AND so to the last days of another three months in a southern Spanish winter. The sun still shines; indeed practically every day of the last 85. It has occasionally been a tad chilly from a cold wind and it did rain – lightly - for a short while one day but long forgotten.
It has been as advertised and as needed. My breathing has not however been that good. I begin to worry over the sea air being a little more humid than maybe suits me. But then I have managed three months without a bug and doubt that would have happened in even Britain's driest county (Essex BTW). We even have a light tan, despite our best efforts.
It is now well in excess of two and half years that we have lived in Spain since 2009 spread over nine winters. With a further six months in France in that time (and beyond), eight weeks in Italy and a further dozen weeks in other parts of Spain and Portugal it is fair to say we have gained a long experience of continental Europe. We are of course 'remainers' by nature.
Just how many weekly shops, trips to markets, meals in cafes and bistros, mesons and tabernas and explorations of EU street retail are involved I cannot say. But overall these things stand out: Spain has the cleanest loos in Europe; food is best for value and quality in Spain, dearest in Italy and far too precious in France; and all continental waiting staff are better than any others.
We have crossed the ditch by all available routes bar one and have had two bad crossings.
We have also driven about 90,000 kilometres in Europe (in a UK car) with one false negative turbo failure (nil cost beyond sweat), two failed wheel bearings (cheaper than UK), two punctures and a wheel falling off (oh and a prang but that was in Malta and not our fault.) Plus a nasty robbery from our car in Chartres and finding a spare hand already in my jeans pocket on the Turbo in Rome.
Oh yes and an attempted robbery from a hire car at Malaga airport which ended with the thief in a brick-shedding state up aganst a chain link fence. I let him go. He obligingly dropped the handbag.
Driving is fastest and most dodgy in Italy, least careful in France Judged by plates Belgians are the worst drivers, Germans the fastest, UK are hesitant, French are aggressive and Spanish are very variable.
Highway management is generally better than in the UK but to be fair there is just less traffic almost everywhere outside the cities. But there are problems. Roundabout discipline is generally dreadful, overtaking is dire, done too slowly and they pull back in too soon and too slowly. Direction signs can be problematic. Sat-navs know nothing useful except how to exit a strange city. Indeed ours (Ford) does not even have Spanish food listed!
Parking is plentiful but they will stop anywhere, even on roundabouts. And with no zig zag refuges before or after crossings the result is blind parking ahead or even ON crossings. Since the Spanish in particular never look, driving in towns is a series of nightmare encounters with the locals. They walk; you brake!
The rented houses have varied – this one in Salobrena (amazing sea views and sunsets) and another in Seillans, Provence have been the best. And we also used one motor home and three different caravans.
In Spain we have visited all provinces and only Madrid and Toledo have escaped a serious visit. Favourite cities would be Cordoba, Granada and Barcelona. Favourite province is Andalucia of course with Asturias close barring the weather. Most beautifyul coast is the north and best weather the costa tropical.
We have shared our homes with family and friends and met up with fellow travellers once or twice.
Health and other variables permitting we shall be back next year – to this house very probably.
*** Were it not for my beloved family and it being “too late now” I would seriously consider moving out of the UK now BREXIT is looming. Money unlimited would buy a small house in France (Roussilon or nearby) and a larger pad in Andalucia (possibly here). With the flat in Essex we could spend summer in Halstead, part of spring and autumn in France and a long winter in Spain. And bugger Boris, Gove and Davis and up yours Theresa. Not sure J would agree though.
Top: Almunecar from the castle