Well, my dears, I have 'flipped' country, or perhaps I’ve just flipped. After the rather exhausting preparation of my Spanish house for a last-minute occupant, my little family embarked on a road and ferry trip during the torrential rain in Spain at the end of last week.
The road part wasn’t too bad, despite some ‘fear and loathing’ concerning the mini bar in our Bilbao hotel (mini bars with their exorbitantly-priced temptations are dangerous things, depending on who’s in your room). While many passengers on the P&O ferry, the ‘Pride of Bilbao’, were complaining about the choppy seas, I actually liked the listing motion of the ship: it was just like being drunk without drinking the vino. Mildly amusing, like a low-key fairground ride. So I ventured to the empty observation deck at the front of the ship, which was normally frequented by kiddy-hating old dears, and listened to the waves slapping on the bow. As far as I was concerned, that was the high point of the whole journey. I tend to question why people pay to go for mini-cruises on the ferry: it’s a handy method for travelling from A to B but I certainly wouldn’t do it for “fun”. As the craft drew into Portsmouth and the folks in the observation deck nostalgically eyeballed the coastline to the piped-muzak backdrop of the Four Season’s 1971 classic, ‘Let’s Hang On’, “we’ve got a lot of love between us...”, I correctly thought “uh oh!”.
Upon arriving at our destination - Newhaven (aka Poohaven) - I unloaded my many tonnes of personal possessions from the van into the house while my youngest son screamed in confusion for about five hours (poor lad). I then started the process of “settling into” my English home. This means that, after five whole days, I’ve finally managed to cram our clothes, boots and bags into the available storage space (vastly insufficient), remove the noisy tumble dryer that was 'installed' in the dining room into the kitchen (it required a different plug to be fitted - a task so ‘arduous’ that it’s clearly better to have the machine rattling away where you eat and use your laptop) and pulled seven months' worth of fluff out of the vacuum cleaner so that my bedroom could be de-cat-haired in the hope that my newly-developed wheeze might go away.
Do you detect a whinging tone, reader? You would be... correct! Well let me give you the Thesaurus.com definition of "blight(y)":
Definition: disease; plague.
Synonyms: affliction, bane, blot on the landscape, canker, contamination, corruption, curse, decay, evil, eyesore, fungus, infestation, mildew, pest, pestilence, pollution, rot, scourge, sight, withering, woe.
Well, quite. How apt. I returned to my ‘homeland’ to find that my VW Passat had been crushed by a third party appointed by Lewes District Council because its tax had expired on 31 March, instead of 31 October, when I genuinely thought it needed renewing (oops); that its insurer, One Call, intends to charge £33 for the privilege of cancelling the policy on the crushed car; that my van has failed its MOT on many issues that will cost hundreds of pounds to repair, meanwhile leaving me sans vehicle; that my boiler plumbing (the de-scaling unit) was leaking through into the dining room plasterwork again; that my Sky customer account is corrupt on their system and hence cannot be updated (I can’t order a Sky+HD box for those boring nights on the sofa) and, after two hours spent on the phone to various people at Sky, they “might ring me back in 1-2 weeks to resolve my issue”. Marvellous. I won’t even start ranting about the van parts that haven’t been delivered as promised... but, oh, perhaps I should take comfort from the fact that Archie’s buggy wasn’t crushed along with the Passat: the appointed crushing agent removed it from the boot first. I was reassured by a fairly helpful chap at this Hailsham-based company that all vehicles are “de-polluted and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way”, so I suppose that’s fine and dandy – my Passat exists as an eco-cube now. Hmm.
And, to add to the overall enjoyment level, I’ve caught a hacking, wheezing cough and feel tired and annoyed all the time (OK, I feel tired and annoyed more than usual). It’s not Pork Flu but I’m sure it’s caused by the temperature dropping by 10 degrees and the nights “drawing in”, to use that delightful expression from my Mother’s era. And, for those who keep saying that 16 degrees constitutes a “hot day – just like summer”, I wish they’d desist in their ‘helpful’ comments. Meanwhile, I can see that it’s 28 degrees and sunny in Granada and, as far as I can tell, none of the Facebook ‘massive’ are reporting cubed cars and nasty coughs. Oh boo hoo!
Perhaps by my next entry, there will be something cheerful to report from my recently assumed location in East Sussex... I do hope so.