Costa Cel Bono

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 6 September 2009

My bites still itch. My tan still shimmers.

Wolfgang Amadeus continues to amaze.

I have no food in the flat, but Wolfie's Requiem feeds the soul.

I came back to London early, worried that I wouldn't be prepared for tomorrow, deleted all my work emails by mistake so now I don't have a clue what I'm doing or where, so I could have stayed in the cottage and carried on arguing with the old git.

After being stranded in Valencia for 6 hours we finally arrived home at quarter to midnight last night. Cold, tired and blissfully unaware of the three-mile-high-pile of bills that awaited us on arrival.

We had done everything we could to make our departure easier than our arrival.

On August 26th, Wednesday 9.30 a.m, I had most of my toiletries confiscated at Gatwick because they wouldn't fit into the paltry little plastic bags on offer. I cried buckets as I saw my shampoo, foot cream, body lotion, sun-tan spray, go the way of all the other 250ml bottles. All my expensive potions and lotions were tiny but they weren't going to fit into the little plastic bag that Eva Braun supplied. I had to go out of the security gates and queue up again to walk back through the beeping machine, and even though I'd passed muster Eva set about prodding my tubes of very expensive face creams and testing them for illegal substances, what did she think I did with my life? Open up triangular tubes and refill them with semtex.

By the time we reached our Easy-Jet seats, they had all been taken so I ended up sitting over the aisle from Jim, who had by this time disowned me. I calculated that I had lost at least 71 pounds worth of liquid luxuries, if I hadn't needed a holiday before going through security I sure as hell needed it now.

We were collected from the airport by Anita, a Spanish speaking Irish gal, who mid-way to CHIVA, informed us that 'We did know didn't we that there was no electricity in the villa?' Well 'we didn't know did we.' that not only was there no electricity there was also no way of getting into Chiva without a horse and cart, tractor, jeep or camel, none of which were on offer. So from Wednesday through Saturday, like Aung San Suu Kyi, we were under house arrest. If it hadn't been for Jim's scouting abilities, the 15x15 swimming pool, the palm trees, the very hot sunshine and a fridge full of freezing cold water, I might just have wanted to come back to damp old Blighty.

Simon, our car-supplier-cum-tour-guide-cum-master-of-ceremonies-cum-host-of-thursday-night-cum-cook-come-bottle-recycler supplied us with a clapped out old automatic Mercedes Saturday lunchtime. Jim drove it with one hand whilst sucking on a Cuban cigar. He looked, for all the world, like Viva Zapata, which means shoe, so there was the old git looking like Viva Clog....

For most of the vacation we dined by candlelight, swum by the light of the silvery moon, slept with the mosquitos,devoured 'Richard & Judy's' books choices and then twice in four days took the train to Valencia. A fabulous city of facades, sands and tourist buses.

CHIVA is a one train town, the station is painted salmon pink with Church style windows. The single track has one platform for 'in' and one for 'out'. Two girls, wearing big rubber gloves, pulled leaves out of the drains, as they worked on their hands and knees, cleaning the platform, when we turned up waving our Euro's they ran to the ticket office and sold us return tickets to Valencia.

On the open topped tourist bus I got bitten by fleas, but the little red headphones that plugged into the back of the seat in front gave just enough information to make the home of fast car races, Oceanic museums and a life size Gulliver the most seductive of cities, spending the the next four years in Valencia was almost an option.

Our villa, Casita Vicente I Amparyn, is surrounded by rows of little grapes trees, almond trees, carob trees, rescue dogs and corralled bulls. Every field has a fig tree or an orange tree or a lemon tree or even a lime tree all ripe for the illicit picking and surreptitious eating thereof. We bought 'The Guardian' and 'The Mail' everyday from the little kiosk opposite the tobacconists, where the old git bought his cigars every day. 'One whiff of dat smoke' said Padr, Anita's other half, 'And there won't be a mosquitta alive to tell der tale.' All said in his delicious Dublin accent.

Puffing away on his Cuban Jim and I did the crosswords by torchlight, we even had a television which worked until the generator ran out. I will never know what happened at the end of a particularly exciting film as the petrol phutted out just as the hero pulled out his huge sword.

We had armies of ants and colonies of rats all of whom had to vacate now that the Barnett -Bywaters had come to town, sorry in Village....

The first morning I watched in horror as row after row of giant ants, leaves held aloft, marched their way from all corners of the courtyard. I asked forgiveness as I poured buckets of boiling water over them. The singing kettle hadn't whistled so much as I kept refilling it from the single tap in the kitchen.

Padr came laden with a box of solution strapped to his back, he set about spraying poison all over the highly organised colonies of little red workers. 'For every 10,000 you drown' he said 'They'll be 40,000 more waiting to climb up out of the undergrowth and bite you.' I asked forgiveness again as Padr set about pushing on his plunger of poisonous spray.

The earth was very red, the rats were very noisy, the crickets sounded like morse code and since I sleep like the princess and the pea I was up and about most nights. I slept on the bed, in the bed, under the covers, without covers. I found a sheet and wound myself in it like a shroud, I slept on the settee, off the settee, I wrapped a towel then unwrapped the towel. I slept on my sarong and naked. I tried to settle on the deck-chair off the deck-chair. I toyed with the cold stone floor but thought better of the 40,000 ants waiting to eat me alive so ended up on the settee. I awoke with little indentions over my body from the bobbly upholstery.

I ended up using wine as an anesthetic. Helping himself drink a 1 euro-a-litre bottle of red wine only served to help me fall comotose all over him . The red wine worked for one night only, when I tried white wine, which we had with our delicious bowl of pawns in garlic and chili which I whipped up on the old gas stove all it did was make me very dry mouthed and a little hysterical. The second attempt at red wine therapy made me so maudlin I turned into a wailing Jew without the wall.

In the end I swum more, even walked some, read as much as I could and gave into the heat. But now it's gone midnight and I haven't a sleepy bone in me body; no Jim, no red wine and no Chivan moon, but I DO NEED TO SLEEP for tomorrows return to LBC so no more tales of the Costa Del Bono till manyananananana.....

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At September 7, 2009 2:18 AM christian wrote:

Oh God help us all, ye olde bag is back, there goes the peace & quiet.....damn

2. At September 7, 2009 9:41 AM Marmite wrote:

Welcome back we missed you, it sounded like scout camp not a holiday, but I'm not sure I can imagine you and Jim in the lap of 5 star luxury you would get bored!

Oh by the way I'm sure that Eva Braun has a shop on ebay selling toiletries making a fortune she is!
Lots of love
Marmite xx

3. At September 7, 2009 2:43 PM Tess H wrote:

Welcome back Jeni, we have missed you !

4. At September 8, 2009 9:38 AM Glenn wrote:

Yeah, she's back... and with a great blog to boot.
I hope you managed to have some R & R in Spain, albeit without pastes and potions.
Have a great start in the new working year.
love from sunny Hamburg

5. At September 8, 2009 11:06 AM Pauline Jones wrote:

Great to have you back Jeni, we really did miss you - and Christian!

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