Hi All, not much going on here. We went for a swim at the local pool this morning (very swish, lots more E.U money), and are going out tonight to a local restaurant for yet another pig-out. Really fancy beans on toast for a change, but I guess we’ll just have to go the full seven courses to be polite! After New Year we’re off to Valencia for a couple of days.
As things are quiet I thought I’d put up a few photos of the monsters I’ve been making out of old vines. They grow, or are pruned, into really interesting shapes, and the wood has a really sinewy look to it which seems to lend itself to making fantastical creatures out of it. Any comments welcome, particularly if your name is Saatchi and you are looking for a bright new talent!
Looking forward to being home for a week in January. If we don’t manage to catch up with you, we apologise in advance. Hope Marie, Ann’s mum, is feeling a lot better by then.
Happy birthday Mum! Hope you are feeling better soon.
This picture was taken in Ilfracombe
Love Ann and Andy
Lunch at the Club Nautica in Javea with Roger Svetlana and Elena.
Another wonderful meal at the Verd Y Vent with Wayne, Pip, Chris Ellie and Natasha.
The diet starts again on January 1st!
Hi All, I’d just like to reassure everyone that contrary to the photographic evidence on Ann’s last post I am NOT pregnant. She took this after we had ploughed our way through five courses and several bottles of wine, and I did ask her to choose something a little more flattering! As she mentioned, Christmas lunch was superb, though enlivened by the bout of fisticuffs that broke out at the next table. One young chap took a swing at another and knocked him flat on his back before storming out in a huff followed by various members of the family. By the time we left they were sharing a bottle of brandy and bosom buddies again. Volatile people the Spanish!
Last night was pretty horrendous. Seventy mph winds and garden furniture, bins etc flying everywhere. Building standards here are dire. There’s absolutely no sound insulation, none of the shutters bolt closed properly, and we still have a leak somewhere that leaves water on the lounge floor when it rains. Our straw hut in Africa was built better than this house. We are managing to stay warm, but have used sixty euro’s worth of logs in the past three weeks. Hope Osborne doesn’t go ahead with doing away with the heating allowance for people overseas!
We had a chat with Ross, Ben and Jan on the phone, but didn’t manage to get in touch with Nina or Pam. I’m sure the number we have for Pam is about five years out of date! It was also good to catch up with cousin Chris in Australia, and several of our past students. We are looking forward to a couple of days in Valencia early in the New Year, then home for a week in January. Looks like being a real rush-around, and we are hoping it isn’t too cold as we are a bit short of clothes!
Christmas dinner was very different this year. We went to a lovely little restaurant in the village. Mostly Spanish people, a French family and us.
They kept bringing out tasty little amuse bouches…prawns in garlic, fois gras bonbon, smoked fish on toast. By the time the starter of duck salad came we were full! I had delicious monkfish in almond sauce and Andy had a steak in a sauce that had a dash of honey. We sat down for dinner at 2pm and finished at around 5.30. Went home and lit a roaring log fire and listened to the howling wind outside.
We missed family and friends and had several drinks to toast everyone.
Good to think that the days started getting longer today. For the shortest day yesterday we went to Calpe, a pleasant resort about ten miles away. We had a walk along the beach in the sunshine, then had lunch in the open air at a beachside restaurant. Today we got up at about eleven, and had breakfast on the patio with the Sunday papers. I spent most of the afternoon improving my tan while working on a large monster made from an old vine. We both really miss the English weather! We’ve had a really good supper and are now happily curled up in front of a log fire. We are both becoming real lotus-eaters, and I will have to find something useful to do soon before my one remaining brain cell decides it has no useful function and gives up the ghost. I was full of good intentions to write another book and do an hour’s Spanish each day, but at the moment motivation is somewhat lacking. Everybody here speaks English, and I can’t convince myself that many people would read the book!
We have been planning for next year over the past few days. Our current intention is to leave here in mid/late May and do a big loop through Granada, Cordoba and Seville before heading into Portugal. We think we will then make our way slowly up the West Coast before going back into France, leaving the caravan in the Limousin for anyone that wants it to use during the summer, and making a quick dash back to the UK to get an MOT on the car. After that, we will probably head back to France for a few weeks in September/October. It then becomes a question of whether we come back to where we are now for next winter, try somewhere further South, or see if we can raise enough wonga to hit New Zealand for a few months. A lot will depend on how fit we are feeling. At present we are both struggling a bit to get around. Ann’s knee is giving her a lot of pain, and I had a fall a couple of weeks ago (stone cold sober, before anyone considers asking) which seems to have put my hip back to square one again.
It seems quite strange not to be with friends and family for Christmas, and it looks as if it will be quite quiet. We will try and phone as many people as we can, but if you don’t hear from us we hope everybody has a great time and drinks our health at Christmas lunch. All the best, Andy.
Happy Christmas to all our family, friends and followers. Feliz Navadad!
The first picture is artificial snow! It created a lovely atmosphere with carols, mince pies and mulled wine.
Our Spanish tutor organised a social evening, supper and quiz night for all her Spanish and English language students. We were a real mixture. There were students from England and Spain of course but also, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Canada and Argentina , oh and Wales. It was a very successful evening.
On Christmas Day we will be thinking of friends and family and reminiscing on our fabulous year. We are making plans for next year, which starts off with a visit to the UK in January. We hope you all have a great time at Christmas and have a Happy New Year.
Love and best wishes
Ann and Andy
Hi All. Life continues to be busy and interesting. I had my final sing-out before Christmas last night in a beautiful big church at Benitaxell. The place was packed to the gunwhales. We had forty men singing, and made a really good sound, with a mixed repertoire of English, Spanish and Latin music. I’m not in the slightest bit religious, but some of the church music we have been singing is wonderful. We do a song called ‘Pannis Angelicus’ which makes the hairs on the back of my neck prickle every time we sing it. It’s really quite exciting to be in a good choir which insists that you know your part thoroughly so that the MD can focus on blending the four parts instead of teaching notes. After the concert seventy of us went out for a Chinese meal. Superb food and as much wine as you wanted for 13 euros each. I was glad it was Ann’s turn to drive! We had a really good sing-song which went on until after midnight, then crawled home to a very cold house. Tonight we’re off to our Spanish class Christmas party, and I expect we will sleep for three days after that!
We are starting to put plans together for next year, and are trying to decide whether to stay where we are for an extra couple of months. It’s a lovely place, but if we don’t leave here until the middle of June it doesn’t leave us a lot of time to travel before we have to get back to the UK to MOT and tax the car. We are thinking of leaving the caravan somewhere in the Limousin so that anyone who wants to can use it during the year and it gives us a ‘halfway house’ between England and Spain.
Hope to hear from lots of people over Christmas. All the best. Andy.
Hi All, Sorry not to have posted recently, we’ve been very busy. Have had several sing-outs with the two choirs I’m singing with. One was in the Fisherman’s church at Javea, which is a stunning building with fantastic acoustics. We also did a Flashmob in a big shopping centre. This is on Youtube CBMVC Flashmob if you want to see it. I’m the slim bloke all in black who comes in at the end!
Roger, Svetlana and Svetlana’s niece Elena have been here for the past three days and are leaving tomorrow. It’s been really good to have them here, but it will be nice to sober up and stop eating too much! Roger treated us to a superb meal at the Javea Yacht Club today, and we also went the full five courses at our favourite restaurant the Verd y vent (Green and Windy) for Ann’s birthday on Saturday. They are off to Bavaria tomorrow. The world is such a small place nowadays!
Tomorrow I have another sing-out with the choir, followed by a party for our Spanish classes on Thursday. On Friday I may be flying to Australia if Andy Flower decides that he needs a mature all-rounder to pull the England cricket team together. If that doesn’t come off I intend to sleep for a week before Christmas. It’s about 9pm and Ann has already crashed out. We don’t seem to be able to take the pace any more!
Had a good look at the photo’s that Nicki has posted on Facebook recently. There are some great pictures of the whole family, and they show just how far forward they have moved in the past year. The kids look so much happier and healthier, and Gavin has made a huge difference to their lives. All credit to him. So glad to see Nicki looking happy as well. We both feel so much better knowing that life is beginning to get a little easier for all of them. Long may it continue! All the best, Andy.
Andy had a pretty hectic day on Saturday. He sang with his choirs at a charity Christmas fair in Benitatchell, a shopping mall at Ondara and a carols and minces pies evening at Moraira. All very successful.