This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Ibiza - Pt 2

Friday 4th June

Our dear friend Roy Beaney passed away this morning just one day after his 50th birthday.

We first met Roy some 7 years ago, before we even lived in Brighton. We used to come and stay with friends and became frequent visitors to his pub The Telscombe Tavern.

When we eventually moved down to Brighton we didn't know many people but Roy was one of them, always welcoming at the pub he soon become part of our 'gang' and was every present at our dinner parties and barbeques.

We enjoyed Roy's company on a number of holidays too. First there was the cruise down to South America where we really got to know him. As a fellow smoker at the time he made a good ally too. Next there was Portugal, where six of us spent a fortnight in a villa on the Algarve. We soon learned of Roy's voracious appetite for reading, devouring easily a book a day. Next was Gran Canaria and the cruise that wasn't. We shall always remember though somewhat cloudily that silly night in the Yumbo Centre when four of us boosted the share prices of Gordon's & Schweppes by a two digit amount! We remember too the gin soaked nights on the dear old QE2 when we had the dubious privilege of actually seeing Roy dancing!

Later Roy discovered diving and this became a great passion of his. Indeed he told us only a short while ago that it was the best think he had ever done.

Roy was too an almost ever present member of the gang of four that went to the pictures on a Tuesday night. We used to chew the cud - and sometimes a dodgy steak too - over a couple of pints of ale in Wetherspoons afterward.

It was last September when the brain tumours were discovered. An operation swiftly followed and it seemed that Roy was almost back to normal. The news on the tumours was not good though and soon Roy started an intensive course of radiotherapy. During this time Roy still made the effort to come to the pictures although it was clear that his condition was deteriorating.

Roy was back in hospital three weeks before Christmas as his condition worsened considerably. Indeed, over Christmas we didn't think he would see the new year. Just before new year though there were signs of a slight improvement. We will never forget new years eve, when he was fully conscious again for the first time in over three days.

As January became February Roy's condition improved still further. Although now severely disabled it was decided that he would be better cared for in a nursing home and he moved to The Haven. Roy made more progress and before long the old gang of four were back at the cinema. The real breakthrough came though when Roy regained some mobility in his legs enabling him to get in and out of a normal car.

We used to visit Roy almost daily and ensured he was up to date with all the gossip, true or otherwise. Soon he was back at the table at ours and our friends dinner parties and it was almost like old times. He especially enjoyed our St Georges day party where he took the opportunity to meet up with so many friends. One particularly poignant moment though was when he went back to his old pub. The welcome he received was incredible and there was no shortage of willing hands to help hoist the wheelchair over the various steps.

It was the second week in May when we noticed a change in Roy again and this time not for the better. He was still determined to as much as he could and certainly did not lose his appetite, devouring a huge plate of curry and on what was to be his last visit to the cinema.

Less than two weeks ago we took Roy to Seven Sisters and despite his now clearly worsening condition he thoroughly enjoyed it. He was even determined to get to our neighbours world cup party on our return from Ibiza despite not being that interested in football. In his words he wanted to do as many normal things as possible.

The following night we visited him at the Haven as usual and he was in some discomfort. We had to call for the nurse twice and Roy, being typically selfless apologised for cutting short our visit. That night he was rushed back into hospital. Soon it was apparent that he would not recover this time and the nursing staff worked hard to make him comfortable.

In all the time that he was ill, Roy somehow managed to keep his spirits up, never moaning or complaining about the hand that life had dealt him. Dignified and utterly selfless in the face of such adversity, it was a real pleasure and honour to have known such a genuine caring person. During his illness we also got to know his parents too; Rosemary & Arnold and truly admire them. Roy said many times how lucky he was to have them and it is them, together with his Brother Alan, his sister-in-law Sue and nephew Max that our thoughts are with now.

Roy Arnold Beaney, 3rd June 1960 - 4th June 2010, rest in peace Roy, we will really miss you.

Saturday 5th June

A very quiet day today if you don’t count the pounding in the temples. After reminiscing rather late into the night last night, taking it easy was the only option. So we lounged around the balcony, the only form of exercise being a trip to the bathroom for more paracetamol. It also gave us a chance to process and digest recent days - do a little mental filing if you like, and catch up on some reading too.

Rather sensibly too (and the only option really) we gave our livers a rest and had a much needed night off the grog.

Sunday 6th June

Back in the swing of things today after the sedentary pace of the last couple of days by way of a boat trip to the island of Formentera south of Ibiza. The trip takes about an hour and a half and, with the sun shining brightly and the sea calm it was much more enjoyable being on the water than the other day.

Nevertheless we will still pleased to see the port of La Savinas appear in our vision and soon stepped ashore in great anticipation. The island appeared to promise peace and tranquillity and I already had visions of returning someday, finding a nice apartment with a balcony and watching the sun set overlooking clear blue waters.

Pretty early on though that dream was shattered. We eschewed the offer of a tour bus and set off instead down a road that would take us off the beaten track. The expected peace and tranquillity was frequently, well almost constantly disturbed by the incessant whine of rental mopeds screaming up and down the dusty roads. A number of places we found around the waters edge would have sat quite happily in the idyllic category if it wasn’t for the curse of Vespa and Piaggio. Now to be fair, if we had have taken the bus tour we would have got further away from the port and things may have been better. Still, we had a good long walk (5 miles is a conservative estimate) and soaked up some rays too.

Back in Es Cana we had a meal one of the many restaurants overlooking the beach. The offerings of all are largely the same - variations of international dishes with such Spanish specialities as sausage and mash and spaghetti bolognaise. You have to look hard here to find local cuisine, that’s not to say that what we have had has been bad because it hasn't. Good basic food, tasty and very reasonably priced. You have more options if you are a bit fishy, paella being an obvious favourite. We however tend to like food that started life with at least two legs, and preferably four!

Monday 7th June

Another 'doing' day today and with a visit to Portinatx right at the top of the island and a chance to sample the delights of Ibiza's bus service. To get nearly anywhere you have to first get a bus to nearby Santa Eularia from where to can travel to almost any corner of the island, the exception being the late night 'Discobus' which runs backwards and forwards to Ibiza town in the early hours.

Portinatx is very pretty, the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the beach disturbed only a little by that ever present distraction in these places - that is other tourists. A very nice spot however and a lot less hustle bustle than the larger resorts to the south. With images captured both neurologically and electronically we hopped on the bus back to Santa Eularia. We had half a plan to jump quickly on the next bus over to San Antonio to the west, but unfortunately, the bus that our driver let pull out was, predictably, the one we wanted to catch. So now that particular excursion is pencilled in for Wednesday.

Instead we had a pleasant stroll through the town and onto the promenade of Santa Eularia before heading back to Es Cana and some late afternoon sun.

A quick meal at one of the seafront restaurants then a couple of beers at what has become our local for the duration - the bar across the road from the apartment. Got talking to the owner too who was bemoaning the state of the Spanish economy. You think we're in a mess - taxes have already gone up on those essentials such as booze, fags and petrol. Not only that but their general tax (like our VAT) is going up by 2 percentage points to 18% in July. All this and 20% unemployment too, it's looking grim. He gave us an interesting anecdote though. The bar is closed one day a week and on that day he goes fishing. He parks up by the little marina in his little ford fiesta next to a big man in his big four by four. The big man climbs aboard his sleek powerful speedboat while the bar owner gets in his six foot tinny moored next to the big powerful boat. Even in these austere times he still does this every week. However, the big four by four is no longer there and neither is the big powerful boat!

Tuesday 8th June

A mornings sunbathing and general chillaxing then it was back on the buses for a trip to San Antonio, often known as the party capital of Europe. The bus station is very smart with modern electronic boards displaying routes and departures times. It was a short walk from here to the waterfront and what appeared to be a very pleasant promenade.

Whilst we were ambling along a couple of pleasure boats docked and spewed their passengers onto the quayside. It was at this point that  for a short while I was ashamed to be British, or even northern European. I wont go into details as I'm sure you've all seen the news reports on 'Brits Abroad' documentaries over the years, but it wasn’t nice.

We headed into the town in search of food and stumbled across a KFC. Now many moons ago before "A Load of Nonsense" started we used to travel a lot further afield, specifically Australia & New Zealand. Now even the Aussies will tell you (well some will) that Kiwi KFC's are some of the best. So we are always looking to compare.

After deciding what we wanted I went to the counter and ordered in the best Spanish I could manage. The girl hadn't a clue what I was on about but eventually with a bit of pointing we got there. The order was placed and I waited. Next a couple of bare chested lads staggered in (and before you ask, they weren't all that). The power of speech was clearly beyond the one nearest me who was putting all his efforts into remaining vertical but the other one lurched to the counter, emptied his pockets of change and slurred " gis a number four and two number threes with extra fries and three diet pepsi's' willya love, cheers", and she understood every word! It was then that I noticed a nearly empty bottle of sambucca dangling precariously from his mates fingers. It was clear where most of the contents were.

We made a vague effort at sightseeing wandering through the small streets but to be honest all there is to see is bars, bars, clubs and bars, oh and a few shops hawking the usual tourist tat too. The very few redeeming features came in the form of some very nice torsos to look at.

We had been here all of twenty minutes and had had enough, so we trudged back to the bus station. As we waited for the bus I pondered and came to the depressing conclusion that the main reason I didn't like San Antonio was because I was too old! Thousands come here every in search of a good time, whether it's to lurch from bar to bar in the town centre or on to more serious clubbing at the massive out of town superclubs, it's catering for a very clear demand.

We were heading back to Santa Eularia but as the direct bus wasn’t due for another couple of hours we went to Ibiza town and changed there. We had an earlier than usual meal tonight in Santa Eularia in 'restaurant alley' for want of a better description. The food was good bit the bill wasn't. Thanks to some subtle (and underhand) pricing techniques we paid nearly fifteen Euros more than for any other meal on this holiday. Oh well, you live and learn, sometimes!

Wednesday 9th June

Every Wednesday is the hippy market at the old commune just up the road from us. This has been going years and years, will since hippies came into being I suppose. The sun was being shy as well this morning so it was a good day to have a wander round. Trev came here twenty or so years ago and said it had got a bit more commercialised. The spirit of free love and all that didn't extend to car parking however as they were charging three Euros fifty to park your chariot.

There was some great stuff on offer and the vast majority of it looked genuinely local hand made stuff too. Paintings, leather goods, though nothing more erotic that necklaces and bracelets (regrettably), exquisitely painted crockery, t-shirts and jewellery. There were a couple of live bands too, knocking out some great drum & bass backed up by a didgeridoo and some African bongos. Nowhere to be seen was anything bearing those three little words 'Made In China'. Good.

Much better value meal tonight and a beer at our 'local' before bed.

Thursday 10th June

Cloudy start today so we decided to talk a walk up past the hippy market and a caravan and camp site and  round the coast and into the next bay. A nice little beach here - Cala Pada - but we chose instead to head back around to Es CaƱar via the low cliffs that surround the edge of the camp site. It's clear judging from the belongs some people have with them that they have or are staying for more than a holiday at the campsite. We're not talking laptops and USB cable here but more basic accoutrements such as pots and pans. And bongs.

The walk was beautiful with the cliffs rising further out of the sea the further around we went. At home no doubt some 'elf & sayfty' bureaucrat armed with a clipboard would have declared it too dangerous - which made it all the more enjoyable. It was a great opportunity too to nose into the gardens of what are some stunning properties up here. Now, where's that lotto ticket?

A considerably lazy afternoon, making the most of the sun and a big slap up meal tonight at our 'local' across the road - Casa Juan. Salad, steak and delicious strawberries and cream - from the owners garden no less. It's very much a family affair here - one son run's the place with the occasional help of his brother - father cooks and mother cleans - and waits on tables too. They hail from Barcelona and go home for two months every winter. Coffee and a rather large delicious brandy topped off the evening.

Friday 11th June

Our last day in Ibiza and this morning, as if to say you have been here long enough, it was raining!  The supplies of bacon have been exhausted so it was back over to Casa Juan for breakfast. The weather improved considerably later on and allowed for some last minute sunbathing. Got packed then went back for another meal at the restaurant we started at which was again delicious and, at time of typing are having a drink at our bar across the road and saying goodbye. It will soon by time for an early night as the transfer bus is picking us up at some horrendous hour tomorrow morning.

It's been a good trip, but will obviously be remembered also for another reason. It's on the 'must do again' list, though next time we would probably have a few days in Ibiza town and enjoy the delights it has to offer before heading off to a far flung corner for a bit of R & R.

So whats next? Well, home by midday tomorrow all being well and up to Close HQ in the evening for the footy and what will hopefully be England's first win. Back to work Monday morning then in the afternoon we say goodbye to Roy and hope to give him a good send off. HRH is coming down for the funeral and staying for a couple of weeks after so we will soon be up to date with Emmerdale, Corrie et al. Great!

Then it's a summer of parcels, catalogues and more parcels - any jobs going anyone? Also hoping to meet up with our friends in The Hague at some point.

Flights are booked to Rome in October. It will either be a couple of weeks exploring Italy or a cruise, calling in on Egypt and Israel amongst others if the price comes down enough!

So unless anything else crops up......

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Ibiza - Pt 1

What is it with going away these days? It used to be so simple - shorts, t-shirts, Speedos, sun cream, money, tickets and passport and you were sorted. Not any more.

I'd started laying out stuff to take on the spare bed at the beginning of last week and by the weekend the bed was covered with all the seemingly necessary accoutrements for a holiday. And there wasn't one item of clothing on it; laptop & charger, camera & charger, mobile & charger, USB leads to attach all, books, sunnies, razor, laptop speakers (& adaptor), travel plugs, honestly it just went on and on. With the clothes added the bag weighed in at 18 kilos thanks to one of those mini scales bought off flea-bay a while back, a little under the 20 kilo limit imposed by the sales prevention officers at sleazyjet.

Anyhow, whingeing over - at least for now! It was an early start to the airport - 02:30 to be exact, having positively leaped out of bed half an hour earlier after managing at least an hour of unbroken sleep! The journey to Gatwick was swift and painless (and so it bloody should be at that time of the morning!) and within an hour or so we were parked, checked in, scanned, frisked and in search of caffeine. Ok so we weren’t frisked but one can live in hope.

McDonalds was the unimaginative outlet of choice mainly because no where else was open. Two coffees quickly became sausage & bacon muffins and the lad behind the counter talked us into a couple of hash browns as well. It was a meal deal you see and in this age of fiscal prudence it would have been foolish not to. The waistband of my shorts might think otherwise though. Anyhow, I always reckon there should be a secret agent type character: "The names Prudence, Fiscal Prudence; licenced to save money". No? Ok.

Anyway, so here we are in sunny Ibiza. We didn't bother renting a car this time and instead pre-booked a bus transfer to the apartments. The gods were mercifully looking after us when the family from hell, with what seemed like two dozen screaming rampaging kids in tow got off the stop before us. The apartment was in a small block with a nice spacious balcony overlooking the bay of Es Cana, which what seems at first glance like a pleasant little place just up from the town of Ibiza and away from the more riotous San Antonio over to the west. At the time of typing the promised Wi-Fi signal is playing hide and seek so it looks like we'll have to amble over to the bar across the road later to get this sent - what hardship one must endure!

Well, it's now nearly 8pm and to be honest we're both starting to wilt. Managed a kip this afternoon though after a sortie to the nearest supermarket for all the essentials - milk for the tea, gin for the tonic and tonic for the gin.

Earlier on had a wander round the locality picking up maps and bus timetables before sitting down to a very acceptable three course 'meal of the day' washed down with a couple of ice cold Estrellas - all for less than €25 as well. That’s the other thing - it's very quiet here - ok it's still early in the season but judging by the number of 'for sale' and 'to let' signs in windows the recession is starting to bite quite hard.

So, gonna head over the road to the bar in a minute to get this sent and check the emails. Then an early night beckons. We do however have a couple of bottles of red wine crying out to be opened however. Now, where's the corkscrew....

Wednesday 2nd June

Today has been declared Abstinence Day in Ibiza, or to give it it's correct title: We drank too bloody much last night so today we're gonna take it easy day". Honestly, far too much on the first night when we were already exhausted too.

However it wasn't our fault. I blame the Welsh! Before hackles start rising in certain quarters let me explain. We'd gone across to the bar to send the first days diary - and to have a drink - it would have been rude not to, then some couples from northern Wales came in and we started chatting. Well actually Trevor started chatting, they started listening at least at first, and we had a really good time.

We lurched across the road back to the apartment deciding that a nightcap (or two) may be in order. Trev done his bit for the UK's gin export figures, whilst I worked on shrinking the Spanish Rioja lake. We'll never learn it seems.

We'd improved Britain's exports of erm, Danish bacon too by freezing a load down and bringing it with us. And with Chef Trev on form we soon sat down to a hangover busting plate full of bacon, eggs and toast.

The kitchen of the apartment is quite well equipped but not without it's little oddities. The microwave sits on the worktop in between the kitchen and living room. However there is not a socket within reaching distance. It seems that a European extension lead might be added to the list of holiday essentials! The other thing, which is a great idea, is a draining cupboard. A rack in the cupboard to put your recently washed plates and a tray below to catch the water all neatly hidden away. I've seen this a couple of times before and think it's a good idea. See the photo below.

Did very little else today. Relaxed read, snoozed and even avoided the grog until the evening. Picking a bar here is not easy - that is if you want to avoid British TV in general and Britain's Got Talent in particular. It used to be football they used to drag people in and extract cash from - now it's reality and game shows. Now, I'm not against BGT as such - it's usually on at home and I have one eye on it while I'm sitting on the computer doing something far more intellectually rewarding like looking at porn. But I've no desire to waste an evening or two watching it when away. Oh gawd, that reminds me, no sooner than will BGT finish than it will be six months of X-bloody-Factor. If the great and the good of this world are worried about one man becoming to powerful than they need look no further than one Simon 'cash machine' Cowell. Still at least he is good to his Mum, as HRH keeps pointedly reminding Trevor.

So a much more sedate tonight as befits my age (and Trevor's!) Did have a stroll up to the hippy market this evening and will come back when it's in full swing next week.

Thursday 3rd June

Right, first off we would like to congratulate our great friend Roy on reaching his 50th birthday today. Those of you that know Roy will also know that he is very seriously ill and that this is a very special milestone for him. All the best mate.

Much better behaved last night and a better nights sleep as a result although a slightly cloudy start today.

With this in mind we decided on a trip to Ibiza town. The bus service is cheap and regular but there is a ferry service which although considerably more expensive does offer some fantastic views of the coastline and a more leisurely and comfortable journey. Or so we thought.

The wind and rain arrived soon after we left the quayside. The optimists among us had scrambled for the top sun deck as in true British style; "we weren’t gonna let a few drops of rain spoil our holiday". Well within five minutes we had all scurried down below to the dry miraculously avoiding being tossed overboard (ahem!) by the increasingly lively sea.

The engines thundered, the turbos screamed and eventually we reached our first stop; Santa Eulalia. Here we had to change boats. We were herded aboard some old crate that really should have been retired years ago and continued south to Ibiza town. We stopped on the way at Cala Llonga, disgorging a number of people including a Quentin Crisp lookalike who, by the colour of them, were planning to get the bus back rather than risk the mercy of a very lively sea not to mention a shortage of sick bags.

Fortunately, by the time we reached Ibiza town normal service had been resumed, the sun was out and the wind had dropped. The view of the old town from the boat was terrific, however the tentacles of capitalism (or progress as its often called) reach every corner of the universe for at the front of the quay where the local ferries dock could be seen that all to familiar big yellow 'M', yes McDonalds were here accompanied further along by Burger King. What joy.

We started our walk at the base of the old town and ambled, well puffed and panted actually, up to the cathedral at the top of Dalt Vila - Trevor's heart surgeon clearly new his stuff. The streets are narrow and very pretty with lots of little shops and bars hidden away. We may well come back here for a beer or two over the weekend. Interesting to note too was the different demographic here. The average age and waist size is most definitely smaller than where we are. And there's nothing wrong with having more nice things to look at is there?

We descended a lot quicker than we had risen (time marches on in more ways than one doesn’t it!) and were soon at sea level. The usual shops abounded here with one notable exception - El Cortes Ingles was conspicuous by it's absence. Lunch was well overdue so, showing true independence of spirit, we headed to Burger King.

The boat ride home was much quicker and more enjoyable thanks to the much improved weather. Some late sun was taken on the balcony then a very delicious meal was consumed at the bar across the road. It is with some regret though that I have to report that a stable though weak wi-fi signal has been restored at the apartments so we no longer need to head over to the bar. Yeah. Right.

One last thing, which we need someone's help on. You will see from one of the photos we have procured a couple of candles to decorate the table and help keep the bugs away. One is red and one is green in true nautical style however neither of us can remember which colour goes on portside and which one on starboard. And I'm gonna save the planet by not Googling it. A big thank you but no prizes for anyone that has the answer.