Around and about

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So many of you have been asking about the environment here in our part of Spain that I thought that I had better answer your questions in a post.

Our home is in the province of Almeria in southern Spain, between Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca but, thankfully, nowhere near the popular tourist destinations. We are in a small community of about 30 or so properties (I have never counted) in a valley completely hidden from the main road. There is a village in walking distance and a town some 8km/5m away.

The market is only yards from the sea.

Lisa shows the market is only yards from the sea.

The climate, as by now you must be aware, is sunny. It is said to have 330 days of sun here every year. As such, we are surrounded by palm trees, oranges and lemons grow just down the road from our front door and there are a variety of plants that grow well in tropical climes as well as some desert ones.

Agriculture is one of the major economies with melons and lettuces being two of the major crops. Near us, it was fascinating to see, just last week, people working for a local co-operative arrive and harvest a field of lettuces by hand.

We are in an area where desert meets the mountains and sea. Indeed, we can be on a Mediterranean beach in 10 minutes. Most of the rivers are dried up but they occasionally flood when the rains come. The wettest month of the year is September and the worst of winter tends to be January and February.

That's me, wearing sunglasses by the Mediterranean.

That’s me, wearing sunglasses by the Mediterranean.

Average temperatures reach their peak in August with highs of 30˚C/86˚F but occasional days of 35C/95F are not unknown. At night the average low temperature is 22˚C/62˚F. Spring and autumn temperatures are more moderate; they go up to about 23˚C/73˚F and down to around 12˚C/53˚F.

November’s average high is 20˚C/68˚F but, in fact, yesterday it reached 22˚C/62˚F. The nights, however, are quite chilly with average lows of 10˚C/50˚F.

This morning, Sunday, we visited a market in a nearby town right on the Mediterranean. The stalls were set among palm trees (see main picture), the sky was blue and the sun beat down. The temperature was 23˚C/73˚F; another glorious day. Did I mention it is sunny here?

 

 

Enjoying best of all worlds in November sunshine

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One disappointing thing about moving to mainland Europe is that while state pensions and disability benefits are still paid, the mobility part of both the Disabled Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment is not. Apparently, that is because the mobility element is not regarded as care.

I had previously used the mobility part of my DLA to meet the costs of a car provided through the Motability scheme, so I never saw the money – it was paid straight to Motability. The cars, that have served me well for nearly six years, came to an end when I returned my vehicle on 26th October, the day before Lisa and I sailed to America on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.

Road cutting through rocky area with mountains in the background.

Road cutting through rocky area with mountains in the background.

That means that we now need to buy a car of our own – and on Thursday we started looking in earnest. All being well, we hope to have one at some time during the next week. Be sure to watch this space for further news on this subject.

Talking of driving, and by that I mean left hand drive cars on the right hand side of the road, I have to say that it is fast becoming second nature to me. Yes, sometimes I drift a little close to the kerb or, more often, the roadside verge but, generally, it’s ok and seems to be getting both easier and better.

Several people have asked me to describe the area in which we now live. So, here goes.

Greenery borders a town with hills beyond.

Greenery borders a town with hills beyond.

Our home is in a rural community close to a small village in an agricultural area known for growing melons, olives and oranges. There are mountains just a few miles away that make a backdrop to some spectacular views, plus fringes of arid land that afford a home to desert plants.

Situated within easy reach of two reasonably small towns, and only a 10-minute drive from the Mediterranean, we really have the best of all worlds. We are well away from popular tourist destinations.

As far as the weather is concerned, we arrived in mid-November so we could not expect too much. The daytime temperatures have only been in their 70s F (21+ C) with a mixture of cloudless blue skies and those predominantly blue with wispy clouds. I have worn shorts for the last two days and have relaxed at pavement cafes while enjoying the sunshine. It gets considerably cooler at night but that is to be expected.

We have followed the news about storms Abigail and Barney hitting the UK and can only have sympathy with everyone affected, especially with those who were without power. I have distinct memories of being without electricity in North Wales. The wet, cold and grey weather with such little, if any, sun was the main reason behind our move to Spain.

It seems that the finishing touches are being put on our new home, so we hope to be moving in very soon. The place we are in, while the work is being finished, is lovely but it isn’t ours.

Two days to go until we head for better weather

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Dateline: 24th October 2015.  It’s a cold, wet and quite miserable Saturday in what passes for autumn in North Wales; actually, not only here but across the UK generally the weather outlook is no better,

In fact, yesterday a storm warning was in place for this weekend and into next week and, although nothing at all like the scale of Hurricane Patricia, meteorologists were predicting winds of up to 60mph, heavy rain and, in mountainous areas, snow at higher levels. Today, though, the forecasts have become less extreme but still very wet and cold.

Still the spirit in our home is really upbeat, despite what the weather is doing outside, as we are spending our last weekend here before setting sail on Tuesday to cross the Atlantic aboard Royal Caribbean’s luxurious cruise line Anthem of the Seas.

Following a week at sea, we will view the New York City skyline and then see the city grow larger as we approach before docking in Port Liberty. Actually, I wonder if you realise that the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island is not in New York at all. In fact, geographically, it’s in the neighbouring state of New Jersey.

Anyway, once we leave the ship, Lisa and I are spending nearly 10 days touring the north-eastern states of Massachusetts, New York (the state, not the city this time), Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Being born and growing up in the city, in the Bronx to be exact, Lisa has an everlasting attachment to it and she can hardly wait to show me more of the area. We started my tour last December when we stopped off in New York City on the way back from our trip to Hawaii, now it’s time for part 2.

This time, of course, apart from a brief visit to the UK to collect Pooka and Prissy from the cattery and then wish them bon voyage on their overland journey, we will be flying to Spain to start the newest chapter in our lives in our new home.

And the weather here today just redoubles the feeling that we have made the correct decision when choosing to move to be close, well just a 10 minute drive, to the Mediterranean. The area has an average 320 days of sunshine a year. Actually, neither during the crossing of the Atlantic nor on our NE America holiday, do we expect to enjoy the best of weather conditions. It won’t be until we reach Spain exactly three weeks tomorrow, on Sunday 15th November, that we expect to see reasonable weather.

Some people have asked about how the sunny weather will affect my MS. It is true that both hot and cold do have an effect but we are all different. Some people cannot take the heat, some find the cold difficult and others don’t like either but just feel happier somewhere in the middle. I have found that it is the changing temperatures that have the most negative effects for me. When we visited Spain in April and May, I found that my condition improved a little. Longer sunshine means more vitamin D, which is something else that’s good for fighting MS.

I’ll keep you up to date on developments.