On Thursday, I fly to England for two weeks, to do the Santa Run and hopefully meet my new grandson, who has still to make his appearance at the time of writing. Normally, we’d be thinking about heading back home after 6 weeks or so in the UK, but this year, two things are different. First of all, there’s the new arrival. His sisters were both two weeks late, and if he follows suit, it will be late November or early December before he makes an appearance. And then there’s our own new arrival, Paddy. Travelling back via Eurotunnel means probably crossing the Pyrenees in snow, and I don’t fancy that. Nor do I fancy putting Paddy in the kennels on the Santander – Plymouth ferry for 24 hours. He has enough problems with separation anxiety as it is. So, Tony is staying here to look after Paddy, and I’m footloose and fancy free for 16 days. England won’t know what’s hit it!
One thing we always do when we travel back and forth is what I call Two Way Shopping. In other words, we take over what is cheaper and/or better in Spain, and repeat the process on the way back. When we do this – especially in the motor home, where we have a lot more space available – we can save a lot of money, which of course we can offset against the cost of the trip.
Obviously, the main saving is on alcohol. You’ve got a job to get a decent bottle of wine in the UK for less than £5 these days – although you might be lucky and pick up a 3 for £10 deal. One of my favourite ‘just drinking and chilling’ wines comes from Bodegas Pedro Luis Martinez in Murcia. It’s a 12.5% ABV white table wine, and it comes in a 5 litre wine box for just €10. I always take several of those back to the UK for our own use and for presents for the family and friends.
This trip, space and weight is limited because I’m flying, but I had a cunning plan to ensure that I didn’t shell out too much on booze for myself and my friend Glenys, who I’ll be staying with. I can always come up with a cunning plan when it’s related to alcohol! I buy most of my wine from Balt-Scandic at La Finca. It’s a bodega and export business run By Erik from Denmark and his Lithuanian partner Roma, and they buy local wines from small producers and export it to Scandinavia, as well as selling it to the locals who are lucky enough to be able to drop in regularly.
Every time a customer comes in, the first thing they are asked is ‘Would you like to try some wine while you browse?’ And it’s not a thimblefull in a plastic shot glass either – this is a real serving of wine in a real glass. I always make sure I walk up there – it would be rude to refuse such warm-hearted hospitality. Anyway, I had a very important question for Erik:
‘How much does a a box of Pedro Luis Martinez weigh, Erik?’
Now Erik is a very laid back Dane, and it’s not often anything disturbs his easy going mood, but he obviously thought I’d already been on something, and he asked if I was okay. After all, it’s not very often he gets asked that question. However, as a wine exporter, he needs to be up on weights and stuff. and within 5 seconds I had my answer:
‘5 kilos for the wine, and maybe 200 grams for the packaging.’
Thank you, God! That means I can easily get a wine box into my hold luggage. I have to say I was very tempted to take 3, and forget about the clothes and presents for the grandchildren. After all, Easyjet give you 20 kilos hold allowance, and i could always shove a frock, some jumpers and some knickers in the carry on bag with the laptop.
Two things prevented me – my friend Glenys doesn’t live in Spain, so she hasn’t developed hollow legs. I’d end up drinking most of it myself, and my liver wouldn’t like it. And I can’t turn up without presents for my gorgeous grandchildren, can I? So, when the 5 litres has gone, I’ll just have to man up and pay silly prices, or go teetotal for a fortnight. Nope – can’t do that! Hopefully the box will last for at least a few days. Maybe Glenys won’t like it. And maybe the temperatures in Devon will be in the high 30s for the next two weeks.