We picked up Mr Colin Dog from Almogía, a lovely Spanish mountain village, which was an amazing drive on winding roads, and with some of the most astounding clouds we’ve ever seen on the way, very otherworldly.
Colin was quite pleased to see us again, although did jump back in the kennels’ van as if he wanted to go back to the lovely folks at In The Dog House who looked after him while we were in Morocco!
Then it was back to El Pino campsite at Torrox near Nerja, a campsite and part of Spain in which we really feel at home. After the ever warm welcome here from Sylvia and Marina we pitched up, then took a lovely walk through farmland to the coast, seeing some beautiful flowers in full bloom.
And, to the boys’ great interest, some Spanish farmers collecting their potato harvest. Now they know where spuds come from!
The walk continued beside a dry riverbed to the Torrox coast where we took a look at the lighthouse and the Roman ruins there, then the cannon pointing out to sea, a sign of less peaceful times along this now tranquil Andalusian coast.
Then it was on for some beach-teach: word and number learning games in the sand, plus some running and splashing in the sea, naturally!
A couple of days later we motored west along the coast past lots more Spanish magical roundabout art in our increasingly trusty Swift Escape 696
(it’s taken us 12,000 miles in six months now, without hint of a hitch!) to lovely Cabopino Camping
Here we put up our Outwell awning up with fair ease – great as it creates a new room, and one that the boys love, as all children love tents! We also put up our new Outwell
windbreak which helps give a feel of having our own little garden in Spain, plus allows for more relaxation by hindering escape plans of children and dog!
We also put up our excellent (and thoroughly recommended) iBoost
system, a device we stick on the motorhome that boosts wifi signals to give us greater speeds (and avoid cursing at the tediously slow speeds like a drunken pirate cursing the lack of wind on the sails!). We stick ours on our motorhome’s aerial – and as it works its magic, its lights flash away, so in the dark it looks not unlike the lights used (with the classic five tone sound!) to communicate to the alien spaceship on Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
(“If everything’s ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon… play the five tones”!).
Cabopino Camping is one of Spain’s most popular campsites – it’s easy to see why: welcoming and helpful owners and staff, great restaurants (two Italian, one Indian), shop with a bakery, Italian deli and pizza takeaway (also with freshly baked bread), a bar, two swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), pétanque terrain, basketball set-ups, a small football pitch, and activities included in the price of a pitch including a play area and crafts for children, kayaking, pilates and yoga.
No wonder it’s approved by The Camping and Caravanning Club
, no wonder it’s so popular (at present, it’s completely full including many Spanish people on their holidays, which speaks volumes).
The campsite’s on a gentle hill with 270 pitches (from 60 to 90 square metres), with many having a sea view, plus it’s shaded in much of it by numerous lovely pine trees. The smell of pine and jasmine is around in the air along with other sweet-smelling and colourful blooms. There are cats aplenty about to drive Mr Colin Dog even more mad than he already is while simultaneously delighting our three-year-old cat fan Darley.
One of the best things about the site is its overall friendliness and camaraderie, something that’s clearly evident on all campsites, but perhaps stronger here as so many northern Europeans make it their home for six months a year. As the Spanish are on holidays for Semana Santa (Holy Week) now, there are also lots of lovely Spanish children for our boys to make friends with and to help teach them some more Spanish.
It’s been sweltering too for a few days for us all more used to northern European temperatures, up to about 27 degrees. Phew! The Spanish, of course, are keeping their sweaters on until it gets really warm in a few months…
Even so, the Mediterranean Sea was calm yet still a little chilly for our kayaking lesson, although felt fine after the initial intake of breath. We had great fun, a first-time experience for the boys and a PE lesson that certainly fitted the bill of Education By Astonishment!
Afterwards we went to our “local” here for coffee and apple juices at the wonderfully welcoming Andy’s beach bar, run by a really friendly and fabulous guy Pedro with his ever-energetic and smiling staff, including (a special mention!) Isabel who’s wonderful with us all and her welcome every time is always so genuinely heartfelt it warms our
hearts. The coffees and food at Andy’s are excellent. Our boys love all
the ice cream too!
Afterwards we had an hour of beach-teach learning and some fun together in the sun. Down here (and another reason for Cabopino Camping’s popularity: for the beach and its small marina are only a five minute walk away past the old watchtower) are some other bars and restaurants including a Chinese and Thai plus of course a choice of Spanish meals, with fresh fish a speciality.
It’s becoming increasingly clear to us of the substantial benefits of being in the great outdoors, and especially its enormous benefits for our children (in an era when many of us spend much less time outdoors than previous generations). Plus Debs and I are feeling fitter, not least from the underrated exercise of walking, and our heads feel much clearer too, from the relaxation of being outside among nature and such as hearing the birds singing or the waves lapping.
All the fresh air and peace of the campsites definitely allows us all to sleep better (as one of our boys has never been the greatest fan of sleep this is a godsend). These better sleeps at nights make for better days on waking.
Our body clocks are back in the rhythm they should be, waking at dawn and sleeping when its dark (which has great all-round health benefits). Just ask the experts: “The rise and fall of the sun plays a vital role in the regulation of our sleep,” says Dr Guy Meadows of London’s Sleep School centre and author of The Sleep Book.
“The changing levels of light throughout the day are detected by photo-receptive cells in our eyes that trigger the release of hormones designed to either wake us up (cortisol) or fall asleep (melatonin). So waking up to natural light taps into this evolutionary process providing a natural and more gentle start to the day.”
Hopefully in northern Europe the days are getting warmer and longer, so there’s no excuse for not getting outside now– but even if it’s raining and still chilly, follow our recent Moroccan example (when we experienced wall-to-wall rain for a week) and get on your waterproofs and boots and just get out there.
And get out there with family and friends, feel that liquid sunshine pounding down on you to make you feel truly alive! Watch the raindrops race each other down window panes – and always always
splash in puddles! Or the sea. Try a walk in the park, an amble on the beach, or a stroll in the countryside. Better still, get to a campsite and enjoy the great outdoors that’s there for us to enjoy and rejuvenate in.
Here are some reasons why getting outdoors on this amazing planet Earth is a must for all of us humankind (unless you want to go insane, that is…)
* Trees calm us. Japanese research showed that even looking at a photo of a forest for 20 minutes had an amazing calming influence on such as heart rate and blood pressure. So just imagine what a 20-minute forest walk does for mind and body…
* Nature makes us more creative. David Strayer, professor of Cognition and Neural Science at the University of Utah in the US, discovered that four days backpacking in nature improved people’s creativity by 50 per cent.
* Our busy brains need some peace and stillness. What we hear has a massive influence on our health and wellbeing – all noise makes for inner turmoil. Peace and quiet is required: don’t become an alien to our natural world. Listen to the outdoors as its stillness speaks…
* Trees and plants emit nature’s Valium! Officially called phytoncides, these are the smells of nature. Inhaling phytoncides slows down breathing and reduces anxiety.
* The great outdoors is a rich environment for children to immerse themselves in. It boosts children’s fitness, confidence, development and fires the creative coals of their imaginations. Nature is awesome!
So – escape the rut, flee the drab, get away from complacency… And get out and about, it will re-energise your mind, boost your soul, give you a buzz – and let you find the real human you again. The truth is out there!
Then remember to splash when you get a chance – do it, you will always smile! There’s no need to splash out to feel good, and that’s only ever temporary anyway. But splashing, now that’s fun, and fun is something that will live with you forever.