Christmas 2016, still Christmas but a different kind of Christmas.

For as long as I can remember the Christmas in the UK ritual has rarely altered, when a child it would be my family, mum, dad and brother, who used to tramp around to all of our relatives, in the snow in those day and walking all the way, no car. Aunties, uncles, grandparents, there were all visited where we were fed and watered and presents were exchanged, then lugged all the way home. Very rarely the family used to come to us so that we could stay at home by the fire, but not very often, but as I grew up we didn’t do the visiting so much, I had my mates to hang around with. So the sitting in front of the TV watching stuff I normally wouldn’t have had time for was a thing of the past and when in my teens presents were not exchanged as such as those presents became gifts of money instead. This enabled me to spend it something I actually wanted not something I had unwrapped, then feigned delight or pleasure at some useless object, which sometimes was a former present given to the person how now passed it on to me.

Then my own family came along, a boy and a girl, but still the visiting continued but not all one way this time. But the ritual more or less stayed the same, visiting, watered, fed, then lug the presents back home, until 2016 that is. My own children were grown up with families of their own and I announced that I had booked 10 days away, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day (a UK peculiarity) so all the present giving, visiting would be done over a couple of days before we went. We arrived in Spain in a monsoon, it had been like it the day before we arrived and was still like the day after we arrived and it wasn’t like Christmas at all. But after the rain the sun, blue skies and sunshine and a Christmas that seemed very low-key by UK standards. So come Christmas day and the sun shone, and it was in the 20 degrees centigrade area, was this real? Just to visualise Christmas for us this year her are some pictures.

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Now for those of you not used to the UK I have to explain that at this time of the year it is usually big coats, woolly hats, scarfs, gloves, and if you are walking about, an umberella is a must. For us, both my wife and I in our late 60’s, this was a revelation. But why wait this long you say, well all sort of reasons, none that I can argue with, our kids, our ageing parents, then our kids kids and it just never happened. Some of you will recognise this resort as being on Spain’s Costa Blanca, Benidorm, a haven for the British, and other nationalities. I have know people come here for 6 weeks at a time, and now I know why, but the Spanish have a different kind of Christmas and it’s not like the Brits at all, in fact I think theirs is around January 6th. Yes we have waited a long time, but it was worth it and no more excuses for not going, our families are grown up with their own families now so our ritual has come to a close. It was strange, no getting away from it, but our 10 days on the Spanish Costa’s went by far too quickly. We have been to Benidorm now in every month of the year and apart from the summer months, where the heat can be oppressive at times, we have experienced wind, rain, sun, but not snow, we have spent days sheltering from the weather and even more days basking in the weather, but this Christmas was both different and special.

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Hull – City Of Culture 2017 (2)

Running on from the previous page there is much more and there is some reference to one of the major industries of Hull, and the many tradigies from that industry of deep sea fishing. Many men were lost but now it is another historical subject and there are those who will never forget the sacrifices of these brave men just for people to have their fish and chips.

But things are taking shape and there are alsorts of things in the pipeline for many shows, and displays throughout the year but here is just the start still only a couple of weeks into the year.

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Hull – City Of Culture 2017

Am I proud? You bet, there are art displays in the Ferens Art Gallery and works by Leonard Da Vinci and others in the University Of Hull buildings and most of this stuff is available to see free. I also have to mention that over £20 million of refurbishments in the city centre has taken place and although as of this moment in time is not complete it’s nearly there. After years of neglect by those with the power to do improvements, maybe, just maybe, Hull maybe cool or whatever the term is these days, and all the laughing remarks of the past may be able to be put behind us. It’s a big maybe, but we have a chance and the more people who visit and actually take a look instead of just taking for granted what has been written in the past maybe in for quite a surprise. Hull City Of Culture? Laugh no more.

THE DRIVE

The twilight was dancing on top of the hills, beyond were the lights of the city, and home. But to get there was another hour’s drive along these twisting roads, and Donna was feeling the effects of having driven nearly 120 miles already. There was no motorway café where she could have pulled off the road and had a coffee before the last part of the journey, and home. She decided against using the motorway, found it tedious, and, if the truth be told, she nearly nodded off at the wheel a couple of times. So this time she decided to take the ordinary roads, with her new sat nav gadget, it would be no problem, just tap in her destination, using the ‘Avoid motorways’ part, and follow the instructions. Road light were few, maybe an odd house here and there and one light, trees either side were tall and foreboding, casting long dark shadows in the fading evening light. There were many twists and turns, which coupled with her tiring, made driving a chore. As she hit a bit of a straight road there was a dazzling light from behind, something was catching up, fast.

“Bloody ell”

Donna shouted, at no one in particular, she couldn’t see in front of her because of the light behind, so she slowed down. The other vehicle slowed down, for at this point Donna couldn’t tell what it was, car? Van? Lorry? The bit of straight road came to an end and it was back to the twists and turns as before, only this time Donna had company. The vehicle was getting closer, so close at times their bumpers touched, and it was scaring Donna.

“Mobile” she suddenly remembered, in her bag.

“Damn” as Donna realised that her mobile phone was indeed in her bag, but her bag was in the boot, put there for safety, and, until now, forgotten about.

The vehicle behind was still close, too close, as Donna could now feel the sweat trickling down her back. Her fingers hurt, as she had been gripping the steering wheel extra hard, although she hadn’t noticed too much at the time. Then without warning the car, yes it was a car, a red sporty one at that, swerved out and raced past Donna, causing her to slam on her brakes and wait for the inevitable crash. But it never happened; the sports car disappeared around a bend and into thin air. Donna slowed down then came to a stop, wound down the window meaning to take in some fresh air, even if the air was now getting cold. But she remembered she was on a mainly unlit road so pulled off before coming to a halt. Her breathing was erratic as she warily stepped out of her car and made her way to the boot, with the intention of retrieving her bag, and mobile phone. She lifted the boot, grabbed the bag and moved quickly back to the driving seat. She fumbled about inside her bag for the phone, looked through her list of contacts and found Tricia. Donna pressed the connect button only to see the screen go blank, dead battery.

She began to weep, and tremble, was it fear, or all of a sudden the night air was too cold. She pulled back onto the road and took a steady pace to continue her journey, looking in her mirror, only to see darkness. But that comforted her that no one was behind, but something was in front, a car, a red sporty one. It was smashed up against a tree, steam and smoke coming from the bonnet, glass strewn across the road, blood trickling down the door. Donna slowed, but did not stop, as she passed the wreckage she couldn’t see the driver, she couldn’t see anyone. One front headlight and the backlight were somehow still on, and as the car started to drift out of sight Donna was wracked with both fear and doubts as to what she should do. She pulled over and got out of her car and started to walk back, very slowly. She picked up a large tree branch that lay at the side of the road that was for her protection, protection from what she didn’t know.

“Why doesn’t anyone come by?” she thought to herself, but there was nothing, and no one but this wreck of a car.

As Donna approached the car, her eyes scanning all around her for any movement, the coldness of the night air got to her, but still she carried on. At last she was within touching distance of the vehicle, but still could not see a driver. But donna could hear a car, not behind, but in front, and as she dashed back to the road she saw her own car disappearing into the distance, and something Donna hadn’t noticed up to that point, a trail of blood from the crashed car to her own. Stranded no protection from the elements, no protection from anything and still steam and smoke streaming from the crashed car. Donna started to look in the car for a coat, jumper, anything, and nothing at all. She went round the back thinking the boot may be loose and with that some sort of cover inside, coat anything. As if someone had heard her cries the boot was loose and inside was a cardigan, the type with a wrap round belt and a pocket at either side. Not a young woman’s clothes Donna mused, but welcome none the less, and unmarked. Donna herself was bordering on her late 20’s and the ever nearer 30’s but still regarded herself as a lot younger. There was nothing for it, she had to walk, waiting for a knight in shining armour to come along, was not an option.

Into the dark she ventured, every step sounded as though she had workmen’s steel toe capped boots on, she had boots yes, but fashion boots. Her pace was brisk so as to keep her warm, and move her nearer to home. Nothing came either way, nothing she could wave at, draw attention too, nothing and no one. She thought she heard noises, but there was nothing for company, only the trees, and the natural life that called the trees their home. She rounded a corner and her heart lifted, for in the distance, not too far away was the bright city lights, and the place called home, which had seemed a million miles away not long ago. Then her spirits lifted again as she saw a solitary roadside light, right next to a country cottage, not only that but the cottage had a room light on. She quickened her pace, dashed across the road and knocked on the front door. No reply, she knocked again, nothing, no slight movement of the curtains, nothing.

“Just my luck” she thought, so she ventured round the side to see if there was another entrance. Before Donna could get very far she was brought to an abrupt halt, for there, parked in the gloom, but just visible, was a car, her car.

No she hadn’t noticed it when she crossed the road, she hadn’t even noticed the gravel driveway, but this was her car alright. As quietly as she could she crept up to the vehicle to see if the keys were still in the ignition and if so she would jump back in her car and drive off. Whoever had drove away from the crash scene, now had the sense of mind to remove the car keys this time. One more try on the front door, someone must be in, her car was there, hers that was driven off from a crash scene from what seemed like an hour ago. Bang bang bang, she hammered with her fist, the noise seemed to echo for miles around.

Bang bang bang, hurting her hand this time, then looking towards the upstairs of the cottage and there at the window a face, splattered in blood, hair stuck to the face, which was pallid, and was also a woman’s face. Donna drew back staring at the upstairs window, but the face had gone. Instead Donna found herself face to face with a wreck of a body at the opening front door, a body that looked as if it would collapse at any minute, and did do just that. Donna cautiously moved forward, trembling, not of the cold, that had almost been forgotten, but fear. The heap on the floor didn’t move, but a line of blood was trickling from it, but Donna couldn’t determine from where on the body the blood originated, she was no medic. Donna bent down and tried to hear if there was any breathing, there was but it was faint. She got up and looked around the room, why hasn’t anyone been by for ages except this wreck of a woman, and looked for a phone.

She was cursing her decision not to take the motorway, when the body moved, in fact the body stood up and there before Donna was a tall woman, who, before the crash, looked like she had been elegantly, dressed but was now a mess of dirt, sweat and blood. The body moved forward, stumbling and finally falling into another heap before reaching Donna. The line of blood continued to where the body now lay, again quite motionless. Donna was about to dial 999 on the old fashioned black circular dial phone when it came to her to get her car keys and drive away from this place, where she had no reason to hang about other than this poor wreck lying before her and all the human race deciding to abandon this road to Donna herself. 9….9….9

“Which service do you require?” someone said.

“Police and an ambulance” seemingly as an afterthought.

“What’s your name?” Donna Westcliffe “What’s your location?” good question what is my location?

“I’m down the old A63 into Hull, near to Newport/Gilberdyke, that way, it’s a cottage”

“Has there been an accident, anyone injured?”

“Yes yes, why all these questions someone’s badly injured, please send someone”

“I need some detail first, are the injuries bad?”

“I would say very bad”

“You say a cottage, any name or number?”

“I don’t know just send someone”

“It’s the old main road to Hull, Newport/Gillberdyke way”

“A patrol car is on its way can you make yourself seen?”

“Ok I’ll stand outside”

“Hopefully it won’t take long” the voice rang off.

Donna saw a white tablecloth and wrapped that around her, for want of something else. Then she remembered, “My car” dashing round the end of the house she grabbed her jacket from the car, a black one and not very thick at that, but at least something else against the cold night air. With the tablecloth and the jacket along with the cardigan she had taken from the crashed car she didn’t feel too bad waiting for this patrol car. She looked inside the house, the body hadn’t moved and Donna feared the worst, but kept on looking for this car, any car really.

“Doesn’t anyone use this road at night?” thinking to herself.

After what seemed an eternity a shaft of light came down the road, a car, a patrol car at that. Donna frantically jumped up and down to attract the attention of the 2 police people inside the car, she couldn’t determine if they were both men or what, she was just glad to see them.

“Where’s the ambulance?” were Donna’s first words, but the policeman went into the cottage, and the police woman, as it turned out, stayed with Donna. There was a lot of mumbling into radios as Donna was lead to the police car. Before long an ambulance, more police cars, and personnel, the whole road outside the cottage was suddenly alive with activity, when only what seemed like a few moments ago not a soul had passed by all night.

Donna sat in the police car, still shivering when the policeman mumbled something to his companion, ‘hospital’ was the only word Donna could work out. With that another officer, who got in the driving seat, with the police woman sat in the back, next to Donna and they were off. They were hurtling towards Hull, with the police woman asking Donna various questions. The first lot of questions were about how she felt and such, then name, age, where do you live, where had she been, all written down. The warmth from the cars heater was a welcome relief to Donna as she was able to feel her body relaxing. Before long they were at this hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, with a doctor and nurse to check her over. Nothing was found to be wrong, other than slight shock for which a hot cup of tea was prescribed. Then it was on to the police station, Queens Gardens, for more intensive questioning at which Donna felt she was some kind of suspect to all this drama. She repeated everything, twice, driving home, then being overtaken, then finding the crashed car, getting out of her car to see about the driver only to hear her own car being driven off. Then starting to walk, and knocking on the door of the cottage after finding he own car on the gravel driveway. The woman at the door, who then collapsed, all this being recorded, and written down by two men in suits, probably detectives Donna thought.

All track of time had been lost, all Donna wanted was to get home and her car back. That was not possible at the moment, she was told, so how would she get home? What seemed to be begrudging she was offered a lift in a police car, back to her flat. Donna had the frame of mind to retrieve her bag and a bit more stuff from her car when she spotted it on the drive, which included the keys to her flat. She wearily unlocked her door but was suddenly startled by the bell, the bell to her bedside alarm had just gone off. She looked at the clock, shafts of sunlight were breaking through the curtains, she was confused, and there in the parking space was her car. What was she doing on the bed, still immaculately dressed, everything intact? Putting on her coat she went down to see her car, perfect, just as it was last night as she had driven home down a long dark twisting road, come home into her flat and fell asleep on the bed.

“Last time I drive down that road when I’m tired” she mused.

She got undressed, showered, had a light breakfast and got ready for work. It had been one hell of a dream, or nightmare, she had had thought Donna, and gave a little laugh of relief to herself. It was a beautiful sunny, warm, sunny morning, as she went over to her car and was just about to climb in when this other car came round the corner. A sporty car, a red one at that, and driven by what looked like a tall elegant, well dressed woman. It passed Donna and sped off, disappearing into the distance.

Donna froze.

Achademic Excellence and fine old buildings go together it seems.

My wife and I have been on a few weekend trips just lately, no not those trips, coach trips and some of the places we have been are the academic excellence centres of the world, Oxford and Cambridge. Notwithstanding their academic power they also have some beautiful buildings to teach this stuff in, and its that side of the equation that grabs me the most, just as well as for my brainpower they would not just show me the door but would not let me near it 🙂  ……. so here are some pictures First Cambridge, we were there on Saturday 2nd June.

It has to be said also that many of these pictures were taken through gaps in iron gates and fencing as they were not open to the public until later in the day when I would be gone. Some didn’t allow anyone in other than students and their families as exams were taking place, which is fair comment I would say. I could have put a slide show but it doesn’t show the full pictures as I intended and I know I haven’t put comments about which college is which, but I may amend that at a later date, oh and the ducks were friendly as well, as long as you fed them that is 🙂

A return to Benidorm, Spain.

Here we go again, some more pictures of Benidorm, maybe these will turn out as intended, not keyholes. But Benidorm is still Benidorm only this time it was better than I expected. You may have read, or seen on the news, a thing called the Euro crisis, so many countries in the Euro zone are heavily in debt that the currency itself is at risk, although bankers and politicians tell you otherwise.

Greece has had some dizzying amount of money lent to it to pay off debts that were due to be paid so how lending them even more helps things I don’t know. So Spain, and Portugal, are close to the same scenario and I wasn’t expecting to see much activity in what is essentially a holiday resort. But what do I see when I get there? Much the same as in years gone by, the Spanish were in the bars, eating, drinking and talking, well that is a bit of an understatement as they debate with great fervour.

Tapas alley was as bustling as ever and bars and shops were being spruced up ready for another summers season of holiday makers. It all made for a great atmosphere and one that I love, even thought I cannot speak Spanish, or any other language, that is not a hindrance as you get a lot of help from the bar staff, shop assistants, to assist in your needs. Well I do know how to say Hola, dos, vino tinto por favour, pathetic I know.

Levante, with long sandy beaches and many bars.

One way of getting around Spain in this type of weather.

Amongst the high-rise apartments and hotels a lovely Spanish villa right on the front of the prom.

A more distant view of the sea front of Benidorm, there are actually 3 beaches, Levante (sunrise), Poniente (sunset) and a small beach in between called Malpas.

This is the Malpas beach, like a private cove and far different to its bigger brothers.

One of the many sand sculptures.

After the hustle and bustle of the day, peace.

Benidorm was built to its present position mainly for the hordes of British holiday makers who wanted some of that Spanish sun but still wanted the comforts of home. Like British food, beer, TV etc so a whole industry was set up to cater for these invaders. And invade we did, millions of us have at some time been to this lovely place, many time and time again, and although the place is occupied predominately by the British it is also a favourite with the Spanish themselves.

There are other nationalities, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, and just recently Russians, not many from the likes of France or Italy, well they have their own Benidorm’s. It’s a peculiar thing in a way that the British attend clubs and bars, just like back home, and see entertainment, singers, comedians and the likes, whilst the Spanish just sit and chat, or debate. They make their own entertainment, ok a TV may be on in the background, but no one is watching, unless football (soccer) is on.

And not too far away are some lovely areas to explore if that is your thing or you fancy a stroll. At one end of Levante in the Ricon area, is a small mountain range, not too high, but there is a road to walk along in safety as no traffic is allowed. It leads to what’s left of an old fort that was used as a look out for foreign invaders, British or otherwise.

The road leading up to the old fort.

The fort, or what's left of it.

I don’t know what will become of the Euro zone situation but it seems as though the Spanish will still be coming to Benidorm and the tapas bars and will be eating, drinking and debating as they have in years gone by. But that’s the essence of Benidorm, enjoy the holiday and come back again soon.

The US of America

For anyone from the UK who has not visited the USA it must be difficult to fathom out what all the fuss is about, and for those Americans that live in the USA they must have the same feeling as they see it everyday. The first thing people say in the UK is the flying time, lots of people do not like flying, simple, and the thought of being on an aircraft from anything up to 13 hours, fills them with horror as 2 hours to Spain in enough for them.

America has been everywhere for as long as I can remember, from TV shows (I Love Lucy) to music (Elvis, Ray Charles) so we have grown up together and oddly enough not with our near neighbours, Europe. I don’t recall many European TV shows, (I can’t think of any at the moment) but certain music from Europe has had a foothold in the UK, Johnny Hallyday was popular with the girls if I remember but the main European group was Abba.

So came the day I thought could never happen, a holiday/vacation in the USA, it was surreal, I was going but not believing it even when sat on the plane. Even more strange was the fact that when we were going to land at McCarran (Las Vegas) airport it would be at an earlier time from when we set off from the UK. On the plane itself was a revelation, little screens in the back of the seat in front where I could watch movies, listen to music, or watch a picture of the terrain we were flying over.

We were well fed, often, but drink was kept to the usual English type, tea, I’m not a big alcohol drinker when on a plane, I once had a couple of drinks on a short trip to Spain years ago and felt dreadful afterwards and vowed never again, so I don’t. Then we came into land, yes terra firma, in the USA, Chicago actually as we had to catch a connecting flight, it wasn’t direct. We had to collect our cases and make our way to the connecting flight, but first get through immigration.

Photographs, fingerprints, forms and more forms, questions and more questions, this was pre 9/11 by the way, do you want me to visit your country? Eventually we were through, but not before my wife was in a state that we were going to miss our connection, and the fact that our two friends whom we were traveling with, had sailed through immigration, two women traveling seemed to have had an easier time with things than my wife and I. Collect cases and on to find the TED airline desk, I was in a daze taking everything in, I was thinking Al Capone, Eliot Ness, was that really Chicago, the windy city, I could see?

The TED flight was uneventful but we had spent a long time on airplanes and just wanted to get to our destination, and even though sat down most of the time it was tiring. Finally we could see Las Vegas come into view, it was night time so everything was lit up, an explosion of colour in the desert which not only woke us up but also dazzled us with its spectacular entrance into this traveling experience.

So lets live the dream, collect our cases, the case carrousel being in amongst the slot machine then find a cab. Get a grip man, you are in the USA, still not believing I was traveling down Las Vegas Blvd. Excalibur, New York New York, MGM, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, wake up man you are actually here stop day dreaming. Then our hotel Imperial Palace, check in, 16th floor sir, 16th? So make our way to the lifts, pass the slot machines, a fact of life in Vegas, card tables, dice, spinning wheels, and some familiar faces.

Was I seeing things? Madonna? Roy Orbison? Tony Orlando? Elvis? (well there had to be an Elvis) …….. even a Dolly Parton, and they were all dealing cards, I thought I had discovered a secret second life for all of these stars and as some people say Elvis wasn’t really dead but a card dealer in Las Vegas. I wasn’t seeing things they were, impersonators, dressed just like the real people did and not only that, as I was to find out, they actually got up onto a small stage and sang.

Sometime later we were to stop and see these people deal cards one minute then get up and stage and really rock the place, they were no karaoke singer, but pretty good. We may have been awake for nearly 2 days but we were suddenly alive once we found our rooms, freshened up and changed, it was time to hit the strip. Maybe more some other time.

MGM with live lions in the foyer, now retired.

The Paris hotel I believe this replica of the Eiffel Tower is 1 third size of the original.

This is when I think Las Vegas comes alive, night time is a magnificent spectacle

The Luxor is based on and Egyptian theme.

Our hotel, Imperial Palace based on an oriental theme, well sort of LOL.

For those with more money than me ….. the Venetian, luxury.

For those with a bit of history, downtown Vegas Fremont Street and Binion’s.

A trip to Beatleland, a.k.a. Liverpool.

A little while ago my wife and I went on a coach trip to the land of the Beatles, Liverpool. Its not far from where we live, when I say far, a few hours travel, depending if you stop off its between 3 to 4hrs. Its a lively place and although probably not as famous as the Fab Four, its where the Titanic sailed from. But back to Beatleland, and once there we took a tour, round all the Beatle sites and the tour was aptly named The Magical Mystery Tour.

Now Liverpool, like a lot of Norther England cities, is a place in transition, and that pace of transition is determined by the one thing that determines most things in life, money. Many old houses have been knocked down for large areas to be re-developed, my own city, Hull, has the same thing, but on a smaller scale. But the Beatle stuff is still there, just, there seems to be an on going battle with the authorities and the historian type people over Ringo Star’s first house.

Its in the middle of a derelict area due for demolition but some want to preserve the house on a historical basis, but the last we heard it was holding up the whole redevelopment of the area, a tricky one though, it has historical interest, but he only lived there before The Beatles became famous, so not sure what will happen. I took some pictures, so without further ado I will post them, with a short explanation, well sort of.

The name says it all.

Yes THE Penny Lane, it was cold though.

Don't know about the Strawberry Fields forever bit but the iron gates have been welded into place because they kept getting stolen by souvenir hunters.

One of the houses George lived at, he moved a few times apparantly, before the fame that was.One of the houses George lived in, he moved a few times apparently, this was before the fame.

Aunt Mimi's John's home.

Actually its quiet ironic this ‘Working Class Hero’ lived in the best house and area of the lot of them.

Paul's home.The name where he lived.

And Ringo's house, the one just past the tree on the left and right in the middle of all the other borded up houses waiting to be demolished, some want to save Ringo's house.

THE Penny Lane again.

'Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout a pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray' words by Lennon & McCartney of course and this is THE shelter in the middle of the roundabout.‘Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout a pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray’ words by Lennon & McCartney of course but this is THE shelter.

'A banker with a motor car' and this is the bank

Thats the first lot for now, I will carry on with this theme at some point in the meantime I will post this off.

The world is getting smaller, very small.

I’ve been lurking, looking at peoples blogs see how the wind blows so to speak, see what topics are topical, and the subject matter is varied. But one thing comes across very forcibly, people travel to far off places with such ease these days, there must be very few places which have not been visited on this planet, bar off course some of the remotest outposts.

But then I got to thinking, in my limited way where have I been? And this is where I surprised myself as I love traveling as much as I can the list of places I have been too just never occurred to me, until I look at the pictures I have taken that is. So where have I been, well here goes, and its not a brag or anything like that, just a confirmation of how small the globe is when me, and I’m no big shot, can have been to so many places.

Europe:

Holland, German, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and its islands of Ibiza, Majorca (or Mallorca as it is known), Greece, or more correctly the Greek islands of Corfu, Rhodes, Crete, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and of course most of the UK. And many places within these places.

Elsewhere: USA

Memphis, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Denver

Just looking at the list amazes me even today as back in the 1950’s and 60’s it was just not imaginable that I would go to so many places when the furthest I had been was from one end of the UK to the other. But now we have friends who go cruising every year to some different hemisphere, and people take these ‘cheap’ airlines and go away to another country just for a weekend. If fact from where I live an overnight ferry could take me to Holland or Belgium on a Friday or Saturday, spend a day there, then come back and be back home ready for the start of a new week.

Although the care free days of travel have long gone, I still get a buzz from airports, ferry ports, or even train and bus stations as travel consumes me, I just don’t get to do enough of it, but I can’t complain really.

The UK and Europe.

Seems like us Brits are in the doghouse again over Europe, but what really infuriates me is the posturing by the French & German’s over our refusal to sign up to their ideas without getting anything in return. Our stance was clear from the start, it was no secret that Cameron wanted some safeguards for our financial industry, that was stated from the off. My take on this is that maybe Europe has a point about central control of these institutions and their cavalier attitudes to vast amounts of money, and I don’t really know how important that particular industry is to the UK.

But what I do think is that this whole episode has been a set up, to more or less marginalise the UK and it has succeeded. The way I see it is this, are you telling me that the Dutch, Italians, Belgians, Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks and all the other nations agree with everything that was in this agreement? All I know is that we are a thorn in the side of the ‘big’ 2 in Europe, have been since the days of Thatcher but to be fair to us, we never signed up originally to the set up in place now.

I voted yes back in the 1970’s to join a trading pact, nothing else, free trade between European countries, we had been blocked from joining the original European Community, twice, by the French remember. But since then this pact has become a whole different ball game, and for us it has been done by stealth. Now the French are at it again and have us blocked, again, because from now on we will be peripheral in the European ideal. I’m no big supporter of David Cameron and his party, but as I have stated, his stance was known from the beginning of this latest round of meetings, we were stitched up and fell for it.

Onward yet again …… the World is our oyster.

So as I mentioned in my last post Benidorm has been a place to visit as often as we could but it didn’t preclude other destinations and most of those happened to be in Spain. We ventured further south to the resort of Torremolinos and although similar it was different. The prom was like Benidorm but stretched far further in fact you could walk to the next resort of Benalmadena and further if you so wish.

But also from Torremolinos there were many more places to see and one of those places is Marbella. This is a resort known for the clientèle it attracts, the rich, you only have to visit the marina to find out what a different world those with money live in. Yachts that are like mini ocean liners, Rolls Royce’s as common as taxis but many day to day people just strolling around amongst the wealthy taking in the ambiance and admiring things that they will never own.

But beyond this affluence is a small part of the former British Empire yet still in Spain, Gibraltar. You cross the border and are confronted by police looking very similar to any you see in the UK, all rather odd. You venture further and British pubs, shops, many high street retailers have branches in Gibraltar, and all on the Spanish mainland. Cruise liners are docked in the harbour and one of the most precarious airports I have ever seen where planes fly over the sea and land on an airstrip adjacent to the harbour. Not only that but the runway crosses a busy main road as well.

But we didn’t go all the way to Spain to see a version of the UK, so although it was a pleasant day out we wanted to get back to Spain itself. And one of the most beautiful places we have yet seen in Spain is the city of Valencia. The architecture is just mind-blowing but the place is horrendously busy with traffic whizzing about all around you, but that can be said about most cities these days as the car has taken over. Cafe culture is at its best in Spain, like a lot of European countries, the weather encourages outside eating and drinking and therefore things are more relaxed.

In the UK it’s not so refined so pubs and clubs are still the main source of drinking and all the trouble associated with it, Europe seem to be a bit more laid back but is not without their alcoholic problems.
But Spain has islands as well, quite a few in fact, the Canaries, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza, to name a few and couple of these we have visited as well. As much as they are part of Spain they also like to be independent as well, having pride in their locality. 


We have visited 2 of their islands, Majorca, or Mallorca as I believe it’s called, and Ibiza, pronounced (hope I’ve got this right) Ibiza, forgive me if I am wrong. Both have their charm and for some people that charm outweighs any advantages the Spanish mainland has to offer so got to the islands year after year, bit like Greece in a way with her islands. But that’s another story.