As I don’t use my blog as an electronic diary of events in my life, I have to come up with different topics each week to write about. Inspiration can sometimes be incredibly slow, either that or suitable subjects suddenly become not so suitable. This weekend was one of those occasions. Something I’d thought would make a good subject completely dried up on me, leaving me totally adrift. It was only in the early hours of this morning when I woke up that I decided to wander back to the subject of holidays.
I think some of the most memorable holidays aren’t the ones where you jet off and lie peacefully in the sun for a fortnight. They are the ones where strange, quirky things happen. Like going on a sherry tour in Herez, Spain when one of the group got shut in the tasting room and left behind. He was a little South American guy who was visiting Spanish relatives. We’d finished tasting the various types of sherry and the guide had ushered us all out and locked the door. We were making our way down the corridor when his friends realised he was missing. Returning to the tasting room, there he was, perched on a stool downing yet another glass of sherry, obviously making the most of his captivity! Here are a few more memorable incidents:
We were in Spain on holiday one year sitting outside a restaurant in Malaga having lunch. Along comes this guy on crutches and stops at each table begging for food. I couldn’t believe it when he reached our table and leaning on his crutches indicated he would be grateful if we offered him some of the food we had there. We indicated no very politely and he moved on. Moments later I happened to look up and saw someone on one of the other tables handing him several Euro notes from his wallet. Thanking him the guy hobbled away. Reaching the end of the building he stopped, tucked his crutches under his arm and ran off!
Arachnophobia in France
In 2005 we rented a farmhouse in the Dordogne. It was miles from anywhere with no near neighbours – so relaxing and peaceful. The British couple who were renovating it retreated to a caravan in a small wood which bordered the property whenever they had paying guests but were always on hand if needed. In the kitchen to the left of the sink was a very small blue enamel bucket. On the first morning I took a look inside – and wished I hadn’t. There nestling in the bottom was one of the largest spiders I had ever seen. Our friends were still in the process of getting up so I got my husband to eject the thing, knowing like me, our friend’s wife Jan absolutely hated spiders. At home although I don’t like them – too many legs and a nasty habit of homing in on you as if they can sense your fear – I can generally deal with a spider situation. No way was I getting involved with this large black thing though. So my husband launched it into the nearest flower bed and that was that. Only it wasn’t. The next morning it was back and the morning after that. It became known as the Homing Spider and in the end in desperation we took to leaving the bucket outside the back door and that seemed to work – it was happy there.
During the week we visited the local market in Le Buge, our nearest town. An amazing experience not only for the food but other things, like an old mobile horse-box converted to carry all these amazing grandfather clocks! Us girls sent the men off to get some cheese. Not a difficult task you would think. Meeting up later when we asked about the cheese there were guilty glances before they produced a very large thin segment which had obviously been cut from a truckle. ‘That’s enough to last the whole week.’ I observed looking at it. ‘We did sample before we bought. It’s very tasty.’ came the enthusiastic reply, not that it had anything to do with my comment. The embarrassed glances continued. ‘How much did it cost?’ Jan asked curiously. ‘Oh, you know…’ Two voices blended mumbling different amounts. ‘How much?’I asked as we both stared at our men. ‘Only Thirteen Euros.’ My husband decided to come clean, brushing off the extortionate price with a smile as if he’d got a bargain. I opened my mouth and got as far as ‘Only…’ ‘But it really great cheese.’ My husband enthusiasm drowned me out, solidly backed by Jan’s husband’s agreeing nod. ‘You’ll love it.’ He said. End of argument as far as they were concerned and the expressions on their faces dared us to say otherwise. Jan and I looked at each other, shook our heads and walked away. Now if we girls had paid such an extravagant price for cheese we would have never heard the last of it but as I’ve learned over the years men have a habit of setting their own rules don’t they?
Spanish Dancing and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Afternoon
During the same holiday as our sherry tasting in Herez we also spent a few days in Seville. We booked into a hotel in the north of the city within ten minutes walk of the centre. On our first morning we took off after breakfast for sightseeing. Arriving at the Plaza d’Espana we stopped to watch a small group of young women wearing colourful flamenco costumes and dancing on a raised platform. The music was coming from a tape on a large portable radio set in one corner of the platform. A crowd had gathered to listen and everyone was joining in, clapping. The music is very passionate and energetic accompanied by feet stamping and a lot of that was going on. It took me a moment to realise the stamping sound was coming from the tape because unbelievably all these girls were wearing trainers under their costumes!
Moving on we spent the morning taking in the sights and stopped for lunch before beginning our trek back to the hotel. And then we found a friend. I don’t know where this dog, an Alsatian cross, came from but no matter what discouragement was given it simply would not go away. My husband and our friends decided to stop hoping it would get bored and wander off. Me, on the other hand, who can only really deal with small dogs, kept walking. The dog trotted pass the other three and started closing in on me. Up close it seemed friendly and quite harmless. Of course, my new best friend caused a lot of amusement and in the end we gave up and just continued with our journey. On reaching the hotel the dog followed us in and settled itself quite comfortably on the marble floor of the reception area. I thought someone might have shooed it out but no one did, in fact the staff found it a bowl of water making me wonder whether this dog had latched onto unsuspecting tourists before. When we came down again later it had gone. My overactive writer’s imagination left me wondering whether I had just missed out getting myself my own personal Game of Thrones Direwolf.
I’m Bulgaria Air – Fly Me
And finally, last year an absolutely priceless moment. We had booked a week in Lake Garda, Italy for September. Two months after the booking Tui, the holiday company, transferred the flight to an Italian airline. We didn’t have a problem with that but we did with the change in flight departure times. Outward was at midday, the same as our original Thomson flight but our new return journey meant we had to leave the hotel at 6am in the morning to get to Verona Airport. On departure day we arrived at Bristol Airport and checked in our luggage. Eventually we were called to the gate for boarding. Everyone got on the bus and it pulled away, taking us off to the western edge of the airport. It drove past this plane and everyone was commenting about it. How old it was and ‘laughs’ who was going to be flying out on that then? Actually it turned out we were! Apparently our scheduled plane had to be pulled in for a service and the Bulgarian plane was called in to cover. The shocked and in some cases horrified expressions on faces as the bus pulled up to the bottom of the plane steps was, as I said above, priceless. Some people even thought it was a hoax. I have to say despite it being an older jet we had a smooth flight and the cabin crew, although having limited English, did a great job of looking after us.
So that’s it for now. I’ll be back next Sunday. In the meantime have a good week everyone!