With the guests …🌏

With the guests gone we have the option to sleep in the main Chambre. The advantage is the ensuite and the King size bed. The downside is the fact it is a water bed. It doesn’t appeal to me. A strange concept. But I did test it. I ventured on to the bed, not without first testing the pressure with my hand. I’m not heavy, but I just wanted to be sure it didn’t burst. As I lay there floating I couldn’t imagine how I would ever get to sleep. I seemed to be swaying gently and after a little while started to feel sea sick so swam to the edge and climbed out. Its a shame because the bed in our current room is like a french renaissance bed that is closed in at the bottom. It means I can’t dangle my feet over the edge and stretch my legs. The french pillows are square so I sort of lay my head about a foot from the headboard and scrunch up my legs. The other issue is the fact we have to pass through the kitchen to get to the bathroom. This means navigating the furry roundabout. First world problems of course. Doesn’t mean you have to accept them though does it? So in the end the Chambre is now a huge wardrobe/dressing room, meaning our bedroom is uncluttered from suitcases and other belongings draped everywhere.

Today I learned that Puppy can sing. The landline rings quite a few times. Doesn’t always seem to be the same tune so perhaps it is programmed for certain callers. One tune rings and Puppy howls like a wolf. Quite cute.

I also earned that Oliver doesn’t like broccoli. His bowl … well his tin tub … is licked clean leaving just the green stuff. Later in the week I discover he is fussier than I thought. He doesn’t eat oranges or asparagus either. So particular is he that he even licks the things he doesn’t like to get all the other stuff off.

Thomas the smaller horse escapes from the paddock and is roaming around amongst the daisies in the garden chomping away. I ponder on accidentally on purpose letting them all out to eat the grass and then claiming it was all my own work using the sit-on-mower, but decide against it for moral reasons. By the time I go down to feed Oliver all 3 of the horses have escaped and are waiting at the top gate near the tack room for me. I then reconsider my previous plan as they are already out. No. Lets stay honest … ha, ha, ha! The reason they managed this escapade into the garden is that the paddock gate is a bit flimsy despite that fact that it does have a bolt that fixes to the ground … just… and a wire loop that holds the 2 gates together. If they knew they could just trample it down. As it is Gervais said that they have occasionally just “nosed” off the loop and managed to get out if the bolt hasn’t been secured. The issue is that they can be a bit aggressive which is something I look out for when I take them their feed. Nougat is a bit of a boy. So I know once they see me with the feeding buckets all bets are off. If I’m not careful they would charge and easily knock me over. Trample me to death. Its hard, but someones got to do it. So I creep around the back of the pool. The paddock gate is in sight. They hear me with the buckets and start to trot. So I start to run. Its a bit of a game, but I run fast in my wellies and the boys pick up speed. I get there just in time and put the buckets down before they take my arms off.

Oh what fun it is!

Tuesday

We have had a few nights of very heavy rain and loud thunder. It makes the going tough down by the stables as the ground sucks at your feet so I try and feed the horses and Oliver later in the day in the hope that the ground has had a bit of a chance to dry out. It hasn’t.

Last night was no exception and the rain fell heavily. However, the upside is that the following morning the country air is fresh with vitality and calm … after the storm. You can feel it penetrating the atmosphere and tantalising your mind. I look out of the lounge window towards the back of Le Peyrail as the mist hangs lightly in the meadow and the first signs of the sun cast their light on the awakening sky.

I decide to to wander out into the sharp, fresh air and head south along Le Peyrail. I actually don’t go very far. I walk beyond the tiny hamlet up to a rise in the road to the vineyards. Away from the buildings the sun is beginning its journey. It is a funny concept that we call it sunrise, when in fact it is the earth rotating down … perhaps to honour the sun?

The vines are still, the grass remains moist from the kiss of the dew as the sun hasn’t quite risen enough to warm the green skin. There is a silence. A country silence. It is not always perfectly silent, but when it is you can hear that silence. It is the hum of nothing accept the earth breathing beneath your feet. In the distance I hear a cock crow. And then at 7:00 am the church bells ring out. Moments later I hear another 7 chimes. Is it another church a little late? Were the first chimes too early? They seemed to come from the same place, the same church. I realise that this happens every day and so I research the mystery. It still is a mystery. Even Google can’t explain. French church bells have no standard practice beyond the local village. Some say the bells ring for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The most reasonable explanation I came across was that the first set of chimes are for the time and the second that its time to get up.

Once the last chime has travelled beyond the capability of my ears the birds sing louder and the bees begin their hum. The neighbour, who is not in residence has a beautiful patch of poppies in the garden. They stand tall, bright red, glistening through the dew as the sun begins to embrace them. Everything is a miracle and we are all Miracle Millionaires!

Another miracle happened today. One of Sarahs clients needed to get a computer dongle to her to enable access to their system. The dongle is about the size of a thumb and is being dispatched from Sydney, Australia to the middle of nowhere in France. Mmm. We are sat out front having a midday snack at the small round table on the edge of the lane. Almost the curb. If a car goes by we have to swing our legs in. An unmarked white van appears. The driver is clearly wearing a bright polo shirt. he stops, and as he gets out to remove something from the back of the van we can clearly see “DHL”. We shouldn’t be amazed in this day and age, but we both are. The package has arrived from the other side of the world on the day they said it would. Amazing … a miracle!

Until next time 🌏

Off we go … 🌏

Off we go to the the weekly market in Sainte Foy La Grande. Wantan has come with us and she knows the way so no need for a map or GPS. Apples freshly plucked from the orchard, potatoes unearthed that morning, jams potted the night before, this is truly a wonderful local market that attracts not only the best local producers but the most excited buyers for miles around. Well … that’s what the website will tell you! Not sure about the jams potted the night before and as for the excited buyers … come on! Apparently St Foy market is included in the top 100 in France. It is a good size with some interesting produce, but I doubt it is in the top 50. We still prefer the Thursday market in Javea, Spain. However, the chickens baking on the spits with that dark brown skin crisping did look appetising and beneath the rotating spits potatoes were basking in the chicken fat that dropped onto them.

We bump into Bruno. I forgot to mention that on the first night at Le Peyrail Jo’s friend Bruno turned up and joined the party. Like Ian, he also plays in a band. His english, we were told was not good, but as the evening went along he seemed to manage quite well so probably more of a confidence thing.

Further along we try to track down the stall that Sarah is looking for. Apparently the goats cheese looked good there. We find it and I hover around while Sarah and Wantan investigate the cheese. I just glance at the next stall. Homemade handbags, pursey type things and arty things. Mmm. Then all of a sudden Anneke pops up like a Jack-in-a-box. She grins like a Cheshire cat and her hair looks like she has just been in a box with Jack. She tilts her head grinning at me. Then bursts into the story (in english too) of her new business and that she is opening a new shop in Louise-Bernac on 2 June. I feign an in-depth interest as I don’t want to hurt her feelings. She is so passionate about her new venture. I am so uninterested. So convincing is my act that she suddenly disappears and reappears with one of her last leaflets. She offers it to me like it is golddust and I accept gratefully giving it my utmost attention. My forehead creases in interest. I smile at her. Its almost as though I am the only person taking interest today. Now I’m thinking that could be true. I wish her luck which I truly do, but walk away feeling like an imposter … because I was. Shit!One thing at the market that caught my eye wasn’t really part of the market at all. I was hovering again while Sarah and Wantan … SarWa… were investigating vegetables and a lady passed with one of my favourite quotes on her bright orange bag … “Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life”.

It is also the Saturday that has been building up for many months so on arriving home we put the television on for the Royal Wedding. There is a time difference of an hour meaning we miss the main event. Then the FA Cup Final is on and disappointingly Chelsea beat Manchester United by a measly 1 – 0.

This evening the German airbnb guests, Robert and Barbara are arriving. They advised that they would be with us between 4 and 5 pm. I wander down to the end of the lane on a few occasions incase I can see or even hear a car, remembering the slight difficulty we had in locating the exact address. By 5:50 pm they still hadn’t arrived. We joked that they may be walking from Germany. Just before 6 pm they text to say they will be about an hour late. Still okay for a 7:30 pm meal as planned. At 6:40 pm I see 2 people go by the window. Curious I wonder if it is Jo’s guests. I open the door and they turn around. Robert and Barbara are wearing hiking gear, backpacks and holding those long handled walking sticks. Indeed they are walking and in fact walking a section of The Camino de Santiago. I welcome them in and after pleasantries show them their room. It is the main guest room with the ensuite … La Chambre as described by the painted tile hanging by a chain on the door, which announces itself with an irritating rattle every time it is swung open and closed. La Chambre has a waterbed so I ask Robert if he can swim? They both laugh .. great, they have a sense of humor. Better still they understand my personal weird humour which must be even stranger to a foreigner. The only drink they want is water. I say I’ll leave them alone to shower, freshen up and rest after their long day. I casually head towards the kitchen to grab their water and have an OMG flash in my mind. The shower! I imagine screams from hell and 2 scolded guests sat at the dinner table swathed in surgical bandages looking like the invisible man with slits for the eyes and straws coming out of their nose. I run back to La Chambre and violently knock on the door. Barbara opens it and I can hear the shower running. I give them a warning that must have sounded something like an over dramatic scene from a B Movie. She smiles and nods. Thank you again God.

They soon reappear and I take them for a quick tour and down to see Oliver who I have to wake from his sleep. You can imagine how irritated he was by that! Wantan joined us for dinner and it was a good evening. Sarah has been mulling over a menu for the past few days as Barbara is vegetarian. In the end she opted for an eggplant parmigiana which was delicious. We learned that Robert and Barbara were late due to the fact they started out in Germany that morning via train, but there was a French train strike which caused the delay. They have walked sections of the Camino in sequence over the last 8 years, but this trip may be their last as it takes longer to reach their starting point each time. The Camino is known in English as the Way of St James.  All Camino pilgrimage routes lead to Santiago de Compostela as this is where the remains of St James, (Santiago), were discovered in the ninth century. There are a number of official routes, but the spirit of the pilgrimage is that it can start from your front door step. The official routes are tailored to service the pilgrim with rest stops and accommodation . The diehards who walk the last 100 kms …this is all many people do… will receive an official passport from the pilgrim’s office where they start their pilgrimage. You get your first stamp and after that, you will produce it every time you arrive at an albergue or hostel. On payment of your accommodation, the passport is stamped to prove that you stayed the night in a specific hamlet, village, town or city. Your pilgrim’s passport is a document that identifies you as a pilgrim, and provides proof that you have walked, cycled or ridden on horseback, the required distance to gain your “Compostela”… the certificate of accomplishment. This is not taken lightly and there are many rules and regulations introduced by the Camino officials.

I have read a few books on personal pilgrimages along the Camino and they mostly feature stories of meetings with strangers, ill fitting walking shoes and smelly feet with blisters.

I asked Robert and Barbara if they had a Camino passport … just to make conversation. It was met with huge enthusiasm. Barbara rushed to the bedroom to get theirs and said that they wanted a stamp for their stay tonight. Bugger. The chances of Jo having an official stamp were zero. I felt a bit embarrassed for them and mumbled something about asking Jo. So I did text Jo and as expected didn’t receive a reply. In the morning I explained, but they were fine about it and just asked Sarah to sign and date a section of the Passport. Of course what they didn’t realise is the absolutel importance of that signature and the power it carries. I’m certain it will gain them access to wherever they want to go.

So we had a good conversation over dinner. Both Barbara and Robert are chemical scientists working for the same large german company, BASF, near their home town in Ellerstadt. Both their sons work there too. In a nutshell Robert finds ways to produce paint cheaper and Barbara works in pigmentation. ..yawn… After dinner we cleared the table and while doing so Barbara picked up one of the 3 or 4 guitars lying around. She started tuning it and played ‘The Sound of Silence”. I can’t remember the conversation, but “Stairway to Heaven “was mentioned so she started playing that. Talented lady!

Sunday

Breakfast for Robert and Barbara and then they set off early for the next leg … ha…of their walk.

Sarah is at the gym. I am working at the laptop and hear a roar. Gervaise calls in on his Triumph Bandit wearing his leather armour and a Meatloaf T-Shirt. He knows his way around and so makes us coffee and we sit out on the veranda for a chat.

The day trickles by. One of the things with living out of a suitcase is always having to settle, unsettle and then resettle. Sometimes it can take longer to settle than at other times. Occasionally we don’t quite settle at all. In Le Peyrail we are still in the settling phase, but we do get more sorted as Sarah cleans as she goes. Well, guess that settles that!

Sarah plans dinner, but Wantan says she is cooking something with potatoes because we said we liked them. Did I mention to her I like champagne? So we are delightfully served with some sort of shredded potato dish in a hot spice accompanied by rice with peas, corn and ham with a hint of ginger.

The end of another day … where do they go?!

Until next time 🌏

I Get the … 🌏

I get the fire going early and Big Dog takes on his professional role as draft excluder by sealing the kitchen door with the length of his body.

While Sarah is at the gym I decide to sort out the wood in the old shed next to the house. Its contents are various and it also houses the deep freezer. Probably full of body parts from disagreeable guests. I notice an axe nearby, but no blood. The shed is a bit dark in places, but I think nothing of it … sort of.

I saunter closer into the shed and pull back sharply. I have seen a snake near the wall. Dark with stripes. Menacing, waiting to strike. I grab a piece of wood and check around my feet for its friend. At a safe distance I examined the reptile only to discover that it was the tail of an abandoned plastic toy leopard. You can’t be too careful. This is rough country! I sort out the good logs and potential kindling and place it all at the edge of the garage in the hope it will dry out a little in the sun.

Feeling like a false hero I wander down the terrace to the barn to feed Oliver and the doves. The horses gather in a different part of the field today, which is good as the fence is lower there. While I wait for them to munch through their feed I decide to gather the horse manure that is dotted unceremoniously around the field like small molehills. Jo said I could pick up some of the horse manure if I get time. There was a wheelbarrow and a pitchfork I could use and to just dump it by the stable. Not the sort of thing I had planned to do, I could sit by the empty pool, but having worked in the corporate world for many years I’ve dealt with my fair share of shit.

After collecting the wheelbarrow I returned in an arc around the field picking up the stuff and minimising my deep breaths. I now realise that there is an art to this as the small mountain of black apple size deposits crumble away unless they have been left to harden. However, I decided not to analyse the composition, depth or consistency of the shit, but to just pick it up as it comes. Proudly I filled a wheelbarrow full and maneuvered through the mud, back to the stable to … well …. dump it! To my surprise there wasn’t any other dumps from previous excursions that Jo may have made. It was another reminder that often a Host can be full of … you know what… themselves and Sarah and I are learning that what you are often told is the truth massaged, sometimes so disguised as to be unrecognisable. The trick, as in this instance, is that the Housesit Host tells you all about the jobs they do and describe the activity in such a convincing manner as to make us believe this is a regular and critical task that they perform. We soon realise that they hardly ever, or only occasionally perform this task themselves as it is a ruse to get some poor idiot to do it … like me. Another one is leaving enough gas in the heater bottle to show you how it works and when you come to use it that first cold night it flares into action and 2 minutes later goes “pop”as the gas runs out, leaving you to freeze.

When Sarah and I eventually get “To Senija” I will become a Housesit host and explain when people arrive that our regular domestic activities include checking the tiles on the roof and painting the house every week. If we had a lawn I would give them nail scissors and for the pool a teaspoon to refill from the kitchen tap. This of course I would not do and based on my experience would attempt to be the perfect Host and supplement the teaspoon with a bucket. The vast majority of Hosts are lovely and grateful … and so are we (I’m grateful and Sarah is lovely) …. but just saying. On this point there is a site called Workaway that offers accommodation and sometimes food (I have even seen a token wage offered) for a return of 4-5 hours work a day. We have come across some hosts who, based on the amount of work/responsibilities required, really should be listing on this site as it is more than just a housesit.

Where was I … oh yes. Smelling something akin to a buffaloes backside after collecting poo, I decided to take a shower. I remember Sarah saying that she mentioned to Jo that the water was very hot. Jo agreed and said she needed to turn the thermostat down … it would even save some money on the heating. The shower is in the corner of the bathroom and has 2 sliding doors that meet to seal it. I use the term seal lightly. The shower cubicle is of a certain age and obviously designed for very small french people with anorexia. Having entered the plastic tomb and navigated the controls I was ready to proceed. Lifting my arms as though wearing a straightjacket and with the hot water issue in my mind, I was cautious. I turned the cold on first after having turned the shower head away from me and gently introduced the hot water to a comfortable heat. Once I finished, as is my usual routine, I turn off the cold and spray down the shower of excess suds with just the hot water.

On this occasion I had underestimated the heat of the hot water by a factor of at least one million. The water wasn’t very hot it was f*ckin boiling hot and bubbling. It heated the neck of the showerhead so quickly that it almost melted … my hand along with it. I nearly dropped it, the water splashing on my hand burning my fingers. I fumbled with the head, but it was on full power so the cord became angry and twisted. I tried to reach the tap but the lava like water was spraying that way. The test tube size cubicle was restraining my movement. I turned to slide the doors open and the head bent down and burned my feet. I screamed like a raving lunatic and literally jumped out of the restraint into the bathroom. Holding the leathon weapon at arms length I reached inside to turn off the molten tap. Fortunately the tender parts that I burnt with my chili spiced fingers earlier in the week stayed out of the line of fire otherwise I would be still lying in a hospital bed with a bucket over my crutch. The shower cubicle should have a skull and cross bones blazoned across it! I still have the burn marks on my hands and feet.

The day was however still young as I rested from my wounds.

Buzz came through the front door making those sort of continuous mumbled meow sounds, like a siren. Having been the owner of cats you instinctively know what this means. Basically it is the warning sound of a gift being delivered to you proudly by your pet. It could be a bird, mouse, rat or anything else it can capture and taunt. In this instance it was a mouse. Having announced his entrance he scampered up to Jo’s room. I followed with pan and brush and as I peeped around the landing at the top of the stairs he was looking proudly at his prey. Dead. This is not always the case. Often a cat will take its prey alive and spend hours taunting it. Buzz was being defensive. I looked at the mouse and realised the head was missing. As the tiny little thing wasn’t going to run away I left them both for nature to take its course. There was nothing left by morning.

Wantan treated us to a traditional chinese meal and it was delicious. A selection of dishes, Tomato & egg, Garlic broccoli, Beef pot, Chicken wings, Shrimps and rice with ginger made in the rice machine she brought all the way from China with her. Bless her heart she even bought a bottle of bubbles to have before the meal and a red wine with the meal.

Later in the evening Sarah let one of the cats out ... it wasn’t in a bag (ha)… and sees a tail disappear. She thinks it’s a snake. Really? Yes! I rush outside… cautiously. Nothing. I move the wooden pig just outside the front door and there it is sliding and slithering. Coming from Australia, the most dangerous place on earth, we tend to be careful with these things. With Sarah, Wantan, myself, 2 cats and 2 fierce dogs starring the snake down the numbers were on our side. Wantan and Sarah stood twitching their feet and hovering by the door. The cats starred it down and then wandered off casually. Puppy barked, stamped his front paw and then looked at me in hope and Big Dog went down the lane for a piss leaving me to handle the situation. Thanks a bloody lot guys! I boldly shake the big wooden pig again and snakie appears shortly only to return again to its refuge. After this brief drama I decide to let sleeping snakes sleep and just leave it on the basis that I don’t know what to do anyway. Seems snakie isn’t actually bothering us apart from slithering around and he probably serves some purpose anyway to mitigate the vermin. Whether or not that was a good decision time will tell.

We shut all the doors and windows … for the rest of the day anyway.

I get up in the night to go to the loo. From our room we have to pass through the kitchen and the two doors that close it off at each end. Big Dog is old and lumbering. He has 3 brain cells, but only uses one of them. He lies down across the door and trying to move him is a challenge. I open the door and it just pushes against his back. He knows I want to get through. Just looks at me and gruffles. I pull harder and he just lumbers there. I resort to raising my voice. Nope. I then pull at his collar, but it is like trying to lift a baby elephant. Eventually I just grab his behind and pull him out of the way and continue on, my bladder straining. I have to shut the door so that he doesn’t go into the lounge. On my return he is back lying against the door and this time it is a similar exercise. It gets to the point where you just have to push the door until he gets so uncomfortable he has to move. He must have dog dementia and forget every time that this is not the best place to lie down. Or perhaps he enjoys being a pain in the arse.

This situation is not a one off. It happens throughout the day and every night.

Until next time 🌏

Its still cold … 🌏

Its still cold and a strong breeze is finding its way through the gaps in the poorly sealed window. After carefully unpacking and lovingly set up, the printer isn’t working. The signal is not too good here so I’m guessing that may be the problem.

We go down for breakfast and it is busy with several tables of couples and groups. Each person has their own tray in front of them eating breakfast. It reminds me of school canteens and food courts. Once finished you slot your tray into the trolley rack and go.

At around 10:20 am we set off on the second leg of this trip to Les Leves et Thoumeyragues. Soon it starts to rain. The glorious sunny days of Javea seem far behind. The architecture is changing as we pass through the west Pyrenees. More chalet style homes.

The journey is over bridges and through tunnels, the longest tunnel being 3 km. They all have distance markers and the railings on the bridges are painted blue for their whole length.

At Irun we reach the Border. Police with mean looking machine guns chat. Occasional cars are stopped. Toll Booths don’t seem to be designed with the driver in mind. Most people look like they are struggling out of a straight jacket as they twist and contort their bodies, trapped by the seat belt to reach the coin drop. People nervously place notes into the slot holding on hard so that they don’t blow away. Cars judder as stretching bodies release their feet from the pedals. Some people open their car doors and step closer to the machines as if to hold a conversation. The cost of this exercise is a toll of 1.70 Euros. It takes its toll on many people!

We reach East of Biarritz a few kilometers down the road and another 2.40 Euros toll.

We stop off at Aire de Labenne Est for petrol and a comfort break. The petrol pump doesn’t seem to work, then all of a sudden kicks-in. I’m sure the meter started at a Litre and not zero. The guy making the coffee is doubling as the cashier so it takes ages to pay.

I’m starting to hear French voices. The radio is on. The French language is kinder on the ear. We get back in the car, drive 1 kilometre and another 3.70 Euro toll.

There are roadworks everywhere and the lanes are very narrow. It is compounded by the trucks and heavy vehicles. There has been heavy traffic like this most of the way. It makes you feel like you almost have to squeeze past everything. It makes the going slow. Sarah is driving and doing a brilliant job, but I am a nervous passenger and squirm in my seat as we get so close to these trucks. Sitting on the right in a left hand drive car is also disorientating. Visions of us spinning off the road ignite my mind. We get so close at one point that I scream like a baby. Sarah is patient … to a point. Another image enters my mind. She screeches the car to a halt and says you bloody well drive then. But it doesn’t happen. Not yet anyway. Then all of a sudden we leave the roadworks, sprint into a 130 speed limit zone and 3 lanes! And then too soon again another 3.70 Euro toll … Guckinf Hell!

Approaching Saugnacq St Murat …. another 3.70 Euro toll!!!!!

We miss (okay, okay, okay …..I miss) the exit for Dax that takes us onto the A65. A large truck must have been in front of the sign. So instead, continue on the A63 heading for Bordeaux. Eventually we take the D672 that winds its way through the green french countryside. Its like off-roading on just a hint of tarmac. Focused on the fuel gauge and feeling like we are going round in a circle we eventually catch up with the A62 and so are now back enroute. Its raining.

As per advice from Jo we look for the Chateau Le Peyrail sign. I think we have arrived and look for number 6, but I can only find number 4. The place next door looks very much like Jo’s house. I go up to the door and see all sorts of things that resonate with her such as a panama hat, horse tackle and even the shutters are that deep purple colour. There is no one in sight. The lady at number 4 comes out and I ask for number 6, but she doesn’t know where it is or heard of Jo. Bugger. I want her say “I am number 4”, but I guess she hasn’t read the book. Then I realise we are in Les Bramants. Just meters down the road is our destination … in the correct road … well, lane, perhaps track … Le Peyrail.

We park the car in the car port next to an old Citroen 2CV and BMW. Gervais appears and greets us. Eek … who is he?  Jo comes out of the house and the introductions begin. Gervais is a good friend who sponsors Jo’s artwork in the community and also helps where he can. We realise later into our stay that he must be a busy man. We leave our luggage in the car and go into the house. We soon have a glass of red in front of us and give a short summary of our trip. The log burner is warm and glowing.

After the pleasantries we find some wellington boots and start a brief tour that includes verbal instructions on looking after the animals. Nothing is written down. The property is basically 3 workers cottages converted into one big house. As you enter the first front door you walk straight into the lounge with dinning area to the right. Beyond is the main guest “Chambre”with an ensuite. To the left is a large kitchen and breakfast room. Beyond that past the second front door, two bedrooms, one of which is ours and next to that the walk-in larder. Downstairs is a large bathroom and another door leading to the laundry and a separate store room. In the laundry some swallows have made a nest so we should keep the door open so that they can come and go. Upstairs are the quarters of the lady of the house … Jo.

For the tour we take a door leading onto a veranda and then down some steps. At the bottom if you continue, after about 15 meters there is a covered BBQ area and a door leading to Jo’s studio. We go down some stone steps and turn right along an overgrown path through a covered seating area. Further down the terrace is a round sunken pool. It is empty. No, that’s not true. There is about 2 inches of water with some kind of abandoned equipment in it and several lizards basking on the edge with their tails in the water, cooling. It doesn’t look inviting. Apparently the pool has a leak and I learn later that it is on the Gervais list. The list must be very long.  We walk further along to a tack room where Jo keeps her saddles and the feed for the horses. Next to this room is a barn. It is dark and full of oddments and abandoned things. Jo has been carrying a mysterious big black pot full of food. We discover that it is for Oliver the Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig. Perhaps he eats pots! (Ha). It is emptied into a large tin bowl. We don’t see anything. Despite the amount of food being lovingly scrapped into the large tin bowl I imagine a little pink piggie the size of a poodle. There is a rustle and a grunt in the very back of the barn. I sense some movement. The grunting and moaning gets louder. Suddenly as my eyes adjust I can see a large haystack moving towards me. As my eyes focus I realise that it must be the infamous Oliver … black, large, hairy, covered in hay and very grumpy. He may be a bit blind we are told and he uses his large nostrils to locate his feed, occasionally bumping into things. These pigs are raised for meat and I suspect that Oliver could feed a small village for a week.

Next door in the tack room we mix the horse feed from various bags, into 3 buckets for Darcy, Nougat and Thomas. Just outside are planks of wood nailed together to create a platform. It is the feeding table for the 20 or so Doves. Jo throws down a few handfuls of birdseed and they dive into it. Carrying the buckets we walk down a slope to a grass area. It is covered in daisies and looks beautiful. We are introduced to Darcey, Nougat and Thomas. There is a fence … well .. some wire interlaced with wood and a gate that you could blow over. It is here that we place the buckets. Beyond the fence is a small stable and next to it the bird house. Behind is the large paddock for horses to roam and a bamboo wood hidden by the enormous trees. Jo and I go inside the birdhouse. It is not the most desirable place to be. The Doves don’t seem to mind though. Jo puts her hand into one of the boxes and retrieves a baby Dove. It is a miracle because it is life and a young innocent life, but it is not the most beautiful looking thing. Bald and scrawny with oddments of feathers … a bit like me in the morning.

Dotted around the paddock near the stable are mounds of horse poo. If the inclination takes me I am invited to scoop some up during our stay. I am shown a wheelbarrow and a fork in which to perform the activity and where I should place the poo which is at the side of the stable. It is very wet and slushy here. The mud pulls at your feet drawing you in like a large mouth.

We return up the small hill pressing down the turf with our feet. It is churned up by horse hooves.  Jo says she has a ride-on mower and I offer to cut it when the ground dries out. If it doesn’t rain it may be okay to have a go next week, but it will take time to harden underfoot.

During the tour Jo mentions that she has a booking for Saturday. (oh really). A German couple via airbnb. Gervais is planning to come over to prepare breakfast for them. We offer to do breakfast and the optional evening meal so that Gervais does not need to travel the 1 hour from home to host them. Plus we also want some independence.

We return to the barn and try and start the mower. I look at the tired dusty machine and think fat chance. True to form the battery is flat and so we (the Royal we) push the mower round to the charger. Jo hooks up the clips … positive to negative which Gervais notices in good time. We hear Oliver grunting and fussing. I don’t think he likes the idea of the mower in his way.

On the return journey to the house we take a small diversion to a very small pond to view 5 small Carp. Who also need some tender loving care.

The remaining troupe are Buzz and Des the cats. Big Dog a 14 year old labrador who huffs and puffs, snorts and snores. Then there is Puppy. He is a lovely dog. Mixture of Sheep Dog and Collie, but has an intimidating wolf-like look and must scare the shit out of joggers and hikers as they come down the lane. He chases after every car nearly getting caught in the back wheels. Apparently Jo accidently drove her car into him. It may account for the quizzical look he gives with a tilted head. Its like he is trying to puzzle it all out. I guess I’m with him there … still trying to puzzle it all out! Truth is he is actually a very well behaved dog and over the coming days we will sort of bond.

We unpack in a bedroom that is more like a retro shop with a bed in it. Pieces of stuff everywhere. Or should I say a collection of items. A tallboy, but no wardrobe. There is a bohemian theme running through the whole place. A silky thread of this life philosophy weaves its way through everything from the cobwebs to the host. There is nothing wrong with it. Except Sarah and I are not accustomed with the concept that seems to place the unimportance on the things that are important to us.

Returning to the lounge to socialise we drink more wine.

We are introduced to a Korean airbnb guest, Heechul Lee. He Leaves the following day and is touring in europe while he thinks about the meaning of life and University.

We are then told by Jo that a young chinese girl by the name of Wantan Li is staying at the house. A lodger in fact, who has the middle room and is working locally at Univitis. This comes as a surprise as it was never mentioned when we agreed to housesit. Wrongly, we assumed we had the house to ourselves and had not entered into a mini commune. Laced in red wine and because we were committed, (in other words nowhere else to go) there was an uncharacteristic acceptance to this situation on our part. I can reveal though that over the following days we felt that it was more than absent minded not to mention this to us.

Anyway … the wine flows and we retreat to the large kitchen. Gervais goes to the local petrol station for more wine. They sell a Gold Award winning wine for 6 Euros. Ian, Jo’s partner in life and drummer in a band arrives for a quick 5 minute visit …. he stays and later also goes to the petrol station for more wine. Ian ends up staying for dinner, then stays over. I chop onions and chillies for the spaghetti bolognaise. The next day I rub my eyes and other tender parts of my body and am violently reminded of this.

It is a great evening. Stories, laughter, wine. A long, long day.

Until next time 🌏

A trip to …🌏

A trip to the market at Sainte-Foy-la-Grande … one of the top 100 markets in France. Until next time🌏

My second wheelbarrow… 🌏

My second wheelbarrow full of poo from Le Peyrail … well before you say it Phil, Yep I’m talking horse shit once again! Until next time🌏

We take the … 🌏

We take the dogs for a walk as usual. Despite the experience with them running off yesterday we still feel confident to let them off the leash. And all goes well. That is until the return when we reach the gate at “Casa Davis”.  Mini hovers at the gate and all of a sudden Barkley takes off up the hill. He is head down and with his arthritic legs waddling north on a mission. Mini looks at us as if to say sorry. F*ck. I race up the hill. As I run, Barkley picks up speed. Bugger! I slow and so does he. I pick up the pace … and so does he. Gradually the hill takes its toll on Barkley before it takes its toll on me and I gain ground eventually grabbing his collar and attaching the leash before he becomes a fixture on the front of a car bumber!

We plan our route to Peyrail and decide on  travelling via Valencia to Pamplona and staying overnight. We spend ages finding a hotel, not that we are fussy … and settle on the Holiday Inn. Then we will take the slightly shorter trip to Peyrail on the A63, crossing the border to France at Irun.

Sunday

A tidy up day so that the house is looking good for Helen. A bit more than a tidy as it also includes the garden and watering everything down, particularly as Barkley likes to piss everywhere.

Eileen’s cousin Paul is over from Perth with his wife Glynes so we catch up with them and Dave & Fi at Chabada overlooking Arenal Beach as we won’t see them for a few months or so.

Helen returns without Steve as he is playing golf in Seville.

Monday

We leave Ambolo at 10:25 am for our 6 hour trip.

I pack the car. As I walk up the steps for the last time on this visit, Mini looks at me with knowing eyes. I’m leaving.

We set off on the AP-7 and then from Port de Sagunt take the A-23  to Valencia. The trip goes without hitch and we stop off at Sarrion for gas and a tapas break. Americano, cafe con Letche, patatas bravas and a pinch tortilla.

As we approach Zaragoza the landscape changes becoming more lush and greener. The dry dessert feel of Spain starts to phase into green. We pass Zaragoza and can see the beautiful snow capped Moncayo.

We stop for gas near Gallur. It feels bitterly cold and windy. I want to use the restroom and find the door with the little man on it. I pull back hard and there is a guy in there with his trousers around his ankles sitting on the loo. But not for long. Phone in hand he reaches to close the door and I retreat quickly. I decide as no-one is around I’ll use the facilities with the little picture of a woman on them.

Continuing on the AP-68, just after Tudela we take the AP-15 north to the Holiday Inn Express in Pamplona. It is cold and windy here too. Not too sure what to do for dinner as we are a little out of town. Its a nice functional hotel but a bit in the backyard of town. The bar is located next to the reception desk. It seems the staff multi-task from Check-ins to drink orders.

Before making a decision for dinner we go over to La Morea Shopping Center, past Aldi, just a 5 minute walk. It looks unattractive because we are the carpark side. Inside it is quite a nice shopping centre. It has the usual food court, but there are a couple of good options. Coming up the escalator we are taken by surprise. There is a stunning display of car tyre artwork by Angel Canas. It is just so clever.

In the end we return to the hotel after a brief excursion and eat in the hotel restaurant. The food is surprisingly good and typical spanish. The seating is odd though. Most of the tables are laid for one person facing the tv on the wall. Obviously for those single commercial travellers!

Until next time 🌏

And so the … 🌏

And so the daily routine for the next few weeks begins. Feeding the cats and dogs twice a day. The horses, pig and doves once a day and the fish in the tank and in the pond every few days or so. In between times Sarah feeds me and the flies feed on me. Where I have scratched and bled I look as though I have had a fight with a thorn bush … and the thorn bush won!

Most days the cats disappear and then reappear as if by magic to eat. The dogs are always around. Puppy joins me during the feeding of Oliver the pig, but Big Dog can’t manage the steps. In fact I don’t think he can manage very much at all. The key skills on his resume are snoring like a jet engine, panting like an iron lung and getting in the way. Like lying across the bottom of the kitchen door so that you can’t open it. Big Dog is like a small roundabout. A “Pop-Up” roundabout. He is good natured though and as you struggle to drag him away from being an obstacle he makes no attempt to move and just wags his tail. One of our goals is to get his snoring down to a level so we can hear the television.

Puppy chases joggers up and down the lane. Hikers get the same treatment. It is a daily occurrence. The house is in a very narrow lane, almost a track. Either end of the laneway the road opens up again so at the point of the house it is a bit like a chicane where traffic slows down to maneuver carefully past the dogs. To the locals of course it is just part of the thoroughfare and they race along. Particularly the guy on his Quad Bike.

Its cool so I light the fire. Doesn’t that sound easy? Unfortunately a log burner doesn’t have a switch and you have to chop wood to put in it. What seemed like several hours later and hundreds of matches, eventually the fire starts to burn. Not roaring but burning, probably to about the same heat as my fingers feel.

Big Dog snores all through Vera so we turn the sound up.

Tired now and having seen this episode of Vera recently we go to bed. We turn off the lights except the floor switch for the lamp in the middle of the room doesn’t work. Not today anyway. It did work yesterday. For some reason it just isn’t working no matter how many different ways we press the button. I try, Sarah tries. The electric cord leads under the sofa. An odd place for a power point in the middle of the room. I move the sofa to investigate. A hole is drilled through the tiled floor and the cord disappears into it. Bloody hell. The light stays on!

Thursday

I can’t settle. I don’t know why.

I feed the dogs their biscuits. Big Dog eats everything because Puppy won’t eat. Eventually I try him on meat and that does the trick. Sarah is gradually tidying and cleaning to bring everything up to her usual “can eat off the floor” standard.

I have got into the morning habit of opening all the windows to air the rooms. In our bedroom I open the window. The net that is a defence mechanism for small wildlife is rotting at the bottom and ants go about their daily work. At the bottom of the right frame as a I pull the window towards me (they open inwards) something is hanging. It is the half skeletal remains of a lizard that obviously got jammed many months ago. Nice. I haven’t advised Sarah yet.

Jo is getting ready for her trip to the UK. Ian will be here soon.

We ask how Orange on the entertainment system works so that we can watch something decent on the TV like a film made in colour after 1963. Jo picks up the remote and plays with it for 2 minutes. She doesn’t seem to know or be overly concerned for that matter. Perhaps Gervais can help. But we don’t bother him. He isn’t the host. Instead we watch re-runs of Frost, Heartbeat and other selections of fine British television from the past. Just as well we aren’t paying … but perhaps we are in some abstract way!

Where is the mailbox key? Hanging up in the car port. Should have guessed.

Ian arrives and off they go to Bergerac airport.

I prepare the horse feed under Sarah’s supervision … she took shorthand notes in her head .. to get the mix right. She returns to the house as I don’t want her slipping in the mud. I’m still concerned about protecting her hip. On my return from the paddock I arouse stig of the dump, Oliver. He grunts and groans like the Kraken awaking from decades of sleep. There is a lot of rustling and agitation. I ignore it and cast my eyes over the junk in the barn from crash helmets to old prints, lamp posts to tools. I see a dusty old book. Its blue. Hardcover, face down so I can’t read the title. It looks abandoned and lifeless. Out of interest I pick it up and turn it over. Nothing. I read the spine. “Cider With Rosie” by Laurie Lee … my mind spins back to school … back to summer as a child … the country … the innocence … the pure joy of this book that has remained in my heart all of these years. And of course it is only fitting that I find a copy in the deep french countryside of France as I stand in my wellies, with a fact pig grunting somewhere, doves flying around me, horses neighing in the distance, the constant buzz of bees and the fragrance of the country air. I stand silent, still, thinking of those halcyon days gone by and the long english summers as a boy. Yes, “Cider With Life”!

Back in our makeshift office I still can’t print so I download the HP SmartApp to my ipad and mobile. I can print from there. Bizzare, but thank you God.

Sarah returns from Leclerc supermarket via the gym clutching a selection of firelighters. Perhaps this evening I’ll get the fire going before bedtime. In fact I do with their help and over the coming days perfect the art of finding suitable dry kindling to create the perfect conditions so that I don’t have to use this cheating method again.

Sarah also has some fly spray and other weapons. One of the most active highlights throughout the day is warring with the flies and other unwelcome small winged objects. We now have 2 displays of flies hanging from a sticky tape streamer as a warning to others. But I don’t think they get it and return in numbers to attack the next day. I found a flyswat and between us we have managed to cull the population. We swish and swat for too large a part of the day. The exercise is good, but while I am working at my laptop they buzz and encircle my head. Unfortunately I have swatted my head too much and I think my face has the netted imprint of the swat on it. I am punch drunk from swatting myself and I think my right arm is an inch longer.

Until next time 🌏

I told you … 🌏

I told you that I thought the builder Boss-man Chris offered a shallow apology. Didn’t I tell you? I told you! The team arrive as usual and moments later two guys we have not seen before. They are installing a new air conditioning unit. Guess what you have to do for that? Yep, you got it … hammer another bloody hole in the wall! Not a good start to the day. But it is a first world problem!

Part of the morning and evening routine is to feed the dogs. A mixture of meat and biscuits. Barkley is a little older than Mini and has a problem with his back legs. To help him he has tablets with his meals. But dogs are crafty and so the medicine has to be disguised. I’m not too sure what Steve and Helen do, but I crush the 1 small and 3 large pills to a powder and then mix them with the other stuff in his bowl. While he takes his time, Mini scoffs her meal in about 3 seconds and then hovers threateningly over Barkley for anything he doesn’t eat, or most often nuzzling her way in. So we have to stand over Barkley and fend off Mini, not just so he gets his fair share, but also because he needs to have his medicine. I call Pamela at Jennifer Cunningham about my car insurance pack and speak to Kirstie. It hasn’t arrived, but I tell her we are travelling to France next week and then the UK. Later in the day, by email, I receive my Green Card which is basically an International Motor Insurance Certificate.

We set out for Denia to collect the official registration documents for the car that have now arrived. Not remembering exactly how Dave and Fi drive out of town we enter the details in Maps. I’m a bit uncomfortable with where we are going as it isn’t the way I remember. We are taken, by the voice, through the old town and wind our way up El Montgo along the Ctra. de Denia a Xabia. It is an interesting drive, but not the easiest of mountain roads. The main advantage is the great view from the top of El Montgo. A quick visit to Valgauto Motor. Having approached from the coast, I am now familiar with where I am and we take the Dave and Fi route back to Javea, via Ondara and the main Autopista del Mediterraneo (N-332).

Next stop is PC Solutions to look at printers, but before that we grab a quick coffee and then into the Mercadona supermarket. We grab a few things but can’t find the tinned tuna. After a major search we track it down. Not a great choice. There is a 900g tin, but not the 650g tin that Sarah can get in Consum. Because we didn’t bring shopping bags and we are on our way to PC Solutions the basket is abandoned in the aisle and we sneak out with the plan to get the shopping at Consum.

Round the corner to PC Solutions. Although we are digital nomads and we also have a printer packed up in storage somewhere in the world, it seems that we still need access to printed material. The reason being that in order to redeem the balance on our Opal cards (Bus, Ferry and Train prepaid cards used in Sydney) we have to print and submit a hard copy form. Also, although the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) have a pdf form you can complete on their website to register for overseas voting, you still have to print it off, sign it, scan a copy and send that back via email. Notwithstanding all this, we have also learnt that Spain still has one foot in the “Paper Age’! The mobile printer that we want isn’t in stock but are promised they can order it in within the next few days.

A visit to Blu to ask them about wireless mobile. They don’t do it so my options seem a bit limited. Although we have wireless at our various housesits, I also want to ensure that we have access when we are on the road, particularly if we need to be in touch with clients. Sarah has a major Virtual Assistant contract now and needs to be online to deal with business in Australia. There are lots of internet options in Spain, but so much is linked to home based products and you have to be careful as 2 or 3 of the suppliers only have regional coverage. One advantage is the recent move under the “fair use policy” to ensure you don’t get slammed for roaming charges when travelling in Europe. In the end we decided that we should be okay and that saves from entering into a commitment that we may only use on rare occasions.

I fill the car up with petrol and am reminded how expensive petrol is here compared to Australia. If we didn’t have to travel so much with all our luggage we would be happy with a couple of scooters. When we get to Senija that is probably what we will do … a few years to go yet unless our tenants in Senija, Leo and Marja, return to Belgium early.

The TV was playing up on Wednesday. There were pinstripe lines across the screen. We have tried every combination of the remotes and double checked connections. No good. So we watched Vera as though looking through a railing. My eyes are going funny. Today Sarah decides to switch off the whole set of technical mastery … in the prayer it all comes back on. It does. And it is fixed. Great technical solution!

Friday

Although the gym doesn’t open early Sarah has still been getting up at 4:30am as her body clock sets off a natural alarm. Now she is up for a different reason and that is to start work for her Sydney client who is utilising the Virtual Global Assistant services. This means changing her routine and going to the gym later in the day.

I get a phone call from PC Solutions. The printer has arrived. Great news and good service as we only ordered yesterday and it means again that we get it in good time before leaving for France. Sarah collects it on her way back from the gym. Its a very small box, but inside is a beautiful white and turquoise HP Deskjet 3720. I remove it from the box, sort out the bits and begin the process of setting it up. Again I am faced with one of the oxymorons of life. Blazoned in english on the label and across the very front of the printer is the statement “The Worlds Smallest All-In-One Printer”. And there is a selection of languages for set up to chose from: Spanish, German, French, Dutch … but not a single word in english … bugger! What would we we do without Google? Once again they save the day and after a bit of trial and error the printer is talking to me. The printer is wireless and later that evening while watching the TV it starts up all by itself and starts printing a page, which falls to the kitchen floor. I pick it up and read that an update has just automatically downloaded … cosmic!

The cleaner was meant to come this afternoon, but Sarah advised Helen that it wouldn’t be worth it with all the building dust that will probably be generated again next week. The notes Steve and Helen left mentioned that the 50 Euros were to pay Fatima, but we couldn’t find the money anywhere .. eek … just as well she didn’t turn up!

At 6:15pm the gate bell rings. When I say bell, I mean bell. Its one of those old school bells on a chain and rings just like the old school handbell with the wooden handle. It sent shivers down my spine. I nearly stood to attention in the playground then realised that I needed to run up the steps to greet the visitor. Not only that, but it set the dogs off on a marathon barking session so pandemonium was let loose.

The school bell immediately switched my mind to “authority”and true enough there was a motorcycle policeman at the door. I quickly ran through all my crimes since being in Spain this last 4 weeks, but couldn’t come close to justifying a police visit. I then recall the basket of shopping we abandoned in Mercadona yesterday. I guiltily opened the gate and immediately saw the bright yellow Post Spain scooter. It was the postman! I am relieved. The dogs are still growling and muttering behind me. The postman waves  an official looking envelope addressed to Steve and a handheld device for me to sign. But first he has to complete a tear-off section. He asks if I am Steve Davis? I think quickly. I did play snooker once. I think if I say no he may not leave the envelope. It looks important and I don’t want Steve to not get it. So I say yes, thinking I can just sign and go. But the Postman looks at me and says are you sure? I say yes. (Bugger, Bugger, Bugger). He writes my name and then asks for ID … Bugger. I point at the name written and say I am not Steve … shaking my head sideways. He looks at me with a knowing look, saying something in spanglish. I smile innocently and give him my name. He writes it down. I can take delivery of the envelope if I provide some form of identity. I point down the steps and go and get my UK driving licence. I return and proudly present my ID. He shakes his head and mentions an NIE. I fluster. I can’t remember where I put the certificate and I don’t have an NIE card yet. He then says Passport. Ahh, yes. I have one of those and I know where it is. I retrace my steps down and back up in the hope we are now making progress. I hand him the passport and in my rush leave both gates open. Barkley and Mini see their chance and in a flash are racing out of the car port and up the road. I’m in between shouting at them and trying to grab this bloody letter for Steve. I sign on the handheld device and take the letter. I look up the road and there are no dogs to be seen. Bugger, bugger, bloody bugger! The Postman gives me an evil smile and says he’ll get them. Does he mean run them down? Meanwhile I have nightmare visions of my Boy Scout days. My Mum was only laughing about this on the phone the other day.

As a young boy I was in the Boy Scouts and once a year we raised money through “Bob-a-Job” week. In those days the slang for a Shilling was a “Bob”… which became 5 New Pence. There are 100 pence in a pound so it gives you some idea of the value. Obviously worth a lot more at the time. In those days it was safe for young people to knock on strangers doors and and say “Bob-a-Job?” the idea being that you would perform some small tasks for a Bob and if you were lucky a bit more. I guess that the simple minded organisers didn’t consider the fact that a guy called Bob could answer the door and get the wrong idea! I remember once that some mean bastard had me cutting down bushes and tidying his garden all morning and gave little more than a Bob!

Anyway, the thing that made my Mum laugh was that one of my jobs was for a neighbour who lived in Hankinson Road, just around the block from home. I knocked on his door and within minutes was taking a fluffy little dog for a walk. It was only to walk the block. I went down Somerley Road and turned in to Maxwell Road, passing our house. I was approaching Abbott Road when a much larger dog approached. Its still just a blur now. All I can remember is that a dog fight ensued, or should I say one big dog ripping a small fluffy dog to bits. By the time the owner of the large dog had separated them I was left with a ball of red at the end of a leash. I was in shock! This poor animal limped home and I had to present the loved and bloodied pet to its alarmed owner. I still got the “Bob” … why I don’t know, but I did. This minor accident scarred me for life, yet it always makes my Mum laugh when I tell her I am looking after a dog!

So where was I … ah yes .. this vision of a previous situation racing through my mind as I went in search of the those chimps Mini and Barkley! I ran up the road, no shoes, the gravel biting at my feet. I turn the corner and the postman is parked across the road like a police barricade during a major incident and the two large black labradors are looking at me sheepishly. I bark at them and they race towards me. I wave at the nice Postman and grumble at the dogs who obviously are happy that they got one over me. Bugger … but they are safe and that’s all that matters.

I need a drink … were is that 3 Euro bottle of Cava from Consum?

Until next time 🌏

We are starting …🌏

We are starting to get sorted, or should I say more sorted. I load the VOIP and VPN on the new laptop which are basic requirements for virtual/remote working, especially for the corporate clients

Victoria from Golden Leaves rings with good news that Sarah’s right hip will not be an exclusion on the health insurance so now we can continue the process.

The builders finish the door at last … well … fitting it into the gap. There is still the cementing and plastering etc.

Sarah calls into the Senija Town Hall and this time it is open. Through body language, expression, pointing and pure desperation she is able to get the sweet lady to understand and print a new bill. I again walk into town to meet Sarah at CaixaBank on the corner of Calle La Haya and Ctra. Cabo La Nao-Pla in Javea to pay the bill. She is on the phone to Lexi so I take the paperwork and go into the bank. Only one of the 2 desks is open and customers are seated. It looks like a doctors waiting room. I look and ask if this is the queue, hoping someone will understand. An english girl responds yes and explains who is in the pecking order. It takes ages before it is my turn. This is Spain and I’m not in a rush … just as well. The spanish seem to be very patient … that is until they get in anything with rubber wheels and an engine!

We go to Golden Leaves to sign the health insurance papers, but as we are learning little is straightforwrd. Salus will not release the papers to sign until we have paid. A bank transfer could take 2-3 days. After a brief discussion we agree to go to our bank, Bankinter and transfer the cash directly into the Salus account. This seems to do the trick and after a pitstop at Cafe Romantica, just behind Av. De Paris, we return to Golden Leaves and finally come away with a carrier bag that has our papers, temporary membership cards, a calendar, two pens and certificates that we can use as part of a Residencia application. I looked over my shoulder for Bruce Forsyth waiting for him to say “Didn’t they do well!”

Later, back at “Calle Davis”, Chris the builder boss, who is english, but speaks good spanish, turns up at the door and Sarah tells him exactly what she thinks of his workmen and the mess they have made. Seriously, there is dust everywhere. When you go downstairs you can feel it under your feet. Its a worthless task to clean at this stage as it will just come back tomorrow. In a way we lived with something similar for most of our time in Sydney city. The combination of traffic fumes and builders dust from all the apartment buildings going up made the windows and balconies very dirty. Chris apologises, but I sense it is shallow, a lets do it and apologise afterwards situation. It does not carry much weight … the damage is done.

On the way home we call into the supermarket Masymas. This is a first visist for me. We get a few groceries, but also can’t get past a product that I have not seen before … Fried Egg Flavoured Crisps! We have to try them and as soon as we get back to the car the packet is ripped open. They taste just like they should, amazing. I can attest that they are a lovely accompaniment to a bacon sandwich at lunch time!

Until next time 🌏