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

Friday, January 20, 2017

Family Fun

My brother Russell and Niece Kimberley have now been here for ten days, they headed back to the UK yesterday.

Its been fun having them, it was 
a shame to see them go.

We have been out every day and night, not going too far afield on our adventures.

As we left the villa the other night it was a full moon, so I had to take a pic.

We also went for a walk over the hills behind Mojacar.

Lovely views from the top, on the right we have Martin, Andy and Roly, all narrowboaters escaping the UK winter......more about that later!

The tourists enjoying a rest after the walk.

We went for a walk along the coast where they found a huge fender!

I had to take them to the local watch tower,I stayed below with the doggies, you can see me with my arms outstretched.

There was of course a few trips to the local.

And walks along the beach.

Nice indalo man on the beach, Kimberley repaired the damaged head.

The weather change heading in!

We also went gokarting with a group of the pub regulars, Kimberley who hasn't raced a kart before came fourth, Russell finished in third place!!   Brilliant result especially Kim who was the only girl racing.....she finished in front of me.....waahhhhh. 

Pre race with our hair nets on, wishful thinking on my part!

We also managed a bit of fine dining, three courses for 12 Euros!

Kim used to work in a bar, so she had a quick practice pulling me a pint of Guinness.

The last thing to do before they left for home was for Kimberley to get a tattoo, she has wanted one for ages, so I took her to the chap that did mine, I knew he was good plus professional and most importantly very safety conscious re sterile equipment etc.

As Kimberley is a avid and competent horse rider and show jumper, it was always going to be a horsey themed tat.

It looks great and as it is on her foot it can be hidden if required.

I love it.

Now the weather........The last few days have been a shocker, its absolutely freezing and pouring with rain, snow has fallen very close to us which hasn't happened in nearly 100 years!!

The upside is me and a couple of friends are going skiing next week, we're going to the Sierra Nevadas,  the conditions are fantastic, by the time we get here, the snow will have stopped falling and the wind dropped, it should be good.

Im also going to the UK on February the ninth, the Man Utd tickets have been confirmed, I will also visit my mum who is very unwell plus catch up with friends and relos up and down the country. Im really excited about it, the only downside is putting the doggies in kennels, but I really dont have a lot of choice.

Finally......The East Cheshire Hospice is holding a virtual balloon race, its a bit of fun and will hopefully raise some much needed cash. This is the hospice that Elaine spent the last two months of her life in and I am forever indebted to them, just typing their name makes me well up!!! 

If you would like to help click here Thanks guys and gals xxx

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mad Dogs And Englishmen...

 My brother Russell and my niece have arrived for 10 days, they came bearing gifts one of them being a new camera I ordered in the UK and they kindly picked it up for me. Its another Lumix, but this one has a 30x optical zoom and a decent Leica lens.

I like buying the same type of camera as I dont have to learn how to drive a new one, the old one was still working to a fashion, my problem being I take the camera everywhere with me and tend to drop them a few times!!  I also bought a more secure camera case so this one should last a bit longer than usual. 

This is the view toward my villa, it sits right in the middle of the pic.

And zoomed in.....not bad eh.

 The lens is certainly a lot sharper than the last camera.

So to the title of the post....the visitors wanted to go for a swim, today was a cracker so away we went. Bloody mad if you ask me, but I may join them next time. Quite amazing to think that it's snowing in the UK at the moment.

Lovely to have visitors again.

 Two more boaters have arrived from the UK, Roly and Bev from NB Klara have now joined the MCC (Mojacar Canal Club) the membership at the moment is sitting at 9, with another 4 due to arrive in the next month.

Friday, January 6, 2017

We Made The Front Page

The Elaine McBride Memorial swim made the front page of the local rag, which is fantastic as more people donate!

My lovely niece Hayley has returned to the UK, we had fun, it's good to have someone young around, Mojacar residents are a tad elderly this time of year!! The young ones come here in the summer.

She must enjoy staying with her Uncle Paul as she has booked to come again in March!

Some more boaters arrived last week, Richard Linda and their doggie Muffin are here for a month, check out their narrowboat blog here 

Today they came up to see me bearing gifts.....

My favourite soldiers standing to attention.

What lovely people, thank you guys.

Talking of friends.....my lovely friends Ray and Diane off of NB Ferndale are as we speak sorting out tickets for a Manchester United game, so it looks like there is a quick trip coming up to the UK......I am mucho excited. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Elaine McBride New Years Day Memorial Dip.

Before we get to today's momentous dip story......

Last night (New Years Eve) I was down the pub having a drink when a few of my friends came in all wearing masks....I thought they were getting into the party spirit a bit early, what I didnt notice for a while was that behind one of the masks was my lovely niece Hayley....she had just flown in from the UK and had been picked up from the airport by my good friends Barry and Wendy.

What a surprise!!! Hayley is staying with me until Thursday.

We did stay up until about 01.00, we didnt want to get too much under the weather as today was the Big Dip Day. 

We were up quite early and packed a few goodies into the van and headed down to the beach.

Once again the motorhome was the mothership supplying the gas bbq for heating the hot chocolate and rum, whilst also supplying a hot shower and toilet facilities for the freezing swimmers.

The swim started at midday but we got down there at 10.00am to get a prime position.

We were also joined by another motorhome which is owned by friends back in Macclesfield, they were literally passing through Mojacar yesterday and spotted me walking the dogs, after a catch up and a drink in the pub I persuaded them to join us today....what's the chances of that!!

This is the second Mojacar New Years Day Dip and I was very honoured for it to be named the Elaine McBride Memorial dip.
As it was in Elaine's honour it was also decided to try and raise a bit of money for a couple of local causes, one was the local dog charity PAWS and the other was to help a local family whose young lad is being treated for a Brain tumour.

A few of us got together and bought Champagne, hot chocolate, rum, beer and all sorts of nibbles etc, then we put a couple of buckets on the tables for donations, no pressure just donate if you like.

The crowds start to arrive...

After a few bevvies we are ready to go in....

It was rather bracing but we all managed to stay in for about ten minutes and belt out a quick Auld Lang Syne.

The young lad Leo made an appearance with his mum dad and sister, you really cant imagine the crap that this kid and his family have been through.

The mayor Brad, Leo and me.

So after  about an hour and a bit we counted up the cash, we collected very nearly 600 Euros for Leo and 400 Euros for PAWS....bloody outstanding.

It was the most perfect start to a New Year, Elaine would have been so happy to see so much money to be raised in her name.

Some lovely person shot a video, check it out here.