Day 2/50: Teeth Special

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Welcome to a blog post devoted solely to one topic – teeth!

In my previous post I was in and at pains to tell how our celebration of Fred’s 60th birthday had been slightly spoiled by my failure to spot a small olive in the middle of a local delicacy called Xato. This is a salad which contains tuna, salmon and raw cod along with that salty treat anchovies. I had decided to give this a try as it was a special occasion but unfortunately ended up with the external sides of two molars in the palm of my hand and the total exposure of two old black fillings. Typically, the next day, hot and cold drinks were causing me to wince in pain, so, despite my terror of the dentist, I took myself off to the dentist on Monday morning and had my fillings replaced with nice white ones and the sides of the teeth rebuilt.

The very next day I popped round to see our friends and neighbours in the caravan behind us, Mike and Het, but imagine my astonishment when Het told me she had just accidently bitten on an olive and dislodged a crown! She was in a certain amount of pain (though not the obvious agony I had been in) and by Wednesday morning she had sought directions to the dentist’s surgery where I had been treated and Mike was driving her there at 10 o’clock in the morning.

While she was away and we were sitting at breakfast in the awning, I noticed Mary feel her jaw on a couple of occasions and asked jokingly if she had toothache! “Actually I do” came the unexpected reply, leaving me slightly lost for words for once. Mary went on to explain that although she could not pinpoint a particular tooth causing her discomfort ,she was experiencing a growing throb in her right jaw. I fetched some penicillin we had brought with us and Mary started to take these to combat any possible infection.

Meanwhile Mike and Het returned singing the praises of La Doctora Vallderamma and her skills with the drill. Het announced however that her crown would need replacing and that Betty, as Mrs Vallderamma insists on being called, had only been able to make a temporary repair to it.

That evening, we drove Fred and Jeanette to the airport where they parted company, with Jeanette flying back to Denmark and Fred hoping it would only be for a short time. We had picked up Mary outside her school on the way there and it was obvious that she was still suffering a deal of discomfort from her jaw. All day Thursday, Mary battled with the pain, but by this morning she had made her mind up, having been wakened by the pain at 5 in the morning.

After breakfast I drove her straight down to the same dentist again and this time it was Mary in the chair getting numbed and examined. The resultant diagnosis was an infection in the root of a molar which will require 3 further appointments to put right. She was given a prescription for powerful “horse” pills and some seriously strong antibiotics to see her through the next week before treatment begins. With such medication my dear wife is presently living in a fluffy twilight world where all is well and she loves everyone. I will of course not take advantage of her fragile, drugged state. Well I wouldn’t, would I?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I consider these three incidents in the space of a few days another unbelievable set of coincidences which defies any logic. It’s as if my report of how well I was treated on Monday prompted Het and Mary to try the dentist out for themselves! But I think they may have taken it too far if that were the case.

One further amazing side of all of this is that we are meeting with “Betty” and her husband on Sunday at the campsite bar to discuss possible employment as babysitters/ French tutors for their 7 year-old son! They need someone to cover Tuesday evenings from 5 until 9 when they finish work but want their son to improve rapidly in French as they are making preparations to emigrate to Quebec in French-speaking Canada. You couldn’t make this up, could you?!

I will finish this dental diatribe with a photo and another “Would you believe it?”. When we left the dentist’s this morning and Mary was all numbed up and miserable, I suggested stopping at a nearby café for coffee and cake, mainly so I could watch her pour her coffee down the front of her top! Well, as we are coming out of the café, we encounter an old man walking slowly past. He has what appears to be a walking-stick with him but, to our total gobsmackedness, he is ushering a pair of green parrots along the pavement in front of him! Next he nudges them under one of the tables on the pavement, tells them to settle there and orders himself a beer! I could not resist but ask him if the parrots are pets and he answers “yes, of course they are!”.  And it would appear they understand Spanish! Dear friends, the camera never lies! Enjoy!

I told you so!

I told you so!

 

 

 

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Day 2/47: Hectic!

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The last fortnight has been an absolute whirl for us both, seemingly busier than when we were back home with so many family and friends and a whole stack of invitations (all accepted of course!)

Just in case you don't know where we live.

Just in case you don’t know where we live.

It really kicked into gear with going back to the airport where we had said “Hasta la vista” to Renée and her family the week before. This time it was to pick up our pal, Fred, returning from England with his girlfriend Jeanette. Having safely brought them back to Vilanova and taken them around “Simply” to stock up on provisions, we were promptly invited to have dinner with them that very evening. Jeanette turned out to be a domestic goddess in the kitchen and served up a feast of Thai food, pretty much a first for both of us. As my fantasy girl (or one of them!) Nigella would say “Yummy!”

The next day, as our Internet was about to run out for another month, we headed down into town and checked what we would need to qualify for a contract with Orange.es. That took us to one of the local banks, La Caixa, where we were able to open a proper bank account, allowing us to whish back round to Orange and sign up for a 12-month contract of Internet via mobile Wi-Fi for half the price we had been paying. The bonus was that the first three months would be at only 9 Euro, less than a quarter of our bills to date. Job done!

When we got back to Vilanova Park I had to present myself immediately to our friend Kate, four down from us on “Millionaires’ Row”, because we had agreed that I would, under her close instruction, prepare paella for six of us that evening. Firstly I was given a whole heap of huge prawns to shell while Mary cut up some chicken breasts, then I had to slice some chorizo, chop an onion or two and start to cooking on her brilliant induction hob. The result, I am oh so smug to announce, was an unreserved success and Mary and I, along with Kate and her husband Dave, plus Fred and Jeanette, enjoyed an excellent meal at the end of which no-one had to be rushed to hospital!

My first (blurry) paella

My first (blurry) paella

The fools who ate it!

The fools who ate it!

Immediately after the meal, all the men (plus Jeanette who is a footie fan) gathered in Mike’s awning to watch England stamp their authority on a team from a country beginning with “M”. Despite my Scottish upbringing, I was delighted with the result as I feel I need someone to cheer on in Brazil next year and have never adhered to that ridiculous prejudice which blights some of our society. Bannockburn? Really! A good home win and no more.

But there was no time to take a rest! The next morning, the Dutch couple behind us set off back home and we immediately helped Mike and Het to move to this newly-vacated spot where they would have, among other things, better neighbours! This proved highly advantageous to us however because, as well as getting good friends next to us, Mike allowed us to piggy-back his satellite connection via a double LNB my other neighbour Rob had given me. Hey presto! We now have Astra 28 again which for the uninitiated means TV just like you get back home, all the BBC and ITV plus channel 4 and Sky News etc. That very evening I was treated to BBC Scotland’s weather girl, the wonderfully strict Judith, lecturing me on the outlook for Scotland over the next few days. Delicious!

With the weekend over, including a game of doubles between Fred and Jeanette and the big Dutchman Rob and me, Mary suddenly found herself with possibly two teaching jobs, both in the evenings down on the Rambla Principal in Vilanova. One was a simple two person set-up while the other was a much more formal affair (The Times English School). As the bigger one had more hours and better facilities Mary plumped for them and after we had spent some time registering with the local police, she became the proud possessor of a Spanish National Insurance number allowing her to work legitimately here in Spain.

I must stop here to tell you all that I am totally proud of Mary doing all this stuff, wrestling with the formalities of a foreign country, attending interviews and such like. This is definitely not tourism any more (and it was never a holiday) but it is turning into an attempt at discovering whether we might want or be able to spend some serious time out here. Mary has helped the situation enormously by seeking and finding employment in town as an English teacher of young children and I for one find her willingness to take on new challenges of this nature quite inspiring.

Last Monday I returned the compliment and had my mates over to watch the vital England v Poland clash under our awning. A good game with a satisfactory result was enhanced by great company while our throats were greased by the odd bottle of beer (just to be sociable of course!) Two days later, big Rob and I fought another cracking good doubles match against Fred and Jeanette who ran out winners for the second time in three sets over a hard two hours of play in temperatures still above 20 degrees. It was Jeanette’s birthday so I guess we must have let her win…… or at least that’s my excuse!

Earlier that day, Mike and Het had invited us over for lunch along with Kate and Dave. It was a lovely warm day and after lunch we spent two or three hours playing a board game, Settlers, in which Mike and Mary ran out winners. It’s a great game of tactics and decision-making and I’m sure we’ll have many more games, hopefully still outside.

Settlers!

Settlers!

Thursday saw the arrival of our old friends, Dick and Lynne, a couple we spent a lot of time with last February before we flew off to Australia. This led to the amazing Jeanette doing chilli for eight under their awning on Friday evening, an excellent meal at which we made the acquaintance of another couple, Terry and Elsie, a lovely pair with a mere 51 years of marriage behind them. Our dinner was followed by another board game, this time based around the lyrics of songs. The Burtons won this one easily but I’m sure the others will be queuing up to take a pop at us.

Saturday was a big day as we were all involved in celebrating Fred’s 60th birthday. Like mine last February, a group of us had dinner up in the Mas Roquer restaurant and an absolutely brilliant time was had by the 16 guests. The serviettes and balloons we had bought several weeks ago at the mall in Castelldelfels came in handy to add a touch of colour to the proceedings but I’m afraid the night was marred by me ordering the local starter Xato. You see, this salad contains very small olives and guess who bit into one unsuspectingly? As these olives still have their stones, the resultant contact with my upper left molars was both sudden and painful, leaving me minus the sides of two teeth!

Fred's favourite present!

Fred’s favourite present!

Sunday was deliberately very quiet but yesterday Mary went to start work at the Times English School while I found a dentist and spent two uncomfortable hours under the drill as my two molars were rebuilt. I left the dentist £150 lighter as well so I don’t really know which was the greater pain. Typically, Mary breezed through her first session of teaching a group of 8-year olds and came home brimming with success to find me lying in the Magic Caravan still traumatized by my earlier dental surgery. Sorry, but when it comes to dentists, I really am a big Wuss!

Well, that’s you up to date folks. Keep tuning in for our news and give our love to all, especially to the grandchildren Ben and Artemis whose latest photos I will add now.

My new favourite girl

My new favourite girl

 

Painting the robot

 

Grandson Ben painting a robot

Day 2/37: A month here already.

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As September slowly drew to a close, we began to wonder exactly when the weather was going to cool down and become a bit more autumnal. We were well into our third week of continual sunshine, blue skies and temperatures of 25 degrees or more, a level of heat we simply hadn’t considered as we drove back from Scotland at the beginning of the month. A daily swim became the norm, both outdoor at the campsite and in the Med down at Vilanova beach where the holidaymakers gradually dwindled to a trickle, leaving us with all the room we could possibly want to stretch out on the hot sand.

We had a very enjoyable time on the following Saturday when we were invited to spend the day in Sitges with Pen Veal (who lives 200 metres from our flat!) and two other Irish girls the wrong side of 21! We took the train to meet them and we had a wonderful day drinking in their favourite bar then walking the full length of Sitges’ long promenade before viewing the flat they were using which belongs to Pen’s brother. A cracking good day, but I was knocked sideways by the look I got from one of Sitges’ infamous residents as we entered the station. Glad I only kick with one foot!

Although not greedy people, we did however hope the great weather would continue for another week, as we were back at El Prat airport on 30 September to pick up cousin Renée, her daughter Teresa and her granddaughter Becky. The 3 girls from 3 generations had decided to check out for themselves just how good this place really was, given the rave reviews we have been awarding it for the past 8 months. So they had booked themselves a 3-room chalet with Eurocamp and we had managed to get their key on the morning of their arrival so that we could stock up their fridge with some essentials like a bottle of CaVa and some orange and mango juice for my teetotal cousin.

Here come the 3 amigos!

Here come the 3 amigos!

Once we got them back here to the campsite, we settled them in then we went to the Mas Roquer restaurant for dinner out on the terrassa on a lovely warm evening. The following day we stayed on the site enjoying the great facilities they have here and the next day we went down to the beach then raided “Simply” for tea. Thursday was a trip to Sitges (including tapas in a café on the end of the promenade) and Friday they were off back home to Blairgowrie.

The girls pull in Sitges

The girls pull in Sitges

Keeping abreast of events!

Keeping abreast of events!

Becky considers ending it all to avoid my jokes!

Becky considers ending it all to avoid my jokes!

Mother and daughter..... or 2 sisters!

Mother and daughter….. or 2 sisters!

Despite the heat, the water, the air, the cramped toilet, the food, the language, the economic climate and the threat of a devastating earthquake at any moment, not to mention global warming and international terrorism, I think Renée enjoyed her stay. I know Teresa and Becky did and they were keen to have a good reason to return at the first opportunity.

Left once again to our own devices, we spent some time with Mike and Het getting ideas about improvements we could make to the Magic Caravan. This culminated in a trip to “Aki” for wood, screws and other bits and pieces which allowed Mike and I to make a frame for a fly screen. Mary sewed the mesh onto this frame and I fitted it in the big window at the front allowing us to leave the window open day and night without the fear of being eaten alive by the mosquitoes. We also enjoyed a dinner and evening with our two friends in their porch awning, reliving our youth with tales of what was and what might have been.

Poshest garden shed ever!

Poshest garden shed ever!

No flies on us....now!

No flies on us….now!

One day recently Mary and I ventured into town and spent an hour in a huge Chinese Bazaar. This shop was amazing for the range of products it held and the absolute rock-bottom prices it charged. We emerged with two massive bags of stuff and only 32 Euro down, with various items you will see in the photos. The tablecloth and chair cushions were bought to enhance the huge table we “acquired” from elsewhere on the site, thanks to the eagle eyes of our friendly Scouser, Rob. He never misses a trick and makes sure that anything of use left behind by folk moving on is reused by others on the site. That same day Rob got himself a washing machine and a fridge-freezer!

The banquet table

The banquet table

Mike and I have an almost daily battle up at the table-tennis and our games continue to be difficult to call, especially as we both seem to be improving all the time. One day soon I can see us having the mythical 100-stroke rally up there but you may well have to give me the kiss of life afterwards. Playing 3 hard sets of table-tennis in 25 degrees of blazing sun is a bit different from a quiet knock over the net in the staffroom on a Friday with Erwan as I used to do.

I’ll finish with two congratulatory notes. The first is to Scott for completing the Glasgow half-marathon last Sunday in just under 1h 30 min, a laudable effort of which we are rightly proud. The second is to my beloved amateur football team Kelso who find themselves joint-top of the Second Division and are firing on all cylinders. Well done to Manager Geordie Moir and all the players.

Spooky coincidences continue to haunt our time abroad. After breaking my 8th pair of reading specs I asked Renée to send me some cheap ones when she got back home. Mike then produced a spare pair for the interim. And what did I find in the Chinese Bazaar in town? Yes, you guessed it, hundreds of reading glasses at 3 Euro a pair! While doing the DIY on the Magic caravan, I found a new pair I’d bought in Superdrug ages ago as well. Mike then gave me a magnetic catch to repair a door flap below the bench in the caravan. I then went in search of an appropriate length of screw to attach it, and what did I find? An identical magnetic catch!! Thirdly I went to replace a bulb in a small down lighter above the bed but couldn’t find a similar one in the DIY store. When I returned I started to look for the right size of screwdriver to take out the entire unit………. And I found a matching bulb in the drawer! Is it just me?

Well that’s all for the moment folks.

God bless you all.

Spot the mozzie spray!

Spot the mozzie spray!