Monday 15th December 2014 Week 182. Portugal.
Old Father Time
I've been asked about the Trailer. Have I managed to get it repaired?. -Fair warms the cockles of my heart to see people are paying attention-. I have, yes. Thanks. I took off the hubs myself, popped them into a local garage and they replaced all four bearing for £40.
Well the grand opening of the all new camp-site bar didn't exactly go off according to plan. In fact, it didn't go off at all. It's been put back a week. The rebuild is taking longer than planned. I rather think this is the way in Portugal, Spain too for that matter. Everything's taken at a much more leisurely pace. Nothings hurried. Ask why something hasn't been done yet and you're looked at oddly. Things get done when they get done. Three years ago, when we were first here, they were rebuilding the roundabout down the road, they still haven’t finished it.
When the new WiFi was being installed I made the mistake of twice asking about a completion date. The first time the receptionist was most charming. The second she looked as though she wanted to leap across the counter and scream, “I've already bloody answered that question once!” Apparently, the bars it's opening this weekend. Fingers crossed.
I was surfing the other day, the web not the sea, and discovered we've lost 78 TV and film actors this year. I flicked through them all. I kept calling out to Hazel, -she was sat busily knitting my Christmas present- 'I didn't know so-and-so was dead'. 'Nor did I' she exclaimed. Two minutes later I'd blurt out, 'Christ! so-and-so's dead too and what’s-his-name and thingamabob.'
Not watching TV, nor listening to the radio, I've not kept up with this years body count of famous dead people, so it came as a bit of a shock that we'd lost some great entertainers. I don't want to appear controversial, after all its not a Friday which is the day I reserve for controversial comments and observations, but I couldn't help noticing that over half hadn't reached pensionable age.
The article got me thinking about time. We're around for such an incredibly short amount of it. Like, where did this year go? Trust me, the older you get the quicker time passes.
As a kid, time moved annoyingly at a glacial pace. A thirty minute history lesson lasted three days. Summers never ended. And from one Christmas to the next seemed an eternity. I actually looked forward to growing up. I constantly wanted time to speed up, mainly because the swinging sixties had arrived and I was just too young to fill my boots. I couldn't wait to get older. I'm sure it's why, at fourteen, I started smoking, to try and quicken it's pace. Now time rattles past me at a blinding pace.
One should always look forward and only ever glance back, my father use to say. Which might go some way to explaining why his Ford Popular had so many dents in the rear.
Okay, so looking forward, what do we have? Well of course there's rear or the year. Always a cliff hanger. Then FHM's sexiest female of the year? I dare say we'll be kept abreast of the Beckham’s bowel movements. Then there's Katie Price's new boob job. She's having a breast reduction because she wants to be taken more seriously. Yeah right, like any one ever took her seriously to start with. Staying with the celebrity theme, there's a host of Celebrity contests for 2014/15. Celebrity Come Dancing final. Celebrity Big Brother and celebrity Get Me Outta Here. All platforms for B-Listers to remind us they weren't one of the aforementioned 78.
And then of course there's the election.... I can't wait.
Tuesday 16th December 2014 Week 182. Portugal
I was both blessed and cursed by being born on Christmas Eve. When you're older it's simply the best day to have a birthday This because everyone’s caught up in festive Yuletide cheer. It's a special day for all, not just me. Imagine celebrating your birthday on say..... the 16th March for example. Let's be honest, it's a non day. True, you share it with Jason van Blerk, the Dutch footballer and sure, on the 16th March 1871, the first law on fertilizer was introduced but that's as exciting as it gets. It ain’t special.
When you're younger however it's not so good. I remember one year, what with all the preparations for Christmas day going on in the King household, my birthday was overlooked till it dawned on someone late afternoon. I have an older brother whose birthday is on Boxing day. My mother wanted a son born on Christmas day. She ended up with one either side. A feat which must have called for some military precision when it came to the erm..........Right, well not something I really want to dwell on.
On my birthday I would get what was euphemistically called my 'little present'. The following day I would get my 'big present'. It was a cunning ploy used by my parents to fob me off with any old gift, they'd tease me with better things to come. I fell for it every year.
I came from a large family. Seven of us. It must have been tough, what with my parents being bus conductors in London, buying Christmas gifts for five It must have stretched both their pockets and imaginations. There wasn't the choice back then. No so today, today many kids bedrooms resemble a Curry's superstore.
I basically got two presents. A weapon, or a compendium of games. I remember having two six guns. They came with holsters and plastic bullets. I'd tie the holsters to my thighs to facilitate a quicker draw which I'd practice in the bedroom mirror. Another year I recicved a toy rifle with which I could cock, load, aim and take out my least favourite neighbours. It's always struck me as odd that my parents, over time, brought me an veritable arsenal of weapons and yet I've turned out to be an ardent anti militarist.
The compendium of games sounds, I promise you, far more interesting that it ever turned out to be. However it wasn't all bad news. As my older brother and sisters started work we had a bit more money coming into the house. At twelve years old I was bought the best Christmas present ever in the history of Christmas presents. A Meccano Set! I can still go all dewy eyed whenever I see one today.
Anyhoo...... where was this all going? Ah yes! I know. Are you stuck for a Christmas gift this year?. Don't know what to get someone? Well let me help solve that dilemma for you. Because, you'll not go far wrong in downloading my first years diary in book form. It's free and in PDF format, so can be read on anything. I've taken out 20,000 words of the waffle for which I’m famous for, but it's still 456 pages.
'What’s the press said about my book?' You may well ask.
The New Statesman.' Sorry, Phillip who'
Scottish Post 'Wasn't so much I couldn't put it down, more I couldn't pick it up'
The Independent on Sunday.'Funny, informative, interesting, just three words the author used to describe his own work,
Farmers Weekly: Never once mentioned farming....... hopeless.
Ignore those remarks. Personally I think it will make a jolly good stocking filler. Click below it's totally safe.
Thursday 18th December 2014. Week 182 Portugal
Hair to day
Someone asked have we managed to get our hair cuts while we've been away. While it's a good question, it's also a sign they should get out more.
First let me say, I've been cutting Hazel's hair. Not sure that's a fair description, lobbing might seem more apt, but she’s pretty pleased with my efforts. I've assured her that the shaggy mountain goat look will be one day be in vogue, it's only a matter of time.
Myself, I don't go to a barber. I've not been to one in four years. I don't trust them further than I could throw them. Still, to this day, I can remember leaving my local barber traumatised as a kid. I was about eleven. I'd gone in, on my own, for the first time. Once in the chair and pumped up to a suitable working height I was asked what I wanted. I said innocently, “a hair cut”. Struck me as a daft question. If I'd had wanted say, a quarter of jelly babies I'd have gone to the sweet shop next door. I thought this, but didn't say it. “No, in what style?” he asked. Christ! I hadn't thought about that. The only film star that came instantly to mind was Yul Briner and he was bald, so I couldn't make reference to him. “Erm....short back and sides” I replied nervously. This because, it was the only style I'd heard of. Well that and a flat top, but I think that was solely for Americans.
I walked out looking like I'd run into a band of hostile Sioux Indians. I knew I was in for some serious piss taking from my classmates come Monday. Remember this was a time when long hair was 'in'. I was now clearly 'out'.
Some years later I rather rashly decided to have a perm. Why exactly I'm no longer sure. At the time it was a very fashionable look amongst footballers. Back then, to be a footballer, you had to have a perm, it was an FA ruling. I remember there was some slight confusion as to what I actually wanted, even so, the middle aged lady set about the task with some relish. -I've since discovered ladies often take in photos of how they want to look when they walk out, wish I knew that at the time-. I walked out sporting a big afro. It was, safe to say, unique in Peterborough. I remember walking past a shop, seeing my reflection and thinking, 'who's that knob?'. When I got home I tried to wash it out, it doesn’t work.
I'm sure if he had a friend they would tell him.
I've also never quite understood the pricing structure in a barbers. Some old chap walks in with twelve hairs on his head that only really need rearranging and he gets charged the same as everyone else. Doesn’t strike me as fair.
Anyhoo, since then visiting the barbers, it terms of my stress levels, is on a par with a trip to the dentist. So four years ago I started cutting my own hair with clippers, I've become pretty adept at it too. It's easy. However a word of caution: Check the guide setting before you start. I woke yesterday looking as if I'd been playing with electricity so I decided I needed a trim. I took the hair clippers into the shower room and set about giving myself a trim, at least that was the plan. As I ran it back across my head a fair chunk of hair fell into the sink. Fuck! I really don't have that much hair that I can afford to lose much, I looked like I had been run over by a very narrow lawn mower. There was nothing I could do I can't afford to go lobbing great chunks of it off. I checked and found it was set at 20mm.
The final words are Hazels. “Who's a smart boy?” she said as I returned.
Editors note: I have also been traumatised by a haircut. I would have been about six when my mum took me to a barbers in Germany for a 'trim'. I don't know what I had done to annoy either my mum or the German barber, but safe to say there was not one hair on my head longer than half an inch....
I was forced to wear a headscarf for the next two months!
Friday 19th December 2014. Week 182. Portugal
Few have been with me since day one, if any. So I thought rather than have me gob off today about something I'd include the first four pages of our book, a taster if you like, to wet your appitite. You can download it from the link below. It's finished, but still needs a final edit. So please don't emil me pointing out typos.
This is us, but don't let that put you off.
She might look loved up and I might look like I'm having a seizure but we're quiet normal really.
(Coming soon. Incontinent II, the Dribble)
Ask the next ten people you meet what they'd do if they won the lottery and I'd venture to suggest that once they've ticked off buying a big house and flash motor, travel will be next on their list. Most see travel as a combination of several adjectives, exciting, romantic, mystical, educational, relaxing, and adventurous (That's just six. Ed). Shush! For proof, if proof were needed, the excitement of travel starts the minute we pack our diarrhoea tablets and head off on our annual summer vacations.
Three years ago Hazel and I, in response to a mid life crisis which surprisingly doesn’t come anywhere near your 35th birthday, and her pending retirement from nursing, discussed our options. The conversation quickly came around to our long held dreams of travel and adventure. However, since neither of us bought lottery tickets, we could pretty much rule out Camelot as a sponsor. Nor did we have an ageing rich relative, so a windfall inheritance was also out of the question. So we looked at other ways it could be done. The answer we arrived at, two bottles of wine later, was that if we wanted to see the world we had better start picking numbers. However, if we were content with the fifty countries within Europe, and yes there really are that many, then maybe there was a way. After a few scribbled calculations and a little surfing we came up with some figures which suggested it could be done on the cheap! (He means on a Budget. Ed) No no, I definitely mean cheap. And that's how it all started.......
These are diary entries taken from our on-line diary which catalogues our first year living in a caravan and travelling around Europe. If you want to check it out, Google philandhazel.
should also point out, (Warn would be better word. Ed) this book is as much about how I, a square peg, fits into a round hole. I'm convinced I was dropped on my head as a baby, this is the only logical explanation I have for my particular take on life. You'll appreciate that comment far more by the time you get to the last page. Having said that I promise you’ll find this packed full of really useful advice, handy hints, and helpful tips should you wish to follow in our footsteps.
The list of countries we are hoping to wade through are: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Morocco, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine. Whether we get to them all remains to be seen.
On route we've no idea who we will meet, nor where we'll end. Nor what we'll do on our return, or even if we will return, but to be honest, who gives a bugger.......... Like most people we plan our lives, or at least that part of our lives we can actually plan, to a staggering degree. Would any of us do tomorrow what we had planned if we suddenly discovered it was going to be our last?. Of course not, we'd all be too busy panicking. Exactly.
The uncertainty of what tomorrow shall bring,
is the adventure we all should seek......
Every great Journey starts with the first step.....
Its not the arriving, it's the getting there.....
A man of vision is not a person who can see into the future,
but one who understands today.......... (That's ones mine)
(Stop already, you're scaring people, Ed)?
Editors warning: This book is not suitable for people easily offended or of a nervous disposition. Nor people with strongly held religious beliefs and or right wing political leanings. Nor will it give comfort to ardent militarist. Politicians, racist and of course vegetarians. Also its probably not a good idea to read this if your an American. While ever attempt has been made to ensure the author offends no one, its safe to say he failed.
21st June 2011 and we're off. Two years we've waited for this moment.
We had mixed feelings as we drove away from the letting agent having just dropped off the house keys. We're letting it out, it's the only way we can finance this odyssey of ours. The plan is: we'll pick them back up in a couple of years. Maybe.
I think it's fair to say we're both feeling nervous and excited in equal measure. Who wouldn't? We've never done anything like this before. We've never owned a caravan, never holidayed in one and certainly never towed one, and here we are setting off on an adventure which only two years previously, over a bottle of wine one Sunday lunch time, (I think you will find that was two! Ed) I suggested might be a good idea. Let's sell up!, pack up! and ship out! I said. Live in a caravan. Tour Europe. I remember her taking the bottle from my hand, pouring herself another glass and saying, 'what a grand idea!', clearly she'd had the lions share.
Back then her retirement was just two years away and I could, at a push, semi retire. Now here we are two years later, after selling every stick of furniture we owned, on our way. (We've since been asked why we didn't put everything into storage We looked at the cost. It would have cost almost as much as the items were worth.)
We're on the A1 travelling south heading for a camp-site in Canterbury. In the morning we're catching a ferry to France. The only plan we then have is to head for a small camp-site called Barre-Y-Va near Caudebec-en-Caux on the Seine. Could it be any more French? No, course not, that's why I picked it, that and it looked nice. We're booked in for a week. During that time we'll work out where we want to head next. That's the plan. As plans go it's pants!, but considering the amount of planning and preparation that went into getting us this far, perhaps it all that's needed.
Little did I know, at this point, cruising down the A1, disaster was waiting for tomorrow which would have me questioning the sanity of the whole thing.