Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A house husbands work is never done

I've washed all the bedding and the towels so they are nice and clean for Pam's return. I'm about half way through cleaning the house. I did have a bit of a setback though when the new washing lines that I had put up at the front of the house fell down. Not only did I have to screw the lines back up I also had to wash the bedding again. Oh the trials and tribulations of a house husband. Time for a quick cup of coffee and then back to dusting and hoovering!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Almost there

Although Pamela is flying home tomorrow that is not what I am referring to. No, the long awaited event is the telephone line which is now getting closer. What a joy that will be.

Whilst the Wi-Surf connection is good for the internet at the moment it is hopeless for the VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone. Calls using it are cheap but the quality is so poor it is almost unuseable. At best there is an echo of your voice at worst the conversation breaks up so the recipient only hears parts of words. You end up having to repeat everything at least twice. I haven't tried it to make calls in Spain but I am told that they are even worse. Actually Peter Forrester Reed, ex MD of Wi-Surf, admits himself that VOIP is not suitable on a satellite connection. I just wish he had told us that when we had it installed!

I don't know about changing over to landline based ADSL though. It all depends how far we are away from the exchange. More that 5kms and it just won't work. Even if we are less than 5kms it may not be any faster than the satellite connection we have now which seems to average about 1.7mbs per second. Only time will tell. I certainly don't want to be first to switch over just to find I have a slower connection.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Will it pass inspection?

I spent most of yesterday working in the garden. I also mopped the porch to get rid of those paw prints that were annoying me and cleaned the car. By the time I had done I was pretty well knackered. Working outdoors when the humidity is high and the temperature is 28 degrees saps the strength out of me. Watching the locals working on building sites makes me wonder just how do they do it. I've come to the conclusion that Spain is a better place to be retired than working.

Anyway I now have a second boot full of rubbish to get rid of. Once I have got rid of that, I need to vacuum the dead flower heads of the roof terrace. Oleander was perhaps not the best plant to use up there. They drop dead flower heads daily and make a mess of an area that used to be pristine. Still they are there now and unless they die off they are staying there.

The question is though; will Pamela think I've done a good job. Maybe I should have taken before shots with my camera just to show her how much work I've had to do.

PS Good job I finished that fence on Saturday because there were people around next door all day yesterday. If they had spotted me twisting my bits of wire they might have called the police. I'm not sure how I would have explained what I was doing in Spanish.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

On to the next job

I finished the fence yesterday. Just by a stroke of luck whowever had been to visit next door hadn't locked the gate. That meant that I could add some extra wire ties poking them through from my side and twisting them tight on their side. Hopefully the fence will stay up this time!

Today's job is the garden. I've already made a start removing the larger weeds. Now I've got to hoe the smaller weeds, do a bit of pruning, replace some of the dead plants (mainly lavenders) and tie up the bougainvilleas which have grown like mad since I went away.

Then I need to clean the car which looks like it has been on safari for a month, jet wash the paving and clear up the dead flowers from the roof terrace. Oh yes and mop the porch where next door's cat has left its muddy prints.

Pam comes back on Wednesday so by then I'll also have to get the shopping, change the bedding and towels and generally clean round.

My apologies to friends in the UK but I won't be coming for a two week stay in August again. Apart from all the work I've had to do on my return, I missed the end of the fiesta!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Taking forever

I didn't realise how much of the cane fencing had come down until I inspected it properly.

The sections that are still secure are the ones where the ties were pulled tight. I imagine therefore that it is a combination of the sun and the chaffing against the wire netting that has caused the ones in the sections that weren't tightened so much to snap.

Anyway after a second day working at it I have managed to get most of the fencing back. Strange thing though the panels are now short so I have had to buy a new roll to fill in the gap. Amazing the difference in colour between the old (six months) and the new. Still the new will quickly fade to the same colour.

It is nice to have privacy back. The log term solution though may be to have the wall built up by a metre or so.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


When I arrived back on Tuesday night I noticed a gathering of people on Avenida Europa where John and Jean live. What I thought was a party of sorts was in fact a protest meeting.

Avenida Europa has been dug up both sides to lay piping. The first pipes were the drainage from the Road up to our estate. The second lot are for the telephone cables that we have long waited for at Villas Andrea. It looks like they are planning to dig a third set of pipes for water. Once the pipes are laid they fill the trenches in the road with soil which of course becomes mud when it rains and blows dust storms in the wind. At the moment there is a 6 foot strip of tarmac in the middle the rest is just a dirt track.

The people living on Avenida Europa (all Spanish except for John and Jean) have decided enough is enough. The meeting on Tuesday was to present the local police with a petition. The deal was if they haven't had a satisfactory reply by Saturday they are going to blockade the road on Sunday. I'm not quite sure what that will achieve but I suppose they feel they have to do something.


Apparently it will be two weeks before they get an answer from the council so the blockade has been delayed until then.

At last

It's a given fact that Spain is the noisiest country in Europe.
Why talk when you can shout seems to be the main way of thinking.

However, one thing that manages to annoy even the noisiest Spaniard is the souped-up motorbikes, which damage eardrums wherever they go.Police in Yecla have decided on a course of action to deal with noise pollution. They have taken on patrolling in plain clothes and then sweeping down on the unsuspecting offenders as they ride past. In one day alone last week, they arrested six bikers.

Many of the bikers have tampered with their exhaust pipes in order to create that hellish roar. This in itself is illegal and if caught the perpetrators face a fine of 150 euros. As well as a fine, the bike itself is confiscated until the owner arranges for a police approved mechanic to convert the exhaust back to normal. Afterwards the rider can have his bike back.

The police say that going undercover is the only option available to stop the nuisance bikers, because whenever they see a marked police car, they will take any measures to avoid arrest, endangering both their own lives and those of innocent bystanders in an attempt to escape.

It is time that other Town Halls took a leaf out of Yecla's book and authorised similar measures to beat these selfish louts who are oblivious to the annoyance and misery they cause.

Not just a problem in the UK

The Association of Relatives of Patients of Alzheimer of Bigastro has programmed a series of activities to celebrate the World-wide Day of the Alzheimer.

These days all we will be able to collaborate and to participate, among others with these activities:


Thursdays 14 and 21 of September
From 10:00 to 13:00 hours
Calle Purisma


Friday, 15 of September
21:00 hours
Parque Huerto del Cura


A factory that consists of a series of fun activities directed specially to children, so that they can include/understand the symptoms that affect the patients of Alzheimer.


" How Alzheimer disease affects families "
Wednesday, 20 of September
Salón de Planos del Ayuntamiento
20:30 hours
Speakers: Marina Baró (Psychologist)
Silvia Ortiz (Social Worker)

Waiting for me

The mossies were obviously waiting for my return deprived of their drop of blood for two weeks. I was only out in the garden for ten minutes or so on Tuesday night when I got back but that was long enough for the buggers to give me four bites. Damn.

Mostly the garden is fine and some things have done well whilst I was away. I should have staked the tomatoes though because the fruit has rotted on the ground. The pool had some leaves that had crept round the cover and some dust on the bottom otherwise it was also OK.

The biggest problem has been the cane fencing. Quite a few sections had come down whilst I was away. John from down the road had spent a few hours putting a lot of it back up but there are still quite a few sections to put back . The problem is that the nylon ties I used have rotted in the sun and snapped.

John reckons I should abandon the cane stuff and put the green fake hedging up because it is lighter and lets the wind through. We hate that stuff though. It looks tacky and the colour fades badly in the sun. If we continue to have a problem I might have to find a builder who will build the side wall up to 2m. That would give us total privacy when we are by the pool.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marjorie Fenton

1923 - 2006

Wife of Arthur, mother to Pamela and nana to Jemma and Laura; Marjorie died peacefully on Thursday, 24th August at The Countess of Chester Hospital. The church service for her was held at The Methodist Church, Little Sutton on Friday, 1st September followed by cremation at Blacon. They say that the sun shines on the righteous. It certainly did for Marjorie because the sun shone on the day she passed away and again on he day of her funeral.

Marjorie first met Arthur at the age of 15 when she was Head Girl at her school. On her way home she would pass the shop where he worked. Later she worked in the shop next door and their frendship blossomed. They were married shortly after the war and had Pamela, their only child a year later when they lived in Derby Street, Macclesfield. Early this year they celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary.

Arthur's job in the Fire Service took them to many places including Hoylake, Northwich, Ellsmere Port, Crewe, Chester and then Little Sutton. Marjorie had worked in munitions during the war and then in a gents' outfitters in Hoylake but latterly preferred to be at home to be there for Arthur on his days off.

Marjorie enjoyed dancing. With her partner Arthur was awarded gold medals and trophies to prove how good they were. Marjorie also enjoyed their holidays abroad. They visited many European countries including France, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Madiera, the Balearic Islands and the Canaries always staying in four star hotels.

Marjorie was an active member of the WI in Crewe and the Bright Hour in Little Sutton. She was a much loved member of the church.

Her last years were difficult following the stroke she suffered 17 years ago from which she never fully recovered. In spite of her difficulties though she was always cheerful and an inspiration to others. He grandaughters particularly learnt a lot from her wisdom.

Marjorie will be sadly missed by all who knew her. She is now reunited with her parents Jack and Violet and her friends from Macclesfield with whom she will be at peace.

Pam's father

Arthur has many good points. He is methodical, generous and caring. He has spent the last seventeen years caring for his wife following a stroke which left her with little use in her left arm and leg. Having said that though he can be very stubborn and unwilling to accept help and any point of view other than his own. He is also argumentative and can be sarcastic. Apparently his father was stubborn and his brother displayed similar traits. Arthur is also a hoarder.

He has a severe hearing problem but won't admit to it. Arthur has a hearing aid but refuses to wear it. Having a conversation with him his is therefore very difficult. If he is not in the same room as the phone he doesn't hear it and if he's not in the hallway he doesn't hear the doorbell. The main worry though is that he can't hear high pitched sounds like fire and smoke alarms. Pam has tried to get him to wear his hearing aid but has been met with point blank refusal (stubborness).

Arthur also suffers from short term memory loss. He can remember things which happened thirty years ago well enough but has difficulty remembering things which happened last week. The way that he gets around this is to have a set routine which he follows slavishly each day. I wouldn't be surprised to find that he has taken Pam two cups of tea this morning because he will have forgotten that I left yesterday.

He doesn't like driving anymore but refuses to part with his car. It is now three years old but has done so little mileage that it looks like new. In order to tax it he had to take it for an MOT. The guy at the garage where he had the MOT done could hardly believe how clean it was under the bonnet. Every week he charges the battery up and then doesn't go near it until the next week. When he does eventually sell the car someone will get an absolute bargain.

Shopping for food is a problem for him because within walking distance there are only a couple of small supermarkets. That combined with the fact that he is too impatient to spend time preparing meals means that he lives on a diet of available microwavable food. No fresh vegetables, meat or fish and very little fresh fruit. He buys half a dozen eggs each week and throws them away before the next week's shop. His idea of lunch is a round of sandwiches made with thin sliced brown bread and one slice of meat. He accompanies this with an apple which is cored, peeled and cut into thin slices. Dinners are just as lean which is why both he and Marjorie had lost a lot of weight when we last visited them in July. Whilst I was there he told me that I needed to loose weight on several occasions and even offered to teach me his army exercises. I of couse politely declined this offer. I don't do thin!

Arthur doesn't seem to like fresh air and will close any window that you open to prevent its intrusion into the house. Again on our visit in July he had all the windows and doors shut during the very hot weather. It was unbearable especially in the conservatory. We like fresh air and sleep with the window open wide. In the mornings he would come in to bring us a cup of tea and if he spotted the window open he would close it without asking. There was a note on his central heating boiler from the Gas Board telling him not to use it because the ventilation was insufficient. He has chosen to ignore that advice.

Worst trait though is the hoarding. Every cupboard and drawer in the house is full of "junk" most of which he hasn't used in decades. For example we found dozens of hotel soaps and shower caps from the 70s when they went on holidays along with sun cream bottles that were almost dried up. His kitchen cupboards that should be filled with food etc have masses of old bills dating back to the seventies. The wardrobes upstairs are the same. If the BBC decided to make a programme about the 70s he could supply the whole cast with several changes of clothing. The garage has dried up tins of paint and rusty screws that just might come in someday!! De-junking his house would take weeks if not months and would require the largest skip that is available. At eighty two yeasr old I doubt whether he will do it. Mind you my father is just as bad. It must be something to do with the metality of people who lived through the war and rationing.

His shirts are worn at the collar, his shoes have the soles loose, the sheets on our bed had holes and the towels you could see through. Pam had been there four weeks before he allowed her to change the bed and even then he put her off washing the dirty sheets. The towels in the bathroom hadn't been washed since Pam got there. Mind you he's probably right not to wash them; the sheets and towels would disintegrate in the washing machine.

It would be easy to assume that Arthur is poor and has very little to live on. His bank balance though proves that is far from being true. It's not that he is mean in fact he is generous. He just doesn't see the necessity to throw out things that he regards as perfectly good and replace them with new.

Over the weeks that Pam has been there he has near driven her to dispair. The neighbours, who are excellent, worry about him but he won't accept their help. He doesn't even let them in the house most times. Parents - who would have them!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The full story

I got to England on Tuesday 15th August and stayed at Laura's for the night. Pam collected me the next day and took me to the Wirral. We visited Marjorie in hospital that afternoon. She was quite lucid and clearly recognised me, even signalled a comment about my tan. She was on a saline drip but had refused feeding by a tube through the nose.

There were several touching moments during the week that followed when she would point to her heart and then point to Pamela or me to tell us that she loved us. She also told us that she wanted us to look after Arthur as she looked upwards to signal where she knew she was going. We told her that we loved her in return and that everything would be alright.

Her grandaughters came to see her and you could see that made her very happy. The Minster from the Church also visited her and brought a smile to her face. Even at this stage she was bringing joy to other people's lives.

As the week progressed though she was becoming weaker and was having difficulty breathing. There was also a problem with the saline drip. She therefore refused to have any further attempts to have fluids. She knew the consequence of her decision and was clearly prepared to accept it.

We met with the doctor the following Tuesday who basically told us that she was dying but obviously not in those terms. On the Thursday morning she passed away peacefully at 10:35 am. We fuly believe that was what she wanted. The second stroke had further paralysed her left side and left her without speech or the ability to swallow. If she had survived her life would have been intolerable and she knew it. The church service and subsequent cremation took place on Friday 1st September in glorious sunshine. The service was well attended and the mourners made generous donations to the Stroke Unit at the hospital. Strange as it may seem it was a happy day because we were celebrating someone who had brought a lot of pleasure into people's lives.

Arthur has had difficulty coming to terms with his loss but is gradually accepting it. As I have said previously he has a problem with his short term memory to such an extent that the other day he asked when Marjorie had died.

Pam is staying until Sunday and then goes back to Laura's for a few days before flying back home to Spain next Wednesday.

Throughout the whole harrowing perdiod of her mother's illness and her subsequent passing, Pam has been an inspiration. She organised the funeral, notified the relatives, registered the death etc. She even bought the neighbours gifts to thank them for their support. All of which she did in a calm and considerate way. I am very proud of the way she has handled a very difficult time in her life.

Living with her father has been to say the least difficult for Pam but more of that in my next post. In the meantime I am very happy to be back home here in Spain. I missed the place an awful lot when I was in England.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back soon

It feels like I have been away from Spain for months - in fact it is only two weeks. Still I have a ticket booked for Tuesday to return. When I get back I will update you all.

Sadly Marjorie passed away last Thursday peacefully at The Countess of Chester Hospital and was cremated yesterday. Pam is staying with her father for a further week to make sure that he is OK.