Monday 25th August 2014 week 166 Croatia
Single life. Part one:
On Saturday Hazel flew back to the UK on family matters, she'll return later this week. So for the next few days I'll have to fend for myself. Shouldn't be too hard, think I know where she keeps stuff.
I've kinda got out of the habit of fending for myself, I was quite good at it once. Between my, too many marriages, I had bouts of singleness and during these periods I became quite domesticated...... Before I go on, I should make it clear that when I say: 'I was quite good at it once,' that's using the masculine scale of domesticity not the female one. The two, are vastly different as any bloke reading this will attest too, as is our respective domestic standards. It's no ones fault, we're just wired differently. Our fates were sealed and the die was cast when Ugg, dragged a women back to his cave by her hair roots and proudly uttered 'Eeerrr'. She stood up, dusted herself off, looked around and asked: 'haven't you heard of a broom? To which he replied, slightly mystified, Urgh! Since then our respective domestic paths haven't taken quite the same route.
Sibenik market this morning - full of colour and life.
In my in-between pre-married state I could do stuff. Manage the flat or house I was renting reasonable well. Cook, tidy and clean. Wash my clothes, make my bed....... Okay, maybe not make my bed. Never could quite see the point of it, still don’t. I'd climb out of it in the morning, shut the bedroom door and that would be it till bedtime. It was slovenliness really, I know. I mean, I had a duvet. It only needed to be flicked across the bed but even that seemed an unnecessary waste of effort. A made bed only looks good if you have to look at it, I never had too. A female co-worker once said to me, on arriving late for work, 'Gosh! I had to dash out without making the bed this morning!'. It was a confession, almost as if she'd committed a crime. For all of four seconds I was tinged with guilt. But it passed.
Don't get me wrong, I'd always start off with good intentions like making my bed daily but then my male logic started asking me: 'why are you bothering Phil?'. And that’s men all over. We need a sound logical reason to do something and having something look nice or, god forbid, look pretty just ain’t enough.
Being male I'd invent, some who say, fairly ridiculous short-cuts to household chores. Take hoovering. Like many hooverists I'd spend five minutes trying to suck up a paper-clip, a paper-clip which I could have easily bent down and picked up, but I didn't. Why should I? I've a hoover for that. So I'd stubbornly run it back and forth sixteen times till eventually it disappeared and I could move on victorious. During a moment of genius, or a moment of utter boredom brought on by not having a girlfriend, you decide, I stuck a magnetic strips to the head of the hoover and hey presto! it cut my hoovering time in half. Another, ironing. Who needs to iron? People who spin their clothes that's who. Don't spin!. Hang them wet, and once dry in a warm room, creases fall out. Hazel irons everything, even my pants! I have pants with creases, deliberate creases. I developed a raft of short cuts...
I can see I'm going to ramble on for a bit here so I should finish off tomorrow. Besides with no editor I have to double, double check all the above.
Perhaps I should apologise now.
Tuesday 26th August 2014 Week 166 Croatia
Nothing quite reminds you of your singleness than washing up. One plate, one cup, one bowl, one sad egg cup, washing up can be an emotional time. Which is why I washed up only when I needed to. i.e when there was nothing left to eat with. Far from being lazy this was time saving, cost efficient and most importantly environmentally friendly. I'm all for the planet. People who wash up every five minutes should feel guilty in my book. I discovered that in the battle to remove really yucky foods, particularly burnt on custard, from pots and pans: if you just added a little water, popped the lid back on and left it over night it would rinse away under the tap in the morning -This titbit Hazel has adopted-
When it came to cleaning I used time proven methods. People would look under my sink and ask: 'where’s all your cleaning stuf?'. The fools didn’t realise they were looking at them. A bottle of white Vinegar, Soda, bleach and nail varnish remover. Armed with these everyday items there was no stain too deep, no spot too spotty, no grime too grimy, -I could go on in this vain but I won't- I couldn't remove. My daughter, as we speak, is amassing a business empire built on this very ethos.
Delicious....! It's erm.....a rice and broccoli crumble? with chicken. Maybe. I think.
This cavalier and yet sagacious attitude to domesticity also spread to what I ate. Sure I'd start off with good intentions. Making sure my meals contained at least three of my five a day. Making proper gravy etc but then, after a few months, it would all go south. I'd end up eating weird stuff. Well not some much weird foods as weird combinations. A three course meal might typically consist of:
Starters, A tin of soup
Main, and a tin of ravioli
Dessert. a tin of custard
Sometimes, when I couldn't be arsed to go to all the bother of opening tins and heating stuff up, I'd fall back on corn flakes and toast. I think five bowls was my record. And all this, what ever it was, I'd eat while playing Halo on my Xbox. This, at 44. I'd seriously regressed.
Then they were the times I'd not shopped. So it was a scavenger hunt. Whatever I could find in the cupboard. Pot-luck dinning. A meal might consist of a tin of sardines, -which I always seemed to have but could never remember buying- a tin of plum tomatoes and for pudding a tin of custard. I was only stuck for something to eat when the butterfly handle broke off the opener. Occasionally I'd treat myself to a TV dinner, but even then I couldn’t be arsed, I'd suck it frozen......... (Not really, but an amusing image)
Obviously when I was courting a lady I'd get my shite together. Set my store out. Show off my domestic and culinary skills. Eleven years ago last Saturday I married Hazel. When she'd visited my flat I'd have something exotic cooking on the stove; something from Marks & Spencer snooty range. The flat would be spotless. The bed would be made. High brow magazines were strategically placed around the lounge. A book of old English poetry on the coffee table, my guitar and music stand in the corner, a sensible and non smutty screen saver. God!.........I knew now to impress a girl back then.
Which now makes me wonder if after eleven years, she feels she's been a tad short-changed...............?. Nah!......... I'm sure she doesn't.
Wednesday 27th August 2014 Week 166 Croatia
Best laid plans and all that...
We've had a rethink. I felt it coming. It had been simmering away at the back of my mind for a couple of weeks and last weekend I discovered Hazel was harbouring the same doubts
We knew there were going to be issues driving through the Neum corridor. This is a five mile stretch of tarmac that runs through Bosnia and Herzegovina which divides Croatia into two very unequal parts. My research told me the B&H custom officials rarely ask to see you vehicle insurance, which is handy since I don't have any. Apparently few British tourist do, preferring to sail through and hope they don't smack into anything. Well that’s okay unless you mow-down some jay-walking wizened up old Herzegovinian whose not used to seeing more than a car a week. You'd be thrown in clink. Have your vehicle confiscated quicker than you can say...., well, The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a start. We can take the ferry to the island of Dubrovnik-Neretva which isn't an island as it's attached to the other end of Croatia and thereby circumvent the Neum stretch, but its all a lot of faffing about.
Unfortunately our problems wouldn't have ended there. We would still be faced with getting insurance cover for Montenegro. I've been assured I can get third party insurance at the boarder. What no one can tell me is for how much. Quotes vary. The censors of opinion is that's it's pretty much up to the chap whose flogging you the insurance. Even the Montenegro Embassy get a bit coy when you ask. Right well hold on to that because we have exactly the same problem in Albania. Frankly, its a mine field, which by the way, some of it actually is.
Interestingly, I was having a chat with a Dutch chat on this very topic. He was astounded that British insurance companies didn't cover some of the more obscure countries. 'In Dutchland our insurance is for any country' he proudly said. Which, of course it would, what with them travelling to all corners of Europe on-masse.
In fact, and I know I'm going off piste here, but British Insurance companies take us for fools. Under EU regulation. Third party car Insurance must be valid for ALL countries within the EU. And yet, ring your insurance company, tell them your holidaying in France for two weeks and they'll sell you cover, cover you already have.
Now on top of all this we bumped into a charming British couple last week who hammered in the death nail. According to them, their friends who live in Greece, our destination, travel to southern Spain to avoid the Greek winter. Oh dear! Hazel, like most women just doesn’t do cold, which might explain why there have never been, to my knowledge, any female Arctic explorers. So none of this was shaping up to-well. I'd also heard Albania, of all places, has a thriving tourist industry and I could find camp sites full as there aren't that many of them! Well I've had my fill of cramped and tatty camp-sites. So after a not so long debate we've decided to turn tail.
We are heading a mere two thousand one hundred and twenty five miles across Europe. -Doesn’t sound quite so bad when its written like that. But write 2125 miles and it looks a slog of epic proportions. See. Wish I hadn't done that now- . We are heading to The Portuguese Algarve and Lagos. Across Italy. Across the French Riviera. Then across Spain.
I've worked the route out while Hazel has been away. She's happy for me to do that, that way she remains blame free when we end up pulling onto someone’s driveway which we've managed to do now on three occasions. Doh...!!
Thursday 28th August 2014 week 166 Croatia.
Jump to conclusion?....no
Just so you know I know, I'm aware I've been a day behind with my postings this week. It's due to Internet availability, particularly the lack of it when I want it. I'll post Fridays tomorrow.
Well our time in Croatia is drawing to a close and I'm happy to report we've loved it almost as much as we've hated it, which I'll come to. It's very different from any other EU country we have visited. The coast line is to die for. The clear emerald green waters need to be seen to be believed and swum in. The people smile and the prices make the fiscally aware, such as myself. smile as well. The weather has been fantastic. Problem is: The population of what was once Yugoslavia all still holiday here along with legions of Germans. Its also a huge favourite with the Italians because of the prices. For three/four months you can't move here. Out of season it must be a gem, and that’s a comment Hazel and I kept making. But do yourself a favour, if you do come here, take my advice and give Split a miss and come to Sibenik. Its a £40 taxi ride up the coast from the airport. It's quiet, historic, less commercial, charming and far less touristy. You won't be sorry, you'll thank me. Probably send me cake on my birthday or something.
With Hazel due back I decided to give the old Apache bit of a spring buff up. As you might imagine, with a space this size, that takes up all of an hour and that’s with a tea break. During the process I thought it wise to empty the wash basket. There were just a few items so I decided to hand-wash them. I should explain, as I may have befuddled some of my blokey blokey readers, hand-wash is a technical washing term. It means to wash by hand, i.e no machine. Sorry. Just didn't want to lose my male readership there in a fog of confusion.
In amongst this lot was a pair of Hazels smalls (Photo withheld to save blushes).
Once washed I hung the items out on the thing-a-ma-jig, if it has proper name you can see I don’t know it. While doing this a German lady, from the next pitch, appeared around the back of our van to disconnect her power lead. Not a problem. However she chose the exact moment I was holding Hazels underwear in preparation to hang them. She looks at me. I look at her. I then look at the underwear.
How of course my natural instinct is to distance myself from the implied image. That being: they are mine and I favour the full bum lacy kind over the bikini or thong. So I wanted to say, or joke, 'ah..... the wife's'. Which on a scale of amusing remarks rates about a one. Problem is: she’s not actually seen the wife. Her and her husband arrived after Hazel had left. Even so I'm still tempted to say something, but realise if she doesn't speak any English she could simply scream!. I mean, she find a dodgy looking English chap apparently foundling (That’s how it read in the police report) female undergarments mouthing something intelligible while smiling at her. I wouldn't blame her if she did.
Thankfully she just nodded. I return the nod while quickly hanging then out the way.
Course, I'm not overly concerned by this brief encounter (Get it. Brief. I so-dunno how I think this stuff up) since her German husband/partner trots around the camp site in a pair of suede leder-hosen.
Which, if you ask me, is a tad gay.
Friday 29th August 2014 week 166 Croatia
What's on my mind today?
You’ve so got to worry about some people. I was browsing the internet the other morning and came across a poll. It asked: Is the present chancellor the right man for the job? Not the most difficult of questions. He either is, or isn’t depending on your take home pay and political leanings.
Click here to vote, it said.
1, Yes, he's Brilliant.
2, No, the man's a total buffoon.
3, I've absolutely no idea.
Still not difficult. But yet, 22% of people voted: 'I've no idea!. Now I don’t have a problem with people who are perhaps non-political, or unsure, or undecided. That’s fine. It's a free world. Good luck to 'em, but what I do have a problem with is why they bothered, if they really don't have a clue, to take part in the poll in the first place. What's their logic? Why not just gloss over it and move on?.
They sit and read the question: 'Is the present chancellor the right man for the job? Hmm.. They think.... They ponder, and then realise they haven’t a blessed clue but click on the: I've no idea option. Why? Just so they don't feel left out? It makes no sense to announce to the world you don’t have an opinion and you're, perhaps, apathetic about something. Surely the point of a poll it to gather opinion. What's the public thinking?. Let's test public opinion? Not having an opinion isn't an opinion, its a blank, a void, it's people not knowing. If option 3 said: I've no idea but I fucking love clicking buttons, how many then would have clicked it? I doubt 22%. But it's the same thing.
Now I would have let all that go. Talked about something else worrying me. Not said a word but then yesterday I saw another. The question was simply: Is the actor Peter Capaldi convincing as the new Doctor Who? 6000 people clicked on the link.
1, Yes, he's brilliant....24%
2, No, bring back the other old dude....18%
3, I didn't watch it....58%
Doh!!......So almost six out of ten didn't watch it and thought they'd share that fact with us. Why? They should have looked for a poll that asked: Did you watch Doctor Who? They could have had a field day with that one. Clearly none read the question and thought: Blimey! I really wish I'd watched it now, I could have formulated a valid opinion of the actor and voted accordingly. Oh! hang on! They have an: I didn't watch it button, Phew! Saved.
Maybe I'm being overly critical. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it was The Sun newspaper, famous or infamous for its page three pin ups, that once asked during Mrs Thatcher's reign: who do you want to run the country?
4, I don't give a toss as long as they've got big tits.
You all have a good weekend.