Purple Panda

Well, dear Regular Reader, I did promise to explain why I interrupted my trip around the Natural Volcanic park of Garrotxa, so here goes. Those of a squeamish disposition may prefer to go straight to the photos at the bottom.

I called in at Banyoles to admire the lake and do a bit of walking for a couple of days before moving on to Vic but got a bit delayed …

In the early evening of my second day here, having just had the successful photo session with the fishing huts, I arrived back at the campsite intending to pop into reception and get a token for the washing machine. As I approached the tiled concrete steps I tripped over the very low, almost invisible kerb and crashed onto the aforementioned steps. Thoroughly winded I accepted help (which appeared apparently from nowhere) to change into a sitting position, and was given paper towel and told to apply it to my right eye, I was also informed that an ambulance was on it’s way. Why, thought I, still rather breathless, on earth would I want an ambulance? What my helpers could see, and I obviously could not, was that I had a deep gash on my eyebrow which was losing a lot of blood and folk were saying it needed stitching. Still winded and dazed I was soon in the ambulance on my way to the local community medical centre where everyone was very kind. Thankfully my EHIC card still had a few days to run (I didn’t know until they looked at it, that the damn thing even had an expiry date – K’s bringing my new one with her when she comes this week) so all eleven stitches through my eyebrow were free (unfortunately I had to pay to have them removed! I suppose I could’ve tried removing them myself … then again …). By the time I was leaving it was closing time and staff were starting to depart. I’d arrived in an ambulance and had no idea where I was, I was also feeling very shaky, my wound felt fine but my ribs were beginning to hurt and I was starting to feel a little lost (literally!). When I asked at the reception for directions to the campsite one of the staff insisted on giving me a lift back – way above and beyond bless her – my plan to walk back was vetoed by just about everyone. So a huge thank you to the ambulance guys, and all the staff there for taking care of me and being so kind.

The next morning my right eye was a stunning shade of purple and somewhat swollen. Later that day the left eye decided it wanted the same shade of eyeshadow and turned purple as well, which I didn’t mind, I do like to be well coordinated! My ribs were extremely painful and bruised as were my knees and my right boob; I felt everyone of my 90 years! However I managed to keep moving with the aid of over the counter meds and did deep breathing exercises religiously, no pneumonia for me. My stitches are now out (€30) and finally my ribs are starting to hurt a bit less, but the boob remains in glorious technicolour.

The site manager informed me that I was by no means the first person to trip over their low flying kerb, but of course I was the first to do it such a spectacular fashion, and that my stay would be free until I’m fit enough to continue my travels. I’m off the day after tomorrow to meet up with the family, it’s not a long drive, so I’ll be fine. I’ve been able to walk around and continue sight seeing and have managed to circumnavigate the lake (7kms) a couple of times.

Spring has arrived in Catalunya!

P.S.  Nearly forgot to mention that in the middle of all this my habitation water pump died and for a few days before I felt able to drive to a camper repair place a short way away I was having to carry jerry cans of water to R0X1.

Depression Diabetes

My suspicions about the call from the surgery for a repeat blood test were spot on. My HbA1c has soared – I’m diabetic again 😦 .

It’s frightening how one ghastly doctor’s appointment can have had such devastating results; that a full blown PTSD episode can triggered by so few words (What makes you presume you have PTSD?) from an insensitive medical professional at first meeting. I was so shocked by her disdainful tone I could do nothing but comply with her insistence on full details. The major depressive episode following this appointment has caused me nightmares, extreme anxiety, comfort eating, losing interest in everything, including my hobbies, shutting myself in the house and not exercising amongst other things. I’ve put on shedloads of weight and passed my diabetes trigger point. (LWD has also put on weight but hopefully isn’t diabetic!) It’s not been a good 3 months.

edvard-munch-1332621_640

Edvard Munch – The Scream

Luckily I have insight into my own mental health, helped in the main by two consecutive previous very understanding and supportive GPs and also by my own experiences as a mental health professional. Okay it took me 17 years to work out why I was having major depressive episodes and finally get diagnosed but in the main I was able to control these episodes by upping meds as and when necessary, and since PTSD diagnosis and therapy I’ve had six untroubled years. I do have and expect the odd blip of heightened anxiety and the occasional bad night, but am able to keep myself in the here and now by recognising, acknowledging and rationalising and it didn’t take long for me to understand the causation of this particular mood crash.

Several people, including some readers of this blog, have suggested that I complain about my new GP. At first I demurred firstly, as everyone can have a bad day at work and I have no idea of the kind of personal or professional pressures this woman may have been under in early September and secondly at the time I first wrote about this I didn’t feel strong enough emotionally to complain. But eight years hard work keeping my weight down and diabetes in remission and six years of Mike Davies, (GP, Twyford) cheering me on (but insisting I keep taking the tablets too!) have been well and truly blighted. I know I have the strength to tackle the weight and mood issues facing me (I’m even getting through this latest episode without a meds increase because I was too anxious to go to the new doctor) but that may not be true for someone else with mental health issues visiting this particular GP and, for that reason only, I intend to send a copy of extracts from this and an earlier blog to the practice manager of the local surgery with the suggestion that this doctor have some refresher mental health and “bedside manner” training.

On the bright side I would like to reassure my regular reader that my mood is improving every day and my calorie intake is diminishing! I’m looking forward to the festive season and planning next year’s travelling and apart from currently being victimised by a seasonal virus I’m doing well.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Picture the scene …

It is a very dark night, the moon and stars invisible behind thick clouds. The wind is combatively tugging and shoving and the falling leaves are dancing as if in the Strictly dance off, desperate for a place at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. Outside the car the lashing rain stings coldly on unprotected skin. I’m driving K back from Castle Cary station where The Smart One has been dispatched on an already delayed by 44 minutes train to visit his father for the weekend (by the time he got there he was 80 minutes late because of speed restrictions, poor lad).

I’m driving at around 40mph as the roads are covered in huge puddles and what part of the road is free of puddles is covered in mushed autumn leaves, all waiting for the unwary to stamp on the brakes. My headlights are dipped as there is a luckily smallish  oncoming vehicle, when on the left out of the darkness at the almost too-late last minute, I spot a large stray hedge/small tree trying to cross the road, I move as far right as I dare to try and avoid it but … BANG!

Storm Deirdre has resurrected the Curse of the  Broken Wingmirror, 4 in 4 years. As the Curse obviously plans to become an annual event, should I pre-order a wing mirror for 2019 and perhaps some canapés and some fizz for the Wingmirror Wake?

Luckily no other damage to either the car or the occupants.

Y’all drive safe now …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Arrogant Macho Peacock.

So, Señor Boss (Pandemonium on the A7)was an arrogant, macho peacock who was deluded about the extent of my nous. He’d got the head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking down to a fine art and a great deal of it went on as he examined the remains of the defunct tyre and the opposite rear tyre. I think he thought he was on to a winner when I immediately agreed to replace both tyres (What idiot would replace only one tyre?) but I was way in front of him, having already swallowed hard, acknowledging I had to replace both. Then there was the introduction of tutting as he mentioned how difficult it was going to be to get 2 new tyres – and tomorrow’s Saturday. (A lot of hand signing and French, with the junior Señor, was being used by now). He must’ve been disappointed in my lack of interest in the day of the week. If he hadn’t been so determined to siesta and had just taken me to the nearby, but not in sight, tyre centre I could’ve been on my way in only an hour or so. As it was his “garage” was only a lock up – not a wheel balancing machine in sight!

I had to play it somewhat carefully as I was in a very vulnerable position; I couldn’t go anywhere without his co-operation.

When he arrived the next morning to put on the tyre, he started again with the head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking, adding in a low whistle for good measure. He pointed out that the wheel border had a couple of tiny (and bash-outable dents) and started to talk about a new wheel … out came my phone, and google translate informed him that he could put the tyre on as a temporary measure. Suddenly the dents were not a problem. He capitulated and stomped off taking wheel and one new tyre, bunged them in the boot of his car, and shot off. Back within 15 minutes of departure, he put the wheel, minus any dents, back on. He then put the other new tyre in the hab. area and decided he was driving R0X1 to the tyre centre where the other tyre was changed, I was allowed to accompany him and consequently learnt of the proximity of the tyre centre!

When we got back to his lock up further head shaking, shrugging and teeth sucking occurred when he found out I didn’t carry loads of €s in my purse and that the transaction would be via my debit card. He glared, obviously annoyed the Spanish taxman would get to know about this particular bit of business. By this time my simmering anger was about to head into steam … I couldn’t take much more of his arrogance.

Then my card wouldn’t work, he tried again and again reducing the amount each time obviously concluding that I didn’t have the funds. He looked at me almost triumphant, thinking he’d be adding R0X1 to the collection of many vehicles stored in his lock-up I imagine. I rang my bank and they helpfully informed me that the arrogant macho peacock was trying to put it through on contactless payment and the bill being rather more than €30, the machine was having none of it. For the first time I had the upper hand and I couldn’t resist a smile as I informed him that the card needed to go in the slot and payment rapidly ensued.

You’d be wrong if you thought this was the end of my tyre saga …

Last night having spent a few more fun days in P&M’s company we were due to part company in the morning. I decided to empty my grey water into a bucket as the campsite didn’t have a drain point. I bent down to turn on the tap only to find nothing there. Further investigation showed that the back end of the waste pipe had been destroyed by low flying tyre – I’m not worried about that at the moment as I can put a bucket underneath the new “end” of the pipe. What does worry me is the two slow leaks of water slowly dripping underneath as well. I shall be in Perpignan tomorrow at an Adria dealer to find out where the leaks are coming from. I’m going to France as;  A) I speak more of the language; and B) given my recent dealings (or not in some cases) with Spanish garages (or rather lock-ups in one case) I don’t trust the Spanish – shame really.

I’ll leave you with pictures from Altomira as a reward if you’ve got this far into this overly long blog!

🙂 🙂 🙂

Pandemonium on the A7

I realise I have not yet reported in full the visit of Paul and Meriam, however I beg the indulgence of my regular reader to bring you breaking/braking news. I will return to the Dutch folk at a later date.

If the written word gets a bit slurred it’s because I’m gulping an XXXL G&T – it has been a  l o n g day.

It started well enough with the Terrible Trio leaving Jávea and heading for the hills, as we are wont. With a quick diesel fill and Lidl top up on vino blanco, I headed off. South of Valencia I joined the A7 motorway and was bowling along quite nicely. I was way behind P&M as I’d made a coffee and dog convenience stop. Suddenly there was a very loud bang and R0X1 started wandering about the carriageways without my permission. I braked firmly but gently, hit the hazard lights and carefully checking mirrors etc. brought my wagon safely to rest on the hard shoulder. I donned my hi-viz vest and as I deployed my red triangle noted that an awful lot of the rear left tyre was on the carriageway rather than on the wheel. I phoned the RAC. Unfortunately I seem to have overstayed my welcome as far as my breakdown insurance goes – I should have left a couple of months ago – I shall have to foot the recovery bill myself.

Two lovely motorcycle cops came, one retrieved the remains of the tyre from the carriageway – brave lass. The other set about organising a recovery vehicle. The van with the flashing arrow lights – “move over” – parked behind and the driver distributed loads of traffic cones along lane 1 (of 4). Completely unsurprisingly, the cops still had to direct cars into the outer lanes as quite a few drivers thought the instructions didn’t apply to them. They were both very sweet and kind especially when I watched R0X being winched up onto the recovery truck and got a bit upset, reaction I guess, but LWD seemed to enjoy the view from its cab. I was just terrified that R0X would somehow escape her bonds and fall off.

By the time we arrived at the garage in the middle of an industrial estate it was siesta and Señor directed me to a nearby cafe and ordered me to return at 5pm. One menu del dia and a lot of thumb twiddling later, I got back to the garage at the arranged time. 40 minutes later, the temperature had dropped alarmingly, it was trying to rain and I couldn’t get into R0X as she was still up on the reccy truck. I really was starting to panic, I had no idea where I was, let alone the recovery Señor and there was no one around to ask. I was beginning to wonder if I was being set up for a robbery or worse (I really must stop reading so many murder procedurals) and one or two tears could not be held back. My phone had run out of battery earlier whilst I was keeping P&M updated. So I was mightily relieved when another Señor turned up, shortly followed by the Recovery Señor (hereinafter called the Boss). They had been trying to track down 2 tyres (I decided not to trust the one remaining  el-cheapo tyre). No Michelin camper tyres in Valencia. I might be here for the weekend.

Señor Boss asked me via the other Señor (he and I were communicating in French) if I’d like him to take me to a hotel or would I like to stay on the forecourt. I went for the cheaper option. They got a step ladder so I could shelter in R0X bless them.

It was interesting, to say the least, to be sitting in R0X whilst she was backed into the forecourt and then jerkily winched down. LWD, not renowned for her bravery, shivered and whimpered, to be honest as I was already shivering from cold I almost joined in to make it a shiver/whimper duet.

Safely ensconced for the night on the forecourt, I was pouring my XXXL G&T when there was a knock at the door. Señor Boss beckoned me outside to show me two shiny new Vanco Camper tyres and told me he’d put them on tomorrow.

There’s now not a lot of G&T left in my glass and I’m feeling considerably calmer.  LWD has forgotten all about it and is blotto under the table …

🙂 🙂 🙂

An official nursing expression

It’s a twisty windy narrow road, a lot potholier than it was 2 years ago, up to El Berro, a mountain village 600metres (1,969 feet) up in the Sierra Espuna, a beautiful natural park beloved by mountain bikers, hikers, Daisy and me.

 

 

 

There’s a warning in the ACSI (camping) guide for approaching the El Berro site, it reads; C3315 take 2nd exit El Berro (1st exit unsuitable). Don’t go through the village. Assistance available. Call in advance!

The route around the outside edge of the village is now well signed and keeps large vehicles from become stuck in the extremely narrow twisting lanes in the village centre, and is only seriously narrow at one point. I arrived onsite without any problems; no oncoming traffic at the critical point!

Three days after my arrival the upgrading of the local  water supply moved from the village centre to the outer lanes and by the time of my planned departure involved the vital route out with an abundance of deep trenches crossing the road at 90° (without ramps or covers) and severe width restrictions, plus barriers preventing anything larger than Noddy’s parp-parp car entering the affected lane. There weren’t many pitches occupied by the end of the week – no-one could get in – well one stubborn Irishman could and I decided if he could get in I could get out ………. I would go through the village centre!

My life was not made any easier by cars parked on narrow right angled bends (2), oncoming traffic, and finally the blocked by a delivery van, one and only straight lane, which meant I’d have to do another right angled bend and then attempt the tight chicane … R0X1 came through it all, if you’ll excuse the official nursing expression, like sh*t out of an enema’d bum!

We are safely ensconced at a site in Jávea on the coast.

🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. Thanks for the assist Jim.

Think pink and positive (for K and N)

Two and a half years ago when I was in El Berro, as my regular reader may recollect, I got into conversation with the owner of the small village store. The conversation was in French as she didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish. She told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had started chemotherapy. Her hair was thinning, she was feeling horrible and was quite tearful. We hugged as I left the shop and I wished her all the best and have thought of her many times since.

A few days ago K was  very shocked and upset. She told me that one of her friends has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. N is due to start treatment tomorrow.

This morning needing one or two groceries I nervously went back to the shop hoping for the best, dreading the worst. Thankfully, there was Madame, behind the counter, looking very well with lustrous long black hair! Her treatment was successful and all is currently well with her recovery. We hugged again – several times.

There is always hope … think pink …

Cactus in bloom outside restaurant in El Berro. Only 24 hours between buds and flower images.

🙂 🙂 🙂