I’m no beginner … (a long rant)

… when it comes to moving house and after making 18 of them personally and having helped my kids on several more, I can with a lot of experience say that this one has been an absolute pig’s ear.

It was an inauspicious beginning, and continued downhill, with the van and two muppets turning up two and a half hours late. I’d already had to leave in R0X1 with the zoo (grandson, dog and cat) to meet estate agent on time leaving K to oversee the loading of furniture and boxes (already packed by us). A quick re-assessment of timing and I was expecting K in Huish Episcopi around 14.30 and van about an hour later. Nah …

Around 13.00 Kate phoned to say the van was already full with only 2/3 of our stuff loaded. Phone calls to firm’s HO ensued – K was accused of adding stuff that wasn’t on the inventory. K insisted she hadn’t and could prove it with her copy of the inventory. Conversations in a non-English language ensued between HO and the muppets culminating in an offer to get another van to move the remainder, magnanimously at no extra cost to us … !!! K arranged to overnight with a friend, and the first van-load arrived here at 18.00 without one complete bed aboard. The Smart One spent the night in R0X1 with the cat and I on a mattress on the floor on the house with LWD.

Despite all boxes being marked with their destination rooms marked on them a lot ended up in random rooms which had nothing to do with box contents. To and injury to insult boxes were all stacked 5 high, regardless of some being marked fragile contents; these guys were obviously not amongst those who consider me vertically or age challenged, and whilst I wholeheartedly disagree with discrimination this once I would have jettisoned my principles!

Having been told a van to move the remainder of our possessions would arrive at 14.00 the following day K spent a pleasant afternoon next door with our now ex- neighbours. The different van and 2 different muppets made a timely appearance at 18.30, loaded up and duly arrived here at 23.00. I refused to hand over any money before they unloaded as the previous day’s chaps hadn’t finished all they were supposed to, if they moved things where they should be, including K’s bed base from the conservatory upstairs to her bedroom I would pay them and then they could bring the rest in. This request necessitated several calls in a foreign language to HO, on speaking to the manager I was left with the impression that although human error had occurred on their part it wasn’t their fault as such and I should shut up, put up and pay up. The legs for K’s bed base were on the van, they would not unload them. I after the previous day’s experience of muppets clearing off without doing their full job would not give way I wanted beds made up before paying.

Stand off; eventually the bed legs only were removed from van; the van was locked closed whilst the bed was made; I paid; they emptied the van and sped away into the after midnight hours without bothering to give me a receipt.

We’re in … and still alive to tell the tale; just!

😊😊😊

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.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Easy travel …

When I was a young, bright-eyed student nurse in London, once every 4 weeks, on my weekend off, I would travel home by train. The weekend off came after 7 night shifts and I didn’t have to be back until 3 p.m. Tuesday for late shift. I finished at 7-45 and would walk back to the nurses home, change, pick up my bag and head for the tube at Victoria. No matter how long it took me to get changed and have breakfast, incredibly the first train in would always be a circle line and when I arrived at Paddington, there would always be a train calling at Swindon already boarding ready to depart within 5 or 10 minutes – I never consulted train timetables.

I may no longer be young and bright-eyed but my to my surprise public transport still seems to run at my convenience. OK, I did look up the times of buses to Málaga but the bus for the airport rolled into Málaga bus station just as I got off the bus from Torrox. Equally, five days days later the bus at the airport rolled up and I was on my way within 5 minutes of hugging K and the Smart One goodbye and deposited me at the bus station where I found a Torrox connection immediately; as soon as I’d paid my fare and sat down we were off. Only once have I had a delayed flight (9 hours overnight wait at Corfu with Rose and four kids, due to French air traffic controllers’ strike, 30 odd years ago), in fact usually my flights leave on time and arrive early – go figure …

My daughter does not seem to have inherited my easy travel gene, their plane was late. K texted to say they had landed and 35 minutes later I was about to reply, asking her at which airport, when I heard their approach. My grandson stormed across the arrivals hall yelling “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma” almost knocking me flat (he’s nearly my height now) and proceeded to hug me á la boa constrictor – I loved every second! K was allowed to give me a brief hug, with a wry smile and a shrug to show she knows her place in the Smart One’s world, several minutes later.

Family time

The weather wasn’t as good as it had been but wasn’t as bad as it became. The Smart One spent times on the beach getting very wet, enjoyed sightseeing small Andalucian towns and tall Andalucian mountains. Much to his and K’s delight I dialled up elevation on my Sat Nag in the car we hired as we wriggled through the twisty windies around the Sierra del Chaparral, and the pair of them were gleefully shouting out the metres above sea level (we topped out at just over 1,400) if you want the exact figure ask He Who Knows All. We visited a Spanish market and had a couple of meals out (as well as ice creams, chocolate y churros and (JJ only) a chocolate crêpe).

Sierra del Chaparral

The Smart One impressed with his Spanish wherever we went, receiving beaming smiles, high fives and sincere compliments – he’d only been in the country a few minutes when he asked the car-hire chap to give him the directions to the courtesy bus stop in Spanish, repeated the directions back perfectly and guided us to it effortlessly. Go JJ …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Time travelling

The Girls duly arrived on time and with baggage at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Not a friendly motorhome pick up/drop off airport. All express parking height barriered, so they had to scramble in with barely a hello as I stopped illegally, and with an equally illegal stop, scramble out and bid a short goodbye – probably just as well as I don’t do goodbyes and we had time for the hellos once we got to our overnight at Autorive.

Entirely unperturbed by the cloudlike UFOs, we had a lovely few days. The weather was very kind, Argeles-sur-Mer bathed in very warm sunshine, and a couple of idiots got wet – one merely paddled the Med, the other swam – brrr, it wasn’t that warm …                        I was tempted to go on the double decker carousel just because I’ve never seen one before, but Daisy would not’ve been allowed.

We were ladies wot lunched, visited a few nice places (if you’re going to Elne, check it’s open, it wasn’t when we went) and then quick as a wink it was back to the airport for that hurried goodbye.

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Elne (closed)

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Argeles-sur-Mer and the UFOs (note the aliens on the beach)

Port-Vendres

Collioure

A couple of drives later and I’m at the border (will they have to put in border control for Brits after Brexit?) and will cross into Spain tomorrow. During yesterday’s drive I was admiring how vibrant the leaf colours were; haven’t seen colours (or leaves) like those for a while, it felt like I’d travelled back in time a month. I also saw loads of black kites – I presume that’s what they were, they looked exactly like the red kites at home, except the red bit was black.

So it’s au revoir la France and hola Espagna.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Hooray for jigsaw puzzles.

Thankfully, given my paid-for ferry booking on Monday, this week K has been given her marching orders by both surgeon and physiotherapist. We’ve seen the x-ray and her scaffolding is a thing of beauty to behold which all metal detectors will hate! No sign yet of the bone grafting but that apparently takes several months. Surgeon said with a self-deprecating grin that he thought he’d done a pretty good job – we nodded our heads and made sounds of agreement enthusiastically. Physioterrorist is exceeding happy with the improvements in her leg and thinks there may be more to come as her stamina improves. The patient, OK the Ex-patient, was getting a bit down before the appointments as she felt she progress had stalled – until I pointed out that she is now walking at normal pace i.e. – I don’t slow down for her any more so although she is walking for the same amount of time she is covering at least twice the amount of distance! Once she’d worked that out she became a happy bunny.

I’m having a minor flurry of activity preparing for The Off in 3 days and Daisy has developed another ear infection, as she always does in an effort to persuade me she’s too poorly to go to the groomer – never works but she does get extra cuddles.

I get inspiration for journeys from various sources, photos by my Ipernity buddies, travel articles, recommendations of fellow bloggers – and jigsaw puzzles. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with jigsaw puzzles but since I’ve started to solve online puzzles it’s more love than hate – well the damn thing isn’t lying around taking huge amounts of space and I rarely lose pieces! The early part of this trip will be to the villages of the Auvergne simply because I loved a jigsaw I solved of a bridge in Estaing. Then off to drive the Gorges du Tarn and eventually over to the lavender fields of Provence, with maybe a bit of beachtime thrown in for good measure. Hopefully returning via northern Italy, Switzerland and Germany, but only if the new sat. nag. is playing ball.

Oddities beside the Cut

 

Hoping to meet up with some of my blogging pals on the way, see you on the other side!

🙂 🙂 🙂

72 hours (part deux)

Night two brought more muttered complaints of stolen territory and kicking (K) and frequent garbled chatter (Smart One). The Smart One woke bright and chirpy; K did not.

We left site and just outside the village parked up so the Smart One, Daisy and I could have a walk through the forest and K could go back to bed! Once again the weather refused to comply with the forecast and was stubbornly sunny. The Smart One had the map and navigated us in a circle for an hour or so’s walk along tracks which thankfully were mostly clear of horse riders, LWD is frightened of horses, and cyclists who, for once, she avoided chasing. Mind you the cyclists did approach from the front rather than sneaking silently up on her from the rear.

Setthorn, the New Forest.

Then back off to Beaulieu for a walk through the grounds and to visit the Palace and the Abbey ruins. The palace unlike many stately houses has almost “ordinary” sized rooms and is all the better for it. It feels homely, if grand, and many of the portraits are recent and relaxed. Unfortunately tho’ I didn’t pick up the spare camera battery before I left R0X1 and it was too far to walk there and back again … so the Abbey ruins and Palace photography will have to wait for another visit. Any excuse, it’s a lovely place and free admission for us during the next 12months!

Beaulieu Palace

The Love Tree

After some splendidly generous portions of ice cream we left for home. Luckily we  weren’t trying to get away to the coast for the Easter Weekend and so our journey was easy.

🙂 🙂 🙂

The first Walk

She-who-has-been-mended gave her walking boots a workout today, first time since last August, and has increased her confidence in her mobility. On uneven ground she walked a couple of miles around Englemere Pond near Ascot. The walk is supposed to take 40 minutes and it only took her 10 minutes more – not bad for 5 weeks post-op spinal fusion!

 

Daisy, the Smart Preteen and I had a pretty good time too …

🙂 🙂 🙂