Early morning

Flying back home to Spain today with 2 daughters and youngest son in the hope that they will all fall in love with their home in the sun. The excuse for the trip is that we have to go to the notary with our solicitor and sign our wills, so we won’t call it a holiday.

Flying Ryan air from Luton airport on the 13.55 flight so leave home in Portsmouth at 0830 to be sure that we arrive at the checking in desk with the mandatory 2 hours to spare (kill). Not sure what it is about airports but we always have to have a meal when we arrive, rubbish food at exorbitant prices but we are on holiday.
Mid day

At the boarding gate because the 2 youngest are under 16 we are called to the front of the queue to board ahead of all the poor souls who have been stood at the boarding gate for 45 minutes. I knew the kids would come in handy sometime.
Early Evening

Touched down at San Javier aeropuerto, Murcia on time 1730 (2½ hour flight + 1 hour) baggage reclaimed and hire car keys collected I thought it would be a good time to mention that I had forgotten to pick up the carefully printed directions from Murcia to Altos de la Bahia (home). Mick was not amused but I assured him that we didn’t need directions, as I knew where we were going.
All went well until we passed our exit off the A7 motorway (toll road) with me insisting that Mick was wrong and far from having missed our exit we should take the next exit which would take us to within a mile or two of home.
Exiting another toll (2.75€) Mick is ecstatic he was right and we should have taken the last exit. No panic I still know where we are (well I know we need to head south and directions are still pointing to Alicante. I continue to navigate by instinct rather than anything else until my mobile rings.
‘Hola Marcos’ me to my Spanish solicitor.
‘Hola is that Misses Clements’ heavily accented English from Marcos who insists on calling me Mrs Clements
‘Yes Marcos, but please speak up as we are driving and the line is not good’
‘Misses Clements what is the name of your ——————–‘
‘The BBVA (I think he asked for the name of my bank)’
‘No Misses Clements what is the name of your —————–‘
A little louder and slower ‘My bank is the BBVA’
Screams from the back as Mick hits a speed hump at 60 mph (or there abouts) and the kids are only held down by their seat belts
‘Sorry Marcos this is a bad line’
‘Misses Clements what is the name of your mother’ sounds nothing like bank I know
‘Ah my mother is dead’ I know this sounds heartless but the language and signalling problems mean that I need to come straight to the point and we are now approaching a roundabout and I am needed to navigate.
‘Turn right at the roundabout’
‘Sorry Marcos’
‘Misses Clements what is your mother’s name?’
‘Beryl but she is dead’
Howls of laughter from the back seat this must sound funny to the kids.
Having satisfied himself of my parentage he went on to ask about Mick’s
‘Mr Clements fathers name?’
‘Is Mr Clements father still alive?’
‘We don’t know where he is’, well he did leave Mick and his mother in 1952 and hasn’t been heard of since so you can see that this is the best response I can give.
I won’t bore you further with the minutiae of the conversation but it continues until we reached the roundabout with the Obelisk this is the landmark for approaching home.
Cannot understand why he wants to confirm all of this information prior to our meeting in the morning when he has had all details in writing since October 2004.
Later 1900

With relief we let ourselves into Casa Clem so glad to be back home.
Dropped our suitcases and headed east on foot to show the kids how to get to the beach as they were having to fend for themselves tomorrow while we go to Orihuela with the solicitor.
Pleased to say the kids were very impressed that we had not lied about the walking distance from the beach, however they were not at all happy that the only way back home was uphill all the way.
Tuesday 28 June

Awake at 0800 to brilliant sunshine and breakfast on the patio (just the 2 of us). Although we are not due in Villamartin at the BBVA Bank until 1030 we leave home at 0900 to allow time to conduct some business in the bank after getting lost (you can see how confident we are).
Not sure how it happens but we end up in San Miguel de Salinas, north of Villamartin and on the road to Orihuela (our final destination).
Because I have studied the maps of the area over many months of surfing the net I am confident that we could just turn left and we would find ourselves in Villamartin. Mick is not at all confident in me and he does a quick u-turn and heads back to where he had seen a sign for the Motorway and La Zenia (La Zenia was where we were heading in the first place).
It only takes 5 minutes motorway driving to bring us to La Zenia and the toll booths (2.75€ that would buy approx 6 litres of wine and why the motorway is always empty). As Mick pays the toll I enquire as to whether the young lady taking the money speaks English, her response is ‘a little’. That’s good enough for me and I ask directions to Villamartin (Mick being a man has a problem with asking directions). We only have to turn left at the toll and then keep going straight.

Area Map Alicante to the East & Murcia to the West

Arrive in Villamartin and conduct our business in the bank.

Standing outside the BBVA Bank cooking slowly and waiting for Marcos.

Turning pink on the outside I decide to call our agent as the solicitors telephone number is in my address book at home (forgot to transfer it to my new Spanish sim card).
‘Hola Kim (the agent) we are supposed to be meeting Marcos at 1030 could we have a telephone number to call him please’
‘What’s the problem? It’s not 1100 yet’ Kim.
‘Oh sorry forgot Marcos is on Spanish time (1/2 hour late is on time).
‘Hola Marcos’
‘Misses Clements I will be with you in 10 minutes’

Marcos greets us with a limp apology and asks us to wait while he conducts his business in the bank (could only happen in Spain).

Finally on the way to Orihuela and the Notaries office (this could be a long day). Marcos asks us to check the documents he has drawn up.
He has my father down as Bogart Brogan; I told you the line was bad it should read Robert. All the other information is correct. On the 30 minute drive Marcos points out places of interest and is amused to hear us call the numerous humps (traffic calming on some very fast roads) speed humps. He has added these words to his English vocabulary.

Feeling weary and hungry we have finally signed our wills. We now have only to get our NIE numbers to be totally legal. (This will have to wait, as you have to go to the police station in Alicante for 0700 take a number (apparently they have a daily quota) and queue all day).

Collect the kids from the beach and saved them from having to walk uphill, aren’t we good parents? They have had an excellent day (their words not mine). Playing in the sea and sunbathing.

All showered and starving awaiting our meal in the Gran Chinese Restaurant (the same one as 7 May and 10 May). This restaurant gets a big thumbs up from the kids (believe me the two youngest are hard to please so this is a good recommendation).

Back home on the solarium relaxing with a few litres of wine enjoying the cooling breeze and talking about the day’s events.
‘So how much is 25% worth then?’ Jack wants to know (obviously trying to work out what he can expect when we are gone).
Wednesday 29 July

Todays the day the apartment gets officially named. Mick has bought some no nails gunk from the UK (Spanish not good enough to purchase in Spain). The tiles which spell out CASA CLEM were purchased on the visit in May and have been waiting in the dresser drawer for the big day. There is much discussion about where the name will be placed but as always I get my way and it now adorns the pillar on the left hand side of the patio in tiles trimmed in blue and yellow (all very colour co-ordinated and Mediterranean)

Mick Fixing CASA CLEM Tiles

Kids are off to the Aqua Park today and after dropping them off we are going shopping. The aqua park is a 20 minute walk away but as it is on the way to Carrefour (the shops) we give the kids a lift. Entrance to Aqua park, Adults 16.50€ Children and OAPs (that’s Mick) 11.50€

Enjoy the next couple of hours filling two trolleys in Carrefour
Shopping List
QTY Item Comment Price
2 Floor standing Fans Advised against air con as we are not in residence sufficiently (working on that situation) 35.00€
1 Table top fan Not really sufficient spare floor space in twin bedroom 14.50€
1 Vacuum cleaner Mick is gobsmaked, can’t understand why I want one. Recommended by neighbour as the suction on them is far greater than a UK Dyson (can confirm this is true as I tried it out) 29.50€
1 DVD player We haven’t got Sky at the moment (never will have if I have my way). We can also use it to play music on 24.50€
1 Wall mounted clothes line On my last visit I folded the fold up clothes line the wrong way. It collapsed when we tried to put it up 14.50€
1 Corner Bathroom Caddy Mick needs some DIY jobs to keep him occupied 11.50
4 Litres Rio del Mar Very drinkable vino tinto (red wine) 7.40€
3 Bottles Cava Very good substitute for Champagne and presented in an ice bucket 3.70€
8 Litres fizzy drink Non- alcoholic for the under 16s 7.60€
A variety of goodies to fill the kitchen cupboards at Casa Clem Approx 20.00€
Total 168.00€

Point made is that you cam make your money go further in this part of Spain.

Pick the kids up from the Aqua Park and return home for alfresco lunch on the solarium, a swim and a shower before heading for an evenings shopping at the Habaneras – think West Quay and right next door to Carrefour.

The Habaneras (3 Storey shopping Centre)

All shopped out we drive back into Torrevieja to find a restaurant that has been recommended for delicious Italian cuisine it is called 222. The restaurant is right on the beach, on the way out of Torrevieja, towards home. The beach is still busy with people catching the last rays. Mick comments that we would all be snuggled up on the settee in front of the TV at home in the UK. We all agree being at home in Spain is preferable. Parking alongside the restaurant – no need to pay and no parking restrictions here, we stroll up to the restaurant.
Burger Bar 222 is proclaimed in large letters above the arch to an open courtyard, Mick raises his eyebrows and his voice to remark that he thought it was an Italian restaurant. There are stairs leading up to what is hopefully a nice little Italian but no this is a bar for sun worshippers with comfy sun loungers instead of bar stools.
Not to be beaten we all troop back downstairs and I breathe a sigh of relief to another sign proclaiming 222 Resturante. We are shown to a nice round table right next to a roaring fire and menus arrive swiftly (we are the only customers).
‘Excuse me could we possibly have the menu in English?’ even with my ignorance I can see that this is a typical Spanish resturante and the response will be no.
The children start to look uncomfortable as Mick and I glare at each other, well of course I have got it wrong and there is no Italian, I don’t think so.
‘I’m sorry this is not what we expected (even though we are in Spain)’ me to the waitress who wants to get the boss because she doesn’t understand English and obviously does not want to loose a customer.
We make a hasty get away and now I really am in everyone’s bad books. All’s well that ends well as we exit the resturante there is yet another sign for 222 – we have found the Italian branch.
What a find Mick and the 2 little ones had the best pizzas ever (their words not mine) Michelle and I had pasta dishes that were second to none. ‘Dos botellas del la casa vino tinto, uno grande botella agua sin gas, dos grande coca cola por favor and la cuenta totalled 39€. (2 bottles house red, large bottle of still water, 2 large coca colas and the bill).

Midnight ish
Mick and I alone on the solarium with a nightcap, (of the alcoholic kind), Friends again.

Thursday 29 June
Today we have been bullied into relaxing and going to the beach (blue flag and with life guards on duty) with the kids (I know they are not goats but they certainly get mine sometimes). We decide to drive to the beach where we are able to park within a few strides of the sand and do not have to pay for the privilege. The artists have been busy and we stop and admire the sand art.

Sand Art

We have secured our sunbeds and parasol and slapped on sunscreen. There are bodies in the water as far as the eye can see so it isn’t too long before we join them. The sand burns our feet as we pick our way down to the waters edge. No dipping of toes it is up to the neck (have to bend my knees for this as you have to go out quite away for the deep end).
This is heaven splashing around knowing that when it is time to come out of the water (not looking at all like Bo Derek) the sun will dry you before you reach the sunbed. Will have to invest in a couple of little plastic chairs and a sun shade we look too much like tourists on hired loungers.

Have bought 2 DVDs from a beach seller and almost bought a carpet (large rug) but we couldn’t agree a price.
The beach has cleared and we are one of the few families left spit roasting, 10 minutes on the back, turn, 10 minutes on right side, turn, 10 minutes on tummy – you get the picture.

Me – Rare, very pink
Littleones – medium, a golden brown
Mick and Michelle – well done, going to look like leather.
Time to head off home for a quick shower before our excursion into town (Torrevieja) for the evening market down by the Marina.

The Marina area is bustling with people yet to go home and prepare for the evenings food hunt, so we look a bit overdressed. Amy is in her element with the glitzy chav jewellery crying out to be bought.
‘Bloody hell! I don’t believe it’ young girl to Amy.
‘Oh my God’ repeated at least 10 times by Amy as they hugged and air kissed (typical 14 year old greeting).
Emma left the UK to live in Spain several years ago and occasionally speaks to Amy on MSN.
‘Spooky’ says Amy to me as she relates their conversation. Emma and her family are returning to the UK looks like los sueños is over for them.

Time to find somewhere to eat. This shouldn’t be a problem as there are hundreds of places to choose from but I still have an unused recommendation and Michelle and I would quite like Paella. The restaurant in the field is a must I have been told so we head off in the car to find the field.
This cant possibly be the place, ‘oh ye of little faith’ it definitely is – for field think small patch of scrubland.
We pick our way across the flat piece of land serving as a car park. This unpromising little place is full and people are waiting for tables. The menu is roughly written on a board at the entrance to the bar
3 Courses 12€. It was unanimous that this recommendation would have to wait as none of us felt up to 3 courses.
This is Spain so we didn’t have to go far to find exactly what we were looking for. A little Spanish resturante called Frederico’s. The menu has pictures with translations in English and German. Just as well because the waiters English was only marginally better than my Spanish.
The paella would take 40 minutes to cook but if we could wait until Saturday they would be cooking a Big Paella – this was conveyed by mutterings and pointing to signs advertising Saturday’s event. Michelle and I agreed that as we were going home on Friday a 40 minute wait was acceptable to have the paella we had been looking forward to.
Spent the waiting time haggling for a very nice rug which I negotiated down from 40€ to 20€. I then pushed my luck a little too far and tried to get him down to 15€ at which point he indicated I was loco (hands screwing into head) and moved on to another table.

Mick & Jack in Frederico’s waiting for dinner.
‘Where’s mine Dad?’

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone Michelle and I have not managed to eat the delicious Paella and I think we have left the best bits in the pan (a bit like the skin off of a rice pudding I suspect). This delicious meal had cost a measly 8€ for 2 persons. The dos botellas de la casa vino tinto had also been excellent at a mere 10€. The 2 little ones had tucked into huge homemade burgers and a mound of golden chips. Mick not being the most adventurous of diners ate a very good gammon steak, egg (he comments that Spanish eggs always taste so good) and the obligatory chips. Once again la cuenta was less than 40€.

Sat on the solarium basking in the quiet and enjoying a nightcap. We don’t want to go back to the UK tomorrow.

Friday 1 July
Up early – well Mick and I are but the kids are all trying to sleep through the noise we are making as we tackle various last minute tasks. I have promised myself that I will clean the apartment from the solarium, down to the space at the bottom of the outside stairs. Shame I don’t break promises. This task took 2½ sweaty hours (I must have lost pounds) but it was worth it.

Time for a last swim in the pool, my reward for having completed the housework (a bit like Big Brother).

We say our goodbyes to Casa Clem and load up the car; we are going to the Gran China for a meal before heading back to Murcia airport. The children thank us for a great holiday and confess that they wouldn’t mind spending Christmas at Casa Clem – Yes a result!!!!!!.

Saturday 2 July
Have booked the flights for Christmas flying out 18 December and not back until 5 January 2006.
Eagerly awaiting the summer holiday, which starts on 11 August, we have allowed the 2 little ones to take a friend each (we must be mad).
Hoping to get our NIE numbers on that trip – that will be another story.