July in the UK

Dick and Irene Craig
Wed 13 Jul 2011 11:19

John, a friend from the UK arrived on the 21st June and stayed with us until the 28th. This was a wonderful excuse to put a stop to the painting and decorating, as well as the gardening to show off our little bit of Spain, with its own micro-climate. Needless to say, all of us added a kilo or so and had to loosen our belts a little.

There have been family problems at Verde Vent so it is now two separate restaurants. The new one is called The Teresa and is run by the son-in-law who was the chef at Verde Vent for 18 years before the split. However, the food and service is still good, only the number of seats has reduced.

The Pasta House in Moraira is now called Rudolfo. He and his partner have gone their separate ways and although the food is still very good, it doesn’t achieve the excellence obtained before the partner/chef moved on. It is still worth a visit if you like Italian cuisine.

Rob and Cath from Twixter, another Lagoon 44foot catamaran, anchored in the bay at El Portet, on their travels towards Gibraltar. We had met Rob and Cath in 2008, when we all participated in the EMYR (East Mediterranean yacht rally).

On Saturday, while John was still with us, they joined us for a BBQ in our garden. The weather of course was just wonderful.

They have not yet decided whether they will cross the Atlantic or sail to London. The decision won’t be made until they reach Gibraltar and is somewhat dependent on which friends join them to help crew the boat.

Only two days after John had flown back to the UK, we were taking advantage of his kind hospitality. Next day we drove to Margate to meet with Dick’s adopted brother, Charles. He had moved to a different nursing home about a year earlier, following a period of severe neglect which resulted in the care home being shut down. Fortunately he has settled now and is very happy in a caring environment.

We drove to Ditton Marsh, located approximately on the Wlitshire, Somerset, Devon border and met with an old friend, and his wife. Dick has known John almost 50 years. In fact, John was best man at Dick’s first wedding, way back in 1969. They were both into Austin 7 motor cars in those days, as was Hilary, before she even knew John. They are still both Austin 7 enthusiasts and we took two of their five classic cars, to Avoncliff. John and Dick traveled in a Box convertible and Hilary and I traveled in a Ruby convertible.

It felt as though we were doing 100mph as we speeded along the country lanes at only 40mph. Even more amazing, as we drove along the wet roads it seemed as if we were doing at least 40mph as we took the corners. Looking at the speedometer, I was surprised to see that we were doing just 15mph.

We spent a few nights with Dick’s son Ed and his lovely wife and two young sons. The morning of the day prior to their flight to Florida, we attended the prize giving at the Bishops Kitchen, Chichester cathedral. Koby, Dick’s grandson, received a silver bowl, rewarding him for his efforts for “best achievement”.

The first week we were in the UK, we made a point of visiting my Mother at the nursing home at Brockenhurst, in the New Forest, every day. The first day she appeared to have a lot of energy and was keen to go to a coffee shop in the village. On subsequent days she was often tired after we had spent just two or three hours with her. We found she was at her best between around 11.30 and 15.00.

We tried to get European Health cards but it took five telephone calls before we reached the right department, despite calling the number suggested on the website. We requested application forms by email on the 16th June but the office dealing with this are currently only working on requests received up to 14th June. The forms cannot be sent to a nominated address in the UK so we won’t be able to progress our application until we return to Spain in September. People complain about the beaurocracy in Spain but compared with the UK, there really is no issue.

I managed to get a load of washing done the day that Dick took Ed and family to the airport. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating and although it was windy, there were a lot of showers, making drying a real problem.

We met with Chris and Patsy and stayed overnight at their house in Dorking. Chris is an artist and currently working on some sculptures made of wood which he is preparing for an exhibition.

Next day we visited his sister Maggie and Trevor, her husband in Carshalton. Maggie had thrown a party for us which was very successful. Blessed with the weather, we were able to spend a lot of time in the garden during the day. Although the party started at lunchtime, it was well after 11pm when the last guest departed and we went next door and spent the night with Mary, Maggie’s mother.

We drove to Basingstoke to meet the bank manager and then on to Slough, having obtained the UK address of Buffolo Technology from their website. The equipment we had purchased from them about three years ago no longer functioned and having not been able to get the problem sorted over the phone, we brought the equipment back from the Caribbean so that it could be checked out by a technician. Unfortunately, it transpired that there was no longer a UK presence in Slough.

Getting back onto the motorway we made our way to Midhurst to meet with Dick’s cousin Robert and his wife Carolyn. They are in Europe for a couple of months and were currently renting a delightful National Trust cottage. We had met them previously in Brisbane, last year.

The following day, we plan to visit an old friend in Finchamstead, Berkshire……