Our last day in Camping Mon Mar in Moncofa was memorable in a number of ways.  A large group of Brits walked into the campsite singing happy Birthday.  Apparently there was an old chap staying there and he was expecting to have to drive to the airport in Valencia to pick up a couple of his family to help him celebrate.  As a surprise about ten of them had turned up early to surprise him. 

We had a meal in the restaurant and I bought Emilio the barman a beer to say thank you for being so nice-

1 Emilio

he had given us a big box of orange windfalls, (oranges that have a little hole where the stalk was, so they had to be eaten within a few days or be chucked).  He had let us stay late a couple of times and he was always very friendly with everyone.  He sat down and we had a chat, well the best I could manage with my beginners Spanish.  It turns out that he owns the campsite, including the bar and restaurant, together with the small water park next door.  He also grows oranges.  In the summer, the orange trees look after themselves and he devotes his time to his very busy campsite.  In the winter, the campsite ticks over with a few Brits and the odd Camping and Caravan Club rally and he picks the oranges.  He works with all his family and it seems to function extremely well.  I apologised for my poor Spanish but he said that it was a real pleasure to talk to someone in his own language, as most Brits spoke none at all.  (Well I think that was what the conversation was, there was a lot of hand waving).

Friday night was a nightmare; the rain hammered down like someone was performing a drum solo on our tent and I think I slept for about four minutes.  The roads in the campsite were well and truly flooded and it was something of an adventure to get to the loo.  There was a nice big puddle just inside the tent as well.  We had planned for a quick strike the next morning ad had packed everything away that we could.  We put on our waterproofs, cleared everything into the car and took the tent down as fast as we could.  The sun then decided to come out and mock us. (Meh!).

2 wet strike

At that point our lovely neighbour, Ed’s wife, (I really must listen more carefully to introductions) came out with a cup of tea for us.  I think they must be the kindest people we have met so far on our trip.

3 Ed and Mrs

It was a nice irony that I could see this as we left one of our favourite campsites…

4 rainbow camping

Leaving Moncofa was quite different from our arrival

5 leaving Moncofa

and the journey through the mountains was rather different as well

6 rainy mountains

As we passed the Ebre delta there were huge flocks of birds

7 birds at Ebra delta

but the spray on the motorway was pretty scary

8 wet wet wet

We drove north through torrential rain to a small village called Tamariu not too far from Girona. 

Our lovely friends, John and Peta, had invited us to stay with them. We followed the sat nav’s directions (not ‘sat nag’ as the auto-correct wants to change it to, apt really) down through a very windy road, into a splendid private estate ending up at a gorgeous villa that would have a fabulous view in better conditions.

After a really hospitable welcome

9 Lovely John and Peta

(involving tea, cake, lots of hot water and some delightfully fluffy towels) (got to love them fluffy towels) Jon and Peta drove us through the most foul conditions to a really fantastic restaurant with a very inventive menu, although my cod loin with beef jaw and cheeks was a bit too fatty for my liking.  Peta had a deep-fried rockfish that looked extraordinary.  Unfortunately nobody had a working camera with them but this statue gives quite a good indication of what it looked like.

10 rockfish

It was a pleasure to sleep in a nice warm and dry room and I slept so well that I thought it had not rained at all.  It turned out that it hadn’t stopped all night.  You could never be quite that wrong in a tent

On Sunday they took us for a tour round a couple of local towns.  In Palafrugell it was market day and the place was really buzzing. 

11 Palafrugal

12 Pala 2

Begur was a fabulously restored fortified town

13 fort 1

It was gearing up for the Christmas celebrations when everyone dresses up in Roman or nativity clothes and they use the whole town to tell the Christmas story.  You could just see how good it is going to be. 

14 Nativity

All the time a light rain was falling, but the droplets were full of dust so everything became coated in a layer of mud.  Yum!

15 mud

The rain came back later with a vengeance.  I had cheekily asked if we could stay a second night and, when they said ‘yes’, all Tim and I could say to our hosts was ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’.

On Sunday evening we didn’t really want to stay in, despite the rain still coming down in torrents.  John and Peta had a couple of pizzas in the freezer and we had the makings of an emergency meal in Camel, but we really fancied trying another restaurant.  Just before eight the rain stopped so we went looking for somewhere to eat.  The local village was totally shut, as was the next one (I mean totally dead!).  We finally tried a third and managed to get down to the port of Colonge (I had to admire both John’s skill and cheek as he drove through tiny streets and parked in front of a shop)(nobody cared, you have got to love Spain!) and we finally found a nice restaurant just a few feet from the harbour.  We ate pretty good food while the waves crashed excitingly onto the rocks nearby.  I always thought the Mediterranean was meant to be far better mannered than that, we could have been in Cornwall or the Outer Hebrides.  I thought John and Peta were a little bit embarrassed about the weather as they kept on apologising for the lack of lovely views.  All I can say is that we had a great time, with lots of laughs, fabulous scenery, delicious food and a lovely warm, comfortable and DRY place to sleep.

On Monday, we said a fond and grovelingly grateful farewell to lovely Peta and John, and we could finally see what they so wanted us to see

16 view

We then headed back south to a campsite a little south of Sitges and Barcelona with the hope of better weather.  The weather did indeed improve all the way and we could finally appreciate the lovely scenery we could not see on the way up.

17 better weather

18 better weather 2

You could, however see just how much water had fallen from the sky

19 raging river

As we tried to bypass Barcelona we hit a major traffic jam and it is an indication of how bored I was that I started spotting Schmitz Cargobulls (Lorry trailers, yep yawn).  At one stage we were totally surrounded by them…. sad aint it.

20 boredom

Vilanova Park is possibly the largest campsite in the world.  I managed to get totally lost while looking for reception and I suspect it could take you a long time to explore it all.  The facilities are outstanding, if a little more dear than down south.  On Monday evening, as we took our usual shelter in the bar, we ended up playing bingo with what seemed like 200 other people. 

21 Bingo

OK, so we played bingo.  We didn’t mean to……we were reading our books and someone put the card in front of us and we might have got a free drink we are not in the least bit sad or old or anything……. breathe…..