Merseyside meets in Midland, and an Airport run goes how many ‘sheets to the wind’?

Busy times around the bazaars again this week, people on the move.

Valerie’s three sons met up with her in her Cartagena home, flying in from Spain/Shrewsbury/Vancouver, to enjoy 30 degs weather and the odd tot

The outside bath took a battering from Peter, Paul and John

small favours abound in the Rambla, and Stu offered to do Airport runs that I would do while I am in Canada – good man.

The Davidson’s chipped in help with an offer of laundry 🧺 for Valerie, allowing her and guests to make good getaways.

My time was taken with lunch on decking beside Georgian Bay with Blakey, Kath (on holiday with friends Geraldine and Ted, who live just two hours away in Gelph). We’re all from Gods county in the North West U.K. – Wallasey/Liverpool.

We showed them around Midtown and Penetanguishene, popping into Kevin and Joan’s for coffee and Butter Tarts. Blakey had a Captains chair sit on the boat as we passed the marina

Messages from Spain showed Margaret and Deryk had their hands fullStu was doing some running around, his visitors to the airport, laundry drop off and clearing away.

A deserved Cerveza on his roof terrace after a busy day – well earned Stu.

Margaret and Deryk dropped the sausage tasting ready to spring into Dhobi Whalla pose

Stu – an aide memoir..

The bins in Cartagena are communal containers in the high streets, Guess where Valerie’s bedding is😂

HMS Sheffield Falklands memory, Airborne then Disc Golf!

Walking and bike rides have filled the days when not keeping Pantera and Tigre company. A special thought on Liberation Day – 14th June – for many comrades no longer here because of the conflict or its effects on them, acknowledged with a tot from Kevin’s spirit locker

Then into the skies on a training flight, a fantastic experience of taking the controls and doing all but the final touchdown (next time though) Prisci is keen to complete her hours after completing the written pilot test in Spain, might be a race here to the licence

All level on flight training, we played Disc Golf on an 18 ‘hole’ course around Little Lake, Midtown. The tees are set out with the hole map

On the bikes for an afternoon along the lakeshore after the competitive few days, and Prisci (the loser) has to buy the ice creams at the first stop

Two hours later were admiring the church of Sante Marie among the Huron’s where a pilgrimage site had been set up in the 1600’s. The settlement has been recreated with the defence and a lock entry point from the river

It didn’t stop the raids by Indians, that forced the French missionaries to abandon the site and return to Quebec, nice tepees though

Coffee & cakes in the museum and a slow cycle home

Worlds Longest FW Beach, Boats and Planes.

Joan and Kevin have a boat at the marina, so a bit of sea-time had to happen on the first day. He and I both ex-Royal Navy, struggling to remember all the ‘pipes’, knots and military naval jargon that didn’t matter a jot on Georgian Bay

Pantera and Tigre were introduced to Prisci, and being Costa Rican born were used to a Spanish lilt and chat. She had followers dawn to dusk

I was happy to have the keys for the Merc again,

Before Joan and Kevin headed off to Costa Rica they cooked us some great meals and we had a music night at the Queens Quay, where Kevin performed a few songsThe next pub night was at Flynn’s Irish Bar in penetanguishene to watch Liverpool in the European Champions Final

There are a few beaches to check out, Balm beach was first. I checked the water temperature and think it might need another few degrees before the Paddle Board session

Wasaga Beach was a surprise. I knew it was a bigger town and there is a great atmosphere at the bars along The waterfront, but hadn’t realised it held two distinctions

First was the fact that it is the Worlds Longest Freshwater Beach

Secondly, it’s where the first Canada Transatlantic Flight took off from

Getting back to live music in the town, we watched a local band who had scored No 1’s. Midland Culture Centre presented ColdJack. I’m not sure how the communication error occurred, but Prisci was sitting waiting for an evening of Hypnotism (even while sitting in front of a stage prepared for an eight-piece group🤷🏻‍♂️

A day of rain stopped the 20Km walks, and a visit to the SS Tirikeewan filled in the damp hours.

The ship is the same era as Titanic and is the only surviving ship built of that time. She had to be built it two halves with water tight bulkheads to sail the halves singly through the locks onto the Great Lakes.

The interior is really plush, fitted out as in the day. The tri-cylinder engine is in pristine working condition. Ready to sail if the helmsman was up to the job….Saturday in Midland was Butter Tarts Fair Day. The Main Street packed with stalls that are packed with Butter Tarts

Prisci tried to catch the wrong bus home, but had mentioned she wanted to tick-off seeing a yellow school bus. Not arrested this time after I chased the bus and explained to the driver, lucky girl

Another night of music, then we prepare for our first hours in pilot training

Car Fly Bus Coach Fly Tram Train Car

Stu took us on the airport run at 08:00 Monday morning. Just a 30 minute drive to Corvera where Ryan Air would be waiting for the hop to England’s South Coast.

The Region Murcia International ((RMU) airport staff had to check my baggage and three places on my skin for drugs as I set off the alarm when passing through the security barrier. Happy I wasn’t one of the grey drug mules gang, I waited while Prisci was sent around again for leaving her iPad in her carry on bag.

The flight to Bournemouth went quickly, and the bus to the city centre was a bargain £2.50 for the one hour journey from the ex-Military airfield.

National Coaches were pre-booked to take us and our carry-on sized luggage to Gatwick. The Travelodge room for the night was only £40 and handy for the 08:30 check-in with British Airways.

£320 for a return ticket to Toronto – surely we would be travelling in the hold or serving the teas! Comfortable seats, good entertainment, nice meals, it was superb value from BA, and a loop around Gatwick was a chance to view it before going through Britain’s rain clouds

Rewatching Bohemian Rhapsody and a very poor effort at the Telegraph crossword passed the flight between dozes.

At Toronto airport my carry-on bag went through security three times before we could move through and catch the UP at Pearson Airport. A tram service like the Docklands Light Railway takes you to Union Street in the city (Union / Pearson). The plan was to take a little walk past the Sports Dome and CNN Tower before catching a train to Barrie

Barrie is halfway between Toronto and Penetanguishene, with a train service every 30 mins.

One hour on the train to sightsee and have our hosts only needing to do a two hour round pick-up trip instead of four hours seemed fair.

Kevin and Joan were waiting at Barrie rail terminus, which is a lakeside stop that is free from any hindered ticket office view.

Quickly into the car parked alongside the track, they had a Tim Hortons coffee and a box of mini Tim’s doughnuts ready for the one hour drive to Penetanguishene.

Pantera and Tigre couldn’t contain the excitement of their new minders for the coming weeks

May Mayhem

The May month-end will start the six week visit to Canada, just a few things meanwhile to pass the other 26 days.

Nice of the neighbourhood to have a fiesta in the street – joy or sadness at my leaving?

The Volvo has been showing a Diesel Particle Filter fault on the dashboard (orange engine symbol) that I used my OBDII reader to analyse. After checking a few things (sensor, drove a manual forced regeneration), I stripped the air filter and pipe work to reach the sensor tubes from the DPF body.

I was anticipating a new DPF at £800, and/or sensor and pipes at £300.

Finding the outlet pipe perished away, inside the thermal protection tube, from the DPF – I tried to buy replacement hose

The Guy at the motor factors saw I only needed the short piece and said no charge (only €6/Mtr anyway).

It felt like I was a £1,000 up – the C30 running perfect.

Next job – Chirivel for sockets and fanlights, easy and a pleasant 3 hr round trip via Lorca. Picked up the Rich’s from the airport, and would return them

Won a couple of the Thursdays pool comps in BuenaVista Repaired an amplifier for KeesonRestored Nadine’s robot vacuum to full working order

Made a good start on four broken Sky boxesVoted in Spain as a European Citizen for the first time

Took care to set the floodlights at Karl’s as level and central as possible – easily a blot on the landscape of the superb frontage if slightly off

Did a plumbing job and some lights in a Camposol home

Picked up Valerie from the airport and had Terrace Tapas with her and Stu (who would be my lift to Murcia International)

I bought an easel! Looked a bargain and thought it was something that my cousin Joan might want to have in her barnhouse

May is also a remembrance time for me. Count my stars I came home from the Falklands (RAF from Ascension after losing Sheffield to an Exocet)

Time to stow all tools and pack to fly vía Bournemouth then Gatwick to Toronto

Eddie and Irina – Return visit after Torrox.

The annex was prepared ready with the apartment spare room. Our visitors had the option of self contained or sharing the flat.

Self-contained gets the extra of direct access onto the roof terrace. I’m hoping that’s why it’s the preference of all our visitors (I think I’m lovely to live with 🥳)

Eddie was the HMS Sheffield Helicopter Engineer in ’82. We were in the Petty Officers mess together and even after our catch-up in Torrox at their place, we had memories of ship life and events to polish up.

Trying not to bore the girls with too many recollections, we toured the Vickers guns, Cartagena, La Azohia, Bolnuevo and the odd bar.

In Cartagena we settled into our seats for coffee and had found the only cafe/restaurant in the city that doesn’t serve it! – Eddie needed a stiff drink after being thrown out of a cafe

Sully’s Sports Bar had the Liverpool match on, we dressed correctly then paraded our shirts along the Paseo after the win

There was enough time to visit some old salts from Eddies first ship, he loved his time on the Black Pearl

A departing breakfast at Bolnuevo in the Oasis was a chance for Irina to see the sandstone formations and pose with themMuseo Bar had impressed all for our late evening bar crawl. ‘Sing a long’ to the owners Spanish Guitar playing and admire his artwork, before he breaks into Beatles and requests.

The offer of Irina to host the next get together on her home turf in Moscow is under serious consideration – brave woman.

Welsh visitors, so Vickers, Pool, Tennis and Vino (too late for Flyski)

Joan and Howard ( ‘H’ ) flew into the new Murcia International airport that’s just 30 mins away They had just missed the Spanish FlySki Championships held a few minutes from the apartment in Puerto Mazarron

I’m sure ‘H’ would have enjoyed the previous weeks event on the paseo. As the driver in 1972 of this GT250 (he built up) he would have appreciated the work done on the motors in the vintage car rally

There was a few things to do in the week Joan and ‘H’ had at Casa Cliff. I was keen to see them enjoy everyday as they’ve looked after me for months at a time in Wales (and housed my Frankia Motorhome).

Howard celebrated a birthday, which gave us a a mid-morning excuse to eat cake. Margaret dropped by and helped sing to the Septuagenarian. The tennis tournament was a two day series, our battle carried on from the Talacre and Holywell courts.

We took a trip up the mountains to the guns that were part of the Cartagena Port defences

There was time to try some Spanish farming by Joan, a change from her own ride-on mower at Lloc Farm

The Thursday night pool tournament saw Howard take the winners pot from the dozen or so regulars at the BuenaVista

The nearby bodega was forced to take extra delivery of vino tinto, pumping it in as fast as someone in the group drank it

Cartagena, and the standard photos in this beautiful city (enhanced with Howard’s temp crutch – awaiting knee surgery)Neither Camposol D nor a property in La Azohia took their fancy, so no residencia application needed yet

Santa Elena Tower was being used for wedding shoots when we took time to explore it and all decide it is probably the nicest of the four beach areas we walked

Really great week spending time with Joan and H, more time needed for tile shopping for Joan’s Spanish-look around the Arga she has. Beach horse riding, and in warmer weather – paddle board and kayaking still to do.

The end of evening wine and dominoes saw ‘H’ take the Puerto M crown – challenge on in September then ….🎱

Torrox with a ‘HMS Sheffield’ link, then Ronda

Three hours in the Volvo along the A7, Southern Spanish Coast road, was another dream drive. Using the empty A-7, my Volvo was on cruise control apart from a coffee stop.

Eddie Stead and Irena are renting a villa for a few months and catching up with him for a beer would be a good start to another motoring break.

The first night in Torrox was in a Hotel, unsure of our late travel decision it was best not to risk disturbing Eddie and Irena too late.

The Amaya is a typical Andalucian building, charming with a good view of the Med across the tennis courts at breakfast

A drive into the mountain-sited homes found my old shipmates pad

We broke the ice before heading to a bar for Sunday Roast and football on TV

Asked for his preference of meats Eddie proudly stated he’d always been ‘beef’

The match we had all dressed in LFC shirts for was a bum twitching start, 0-1 down but a 4-2 win, so we paraded our shirts along the sea front and had our pictures by another burning boat (Eddie was Helicopter engineer on Sheffield’s flight team, I was flight weapons and comm’s for the whole ship – broadcast/mag loop/ops room headsets etc, so worked with the scouse chappie) before heading back to Ed’s and Irena’s for a night cap.

After a sound nights sleep in tranquil star studded mountain air, it was an early start to head off for Ronda, leaving our hosts asleep.

The two hour drive through the mountains on a road winding along at over 1000 metres high was spectacular.

A city set nearly as high as Mount Snowdon in Wales is so much more than I was expecting. Two half’s of the city are joined by a bridge that had gardens built into the walls on one side

The city has on of the oldest bull rings and some believe it started the ‘sport’.

Orson Wells and Ernest Hemingway tributes are at the entrance to one park near the bullring, so those guys must have found the place too

It was a five hour drive back to Puerto Mazarron, where I could get back to sea viewsprepare for a night at the operaafter which I was stopped at a police checkpoint with breathalyser. My 0.0 readings at midnight after a night at the opera surprised us all – my first ever breathalyser was a hard pass 😇

There was more Military Museum Work to doand help Karl with a ‘care in the community’ project/person

Land Rover Monthly – and fixing stuff before Canada

The drive from Merebrook (Wirral) south through England and then vía France to my place in Southern Spain, sounded perfect as Blakey and Kath described it. The pictures we took around the mountains while they were staying with me looked good as the Land Rover was given a few testing climbs.

Blakey and Kath enjoyed the drive home and thought it would be of interest to the magazine

The work at the Military museum is moving ahead while Stu pulls a ‘sickie’. After his fall tripping over a cat, he recovered from a cut head and split lip, then a month later tried kicking the cat (claims it was a fall off a ladder) and broke a toe. His sadness at being unable to work is heart wrenching

I’ve enjoyed finding a little run of electrical problems at various friends homes. They were easy fixes, just a little time needed to chase down when in a house circuit somewhere.

Canada 🇨🇦 it’s on! The flights are booked for the end of May to Toronto. Returning after 6th July, it’s another five weeks with Tigre and Pantera (and the soft-top sports Mercedes).

England 🇬🇧 and Wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 a two week break from Spain 🇪🇸

To teach my Spanish amigo the cold and wet lands in February, the real England of her language lessons taken in the warmth of Puerto Mazarron, we flew into Manchester to tour Liverpool, Shrewsbury, Gloucester, Bristol, Southampton, Portsmouth and London.

Priority shopping for the girl was a waterproof coat that went to her calves to keep her jeans dry, thick gloves, warm hat and pack her walking boots and double thick socksOur flight was from the new Corvera international airport. Only 30 mins drive away and looked impressive when I’d dropped/collected others there.

Only one over-busy Costa, a WH Smith’s and vast empty halls with roller shutters waiting for franchises to fill them meant no pre-boarding shopping for the bottles of ’43’ and wine that we couldn’t bring with us (Ryan Air carry on bags fare at £20 each meant no check-in luggage – oops).

We arrived an hour early for priority check-in, but it was already being called. To get super quick turn around times they have you on the steps watching the plane fly in

At Manchester we were collected by Blakey and enjoyed his, Kath’s and Fletch’s company for a few days.

Fletch is a trained SADA rescue dog, he’s been lowered by helicopter into people search situations, and has the greatest of nature. Blakey and Kath were minding him while the owner assessed other rescue dogs in South America.

The sun was out for the well wrapped visitor, and stayed out every day until the day after we flew out of U.K.

The trip around Wallasey/Liverpool took in the famous Cavern Club and sea time on the Mersey Ferry (Prisci learnt the phrase “standing there like one of Lewis’s” in one picture)

The evening meal at the Blakemore’s was Kathy’s fish pie, a new favourite for Prisci. We had breakfast at the Merebrook pub and set off for Wales.

Blakey dropped us at my cousin Joan’s in Lloc (near Holywell) and we took a walk with her over the mountains

Prisci had found the Liverpool accent easy to tune into, now had the Welsh of Joan, Howard and my cousins family – Barry and Sian, Robert, Linda and their twin 21 yr old daughters.

From Joan’s we visited Chester, walked the Roman city walls and Cathedral and two tier shops there

I cannot visit Joan without wanting to spend some time on the tools. She had hair tongs that fused her electricsA dishwasher that was jamming and her ride-on-mower had a starting problemI had time to fit two external double sockets to her gardens ready for things for the twins 21st birthday party.

I treated all to lunch at what Howard said was a little eerie. The Pet Cemetery has a great restaurant and good views. It’s different, and shows how much of an animal lover U.K. folk are.

Then we were off on the train to Visit Valerie in Shrewsbury.

The train was announced delayed at Flint, and I gambled on the viewing distance down the straight track being clear enough to pop back over the bridge to the toilet. A convoluted security system for the loo where the guard asks you to go and knock on the door, checking it’s free, back to tell him and then he releases an interlock, took a while. I was mid-stream and I heard the train mid-station! Prisci laughed as I ran over the bridge zipping up and waving at the guard to please open the doors again to an already late train.

In Shrewsbury (actually Ruyton Xi Towns) we enjoyed Valerie’s cooking, wine and meeting her son Peter again. The dining room impressed Prisci

Peter took us to the pub that the highway man Dick Turpin used, and we used the seat that was his favourite moulded into the pubs fireplaceAnother walk in what was warm sunshine still

And then onto Stourport-on-Severn to visit Sally and Martin

The first week was buses and trains, now we had a hire car and a busy week down South.

Overnight in a pub before Bristol and a drive vía Salisbury to PortsmouthWeather still holding out

The next few days were London sightseeing – London Eye, Madame Tussaud’s, Abbey Road, Buckingham Palace ……

Before leaving the area we had a night with Ron at his place in Croydon, a meal out to say thanks for the hospitality and then on the bus to the Croydon/Luton Parkway airport trainLuton airport was a surprise for me, good facilities and easy to get to.

Two weeks after starting out to show Prisci how deserved is the GB moans of being cold and wet (why Spain fills up Nov to April) she decided we’re all fibbers – not a drop of water on her coat and never felt even a draft.