Life changes in a motorhome when you stand still for a while. ‘Stuff’ emerges from all the little cubby holes around the van and gets left out on surfaces that normally have to be cleared for take off. In this van we have a strangely positioned cutlery drawer that is at floor level. It’s a result of the original purchaser opting for a bigger fridge, meaning that there is less room for normally positioned drawers. Once we’re on site we dig out a ghastly green cheap plastic cutlery stand and put it on the working surface so that we can get at cutlery and utensils quickly. We didn’t choose the ghastly green cutlery stand – it chose us. It was the only one available in a cheap plastic shop in the Highlands of Scotland when we hit on the idea one day when we were sick to the back teeth of crouching down to get a teaspoon. In the big under-bed storage we have our outdoor furniture and awning mat. Once we stop for a few days these all come out ready for the outdoor life and bit by bit we start to spread out.
When we got here it was very hot so we rolled out the awning, fixed it down, got the windblocker sides and front on so that we had some shade. The effect was to give us a second living space that quickly started to fill up with tables, chairs, BBQ, bike trolley, Boules set – you name it, we had it in our awning. On Saturday, after a pleasant trip to the market at Catral on our bikes we were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when we became aware that the wind was getting up. Within half an hour it was really strong and the awning started to jump up and down on its legs. I have mixed feelings about these roll out awnings – they are no good at all in the wind, even if you have ratchet straps and the legs pinned down to a special plate they bounce up and down and start to loosen all the pegs. We’ve had a couple of incidents in the past where we’ve woken up in the middle of the night to hear the awning bouncing in a gale and heavy rain. It’s not fun at all to have to get out of your warm bed and don your waterproofs to roll the awning in, especially when you have to pull out a bunch of pegs first. So, on Saturday we checked the weather forecast and discovered to our dismay that very high winds were forecast. it was going to get worse. There was mucho grunting in the Seabury Hart camp as we took the awning sides down and lifted the pegs ready to roll it in. About ten minutes into the task a nice gentleman ran over to ask us if ours was a Fiamma awning. It isn’t. He was looking for a Fiamma winding handle because one of his neighbours had left their awning out without pinning the legs down and disappeared for the afternoon. These babies are famous for blowing up and over the top of the van causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. This nice neighbourly bloke was doing his best to find a winder so that he could roll it in for them while his wife was clinging on to one leg of the awning to stop it blowing up and over. We looked over and thought his wife was in danger of being taken up into the air with it. We got ours rolled in as quickly as possible then I left Shirley to tidy away all the detritus of the outdoor life while I went over to add some ballast to the rescue mission. By the time I got there, a whole load of other neighbours had realised the situation and a merry gathering took place while we man handled the would-be sail. Shortly afterwards, kind gentleman re-appeared with a Fiamma winding handle that he’d borrowed from a confused Frenchman about 100 yards away and we got the thing rolled in. The Fiamma awnings have legs that you have to twist and turn to get them back into the holder before it can be put away. We were all Omnistor awning owners, hence the lack of a winder, so there was a lot of ‘in a bit, no left a bit” instructions being passed around. Our last van had a Fiamma awning so I knew how they work but I tell you, it’s really difficult to get your voice heard above a bunch of men shouting “in a bit, left a bit” when you’re 5’ 4″ and female. Hillary Clinton I feel your pain. Mission finally accomplished the kind man set off to try to remember where, in the 1200 pitches that are on this massive place, the confused Frenchman could be found and reunited with his winding handle. The rest of us breathed a collective sigh of relief. Not three minutes later the owners appeared and were clearly confused about the crowd that had gathered and the disappearance of their awning. This is the beauty of being on a caravan site – people will help you if they possibly can.
Back at our pitch Shirley was trying to work out how to fit everything back in to the van. We decided after a few minutes of head scratching to shove most of it underneath and have a cup of tea. Enough excitement for one afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon it was still windy and a good bit cooler than we’ve been used to. This didn’t stop Shirley, the outdoor girl, from sitting outside. She got herself wedged into a sheltered spot with her book when a Dutch couple came along and sympathetically enquired what dreadful thing she had done to be sent outside on such a day. They then went on to admire our choice of pitch in a quiet spot miles from the action. Shirley kept quiet about the real truth, which is that reception gave us this pitch, presumably because we look like anti social trouble makers. The Dutch couple gave us an invaluable piece of advice. They suggested we turn the van side on so that the back faces the mountains behind us. They have a long term pitch here and so they could say with some authority that when the high winds come they are always from the mountains. After they’d gone and we’d dug out all the stuff from under the van that we’d been too idle to put away the day before, we began the process of getting onto the pitch sideways. “Left a bit, back a bit …” Finally, and only after attacking a stray branch of a small tree with the bread knife, we managed to get Holly on the pitch the other way and discovered immediately that we’d created our own massive wind break.
Later that day, on one of those walks that we pretend are for the dogs but are really so that we can nosy at other people’s outfits, we saw three vans that had identical, neat utility tents. Not one of them had succumbed to the howling wind that afternoon and they still looked as secure as could be. They were emblazoned with the Decathlon ‘Quechua’ emblem so we knew where they’d got them from. Back at the van I was on the internet in minutes checking them out. Cheap and cheerful and apparently windproof they claim to have enough room to hold 8 people round a table. It’s the very dab, we both agreed and one was duly ordered to be delivered here. The truth is that we left our own utility tent at home to save space but we miss it – and anyway, we’re in Spain where Spanish campers have numerous small canvas outbuildings all around their outfits. When in Rome and all that. Shopping online in Spanish is a little scary but with any luck the right thing will arrive at the right place tomorrow. I will report back in the next post if I’ve accidentally ordered a brand new motorhome, a fridge freezer or a catalogue bride.
Has anyone seen my marbles?
I’m having trouble finding the right word for things these days. Not long ago it would never have occurred to me that my marbles might go missing but I fear that day has come. Usually I use generic terms such as “Have you seen my dib dob?” Shirley is getting used to it and understands that my dib dob is likely to be my purse, my bag or my kindle. Last night, just as we were getting ready for bed, we ended up helpless and hysterical. Just to set the scene – our bed is on the other side of a thin wall from the showerroom. Showerroom is a rather posh name for the small area that holds the loo, the washbasin and the shower in a space about 6 ft long and 2 ft wide. When you are sitting on the toilet and the other one leaps into bed or turns over with any kind of gusto you are well advised to hold on to the towel rail or risk falling off. So Shirley was in the loo and I was getting into bed when she heard and felt a clatter and a few expletives. “Are you all right?” “I’m fine,” I replied, “Just hit my head off the plastic dangly thing” When she got into bed I was searching all round, obviously looking for something. “What’s wrong now?” she asked, warily. “I was just looking for the pink flappy thing.” I said…. and that’s when we collapsed into hysterics. It can be quite funny losing your dib dobs.
P.S. The pink flappy thing is a fly swatter – I remember it now.
There has been no mention thus far of the grooming debacle that took place in the dog bathroom. Poppy and I are in full agreement that whoever had the idea of providing bathrooms for dogs was foolish and seriously misguided. At the very least they should make it obligatory that no dog owner should be allowed to use clippers unless they know what they’re doing. I admit that we were a bit dusty and our coats were a bit long and scruffy but we were happy enough … until they decided to fix us. Everyone knows that poodles need to be washed before they are clipped but for some reason Margaret forgot this and whipped the clippers out as soon as she had me up on the grooming surface. Worse still, she forgot to put the guard on the clippers and before you could say “bald patch” she had removed a full inch of curls from my neck to my tail. “Oh dear” she said. How about that for an understatement? In the blink of an eye I was no longer a poodle. Of course she couldn’t leave it there – she had to keep going and remove most of the hair from my body. I have to say that I got very scared when those unguarded clippers were near my personal places and I let her know it by showing the gaps where my canines would have been and grumbling. She decided, thankfully, to leave the hair on my legs and head which for some reason caused Shirley to howl with laughter. Just when I thought the worst was over, Shirley had me in the bath and scrubbing me all over with some foul smelling shampoo that is supposed to keep the flies at bay. Then I was back on the grooming surface having my ears trimmed. Can you believe it? They noticed the next day that one of my ears is longer than the other. I am so embarrassed.
Tee, hee, hee