A couple of days after Sue and I arrived back from a lovely week in Italy, the Rothwells jetted off for two weeks to Phuket in Thailand. They had booked a hotel that turned out to be ideal for Lucas and Ellis, with some great children’s’ facilities. It was with envy that the rest of the family read about their daily out-of-hotel adventures. Monkeys and water featured on most days!
The weather in Blighty whilst they were away had been pretty good, the rain stayed away, the sun making quite a few appearances; inviting lots of trips to the allotment to pick the tail end of the summer crops and to tidy up in readiness for the winter. On one such trip I discovered that the majority of sheds (including my own) on adjoining plots had been broken into. I was the first to discover the crime. On ringing the Council they appeared uninterested and advised that I contact the police. That took over half an hour in a call waiting queue, being constantly reminded that my call was important to them. An incident file was raised on the break-in of my shed, but as I don’t keep anything of value in there and nothing (other than the lock) was missing, they had little interest. I received an incident number by text about an hour later, which for insurance purposes would have been useful if I had lost anything valuable. The word is that it is a gang of Romanians who have hit quite a few sites around the area, looking for mowers, rotovators, chainsaws etc.
In the 21st of Oct. I attended rugby club luncheon with a few pals. Disappointingly, there was just four tables of diners. Gone are the days when you would struggle to get your bottom on one of the seats at such a function. It appears that the social side of playing rugby (at least at Harborough) is slowly dying. The senior club now only runs two sides; a colts and an occasional veteran team. This is in contrast to the very successful mini and junior sections that boast well over 600 players. To accommodate them the club has acquired two more pitches, making seven in all. It makes you wonder what happens so that the players don’t move on into the senior club after attaining colts age? Perhaps the change to being a corporate limited company by the management committee has something to do with it. Saturday sees the club hired out for weddings and parties with matches appearing to take a poor second place to profit-making ventures. It is a necessary and difficult balance to achieve, but I think that the club has got it wrong.
On the 23rd of Oct. I bottled my red wine. I prefer a sweetish dessert wine for my red, and this years vintage seems to satisfy that criteria. We shall see sometime in the spring, if I got it right.
A few days later, the Rothwells returned to the UK and I had the pleasure of looking after next doors dogs; Mikey, Flossy and Molly. Viv and Ian were attending the funeral of Ian’s father and I had agreed to take them out for a walk. Viv was a little concerned that I would walk them to death and I had to promise to behave. I took them to Farndon for their first walk and then 3 hours later we went to Lubenham with a little splash or two in the River Welland. I could tell that they were not used to such distances, but as I didn’t dare let them off their leads they had no choice. I liked Flossy and Molly who really loved the change from their usual park route (getting wet obviously appealed to them), Mikey however is rather lazy and didn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for walking anywhere. In between the walks I trimmed the hedges in the back garden.
I grew five large orange pumpkins this year. Two were taken by Sarah to be carved into lanterns at her workplace in Bridge Street and two were carved by Lucas and Ellis. The remaining one was made into soup by Sue. Here in Harborough, Halloween passed off without incident, there were no knocks on the door for ‘Trick or Treat’ so we enjoyed a welcome peaceful night. Lee and Sarah dressed up in suitable horrific attire and partied the night away while Lucas and Ellis knocked on doors in Rothwell.
Bonfire night saw Sue and I sitting cosily in the lounge watching TV while World War III erupted outside. The Rothwells attended a local display. Mia spent the night barking!
On the 8th I met up with John in Asfordby. It was a gorgeous day for walking and we spent the 9.5 miles catching up with family news and putting the rest of the world to rights. Surprisingly, Donald Trump didn’t get a mention until the latter miles!
On the 9th I decided to make an appointment to see the doctor. I had been feeling rubbish for a while, funny symptoms; random itchiness, random muscular pain, headache, lack of appetite and tired. The penny dropped that morning as to what it could be. I logged on-line with my tablet, brought up a photo of what I thought was the problem and it seemed to confirm my suspicions, Lyme Disease. Whilst visiting Joan and Phil in Italy, Sue and I took a couple of walks into the valley below their house. One of our trips was notable as we discovered evidence of porcupine activity. One had successfully dug up a bee’s nest just off the track and in celebration pooped a pile of recognisable faeces. Just afterwards, despite wearing trousers I felt something inside my trouser leg. I gave it no further thought until that evening I noticed I had been bitten just below the knee! The circular rash was annoyingly itchy for around a week, but then it disappeared when I applied cream at home. At the time I thought that it might have been ringworm.
I expected to be given an appointment some time the following week, but I saw the nurse within 20 minutes, followed by an appointment with a doctor who also suspected Lyme Disease. A blood test and a 3 week prescription for antibiotics followed. I was told that I would be contacted on my mobile when the test results came back. Who says the NHS doesn’t work?
That afternoon I went for a walk near Welford with Jim and his two dogs after first having a very large lunch at the Welford Wharf Inn. Not the best way to take exercise and the walk was curtailed by two very distended tummies complaining loudly. The dogs were disappointed.
The following morning at 2am I picked up Jamie from his apartment and we travelled down to Stansted airport for our 6.10am flight to Palma. We were having a mini road trip to Mallorca. We picked up a Fiesta at the airport and drove the short distance to our hotel, the Riu Concordia in Palma. Dropping off the cases we walked the short distance to the beach and then wandered along the esplanade.
Returning to the hotel we set off in the car to explore down the coast. We stopped frequently at small coastal villages and mooched around. We did a spot of cliff climbing and found a small cave near to a lighthouse which afforded terrific sea views. over towards Minorca. Blue sea, blue skies and warm sunshine , what a contrast to the rain and cold of Harborough which my weather app satisfyingly confirmed.
We were booked into a German all-inclusive hotel. It became evident during our very substantial buffet service evening meal that there was only two other Brits in residence. In the bar later that evening Jamie and I sat very quietly among a full contingent of German soccer fans as England took on the old enemy, smugly the outcome was a draw, despite us fielding what I would describe as an England second team, devoid of many of its stars through injury. We nearly squeaked a win at the very death! Our companions filled out of the bar with many a heavy sigh.
After breakfast we drove to Soller and then onto Port Soller. After poking around the town we had quite a problem exiting the nonsensical one-way system of Soller. Several abortive attempts to escape ensued, before, in frustration we violated several Spanish traffic laws by creating a series of new routes, luckily down empty roadways, against the road signage.
Port Soller was easier to navigate as we parked in a multi-story car park. Here we had a splendid lunch in a restaurant high above the harbour. While we waited for the meal to arrive we amused ourselves by fantasising as to which of the many yachts at anchor below we would buy (if we had the money). Not surprisingly my choice was for elegant boats that had a sail and were built of wood and Jamie’s preference was for mean craft made of hi-tech materials with huge engines.
We returned to Palma via the coastal road, though apart from a beautiful setting sun, there was not much of interest to warrant a stop and explore.
After dinner that evening we trotted down to the beach and found a bar showing France v All Blacks live! Depressingly the Kiwis were awesome and despite France picking a huge team and were definitely ‘up’ for the game, they were made to look very ordinary. It got quite embarrassing for them at times. For once I felt sorry for the French.
Sunday was a magnificent drive to the top of the island and Cap Formentor. I had driven there many years prior and I knew Jamie would love it, and he did. The scenery is spectacular all the way and the winding finale is the stuff of ‘Top Gear’. The only drawback was the many random cyclists chugging their way up the ferocious climbs or whizzing down the steep inclines apparently oblivious to the danger of oncoming motor vehicles.
We stopped around half an hour at the lighthouse to admire the views and marvel at a confident but rather crazed goat standing on a plinth at the entrance. There were many cyclists taking the opportunity of a coffee and rest at the café before returning along the lung busting route that got them there. I had to admire them, but I couldn’t help thinking that apart from the lycra they had a lot in common with the psychotic plinth goat.
On our return along the switchback we took the opportunity to stop awhile on a gorgeous beach and scuffed our feet along the sandy shore for an hour or so, soaking up the incredible blueness and warmth of a winter Mediterranean sun. So relaxing.
We drove into Puerta Pollensa, found a lovely restaurant in the sunshine next to the harbour and had lunch. Afterwards we strolled along the frontage and then down to the harbour to muse on even more expensive boats. One day, perhaps.
Next we visited the old town of Alcudia. Jamie was particularly struck by the castle walls and the feel of the town, though he was less interested in the bullring on the grounds that he thought it was disgustingly cruel. Ashton had been there just a few weeks prior with her family so he called her on his mobile and they chatted awhile.
As the sun went down we made our back to the hotel in time for the evening meal. Later on in the evening we found a bar that was showing a world cup qualifier, Greece v Croatia. An awful game with 22 players attempting to cheat on every possible occasion. Very little quality football was played and a 0:0 draw about summed up the skills of both sides!
The following morning we took breakfast early as we were due to fly home that afternoon. We drove through the rain into Palma to do some shopping. It was rush hour so it took quite some time to locate a parking space. We spent around 40 minutes in one of the city shopping malls before heading to the airport and dropping off the car.
The flight left on time, but take-off proved to be a bit of a Switchback as we sliced through the thick rain-sodden clouds. Two and a half hours later we were back on the ground at a dry but chilly Stansted. We had a minor problem locating the car, thinking we were in car park J we eventually found it in K. The return journey to Harborough went without further hitch.
On the Tuesday Sue and I had lunch with Charlotte in Clipston. This has only happened on rare occasions over the last 6 months as Charlotte has been very busy with her gardening business, it was a welcome return to normality.
Sarah has a new job, a new car, a new hairstyle and new clothes. She is now working for the same company as Lee, she is an ASB Officer. She will be working normal office hours in Leicester, no more night shifts and weekend working.