Here in Spain, or least this part of it, the Spanish celebrated a Bank holiday this weekend. It was Andalucia Day. This marks the anniversary of a referendum held in 1980 the outcome of which made Andalucia an autonomous community. They have their own flag. One flies over the camp-site entrance. Three stripes, two green and a white. To me, it looks the type of flag bananas republics seem to favour after a coup. Perhaps, because of the drugs that are washed up on the beaches around here, a couple of surfer dudes smoking a spliff might be more apt. Still I'm no vexillolist. (A flag expert). Don’t feel bad, I just stumbled across the word a few minutes ago myself.
Now unlike the British, who go shopping on Bank holidays for gardening equipment, the Spanish Party. Many parties are laid on by the municipal authorities throughout the region. They hold communal meals with traditional entertainment. Local politicians hand out certificates to deserving folk for services to their community. It's all extremely festive and not a single back hoe is purchased.
Here at Pinar the camp site started to fill on Thursday and by Saturday evening was full to the gunnel's with families of partying Spanish.
Now its their country so it's only fair that they make as much noise as they like. I say this because the Spanish don't do anything quietly. They..... how can put this politely, embrace life with an audible vigor that has to be heard to be believed. That's not a criticism, far from it, I'm envious. In Britain loud noises, especially those made by people having fun, are generally frowned upon. So much so noisy love makers can find themselves slapped with an ASBO. Personally, if I got an ASBO that way, I'd frame the fucker and send copies to my friends. But that’s just me.
Being British we’ve no real need to raise our voice say….much above the level of the TV. So that’s our normal level. However, living outdoors as the Spanish are apt to do they have a lot more background noise to contend with. Traffic, the general hubbub of the world, the obligatory barking dogs and of course their countrymen who all insist on talking at the same time. While in the UK it’s customary to wait until someone stops flapping their gums before one takes ones turn to flap ones own, this element of social etiquette is ignored here. Only the other day we came upon five women in town, huddled together in a a small circle in the street, all of whom were talking at once. Nobody seemed to be listing to anybody. Whats more, the Spanish level for normal speech is equal to that of steam jack hammer. But all this is just a unique feature of Spanish social intercourse.
As I lay in bed last night I could hear what appeared to be a dozen young girls in the toilets. They like to congregate in the toilets to discuss boys and makeup I think. They all typically talked loudly and at speed. They also hit those notes that only 13 year old girls can hit. Few seem to pause to take a breath. Maybe they didn’t want to give ground, or have their friend think them struck dumb or worse, British.
As a kid I sat agog as I learnt that one day every home would own a robot. On a furtristic 60's science TV show I glimpsed the future. We were told robots would do all the jobs we didn’t want to do. The ultimate labour saving device. “Robot ownership”, said the presenter reassuringly, “was only a matter of time”. While I really couldn’t wait, I did wonder who would spend a tens of thousands on a robot to clean up their mess when an immigrant with a dodgy passport will do it for pea-nuts?
So what's happened? Sixty years on and I don’t even possess an electric can opener. Sadly, advances in robot technology have been slow. I mean, have you seen the Honda robot try and climb a flight of stairs? By the time it's nervously reached the top and walked back down you've forgotten you owned the thing. So regardless, of what most Si-Fi films tell us, it just ain't going to happen: least not in my life time. Nor yours.
My first real brush with robots was with the Daleks. These were an evil race of robots in a kids TV show, Dr Who. Haze confessed she was scared of them which surprised me as I'd always thought of them as possibly the least scariest thing on four castors and I been hit in the shins by hostess trolley. For a start, they only had one eye, and that on a pod. This meant they lacked 3D vision, which I think explained why they needed that huge rubber bumper around their base. This was minimize the damage caused to themselves and inanimate objects they crashed into as they went about their daily robot duties. On one 'arm' they had a ray gun, and on the other a mini sink plunger. If I’d had only been fitted with a gun and a plunger I’m sure I’d find it enormously debilitating, especially if I wanted to be anything other than a hit-man or a plumber. If I wanted to say... press a lift button, I’d either end up blowing the call panel out the wall or getting stuck to whatever the button was affixed to.
Confusingly they also all had the same voice, consequently when one of them talked he’d have to wave his ray gun around menacingly so the viewer knew who was talking. However, their biggest handicap was their inability to overcome a step, no matter how low. Even I knew a super race of killer robots had no chance of conquering mankind if all mankind had to do was nip upstairs. But having said all that, I can see the advantage of having say... a fully armed and robotic police force. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
New rules update as promised.
To clarify: regarding the changes in our status when we leave the EU. Regardless of a deal or no deal, The EU council of ministers have said, “UK Citizens will loose their EU citizenship. They will be classed as Third Country Nationals and as such be subject to existing visa regulation as for all non EU citizens”.
Here’s part of Schengen visa rules British now need to know.
"Any non EU citizen visiting the Schengen area on a visitors visa will be allowed to remain in the region for a maximum stay of 90 days within any 180-day period. Before admitting a foreigner for a short-term visitation, border officials will review the data held for the previous 180 days, counting all days spent in the territory of a Schengen area. The total number of days spent during the last 180 days may not exceed 90 days, if they do, the visitor can be denied entry. Furthermore, the duration of stay granted to the foreigner, upon arrival, will be determined by the remaining days available to the traveller when under the 90-day limitation. Those found to have been within the Schengan area without permission can be deported, fined and a banned from entering the Schengen area up to a period of ten years”.
This means, effectively, when you enter Europe your 90 day clock starts ticking. If you come over for 30 days and then return home, the clock stops. It restarts when you re-enter the EU. You can stay for another 60 days. Once the clock reaches 90 days you must return home and can not renter for a further 90 days. The council of ministers have also said that “ UK citizens will NOT require a visitors visa when visiting the Schengen area for a period up to 12 weeks.”. Apparently six months visas can be applied for but require the applicant to prove they have funds, comprehensive health insurance cover, a permanent UK address and provide a police record.
Notes from the Diary
I should warn you, today’s entry contains an adult theme.
At six we woke to the sound of the alarm clock. I peered out the window. It was dark. I'd forgotten this hour existed. I’d stopped getting out of bed while it was dark when I retired. It was one of the best bits about retiring. After a quick breakfast we hitched up and hit the Belgium motorway. We were heading for Calais, we’d booked passage on the 11.40 sailing which, as it turned out, didn't exist, but more of that later.
On route we pulled into a service station. I went for a wizz. On the way out of the loo I spotted a large vending machine. Curious, I sneaked a look. On close inspection I discovered it sold, among other things, a 'travel pussy' and a 'vibrating cock ring', both for the princely sum of €4 each. Something of a bargain I think you’ll agree. Now, if asked, I wouldn't say I've lived a particularly sheltered life. I've been married an obscene number of times for any bloke, but even so, both items were a mystery to me. The cock ring I might be able to have a stab at, as to use, however, not so the ‘travel pussy’. The packaging gave no indication as to the delights within, even though it was worded in English. What johnny foreigner made of that I can't say. Perhaps he thought this type of ‘mobile device’ was routinely sold in UK filling stations. He probably imagined that us British, routinely dropped into filling stations on route to dogging sites, to pick up this type of product.
Both columns were only half full, so I imagined, rather worryingly, that flying up and down the Belgium motorways were men happily pleasuring themselves when they really should be concentrating on the job in hand, which, I suppose, they may have been. Ugh! Still, I walked out none the wiser, and I certainly wasn't about to risk €4 to be enlightened. Besides, there's always the danger the vending machine would gobble up my coinage and then refuse to cough up said item. It's a brave chap who then marches over to the cashier and complains he's out of pocket to the tune of one travel pussy.
We left the gas station and hit the motorway. It was rush hour. I was conscious of the time. A few miles down the road the traffic slowed, we came upon a four car shunt. Thankfully no one seemed hurt. As we filed passed I wondered if the shunt was caused by traveling too close, or maybe a lack of concentration, or just the misapplication of a travel pussy…. we can only speculate.
We arrived in Calais only to discovered that the 11.40 crossing didn't exist! At least not in Calais. It did, however, exist in Dover. I’d booked the ferry going in the wrong direction. In my defence this had less to do with my age and more to do with the amount of wine I’d consumed at the time of making the online booking. The French guy at the P&O check-in explained my mistake without using the phrase: ‘You Muppet’. “It's an easy error to make” he said. I think he was just being kind.
Notes from the diary.
Now this is all very confusing, and I know it’s not down to my age... least not entirely. You see I’m on a camp site in Spain surrounded by fellow Brits and of these, about half are leave voters. Now I find that odd. I mean, they want Britain to leave the EU, but don’t want to leave themselves. Many love bumming around Europe full-timing like stateless nomads. Each winter they migrate south to places like Spain, Sicily and Greece to sit out the harsh winters in northern Europe. And who can blame them? Not me, I’ve been doing it for seven years. So I’m struggling with what appears to be an obvious dichotomy.
When they voted leave, didn’t they realize they’d lose their EU Citizenship and with it the right to enjoy this carefree lifestyle? Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t give a shit. I was talking to one the other day. I was expressing the concerns I have if the UK crashes out the EU. He tried to comfort me. “Phil”, he said, “it’s not going to be ‘that’ bad mate”. The implication being, sure, the shit is going to hit the fan! but it won’t be as big a piece of shit as I seem to fear it might be. But interestingly it’s clear, some leavers have woken up to the idea that while they believe the good ship Britannia will soon be free to rule the waves once again.... deep and uncharted waters lie ahead for its crew and passengers.
I envy them. They seem to possess a kind of mystic faith about the future of the UK based on nothing at all other than a ‘gut feeling’ similar, I guess, to those who are religious. While there’s no evidence to suggest a giant sky daddy has ever really existed, it doesn't stop billions from thinking one did. So you can see why I’m a tad confused. I guess they’re clearly happy to limit the time they can spend in the EU. Well that’s their right and I’ve not a problem with that, but sadly, their actions will affect me and Haze. My right as a fee citizen of Europe is going west with theirs. I’m told to suck it up, “it’s democracy”.
Sure as fuck don’t feel like it to me.
Notes from a Diary
Now I know some believe we live a stress free life just bumming around Europe but let me tell you, it has its moments. We were in Humilladero, a small town fifty miles east of Granada and after checking-in we chose one of the 73 empty pitches and set up camp. Once finished, Haze pointed out we were occupying a portion of the neighbouring empty pitch. I checked. We were but only by a few inches and to be honest, by then, I was sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea, I wasn't about to jump up and faff about repositioning the van, so I left it. A couple hours later a large German motor-home pulled up and the driver eyed the pitch next to ours. With now 72 empty pitches I was confident he’d move on and find somewhere more private for him... and us. I mean, who in their right mind would..… OFFS! He’d engaged reverse and started to squeeze his Burstner Intergalactic Land Cruiser XL2000 between us on one side, and a hedge on the other. Why do people do this? Insist on parking next to an occupied pitch when there's so many to choose from? He shunted it back and forth several times. Then his wife, a large women with roughly the same dimensions as the Bismark, climbed down and started shouting commands. This, added to the diesel fumes and noisy engine, made the campsite sound like a WW2 marshalling yard for Panzer tanks.
I told Haze he was doing it deliberately... to wind me up. She told me not to be daft. I peeked out the window (as you do) He’d climbed out. They were having a confab. I was expecting him to produce a tape measure and then come over and point out I'd upset the space time continuum by my wonky Britisher parking. I mentally geared myself up for this eventuality. I did what all rational people do at times like this, I rehearsed my response. I would point to all the other 72 empty pitches. Maybe even run around a few, leaping and jumping, to demonstrate just how much free space there was in each, and then ask, ‘why did he want that frekin one?’ - Obviously, I’d ask this in a subtle tone, one seeking to enlighten rather than to impart sarcasm – Thankfully he gave up and moved off. Had he managed it, there was a small chance that, had his Frau rolled out of bed she could have rolled straight into ours and crushed us both.