It’s a Celebration! It’s David’s Big 6-0 and,thankfully, being in Spain, we have been able to eat and drink out.

It has also been a big celebration here in Spain itself, as Wednesday was Three Kings Day. The Feast of Epiphany is traditionally Spain’s main festive holiday, when children receive their presents brought not by Santa, but by the Three Kings. (Some of you might have to think back to RE lessons at school, or revisit our full Christmas ‘blog’). On the evening of January 5th Spanish towns and cities are given over to colourful parades, with real life versions of the Kings played by local celebs or members of the local council, and from the parades sweets are hurled at the children running behind the floats. It’s a huge thing here and we were fortunate to witness and join in one such parade on our last jaunt in an Elddis motorhome in January 2017.

Three Kings parade - Murcia 2017

In fact, I think we still bear some of the scars from the missiles hurled from the floats … or it might have been from the tussles of David with the Spanish children fighting over who could catch the sweets! But like everything else, this year the parades were cancelled. However, the family celebrations and exchanging of gifts did still occur and we bore witness to this in Corte Ingles (a huge Spanish department store), as the crowds all fought over desperate last minute purchases.

Thankfully for us two, no such panic. We have had no last minute present buying either for Christmas or Three Kings Day. There is after all only so much we need and so much we can fit in the van, and, after nearly a year on the road, a lot of the nooks and crannies that are so usefully available are now near to full!

Back to reality and Monday saw us leave Torrox and head towards Malaga. We were desperate to get some washing done, and with the weather not being that conducive to drying we had to head away from any campsite washing facilities and to a launderette. Of course, in the UK, a launderette would most likely be in the town, and therefore hard to park a lovely big Elddis Encore 250 nearby. But have no fear, here in Europe a lot of garages either on motorways or on the outskirts of town have them, and so it was to one of them we headed and in just over an hour we had lovely clean dry bedding, towels and our clothes pile was back up to normal levels. Slightly dearer perhaps than a campsite machine, but definitely a better wash and so much quicker!

We motored on to a lovely small, well-run private Aire in Rincon de Victoria, about 17Km outside of Malaga. We arrived not only after a big wash, but a big shop too, just in time for a beach stroll and a last pre-6pm curfew drink.

There are two ways into the Aire, one involves very narrow lanes, with low-hung ‘sticky’ out window ledges and very bizarre twists in the road. The other way in is marginally better. No one need guess which one we ending up taking, but we are now very friendly with a few local home dwellers! The next day, which was the said ‘Three Kings Eve’, we cycled the 17Km into the main town.

Malaga - present day Christmas and Three King Decorations

Most of the cycle is along the coast and seafront, and of course as you proceed the scenery changes to that of a huge city. We have not been to any large towns or cities for some time (at least not out of quarantine) and we were slightly dubious about venturing into Malaga, especially as it also holds bad memories for us from the last trip, when my lovely E-bike was stolen, even whilst chained up from outside the main tourist and police office.

However, we decided that we can’t keep ourselves wrapped up completely in cotton wool and numbers for Covid in Malaga are low. So, taking all the proper and usual precautions we headed in, and made our very small, but very necessary purchase in Corte Ingles, our bikes chained up outside with not one but three different styles of lock.  It was still a relief when we got outside to find both bikes still as they were and, without further ado, we headed back along the coastal bike path to Buster, for a lovely in-house dinner of lamb chops, roasties and veg.

Too much road noise again- Rincon de Victoria

On Wednesday, Three Kings Day began in less than festive fashion with grey skies and then heavy rain as we drove to Cabopino to meet our ‘New Life in the Sun’, or should we say ‘Bargain Brits Abroad’ friends, Darren and Jonny. To get us started on our celebrations, we parked Buster up on a nearby campsite and headed out to have afternoon drinks with music at one of their fave local spots. The enforced afternoon curfew did us good, before we headed out again for dinner at a great place we had visited with them before. It’s a Japanese style restaurant and, like all things Japanese, it’s about the theatre of it all, as well as decent food.

Afternoon music session

We left our Bargain Brits Abroad the next day, on rather a sadder note, although we tried to make it a celebration as well. Another close friend from home had sadly passed away a week or so ago, from the other longer term illness, not the new kid on the block C-word. The funeral was at 9.30am Spanish time and so the four of us raised a glass of his favourite drink- lager top - in a very, wet and cold Cabopino harbour. Thankfully the cold and wet kept most people away, so we only had a few worrying looks. Cheers to our friend Johnny.

Another quick pitstop, but also a very lovely lunch in a hilltop restaurant just outside Estepona.  David’s close friend Peter from Shooters Hill Golf Club, now also has a ‘New Life in the Sun’, but for us, as we now wanted to get back further west before any restrictions came in, it was only a pitstop, but we enjoyed a lovely celebration lunch.Two Pud David!

Later that evening, Buster happily rolled back into Camping Pinar San Jose, our recent home for seven weeks and where Pino the cat had adopted us. We left this site three weeks ago, after having tried hard to get Pino the cat taken in or adopted but to no avail. We had no choice, having fed him up, but to drive away and leave him.

We had partly done the decent thing, and had the young lad neutered and wormed before leaving him to his own devices. It was dark and wet as we parked on our exact previous spot, all but one away from another UK van. Both our hearts were heavy as to what might have happened to Pino, fearing the worst. With the engine turned off and awning light on, it was seconds before the familiar meow and a white bolt of lightning ran towards us crying “where do you think you’ve been?!”

Judy and Alan, our new neighbours, arrived the day we left, and, after a brief interlude, where Pino had conned a Swiss couple into feeding him, had been looking after him…phew.

Pino has been awaiting our return

Zahora- our ‘home’ again

The week has come to a close, with more celebrating in its own new Covid form. We were able to mark David’s big birthday celebration with lunch out again on the Friday followed by a very nice, well-travelled bottle of champagne that evening. There is a story behind the champagne. For those who have been following us, our initial plans were to travel in our Elddis motorhome from Epernay in France to Baku in Azerbaijan, taking this bottle of champagne bought at the start of our journey and enjoying it, with some Caviar, on the shores of the Caspian Sea for David’s 60th. Covid put paid to our ‘Champagne to Caviar’ escapade, but we’ve enjoyed a year on the road nonetheless!

Pino, had some very special tuna as well, so as not to be left out, and a bit of kefir in his milk, to mark the occasion even more.

David has, all-in-all, had a lovely 60th birthday celebration!

A Whiskey Birthday Treat

Pino, is celebrating too, because we’re back and we’re suckers. What are we to do with him now? We need to move on, and the likelihood of any more UK campers arriving to feed him are slim. Adoption here remains a No, and his hunting skills are minimal. Taking him in the van is a No as well on a long term basis, and so ‘Cat Rescue’ begins and the week of celebrations for Spain and David ends.