All loaded, tyre pressures and air suspension checked - we're ready for the road.

SUNDAY 10-2-19

Gosh what a busy day we had yesterday. I sensed that our next door neighbours from Switzerland who had been here just a couple of nights would be on the move first thing yesterday morning as they had loaded their bikes bike on to their bike rack the previous night. This morning I made a point of getting up a bit earlier than usual just in case I was right, and as luck would have it the neighbour was out doing jobs and I asked him - 'Yes indeed he was, in about half an hour'. This just gave me time to unhitch the awning from the motorhome, take all the pegs and guy ropes off and then The Chef and I manoeuvred the awning to the corner of the pitch. After the neighbours had left I started the engine and used his vacant pitch as space I needed to do a three-point turn, then back in to our pitch now facing the right way to drive off tomorrow, saving me the hassle of backing all the way down the cul-de-sac.

Then it was time to tackle the awning itself. It was very time consuming to take it down and clean before packing. Had we just been going further down the coast I wouldn't have bothered being so thorough, as it would have been re-erected. But we don't intend to carry it again, we're going back to basics, and touring which is what we enjoy most. I could sell it, but so often in the past I've sold things which I have no further use of, only to find months later, that I did indeed have a use for it, and finish up buying another one. So once repaired, thanks to my foolish modification, it will be stored in the loft and then sold with the motorhome, come the day.

Whilst the awning panels were drying off, following some sponging of marks and some condensation on the windows following a cold night, I set about loading as much as I could in to the rear garage storage compartment, but it didn't go terribly well, leaving me to conclude that it would all have to come back out again for a second attempt today.

We had hoped that all of the work would be done before lunch leaving the afternoon to be spent soaking up the sun, but it was not to be. Never mind.

In the evening we popped up to the Bar & Restaurant where they had the usual Saturday Night live band playing. They weren't exactly a tribute band as they didn't even try to dress like The Beatles, but five Spanish lads did a pretty good job of singing Beatles numbers throughout the evening. I recorded a few short scenes from part of their performance on the pocket digital camera, which doesn't do a bad job for what it is, but I have to say the microphone on the camera didn't really do their songs justice.

Today needed to be hot and sunny, just as they'd said in the forecast, for today was housework day. Needless to say 'Auntie Beeb' had got it wrong again, as most of the day was cloudy. In anticipation, The Chef had done quite a few bits of hand-washing, and I had washed the silver insulation cover with the expectation of the sun coming out to dry everything. It finally appeared at about three o'clock, and thankfully most of the bits did manage to dry, but it was a close run thing. What didn't dry will have to spend the evening on a stool on the bathroom with the heating on.

Once we were finally straight, including the repacking of the garage (never again, believe me, never again), Bob, one half of our lovely neighbours across from us suggested we go for a beer in the evening to say goodbye before we sat down and had our evening meal. Sue couldn't make it as she now has her sister visiting them, and they were doing 'girls stuff'.

It was a very enjoyable time and it just goes to show that in this lifestyle you can meet people you just have an affinity with. You don't need to become blood brothers or lifelong friends, but it's just nice to be in their company. I hope we will meet up with them again somewhere, sometime, maybe on a campsite where they have a Quiz Night and 'The Fab Six' can become the 'Formidable Four'.

Our Sunday Roast was very nice indeed, I guess word got back to the kitchen that for some reason they'd been less than generous with their serving of beef a couple of weeks ago. It also gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to our neighbours on the other side of the hedge, Stuart and Angie who have taken a year of work to live the dream, and good luck to them. We have swapped blog addresses and I shall visit theirs regularly to see what they're up to, as it's always good to swap information when undertaking this kind of lifestyle.

So that seems to be that then. The heating is on full whack with the damp clothing on a plastic stool in the bathroom trying to finish off the job the sun failed to do today, we have been fed and watered and all systems seem ready for 'GO' tomorrow. I will now start a new 'Chapter', "Bennicassim to UK" as I am getting red flashing lights telling me that I have overloaded this page.

Our deliberation loungers

Our sunbathing spot

FRIDAY 8-2-19

I had a dream last night that Donald Tusk, the overpaid EU mouthpiece ("a special place in hell", etc) was receiving special attention to the lower half of his torso by those Rednecks in the American film "Deliverance" starring Burt Reynolds. Sadly I awoke to find that I was still in the same nightmare as everybody else over this continuing Brexit fiasco. Never mind, spring will soon be here, but sadly due to the current lack of 'Spanish armpit' on public transport, summer is still a long way off.

Yesterday was yet another nothing day if I'm honest. We both did some hand washing, trying to keep on top of things prior to our planned leave day of Monday.

After such an exciting start we could only top that by a visit to the weekly market, though by the time we arrived there weren't too many people around. Never mind, I managed to bag another kilo of walnuts for my delectation.

Our next stop was the Lidl store on the way back, which turned out to be much busier than normal. I mentioned to The Chef that this was like being back home, where our Thursday market is visited by the Fenland  f***wits, who come in to town to buy fresh provisions, sell their daughters to a pimp because her brothers have tired of her, and maybe buy an East European slave to work on their land because their sons are now too busy in the pigpens with their trousers down. After that they go in to the shops before heading home.

After lunch we sat in our 'back garden' and soaked up the sunshine. We need to make the most of it now, as it will soon to be replaced by much colder, bleaker weather as we drive further north towards home.

This morning we awoke yet another lovely morning. We are becoming more conscious now that we have only a few days left before heading home. We don't have to, we are choosing to, and I'm fearful that when we arrive at Ashford, Kent, there will be a team of men in white coast to drag us off because we must clearly be insane.

After lunch we went for a nice walk along the promenade and back through the town. It is a route we agreed that we would undertake most days as our daily constitutional, before the Chef went and injured her ribs. As we approached the point on the promenade where we would turn for the town we stopped and relaxed on two concrete loungers. Here we deliberated over our trip.

We had to admit that the very short days in December when we arrived, the sun was up in the morning, but it was too cold to do anything for quite a while, and it went down far too soon in the afternoon, causing a sudden drop in temperature, thus leaving us with a short 'working day' of just a few hours which had definitely de-motivated us.

This had a knock-on effect for the rest of our stay here. It has nothing to do with Benicassim itself, we love it, nor the campsite, it's great, nor our fellow guests, everybody is friendly, and we've met some very nice people during our stay here - it's just us.

We like to be on the move and touring.

After two months in one place we're ready to move on, even if it is towards home. We're very lucky. Home is good, we live in a lovely city (not big, but it's got a cathedral, so it's a city), and have lovely neighbours, and it will be good to be back to meet friends and family again. It's true, we're not staying long enough to miss all of the winter, but we will have missed far more of it than many folk back home had a chance to.

This evenings delectation from The Chef was beefburgers made from the last of the Waitrose beef mince we bought with us, salad and chips. I do so love embracing local cuisine.

Tomorrow the awning comes down, and the sooner the better because once it's done the rest of the day will be our own.

My impression of Prince Charles, at least I could take mine off!

In the Western Approaches Phantom jets due to serve on HMS Ark Royal practice deck landing approaches on HMS Hermes.

HMS Hermes enters Cape Town in 'Procedure Alpha' (Whilst off Penang, Malaysia I flew off the ship using the steam catapults in the aircraft parked right at the front)

HMS Hermes on her way home, approaches Cape Town, South Africa

The flight deck at night. HMS Hermes in Hong Kong harbour late 1968

HMS Glamorgan, our destroyer escort parked behind us in Hong Kong harbour, late 1968

A Buccaneer jet hooks an arrester wire on landing.

The Aden Task Force

HMS Hermes in the Bay of Biscay with her aircraft squadrons now embarked.

My first day at sea. HMS Hermes escorts SS Queen Mary down the English Channel for the last time. I was to see her again 40 years later in Long Beach, California (see America (West) San Francisco to Malibu)


Another lovely morning, and whilst The Chef busied herself up at the shower blog washing her hair and trying to dry it with painful ribs, I scrubbed up and legged it down to the Lidl supermarket. I was hoping to find another single induction hob which they had on offer at about thirty-five Euros. I bought one on the day the offer commenced, and have since thought that it would be useful to have two spares since these units need to last us about another five years, and if the current units in use, which The Chef likes and is familiar with, become defective during that time then we'll be able to replace both. 

Unfortunately I was out of luck as they were all gone. Never mind, it saved me a bit of money I suppose, and believe it or not I was back in the motorhome before the Chef had finished up at the shower block.

This morning was spent loafing around in the sunshine trying to get a feel of what it must feel like to be in a Nursing Home.

After lunch we headed for the beach again for two or three hours and very nice it was too, although there was a cool breeze which kicked off at about 15:00. We returned to 'Base camp' and continued to soak up a bit of sunshine in our 'back garden' where we were sheltered from the worst of the cool breeze.

Then we had to get ready for Quiz Night, the highlight of the week. Tonight the team was to consist of myself and The Chef, our neighbours Bob and Sue, and a couple who joined them in place of us last week who they know from their beach volley ball sessions.

As usual we had a table booked for four so that we could have a meal before the quiz, bagging a valuable table, with Liam and Margaret joining us later for the competition.

The waiting staff as usual were run off their feet with everybody arriving at 18:30 and needing feeding at the same time. The waiting staff are such hard working individuals they really are. Which reminded me of one of my pet hates. As The Chef will tell you I cannot abide gobby customers who treat waiting staff rudely and disrespectfully. Why is that? I hear you cry. Well, I don't normally share much about me, because the blog isn't about me, me, me, it's about what we get up to, but with some reservations I will share a little about myself.

 Whilst serving in the Royal Navy I returned from my second trip, this time of nine months to the Far East, onboard the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the first trip being to cover the withdrawal of our troops from Aden in late 1967. The Far East trip was very enjoyable, though we did have some dreadful luck off Okinawa, Japan, where, over one weekend, we lost two aircraft and three aircrew. Oh, and I fell overboard in Freemantle Harbour, Australia and as a non-swimmer that was a bit of an event - but that's another story.

Upon my return I was drafted to HMS Warrior, the headquarters of Commander-in-Chief, Fleet, in Northwood, Middlesex. This is the HQ of the UK's ultimate deterrent. When I arrived there in the spring of 1969 the camp was a mixture of RAF and Navy personnel because the deterrence was transitioning from RAF 'V' Bombers to Polaris nuclear submarines.

As a member of the Fleet Air Arm's Meteorological & Oceanography branch, I was on this occasion assigned to Oceanography, a discipline which at the time was in its infancy. Basically it was weather forecasting for under the ocean, as there were aspects of the sea state, sea temperatures and their depths which effected sonar performance. Knowledge of this was of significant help for our submarines to stay below certain depths to avoid detection, and for our surface ships to get below that depth to track, and if necessary, destroy, Ivan's submarines.

For the first few months of my time there we worked out of former WW11 desert army lorries converted in to offices sat in a car park. Eventually we moved in to a spanking new administration building overlooking the main entrance and its guardroom and the small parade ground. In those days we naval ratings worked individually on twenty-four hour shifts with a chance to have a bit of a kip for a short time during the night. We were young then, and could do it.

It was towards the end of these nights that at about 05:30-06:00 I would spot a metallic, plum-coloured Aston Martin with dark tinted windows arriving at the gates and being allowed in. Having asked the appropriate questions of the appropriate people I found out that the driver of the car was none other than Elton John's mum. It seems she had been a cleaner at the camp for a number of years and enjoyed her job so much she didn't want to give it up even though her son was becoming a big name. She only lived a few miles away so I guess Elton was happy for her to use his car when he was away or had no need of it.

I have to say I quite liked Elton John as a musician and entertainer, but went off him a bit when he became a "syrup"- wearing diva.

So after about eighteen months of Oceanography I was moved to the 'Fleet Weather Centre' located underground in the huge, bomb proof bunker. I was to take over the management of a Watch (shift/team) due to a vacancy. All other Watch's were managed by Petty Officers, whilst I was only a Leading Airman (MET), the youngest my branch had ever had, but I'd just have to do.

The department was run by Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully, a vile man, who treated the naval ratings in his charge like we were shit on his shoes. I'm sure he had not approved of my taking up that position and was keen to see me crash and burn. He even assigned  'Scouse' to my watch, a guy who some others seemed to have a problem working with, or he with they, I'm not sure which. What a character he was.

As I've said before the camp was made up of both RAF and Navy personnel and we all rubbed along fairly well. However I remember one night in the 'Galaxy' social club, a few of us were sat around having a drink when an RAF airman stood in front of a seated 'Scouse' giving him some verbal. I just remember watching as Scouse took his almost full pint of beer from his lips and extend that arm to one side, whilst the other, quick as a flash pulled the airman down to him by his tie and give him a head butt, before letting him fall backwards. Blood everywhere, whilst Scouse put his pint back to his lips without a word spoken or a drop spilled. I tell you, that man turned GBH in to an artform.

Anyhow, back in the Met Office I found that Scouse was a bit of a Russ Conway on the keyboard of a teleprinter, and it was a job he enjoyed, which was just as well as we had a room full of them as we received weather information from around the world, and transmitted information to our fleet around the clock. I, in turn plotted a mean weather chart for the Met Officer, working against the clock, so I decided we would play to our strengths most of the time, very ably supported by our less experienced staff.

I'm sure Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully was hoping we'd crash and burn but to prove him wrong we made sure we flew, and as a consequence I'm sure he picked us out for additional obnoxious and bullying behaviour (Where the hell's this going? You're thinking. Stick with it, stick with it, we're getting there).

Just before Christmas 1971 my father had a sudden and unexpected heart attack whilst at work. As soon as I found out I asked Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully if I could be granted some compassionate leave so that I could go and visit him about fifty miles away. He flatly refused. And that would have been that had it not been for the Met Officer I was working with that night hearing about it and overriding that decision and going out of his way to ensure that I was off the camp the following morning with a rail warrant and compassionate leave pass authorised by him.

We also worked 24 hour shifts down in the Weather Centre, and were often under a lot of pressure, but no matter how great the pressure was, Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully would call out of his office to his Naval Rating minions, demanding a coffee be made for him, not any time when convenient, but right there and then. I think it was about that time that I began to notice how much 'Bluebell', (the Navy name for 'Brasso' liquid metal polish) could be used in a mug of coffee rather than evaporated milk without it being noticed. I think such mugs of coffee were enjoyed by this individual for quite a long period of time.

My father died within a year of his first heart attack aged just 45, and I understand that Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully died about a year after that from kidney failure.

After leaving HMS Warrior I was drafted to the Commando Carrier HMS Bulwark, an aircraft carrier converted to carry Royal Marines, their Land Rovers, kit, and helicopters, where things didn't get any better - but that's another story.

......................So where were we?......................Ah yes. ..........So if ever you're tempted to treat a waiter disrespectfully, remember that story. Because that member of staff will, once your dish is prepared, have that plate of food in their hand, and they'll have it all to themselves for that short period of time between the kitchen servery and those swing doors that lead to the dining area.............. and whatever they do to it as payback, I bet you, just like Lt Cdr Obnoxious-Bully, won't notice either.

Oh and the Quiz Night. Well as it happens we did amazingly well and came second with a score of 81 out of 90, the winners having scored 84½. There were a total of 133 contestants tonight so I think we did really well. Sadly we don't expect to be around for next week's competition as I expect us to be making our way home by then.