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.

Passing the time: Córdoba and generators

Mid-Jan to Mid-Feb:

Valerie and Her brother-in-law arrived at the new Murcia International Airport (RMU has released ‘MSJ’back to its military function). I welcomed them with service they now expect – smart driver with chauffeur cap and vino tinto

Thirty minutes later it was glasses raised to their home arrival

Likes a drop of red does Ron…….

Córdoba was the next city visit, five hour drive with a stop at Ecuador!

The city is ideal to stroll around. Lots of cobbled streets with tapas bars around the Mosque

Breakfast by the river,

Then back to Cartagena Military Museum to start the new project – a British built generator set on a Military trailer. The ‘Lister’ engine is the one fitted in a vast majority of canal boats.

Ed (museum volunteer) asked if I could check out a small portable Hyundai generator that was used by builders. Looks like they ran it dry and the windings are earthing

The Pillar Drill in the museum workshop is back in service after I fitted new condenser and relay unit

Stu had a ‘lucky black cat’ story for the chips and Cerveza stop after Museum work. The cat survived being kicked (accident says he) when closing his gates in the dark. Stu wasn’t so lucky, tripped and banged his lip and head. The aim then was to make him smile so his lip cracked, tough challenge with ‘lippy’ ….

The weather difference between Puerto Mazarrón and U.K. is negligible I believe. Strolling the seafront in either place gives you red cheeks

Mid-January:- Apartment fitout, ‘i’tech and Solar start-up

Keyplan 3D is a great free app to use for designing house remodelling. Easy to use, even on my small iPhone 7.

The flat needs its makeover, with the work on the roof terrace also wanting upgrading from my plans into hands-on.

Small bits like the waterfall shower were easy to get done in-between lots of visits to Alley Palleys (at Campersol) for the holiday season football and meals. The walks and rides in mid twenties centigrade are not taking-off enough belly fat!

The RCD/MCCB fault at the finca was double checked with an inspection of the meters that supply Peter’s and his neighbors properties. Long overdue refurbishment, we sent pictures of exposed terminals and broken insulation to the landlords

Obviously discussed over a pint, where Peter asked for the name of a iPhone engineer. His problem was the loss of ring tone, alert tones and alarms. Being highly skilled and a government trained artificer, I switched his mute button to off and asked for €30’s repair fee🤷🏻‍♂️

Prisci is happy the family dog, Tumy, seems to be on the up. To help him along she took him to the annual ‘Baptism of the Animals’

Corvera Airport has now taken over from San Javier as Murcia International, with San Javier returning to its military airbase function.

My first visit was to pick-up Valerie and Ron, with a ‘red’ welcomeand finish the bottle at their finca

Karl is busy with his project, and I’m looking forward to giving a hand after concrete has setMeanwhile I’ve restored power to Jason’s property with a battery reconfigure and have costed for replacing the twenty batteries of the eighty that had to be withdrawn from the set-up

2019 feels like it has started at a fast rate, and as yet no concrete travel plan. A Global Explorer ticket is the outline plan. Travel one-way around the planet,maybe packing the toothbrush late Feb/March?

Update 3 – End of 2018

The blog works well for me at this time, as it’s easy to flick back through rather than select and post ‘highlights’ as FB and other media offer. Looking forward rather than back is my preference anyway.

My aspiration for travel, after the extended dog nursing duty, is to circumnavigate the planet. Planning has started.

Christmas weeks have been different as a Spanish dweller. Zero cards written, minimal present buying and Xmas dinner was at the Chinese Wok (buffet). The celebrations in Spain focus more on the 6th January

Three kings Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltasar — and the Spanish Christmas traditions. Once the end-of-the-year parties are over and the New Year begins, in Spain, the children are still waiting for the most important day of the holiday season. Every year, Three Kings Day.

Busy end of year for friends –

Blakey has made it a mission to eat all the holidays mince pies

Karl is ready to ‘ring in the new’ after starting a little redecoration

Margaret and Deryk have spent time with Anne and John in Benidorm. Dressed to impress and then taking it easy on the paseo with a double buggy

Sally and Martin enjoyed the holidays in Stourport while making plans for their coming six week Thailand trip

Stu is enjoying a Xmas break without Museum Wednesday’s, and meeting up at Pablo’s for a beer when I cycle the Rambla.

Joan is packing her bags for a cruise, another one!

Chrissie has kept me up with her news in a family letter, my ski oppo from Austria days on the piste is still in a dream since her BBC make-up artist time with some singing Partridge (apparently from a family of them🤷🏻‍♂️)Karen (sis) and Tommy have treated themselves to new cars (Rav and Frontier) and blessed themselves that their December was saved when my Abu Dhabi travel had to be postponed At home – A new project for me for the start of the year is to restore the solar power at Jason’s estate. Getting the best out of his 24 volt system with only two solar panels and 80 wet cell batteries has started with finding 10 of the batteries are unfit for purpose. Reconfigured to keep him ‘live’ was easy while I cost an upgrade to capacity

It’s been a good 2018 to watch Liverpool (first season I’ve missed being at an Anfield match), hopes are high for a top finish in five months, nice win for final 2018 game

Adiós 2018

Update 2 – Some Rain, More Winter Sun

The red carpet was out in the City of Murcia, and following around sites and plaza’s I’d not seen in many wanders around the streets was pleasant

Coffee outside the Ayuntamiento, which reminded me of the Eva Perón scene on the balcony in Buenos Aires, was followed by a river bank walk

Timmy, Prisci’s dog, was about to undergo follow-on surgery to the throat lumps he had. The recovery time from the first op was shortened

And dog-sitting extended after the second op

Wednesday work at the Museum was spectacularly successful, with the aerial now freely rotating with the gearbox configured without the unnecessary secondary units and oil replacing the heavy grease that was needed when operating in sub-zero to equatorial climates.

A satisfying result at a fellow Museum volunteer workers home in El Portus was tracking an electrical fault that had caused daily multiple drop-outs for some time. The drive from the coast/inland/coast is worth doing the job for, and Peter is an ex-Royal Navy man.

Peters new washing machine was suggested as a cause by some. The day I arrived was the same as the engineer on call to it (I think we share the same barber).

I had suspected the aged RCD, and to eliminate this I changed it for an equivalent MCCB.

Whilst moving the cable I found the ‘live’ red lead from the supply (lower right to upper left) was completely loose in the terminal. This feed wire also coupled the next breaker. Both wires pushed firmly home and terminal made tight was the real cure, the RCD may have degraded due to the fault too. The reason for intermittent trips after the new washing machine was thought obvious and Peter’s home runs un-interrupted on full load.

The 26 degrees weather returned after a few days of heavy rain, and its strange to see empty beaches over the last weeks in weather that would see fights for sand space on the U.K. coast in August.

Boring Update 1. Waiting for Xmas

Winter in Southern Spain – getting through the harsh mid-twenties with a mess about in Las Azohia.

Putting The seats in the wrong way round meant the front rower (me) was actually left with trying to put your feet into the short cargo space!

Passing the time as December starts with a five hour drive to visit the family 🦍

Getting to Gibraltar by foot allows a stroll across the runway which serves as the Spanish- U.K. borderThe day time crossing can be interrupted by flightsThe apes are unperturbed by all the fuss, and concentrate on waiting to steal bags/sunglasses/snacks after you get up there

The AC Marriott Hotel in La Linea is decent, reasonable (£55) and a 15 min walk to the Gib border. Parking is safe outside the hotel or £7 underground.

Usual Gib stroll through what is now an elongated street Mall to the cable car (£15.50 return).

After an evening visit and then spending daylight hours on the Rock, we lifted and shifted to Algeciras ready for a day trip to North Africa.

The Reina Christina Hotel was cheaper, grander, bigger by miles and on the doorstep for the ferry

08:30 on the boat, breakfast at sea, Rock and Submarine spotting to pass the time (easier when they’re not dived)

Arrival in Cueta was impressive, clean and fascinating city that has a Spanish – Moroccan border on the outskirts. Claims to Gib by Spain must be ridiculed by their holding of a chunk of North Africa!

Visits to Tetuán and Tangiers were perfect to experience the infrastructure, history, markets and food.

I think the two day excursion would be better to have more free time in the markets and monuments if your keen on either.

A day trip to Cueta would be a great filler for anyone near Gib or Algiciras.

The coach was a favourite for the local kids to try riding under the chasis. Four had to be cleared just after leaving Tetuán and more when leaving Tangier. They pack the back of their clothes with plastic for soft landings when falling or dismounting

My last visit to Gib is hazy, but there were more bars then shops then

Wrap-up time

WU 1….. Travel to U.K. for New Year (after a December fortnight in Abu Dhabi) will soon be finalised. The winter ‘woolies’ and gloves are being dragged from storage or bought. A drive up through Spain to Santander ferry, then a loop from Portsmouth, Wales, Wallasey, London and return via ferry or the Cannel Tunnel and France in January – madness to leave the Costa Cálida in this season of Good Chill. The ‘Onesie’ will be packed!

WU2….. Cartagena Military Museum now has a Radar exhibit that is dynamic. The tumble dryer motor and controller, with a light stand dimmer, rotates the aerial. The PPI display creates a track and cursor image using a fan oscillating motor.

WU3….. Jobs and projects started as fill-ins between large projects are complete, with a new skill range of boiler fitting, fibre-glassing, structural building, walls, satellite, wind generator build and erect, swimming pool pumps and controllers, diesel generator repairs, to various uses of pallets under my belt.

WU4….. Spanish transition. The blog started as something to help my communication skills and focused on getting a old Frankia Motorhome from Wales to Puerto Mazarrón. My re-Matriculation of the Volvo C30 to Spanish plates moved on from that, and now I am in the final stages of transferring my driving licence to Spanish. I passed the Spanish Driving medical recently with a score of ‘Major Precision’ on the steering section (might mean I can avoid the hapless drivers on the roundabouts). So transport life is sorted.

WU5….. House-Sitter, the mantra of “leaving the ‘sit’ better than you found it” I think held up on all sits – Fareham, Bournemouth, Wales, six in Spain, Canada. Now I’m settled in Spain I’ve stopped sitting locally, and Shadow has passed on so Fareham is closed. Canada, it was near to Pantera and Tigre’s time this year, sad but I don’t expect a need there for me in 2019. Along with the pets I’ve met amazing folk and have new friends I cherish.

I will enjoy reading back through the blog, and add to it on a monthly update, but to all intents and purposes, as bugs said