November started windy with another night of non-stop rain but this wasn’t to continue. The rest of the month and all of December gave us warm, sunny and dry days with no wind. So Mel didn’t do much windsurfing but we did run and cycle. Mel also spent a lot of time learning more about using his camera, taking pictures and using ‘Lightroom’ (photo imaging and management software).
We went on a long (for us) bike ride to Los Alcazares via Los Urrutias and the back via El Algar and Los Belones (48km) on the 5th November. We stopped for a coffee in Los Alcazares before setting off for home.
We went to the Chinese restaurant in Cabo de Palos a couple of times with Chris & Gaynor, Keith & Zena, Mike & Ron, John & Maureen and Pat & Brian. Their menu of the day starts at 6.50€ and is very good value. Thursday 12 December was John’s birthday so we celebrated the occasion at the Chinese.
We also enjoyed some evenings getting together on the campsite for a drink and a chat.
We enjoyed watching Strictly Come Dancing every Saturday night leading up to the final on the 19th December (Jay and Aliona won).
On Wednesday 11th November Mel drove us to the Gun Emplacements at Castillitos near Mazarron. There was a very narrow, winding road to get to the guns but there were fantastic views and the guns are quite impressive.
Most Sunday mornings we went to the harbour at Cabo de Palos for breakfast and to read the Sunday Times. On Sunday 22nd November we ran the Cross del la Artilleria 14km race in Cartagena. It was a hard race as it was windy and most of the route is quite exposed. We both ran it a couple of minutes slower than last year but we both got second place in our age category. John & Maureen and Pat & Brian were there at the end and stayed until we had received our trophies.
On Wednesday the 25th November we went to the Rebate Restaurant near Pilar de la Horadada. The restaurant is in the middle of the orange groves and has a very nice setting. The menu of the day was 19€ and included a selection of starters and deserts with a main course of salmon, lamb or pork. The meal was followed by a Flamenco show which was very enjoyable. There were two ladies and a young man dancing and they were very professional and entertaining. We all joined in with the dancing at the end.
On Wednesday 2nd December we went into Cartagena and visited the Military museum, Parque de la Artilleria, which is free to enter. There are many canons, guns and other army hardware much of which has been restored by volunteers. There was a lot of other military memorabilia to look at and it was very interesting. We had lunch in the Plaza San Francisco, 8€ Menu del Dia.
On Saturday 5th December we went for a walk up La Fuernte Mountain and Mel took some more pictures. It was a bit hazy so not the best conditions for photography but still a nice day. We feel lucky with the weather, as it is very wet and windy in the UK with some flooding in the Lake District again.
Sunday 6th December was Mel’s birthday and we did the usual things we do on a Sunday but with a visit to Paddy Singh’s restaurant in the evening for a curry. We also had a Face Time with Laura & Ella and Ella sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Grandpa.
On Monday 7th December we had to return the car to San Javier airport and pick up another one. We were given exactly the same model of car (Fiat 500) in the same colour! On the way back we stopped off at the Hotel La Encarnacion (the oldest hotel in Los Alcazares) and had breakfast. We went to The Wok at Puerto Mazarron with Derek & Anne, Chris & Gaynor, Keith & Zena and Ron & Mike that evening. We stayed over at Chris & Gaynor’s for the night. Mel played Poker with the boys (not for real money) and had good fun with them.
We ran the Torre Pacheco Media Maraton on Sunday 13th December. We got up very early and arrived in Torre Pacheco in plenty of time to park near the start and pick up our dorsals (racing numbers and chip) and goodie bag. The goodie bag included a selection of fruit and vegetables as well as the usual recovery drinks etc and technical T-shirt. Mel completed the race in 1 hour 34 minutes and I did it in 2 hours 1 minute. The conditions were very good – it was a better day than last year. The live band and tables of food were all set up outside the sports centre where we waited for the results and presentation of trophies. I came first and Mel second (although we think he should have been first). We chatted to Pamela Duck and her husband Bill whilst we waited.
On Thursday 17th December Mel drove us to Playa Gandia to the RH Bayren Hotel & Spa (http://www.rh-hotels.co.uk/destination-gandia) where we stayed for two nights for my birthday. Our room had fabulous views over the long, wide beach and the weather was excellent – warm, sunny and dry. On my birthday we had a run in the morning along the promenade and after breakfast we had an hour in the gym and spa. I had a massage in the afternoon followed by a bath in the tub in the middle of our bedroom! We had our evening meals in the hotel which were buffet style so plenty of choice, not that exciting but OK. We both enjoyed the relaxing stay in Gandia and would go back to this hotel again.
It was a cloudy day on Wednesday 23rd December so we decided to go for a bike ride and we set off towards El Algar on a mission to find La Puebla. This is a village between Los Beatos and Torre Pacheco; we went there last year to Meson Galindo, a Spanish restaurant, for Sunday lunch. We went along paths across the orange groves and fields growing lettuce, cabbage and artichokes and eventually hit the road to La Puebla. It took about 2 hours to get there so we were ready for a coffee stop; we had a very good café con leche and toast with butter & jam which revived us but most important gave our ‘bums’ a break! We cycled back via La Union, a total distance of 60 km and arrived back at the motor home about 4pm. It was a very enjoyable adventure and was the furthest we had cycled this year.
We went to Chris and Gaynor’s house at El Escobar again for Christmas with Derek & Anne. We drove there on Christmas Eve and had a buffet tea, prepared by all of us and afterwards we went out onto the balcony to watch the International Space Station go over. The sky was clear with a full moon and we had a good view of the ISS as it passed swiftly overhead. After a relaxing evening we retired for a warm and cosy night’s sleep. On Christmas morning we all prepared our part of the Christmas dinner, getting everything ready for 2pm when we sat down to a delicious traditional Christmas feast. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed the food and the company.
On Wednesday 30th December we drove into Cartagena to collect our dorsals for the San Silvestre race the following evening. There were lots of families with children in the town due to the Christmas holiday period and several bouncy castles were set up in the Town Hall Square. When we had picked up our dorsals we walked along the harbour and Mel took some pictures. It was a lovely sunny day and it is always pleasant walking around Cartagena.
On New Year’s Eve we rested before packing our bags to go to Cartagena and then to Chris & Gaynor’s. We left about 3pm arriving in Cartagena in plenty of time to park in the underground car park in the harbour. We had a coffee in the Columbus bar-restaurant on the main street where we have been before and then got ready for the race. There were many runners in fancy dress again, as last year and the start was very busy; it was difficult to make a quick get away. There were lots of supporters all along the 5.2km route through the town. We both ran slightly slower than last year; it was a bit windy but not cold. After going back to the car to change we returned for the presentations. Mel came first in his age category and I was third so we both made appearances on the podium and came away with trophies.
We drove to Chris & Gaynor’s after the presentations arriving about 8pm. Keith & Zena had just arrived, having returned earlier from the UK and Derek & Anne had come over with Chris in the afternoon. Later Pete & June arrived to join the party. We had a quick shower then we all enjoyed a buffet followed by some dancing to Chris’ choice of music. We welcomed the New Year in and then Mel and I went to bed, a little tired after our race. We drove back to La Manga the next morning via the town of Valladolises where our next race is on the 10th January.