Sunday, February 19, 2017

All Sorts!!!

We had a quick family get together last Thursday morning, where we spoke about mum and how the house cleanup was going to be sorted, I felt so guilty that I wouldn't be there to help, but apparently it's just about done with everyone mucking in to help.

My sister Jackie put some photos up on facebook, so I have nicked them and put them on here. The photos are of a very young mum and dad on their wedding day and honeymoon. They got married in 1952 and went to Jersey for their honeymoon.

Dad died in 1983, so mum will be buried next to him on March 14th, I will go over a few days earlier and catch up with Elaine's sister, I fly back to Mojacar on the 15th March, my sister Jackie and niece Hayley will be coming back with me.

I managed to get in a canal fix before I left.

I have always loved the Three Locks at Stoke Hammond, we used to come here with mum and dad in the 60s, and also passed it in our boat.

Passing through the locks in June 2013, will I go through them again one day????

The flight back to Spain didn't quite to go to plan, we were just about to touch down in Murcia when we lifted off again, there was a fire on the end of the runway and it was too dangerous to land. We diverted to Alicante then they bussed us back to Murcia where I picked up my car and drove back to Mojacar, so rather than being home by 2200 I just made it by 01.00, luckily the pub was still open so I had a quick beer, the first one in 5 days...I think I deserved it!

Up early on friday, first stop was the kennels to pick up the boys, they were so happy to see me, I absolutely hate leaving them but there is no other way. 

Second stop was to the solicitors where I picked up the paperwork for the  Citroen, I could then go to the garage and have the Spanish plates made up....The car is now a Spaniard and full legal here in Spain. It is very different to other old cars in Spain, mine is dent free and shiny, hopefully it will keep that way, it had also increased in value by about 600% I kid you not, the book value in the UK is £250, it's now worth about £1500 here! 

Yesterday was my birthday, I had a quiet one in the day then went down the pub to catch up with a few friends, it went on longer than planned with a quick visit to the chinky, then back to the pub for a few more drinks before calling it quits at 01.30!  It was a very bitter sweet birthday as it was six months to the day since Elaine died and only 2 days since mum had gone. 

I am a very much glass half full person so life will go on, I'm still nowhere near as happy as I was when Elaine was with me but it does get a little more bearable as time goes on.

Yesterday I also met up Allen and Amanda the lovely Australian couple who want to buy the motorhome, we sat in the van for over three hours then went on a test drive, they loved it and have made an offer which I have accepted. The only hurdle is that they have to get it insured which is a bloody nightmare as they have no UK address and Australian drivers licence etc. UK insurance companies really do need a kick up the arse, they are so hard to deal with and have so many ridiculous conditions which basically make it so easy for them to wriggle out of any claim they may have against them, my 2 key hates in the UK are insurance companies and getting charged when you ring a company etc.....In Australia most companies have freephones, they WANT your business. 

Even in bureaucratic Spain, insurance is easy, the Citroen is now insured with a Spanish company, anyone can drive it as long as they hold a drivers licence, it doesnt even matter what county the licence is held in, its simple.  

Once the van goes what next??  It will be the first time since Jan 2012 that I haven't got a boat or motorhome. I feel it wont be long before I do something about it, maybe a caravan....a smaller motorhome or maybe another boat!!!!

I can feel a plan coming on!

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Mum passed away at 02.55 on 16th February 2017.

My niece Kimberley and myself were with her at the end, it was very peaceful.

I am flying back to Mojacar tomorrow so she timed it well :-)

Mum on the left.

See ya later mum, Luv ya XXX

Monday, February 13, 2017

Back To The UK......Again!

My latest trip to the UK has been planned for about a month, the main reason for the trip was to go and watch Manchester Utd play, but since then my mother has been taken ill and is sadly nearing the end of her life.

I changed my itinerary, it was a late night arrival into Luton so I stayed at  a hotel in the middle of the town. 

I was born in Luton and lived there until 1980 when I left for Australia, I worked at Vauxhall Motors as did most of the town. It was quite a nice town back then so I got up early and went for a walk around some old haunts.

What can I say, the poor town is a complete and utter dump, it does have a very nice indoor shopping centre, but this has come at a price, the centre of the town looks like a slum.

I hate pedestrian areas, a few are OK but when the whole centre is pedestrianised in my view it takes away all the character.   

The town hall still stands majestic.

The ABC cinema less so.

The kebab house we frequented after many late nights out is still going.

The Wheelwrights pub is still open, one of very few still trading.

A nice mural blocking one of the less salubrious sites, its a bit like polishing a turd!

Betting shops, pawn shops, charity shops, and one pound shops....bloody awful.

The Duke Of Clarence pub in the centre of town, a very popular pub back in the day.

The subway where me and a few mates were arrested.....say no more on that one, i'm a nice boy now!

And lastly the local where me and my mates started out many nights out downtown, thankfully its still trading.

After my visit to Luton I drove to Bedford hospital where I visited mother, she was pretty bad but still conscious and talking albeit not very clearly.

I stayed for a few hours then drove up to Macclesfield which took twice as long as usual due to awful weather and loads of traffic. I stayed with our friends Jane and Andy, we went out for a fantastic dinner at a local pub, then off to another pub for a few beers before home for a few more drinks, we finally hit the sack at close to 03.00.

Up nice and early to meet up with Ray and Diane from NB Ferndale, lovely friends who magically obtain tickets for Man Utd games.  Diane had literally just got off a plane from Oz, they were staying  at a local premier inn.

We left for the ground in good time and had lunch in a cafe before going to the ground, first up I treated myself to a new Utd shirt, well my birthday is soon!

It was then time to enter the ground, this is the sixth time I have seen them play, it never fails to send shivers up and down my spine, the view, the singing,  its the most amazing sight and sound imaginable. 

The good guys won 2-0 so we were happy chappies.

After the game we drove back to Macclesfield where we had dinner at Elaine's and mine favourite Thai restaurant, it was up to its usual standard, just fantastic.

Thankyou Ray and Diane it was the most excellent adventure, we had a great catch up, I will see you guys in August! 

I had plans to catch up with other friends up in Macclesfield but apart from seeing Elaine's dad Burt and brother trev I cancelled them all and headed back to Milton Keynes on Sunday Morning.

Im staying at my mums house, she has been in hospital since last October, so coming into the house was a bit of a time warp, the tv guide was still open on October 27th, the date an ambulance took her to hospital. Unfortunately she won't be coming back here.

I went up the hospital, in the early evening and sat with her all night until 10.00 this morning, I was joined by my brother for part of the night, he was relieved at 03,30 by my nephew Philip. Its a lot harder on them as they all have jobs and families to look after whereas I am free and easy, I'm going tonight for another all nighter, I think Im on my own tonight.

One of the funny things that happened at the hospital was when a nurse who in a serious voice said that now mother was at a end of life stage we could all have free tea and biscuits courtesy of the NHS!!  So if you get offered free tea and biccies in a NHS hospital be afraid, very afraid!

I was hoping to go and visit Elaine's sister Julie who is also crook, but it looks like I will stay here until I fly back on Thursday, its a sad time but I'm really hoping mum passes before I fly out, she is in a really bad way and her quality of life is now zero!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Heading Back To The Cold

Its been a busy week dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, the car is nearly on Spanish plates after about six weeks of mucking about with paperwork, the motorbike is also very nearly in my name, I started doing that about 14months ago!!   The Spanish love their paperwork, they are still stuck in the Franco era, its unbelievably hard to do basic things such as car transfers etc.  I sent the slip to the DVLA to say that the car had been exported, less than a week later my car tax was refunded.

It will very interesting to see what happens when the full Brexit comes in to play, the poms think that nothing will change in Spain, I think they are in for a big shock, they wont kick any of the pommie immigrants out but the the ones who want to come and settle in Spain will be treated like any other non European and will have to apply for visas at great expense, plus be prepared  sort through the dreaded paperwork. 

In saying that, its a great place to live, the weather is fantastic, the roads are deserted,  the beaches are lovely, it makes for a nice stress free lifestyle.

Its also fantastically cheap to eat out, today we went to a lovely little restaurant just outside of Mojacar in the village of Sopalmo.

A three course meal and drinks came to 12 Euros a head including a tip!!

In the last few days we have the Spanish air force dogfighting in the skies above Mojacar, they did one flypast that was absolutely ear shattering, the windows in the villa rattled, it was a fantastic sight.

Yesterday they were practicing rescuing people from the sea.

Its also been a sad week for me as I have been clearing out the motorhome in preparation for it to be sold. Its been quite sad removing all the memorabilia from our mobile  house, we had some fantastic adventures in her and Im sure her new owners will be delighted with her.

It looks like she will be going to a lovely couple from Oz .They have been reading about our adventures and want to do the same, they will be picking her up from Spain in late Feb. I would have loved to have kept her, but.....she is on English plates, English insurance and MOT etc. To keep her here permanently it would have to be put on Spanish plates which would be a costly nightmare, even the tow bar would have to be removed because it wasn't fitted in the factory.  

She is looking fantastic inside and out.

I may look for a smaller Spanish motorhome after she has gone, but they are very expensive and tatty compared with ones from the UK or other European countries, there is no hurry so I will think about my options.

As the title says Im off to the cold UK tomorrow, the dogs are going back in the kennels for a week. Im flying into my old home town of Luton tomorrow, I will go and visit my ailing  mum in Bedford hospital on Friday then drive to Macclesfield Friday afternoon. Saturday its off to Manchester to watch the mighty Manchester Utd play with great friends Ray and Diane (NB Ferndale). Sunday and Monday will be catching up with friends and relos in Macclesfield plus a quick visit to The East Cheshire Hospice. Tuesday I will drive down to Maidstone to catch up with Elaine's sister. Wednesday back to visit mother in hospital.   Thursday I fly back to sunny Mojacar......phew.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Quick Trip Back To The UK

I was out to dinner with some friends on Friday night when I received a phone call from my brother. My mother has been in hospital since last October but had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. I am going over there on Feb 9th anyhow but the Dr didn't think she would last that long!

I nipped home and booked a flight for the next day (Saturday) a return flight for Tuesday , a hire car for three days and a hotel at Gatwick for Monday night as the return flight left at 07.00 and I didn't fancy driving from Milton Keynes to Gatwick to try and make that!

Saturday morning I rang the kennels and booked the boys in for a few days, they were very helpful as it was very last minute.

The flight to the UK left Saturday afternoon and was virtually empty....lovely.

I used Enterprise car hire at Gatwick, the chap came out to check over the car for any damage by torchlight, trouble was the car was so dirty that any scratches would have been impossible to see, he was so embarrassed he gave me a good upgrade and a car with a Automatic transmission which is so much better to drive in UK traffic.

I stayed at my brothers place on Saturday night as it was too late to visit the hospital by the time I drove from Gatwick to Milton Keynes. 
We did manage a couple of pints up the pub before closing time. 

I visited mother for most of the day on Sunday, she is in Bedford hospital. It was a bit of a shock to see the difference in care that she was receiving compared to the care that Elaine received at hospitals in Macclesfield and Manchester.

The nurses were ok and friendly but the doctor's bedside manner was appalling, whilst they are jabbing mum with needles to try and get blood from her there was no talking to her even though she was crying out in pain, one even left the tourniquet on her arm after getting blood, I found him down the corridor and asked him if that was normal practice, he came and retrieved it but not a word. All the doctors were Indian, not that that should be a problem, but as I said I dont know what they are like as doctors but as to being sympathetic or caring.....not a chance!

This was Elaine and mother down in Devon in August 2015. 

Mother on the left in Kew gardens 1948 

And mother yesterday.....she has rallied a bit, but she is very frail, and hardly eating. She is 85 so unlike Elaine she has had a life, its sad but its normal. Hopefully she will still be here when I go back again on February 9th.

I spent yesterday up the hospital then left in the late afternoon to drive back to Gatwick.

The plan was to have an early night, but I just cant do it so I went down the bar and went to bed at midnight.

I was up at 06.00 and walking onto the plane at 06.40, the hotel is a two minute walk to the terminal.

The flight back was full, but I slept virtually the whole way.

I picked up the boys on the way back home, Bombo cried when he saw me, Sammie didnt want to leave the other dogs!

On a brighter note its my lovely niece Kimberly's  birthday today XX 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Skiing and Sadness

A two hour drive from Mojacar lies the ski resort of Sierra Nevada, I have been down there with friends for the last three days. The only downside was that I had to put the boys in kennels for three days, I hated doing it but there really wasn't any alternatives.

We stayed in the city of Granada and caught a coach up to the ski village, its a 40 minute trip at a cost of 9 Euro return.

For once I enjoyed being old, I was classed as a senior so only paid 37 Euro for a ski ticket, even if I paid full price it would still be half the price of skiing back in Oz.

The snow conditions were world class and the weather fantastic.

It was the first time I had skied wearing a helmet, better safe than sorry. 

Amazingly you can see the Med from the top of the mountain! 

We chose to go midweek and out of school holidays so we would avoid any crowds or queuing, it worked a treat there were very few people up there. 

The view of the mountains from the hotel room, the pointy building is the bus station next to the hotel. 

The mountain looked superb with the setting sun shining on it. 

The sad part of the post is the passing of Les off NB Valerie, he handled the bastard cancer very much the same way as my lovely Elaine, he was very open and factual about it and put up a terrific fight but always knowing that this insidious disease can take you oh so quickly.

We only met them once at Bulls bridge..... 

....just by chance three narrowboat bloggers had all pulled over for a Tesco shop and water.

Elaine and myself (NB Caxton) Les and Jaq (NB Valerie) and John and Ali (NB Triskaideka)

Les mate you still owe me a beer, I will have one with you upstairs one day.....RIP mate XX