This will be known as the brolly holiday of course. It is a piece of equipment that gets little exercise in dry Norfolk and during our trip last year was even less evident - we had after all a scant four days of rain during three months. It is the opposite here. So far it feels as if we may have had only four days of real sunshine in our near five weeks so far. Happily we brought plenty - two folding for Janet and one for me plus one of my trusty golfing brollies.
Everywhere we go the locals walk with brollies at the ready. Even those with walking sticks carry a brolly in the other hand. I have to assume that anyone needing two sticks or a Zimmer frame is forced to stay indoors.
Continental camping is not like British camping. Even when you find a site that look brilliant on its web site it turns out a bit less enticing on arrival. This is because of some major differences between us and them, if you will forgive the differentiation.
First, the Brits will caravan and even camp in all weathers. Over here the season is short, very short in some cases. So most sites are forced to accept the idea of permanent campers. These are not usually of the mobile home that never moves variety nor even in many cases 'cabins'. They are most often ordinary caravans, with ordinary awnings very firmly attached. They have virtually fixed and permanent ground sheets and a newish departure - a second tent of about 1.5 by 1 metre which it appears contains extra storage and or cooking equipment. Often these have their own power and water supply. The whole is enclosed in a three-sided privacy screen usually of something like leylandii which, given the climate remains reasonably short in stature. They are all different and of varying degrees of tidiness.
Second, although land is plentiful and actually cheap over here camp sites tend to pack us all in. So you rarely see the British 'park camping' environment. Usually pitches are small, back to back and fronting fairly narrow service roads.
Third, the combination of poor soil, too much sun, not enough rain and over-use of ground sheets means that most sites are grit and mud rather than grass. Where shrubbery and trees are found they are often scrubby and anyway get rough treatment from the campers.
If you combine these features you get a fairly unattractive environment. Add in the continental desire for a bar/club/restaurant with copious outdoor seating, a small supermercado (sometime open) and of course a pool, paddling pool and children's play area and you get the idea. These do not present as leafy glades of tranquility and peace where the aged traveller can settle in for a quiet time.
Aha and my ever loving reminds me that they also seem to spend most of their time on site, inside their vans and awnings. They do sometimes venture out to cook whole chickens on small barbecues but are currently forced back pretty smartly by the rain.
Today (May 1) is a Tuesday but everywhere has been packed with Spanish people 'en fete' and every bar, shop and car park packed with them having fun. It is a bank holiday - Labour Day, honouring the working man. We are of course less than an hour from Madrid and the escape to the country must be a beguiling proposition - have you seen Madrid? We thought Naples was harum scarum but Madrid eats it for desayuno as they would say if they knew the phrase.