Last week we were lucky enough to spend a few days in Sarah's Mum and Dad's Spanish home and get some rays in before we batten down the hatches once more in our bungalow for the winter.
The villa is in a lovely town called Javea - half way between Valencia and Alicante. Apparently, Javea has the most hours of sunshine in Spain and where we, in good old chilly Northern Europe, can expect one to two hours of sunshine in the middle of winter, Javea has six! AND it has eleven hours of UNINTERRUPTED sunlight in the summer. No, 'oooh - do I need a cardy/is that a black cloud/did I feel a spot of rain' nonsense!
The car journey was a bit fraught - a bad combination of a flashy hire car (it took us half an hour to find the handbrake!), unfamiliar Spanish roads, an annoying sat nav and a massive map. The map ended up ripped in two.... Still, we got there eventually after driving around in circles, paying the toll for the motorway twice and me squealing (unhelpfully) at a shop in Gata de Gorgos which had more baskets than I have ever seen in my life. Sigh.....
The first things that struck me when we got out of the air conditioned car were the heat, the almost ear splitting noise of the Cicadas in the trees and the wonderful smell of pine, rosemary and thyme in the air.
The villa was lovely and cool when we arrived.
Unfortunately the pool is out of action
We flopped on the naya with our warm squashed rolls that I had made the night before at home and some cold beer that Sarah's Dad had left for us.
The view from the villa - olive groves and mountains
A beautiful Finca in the distance
The gorgeous Bougainvillea has massive thorns
The mountain behind the villa is called Montgo and dominates the surrounding area of 16 miles of beaches, coves and cliffs. It stands at 753 metres and the locals think it was once an elephant that turned to stone, it's trunk reaching in to the sea.
It was over 30 degrees in the sun but a very pleasant 26 on the Naya.
Doing some light pruning - nice hat dear
I must ask Beryl the names of her plants
We loved playing house and living outside
We visited the Port in Javea, ate tapas, drank Sangria and watched the world go by. One waitress said that they have to freeze the glasses in the summer otherwise the ice cubes have melted by the time the customer gets their drink!
I gave up wearing make up on Day 2 - how do the Spanish women look so cool when I look so pink, shiny and sticky from the thick layer of Factor 30? My hair frizzed up in the heat but I had my hat to hide my unwieldy hairdo.
We saw spotty jellyfish in the harbour
The Port has a pebble beach and marina
There are many walks and precarious looking footpaths up the mountain
Javea Port was once used to export raisins
We explored the streets behind the villa one evening.
A Russian millionaire is having this enormous house built
They have been blasting the rock to build it
We strolled along the Arenal Beach and spied little groups huddled on the sand with picnics in the dark!
We had to break a habit of a lifetime and get going before lunch (!), eat breakfast on the Naya and head out early as by mid afternoon it is too hot to do anything other than lie down in front of the fridge.
There are so many places to explore. Javea has 15 viewpoints or Miradors so plenty of windy, scary roads to navigate!
Cap de San Antoni (No. 2 Mirador) is a nature reserve and headland between the mountain, Montgo, and the sea. It has a lighthouse that has been in use since 1855 and has views of Denia, the Gulf of Valencia and the bay of Javea. The area has been used by hermits and also as a look out post to protect the coast from North African pirates (arr, me Jim lad.....). Sarah successfully packed the Thermos flask for the flight without it breaking by wrapping it in beach towels so we could enjoy our coffee looking at the view!
Cap de San Antoni - view of Javea Port below
We visited a monastery where we started chatting to a fellow English chap (whose parents also have a villa in the area). He told us that a lot of the plants were badly burnt in a fire last year that managed to jump the road from Denia and looked like molten lava down the side of the mountain! He said that it will take years for the plants to regrow.
No. 1 on the Mirador list is Els Molins. Windmills and lighthouses in the same holiday! I am happy. Els Molins has lots of windmills, some derelict, some being restored and some lived in. They were used in the fourteenth century to grind wheat and cereal, helped by the south westerly wind that blows here, the 'Llebeig'.
Want to live here.....
I wanted to explore the Montgo Natural park, an area of 5312 acres. We had a picnic but didn't walk as far as I would have liked because of the heat.
Back to the villa to cool down and investigate the garden of the villa. I found out not long after that this must have been when I received most of my bites!
Lots of interesting insects
This Hibiscus reminded me of our holiday in La Gomera
The only draw back to hot countries is the bugs. Big heat - big bugs.
This one took a juicy bite out of Sarah's leg before being hit by a swotter!
I read in the Costa Brava News (as you do) that these rather large Tiger Mosquitoes are a real problem and the regional government have taken out new measures to try and deal with them. We used roll on Jungle insect repellent, plug in mosquito killers and mosquito repellent wipes. None of it worked! We both looked like we had some hideous, medieval disease by the time we went home!
This one is no longer a problem
Still, who cares - it's hot! And the sun just keeps on shining. Yes!
This Mirador at Cap Prim took some finding. We ended up on a surfers and divers beach way below the viewpoint and then on driving back up the windy roads drove past this cross without actually seeing it. We found it in the end - without having to tear any maps up.
Another flask of coffee before descending to the headland below
Wherever you are, you can see Montgo
Cap Prim was once used in the sardine industry
After our hot walk we headed for the beach to cool down.
We hired sun loungers and a parasol and enjoyed swimming in the warm sea. Bliss. I stubbed my toe on a sun lounger, taking half my big toenail with it - ugh. Five very tanned, handsome lifeguards fought over who was going to give me a plaster to stop it bleeding. Very embarrassing.
The Arenal Beach
The sand was almost too hot to walk on
We spent the last night at the villa as the sun went down, watching the cute little geckos trying to catch moths and letting the mozzies have a final bite.
I like to leave something wherever I go. I left a pair of worn out shorts in La Gomera, a pair of walking boots with the heel hanging off at Teneriffe airport and in Javea, on the beach, I left a pair of sunglasses with one arm missing.
Last look at the view before we head off to the airport
We tried to keep busy on the plane by thinking of what meals we wanted for the coming week and making the shopping list for Tescos at 36,000 feet up. When we landed in Southampton and they opened the plane doors we thought we'd landed in Norway by mistake. :-(
Monday 21st September -
Salisbury - 15 degrees, 70% chance of rain
Javea - 30 degrees, 0% chance of rain
The only small consolation is that our bites don't itch anymore.