I seem to be spending a lot of time driving up and down the A7 at the moment but we have managed to get out the past two weekends and spend some time in the fresh and warm winter air…..
Now Ryanair are not my most favourite of airlines and it takes gritted teeth and bags of patience to navigate your way through their online booking system ticking boxes here and unticking them there to make sure you don’t incur any extra charges. I miss the days when the price quoted up front was the actual price you ended up paying.
It’s not much better at the airport as in order to keep their costs so low the planes arrive at the 11th hour and you have about 10 minutes from the time the gate is called to get to said gate and board the plane.
Herded cattle is a phrase that springs to mind as once on the plane the already harassed air steward/people (what do you call them nowadays??) try frantically to get you seated so they can get turned around and away again.
All said though, 35 euros for a return flight can’t be beaten and so for that I am happy to put up with the discomfort that comes with it.
When you land (a loosely termed phrase) as Ryanair obviously teaches its pilots to plant the plane on the runway with all the finesse of an obese hippo, they play a rousing little tune announcing ‘another on-time Ryainar flight’ – woo hoo……
I then amuse myself by watching my fellow passengers leap out of their seats as soon as the seat belt signs go off and scramble for their bags before waiting necks craned, heavy bags in hand, all squeezed up together for the doors to open. It makes me chuckle to watch the franticness and the tut-tutting that ensues by having to wait 5 minutes. I love people
Anyway, on with my trip. I coincided it with a visit home from the sister of my best friend. She and her husband live in Australia and she was on her annual trip back to Blighty so it seemed a good time to come back and see both my family and hers. I have known her sister for (ahem) 38 years and so in reality they are family too.
We organised a lovely lunch with the three of them and my mum, sister and sister in law. Lots of laughing, catching up and way too much food followed and it was such a lovely afternoon. Being back in their company always makes me appreciate what strong and loving women I have in my family. They truly rock.
That evening my friend and I went out for another meal to catch up properly. Afterwards as we walked to the taxi rank through the mecca that is Romford we reminisced about our days on Romford’s patch and concluded that we were well past that sell by date and that the bars sounded a trifle noisy for our liking now!!
The following day I had more time with my parents as we went and met my brother for lunch – more food A quick stop back at my brother’s house to see his latest DIY skills and to pick up Archie the dog he then took me back to the airport.
Zipping through the back roads of Essex with Archie perched on my lap watching the world race by we had a chance to have a good chat and by the time we arrived at Stansted we had caught up on each other’s lives again.
Before I knew it I was back in Malaga, ditching the big heavy coat as I walked out into a very spring like evening and being picked up by hubby.
Although it was a quick visit it was lovely to touch base with my family, see them all in the flesh and be able to hug and laugh with them in a way you can’t over the phone.
So, I should thank Ryanair for getting me there and back safely and on time……and all for just 35 euros.
Last October on our return to Spain we took our beloved Oscar to the vets as we knew something was not right. He had lost an awful lot of weight – down to 8lbs from the 14lbs he was in his prime (he is a Maine Coon which are a big breed of cat) as well as drinking lots and lots of water.
As we suspected he was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney failure and our vet informed us that he had probably already lost 2/3 rds of the available function of his kidneys.
They prescribed a special diet of biscuits (which he turned his nose up at) and medication that they couldn’t guarantee would do him any good but that would boost their bank balance by 50euros each month! It wasn’t a good visit and the prognosis was poor.
Anyway, we brought him home and did our own research. Thankfully he still had his appetite as many cats with this disease lose theirs. So we changed his diet to include less fish (too much potassium) and more meat. Him and his sidekick Molly haven’t eaten ‘cat food’ for many years instead enjoying tuna, sardines and coley fish. Now we include beef steak, lamb and lambs liver in their diet which they thoroughly enjoy.
We also managed to get hold of a herbal product from the States called Tripsy, which has had great results and we have been giving him this twice a day since December.
I am delighted to say that when I weighed him this morning he had put on a whole LB…….woo hoo, big excitement in the Hooper caravan and Oscar is making the most of his moment of glory and revelling in all the extra attention that is suddenly being showered upon him (Molly is rather jealous!!)
He is more settled now and sleeps better. He is still drinking a fair amount but it has definitely stabilised which is all we can hope for as kidney failure is irreversible. He is still as affectionate as ever though and enjoys his little trips outside as much as ever. His quality of life has not diminished in anyway.
So, we are happy that he seems to be fighting it for now. The next milestone we hope to see him through is his 19th birthday this May. I predict it will be well celebrated
When he said he was writing a book about his experiences as a gay man living in a Muslim country I knew it would be a good read, no scrap that hilarious read. I wasn’t wrong and it delivers on every page.
It chronicles his and Liam’s first year in Turkey and how they navigated the cultural divide not only amongst the locals but also among the odd breed of man known as the ‘expat’
Being a fully paid up member of the expat brigade I can more than identify with the different categories of people within this group. I won’t spoil it for you but some of the stories made my toes curl in embarrassment at my fellow Brits.
It isn’t all fun and hilarity though and there are parts of the story and the stories of new friends that they have made on the way that left me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
In short, Jack has a true talent for keeping it real, saying it as it is and standing up for what he believes in. But his biggest talent is that he can write it all down in a way that keeps you hooked and eagerly turning the page for more.
Perking the Pansies available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. It is also available via Jack’s website. Buy it now, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed
Today’s post is a guest contribution from one of my favourite bloggers Jack Scott.
Jack lives in Turkey with his husband Liam and writes a hilariously funny blog about his life entitled ‘Perking The Pansies’ (see on my favourite blog list to the right). Many times I have spat my morning tea out all over the keyboard whilst reading his riotous musings…..he’s always guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Jack has just written a book about his life in Turkey and I was lucky enough to be asked to review it for his ‘virtual tour’. I will be telling all tomorrow but for now here is a little taste of Jack’s writing as he gets to grips with this whole caravan malarky…..
‘When I planned my virtual tour, I knew the book would have to take centre stage. There would be little point if it didn’t. But I didn’t want to just bang on about it and do the hard sell. People would get bored and simply switch channels. I know I would. I had to find a theme, something to maintain interest. I also wanted to say something related to the people that have kindly let me loose on their blogs. A theme gradually emerged: me. My favourite subject.
Today’s post is on Helen’s European Journey. Elegant Helen is wander-lusting gypsy-like across Europe (well, so far across Iberia – give ‘em time) in a travelling caravan with hunky husband and three pretty pussies in tow. So, folks, I give you… me and caravans. Not the dusty camel trains of antiquity hauling exotic goods along the ancient Silk Road from China to Anatolia, but the common or garden static metal type of my childhood. It’s a tenuous link, but stay with me.
When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, a wet week in a tiny tin caravan propped up in a stranger’s back garden was our holiday of choice. We were a large family and it was a crowded house. It mattered little; my memories of those distant days are full of fun and frolics. As I grew older, the family added a few more coppers to the coffers and ambitions of owning our very own caravan became a reality. Dad bought a monster of a thing – a top of the range fancy caravan, decked out in fetching Seventies floral orange with mains water and electricity, two bedrooms, a fully functioning flush toilet, shower room and a spacious open plan living area with kitchenette.
Our upmarket caravan was permanently parked in a back garden on Hayling Island. For the un-initiated, Hayling is a small, flat island sandwiched between Langstone and Chichester Harbours on the south coast of England. It’s a place littered with post-war bungalows and people close to death. Age Concern has a swot team on permanent standby. Despite the elderly population, it’s also where I first had sex in 1976, but that’s another story. We holidayed in our flashy van for many years. When the rest of us moved up to fancy foreign holidays, my sister took ownership and the caravan was given a new lease of life with her own young family. Sadly, all good things come to an end. Eventually, the caravan had its day and was abandoned for all time. It’s still there, I hear, with a collapsed roof and shitting pigeons roosting in the kitchenette. I look back on all our family holidays with great fondness. We were trailer trash and loved it.
My time in Turkey has been emotional, life-changing and hugely educational. I often find myself thinking about those early caravan days, about my father and his dream holiday machine. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he features in my book, Perking the Pansies – Jack and Liam move to Turkey. I sure he would have liked it, and I hope you will too. The book is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. If you buy it via my website I’ll make a few extra pennies. No pressure. ‘
To finish off, I give you the Caravan Song by Barbara Dickson. A classic trailer.
Tune in tomorrow to hear all about Jack’s book…….
Ok, so I am not a huge fan of supermarket shopping or for any shopping come to that matter but the good thing about shopping in Spain is that the supermarkets are rarely busy (as long as you time it right). Most Spaniards do their shopping in the evenings so if you avoid doing the same then you should be ensured a calm and relaxed stroll around with your trolley.
In fact going during the day means that the majority of shoppers are fellow English folk and it is all very jolly and stress free………………..until you hit the check out.
Yesterday was a prime example.
After a bit of queue jumping we finally got lucky as a new checkout opened to which we were second in line. We had both a basket of food for a weekend’s catering job that I wanted to pay separately for and our own weekly trolley.
Its best to have two of you on the job at the checkout which is why I am always grateful that hubby accompanies me to help. He unloads the contents on to the conveyor belt whilst I stand at the ready at the other end to receive the items as they are hurled at breathtaking speed by the checkout girls whose only job it seems is to be surly, unhelpful and downright dangerous if a hand or finger gets in the way of their throwing skills. I often think that a baseball mitt would be a good idea for protection.
There are two shopping lanes at the end of the checkout which means that as soon as the last item of your shopping has been rung through they switch lanes and begin scanning the next victims shopping; which means that you have exactly a nanosecond to see the price of your shop come up on the screen before it is gone forever. Trying to decipher how much from the surly checkout girl is not an option and so I have become something of an expert in clocking the price at the end.
Yesterday our checkout assistant was incredibly grumpy and quite obviously wanted to be anywhere but in front of me – and she wasn’t afraid of showing her displeasure. With our first basket load of shopping safely packed away and the cost determined by myself I cheerfully handed her a fifty euro note only to have it snatched out of my hand as if I had kept her waiting for an eternity. Hmmmm……deep breath from me and sweet smile pasted to my face.
I took a deep breath, picked my change up that had been tossed in my direction and started packing our second shop that was already on its way down to me. Hubby by this time had reached me at the end of the checkout and was galliantly providing back up assistance.
We got to the end of our shopping and disaster struck. Hubby had forgotten to weigh the sweet potatoes. Oh sweet lord, the look on her face as she realised our torrid mistake reduced us to quibbering wrecks as we desperately tried to apologise for our tardiness. Phone calls were made, much tutting and glaring was thrown in our direction and another assistant dispatched to weigh the errant items.
We were discarded to one side as she got to work on her next victims – also a couple. Strange how most people seem to come shopping on mass. Safety in numbers
Anyway, after a 5 minute wait our potatoes returned but of course we were now being punished and made to wait whilst she dealt with the couple standing nervously next to us. She got to the end of their shopping and suddenly stopped with a frozen look on her face. You could see the steam rising from her and we all took a collective lean back from the checkout.
She stood for a few moments trying to work out how to get around her problem without having to tell us what was going on (I had already guessed) but then realised she was in the ***t.
In her rush to get the couple’s shopping rung through after us she hadn’t rung them up as a new customer and so their shopping had just gone onto the end of our bill!!!
So, she had to take all their shopping back and ring it back through as a deduction…….which of course she did with the all the charm and grace of a couple of deliquants on day release.
Once she had done this you may have thought that she might ring our potatoes through and get us out the way but noooooo she then proceeded to put all their shopping back through again and complete their transaction.
Only then did she conceed to come back to us and finish our shop.
If you are feeling exhausted just reading this then imagine how we felt actually living it. Boy oh boy………if I could manage a round of expletives in Spanish then I am sure they would have burst forth from my lips but as it was I don’t and so we stood with stiff upper lips and did what the British do best – held it together and acted stoically whilst all hell was letting loose around us.
Oh how I miss shopping back home, a quick 5 minutes on the computer ordering a weekly shop and then waiting for my jolly delivery man to come and wheel all my groceries in for me whilst chatting away inanely about his bad back and the general state and decline of the country. Ah such blissful memories……..
Christmas has been and gone and we are now waking to a New Year – 2012 dawns with what will hopefully be a healthy, happy and prosperous year for all.
But what of my goings on over the festive period???
Well, Christmas was predictably quiet with much of the campsite gone away. We downed tools as they say the night before Christmas Eve and spent the day chilling out and putting up the last of the decorations.
Dvds were watched and scrummy food eaten to get us in the festive spirit. I realised that I had brought children’s Christmas crackers!! but then we very quickly realised that they have better pressies in them!! Here is hubby sporting his ‘pirates eye patch’ on Christmas Eve!!
Oscar and Molly were happy with their pressies of ‘new mice’ to play with. Molly has since taken hers under the bed to her ‘den’ and can be heard most evenings thundering around after them. Oscar’s are still on the end of the bed where he simply prefers to sit on them or with them!
Christmas day morning was spent talking to family back home and then more eating and chilling out ensued. We watched the last of the Harry Potter films which was fun and generally had a quiet and very relaxing day. We kept the curtains closed and the fairy lights on to create a more ‘Christmasy’ atmosphere which kinda of worked although every time we stepped into the awning to get something we were confronted with bright sunshine!!
We planned a walk on Boxing Day in a place called Frigiliana. It is a National Parque area and the walk follows a river bed through a gorge. We spent a few fun hours jumping over rocks in the river trying to avoid getting our feet wet (which we managed for the most part) and sat and had a lovely picnic and enjoyed the fresh air.
The week between Christmas and New Year was spent relaxing and doing less than usual. A time to take stock of the past year and to make plans for 2012. I enjoyed the sunny weather and practicing yoga outside with all the cats for company. Whenever I am outdoors there is always a little furry face not too far away from me
On New Year’s Eve with the sun blazing down we set off for another walk in the hills. Heading to Sayalonga this time we enjoyed quite the workout climbing to the top of a hill before enjoying a picnic in the glorious sunshine. It was hard to believe as I lay looking up at the clear blue sky that it was the end of the year, December and not the middle of the summer.
So, 2012 is now with us and depending on who you listen to we could be staring into the abyss and the end of the world! or we could all be lifted to a higher spiritual level and a greater oneness with each other. Whatever you believe make sure you enjoy
‘FELIZ ANO NUEVO’………………