DON’T LET YOUR FUNNY LITTLE WAYS SPOIL YOUR GIRLY HOLIDAYS!

Let’s face it, going on holiday with a mate can be a bit risky, especially when you’ve known each other on and off for the best part of 35 odd years, and are already well aware of each others ‘funny’ little ways. But don’t let your funny little ways spoil your girly holidays.

It’s one thing gossiping over the occasional coffee and sharing lunch in the UK, but quite a different matter sharing a small space with someone for a whole week in another country.

Will you still be friends at the end of it all, or, as soon as you arrive home will you be unfriending their ‘face’ before you unpack your case?

Well me and ‘her’ have just returned from a lovely sunny holiday in Greece, and as luck would have it, we ARE still speaking. Of course there is always the possibility that she did actually want to kill me several times during the week, but if she did, she hid it well!

In theory, there could have been a few ‘on tour’ hiccups. She has a wonky hip and will be the first to admit she probably won’t be running for a bus anytime soon. What she probably WON’T admit is that she’s also fiercely proud and accepting help or assistance with her mobility doesn’t sit easily with her. So when faced with the offer of a wheelchair ride to take her to the plane, we did have a bit of a debate.

I of course, was all for it, I’d even have sat on her good knee, but ‘Miss Independent’ was less convinced. In the end, under intense pressure from me, and the nice young man in the Escape Lounge, she caved in and off we roared to the departure gate. But that was just the start of the fun.

And up we go….

Whilst everyone else was boarding the plane by more conventional methods, (the stairs), her and me were hoisted up into a gigantic lift on wheels, and raised up to the top of the plane on the opposite side to everyone else. At one stage it looked as though were  heading for the cockpit, but then another door opened, and in we went, whilst everyone else just had to stand back waiting for us to pass. That made a pleasant change I can tell you.

It was becoming clear that rocking a wonky hip and walking stick could have it’s advantages!

Now only my mate who has mobility issues, could choose a hotel that specifically stated in it’s blurb that it was NOT suitable for people with mobility issues. But it ticked every other box, and that small ‘steep hill’ detail was not going to get in her way.

I won’t lie, we got to know the door to door buggy service drivers extremely well. This one was smiley, that one was grumpy. He took that corner a bit fast, the other one went far too slow.

And the brochure didn’t lie. Steep was a tad on the understated side. Herself did herself and me proud though. Once the warmth had made it’s way into her bones, she gave far more able bodied holiday makers a run for their money, and even if she wasn’t exactly ‘running up that hill’ in Kate Bush style, she was certainly giving it her best shot.

Maybe it was made easier by the Vodka calling to her from the bar. I couldn’t possibly say….

But spare a thought for me, I too was obviously forced to tackle the hill myself, 3 times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, none of us is getting any younger, but when you are on an All Inclusive deal, a person’s got to eat, and so I suffered without complaining.

But what about our other little difference, the ones that ‘could’ have caused a girly spat, but didn’t.

I’m very untidy, while she is neat as a pin. Despite it being late, she carefully unpacked her suitcase the minute we arrived in the room, and hung everything up in the wardrobe, whilst I, ever the bloody lazy cow, simply lived out of my suitcase for a whole week, thus avoiding the job of having to pack it all again to come home.

She wasn’t in the least bit surprised, she’s known me too long! 

Whilst I’m no stranger to an Extra Strong Mint which I gratefully accepted on take off, I smiled at her bringing a vast selection of boiled sweets including Cough Candy, Pear Drops, and Murray Mints, and she did eventually appreciate the fact that I’d packed Shortcake Biscuits, Custard Creams and Ginger Nuts when I served them with her early morning cup of tea!  She needed the sugar fix to deal with the mess I can make with two tea bags and a kettle.

Still on the neat and tidy theme, I had no difficulty in flooding the bathroom floor on several occasions, and herself played to her strengths and mopped up after me. All without swearing ‘too’ much.

But as technology is not her strongest point, with my ‘sensible’ head on, (and after she’d locked all our valuables in there), I worked out the workings of the safe, (several times), took a pair of sharp scissors to the shower head so that it did more than spit water at us, and I mastered the complicated issue of unlocking the apartment door.

Very handy when one of you is running up the stairs, happy to share with your friend, the fact that you are busting for a poo.

In return she kindly tackled the hill once all on her own, when she went foraging for wine and crisps to see me through one of those ‘can’t be bothered to go out’ nights. Oh and a bottle of Vodka found its way into the bag too. Funny that…..

One of the nice things about being good ‘mature friends’ is that you can be who you are, without fear of criticism or mocking. I knew herself would need to walk slowly on this holiday, but it was clear from our first little wander into the next village, that with a couple of alcoholic fuelled pit stops in friendly bars overlooking the sea, she could and would walk a little bit further than she thought she might. But, I was tuned in enough to know when enough was enough, and we needed to find a taxi to get back.

Pit Stop Refreshments

She accepted my ‘itchy feet’ with good grace, and made a huge effort to walk the walk to keep me from getting bored, when she probably would have been happy to stay on the sunbed.

For the first few days I was engrossed big time in a ‘who dunnit’ and couldn’t put it down, and I probably didn’t make sparkling conversation until ‘the end’, BUT, how great that once she started reading it, I felt happy when she stopped talking too and got just as engrossed in it as I had been.

It does go to prove that even if you don’t or can’t quite do things the same as each other, with a bit of  compromise and flexibility, you can still go on holiday together and not fall out.  I had a great time with my school gate mate, and I’d do it all again tomorrow!

                   She drunk more than me, I ate more than her and there’s no arguing with that!

 

OH DO GET ON WITH IT!

I wish I could keep my mouth shut. I really do. Not only that, I wish I could NOT write the things that I do.  But it’s impossible. 

And here is one more example of things that I wish I could NOT write.

My last missive was concerning a gentleman friend, who’d committed several crimes against brushes, and generally pissed me off, though not to the point where I’d banished him to the ‘ex’ friends heap as he continues to give me plenty of ‘content’ with which to create witty and amusing missives for your (possible) entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong.  He’s a nice man, a very very nice man. But bloody hell is he boring. He’s turned 65, and though I will never meet her, as she’s currently propping up a very new and shiny headstone in Highgate Cemetery, I think he’s turning into his Mother, which brings me nicely to the reason for my story.

To set the scene, I hadn’t seen the GF (gentleman friend) since December 30th, as he’d then returned to his ‘place in the sun’ and gone back to Spain, where I’d originally met him early last year.

But last week he was back in Essex and we met up for an early doors meal at a local pub.  This had taken several emails to arrange and I’d lost the will to live over trying to find somewhere to go.  But in a last ditch attempt, I sent him a link to a nice gastro pub, along with directions, menu and the phone number.  I think I’ve said before, this is a man who starts many sentences with the words ‘I’m not tight………but’.  Steak dinner. No chance!

The fact is, he IS tight, so I knew my suggestion of a steak meal would rattle his coins, and bring him out in a rash.  I thought the steak meal might get downgraded somehow, but oh how I laughed to myself when he responded, ‘we could always just get a take-way and eat it up my sons flat’.  Did I mention before, that this is the bloke who has won the lottery. Twice.  Yes, I did. I remember. 

I couldn’t bring myself to even respond to this suggestion, so I totally ignored it, and booked a table at a place where we’d been before. Even the first-time round, I’d detected a look of horror pass across his face when he’d seen the price of just the fish and chips!

After the niceties were over and I was settled with a large glass of red, we caught up with each other’s news, as you do.  He was overly excited about a headstone he was arranging for his Mum’s grave, which is a lovely gesture, thought possibly a little after the event as his Mum’s been dead for over 20 years.  

But what sent me into a fit of those inward laughs you just cannot supress was his description of what wording was going on this shiny black, gold flecked, very expensive creation which his two sons and daughter, were all ‘involved in choosing’.  I can think of many things, that are marginally more exciting for the average 35-year-old, than choosing a headstone for your long dead Nan.

The GF relayed to me about 10 different quotations which had been considered, like ‘gone but not forgotten’ ish.  He slowly and carefully said them all out loud in a suitably measured and serious tone, that took fuckingforever.  It went on and on and on, ‘Always in our hearts………Till we meet again…Love and miss you’…on and on he droned, till I couldn’t stop myself and I said,

‘Jesus Christ, you are even boring me to death with this story’. 

I won’t lie, I did that thing when you laugh too much to over compensate and act like you meant it as a joke when you are really deadly serious. (see what I did there?!)  

Why do men do that. Take for bloody ever to tell a story, that a female can tell with half the words in half the time. I just don’t get it, and I just can’t be polite and keep quiet.  Every time I meet up with this very nice man, and he hits me with a very  L O N G  story, I want to just hit his fast forward button. 

Sadly, he’s permanently stuck on extended play……

ONE MAN, TWO BRUSHES.

I cannot believe how, or why it has taken me so long to add something vaguely witty or wise to my little Hello Sixty blog.

Anyone would think I’d been frantically busy, or had fallen in love and was beyond distracted.  But I have no excuse.

I’m sure all of you have picked up one of those ancient magazines you find in the dentist, and suddenly found something amusing in it, so let’s just go with ‘better later than never’ and crack on.

This is the story of one man, and two brushes. All will become clear, so stick with it.

Brush Number One.

I’m really fussy about tea.  I like to make my own tea, and wherever possible it has to be Yorkshire Tea.

I don’t mind it being made in a mug during the day and evening, BUT my first cup of tea of the day just has to be made in a white bone china cup. Don’t ask me why, it just does.

As lots of you will know, I’ve recently returned from a trip to Spain, and after selling all my worldly goods to go in the first place, now I need to restock my new abode with virtually everything from knives and forks and pots and pans, right up to beds, sofa’s and beyond.

One of my gentleman callers who starts virtually every sentence with ‘I’m not tight but….’ gets very turned on by a trip to Poundland and he treated me to 6 new mugs. They cost exactly a £1.00 each.

They were perfectly acceptable, but favourite was still my pure white, bone china breakfast tea cup, which I bought myself, and cost £4.99 in Sainsbury’s.

And yes you can taste the difference.

Fast forward.  I’ve gone mad painting shelves and upcycling some shabby shite which I’ve paid next to nothing for at car boot sales, and I’m very fond of wrapping my brushes in cling film and leaving them laying around the kitchen until the next project.

Imagine if you will then how utterly grateful I was to Mr. ‘I’m not tight but…’, when I found that out of all the mugs in my kitchen, he’d ‘helpfully’ rounded up my paint brushes and left them to soak in……..my beautiful pure white bone china breakfast tea cup.

It’s relevant to say here that Mr ‘I’m not tight but….’ is a nice chap, very helpful, and a top bloke for putting up shelves and curtain poles. But he’s SO careful with his money, and likes to hold onto it for as long as humanly possible and is more than reluctant to spend it.

Oh, and did I mention he’s won the lottery not once, but twice!  Not life changing amounts, but more than enough to make a big difference, and just last week won yet another £150 on a scratch card.  Talk about money going to money

Brush Number Two.   

One man, two brushes

One man, two brushes

Things disappear don’t they, usually it’s just socks and things. But recently so did my dustpan and brush. I have no idea where it went, I think I must have just left it in a bin bag and chucked it out with the rubbish.

Mr ‘I’m not tight but…’ found this completely mystifying and mulled over its disappearance for an unhealthily long time.

The lost dustpan and brush was actually white, but he mourned the loss so much he began to even debate the colour, saying that he was sure it was maroon.

He’d been putting up some shelves, and there’s always that bit of dust that gets trapped on the skirting board, and of course you don’t realise how handy these things are, until you’ve chucked them away!

But on about the 5th time of trying to start a conversation about the ffffflippin dustpan and brush, unsurprisingly I flipped and suggested that if I had one handy, I’d shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Some days later, he left a message on my phone that went something like this.

‘You are going to laugh at this’…….( I doubted it )……I’m in a shop, standing in front of loads of dustpan and brushes all in different colours, and I don’t know if I should get you one or not, and what colour you would like. You are not answering your phone and I really don’t know what to do’.

And then he hung up.

He was standing in Poundland.  The dustpan and brush was ONE pound.  He didn’t get me one.

If you, on the other hand really don’t get ME, refer back to the paragraph in italics above.

In the end, I bought my own dustpan and brush, and it too cost a £1.00 from a boot sale, after a few outings, the handle broke.

Now if only someone had bought me a spare one………MEN!

 

QUEUES ME WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?

I hadn’t intended to go home to the UK for Christmas.  I wasn’t going to pay the trumped up Ryanair fare, which at most other time of the year would be half the cost.

So imagine my surprise, when in mid December, I came across a flight from Murcia to Stansted for 9.99e, which equates to about £7.49 in old money.

I booked it immediately, telling myself if I couldn’t find Buddy a holiday home, or a comparably priced flight back to Spain then I hadn’t broken the bank.

Homeward Bound!

Homeward Bound!

In the end, the whole trip came in at under £50.00 so as an older person once said ‘mustn’t grumble’.

Buddy went off to the seaside for his own holiday and wooped it up with Woopy. He gave me the guilt trip treatment when I got back to Spain but this was more to do with him having to LEAVE Woopy and Uncle Dave, not because I’d left him in the first place!

My dream team!

My dream team!

Of course there were lots of priceless moments being back at home with my    daughters and four Grandchildren, far too many to mention, and so lovely to see my much missed friends, Sam, Roz and Jen.

Prosecco People!

Prosecco People!

And of course I’ll never forget meeting the very new, very precious Archie Barrow for the first time!

 But I did have a priceless moment of a different kind at Murcia airport, when my fellow Brits thought it acceptable to place their suitcases in a line to preserve their place at the boarding gate queue and then return to various seats in the departure lounge.

What made this quite surprising was the right on cue public announcement ‘Please do not leave your bags unattended’…… but still the bags kept on queuing, their owners following everyone else’s example,  like fuckwitted sheep.

Bags forming an orderly queue!

Bags forming an orderly queue!

I watched the first person resolutely plonk their bag down on the ‘Priority Queue’ side of the Ryanair directive, thinking quietly to myself, ‘oh man, you sure do want your money’s worth out of your Priority Boarding fee’.

But they just kept on coming, even the ‘other’ queuers got in on the act.

Normal people, arguably like me, were by this time shaking their heads and exchanging ‘ I don’t believe it’ type glances as more and more bags were left totally unattended.

Although it wouldn’t be PC to admit it, maybe ‘they’ were thinking such things as,…. blimey his skin is a bit dark or is he just rocking a fabulous suntan, …..hopefully that is just an innocent suitcase, and not a religious grudge he’s just parked there?

But of course, being British, everybody just chuckled at this blatant disregard of baggage procedures and the security men just ignored it, as the safety announcements continued.

Soon there was a double row of probably 60 unattended bags and cases forming an orderly line, with no shoving from the back. All being strategically placed to ensure their owners got a seat and space in the overhead locker on the plane.

That’ll be the seat they’d paid for, and received confirmation oh AND a boarding pass!

Still better to be safe than sorry I guess. ?

Some of you will be thinking to yourselves ….so what? None of this is particularly offensive behaviour, and I’d kind of agree.  But REALLY, trust me as more and more people left their bags, more and more other people were laughing at them.  So I cannot be the only one who thought this was first class, Muppetry , and if, IF, you ever consider doing this yourself, I cannot be friends with you and please do not ever read my blog again……

Fast forward back to Stansted for the return trip to Spain, when, in the depths of the departure lounge, at gate 59, struggling with 2 bags that must have weighed over 10kg, and which I could hardly carry, AND, another slung over my shoulder, I blatantly contravened every single one of the Ryanair weights and measures rules.

But the lone security man waved me through and gave me a very cheery ‘have a good trip….Rosemary’!

 

The most adorable Archie Barrow

The most adorable Archie Barrow

THE ESSEX GIRL’S SPANISH BOOT SALE!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the thing about car boot sales is you either love them, or hate them.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, which is determined by whatever side of the bartering table you happen to be.

Elephant picture.But Saturday’s little car boot sale jaunt wasn’t about the quality of the shite people were selling, it was just that the whole thing was SUCH a hilarious experience.

Firstly the car park was more like a ‘let’s just leave it here’ park.  No cones, no orange tape, and no fit young men in high viz jackets helpfully lining you up with the bonnets of a hundred other cars.

No this was a lock it and leave it wherever you can.

And so I did.

But what followed was an Essex girl’s dream boot sale.

It had the lot. All forms of animals, a kind of Karaoke, Chips, and Chihuahuas and…Vino Rose’!

Animal print coat

Under a baking hot NOVEMBER sun, and as near to Fireworks Night as makes no difference, there were HUNDREDS of people at this boot sale.  Loads of sellers, loads of buyers.

I just mooched around, picking things up, putting them down, as you do.  But as it was so hot, I soon needed a drink and what happened next was just surreal.

We followed the sounds of someone singing, and ended up at what would have been a pavement café, had there been a pavement.   Market Singer

And there was UDO, perched on a stool with his guitar, crooning away in the sunshine.  Talk about Tribute Act.  He was Johnny Cash one minute and all of the Beatles the next.

Then when he got down with a bit of Petula Clark everyone joined in, singing the same song in several different languages all at the same time.

People were eating their dirty fry ups, washed down with a large glass of Rose.  Wine?  At a BOOT SALE?

What kind of fuckery is this I thought, and then, THEN, people began dancing between the tables. Like jiving and allsorts.

It was like Strictly come Dancing, meets Your Dad’s Shit Dancing.

But at a bloody BOOT SALE.  Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

I tell you what Essex friends, Marks Tey Boot Sale could learn from this.

Mind you, I can appreciate all those ‘disabled’ people, who only limp on  Wednesdays, might be disadvantaged, but even with just the wine and the karaoke,  I’m sure they’d still reap the benefit….

IMG_1191

What a revelation. I can’t wait to go back again next week!   UDO is da man…..

Then just as I thought things couldn’t get any less like an Essex Boot Sale, along came the Chihuahua perched on the bling, and all of a sudden,  I felt right at home. 

 

COLLUSION AND CALORIES!

Well here we are 6 weeks into my latest Spanish adventure.   IMG_1158

It’s 6th November, and today, I can apparently officially call myself a pensioner.

Bloody Hell, I don’t know weather to laugh, or cry.

And whilst fog brought much of the UK to a virtual standstill this week, Mr Blue Sky is thankfully still rocking and rolling here on the Costa Blanca.

I’ve just returned from taking Buddy on our favourite walk around the golf course, and here is the date stamped proof that there is indeed not a cloud in the sky!

IMG_1172 (2)

Though rather curiously, I am now sitting on my balcony writing this wearing shorts and…….woolly socks.  I can’t remember if I told you I’m now officially a pensioner…….oh yes I did…..that accounts for it then

Do I feel guilty that I’m still in shorts and vest tops, whilst my nearest and dearest are in England wearing trusty leggings and a fleece?  Do I heck!

But as well as enjoying the sunshine, life delivered more than a little surprise when several people colluded behind my back, and all was not what it seemed as I was given my 4th invitation, in as many weeks to a restaurant in our little village called Alquibler.

As much as I was looking forward to catching up with the very lovely Bev and Alex, looking at the same quite limited menu again for the 4th time in 4 weeks was …….well…you know what I’m trying to say and I did have a little moan and a groan in the car, as we were driving down to the restaurant.

However, as I walked in the door, imagine my surprise when there sat my youngest daughter Nic, and her man, and my two Grandsons!

It was SUCH a shock, I had NO idea at all.  IMG_1130

So there was lots of tears and laughter and I was lost for words for all of 5 minutes!

In reality, I’d only seen her 4 weeks before when I left the UK, but it was such a fab surprise.

So I had a lovely few days with them, being treated to some nice meals and being spoilt, but the week went by really quickly and soon it was time for them to go home.

More tears.

BUT, a few days later, my bestest male friend arrived.  That’s the one you’ve known for a million years, but you’ve NEVER been more than just good friends.

He knows me very well, and arrived with plenty of books and magazines, oh and even some perfume!

IMG_1146

He battled with cancelled Easyjet flights on Monday, but finally won the travelling war, after a tortuous coach journey in thick fog from Southend to Gatwick, where his delayed 7.00 am flight, finally took off at 1.30pm in the afternoon.

So, with all the food and drink I’ve consumed over the last couple of weeks, now I find my skinny jeans have mysteriously shrunk in the wash, without even having been IN the wash.

I suppose I’ll have to find something else to go with my shawl and Velcro slippers…. 

IMG_1160 (4)

THE UNCHARITABLE LUNCH

After a couple of weeks of ‘settling in’ it was time to venture out and about and meet some new people, and by coincidence, I found myself at the same restaurant four times in as many weeks.

By now, I don’t have to even read the menu, or wonder what their paella tastes like.  But at 9e for a 4 course meal including wine, it would be churlish to refuse an invitation.

IMG_1040 (3)It was the last two visits that have really given me food for thought ~ no pun intended ~ MUCH!

I think I mentioned before that the ladies of the village are very BIG on fundraising for good causes, and so on visit 3 to the restaurant, I found myself at a lunch with 23 complete strangers, to raise  funds for a ‘much needed white board for the local school’.

The group were all very welcoming, an even mix of mature couples and some single women.   I chatted with a couple of ladies, and we swopped numbers with good intentions of meeting up for coffee.

It was all very nice and kind of well, ‘safe’, nobody swore, and nobody got pissed.

But then I’m not in Essex any more.

Things did get a bit more interesting when they had what us common people call a ‘whip round’.  This was in fact a little basket, which was passed round the table for everyone to donate something towards the ‘much needed white board for the local school’.

You can never be sure, at times like this, what is the right amount to throw in. It’s like the collection after a funeral at a church.  Do you put in all your old shrapnel, or is it only polite to pop in some bank notes at the appropriate moment.

I know the 72 virgins waiting thing won’t apply to us lot, but if there should be 72 fit blokes waiting, then I don’t know about you, but I want to be in with a chance, and you don’t know whose watching from on high.

So anyway, I’m thinking, OK, this lunch is for a ‘much needed white board for the local school’.  There are 24 of us here, I’m not sure how much a white board is, but collectively, we could get some helpful cash in the kitty, so I chuck 10e into the mix.

IMG_1041Of course I couldn’t be sure, but I’m probably the one with the least amount of money in the room, but nevertheless it’s all for a good cause as someone once said.

The 4 course meal, (including wine!) is only costing 9e, so worse way, along with my donation, that’s a total of about £15.00 in old money and in the UK I’ve spent  more than that on JUST a posh sandwich and a couple of glasses of Prosecco, and the only ‘board’ in site is the one saying ‘Specials’.

I know, I KNOW, champagne taste on my lemonade salary.

Using my fingers and toes, I do some elementary sums in my head, and I reckon that with 23 other people round the table, conservatively, we could end up with in excess of 200e and in my mind’s eye I can see little Maria and Jose being dazzled by their new, all singing, all dancing ‘much needed white board in the local school’, very soon

The ladies who organised the fund raising lunch, play it dead cool and to abide by the charitable rules, decide for some reason NOT to count the money at the table in the restaurant, but to count it privately in front of a chosen few.

Don’t get me wrong, the fundraising ladies are doing a fantastic job, but I have to point out here that we were in fact the only people in the restaurant at this point, it wasn’t like we were in Maccy D’s in Dalston, the risk of a mugging was fairly remote.

The results of the count up were to be posted on Facebook (where else) and I found this hilarious; anyone would think it was some kind of haul, to be tipped out of a swag bag and counted over candle light, somewhere in a dark tunnel. Talk about making a drama out of a whip round, it’s a wonder Securicor wasn’t summoned to oversee things.

Later that night, the scores on the doors were indeed freely available for all to see, and it turned out, that with 24 people in attendance, the 4 course fundraising lunch that cost just 9e per person (including wine) raised just 98e for that ‘much needed white board for the local school’.    H60 Purse strings.

 WHAT THE FUCK?

I personally put in 10e of that, which left 88e, raised between the 23 others.

Now YOU do the sums!

At this rate, it looks like Maria and Jose will be using chalk and a slate for some considerable time yet. Bless their little sombreros.

And visit number 4 to the same restaurant?

Surprise, Surprise, it had the lot, tears, laughter, camera’s and the very same Paella, BUT the very same 4 course menu (including wine) costs 3e more in the evening.

Bloody Hell, I won’t see the whiteboard fundraisers there after dark then

Charity swear box

THE DOG THAT DIDN’T COME BACK!

What could be nicer on a sunny afternoon in Spain, than going for a walk with your neighbour, and her dog?  Well, as it turned out, I can think of a few things that would have been preferable.

I was missing Buddy, as we’d been apart for nearly two weeks, while he waited for his coach trip to Spain to join me, so this seemed like a good way for me to get back into the dog walking spirit of things.

My friends dog is called Paddy, and he is more than a 10p mix up of Collie, Staffy, Labrador and I reckon  a Great Dane is lurking in his gene pool somewhere too as he’s nearly bigger than his owner, but then to be honest that’s not difficult either.

PADDY

PADDY

Paddy is  a lovely, very lively boy, and we’ve reached an understanding whereby I completely ignore him, till he stops jumping up and trying to kiss my nose every time I walk in the door. It’s a battle of wills, but I’m winning.

After Paddy had done his usual pre ‘walkies’ dance, where he jumps all over the sofa so hard that the sofa has no choice but to move, followed by a bit of boisterous leaping around on just two of his very long legs, accompanied by some hysterical squeaking, we were finally on our way.

In front of Sandra’s house there is a large expanse of scrubland, full of ‘interesting’ nooks, crannies and rabbit holes. From the top of a hill it drops down to a quarry like area, which is quite deep.

Now apparently, Paddy runs around this area more than a few times a week, so he’s very familiar with it, and Sandra assures me that when he’s let off the lead, although he runs and runs, he always comes back.

NOT THIS TIME SANDRA!

After a short ‘on lead’ walk round the road, we arrive on the scrubland and Paddy is let loose. Sandra and I carry on walking and for a short time we can see Paddy chasing around enjoying his freedom. But then he disappears.   Like, into thin air. No sign, Nada.

At first, Sandra begins to call him in quite a relaxed tone, but it reaches quite a crescendo after about 20 minutes, as it’s now pretty obvious the boy’s done a runner, and when Sandra gets slightly more frantic, the F word echoed around the quarry.

My long range eye sight is pretty good, and as I scanned the area where Paddy had disappeared, there was absolutely no sign of him. No movement in the bushes, no wagging tail, no hint of a dog.

We could, however, hear dogs barking in the distance, and one of them did indeed sound very deep and intimidating, just like Paddy in fact.

At this point, I'm standing at the far left on top of the hill....

At this point, I’m standing at the far left on top of the hill….

So as it was clear his recall button was not working that day, and he wouldn’t be coming back to his owner any time soon, she set off back down the very steep hill to get into her car to follow the bark.

I watched all this unfold from my vantage point at the top of the hill where I was waiting, just in case Paddy should decide that he was tired with all this tomfuckery and wanted to go home.

Now we all have defining moments don’t we and I had several during the next 40 minutes or so, which as any dog owner will tell you, is a VERY long time when a dog has disappeared.

My first ‘moment’ came whilst standing on my own, in the middle of bloody nowhere in complete silence, waiting for a dog to return to me that wasn’t even mine.

WTF am I doing waiting for a dog that doesn't even belong to me ?

WTF am I doing waiting for a dog that doesn’t even belong to me ?

I had a WHAT THE FUCK am I doing thought and marched back down the hill to where Sandra had now returned in her car. Still minus her dog.

There was, at this point a slight domestic going on, when Sandra had to impart the news to her husband Tony, that the dog had run off.

With the questionable wisdom of an octogenarian, he sagely commented, ‘Well if he doesn’t come back, he’ll probably get run over’, which I didn’t feel was particularly helpful given the circumstances, and I told him so.

We were about 50 minutes into the pursuit of Paddy when I happened to glance up to the top of the hill and there he was standing in the sunshine, like some majestic statue of a Spanish Bull.

Mr and Mrs Paddy went into overdrive.  Sandra was calling him like he was her long lost son, whilst Paddy’s Daddy had adopted a tone of voice which would have said to the daftest of dogs, ‘You are in the deepest shit when you get home’.

Talk about mixed messages!

Meanwhile Paddy refused to budge, and stayed put on the hilltop, with something of a ‘you’ve got to be joking’ stance.

I marched purposefully indoors and got a box of dog biscuits, and put some distance between me and the confusing doggy parents.

Gradually as I shook the box of bikkies, Paddy took some tentative steps and began making his way back to me.

Then all of a sudden, just when you think things cannot get any worse, Tony gets over confident with his dog whistle and is manically blowing it like he’s at West Ham on Cup Final day.

Meanwhile, Sandra has adopted Tony’s previous Mr Angry Tone and is telling him to stick the bloody whistle where the sun don’t shine.

Finally, Paddy is within grabbing distance and I slip the lead over his head and ‘encourage’ him fairly firmly that it would be in his own best interests to get his arse back inside the house, as I’m now really pissed off with his ‘I’ll come back when I’m ready’ attitude.

It’s clear he’s had a bit of an argument with a thorn bush, or something extremely prickly, and looks a bit bruised and battered. His nose and paws are streaked with blood and he’s acting very sorry for himself whilst having a minor panic attack.

OUCH!

OUCH!

Sandra puts on her best vet’s uniform and sits down on the floor with Paddy trying to calm him down.

I decide too many dog lovers in one room will spoil the dog, and after all this  I’m in desperate need of alcohol, so I decide to leave the building.

But not before Tony appears minus his friggin whistle and delivers his most memorable line of the day……

‘Oh Sandra, that dog will be the death of you’

 

THE SPANISH ADVENTURE BEGINS!

As everyone who knows me will tell you, although my head has been in Essex for the past few years, my heart has always been firmly in Spain – and not always in a romantic kind of way – far from it.

Having spent 10 or so years there, on and off, I know that not only do I love the country, I love the way of life and the fact that ( trust me on this ) no matter what anyone tells you, it is so much cheaper to live there than in the UK.  And the warmth, the blue sky, the light, the air, all just make you feel so much better somehow. Maybe it’s an age thing. Who knows. Who cares!

And so with all this in mind, for Jane Walters, aged 62 ¾, it is time for another adventure

I won’t lie to you, leaving some things behind is a bit of a wrench. My lovely girls, my gorgeous boys, missing them all goes without saying.

But I also loved my job at what must be one of the most stunning wedding venues in Essex, and all that goes with it.  What’s not to like!

I will miss my bright and breezy colleague Jenny, who tired me out every Monday morning, with her tales of how manic her weekend had been, whilst we ate our respective lunches. Her weekends, and her lunches were always so much more interesting than mine.  I loved our chats and we had so many laughs, collusions and secrets that were never secrets in the first place!

I couldn’t have wished for a nicer lady to spend my office hours with. IMG_0751

Then there is the lovely Paul who gave the best hugs ever. I spent many hours chatting with him about the highs and lows of wedding venue life. Paul’s major rants were only surpassed by his major schmoozing, which accounted for most brides falling in love with him on their wedding day.

Oh the irony……..oh those hugs!

And last but not least, I will miss Roz, who has no bloody idea how truly gorgeous she is. Stunningly pretty, a drop dead gorgeous figure and a smile that can light up a room, she deserves the absolute best of everything, but is oblivious to how fabulous she actually is. If you are lucky enough to be in her life, make sure you cherish her girls and boys …..Or else!

But everything has a shelf life and after 2 years of doing weddingy things, several ‘coincidences’ meant I found myself with the option of a 6 month rental on a lovely 2 bed apartment in Spain, and a little part time job into the bargain.  How could I refuse?

And so after selling up half my life, and packing up the other half into 3 massive cardboard boxes, here I am in Spain – again. But this time it’s just me and my dog Buddy, no excess man baggage.

So fuelled mainly by Rioja, let the adventure begin.

When the initial seeds were sown about the move to Spain it seemed ages away. But as 12 weeks dwindled to 6, I realised I had 2 years’ worth of ‘stuff’ to offload.

Two sofas, a fridge, a cooker, washing machine, not to mention my beloved Laura Ashley bedstead. Storage costs are notoriously expensive, so it all had to be rehomed.

I was amazed at the same question I heard over and over, ‘but what about your furniture, what will you do with it?’ – err – sell it of course.

My response probably seemed quite flippant, but as my lovely duck egg blue leather sofas and my cream wrought iron bedstead were both eBay purchases in the first place. If I should ever find myself incurably homesick, and need either of them again, I’ll find just as good, if not better on Ebay or Gumtree.  It’s just everyday ‘stuff’, I wasn’t emotionally attached to any of it.

And so the sell off began.

One lovely chap bought both my sofas, he’d just got a new flat and not a single thing to put in it. Other purchasers rocked up on a daily basis after successful bids on auction sites, and making me offers that I couldn’t refuse. I helped load a cooker into a car that was far too small for the load, and tied a fridge on a roof rack.

Another lady drove off with a chest of drawers hanging dangerously out of the back of her car, and she was hemmed in all ways round by the 6 drawers that accompanied it.

I kissed goodbye to books and clothes at a car boot sale and reduced the contents of my 2 bedroom rented cottage down to fit into 3 cardboard boxes that would be sent by courier to Spain.  IMG_0768

Next came the car; a timely parting as after 8 years of half-hearted TLC it was beginning to complain, and money would need to be spent in the not too distant future.

But with a full years MOT and good marketing on my part, its happy new owner drove it off into the sunset (rain actually) the day before I left. Perfect timing.

It’s a very strange but oddly liberating experience not having a set of keys, to absolutely anything, in your bag   No car keys, no house keys.

After a bit of a rowdy flight from Stansted to Murcia my friend Sandra was at the arrivals gate to meet me and on cue had a large jug of her special Sangria brewing, and after a short pit stop at her place, within 36 hours of arriving in Spain I was in residence in Mi Casa.

Everything so far had gone without a hitch but there’s always something that bites you on the bum or in my case, there was nothing to put on my bum.  On closer inspection of the contents of my small carry on suitcase, I realised that I had arrived in Spain knicker less.

Yes every single pair of big pants, small pants and lucky pants, were sealed inside the aforementioned 3 cardboard boxes back in Essex.

Well as we all know, you can take the girl out of Essex, but you can’t take Essex out of the girl and in the absence of a Marks and Sparks, in such an emergency, there was only one place to go.   IMG_0880

PRIMARNI

Off we trundled the next day to a shopping mall at La Zenia, and a few branded paper carrier bags later, the knicker emergency was over, and drawers were restocked.

Apart from the 3 infamous cardboard boxes, the only other thing that was missing was Buddy ~ but he was on his way!

 

HONESTLY WE ARE JUST GOOD FRIENDS!

Fancy some Fish and Chips on Friday?  he typed.   That would be lovely, I typed back.

We don’t actually talk very often, but we type a lot to each other.  Sometimes we watch whole programmes on the telly together too, whilst sitting miles apart.

Yes I know, we should get out more.

The exchanges are fairly succinct.  Celebrity MasterChef, for example, is accompanied by  ‘that looks like shite,  or ’not enough jus with the lamb’  and ‘shovel it in Greg’………..highbrow stuff.

Then, in the middle of our ‘conversation’ we both nod off on our respective sofa’s, until the next time.

I first knew Dicky in the mid 80’s when he was my window cleaner.  He was a handsome bugger, and he came with his own set of ladders. He could charm the birds off the trees and into his bed.

He was and still is, a cheeky chap, and although he will deny it, he had the pleasure of many a young lady, back in the day. But I wasn’t one of them.

Damn it.       DICKY DOWNES

Whilst we’ve always kept in touch, to be fair, we don’t actually see each other very often. I think it’s been oh at least twice this year, and possible twice last year.

But strangely enough, we are still quite close. I’d trust this man with my life, he is a very special bloke.

Over the last 30 odd years, we’ve flirted with the idea of becoming a bit more of an item. We’ve pipe dreamed about going here and there, doing this and that, and sometimes even the other.

But it’s never happened and never will.  Our moment has passed, and we both know it.

Nope we are just good friends, always have been, always will be.  However, it is quite surreal that by the power of Facebook, a simple selfie, and a fairly innocent throwaway line resulted in us becoming engaged by proxy, accompanied by many MANY messages of congratulations, wishes of happiness and that old chestnut, ‘Shall I buy a new hat’.     champagne

In fact, it got so out of control, that my ‘just good friend’ had to issue a statement of denial!

Honestly, if we’d been on Twitter, we’d have been trending.

It went something like this.

We took a nice leisurely drive to West Mersea. It wasn’t our first destination of choice, but it being a nice sunny Friday evening, the world and his wife decided to cause a bit of a kerfuffle on the A12, and so, as older people do, we decided to play it safe and take the back roads to a more familiar Essex backwater.

We talked our way onto a reserved table, promising not to be long, and did indeed have two very large portions of Skate and Chips, washed down with a bottle of pretty decent Merlot.

At the agreed hour, we adjourned to a bench outside, overlooking the water and it was there that the confusion selfie was snapped.

It was as they say, all over in a flash, and fed onto Facebook in seconds with the cryptic tag line of

30 years later………we didn’t want to rush things.

Then, my companion put his phone away, we finished our bottle of wine, and had a little stroll round, watched a few boats bobbing about and some seagulls swimming, and then went home for a nice cup of tea. We know how to live.

Yes, by 10.30, we were both yawning, the excitement had all been too much. Bed, and a good book was calling us.  That’ll be separate beds, and separate books.  Just to be clear.

However, while we were taking the scenic route back home, our picture had gone a tad ‘viral’ amongst the man Dicky’s Facebook friends.

And so by Saturday morning, 229 people had kindly liked our picture, and there were 80 congratulatory messages from people possibly all hoping for an invite to a wedding that wasn’t going to take place.

It was quite cheering to know that so many people approved of our unreal relationship, even Dicky’s son succinctly wrote that I was ‘fit’.

Thank you to my nearly stepson. Nice one.

DICKY AND ME MERSEA!

However, much as we hated to disappoint everyone, not to mention dismissing the possibility of many gorgeous gifts, (and maybe even shedloads of money), it would have been rude and unkind to have misled all those potential wedding guests any longer, and so apologies for confusion were hastily added to the hundreds of comments and we became quietly un-betrothed.

Sadly, in 30 years of friendship that was the first picture, of Dicky and I  ‘togevver’, I’m guessing it will probably be the last!

Still it was nice while it lasted!