ever voting again. To say I'm disgusted with how politicians, irrespective of party, have conducted themselves over this matter would be an understatement.

This evening we are experiencing very strong winds now that it's stop raining so I hope the awning is still standing outside come the morning.

Tomorrow should be warm and sunny and after a few chores the Chef and I will take ourselves off doing something.