RYANAIR AND THE UNATTENDED QUEUING BAGS

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!

(more…)

THE ESSEX GIRL’S SPANISH CAR BOOT SALE!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the thing about a car boot sale 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 in Spain 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 car boot sale.

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

STATE PENSION COLLUSION AND CALORIES

It’s 6th November, and today not only am I six weeks into my latest Spanish adventure, today I officially received my state pension. Bloody Hell, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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! 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.

IMG_1172 (2)

(more…)

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.  (more…)

THE BOXES AND THE BOY ARRIVE!

After taking up residence in Mi Casa, the next few days were busy, finding the nearest supermarket and stocking cupboards with wine.  Jane in Spain 3 (2)

Always good to get your priorities right no matter where you happen to find yourself.

A Macmillan Coffee morning, which turned into more of a Sangria morning, followed the next evening by a lovely event sampling Tapas made at home by the locals, and sold from stalls set around the village square, with the proceeds going to the village charity.

There were hundreds of people sitting out in the warm, late September evening, and children played together long into the night, all under the watchful eye of the collective grown-ups.

I didn’t see ONE of the kids glued to an iPad or iPhone. They were playing football, riding bikes and scooters. The younger girls were laughing together, and having girly gossips, and all were popping back to Mum and Dad at regular intervals for a drink. They were engaging with their friends and families.

And even on this darkest of nights, in a far off  land, not one of the children was abducted, nor broke a limb despite playing out till midnight, and they all survived being without their technology!

IMG_0913

To continue my quest for perfect timing, I purposely didn’t want my 3 large boxes to arrive until I had moved into the apartment and got a bit more organised.

I knew from past experienced that once collected, it would only take a couple of days for them to turn up.  But although the online booking system was happy to take my details and money to collect 1 box for Spain, 3 of them was clearly, 2 boxes too many,  and it took many frustrating attempts to get a ‘your items will be collected on’’ confirmation.

Even then I had to rely on the lovely Roz and Jenny to oversee things, and hope from afar that our usual dreadlocked UPS driver, wouldn’t gate crash a wedding when he collected them.

Thankfully, in the end, about 3 ‘working days’ later, they all arrived safe, but a little battered at the local Mailpoint office in the village and all that remained was for Sandra and myself to drive down in her little Fiesta and collect them.

Now it’s one thing for a young, fit and hunky UPS man to load 3 very heavy boxes into his truck in Essex, but it’s quite another for a couple of 60 something females ( one of whom makes Warwick Davies look reasonably tall ) who are both happy to be complete strangers to the gym, to manoeuvre 30kg or so of assorted knickers, books, pots and pans and fairy lights into a very small car in Spain.

Not to mention short but potentially hazardous steep flight of stairs leading up to my front door.

IMG_0930

I can tell you we were literally GASPING for alcohol after such an exhausting experience,… and I took the heavy end.

So now with what remained of my worldly goods haphazardly stacked in the hall way, the only thing missing was the dog.

One of the other questions I was asked over and over when people got to hear that I was off to Spain was, ‘what are you going to do with Buddy’’.

I was tempted to reply that I was intending to A) sell him on eBay too, as it was my go – to destination to offload unwanted items. B) Tie him to the gates of the nearest RSPCA gate with his blanket and a ‘please look after me’ note pinned on it, or C) for the shock value, dispatch him to doggy heaven.

Seriously, are people genuinely that bloody daft even to ask the question.  Curiously the same people seemed quite amazed by my eventual truthful answer, as they didn’t even know, that the option of getting Buddy to Spain by professional pet courier, even existed.

In my absence, as I was already in Spain, Buddy was carefully loaded onto the pet coach by his much loved pet- sitter, Maria, and she handed over my boy into the capable hands of Steve and Sharon from Transpet, who (along with several other 4 legged furry friends), would be driving Buddy from the UK to Spain.   www.trans-pet.com/

This is a journey Buddy has done with them before and having thoroughly researched all potential Pet Couriers some 5 years ago when I first bought him into the UK, I know they are the mutt’s nuts of their profession.

Buddy arrives at his destination either in the UK, or Spain with absolutely no signs of stress or any ill effect from the journey.   IMG_0951

Unlike some other couriers, the Trans-Pet vehicle has its own sleeping area for Steve and Sharon, and they never leave the animals unattended.  Whereas I recall another pet courier telling me that the dogs are left locked in their van overnight in a secure Hotel car park because, I quote ‘the driver needs his sleep as it’s a long journey’.

And so a few days ago my bouncy boy arrived at my door in Spain, full of beans as usual, and he was just a little bit pleased to see me!

He promptly ‘christened’ the garden, gave the place the once sniff over, and within 5 minutes had found his special look out spot and was dozing in the sun.

Now, after 8 WIFI less days, if only we could get the internet restored, as easily as I’ve accomplished these other far more difficult jobs, life would be perfect.

But then, this IS Spain!

IMG_0969

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 but honestly, we are just good friends.

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, about 20 miles apart until the next time.  (more…)

MIND THE ‘AGE’ GAP!

H60. Older man younger womanBack in the day, when those of us who were a ‘child of the 60’s, were fluttering our Mary Quant eyelashes, and dancing round our handbags to Tamla Motown tunes, it seemed so damn cool for us to be seen out with an attractive, older, more worldly wise man.

Somehow, when you were 18 and freezing your tits off on the back of a Vespa, and some charmer nearly twice your age, came along swanking it big time, offering you a lift home in his Ford Cortina, you pretty soon started riding pillion in a frankly more pleasurable way.

And yes, ‘back in the day’, I too enjoyed liaisons with men considerably older than me, and far from feeling used and abused, (as apparently so many women 40 odd years later, now conveniently feel), I had a great time.

I went to places other girls my age only read about in magazines, I ate in good restaurants, and shopped in the West End while my mates were shopping in the market. (more…)

WE NEED TO TALK!

I don’t remember where I was when texting arrived. It crept up on me from behind, and not in a good way.

All of a sudden EVERYONE was at it.  Yes OK, it may be ‘progress’ but really, I think it’s a backward step.

Why is it more normal to text, than to actually SPEAK to the person you want to communicate with.

Am I’m a textaphobe?  Oh no I’m up to speed me!  Yes my fingers can talk the talk as well as anyone else.

But way back in the day, that clever chap Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, so we could speak to another person, immediately, without waiting for a letter or a telegram, bearing good, or bad news. EUREKA!  Because of him, we just picked up the phone and TALKED.

But all good things come to an end and we now have the cutting edge of text messaging at our  fingertips. Previously, you might have enjoyed a verbal invitation for a hot date and had the pleasure of hearing the sexy voice of your one and only. Now, you get a piercing text alert, only to read ‘ wud b g8 2 c u 2nite, spk 2 u l8ter’.

Well that’s not going to ‘send’ you all giddy is it!H60 new message received.

I think women, especially, get a very raw deal in the texting department.  When sending a text to their ‘man of the moment’ they usually use up all of their allotted digits.  Men, on the other hand, usually use the least digits possible to get their message across.

Imagine the morning after the passionate night before. Women are prone to reliving it all, and may wonder if ‘he’ is still basking in the same afterglow as she is. (Unlikely)

So she sends a 160 digit loving missive about how great it had all been. If she’s lucky enough to get any response at all, ‘yeah woz gud’ could just tip her over the edge of texting reason.

Mobile phones seem to have become the adult version of a security blanket. They have to be within touching distance or the owner feels a bit scared.  Scared of missing something that is.

No matter where you look these days, there will be someone clutching their phone, texting madly. Huddled in doorways’ the smokers have now been joined by a new band of brothers all firing up their small and slinky weapons of mass communication.

Of course one thing a phone call and text message do have in common is that sometimes both of them are a long time coming so to speak.

You know how it is, you are all loved up, waiting for a missive from the object of your desire, but you have to keep your phone on silent. Perhaps you are at work, or worse still, a funeral.

So you tuck your mobile snugly in your bra or knickers.  After all if there are any vibrations heading your way, especially in your lady bits, you sure as hell don’t want to miss them.

Then, if he’s in ‘chatty’ mode you have to plead early onset incontinence and visit the loo several times so you can reply in secret.

Gone are the days when numerous trips to the ladies could indicate doing constructive things with white powder and a credit card. The fashionable addiction now is TEXTING.

Even the Priory Clinic are running therapy sessions, I kid you not.

But even if it is quick, and convenient, texting is still fraught with issues for lots of people.

We’ve all got a relative or friend who takes FOREVER to reply to the simplest of texts, or who just ignores them altogether.

Isn’t it so annoying, when you need a quick response to something, as in, right NOW, and you know damn well the other person is definitely not handcuffed to a chair in a darkened room rocking some earplugs.  Yes, they can see, and hear that they have received a text from you, but it’s totally out of your hands, when, or if they will answer.

Then to add insult to injury, eventually you may get a response which begins ‘soz woz busy b4….

Busy BUSY?  What on earth were you so busy doing that it took you THIS long to bloody well answer. Honestly, I’ve seen my nearest and dearest respond to a text almost before they’ve received it, yet sometimes I wait DAYS for a reply if I get one at all!  Collection of acronyms and abbreviations colorful speech bubbles

I’m ancient enough to remember the smelly phone box at the bottom of my road, where I used to go every Sunday evening with my Mum so we could make our weekly phone call to my Gran.  The A and B button, the frantic ‘Goodbyes’ trying to beat the pips.

Somehow, no matter how many kisses it has at the end, a text from MY Grandchildren, just isn’t the same as hearing their voices.

KWIM!?