2. Mar, 2017



Our nice Dutch next door neighbours left this morning about 09:00. They were heading north for home after six months away. It will take them up to a week to get home as they are wisely taking it nice and steady with several stops along the way.

It has been a lovely warm sunny day today which we needed to make the most of as there are a few cloudy ones forecast.

We thought we'd go for a nice long walk starting off with turning left out of the campsite entrance for a change and going to check out Camping Azahar www.azaharcamping.com It was never in the running to be a place for us to stay as it had received unfavourable reviews in the past.

Well what a dump, there were no obvious hard-standing areas, it just looked like a large expanse of dirt and worn out bits of grass, a glorified wasteland with just one toilet block serving the whole campsite. Syrian refugees would turn their noses up at it. Needless to say there were numerous vacant pitches. I was so annoyed with myself that I didn't take pictures while we were there, never  mind I can always pop back at a later date.

Then it was down on to the promenade for a walk towards the town and past many of the villas on the 'Route of the Villas'.

The discovery by high society of the Benicassim seaside landscape, combined with its excellent climate, led to the first of its villas being built in 1887. By the end of the nineteenth century, Joaquín Coloma Grau had become the real estate agent for this unique summering spot with elegant, coquettish (yes I'm copying it from a leaflet) residences that attracted the wealthy classes of nearby Valencia and Castellon. For some time, the coast of Benicassim, dotted with these famed villas, would be known as 'Mini San Sabastian' or the 'Valencian Biarritz'.

The region's first 'Flower and Cream' festivals were held in this context, glamorous nights underneath the stars. These festivities would continue well in to the night, with Benicassim's residents watching on from a distance, full of curiosity. But what started as a novelty, over time became a tradition. Every soirée held by the lords and ladies had its counterpart in the old town, where the strains of the music could be heard. Local residents would meet up, infected by the party atmosphere, to enjoy the music, and were joined by the servants and housekeepers that accompanied the lords and ladies of the villas every summer.

'Villa Amparo' was also the location of a love story between Ernest Hemingway and the war correspondent Marta Gellhorn.

When we arrived parallel with the town centre we turned right and headed for the Thursday market. I was looking to buy a pair of joggie bottoms in which I could slob about at the campsite on days when it's too cool to wear shorts. Before arriving at the market we passed a supermarket and popped in. Fortunately I found something which looks about as close as I'm going to get to frozen cream. This means I shall purchase some the next time I'm down there and try it out on some Christmas Pudding.

Unfortunately there were no joggie bottoms at the right price, but I shall try again next week. We popped in to the very helpful Tourist Information Office in town and picked up the train timetable for Valencia and a bus timetable to get to Peniscola, a place we'd like to visit which is not too far north of here, and to avoid changing busses we're going to go on the direct Sunday service next Sunday week.

We made our way back to the campsite to sit out and enjoy the sunshine while we still could. We have new next door neighbours. Germans, more Germans, but they seem nice enough. We'll see how they get along with the yapping hairy rat on the pitch directly behind them and their neighbour on their other side. I suspect she is some kind of mini celebrity, something like WooolverUmpton's Town Crier - what a gob that woman has. It sounds as if she is singing whilst talking VERY loudly and she never seems to shut up. I'm so glad it does get cooler in the evenings and people take themselves indoors otherwise we'd get her all evening as well.

I have to say that generally, it is the Brits who are the noisiest on campsites. With the odd exception, the Germans are among the quietest, and the French and Dutch are no trouble at all. I think that is why I prefer to try and make conversation with the foreign visitors at campsites. Finally the Spanish motorhomers are a nightmare when they turn up with their noisy brat kids who just seem to run riot, fortunately we don't run across them too often. That's one of the reasons we're not looking forward to the four-day holiday over Easter.

This evenings meal was a slow-cooker creation by The Chef, with ingredients which included some Waitrose mince, dragged all the way across the Bay of Biscay for our delectation.

It turned quiet this evening. Either the 'Town Crier' has run out of breath and gone for a lie down, or she was part of a noisy group which passed our pitch about half an hour ago. They may be going to the bar, on the other hand they could all be part of a mass suicide club making their way to the railway station, hell bent on jumping in front of a high speed train. Which would be a shame as they forgot to take ther dogs with them.