Home Again

We arrived back last night from our five week trip to England. We loved our time with family and friends, but it's good to be home. There's a warmth and friendliness from our neighbours that is really special. The Spanish are very direct people - much like the Lancashire folk whom I grew up among - and so everyone who spotted my still bruised face needed an account of how it happened. That includes Gema in the pharmacy where I went this morning to pick up my various medications.
Today we are having a quietish day getting things unpacked and put away or into the washing machine. And of course, as ever, it's good drying weather so everything goes up to the roof.
Tomorrow starts with a couple of appointments following on from my broken arm in Germany; in the morning we head for Traumatology at the local hospital for follow-up X-rays and a consultative with the orthopedic specialist, and then in the afternoon I'm due at the health Centre in Nerja to see the physiotherapist, which I'm pleased about because I've had real problems with most of the exercises I was given.
However, once that is out of the way it's a matter of, let the merriment commence. Seven o'clock sees the start of the eleventh annual Festival of Three Cultures, which promises to be even better than last year's. I' be out and about with my camera enjoying the whole atmosphere. I'll share some photos with you, and maybe a few You Tube links to bands appearing over the next four days.


Summer Holiday

We landed in England on July 19th, and we're just starting our final week before heading back to Frigiliana in time to enjoy the Festival of Three Cultures. It's been a time of high spots. I wrote about our time on the Isle of Wight which confirmed our desire to settle there when we leave Spain, but we also took a flying visit to Lancashire. We based ourselves in the lovely market town of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley for three nights which allowed us to meet up with my cousin and her daughter for lunch at a local pub. My brother, who lives in Nottingham, was in the Lake District the weekend before we went north, and was able to delay his return home by a day to join us all. The following day we went to Rambottom, where we lived before moving to Frigiliana. To be precise, we went to Chatterton on the outskirts of Ramsbottom to have lunch with neighbours. It was strange to be walking up a street which had been home for thirty years. Today, back in the south, some friends who left Spain eighteen months ago and now live in Eastbourne, came over and joined us for a pub lunch nattering away about life then and now. So we've got some good memories of this trip to take back with us.
But we've also had the great good fortune to hit a particularly warm and sunny summer for our holiday, and so we've been able to make the most of our time.
There are other experiences to carry home, mainly to do with food. I love Spanish food and the typical Mediterranean ingredients that we have such easy access to, but this holiday has been an opportunity to indulge in British foods that are difficult or impossible to come by in Spain. The most obvious is the variety of traditional regional cheeses - proper mature cheddar, real crumbly, tangy Lancashire and the like. Then I've had Melton Mowbray pie, Cornish pasties, black pudding (quite different to morcilla), oak-smoked kippers, smoked haddock ( and not the died yellow apology), crab sandwiches, crab cakes; the list goes on and on!
And in Clitheroe I rediscovered a small regional supermarket chain, Booths. Booths began life as a grocer's and provisions merchant and still retains that ethos of a genuine interest in trading up to a quality, not down to a price; they offer the option to buy 'fair milk', sourced from local dairy herds and sold at a premium price, the premium being passed back to the producer. Another wonderful shop on Clitheroe's High Street is Cowmans, a butchers selling only sausage, but in an enormous range of varieties. I had forgotten their existence, but when we went out to lunch with the family at the Waddington Arms just outside Clitheroe, I was able to choose Cowmans Cumberland Sausage from the menu, and I was in my own foodie heaven.
Lovely memories to bring back to Spain, but also to look forward to being able to repeat when we return to live in the UK. A great holiday - and still another week to go.


So Where Next?

As I mentioned here at the time they happened, over the last two or three years I have had a couple of health scares from which thankfully I have completely recovered, except that I don't have the muscular strength or stamina that I used to have, and my balance is also a bit wobbly. My wife and I discussed it all and sadly concluded that it would be sensible to sell up and return to the UK. A year ago we put our home on the market with a local agent and although we have had a number of viewings we haven't yet found a buyer. What the effect of Brexit will be, it's too early to say, but in the meantime I have done a lot of research online and for a variety of reasons we have decided that our destination of choice would be the Isle of Wight.
So here we are while on holiday in England spending a few days in the IOW. We've only been here a couple of days but this recce has already been extremely valuable. We've found two towns that we really like - Ryde, where we are staying, and East Cowes. We've also eliminated two towns that looked promising on paper - Shanklin and Sandown. The negatives are the same for each; they are too hilly for my present and future needs, plus both are holiday resorts with little else to offer. Tomorrow we head off to two more, St Helen's and Bembridge, and then we might drop in on an estate agent or two to discuss what we would be talking about in terms of our likely price range.
One thing that we are very encouraged by is the comprehensive bus network between all the main towns - we bought ourselves seven day passes that allow us just to hop on and off buses as we please. Of course when we are back in the UK we will be eligible for senior bus passes that will allow us to travel for free. This is important because we want to avoid the expense of buying and running a car.
I've not been able to access wi-fi in the B & B as it's fine in some rooms but not in others, including ours, but I'll post this as soon as I have wi-fi. Including the view from our window.



Frigiliana is in shock. This morning the Guardia Civil were called out to a house in the campo just beyond the village. The owners - a well-known and respected local couple in their seventies - had been found dead. Rumours are flying around as they do at times like this but what is fact and what is speculation, it is hard to say.
The village will now observe two days of mourning, and people are invited to gather outside the town hall at midday tomorrow for a one-minute silence.


No Smoke Without Fire?

I'm not sleeping at all well since my accident, which means that I am often to be found in the living room during the wee small hours, dozing on the sofa and half-listening to music on mi iPod. Which is what I was doing around five o'clock this morning when I became aware of another sound cutting through the music. I took out my earbuds and heard the unmistakable sounds of rain falling. Not just rain, but a heavy torrential downpour. Water pounding on rooftops and splashing down into the streets. It is most unusual to have this type of rain in July, and especially without an accompanying thunderstorm.
I suddenly remembered that we had left the cushions out on the chairs on the balcony. Fortunately, the roof overhangs the balcony and heavy rain usually happens without accompanying wind and so falls vertically. Even so it seemed wise to bring the cushions in. They were still dry, so that was OK. Outside on the balcony the air was beautifully cool compared to the stuffiness indoors, so I went out to stand on the balcony. That's when it struck me that rainwater was not cascading off the roof as it should have been doing by now. I looked down to see the state of the street and it didn't makes sense; the street was dry. When I looked up into the sky, I could clearly see the stars. So my ears were telling me one thing, whilst my eyes were telling me something totally different.
Five o'clock in the morning is not a good time to deal with such a contradiction, especially when you're already sleep-deprived, so it took longer than it should have done to grasp what was happening; the main water supply pipe running along the stree had burst almost outside our door and the sounds I could hear were the pounding of the water hitting the walls of the tunnel in which the pipe lies and the splashing of thr escaping water as it rushed downhill along the tunnel. I wondered what I should do, but fortunately someone else had already called the emergency number and a technician soon arrived and switched off the supply.
By now it was approaching six o'clock so I gave up all thoughts of further sleep. It was a very confusing few minutes though.