Pauls 2012 Diary – August/September

This is ‘Pauls Diary’ simply entitled in my name as it’s ‘my’ diary. I have done this so if my wife doesn’t agree with the content then I can remind her that it’s mine and not hers. For earlier entries cobbled together  written in April, May, June and July they are now on separate pages.

As with other months entries – some of the following may be made up, exaggerated or simply lies! As I do that just to keep you on your toes and to make Nina giggle.

September 30 – we are right in the Alps at the moment and to say it’s pretty would be a gross understatement. We are building ourselves up for a trip through the mountains where we will pop through on the other side in France. As we have electicity and WiFi tonight we are about to catch up on the UK telly (just Corrie TBH as I wouldnt waste my time with X Factor) and then I am going to take some time to update a few bits on here whilst we still can ‘do the internet’. I must take the time to thank the Pope for lending us his password for a few days.

September 29 – another early diary entry as it’s electricity I am short of now (not WiFi) as its been a bit ‘Jethro Tull’ today and the solar panel hasnt got enough beans in it to give the batterys the charge it needs to keep the laptop up there. Thanks to the lovely lass in the tourist office the other battery is half charged as she plugged it in their place for a quick half hour charge. You see – we are really getting the hang of this camping malarky. We will hopefully be at a site with electricity tomorrow so I get a chance to use up all the WiFi I bought before we cross back over the border and back into France. You need a separate WiFi SIM for each country (despite the fact that we are all the same EU now – the bollocks that we were sold some time back) so I will be back on my French WiFi later on next week I guess.

September 28 – I come to you now nearly half a mile up in the air and still able to get the WiFi waves – fabulous! I am having to write my diary a bit early as they shut the internet early at weekends so that motorist can concentrate on killing each other first thing. I know I said the Portuguese were bad drivers and I meant that – they are bad. Italian drivers are just plain dangerous – ever been overtaken on a roundabout by a car travelling around it in the wrong direction? Well we have only yesterday – he must have thought waiting behind me was well worth the risk. Ever been overtaken on a blind bend – well we have – you get the idea! Nice and quiet here tonight as we are opposite the local cemetary – remember what I said way way bak about Friday nights entertainment? Well – we are sorted.

September 27 – so with our newly purchased 50 hours of WiFi effectively bought ‘under the counter’ we have more internet than we know what to do with. So we have watched about ten episodes of ‘Corrie’ on You tube – we are ‘that’ rock and roll! It is comical really – you need a password to use the internet which is linked to your mobile but people share them or buy one like we did to get around the problem. As you well know I am all for a ‘free’ or at least ‘available’ internet that you pay a one off subscription to so it is available to everyone at all times – instead of all this pissing about red tape and mis-guided idea of profit. I’m off now to buy some guns on Ebay!

September 26 – I’ve been unable to post my diary entries for a couple of days as the WiFi in Italy is even more scarce than that in China. You need a document signed by the Pope, Frank Sinatra and the entire Cossa Nostra before you can have any access to the web. Strange that a country in which you are likely to end up with a horses head in your bed for a traffic offence requires such strict monitoring of the interwebs. Anyway – thanks to the strangely named ‘Wind’ I now have a valid Wifi card for this part of the world so there is no stopping me – oh hang on – here come two armed police men – updating your blog isn’t allowed in public!*

*I made that bit up 🙂

Septmeber 25 – The lads (Chris and Sam) go home today after a nice break from the UK and a visit (for Chris) to see that Mum and Dad still bathe and havent bought a couple of ponies. I’m dissappointed that neither of them hjave pffered to empty our toilet cassette especially as I have been putting off emptying it for the past month. I’ll have to bring it home full now I suppose.

September 24 – typed loads of stuff – and wordpresses server lost it as I uploaded it. Shame as I cant be bothered to type it all out again.

September 23 – as we shopped in the supermarket today it seemed rather unfair that we were able to choose ducks for our proposed BBQ – we feed the ducks that reside next to the motorhome and have a bit of fun seeing how close we can get to them and giggle about their antics (yes – we have very little to do or think about) As no chickens provide such amusement for us daily we chose one of them for the BBQ, covered it in Piri Piri sauce, and cooked it right through. The choice was easy.

September 22 – the campsite we are stayimg at has free bicycle hire for visitors so we all went out on our bikes today. So we experienced more ‘freestyle’ driving from the Italians. Something like the Portuguese they have no clue about hazard perception and drive like an accident would never happen – we watched, today, a car (a Fiat 126 with brakes from 1972) pull up behind a modern car protesting that it had stopped whilst it nearly penetrated the new car – Mr 126 was clearly in the wrong – yet he told Mr Mercedes he was a ‘fanny’. They didnt die (today at least) but that may well happen soon. We all made it back in one piece.

September 21 – don’t worry – I haven’t spent any time at all today deciding what bird or any animal that I would like to be today. We did wander into Iseo with our Son Chris and friend Sam and stopped for a beer in the harbour. You cannot beat waking up to a lakeside view and the scenery here is fantastic. Despite that the lads decided that the ‘ban’ on publishing pix of the future Queens shirt potatoes which doesnt extend to Italy needed exploiting so they bought a copy of a magazine which offer pix of Kates bumpy bits. To be honest even as blurred images there isnt too much to report – like any woman – future Queen or not – she has the usual female attributes and they are no more than average.

September 20 – we have been watching the ducks today – they paddle about on the water without a care in the world. After some discussion with Mrs Riley I confessed that if I were to come back in the ‘afterlife’ as a bird then it would be as a duck. A chicken most likely will end up on someones dinner plate, as will a turkey (and they are just not at all handsome anyway) I know ducks get eaten but not as obvious as a chicken or turkey. Sparrows, Wrens, and Starlings are all just a wee bit crap – so dont even get a look in. Penguins came a close second but I only ruled that out as they have to survive in such cold water. A penguin at Edinburgh Zoo might swing the role for me as they do get to walk out in the penguin parade mid afternoon to rapturous applause but even so the winters in Edinburgh can be a bit harsh (as indeed some of the summers can be so). Peacocks and such have to spend so much time preening that I gave them a swerve and eagles and vultures alway have so much to live up to. So – if it a bird in the next life – then. for me – I’ll be a duck. 🙂

September 19 – I sit here listening to waves lapping against the nearby shore of Lake Iseo – it’s truly wonderful and the thing that adventures like this are for. I stood a few minutes ago with a glass of wine listening to the water – nothing else – just the water and worth every one of the 4500 miles or so we have travelled to get here. Money can’t buy this, you can’t get an App for it and you’ll never be able to download it. Italy wants 1.78 Euros for a litre of diesel, and way to much for a kilo of chicken and to be frank it can have it as this is one of the most breath-taking places I have seen in a long time. Ciao.

September 18 – A bit late on the diary as we never got the internet halfway up the mountain. The bank only opens three days a week, and only mornings – a feature I am sure we will see in the UK soon – the hairdressers is just two afternoons a week and the church is open just about every day. Every other car in this village is an old Fiat Panda with many of them being the 4 x 4 version – useful in the severe winters they must get up here. There’s no Panda garage but if there was it would only be open on Fridays I would guess. We’ve caused quite a stir staying here as I don’t think any motorhomer has ever stayed more than a day whilst this is our second evening here (remember – its free and has free electric). The locals say hello (or more so Buon giorno) and I occasionaly hear people talking about us in whispered tones! We are off to lake Iseo tomorrow (well today actually as I am writing this a day late)

September 17 – we have driven right up into the ‘Lakes’ area (near to Garda) and we are currently up a mountain side with very little internet, no telly and no phone signal – but the views on the way up here were stunning. Yet another free Aire with electricity too so will stay here a couple of days. I washed the motorhome for the first time in nearly six months – it looked clean as it get s wipe down every now and then but I had the opportunity of using a jet wash whilst Alison did the weekly shopping. The attendant spoke no English other than ‘vino’ and ‘Volkswagen good car’ and I informed him that the only Italian I knew was ‘Frank Sinatra and Ferrari’. He helped me with the job but it had me in stitched as he blethered away in Italian in the hopes that talking louder and slower would help – I bit like we Brits do. So as the net shuts down here at midnight – I’m off to bed.

September 16 – we didnt need any hedge trimmers to wake us up this morning as the retarded Romanian coach driver who has been camping out on the edges of the motorhome aire decided this morning at 06.30 to start his engone whilst he waited for the (presumably Romanian tourists on his coach) passengers to arrive. Unfortunately for him a very irate Englishman strutted over to him at 06.30 and demanded that he switched the engine off – after a bit of arm waving and pretending to be stupid (I presume) he decided that the barrage of swear words and pointing to a watch meant that he had better comply. He shut the engine off and I (again) assume that his passengers had to suffer getting on the coach either too warm/too cold depending on whether or not you view a coaches air conditioning as a benefit or a curse. The irate Englishman slept for a couple of more hours. The rest of the day was spent enjoying a ver large antiques fair which is held in the streets of the village – an impressive 600 stalls with everything from a Nazi helmet to a bubble gum machine. Fantastic.

September 15 – Italy is delightful – simply delightful. We are staying at a small village in the mountains on an aire with free electric, water and a full WC. We went to a Lambretta Exhibition today – which was free – and had stunning scooters on display. A lovely day -and thanks to an over exuberant gardener trimming the nearby hedges – a long day – he saw it fit that a good time to start this task on a Saturday with the loudest petrol trimmer ever invented would be 07.30. I struggle to look up on Google translator “What fecking time do you call this Guiseppe?” so stuck a spare pair of earplugs in but was up and about by 8.30 as a result. There is a ‘not yet started’ hedge on the other side – if he starts that tomorrow you might well read on the news about an Italian gardener who has met with an anally inserted hedge trimming accident. Ouch.

September 14 – there’s no one more amazed than me that we actually managed to change our £300 into Euros today. As we are in Italy (and not France) I thought it might be a different process and simply entering a bank – where they keep money – might bring some success. Alas no – we went into two banks only to be told that they don’t ‘do that’. It was suggested that we go to the Post Office where they would. Unfortunately the translation and where we actually walked didn’t coincide with the location of the Post Office and Alison had to go into a third bank to ask where the Post Office was. She was in the bank quite a while so I went in to see why they were holding her prisoner and it turned out that this third bank ‘do’ change money. However we do not possess a ‘fiscal’ number and a few phone calls had to be made to officialise the changing of the money. A passport and signing a couple of pieces of paper sorted that. In contrast when we bought our 5 Euro SIM card yesterday, because we didn’t have a ‘fiscal’ number Alison had to sign her name
13 times on several bits of duplicated photocopies to complete the transaction. I almost forgot that we were in the 21st Century for a moment. A lovely free Aire again tonight so we don’t even need to spend any of our new Euros.

September 13 – what a contrast to yesterday. A lovely drive through the French Alps after visiting the beautiful village of Sospel – quite possibly one of the prettiest places I have ever visited. The drive of 50 miles was awesome – frightening in some parts but the views were fantastic and some of which come out on some of the photos I managed to take with one hand whilst I steered around death defying bends! (Alison took the pix) We still didnt get to change the pounds as the bank in Sospel (despite being full of tourists) doesnt ‘change’ money – which lost the village a lunch as we didnt have enough cash to eat in a restuarant and faffed about until 1.00 when they still didnt open so we said sod it and we will buy a couple of savoury pastries from the bakery which by now had shut for lunch (WTF). We wandered back to the motorhome and ate our own picnic having spent nothing in the village despite wanting to. Now I wonder why the economy is struglling and shops are shutting?? Ce la Vie – we are now in Italy which we are enjoying very much so far.

September 12 – and guess what – money not changed as everytime we got near a bank that might be able to change currency they either hadn’t opened/were c;losed for lunch/were closed. I guess in the UK we just get used to being able to get stuff done. We travelled for eight hours today – two more than the day we did 500 miles through Spain yet we have done little more than 115 miles. You see – we were foolish enough to break my ‘I dont do big cities’ rule and tried to look at Cannes and Monte Carlo – we have seen both but to be honest the grief involved on and during the journey probably cancelled out any enjoyment. I’d visit Monaco again but only on a fly in/fly out basis where I didnt have to worry or trouble about parking a car – something neither city want you to do. If I recall correctly even when ‘Herbie went to Monte Carlo’ he didnt have to park – he just raced through.

September 11 – I’ve still not managed to change those Pounds Sterling into Euro’s! I popped round to the bank at 09.35 giving them chance to set up and line up the money after theeir long weekends. I waited patiently and when I told Mr Jacque Mehough what I wanted to do you’d have thought I’d asked him if it was alright to take his daughter away for a dirty weekend. I was told that they couldnt do it, so I asked with a perfectly straight face if he thought the Chemist or Boulangerie might be able to help, as he couldn’t, he looked at me like I’d gone completely mad so I apologied for troubling him after what must have been a strenuous meeting so early in the week. He suggested I try Arles (where we stayed the other day which is 13 miles away) and went off to the other bank at the other end of the High Street. I waited there in a queue of several people – all seemed to be paying bills and lots of other things not actually ‘involving money’ only to be told they they couldn’t help either as ‘they had no money’. I asked again seriously “so the bank has no money” – “No Sir” now I know the EU countries are in a bit of a pickle but surely my £200 wasnt going to tilt the balance this morning. I asked the young lass if they’d like to borrow some of mine but got the same look that Mr Mehough gave me fifteen minutes earlier. She also suggest Arles where presumably France keeps what little money it has there for safe keeping. We decided to try another place further down the road whilst travelling but of course by the time we got anywhere near it everywhere was shut for lunch until January.

September 10 – I tried to change some ‘pounds’ into ‘Euros’ today so I set off to the bank at 11.00, just in case they closed at 12.oo noon. They don’t close at 12.00 noon as they aren’t even open by then so I returned with £200 intact. I went back out at 3.30 – safe in the knowledge that lunchtime would be over – it wasn’t as it hadn’t even been lunchtime as to have lunchtime you would have needed to have a ‘morning’ which they didn’t as they don’t open the banks on a Monday at all. I suppose that given the fact most of the shops are shut on a Monday the banks might as wellstay shut as there’s nowhere to spend your money, English or otherwise, anywhere. I’ll try again tomorrow.

September 9 – It’s all a bit seedy but all along the major roads thru France (and Spain and Portugal for that matter) there are services offered at the side of the road. Not your usual 5 kg bag of oranges for 3 Euro or the locals ‘cars for sale’ (which is illegal by the way despite the fact that what i am going to tell you about isn’t). No, tired travellers can avail themselves with a ‘hooker’ – every now and them scattered down the road is a lady who can provide you with some ‘horizontal refreshment’ or a few turns at the ‘no pants dance’. I understand the going rate is 15 Euros for a quick ‘Tango’ rising (pardon the pun) to 25 euros for a full ‘Fandango’. To me this is ideal – no need for those daft signs that tell you that feeling sleepy could kill you – just run off the side of the road for a quick turn with Mrs Palm and her five daughters and you are on your way to Barcelona (that for once isn’t a euphamism) Long live free (well 25 Euros a turn anyway) enterprise.

September 8 – I count myself as ‘lucky’ today having driven under a bridge/tunnel that indicated it was 2.6 metres high – not a problem until you quickly realise that your vehicle is at least 2.65 metres plus another 20 cm for the TV aerial and solar panel. There was a bang and a crash and I genuinely thought that was it – ‘game over’ – and we were heading back home. Pulled up in a lay by actually feeling sick with what I might expect to find. Climbed up the rear ladder and everything was intact – can’t work it out other than the bang must have been a loose drainage grid and the second noise the sound of the aerial clipping one of the droopy metal tiles that made up the ceiling. Whatever – we were really glad and very relieved. Sorry all that is a but dull but trust me it mattered to me !

September 7 – I’ve got access to internet once more via SFR in France and now its just power and batteries that I am up against! If its not one thing its the sodding other – its a hard life – and I have got a couple of hours on the other laptop battery if it comes to it. At least I won’t have to spend countless hours hiding in McDonald Le Kiddies Area trying to leech their internet rather than buy a cup of bilge coffee (like I did earlier today) I’ve been in France two days and I’ve managed to not upset anyone yet – mind you I havent really spoken to any of the garlic munching, snail chomping surrender monkeys yet*

* this is of course a joke and the comment made only for comic (and almost racist) effect (as it happens we find the French very friendly and helpful)

September 6 – We have arrived in France once more. We have landed at a lovely aire just across the road from a superb looking beach. Beer and peanuts earlier on whilst Alison had a dip in the water. I stayed dry. The rest of our drive out of Beruit Spain was through even more road works and another three men working all at once and without being horse-whipped. Times they are a changing! I was finally reminded of the appalling driving standards over here when earlier today a waggon overtook us in the roadworks crossing the ‘no fecking overtake’ line down the middle of the road, just before a bend. We were doing the legal 50 mph but he obviously had somewhere he needed to ‘be late’ to get to.

September 5 – arrgh! – more fecking roadworks! That’s 130 miles of them so far all in one stretch. The worst I have encountered. Still, to see three men working all in the same day has been refreshing.. We hit France tomorrow and a tour along ‘the Med’ and hopefully a much more relaxed tour. Things seem to have stopped ‘stopped working’ on our motor home so that can only be a good thing. The brake lights have returned to working mode (because I fixed them) and the kitchen tap seems to have stopped leaking. I keep meaning to mention the catalogue of disasters that recently befell us but it would possibly work to jinx us further so I am going to keep quiet for now whilst the going is good!

September 4– it’s been a long night having just got in from 500 miles of driving! With much of it in the dark and through roadwork’s. It was just to be 300 with another trip the next day but the inept activity of some Spanish local authority meant we moved on to the next ‘stop’. There is a place for motor homes to stay in Calatayud but no one bothered to put up any notices to say that threes a ‘Donkeyfest’ this week and you cant stay in the motor home plots. We had set up, been for a walk and had tea when two blarts from the ‘civic centre’ to tell us we couldn’t stay. To say I was unimpressed was the understatement – they then said we could stay but leave by 8.00 am. I certainly wasn’t leaving my further freedom in front of these two Paella munching Tractor-fanciers and we decided to head off again – due to various factors we ended up staying ‘pikey style’ in an approved stopover in the middle of no-where with another early start to move further on. Hey ho. We’ll soon be out of Spain at least – er, no I’m not a great Spain fan anyway.

September 3 – we spent a good bit of today driving to put us that bit nearer to France as there are simply lots more aires for us to stay at there. There are only a handful of Spanish campsites between here and there and at roughly 8 times the cost for little more in the way of services it’s ‘France here we come!’ Tonight we are at ‘Santa Elena – population 991’ and we witnessed what could have been a reduction to just 990 when one of its elderley residents hit the deck after tripping on a poor bit of pavement (that doesnt narrow the location down by the way). We helped her up onto her feet but her lack of understanding ‘the Queens’ meant she thought I was trying to steal her purse and her dog. Once she realised that I had no use for the 7 pesetas within her said purse or her gnarly old pooch she thanked by and called me her ‘amigo’ – I’m catching on with this Spanish malarky I tell you!

September 2 – we have made it to Spain and just short of Seville as it happens. A lovely ‘aire’ at Gelves just by the side of the river with a great view and just 10 km from the city quoted as being ‘the oven of Europe’ given that wee quote and the fact that I loathe cities and thier McDonalds, Costa Coffee and other high street crap will probably give it a wide berth. It may well have a cathedral or ten and a few other buildings of public note but generally they will look much like the nice old ones plopped in much quieter places further on up the Spanish highway. Yes, I am a grumpy old git – and I hate the advise from people who dont really travel very far and say such banal things like “you must visit Barcelona” – no I “mustn’t” – I did once and lost my wallet, my dignity, and later nearly ended up in a fight with another potential thieving bastard who thought he’d take his chance whilst I went to the Police Station to report the earlier crime. Barcelona IS beautiful to look at but is ruined by the halfwits who visit it because they think they have to – and by the robbing and cheating locals who see a way to earning a quick buck. Those blokes who spray themselves silver and pretend to be a statue need a word, the street sellers need to get a proper job, and the beggars need to tell the silver blokes and the street sellers that they amount to the same level of low life. Oh, I’ve gone on a bit. Good night!

September 1 – First diary entry for a new month and we have moved on towards Spain – we haven’t got far as we have stopped just 12 miles down the road to stay overnight by the sea one last time before we leave Portugal. We arrived in Portugal nearly 4 months ago and have loved every minute – met up with old friends and family and made many new friends along the way. Its never a dull moment and even here parked next to the dockside the family next to us just a 100 yards away (quite a clearance for the Portugeuse to be honest) have the usual conventional pets like cats and dogs – but also have a pig. I unkindly suggested that it was their ‘air-freshener’. We are heading right into Spain tomorrow (I promise) if only that we don’t have to say that the last country we were in was England – which must be quite confusing to most people!

August 31 – Last night at Cabanas, unless our host blocks us in for fear of losing out on a BBQ evening meal cooked up for him, We went out for a meal to thank him for putting us up in the orchard for the past couple/few weeks. We had a true comedy moment in the restuarant when some particularly bad street musicians (and I use the term loosely) set up and created a ‘din’. They were never going to get anything from my table as I loathe such crass and thinly veiled begging – but a lady on the next table actually stuck her fingers in her ears. The budding Mark Knopfler then started giving her grief claiming she was taking bread from the mouths of his children etc etc. I politely suggestly that he ‘jog on’ on the basis that no one asked him to  perform anyway and he certainly had no right to give the ear plugged lady any grief. Luckily for him I didnt have to leave my pork chop meal to explain how ‘wrong’ he was. He left.

August 30 – I am sat in the same field again tonight leeching the free WiFi from the campsite but for whatever reason the signal seems to reach quite near to the van – none the less I told Alison that it wasn’t working and that I needed to borrow her short beach dress, her sandals and a bra. Its a lovely evening however Alison tells me that she cant sit outisde because the ‘wind’ (a breeze) is making her eyeballs dry. Sometimes you can’t win! I took Wolfgang to the Health Centre today for a check up – no appointment as you just turn up regardless of whether you might or might not be seen. To my utter amazement he wasnt seen and has to go to the local place just moments from his home despite being told a few weeks ago that he has to travel, by car, (he cannot drive as he is paralyzed) to Tavira – some 5 miles away. It’s a result as he can get seen near to home and within wheelchair travel from his house but comical none the less. We celebrated with a beer in St Luzia.

August 29 – As I type this I am stood in a field not far from the local campsite wearing nothing more than my shorts and my wifes gold and silver sandals. hewre is a reason for that as I couldnt reach the WiFi signal from the campsite and I needed to get nearer – I couldn’t reach my own sandals and slipped hers on. As I got nearer and nearer the campsite boundary I realised what I must look like!  A guy wearing very little other than ladies sandals carrying a laptop and trying to connect to the internet – here in Portugal I imagine that means a one way ticket to the jail! We learned today why our butcher has a long lunch hour – his breakfast (bought from the supermarket he works in) is three bottles of beer!

August 28 – we snuck off early to day and went to the beach in the car. Amazingly people overtook us on the most dangerous road in the Algarve (and we weren;t ‘hanging about’) only to turn right just further up the road to go to the beach – how can you be in a hurry to go to the beach – it’s not possible to be late for a laze about on the sand! And there are people who would be late for their own funeral! Perhaps they need to get to the beach quickly so that they can sit even nearer to someone they dont know. By contrast we couldn’t buy our chicken from the usual sourse as he was still on his 2 hour lunchbreak – it was four o’clock.

August 27 – it’s not difficult to see how things just dont get done over here. We have offered to put up a canopy for Wolfgang a few times now – he asked us if we could do him a favour, but everytime we ask for the poles required to put up the canvas he just says ‘ah, not now – maybe later’  How much later?  November? December? There is no comprehension of time in the Algarve – everything is ‘later’. It would do my head in long term I am sure – I’m fine with a relaxed attitude for sure but people turning up for an appointment several weeks  hours late is beyond a joke! He;s been waiting for a guy to turn up and collect an engine (out of an Audi Turbo) for two years.  I’m not kidding.

August 26 – we took a stroll along the beach today and collected some shells so Alison can make some more tacky shell based pen holders. Later we were robbed by the local supermarket who must think that we are as daft as we look when we walk into the place – over a Euro for twenty olives in a plastic pack! Maybe I should go in and sell them some of the pots that Alison covers in shells! They are the most expensive supermarket in the area – set up I am sure simply to rip off the English tourists – and I dont class myself as a tourist any more – just in case you were wondering. We’ve been over here that long that we dont get bothered by time-share rats or boat trip sellers. Almost like locals.

August 25 – we drove to Pego da Inferno today and ironically it has been burned down in a recent forest fire. So that was that then. Later we spent some time explaining ‘Skype’ to an 83 year old olive grower who knows nothing more complicated than a potato peeler. She found it hard to grasp that we were – thanks to technology – talking to our son back in England from the middle of her field circa 1920 0n a ‘plastic notebook’ – ironic given that earlier today Neil Armstrong who walked about the very moon we could all see appearing at the same time passed away today.

August 24 – has another day just whisked past us?? I repaired our awning blind winder and that is about it. I also tried to re-acquaintence myself with the workings of a scooter as I have been offered the use of one of those too – thanks to our host Wolfgang. Its been a while since I rode a scooter so I will  have to give it some more thought – and practice.  Wolfgang joined us for dinner again tonight – I think he can smell/hear the sound of me lighting the BBQ

August 23 – Wolfgang has fitted his new tyres and has been out in the lane burning rubber and putting his wheelchair through its paces. We however are more content with a mornings ‘spring cleaning’ using the vacuum cleaner called ‘Vampyra’ – that is its name as printed on the body (I am not making this up) – a vacuum cleaner that Wolfgang ‘lost’ last week and after we searched the holiday apartment next to his house it turned up ‘hiding’ in his place. He isn’t ‘big’ on dusting and hoovering as such! He adopts the Quintin Crisp approach to dusting as in “after the first few years – it doesnt get any worse”. We have dusted and hoovered as we have the opportunity to do so and we don’t know when we will next get the chance. Late lunch and a late BBQ evening meal complete the day. It is all good!

August 22 – Today we went to Tavira (in the Golf) with Wolfgang to sort out some banking, buy a new Vodafone dongle card and get two tyre for his wheelchair. Easy you might think if you had the Trafford Centre or similar in front of you. No, we went to the bank and nearly an hour an a half later we came out with Wolfgang having completed stage one of many more to come to retrieve his money that they have. We wont be able to help him as the manager of the bank is away on holibobs for another calender month. He will get his answer then. It was then too early to go to the bike shop for wheelchair tyres they would be shut until 3.00 pm so we went for lunch (early) in the hope that once we had bought a Vodafone card for the internet they would then be open. They were and this was a triumph for the way us British think about stuff.  Wolfgang was prepared to sack off the buying of wheelchair tyres to get them ‘sometime soon’ (read three months) whilst we were prepared to have lunch and watch stuff ‘catch up’.  We came home with everything we needed as it happened and maybe we converted Wolfgang into one new trick !  By the way and as you might have guessed – I got the new MiFi card!

August 21 – A quick Diary for now as my Vodaphone Mi-Fi dongle only has a minutes credit left on it and is about to ru….

August 20 – I’ve been taxi-ing again and this time to take Wolfgangs friend Manuela to buy a pair of shoes. It gave we the opportunity to get some fuses for the ‘Zig unit’ which taunts me by blowing fuses randomly just to annoy me. It turns out it is a faulty awning light so on  a cooler day I will investigate that new ‘box of frogs’.  Today was in the high thirties temperature wise and very humid so not really the day for travelling in the car but you live and learn. Its a good job that the seats in the Golf are made of sponge as I managed to leak roughly 7 gallons of sweat through my tee-shirt – leather seats would be a nightmare.

August 19 – at last a day in which we can chill out without having to think about how or when our motorhome might start! I had a little lie in today and ran an errand for our ‘landlord’ – he is wheelchair bound so we are happy to sort out stuff for him and his friends.  So his friend Walter (the Baker) needed a lift to near Moncarapachio in the Golf – I didn’t realise that we needed to get supersonic on the way!  I have never travelled so fast in a slow diesel car in my life.  Ferrari speed with old VW brakes and suspension makes for a fun ride I can tell you.  I managed to get back in the car safely add added just two minutes to the travelling time without ‘nearly killing’ anyone.  I preferred my method.

August 18 – well Almancil is bristling with people who want to do a good job!  And they are all English! Buf thanks to Barry who has sorted out the immobiliser fault and repaired our faulty alternator – top work mate.  We can now relax a little and get on with our travels.  We are back in the olive grove at Cabanas!

August 17 – I have stopped ranting about lazy Portugeuse mechanics/engineers. No reason other than the fact I have found a Scottish guy who can help me out so they are history – I look forward to the day when in the UK a Portugeuse bloke asks me for help with his car and I can spend nearly a week telling him that someone will come out to him whilst he waits in all day only to fund that no one turns up – I know that sounds a bit like Comet delivering a washing machine or BT coming to fix your phone so it’s not so different is it? We went for a good bike ride today to Fabrica – lovely beach and we had a well deserved beer at the snack bar – a pleasant change of scenery.

August 16 – Someone has suggested that my comments about an auto electrician drowning (that I made in yesterdays diary) was perhaps wrong.  And, they are of course correct – I should have said ‘drowned painfully’. We waited all of today for him to turn up and he didn’t. Little does he know that I have given up on him and made an arrangement to take the motorhome to a guy just past Faro on Saturday –  a Scottish guy called Barry who would appear to be as sound as a pound. If by some miracle of almost ‘Christ walking across the water’ proportions he does turn up tomorrow and fix the van (which I doubt even more than me winning the next Lotto – despite never ever buying a ticket) then I will give him the motorhome and all my savings, and my wife, to boot. It aint going to happen – if he does turn up I might just tell him to ‘go away’ with no apology for wasting his very obviously valuable time. You are correct – I havent forgotten the idle and lazy Portugeuse I dont want to work ethic.

August 15 – So on day four of waiting ‘for something not to happen’ and despite the lack of auto electricians willing to pour themselves of their lazy arsed flea ridden beds a man whose profession ‘is not’ fixing stricken cars managed to make his start and move it to ‘somewhere else’. I have no more than utter contempt for the local so called professionals I am afraid – joking or not and ‘manyana’ attitude aside – for anyone to have to wait three days for absolutley nothing to happen and with no information about ‘nothing to happen’ stinks. I consulted my mechanic son at home in the UK and he talked me through, over the phone, how to short circuit the starter and get the motorhome started and we then moved it round the corner to our friends house so we can wait until someone can actually get to it. I accept that it is a laid back attitude here but waiting nearly four days to hear that someone ‘might’ come the next day is not acceptable – one dickhead who told us he was too busy was spotted on the beach yesterday – I hope he drowns. And I mean that.

August 14 – it’s no wonder the Portugeuse economy is in the toilet – I’ve spent two days waiting for two separate auto electricians to turn up and neither have. One – who said he was too busy was seen at the beach yesterday – if he is on holiday then why doesnt he just say so?  The other is simply ‘out of communication’ despite messages and we ‘may’ get a result tomorrow. So that was another day hanging around – at least if I know they are not coming then we can go out and do something. I’m done – I am in danger of using sweary words.

August 13 – We will have to wait until tomorrow for the auto electrician as he could not some to us today so our travels were limited to a walk out to the seafront and a couple of swims in the pool. Not too bad when I think of the countless hours sat waiting for tyres and exhausts to be fitted whilst sat in a depot in Trafford Park where suddenly mailing your ears to a railway sleeper start to become appealing. The mass exodus following the weekend rush occured this morning and the site is nearly empty – I prefer it that way – maybe I’m not a ‘people person’ or shall I re-phrase that – I’m not a ‘people who get on my tits person’. Night night.

August 12 – Oh well – yesterdays diagnosis was incorrect, the battery is fully charged and yet even though it started yesterday successfully the van would not spring to action today despite the intervention of local mechanic Neelo. So, we booked another evening here (not so bad eh) and await the arrival of an auto-electricain tomorrow. Thankfully these are all ‘friends of a friend’ so the process isn’t one of being ‘humped’ by countless tradesmen casing in on a helpless traveller – our good friend Wolfgang here in Cabanas is looking after us very well – top bloke that he is. On the plus side we had the use of the pool and other stuff for another day – I am sure a couple of days broken down at the side of the EN 125 would have been far worse – we have to count our blessings.

August 11 – things are looking up as the battery on the van has taken some charge, started and whilst it might need replacing that is the extent of the problem. We move on to stay at Wolfgangs tomorrow in his olive grove – a lovely spot that we used to walk past when we first visited Portugal. Someone else on the site is having car trouble is as much as it simply wont start, For the past four hours they have jumped in it every 20 minutes and cranked it in the vague hope it might have fixed itself since the last time they spent five minutes trying to start it. One thing is for sure – the battery is a good one as its kept us all entertained this evening – I may put a bid in for it tomorrow.

August 10 – as days go this hasnt been a great one – I am sure we will fix it all but it has been one that you might have stayed in bed to avoid. We have been over an unmarked speed hump with such gusto that the contents of two of the cupboards flew out. We stopped and put them all back to find that the bike rack has come lose on one of the four fixing posts having been pulled out of the wooden batten inside the van. I would like to find the council pillock who designed the hump and kick him in the face.I have secured the strain from the bikes with a strap for now and will fix the bracket at the weekend. We then stopped at the supermarket before Cabanas for a couple of bits to find that the battery was flat and the motorhome wouldnt start. Luckily I asked an English guy for a jump start and we were quickly on our way – only to conk out again just outside the Cabanas campsite whilst Alison was checking in. They jump started us again and we limped into a plot. Lucky for us we are 500 yards from our old friend Wolfgang who has lent us a trickle charger, a volt meter and offered us the use of a car and a mechanic so we can get it sorted. Like I said last night – it’s a small world.

August 9 – I’ll be careful tonight as ‘somehow’ I managed to lose all of this months diary entries – its one of two things I reckon – a/the failings of the internet or b/2 litres of wine with the neighbours. To prove what a small world it is once more – they are from Gatley (just 5 miles from our house and where I was dragged brought up. Their children went to the same school as me – obviously twenty plus years later but the same school nonetheless.  So tonight I am eating my BBQ meal and I hear a load crack – is it thunder? Is it the sound of a Portuguese Renault5 backfiring? No, its a camel farting in the plot next to us. There’s performing dogs and parrots and a clown car that makes animal noises (not the farting alas) like pigs and horses. No, we aren’t camping at Billy Smarts – its the ex-Circus chap site owner and all the leftovers from when he was working. I haven’t seen a lion or an elephant yet but we have only been here one night. Anyone – I am off down along the tight-rope to the bogs – I need to brush my teeth.

August 8 – we finally got on our way and put the ‘tour’ into our trip again. Lest our lovely site at Gale, a place we shall certainly return to. We are now at a site that has it’s own resident camel! (I kid you not) And there will be more about that tomorrow.  We did try a couple of ‘aire’ type spots on the way but they proved to be only one step up from sleeping in a well used cat litter tray. It was difficult to decide at the site at Faro which ‘stench’ was the worst – a fairly even race between the sewage, garbage, chemical works or the local gypsies. We left after the combination of that assault on our noses and the noise from the nearby airport runway, the busses and general traffic made us realise that there was a reason that it was ‘free’

August 7 – we’ve had a bit of a lazy day today which gave me the opportunity to think about just why I was searched extensively twice and our hand luggage X-rayed twice also. It may well just have been the contents of our hold-alls. Between us we had a kettle (filled with socks and tea bags), an LPG gas kit and pipe fittings, a cycle helmet (ladies) six hundred weight of Werthers Originals and a bag of white powder, albeit ‘Coffee Mate’. I had several VWNW fridge magnets in my back pocket which I had forgotten about until they kept appearing on the X-ray machine despite me insisting that I had emptied my pockets. I don’t mind any of this as it is all for our own good and safety and sadly necessary since seemingly men with tea towels on their heads and long beards can assemble all those things and make some sort of weapon. Meanwhile several Al Queda extremist were being breezed through ‘security’ as they had paid the extra tenner and used Ryanairs ‘Priority Booking’ service.

August 6 – just got back into the motorhome after the flight from Manchester. About as enjoyable as the flight inbound with added annoyance of those who think it’s a great idea to travel late in the evening with babies and petulant children who need a kick up the arse and not another packet of blue smarties. Little ‘Horatio’ didn’t want to sit on his own (albeit next to his ignorant mother across the aisle) as it didn’t ‘suit his needs’ and the flight was nearly delayed as his pulltroon mother asked others if they would mind moving about so her backward child could sit next to ‘mummy’. The steward had to insist we got on with things as we were in danger of losing our slot – if we’d have missed it I’d have gladly punched her in the ‘slot’. As it was Olympic fortnight I partook in Little Chefs oddly named ‘Olympic’ breakfast so that’s my list successfully complete.

August 5 – That’s the end of another successful VWNW at Tatton Park. Great to see old friends and family alike, albeit briefly, but still a nice quick catch up. Surprisingly there was no rain on site although it did rain about three miles away and poured down all day in Poynton. We must have brought the good weather with us. Successful roast beef dinner.

August 4 – with the show set up ready to open the doors at 0700 hours tomorrow I’ll settle down in my sleeping back on what is laughably called a mattress on the floor of our ‘HQ’ portacabin. Comfy it ain’t but tired, I am – Good Night. Got my Fish and Chips with mushy peas and curry sauce too!

August 3 – That was my first days work in over four months – real work too like hammering stakes in the ground and tying red and white tape round stuff!  There’s more of it tomorrow too –  Lasagne tonight!

August 2 – we strolled around Poynton village like two celebrities. Our obvious dark tans made us stick out like sore thumbs in what have been an obviously bleak summer. Our house is still where we left it and in as good fettle as the day we set off – left in the very capable hands of our son. He’s even jet washed the drive and washed my car for me – although quite how it got dirty when its parked in a garage with a cover over it I’ll never know. Ferris Buellers Day Off springs to mind. A curry with friends checked off box number two on the list

August 1 – I missed the bit in all the travel guides that suggest you behave like a fool once entering an airport. The bit about turning up with several litres of suncream, a gallon of water and a pistol* was also missing when I read it. Arriving too late to check in was another tip I missed – yet everyone else seemed to have been ‘copied in’. I intend to eat the things that we do miss whilst away from the UK which include a ‘chinese’, and ‘indian’ and fish and chips to name but a few – I will keep you posted. We managed a splendid Chinese from the Lucky Star tonight.

*I made that bit up

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3 Responses to Pauls 2012 Diary – August/September

  1. Julieanne says:

    lol at the magnets!

    • Ha – they’re the ones we grabbed at the last moment on Sunday and I nearly forgot them as we left for the airport (I gave them and a tee shirt to the kids here at site) and nearly ended up being strip searched….!

  2. Nick smith says:

    August 2nd, Our dark tans made us stick out against the typical spray on tan I suppose you mean!

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