February, 2019 RV living en España

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I don’t know about you but waking up to these skies from the RV window is a habit I could get used to. Nature at its best. The sun just about to peek over the clouds at La Manga over the Mar Menor from our pitch at Narejos.

So February came and went, beautiful weather. Not even a spot of rain, none! It has been the driest February since their records began. Is this global warming, I don’t know but last summer at home we had the hottest summer for something like 40+ years.  I have also been considering how do they cope if they have no regular rain and apparently there are huge desalination plants everywhere here, the tap water is basically from the sea. We tested the water and it is just under the 500 ppm allowed, if you run it through the filter it comes down to 420ppm which is still high. Bottled water comes in at 80ppm so it’s a no brainer really, but all that plastic! When you are buying bottled water you realise how precious it is and that there must be no waste. It also helps you to realise how lucky we are at home in the U.K. that for the most water can be drunk straight from the tap.

We have had a few problems with the RV.  The electrics, despite having most of the solar system rewired last year at great cost, isn’t working quite as we had expected. It works but only through the transformer when we should be able to bypass the transformer and, using the inverter, just power the plugs. We’ve had some leakage from the grey water valve which Nick has fixed as best as he can for now, we may need a new valve on our return. We have had the jacks up and down a couple of times and who knows why they don’t lift properly. We had them serviced and our engineer said they worked fine but when they have been down for a week or so they really don’t want to lift.  Other than this our home from home has been amazing. We live in this small space for half the year, less this year sadly as we needed to be at home for Christmas, but maybe next year we will be able to come out for six months who knows.  it makes us consider getting rid of our house for something smaller. It has made us consider do we really need a large four bedroom Ed house with a big garden? Downsizing needs to be considered which in turn would help finance our winters away. We shall see.

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Food wise, well the pantry boxes are down to six. This means that I have repacked the boxes so the six are still full and re listed the contents. It’s been an expensive month for going out and eating again as we had visitors at the end of the month, one of our kids came to stay with a friend and as they are always short of money apart from their flights out it was our treat. Young people eat a lot of food! 😊 so we spent €323.47 on food and beer and wine, €267.80 on eating out and date nights most of which was spent when our visitors came out and €56.40 on a couple of miscellaneous items and a new bed/lounger. All in all actually not that bad. We hired a car for the week our visitors came which cost €50 with insurance.  It was hired online from the airport at Murcia, locally they wanted €200 so we know now, do not hire locally! The campsite works out at €7.90 plus €3 for electric hook-up so €305.20 for our camp site fees.  €1002.87 for the month we allow about £1000 a month so this is on the high side as part of our travel down and home comes in each months budget. Hopefully March will be below budget it’s all a balance.

We have been eating a variety of foods, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit teamed with fish, chicken and various vegetarian dishes.  The fish is awesome although sometimes we are not really sure what we have bought.  Huevos Rancheros is a favourite for brunch and I think I’ve mastered a version of Jamie Oliver’s recipe now having tried it out at home a few times. We found a German schnitzel bar run by a lovely couple, my husband said the food was very authentic, if rather unhealthy, he worked in Germany for many years. My kids are pleased to note that after many years we have found the curry sauce that Nick used to bring home, I’ve had to buy them a large bottle each.

Living in the RV is more tricky with visitors but when it’s family it’s easier to cope As you are just glad to see each other and spend some quality time with your family. We spend most of the day and early evening outside now as it has been very warm. We are very thankful for the awning in the afternoons which helps to keep the RV shaded and cool and gives us some shade to sit in with the dogs. Really sure I couldn’t cope out here in the summer it’s glorious to see the sun every day but the heat us northerners are just not made to cope with it.

Washing here has been easier this time. Most times away we use the on board washing machine which means more water and waste to be dealt with, but there is a good laundry on site with four big washing machines and dryers. They cost €3.50 a load. I don’t use the driers. We have a large airer and a couple of small ones which seem to be adequate. Many people though still use the stone sinks on site that come with a washboard, the French mostly, it’s not for me I don’t mind washing a few bits and bobs by hand but not jeans and bed linen which I have seen them doing!

February it has been awesome. Thanks for reading, I hope it’s interesting for you.

Until March! 😊🇬🇧🇪🇸

 

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RV living January 2019

5DED1A45-102A-48DC-BCBE-7EA881162F05We had a plan, we would take our pantry with us this year and so it was loaded into the RV in numbered boxes with a list of the contents. It’s worked well for the last couple of years but then we weren’t so determined to stop falling into the trap of spending so much money on food. Don’t get me wrong nothing is wasted but it’s obsessional, for me, to buy food then store it, just in case! In case of what you may ask.  Well all manner of disasters is the short answer, but really? It’s just too much of everything. So armed with my lists on the 28 December we set off heading to Spain for the winter months.

We ate out of the fridge and pantry on the way down, slowly making our way through France down the eastern side and into Spain on the 31 December, we spent New Year’s Eve in Villa Franca just off the motorway near the aire which we were too large to get into. We then spent two nights in El Campello visiting a friend whose partner had flown home to see the new year in with her kids then arrived at Area Narejos in Los Alcaceres near Murcia on 3 January.

In the first month to 28 January we spent €639.69 on fuel and tolls, we need to fill the fuel tank again but didn’t do so before we parked up so you can probably add another €250 on to that. We spent €111.71 on food, €89.50 on date nights and eating and drinking out, tapas is just too tempting with a lovely glass of vino tinto.  Finally a further €42.39 on miscellaneous bits and bobs that we had forgotten to bring. Grocery wise, I wish I could keep it at this permanently but it’s not realistic. I think if we can spend something like €150-200 a month while we are here and try and keep it to £50 a week at home I would be pleased. One of my goals for this year was to keep our grocery bill to £200 a month which should be more than enough when we have the garden produce.

Fresh fruit and vegetables in Spain are best bought on the markets for value for money, in the supermarkets the prices are similar or sometimes more expensive than at home.

We spent more on going out in January and the beginning of February as we had friends to socialise with both on the campsite and living locally. Some wonderful meals have been eaten at great value for money. We went to a Spanish working men and women’s restaurant and had the meal of the day for €10 each three courses and coffee  and two bottles of local fabulous red wine between the four of us. The food was excellent locally caught fish and local specialities, a kind of fish stock risotto for my starter, were on the menu.  Beautiful fresh salads and fresh bread and busy busy busy!

We went to a restaurant one evening which had an early bird menu for €15.90 each for three courses, beautifully presented, exceptional food, the wine in this case was plus but the food was a taste sensation, my main was a chicken breast stuffed with goats cheese and spinach served on crushed new potatoes and roasted vegetables, something I will be recreating in the RV!

It’s tricky living in the RV full time with two dogs in España 🇪🇸 but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Until next time when  I’ll update what we have been eating and what we’ve spent in February.

 

 

Busyness

I thought as I got older life would slow and I would have more time, maybe for grandchildren but if not for my garden and dogs. Pipe Dream! I seem to be busier than ever and I only work outside the home two days a week. Perhaps I just got slower or my expectations of myself are more. I definitely grow and do more in my vegetable garden but I do less in the borders and Nick cuts the grass these days.

 

I know that I still have too much ‘stuff’ in my home, despite decluttering with a vengeance since April this year and for at least six months of last year. Things mean dusting or moving to vacuum and taking care of like my mother’s and mother-in-law’s brasses.  They all make work and stress if you don’t get them cleaned. But how hard is it to let go of things? I find it really hard. I would say that between my daughter Charlotte and I and some of mums linens I have gifted to the various charity shops locally 30 large bin liners of clothes and linen and at least 6 large boxes of ornaments and books. I have given away one dinner service to a friends daughter and charity shopped another.  Charlotte has asked that we keep one for her that leaves two more. They are too beautiful to just give to the charity shop and in their time were very expensive but I don’t need them so why can’t I just get rid! Memories I suppose. Meanwhile my home looks like a jumble sale and I’m struggling to keep it neat and tidy.

Some chores I don’t want to let go of, like meal planning, cooking from scratch, running a tight budget still, even though we could probably slacken off this a little. I love walking my dogs twice a day, just ten minutes for Pippa then out again with Ruby.  I love planning my garden, growing my own food, keeping my vegetable plot in shape. I love bottling/canning my produce or freezing or jam and sauce making.

Some things I need to find time for like exercising, just 20 minutes a day to do a Joe Wicks routine or some strength exercises. I have a pile of sowing projects too but the evenings are for relaxing and the days are BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.

I don’t have the answer to this lack of time nor the guilt I feel when I am not busy!

I wish I did.

 

Best Friends

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This beautiful dog is one of my best friends, she has travelled with us to France, many times, through Spain and to Portugal, she has been with us through many of life’s trials and tribulations, she has seen our children become adults and has loved us all unconditionally for nearly 13 years. She just keeps on giving, always wagging her tail to greet us even if some days it’s more tricky to get up to the door to be there when we open it. Her favourite thing making it really hard to actually open the front door!

We discovered a year ago that a lump she had, which grew quite quickly, was cancerous and so at nearly 12 a decision was made to not have treatment, the operation to remove it would have been huge for a dog and it would probably have ruined her quality of life. We just let it be. We planned and took a six month sabbatical from work and went off to Portugal for the winter. We took our beloved Pippa and her daughter Ruby with us. We had the most wonderful time and spent every day with our animals, 24/7. Their health was not good while we were away, Ruby developed some intestinal problems which may or may not be colitis but for now that is calm and she is fine. Pippa, just got older, she has had some lady problems relating to her cancer but, she is still here, and every day is a blessing.  I think today she looks particularly good so I thought I would share a picture of my best friend. 💕

Home made Pesto

 

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Once you’ve tried it there’s no going back!

I got this recipe from Jami Boys at anoregoncottage.com and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. I freeze some over summer, it defrosts quite quickly and stays a beautiful colour.

In fact everything on Jami’s blog that I’ve tried so far has turned out to be very good. So hop on over there and try something new.

 

This is taken directly from her blog:-

 

AN OREGON COTTAGE’S “SECRET INGREDIENT” FRUGAL HOMEMADE PESTO

PREP TIME
30 m
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
30 m

Frugal (aka, cheap) homemade pesto with an alternative to expensive pine nuts that we like even better!
Author: Jami Boys
Recipe type: condiment
Yield: 1-1/4 cups
INGREDIENTS
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ c. sunflower seeds*
½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2-1/2 c. lightly packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1 Tb. lemon juice (for freezing to keep pesto a brighter green after opening)
¾ – 1c. olive oil (plus more if freezing)
DIRECTIONS

Pulse garlic in a food processor until minced. Add seeds, cheese, and salt. Pulse a few times to chop, and then add the basil and continue to process until most is chopped (it’s okay if not all is chopped – it will mince as the oil is added). Add lemon juice now, if using.
With the machine running, add the oil in a fine stream. Process until pesto is smooth. Adjust salt to taste, if needed (less will be needed if using salted sunflower seeds).
To store in the freezer, pour about ½ cup into freezer-safe containers, add a shallow layer of olive oil to cover the tops, attach lids, label with date and freeze. The frozen pesto keeps for about a year – if it lasts that long.
NOTES
*I use roasted sunflower seeds for the extra flavor, but raw seeds will work too.

De-cluttering 365

It’s  all the rage at the moment, or perhaps my friends and I have reached the glorious age of needing to simplify our lives. Whatever it is everyone’s doing it! The charity shops must be deluged!

Our daughter left home last summer to live with her boyfriend and I think Nick and I realised that we live in a house that is a bit on the big side for two people. We can manage everything quite well at the moment as I only work part time but we have a large garden too and eventually it will all be too much so I had read on Old World Garden Farms about their 365 Project where they were both going to get rid of one item each day, we can do this we thought and we have, quite successfully for exactly a year.

I have room in my kitchen drawers to be able to see things, my wardrobe is clearer, the wardrobes in Tom’s old room have been de-cluttered, I gave my 40+ year old school uniform to Diss Museum! Nick has thrown away broken tools sorted out and given our daughter a set so we have got a cleared shed and garage. We have sorted our clothes down to one wardrobe. It was going well until my dear old mum died and I felt obliged to bring everything home that no one else wanted! Saucepans, crockery, bed linen, ornaments, clothes, socks, CDs, LPs it seemed an unmanageable amount but slowly I have either replaced my quite tired things with mum’s, given things to friends, charity shop drop offs and here we are it was time to look at my shoes!!!

I had 50 boxed pairs of shoes in the top of my wardrobe all of them in excellent condition, some of them over 35 years old, one pair bought when I was 17! I don’t really buy shoes any more as I have occasion shoes galore and can usually find a pair for weddings, christenings, funerals and I have various height heeled black court shoes I can wear for work. Every three years or so I buy a new pair of flat black loafers as I wear them out. I buy flip flops yearly and the occasional pair of sandals.

This week I tackled the boxed shoes. I now have 38 boxes. Next week loose shoes! It’s hard but most of the boxed shoes from forty years ago don’t fit as my feet have broadened! Two children, a period of being overweight have all taken their toll on my feet and quite frankly I’m not going to be wearing many pairs of ‘car/bar’ shoes as my friend Mandy calls them, shoes only fit to walk from the car to the bar, any more! So here we are I am a tad ashamed at what I have thrown/given away not just the shoes but all the things I have thought I wanted/needed over the years. Such a dreadful waste of money and resources. If only I had my 56 year old head on 30 years ago!

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I’ve still got to deal with the four dinner services, two mine, one Nick’s mums and one my mum’s but that’s a story for another day!

Happy de-cluttering 😊

The Girls

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My hens are a joy, they are getting older now and don’t lay as regularly as they used to but we still get two or three eggs a day which is more than enough to still justify having these amazing birds in our garden. The feed is about £8 and a bag of mixed corn about £7 this lasts 6-8 weeks. They free range in our garden and on the field at the back which helps with the variety of food they eat and gives them plent of fresh green plants to nibble at. They are great at keeping the lawns down over winter and early spring! I clear their nest boxes daily and add fresh shredded paper, the coop needs to be cleaned out weekly in the spring summer months but over winter I leave them with a deeper layer of straw and shredded paper to help keep them warm, cleaning out every three to four weeks.

You have to watch out for frost bite if we have a really cold snap as their combs suffer. Vaseline seems to stop this, a bit dabbed on their combs soothes and prevents! They can also suffer mites, you will know when this is a problem and we powder ours over the warmer months to keep this problem at bay. They really aren’t much work and you don’t need a cockerel for hens to lay. They have a finite number of eggs, they will lay one a day unless they are having a moult, for the first year or so then they slow down. We don’t keep our hens for meat so they will have a home here until they naturally pass away. This our third lot of hens and I can thoroughly recommend keeping some if you are allowed where you live to do this and have the room.

They provide us with eggs, amusement as they are fascinating to watch, their ability to turn over and weed a piece of vegetable plot is amazing, they fertilise it at the same time! The manure from their coop gets rotted down and put on the garden, and they follow me around like the dogs, so funny.

They escape quite regularly to an elderly neighbours garden and they sit outside her patio door looking in, she says they are company, they also clear her garden a bit too. In return the eggs are something else! The colour is awesome and you just cannot beat fresh eggs on toast or crumpets, what a way to start the day.

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