contentedsouls

Join us on our travels around Europe aboard our Dutch Tjalk Francoise

  • Jill Budd

    After 6 years aboard our Narrowboat Matilda Rose in the UK, we took the plunge and shipped her across to Europe. After 2 years in Europe we knew we didn't want to return to the UK so took the plunge and purchased a 1902 20 mtr Dutch Tjalk called Francoise and are now continuing our travels of the waterways of Europe in a buxom wench

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Archive for February 20th, 2020

Moving in to the villa in Xabia/Javea and an horrific storm

Posted by contentedsouls on 20/02/2020

Having hired a north facing two bed apartment in Oropessa last year – which was permanently dark and cold, with no sun on our outdoor balcony, and being constantly plagued by noise from the builders doing winter refurbishments – we decided to dig our hands a bit deeper into our pockets this year and rent a villa with gardens all round and a pool.

Our first ‘surprise’ was that the villa wasn’t solely ours; we had only rented the top floor, whilst the ground floor is occupied by the owner and her two young sons. Whilst it is in our remit to use the gardens and pool (should the pool ever get sorted after the winter); it’s not the same as having your own privacy and letting the dog wander. Our second surprise was that there were no sheets, duvets or towels supplied, and the cooking utensils consisted of two frying pans, one huge saucepan and a kettle that barely holds enough for two cups of tea – this place is 3 bedroomed and sleeps 6.

I asked what we were meant to do for heating and was pointed to an open, unfurnished, hearth in the lounge – perhaps we were expected to nip out and buy a grate and a lorry load of wood! We were advised not to use the two electric wall heaters in two of the bedrooms because, if we did, the lights would fuse. We were also advised to use the shower near the kitchen (and nearest the gas boiler) if we wanted a hot shower, and not the shower or bath in the family bathroom because the hot water didn’t reach to the far side of the house. Hmmmmm……. At this point the lady took one look at my face and suggested that perhaps she should go out and buy us a gas heater. I concurred that that would be a very good idea. We are here to enjoy the warmth and the sun; not die of hypothermia overnight!

Fortunately, having arrived by camper, we had our own bedding, towels, pans and utensils on the van -I never ever leave home without the emergency fan heater, a hot water bottle and, of course, a corkscrew. We were also to find out, to our cost, that the one shower with hot water was notoriously unreliable and was maliciously willing to burn or freeze you on a whim should anyone touch a tap or flush a loo anywhere else in the house – the pilot light for the water heater (on demand system) was outside and frequently blew out should the wind be coming from the wrong direction.

However, this place is pretty much South facing and gets the sun all day long, pouring through the conservatory windows in the morning. The owner of the property (whilst clueless as to what’s required in the rental market) is an utter delight and only too happy to point us in the direction of places she thinks we might enjoy. She also helps me with my Spanish conversation and did stop her boys from playing football inside in the early hours before school (which sounds horrendously loud in our bedrooms). It only happens now when she’s out!

So, enough of my moaning – we are boaters and, therefore, adaptable and pretty resilient.

We moved in on the Wednesday and, by Friday, we were getting warnings of a really dangerous storm; of the lock up your daughters and board up your windows variety. Before it hit us on the Sunday, we did little more than unpack, eat lunch out, drive around a bit and shop for towels, bedding and stuff from one of the multitude of Chinese bazaars – they are legendary here, and the first port of call should you need to buy anything – a sort of mix of Woolies/Poundstretchers/Wilco.

The people in these bazaars speak (not surprisingly) Chinese and Spanish, so asking for an item you can’t find is always great fun and rather reminds me of playing family charades at Christmas – this year, however, I had an extra set of tools in my toolkit; a bit of Spanish vocabulary!

Towels were easy; we spotted piles of them everywhere so just a matter of picking the sizes and colours we wanted.Sheets were pretty much a doddle too – I just needed to specify, ‘para dos’ and ‘para uno personnes’. In fact,the conversation didn’t even start to get interesting until we hit “shower mat,” on my shopping list.

‘And now I want something for the bathroom,’ I muttered proudly in my best Spanish, ‘for the floor, to put your feet on (I haven’t yet learnt stand) after your shower,’

‘Si, nececitas una alfombra de bano’ he patiently replied, as he whisked out a selection. I managed to over ride my burning desire to shout, ‘ole’

The next item was another hot water bottle (for Sue) and, despite my success with the “alfombra,” I wasn’t quite as confident with this one as, those of you with the stamina to keep following my blog for all of these years will know, I got into quite a lot of trouble with this one in a chemist’s in France!

In I plunged with the literal translation, ‘Una botella para agua caliente’ adding the Spanish for, ‘for my feet at night,’ in the interest of further clarification.

No puzzled looks, no mime required, just a straight forward, ‘Si. Una botella de agua caliente,’ That was it – a nice, straight forward, literal translation.

Now some of you might be wondering why, if I knew I was going to buy this stuff, I didn’t look it up on ITranslate before hand – trust me; my way is sooooo much more fun!

The storm hit late afternoon on Sunday; the full moon/high tide driving the 24 ft plus waves into the shops, restaurants and seafront apartments. It took no pause at the protective barriers they had built, and hurled huge blocks of concrete around as if they were no more than lego bricks.

On Wednesday we went to Denia, which hadn’t been hit so badly, but it was still cold and miserable.

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We didn’t go to the seafront in Javea until Thursday, as they had asked everyone to stay out of the way whilst they got on with the clean up. The amount of work that had already been done was impressive, with one or two places re-opening to serve coffee.

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After wandering along the front, we walked down to the port – I was utterly amazed to see the fishing boats coming in and unloading their catches; the boats must have gone out the day before! Rather them than me!

Twice a day, the fish catch is auctioned to fishmongers, hoteliers, local supermarkets, etc. The stall is opened (on the side of the auction house) where we can buy it fresh from the boats. You always know when it’s going to open, as a queue of patient customers quickly forms. It would appear that you can also do a private deal with the skipper, if you have contacts, as I watched this man approach a boat, shared a few words, chose a fish, and cycled home with his dinner hanging off his handlebars – a poor shot because I tried to take it surreptitiously.

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The port waters were calm again, but the sea outside the sheltered port still heaved and swelled angrily.

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