Some of the best village ramparts in France
Midday on Saturday we left Ricote on the long drive (10kms) to Archena via the Aldi supermarket in Archena. I can’t believe the difference that short drive has made. Archena is a medium sized town that lies at the point where the Segura river leaves the mountains and starts on its journet across the coastal plain. The whole place is busier and several degrees warmer – it feels so different. The aire is a large carpark next to the town sports centre (the “polisportiu”) and has 12 marked out motorhome spaces along one side but these are under very tall leylandii trees. The only available space when we arrived at 1:10pm was almost in the corner heavily shaded on two sides. All that shade is great in summer but we need sun on our solar panel so today (Sunday) we moved out in to the middle of the car park with the bigger vans who don’t fit in the basic pitches. As we are staying here for a couple of days Bertie needs to keep his batteries charged and that means as much sunshaine as possible. Note to folks at home who may have forgotten the joys of sunshine: this is that lovely warm stuff that you get when the sun is high and the sky is blue (remember those days?).
One of the reasons for choosing this location is that it is next to the river – a real river with flowing water in it. Between the aire and the river itself is a promenade that runs beside the river right across the town. We had a walk along there on Saturday afternoon to see how far it went and suss it out for a longer bike ride on Sunday. The river has clearly had much more water through it at some point in the last few months. There is quite a bit of debris washed up almost to the level of the path and all the reeds and canes are growing at a steep angle sloping away from the direction of flow. Today the water is flowing briskly but in quite a small channel. Saturday afternoon is feeding time for the feral cats and a group of ladies were going along the path putting dried cat food out for the pussies which appeared from the undergrowth in some numbers. When we biked along here on Sunday morning there were very few cats to be seen. On Saturday we saw 20+ but on Sunday we saw 3 over a rather greater distance.
Another British van arrived on Saturday evening and we had someone to talk to. There are 20 vans here but once again the bulk are German and just us two British ones. John and Heather were really interesting to talk to. They had a brand new van style motorhome (ie a fully formed motorhome but squeezed in to a standard van body) and they were planning to travel in that until June 2020. They have sold their house and this van is the only home they have for them and their two small dogs. They had started out with a VW camper but after two months on the road decided that it was far too small for what they wanted to do. They ordered a brand new Elddis Evolution from Brownhills and whilst Heather and dogs stayed in accommodation in Benidorm, John drove the VW back to the UK and part exchanged it for the Elddis which he drove straight back out to Spain!
Our bike ride on Sunday was really good. Not especially far but followed the bike track and footpath right through the town for a mile or so and then came back the same way. The river flowed over several weirs in that distance and we stopped to watch the ducks and geese. There were quite a few serious bikers powering along but we seemed to be the only casual cyclists (ie not wearing lycra and pedalling furiously on mountain bikes). The bikes are loaded back up on to the rack now and we will head on south tomorrow. A quiet afternoon and an opportunity to catch up on emails etc. The sun is shining brightly and Bertie’s panel is soaking it up so this is a good time to run the laptop on the inverter.