(See UPDATE at end)
The final leg of the journey was relatively brief - about 4 hours in all. The motorways were generally good, although there is a VERY rough section around Alicante where a lot of road works are going on; no doubt in six months or so it will be finished and make driving that section much more relaxing.
On my way down I stopped at a place called Alhama de Murcia to do some supermarket shopping for the first few days - Mercadona (one of the bigger Spanish supermarket chains) have a branch there and once I negotiated my way to the underground car park (a lady who was just about to leave kindly took my ticket from the machine, saving me the trouble of getting out of the car to get it myself - this is obviously a similar situation which I've faced at all the motorway toll booths for the past several days) I was able to stock up with the basic essentials - although when I arrived at the house it was already fairly well stocked so I shall use some of what is there too and replace it before I leave.
Apart from visiting a few people I know very locally and passing by my own little house (in course of construction) I hardly stepped outside the garden the whole weekend, other than to take the dog for walks. I was simply enjoying being here and not having to make another lengthy drive.
The weather is very comfortably warm during the day - around 21 or 22 degrees during the day, but it does get very cold once the sun goes down, making the hot/cold central air-conditioning unit in the house more of a necessity than a luxury. I am pretty comfortably installed - the house isn´t perhaps funrnished or equipped as fully as I plan to do for my own little house when it´s ready, but all the essentials are there, the bed is comfortable and the shower is very satisfactory; with those basics in place life seems a whole lot more rosy!
I´ve just been into the bank here to get rid of quite a bit of the cash in Euros that I was carrying - just as at home it´s obviously not good, nor necessary to carry too much cash around all the time, or even to leave it at the house, however secure that is. Next job will be to retrieve my mailbox key, which I reserved when I was here last May; the office will just have opened 15 minutes ago. Later today I´ll visit the internet service provider (who also does TV and telephone) for my Country Club and hope to be able to arrange temporary internet access from the house I´m staying in for the three months I´m here; that will avoid having to visit the internet café where this is currently being written. I am told the ISP is very obliging and will be able to let me subscribe on a temporary basis, suspending my subscription when I´m away and reconnecting me at my own house later this year when it´s ready. Apparently all the cabling for telecomms to the properties in the Country Club is fibre-optic and the quality is therefore high; speeds not as high as at home (8Mb), but a very acceptable 512Kb - that´s what my broadband at home was at the very beginning.
Right, I must get off to the residents´ office to get my mailbox key, then a little walk with the dog (currently asleep in the car).
UPDATE: (Monday 22JAN07 19.07 CET) Well I visited the ISP this afternoon at about 4.35pm and explained I wanted temporary internet connection in the house I'm renting, then to suspend the account in April when I return to the UK and to have it re-instated at my own house around the end of the year. The man thought for a few moments; I asked if it was 'complicated', he said 'no, just a special case' and proceeded to open my account on his computer; all I had to do was provide my local bank account information and let him see my passport. When I left about 10 minutes later (i.e. at about 4.50pm) it was agreed that the technician would visit tomorrow morning at 9am to install the modem, etc. However, two technicians turned up at the house at about 4.15pm today (!) and in less than 5 minutes I was online. So from start to finish the whole thing took less than 45 minutes - pretty amazing I think you'll agree! Oh and the final icing on the cake - I didn't even have to pay for the connection, just the monthly fee (about 30 Euros); he said I would only be charged for the connection when my own house is wired up later in the year. I've never had service like this before anywhere - this little corner of Spain, in the Country Club, is really very efficient and friendly with it.