Friends, Family, Hygge and Weather
As I sit galley side and start writing this post, it is absolutely chucking it down with rain and has been for at least 5 hours so far today with no sign of let up. Not what we signed up for when we chose Cartagena (Spain) as our winter home. In the two weeks I was away in the UK in November/December Cartagena had rain pretty much every day. Great, just our luck that the much needed rain (the area has been in drought for over 3 years) chooses our time to arrive. It’s also cold and grey. A bit like being in the UK but with the knowledge that it will pass much more quickly than a winter in the UK. It is miserable though. Neil really struggles with the wet, cold, grey days and virtually hibernates. I am adopting the art of Danish Hygge. A boat is actually a good place for this as by its small nature is halfway to being a “Hyggekrog”. With blankets, cushions, books, candles (no open fire or wood burner) I can create a warm, cosy spot where I can read, watch Christmas movies (for the season anyway) and snuggle. I have been reading “The Little Book of Hygge (The Danish Way to Live Well)” by Meik Wiking who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. What a great sounding place to work. Almost as good as a chocolate taster for Willy Wonka.
The beginning of November was great weather wise. Luckily I journal as I can look back and see that the first week in November was warm/hot (25-27º) and sunny. Neil’s daughter Nicole and her boyfriend Simon came to visit for a long weekend and whilst the weather was good I had a bad migraine. In fact don’t remember one as bad since my work days. It incapacitated me for a good part of the weekend and Nicole and Simon ate out on their own on both the Saturday and Sunday night. However, we hope we were able to give them a feel for the city and what it has to offer and that they will come visit again before we leave next summer.
The afternoon they left, Monday 14th, we had a real blow. First major wind we had had here although it only lasted a few hours. Neil adjusted our lines so we sat more comfortably. The “proper” rain I noted was 23rd November as “the first proper rain since Jake and Lucie were here on 28th September”. Up until that point it had been extremely dry and warm.
The liveaboard community here have been busy with the continued social events. As well as the “usual” Wednesday Tapas Night, Friday Happy Hour Night, Sunday afternoon BBQ, Thursday walks, we have had a quiz night, an additional BBQ night on Bonfire Night (to the bemusement of every other nationality here) and a pork roast is being proposed for Christmas Day. However, current weather reports show that Christmas Day weather is not good so a Plan B may have to be arranged. I was struggling to find turkey, either a whole turkey or turkey meat, generally in the supermarkets before I left for the UK. A visit this week has shown that Turkey is a Christmas meat and certainly at the Carrefour now they have turkeys. I’m kinda thinking of cooking a UK traditional Christmas dinner for Neil and I on Boxing Day (another UK holiday). I did bring a pot of goose fat back from the UK for the roasties and already have the cranberry sauce. I’ve also ordered Jamie Olivers Christmas cookbook. I do love a good Jamie.
My visit back to the UK for two and a half weeks started with a good flight with Ryanair from Murcia to Birmingham Airport where Bry picked me up. I hadn’t flown with Ryanair for probably 15 years after a particularly bad flight (uninterested and rude staff not weather or mechanical) and decided not to use Ryanair where there was another option. Have to say though I was impressed. On-time, actually left a bit early, clean new(ish) plane with plenty of legroom, pleasant flight staff and a comfortable flight back. Mum was on holiday with her friends in the Canaries and wasn’t due back to Monday.
The weather when I arrived was cold, bright and frosty for a few days. Lovely. Much easier and fun to wrap up against the cold rather than the wet. On Sunday I went to visit my Dad in his home and met my brother Gavin and Eva and Zak there. We had a couple of hours with Dad who seemed OK. Pretty much as he was the last time I visited (July). I then went to the cinema to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with Maria, Rachael and Laurel. I had asked Maria if she could wait (about 10 days) till I got back to go see the film and the girls waited too. It was a great film. We then had a Chinese takeaway from the Winson Chinese, which is my favourite and another movie to complete my first day back.
It was a hectic couple of weeks. Doctors, tetanus jab, nails, hair, eye-test, shopping, visits etc. Rachael had held back her 18th birthday party till I was back and Gavin’s surprise 40th was while I was visiting too. Great parties both of them and I was so pleased to be at both. My baby brother hitting 40, well nearly his actual birthday is 20th Dec, and my little Goddaughter all ‘growed’ up (and taller than me). I spent lots of time with Mum and we visited my ex-in-laws in Wales, Roy and Lorraine and had a good time catching up with them then to the McArthur Glen shopping village in Bridgend for some retail therapy on our way back home. I also met up with most of my old colleagues from the War Graves Commission. Lisa and I keep in touch and we had arranged to meet for a coffee where it was great to see Ali as she couldn’t make our evening meet up when Becky, Cheryl (looking fab), Keith, Simon and Helen did make it.
We got Dad a wheelchair while I was back as well as a pile of new clothes and a new TV. With the “social” carers we had tried Dad in a chair and taken him downstairs to the coffee shop and he perked up being around more people. The carers said that they would be able to take him out again if he had a chair and that he could join in the meals out as they could order him a wheelchair taxi, he could stay in his chair for the dinner and be included in more social activities. I did ask the home for a wheelchair assessment but then Gary, Gavin and I decided that seeing the immediate benefit being more social had on Dad, we arranged for him to have his own rather than wait for the assessment. Dad had his first outing in his new wheels when Gary, Gavin and I went to his to share a curry with him. We got Dad into his new chair and Gavin pushed him up to the Balti Chef. The lady in there recognised him and even remembered what he used to have. Although Dad couldn’t talk with her much, he did remember her and liked being out for a change. Gary gave him a run around the square then back to Fourways where we sat together in the coffee shop with our curry reminicising with Dad. With his new wheels if the boys or me go to visit, we can now take him out of the home and give him some social stimulation as well as the care team also having that option.
I needed to come back home for a rest. Apart from one evening, I think pretty much all my time was planned in some way. I had a “note” on my phone where I had listed all the days I was back and then split this into am, pm and eve so I could keep a track of what I was doing when. I did manage to squeeze in time with Mum and my niece, Claudia, again retail therapy and food, it was lovely to catch up with her. On my last evening I had Farewell Fizz at home. Friends came round and we had some Prosecco, festive cakes (stollen, frosted fancies, mince pies and Christmas cake). We also had some winter berries and Prosecco flavoured crisps. A little odd but the flavour grew on you. Festive looking though with the gold stars.
My Ryanair flight back was just as good as the inbound flight. In fact better as I had a whole row of seats to myself so I also got to look out of the window. I do like being by the window but I usually have an aisle seat as I feel claustrophobic if I’m in the middle or window and there are people next to me. Also, if they fall asleep and you need the loo it feels rude to wake them.
Being back with Neil is great. I did miss him while I was away but he just wouldn’t be able to hack the pace, the shopping, the chatter or the traffic! Whilst I know he missed me too, he would much prefer to be with Gleda than trailing around with me. When I got back, the outside Christmas lights were up on the boat. Our neighbours on “Baradel” Geri and Karin, picked me up from the airport and we went to dinner that evening at Tagliatelle, an Italian restaurant in town. It was fantastic. The food was really good and the company better. Afterwards Neil took me to San Francisco Plaza where there was not just a nativity scene, but a scene depicting the whole of Bethlehem at the time of the nativity. It’s a huge display in a tent which has been up for weeks (we didn’t know what was in it) and has some basic animatronics. It’s very simplistic in some ways, the planting is with lettuces, sprouts, hebes and cyclamens and some of the figures and buildings look quite old. It’s really quite moving.
I’m looking forward to the rain going away, Christmas movies, Christmas with Neil and trying out my new bike that I bought yesterday. A folding bike which is a special “vintage” edition so doesn’t look modern suiting my shabby chic tastes. We have succumbed and put on the winter duvet (13.5tog). We haven’t used this since arriving in aCoruna in June 2014. We didn’t use it at all in Lagos. We also bought a 2nd fan heater so we can have one in each hull which we didn’t bother doing last year, we managed with just the one. It is not because the weather here is cooler, because it isn’t, just that we are now feeling the cold more having been used to much warmer temperatures.
Oh good grief, the rain is heavier now and we have thunder and lightning. That I don’t mind but I’ll be happier when the rain stops. This much rain is going to cause some problems in the town. They just aren’t equipped to manage rain like this. They can manage a massive burst of rain for a couple of hours a few times a year up in the mountains but heavy rain for days at a time in the city, no. ***
Next post will probably be after Christmas so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Raising a toast to a prosperous, happy and contented 2017.
*** over a 48 hour period, Cartagena had more than its usual annual rainfall since records were started 75 years ago.