Monday 27th February
Good weekend? Ours was. Last one here, so more partying, more boozing and more singing. Basically then, more of everything.
Over the weekend the campsite filled with loud Spanish. I should point out all Spanish are loud, not just Spanish campers. They're loud because they all insist on talking at the same time. They shout to be heard over the person their shouting at, because he or she, is shouting at them. It's all quite complex. No one takes offence. Safe to say this wouldn't go down well in blighty where loud people tend to have to sit on their own.
The Spanish are, unlike us British, a hugely sociable people. I'm not suggesting we're not, but the Spanish ratchet it up to a whole new level. For example; I get the impression that it really wouldn't take much for a party to spontaneously break out in the local supermarket. It seems... well, just so lively. The till girls are all chatty and smily. The staff at the fish and the meat counters shout out their special offers. People gather around babies and chat. Compare this with the poker faced English cashier in Morrisons in Gib last week who possessed all the charisma of a dead halibut, it's all quite refreshing.
Moving on. The campsite's full because it's a Spanish bank holiday, and start of the week long Cadiz carnival. This is a pretty spectacular event and rivals anything you might see in Rio whats-it-o. We went a couple years back and joined the thousands that had travelled far and wide to see it. What struck me, apart from the actual carnival, was that I only saw two policemen all day. I also saw no drunkenness, no rowdy behaviour and no louts. In Britain we have what? The Notting Hill carnival? Two years ago a policewomen was stabbed, forty two people were arrested and seven people were mugged. And amazingly they still call it a carnival.
Our local. Designed by Robinson Curso.
Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that us British are an angry bunch. There's some angst simmering away underneath us all. I don't blame us, we've a shed load to be mad about. More so now. I mean, it's long been understood that you never discuss religion or politics. You just don't. They're taboo. Ask a chap who he voted for and he'll instantly change the topic and tell you about the swingers club he and his wife have just joined, simply because it's a safer and less controversial topic. We know nothing good will come from discussing politics with friends or relatives. Basically, we all know labour supporters think Tory supporters are to blame for everything, and visa-versa. The liberals would just like us all to get on better. A political 'stalemate' exists and we all do a damn fine job of respecting it.
The problem today is: politics are never very far from anyone's lips. The Brexit debacle has spilt the nation. We're all pissed off with each other. Half are pissed off they're being made to leave. And the other half are pissed off someone might stop that from happening. And we each think the other side is bonkers. We're all angry with each other. Not so the loud shouty Spanish.
I saw a poll the other day. It asked, 'have you fallen out with a family member over Brexit?' My immediate answer was no but I could easily. Then I thought, hang on, I have actually crossed swords with one family member on face book. I'd poked fun at some aspect of Brexit and she found the need to jump to it's defence. Up until that point I hadn't known which way she'd voted and didn't really want to know, but now I do, my opinion of her has changed. I couldn't help it.
Right enough said. She might read this.
(Doubt it. Ed) True. She already thinks I'm a lefty subversive.
We're leaving Wednesday. We've had a fantastic time but we're eager to move on. Three months is about as long as we can do on one campsite. But spring is in the air and the migration of the lesser liver spotted pensioners has started. Several of our friends are leaving this week. Some have already left. A few are making their way back to blighty while others are moving on to adventures new.
I've worked out our 1,788 mile route back home. Quite a slog but looking forward to it.
Saturday 25th February
Can I save your life?
Well that's it! I definitely can't return to the UK now. I've had a sneaking suspicion for a while now, and it's just been confirmed; living in mainland Europe is perhaps the only thing keeping me alive!
How so? you ask. Well it's all down to the medicinal qualities of the copious amounts of red wine I've been knocking back while over here. Once I'm back home I'll go back to having the drinking habits of a Amish priest. This, simply because, I'll not be able to afford a bottle of plonk in the UK. If I drank wine, at home, the same as I do here, Tesco's shares will rocket. I'd spend £150 a month, at least. Here just £30. And on top of that, annoyingly, I know the lions share of that £150 won't go to the poor buggers treading the grape, nor the wine producer, or the importer, not even Tesco's, but straight into the governments coffers.
Anyhoo, enough moaning. Back to the point of today's life saving piece. A new study by a leading research team into red wine, has proven: a glass of red wine is the equivalent to an hour at the gym! - I promise I'm not making this up - This is wonderful news, mainly because it means I must have had a full body work out last night. They go on to explain the science behind this ground breaking discovery. Apparently, one of the chemicals found in red wine, resveratrol, has been seen to improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength. The main dude involved in the study said, and I quote:
"I think resveratrol could help people who want to exercise but are physically incapable," Brilliant news, as I can never summon up the enthusiasm to exercise anyway. But the good news doesn't end there. Oh no. Only a year ago a team of eminent Spanish researchers suggested that red wine prevented tooth decay. They dipped teeth in cultures of the bacterias responsible for dental diseases and then into various liquids. They found red wine was the most effective at killing off the bacteria. Might explain why there are so few dentists here in Spain.
Just a pretty picture
But there's still more...... According to ground breaking research at the University of Nebraska, it's been discovered that bed bugs, who live a vampire existence feeding off human blood, will turn their noses up at red wine drinkers. There was also another study conducted at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim Germany. They found people who drank a glass of red wine a day, are less likely to develop dementia. The academics found that subjects who drank between two and three units a day, were a third less likely to show signs of dementia at the end of a three year period, than teetotallers. And it just gets better. A report published in the Internal Medicine magazine said that women who drank a moderate amount of alcohol were found to have a lower risk of becoming overweight in middle age. Those drinking red wine, were the least likely to become overweight. The authors also noted that women who drank red wine showed an increase in energy after drinking. - I take that to mean they get a bit frisky- Not sure I needed to be told that.
Even Hippocrates, the great grandfather of modern medicine, prescribed wine to alleviate pain during childbirth, for lethargy, diarrhoea and a host of other complaints. Christ! it's even mentioned in the Bible. In his first epistle to Timothy, Paul the Apostle, recommended a little wine every now and then to help digestion. In the first ever book written about wine by Arnaldus de Villa Nova in 12AD, he, a physician, prattled on at length about the benefits of wine for the treatment of many illnesses and conditions.
What better recommendation can you have for making red wine freely available on the National health? Bloody none. The medical benefits of wine have been proven over the millennia and yet our government is moving this most efficacious 'elixir of life' further from our grasp by pricing it out the reach of ordinary folk, those that most need it. The old, the poor, those on benefits, the disabled and people like me. Shame on them.
(WARNING: As a medical professional I wouldn't recommend replacing your regular medication with red wine. Ed)
Thursday 16th February 2017
Down, not out.
I'm still under the weather. My nasopharyngitis - to give it it's official name - hasn't cleared up. Might be worth remembering that next time you ring-in sick, tell your boss you've contracted a bad case of nasopharyngitis, should be good for a week off.
(It's just a cold. Ed).
There's little you can do when you're poorly but put your feet up and find ways to amuse yourself. I moped around for a bit. Which isn't easy when you've nowhere to mope to. It's not like being at home, there, I can mope my way upstairs, out into the garage then back into the kitchen. Moping around a caravan takes practice. Skill even.
Like most people who find themselves at a loose end, I play with my smart phone. I've had this one for a while now. No one rings me on it, thankfully. And I very rarely call anyone. On the odd occasion it does ring, I tend to panic. I'm never sure what button to press to take the call.
My phone's most annoying feature is the off button. Yours might do this as well. To switch it off, you have to press and hold the 'off' button for 3 seconds. This 'time delay' is handy as it stops you accidentally turning it off when all you wanted to do was increase the volume. For some reason the off switch has been clumsily placed between the volume buttons. But then, after said three seconds, rather than turn itself off it just asks if I'm sure? Clearly the fact I've just wasted three valuable seconds of my life holding down the 'off' button isn't enough of a clue for the makers of my phone. They need me to confirm my intentions. That annoys me.
I own it for the apps really. In fact, they could take out the phone function altogether and stop calling it a mobile phone. Also, I've never liked the idea of being contactable 24/7. Who does? And nothing I do is so urgent or critical I need a constant phone link to the outside world, I'm just not that important. So the trick, is finding an app that’s remotely interesting. For example, I downloaded an app which gave me the periodic table. For some strange reason I thought I might just need it one day, even though I can't envisage a situation where I might. I did discover an app that makes 'fart' noises. I noted, with sadness, it had been downloaded five million times. Mankind has certainly come a long way since climbing out of the evolutionary soup. Little did he know, as he dragged his arse up the beach, that far into the distant future, his progeny would one day invent a handheld device that could replicate a fart noise. I think had he known that, he might have just turned tail and headed back in. I fancy the type of chap that has gone to all the trouble of loading that app, probably has little difficulty in summoning up the real thing.
However, not all apps are pointless, some are handy. I've one that helps me level up the caravan. It's called 'Camper leveller'. A 'must have' app for the discerning camper. It has a picture of a wibbly wobbly caravan which rights itself as you get your vehicle level.
The app I enjoy the most is the torch app.
(Boys loves torches. Ed)
It turns the camera's flash into a torch. Of course, for what I paid for the phone I could have brought a warehouse full of torches, but that's not the point. Any-ways, it's academic now as the touch function, along with the camera flash, packed up a few days ago. I faffed about with it from my sick bed. Deleted the old app, installed a new one, rebooted, reset etc. all to no avail. Anyways, long story short, I discovered my phone has a programme fault. The only way to fix it was to reload my Ice Cream Sandwich, or wait till Project Butter comes out. Either one, apparently, runs better than Jelly Bean.
So glad I didn't waste the whole day then.
Tuesday 14th February
Britain's bloodless coup
One day, mark my words, this will be common knowledge, that, or it will be the plot of a Tom Clancy novel.
After the result, I had to question Brexit. Things didn't quite stack up. There was something odd going on. It then struck me, there's a more sinister way to look at the whole Brexit debacle. The clues were there. They just needed to be placed in the right order.
I asked myself why didn't Teresa May campaign with David Cameron over Brexit? Especially when she said she fully supported him and the governments position. When asked, 'why wasn't she campaigning' She sited her ministerial workload. She then dodged the question about her support for Britain's EU membership by saying, 'her position on Europe was well known'. That was avoidance. She then stayed in the background. That smelt. Something was afoot! But nothing obvious, at least not just then. We needed another piece of the jigsaw.
It was well known privately, and suggested by the media, that David Cameron would resign if he lost the Brexit vote. He of course vehemently denied this. But, as we all know, he resigned that same week. May knew a leave vote would be her chance, perhaps her only chance, at the PM's job. All she needed to do was secure a leave vote, and become the front runner for the leadership. But how? Becoming the obvious choice as leader was easy. She knew nobody would want the thankless task of being the PM who took Britain out of Europe. Sure enough, when the time came, she was proven right. Most top Tory politicians ducked under the parapet, those they didn't, were lightweights.
Next the out vote. Then in walks, manna from heaven, in the form of Boris Johnson. She convinces him of her Machiavellian plot to oust the PM. His price to turn his coat? He wants the chancellor of the exchequer job. Too steep she says, so offers him the next best thing, the second most powerful job in British politics, the foreign secretary position.
The plan is set in motion.
Getting us out was tight, but easy. Lots of fear mongering. Lots of rule Britannia rhetoric. Lots of money to be poured back into the NHS. Lots of lies and misinformation All great stuff. All bollocks.
The next day, after the result, Boris Johnson decides to take a back seat from politics. He NEVER made a public statement on his most momentous achievement. He'd changed the course of British History and had nothing to say about it, amazing! - Farage was only a bit player. Johnson added the gravitas- instead his office said he was going to rethink his political career. Come on, Really??
Many have since questioned T. May's motives for giving the most politically sensitive post in British politics to a man who's renowned, across the world, for his lack of tact and diplomatic skills. He is seen, by political insiders and pundits, as a buffoon and completely unsuited to the job. In the short time he's been in the post he has dropped several international clangers, and upset several world leaders. On a state visit to the USA he, embarrassingly, had to apologise for calling Obama a 'part time Kenyan President' and Hilary Clinton a 'sadistic Nurse'. I refuse to believe I'm the only one that sees his new job as a reward?
No, what we witnessed, but few can quite believe, was a modern day coup d'etat.
It's the stuff of fiction.
And if you think that's all rubbish, albeit imaginative rubbish, then you're way too trusting of politicians.
Saturday 11th February.
Leaving it to the experts
I'm poorly. My own fault. I woke up the other morning feeling pants. I complained of a sore throat, a sure sign, with me at least, that I've caught a variety of the dreaded lurgy. However, I chose to ignore the portend of impending disaster and climb a mountain. And this time I actually mean a mountain. A proper one, not just some hill which I've passed off as a mountain in previous ramblings. I've no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to hike up a mountain.
“Fancy walking up a mountain”, someone said.
“Yeah! Count us in” I replied. Go figure. Generally, I don't walk, by that, I mean as a form of exercise.
We arrived deep within the Alconales mountain range after a two hour coach trip on tortuously narrow roads. Most overlooked an abyss that had no barrier, save for a few small low concrete blocks on the edge of the road. The drivers skill was only matched by his bravery.
We disembarked and stood in the shadow of the mountain. Standing there, looking around, listening to our guide, I realised most of us looked the part: boots, rucksacks, - full of emergency supplies I dare say. The odd flare maybe - hats, kagools, and those walking sticks much favoured by Germans. Clearly these people knew what to expect, and what they were doing, they'd clearly done it before. I on the other hand, wore Levis, a rather nice oatmeal jumper and a pair of suede Spanish fashion boots. I'd not look out of place on the dance floor......... In fact, having just written that, I realise that's exactly what I wore the previous Friday on the dance floor in the bar.
Fortunately, there was no actual climbing to do. No ropes or crampons needed, it just involved walking upwards, a lot, and for a long time. After what seemed like a year we reached the summit. Well that's not true, we were about 100 feet below it. The guide said we can either walk on: that will take us back down to the car park, or kick-on up to the top. There were some grumbles. Some wanted to make for the the pointy bit, while others, like me, were happy to make it back down to civilisation, a coffee shop perhaps.
I'm not sure how high we were at that point. The guide mentioned something about 2700 feet. It struck me as odd that some wanted to climb the last 100 feet, as though, being 2700 feet above sea level wasn't quite high enough for them. I dare say if there was a ladder on the top, some would have wanted to climb that as well. I'll never quite understand people.
Still, the point is, I made it up and down safely. And considering the furthest I normally walk, is to the car and back, I'm impressed with my own capabilities as I hope you are.
PS. I've caught a full on man cold.
Monday 5th February
The End is Nigh...
Well sadly we're coming to the end of our stay in Zahora and Camping Pinar. Less than three weeks to go before we shove off and start heading back to Blighty.
Sorry. Question. Is it still called Blighty? Or is it now officially the 51st state of the USA. I only ask because every time I check the news all I see is Teresa May, who, by the way, I call a 'Trumpeteer', it's a name I'm promoting to describe those who defend Trump regardless of what he say or does, kissing up to him. Throwing a royal party no less. I've never felt so sorry for our Queen. At her age? Having to invite a sociopath around! It's asking a bit much.
Moving quickly on......
Once again our stay here has been a total blast! Can I say that? Blast! I don't seem to know any modern euphemisms for having a jolly good time. The weather has been exceptional. Most days, it's t-shirts and shorts and mozzy repellant. Constantly in the mid 60's.
It's been great meeting up with our friends Again. Friendships that were forged back in 2011 when we first came here. Made some new ones too. Keep this quiet, but we had an actual gangster stop over for a couple of days – he might have been on the lam- Family member of a notorious east end gang. You'll know who I'm on about. I got chatting to him, and his dodgy looking mate, being a Londoner myself I recognised his east end accent. He told me where he came from. I innocently joked about the 'area' being known for it's connections to the 60's crime family and bugger me sideways he said, “Yeah, my old man was one of them”.
So, moving quickly on again.....
I am pleased to report we've drunk a lot more sensibly this year.
(Let's not take a vote on it. Ed)
When we started this adventure we'd often knock back a bottle of wine a day. Occasionally more, if friends had come over. But now we're accustomed to seeing wine at £1.25 a bottle, we no longer get excited. We've calmed down some. We don't feel the need to buy it and guzzle it down before leaving the supermarket car park.
We've joined another band. Yes I know I said I wouldn't, I don't know what happened. I was asked and found myself saying yes. I find it hard to say no. And it's not like I'm much good either. Barely hold a tune, and when I do, it's rarely in the right key. I reckon they think Haze, who can sing, and I, come as a package. Bit like like Ike and Tine turner. We're doing our 'set' at the Saint Valentines 'gig' here next week. Feel free to drop in. I just pray we all start and finish at the same time, bugger the bit in between.
Its a hoedown.
We've had some great afternoons, eating, drinking, and chin wagging, this year. Here's a pic of us having a giant picnic. Almost all the British on the site came, we were also joined by a few French, Germans, and Dutch. All very international. I think there were a couple of British that didn't come. I expect their plans to be lone gunmen are pretty advanced. I do so worry about people who say they prefer not to join in.
We're heading over towards Granada next. Then across to the east coast. From there we'll make our way up to Valencia, then nip over the odd mountain range and drop into France. We're heading to one of our all time favourite camping sites, just on the Spanish French border, near St Jean De Luz. A wonderful little campsite. Free WiFi, and an open all year, heated indoor pool. It's run by a small proud Basque French chap who wears a beret. The small town of St Jean de Luz is quite posh, reminiscent of The French Riviera when only the well heeled could afford to go there.
Now it full of Tourists.
Like us. Yuk!.
Thursday 2nd Febuary
Sorry about this. Bit self indulgent I know.
The only good thing about Trumps election is that it's eclipsed Brexit. It's now not the only thing everyone's banging on about it. I'm grateful for that. I've pretty much moved on where Brexit is concerned, besides, I can spot a lost cause when I see one.
I voted to remain. When I told my sister she was gob smacked. Really! But why? She exclaimed the same way you might if your partner told you they wanted a sex change. I explained my reasons. It didn't make a jot of difference. I then realised that if I couldn't influence my sister, what chance had I with someone I hadn't shared a womb with? She said something about 'immigrants taking over'. Made them sound like aliens from a distant planet. And this from someone who once asked, 'why I don't I let Jesus into my life? Hmm....
I drove home thinking why do I bother? Should I care? Maybe not. The trouble is I do care, it's tough to deliberately pretend you don't. I've always called for compassion and tolerance first. Always sided with the underdog, those less fortunate. That's the way I am. I thought I'd inherited this trait from my parents, but my sister proves there's little validity in that theory. Still, after a lifelong commitment to righteous protest, it's not got me anywhere. I've achieved bugger all. The 'lot' of the people I've championed hasn't improved any, probably worsened to be honest. And speaking out has done me no favours. I've been humoured by those that think they're superior, but have to be polite because they're related to me. Been called a 'do-gooder' on a number of occasions which oddly has somehow morphed into an insult.
“Yeah you bloody do-gooders! All the same! All going around.. doing, em..., well...., good”. See, not much of an insult, lacks the gravitas of ridicule. I've also been accused of being a 'bleeding heart liberal' which, now that the right thinks it occupies the higher moral ground, apparently makes people like me 'part of the problem'. It's all very frustrating.
Feeling a tad miffed with all this, I posted a comment on my face book page. I said if God is looking down, he might now regret giving up on dinosaurs. For 150 million years they roamed the earth and not a spot of bother out of them. We've been here what, five minutes? And we've been nothing but trouble. Having humanity as tenants was a bad idea. He should start again.
Then, Friday, several bodies were washed up on the local beach, one a six year old boy, not ten minutes away from us. The same beach Hazel and I stroll along. It could been us that found them. Thank God we didn't. I never want to get that close to reality. They were fleeing some shite part of Africa, I guess hoping for a better life. Regular meals, maybe. Doesn't seem much to ask for, though plenty of my fellow county men would take issue with that.
I'm reminded of the response made by Katie Holme's, when a child was washed up on a beach in Turkey. Her response was totally devoid of compassion and tinged with vileness, “Served him right. Shouldn't have attempted it”. Some were outraged. Many sided with her, not least the paper that employed her. Some demanded she was sacked. She wasn't. In fact, she grew in popularity, and not only for that remark but a series of anti Islamic and racist comments she's made since.
You may have seen a clip on youtube. It showed animals playing with each other. What makes the clip unique is that it showed totally different species playing together. A cat and a dolphin. A deer and an Alsation. A great Dane and a parrot. Etc. The vast evolutionary, and genetic, gulf between them made no difference. For much of humanity, the colour of someone's skin, the country of their birth, the language they speak, or the God they pray to, is a vast chasm of difference.
When you're looking to kill a few minutes check out the British Humanist Association. On their web site you can take a quick test to see if you have Humanist tendencies. What you won't find is 2000 year old doctrine, nor anybody preaching, but you might just find a few answers that make sense in this crazy world.
We're one, many just haven't realised it yet.