Archive | March, 2014

A Change of Plan

25 Mar

Image

For the last couple of months I’ve been writing a second diary that I didn’t post on the blog. It seemed too early to explain what was going on. But now it looks like a new adventure for us is really about to start. To explain, here are the main exerts from that diary. Well, I did warn you that the blogging would start again in earnest!

Here We Go Again

4th January 2014 

We make plans and then Fate laughs in our faces. The accompanying shove in the back can come in many forms. For us it was an email. Abu Dhabi police were after Neil.

The email was from Human Resources at his old Force. Abu Dhabi had Neil’s CV from an enquiry some time ago but they had lost his contact details. Would he like to get in touch with them about a possible job?  Well, would he? Four and a half years after turning his back on all that? Don’t be ridiculous. Well, yes, he would, actually.

I tried to leave the decision up to him but I, too, had heard that little bell that starts ringing, the warning of the on-coming express train, when dear old Fate has made her own plans. Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. I’m not at all sure where I’ll fit on this new course other than as the faithful sidekick but it looks like I could be about to find out.

 

And So It Begins

20th January 2014 

Neil has recently returned from spending a week at home in the UK. This previously unplanned trip became a necessity to sort out the paperwork to apply for a visa to work in Abu Dhabi. Now this is a right palaver. Pretty much everything in the way of education and training certificates along with his birth certificate has to be “notarised”, something we don’t do very often in Britain and, which we discovered when selling Seren Môr to an American, wasn’t as easy as in the States.

There aren’t that many notaries about outside of London. And this means they don’t come cheap! However, we did find a good one and it was logical to use him again. After being notarised the documents have to be sent to the Foreign Office and then to the UAE Embassy in London (each making a charge) which sounds like a rather drawn out process. Fortunately, the notary was able to take all this on and Neil was able to leave him to it. For a price, of course. 

We hit more of a problem when it came to getting the documents notarised that I would need for a visa, though. Once Neil has a visa he can then sponsor me as his wife so I can apply for mine to join him out there. For this we needed to go through a similar process for our marriage certificate. And guess what? We were married in Florida so it’s an American certificate not a British one which has to be dealt with in the USA. Whereas my birth certificate is British and has to be dealt with in the UK – two notaries, three government authorities (state and national level in the US) and two different embassies of a third government. And all this has to be done at the same time or it will confuse the embassies apparently.

Then there is the little matter of renting out the house. And what will we do with the caravan? Stay tuned.

 

Now We Wait

27th January 2014

With Neil now back here in Spain we wait to hear from the Abu Dhabi police. We should be here until the end of March but, assuming things like security checks are all ok, Neil will have to fly out to AD as soon after his visa is approved as possible. The problem is we have no idea how long that process will take. So we wait.

In the meantime we try to carry on as before, get back into our enjoyable routine, but the dynamic has changed. There is a feeling of doing things for the last time, of saying goodbye both to people and places. We go to favourite restaurants and do favourite walks because we don’t know if we’ll get chance to do them again before we leave. And yet we might. Will we still be around when that restaurant re-opens? Maybe. Will we get chance to spend a few days away? We probably shouldn’t. Will the almond blossom be out before we go? God willing. Or should I say “InshAllah”?

 

Heading Home

1st February 2014

Shortly after writing the last entry we heard the sad news that Neil’s father had passed away. This changes things as, of course, we want to be with his family and attend his funeral. So we’ve called it a day, packed up the apartment and are now heading home.

We’d like to think we will be able to return for a couple of weeks but, as the necessary paperwork is now in place for the Abu Dhabi Police to apply for Neil’s visa, this seems unlikely. Leaving was hard, though. We are aware that if everything works out it will be at least a couple of years before we even get the chance to return. We still talk of the UK as home and I guess it always will be where our roots are. Yet Jávea is where we have spent most of our time since leaving the boat in Messolonghi over a year ago, where we probably both actually feel most at home.

And, with the death of Neil’s parents, what constitutes home in the UK has irrevocably changed, particularly for Neil. For me, the house in North Wales is more Alex’s than ours. He has naturally stamped his character on it in our long absences and we return mainly to spend time with him. And life, of course, goes on without us. This wonderful, itinerate lifestyle does come with a price.

 

Frustrating 

9th February 2014

Over a week after leaving Jávea, we’re still none the wiser about what is happening in Abu Dhabi. We’re beginning to wonder if the job is still going let alone if the visa has been sorted. If we are going over there, how long have we got before Neil has to leave?

We’ve both been really busy sorting out various things in preparation for leaving but at the moment everything is just on hold. Do we sell the caravan or get it ready to head off in it again? All the things that were conveniently stored in Hereford, near where the caravan is in winter storage, have now got to be moved to North Wales and room found to store them. Then, of course, if we sell, some will have to go back to the ‘van in Hereford for inclusion in the sale while the things we want to keep have to come out and be transferred to North Wales. We’ve already had a couple of people interested in buying it but we have to keep them waiting until we know what’s happening so we could easily lose a potential sale. Aghhh! It’s all so frustrating! Pour me another glass of the red stuff.

 

More Waiting

 23rd February 2014

So still we wait. The difference is we’ve decided to do it in Spain. Neil finally heard back from Abu Dhabi some three weeks after sending his documents to them. It sounds like things are actually starting to move over there but we still have no idea when he will have to fly out.

In the meantime the house in Hereford has been emptied and the keys are with the letting agent. The caravan is still in storage as we are reluctant to sell until we know for definite that this whole escapade is taking place. We’ll have to deal with that if and when the visa application is sorted and we head back to the UK.

But it’s good to be back. The apartment is as we left it, of course, although now considerably depleted of most of our possessions. We chose to leave the car behind in favour of a cheap flight and could only bring what we could carry in our suitcases. There’ll be no crates of cava on the return journey so we have to make the most of it while we’re here. Oh the hardship. I know what you’re thinking. How will they get on in a Muslim society? That should be interesting. Hmm.

2nd March 2014 

Another week has passed without hearing anything. There being absolutely nothing we can do and no timescale for change, the prospect of this new life has started to feel unreal and we’re glad we haven’t told many people about it.

It’s hard even to do any serious research on what to expect. Neil probably has more idea than I do about what it will be like, having worked in Jordan, but we are told it will be fairly liberal in Abu Dhabi. Women are allowed to drive!

I’m trying to be practical but it’s not easy. Just what do they mean when they say women should dress “respectfully”? Apparently a bikini is ok around a hotel swimming pool but bare shoulders are not acceptable in the street. No point buying that dress I fancy if the skirt is too short for me to wear out there. Just how short is too short anyway? Is a t-shirt respectful? What about skinny jeans or cropped trousers? I guess I’ll just have to buy a whole new wardrobe when I get out there. That doesn’t sound so bad.

16th March

Still no news so we’ve decided we’ll stay in Spain until the end of the month regardless of if we hear anything between now and then and have booked the flight for the 30th. So there.

 

A Text!

25th March 2014

Out of the blue, with absolutely no warning or further information, Neil got a text from AD today asking him what airport he wanted to fly from. Panic! Don’t book it yet, we’re not ready! A couple of emails later and it really looks like this is going to happen. Gulp.

We celebrated with a bottle of cave. Oh, and I bought a new hat.

Advertisements

Jávea

22 Mar

Image

Our flight home is booked. So with only a week left here I thought I’d share with you some pictures of Jávea that might explain why it has become home from home for us.

The town is really divided into four areas: the old town, the new town, the port and the Arenal. The first three probably speak for themselves. The Arenal is the main beach area that has developed to accommodate the needs of those using the beach and promenade.

 Image

The port is a bit of a walk along the seafront from the Arenal and this is where we choose to stay. It contains the small marina, the town quay and the fishing harbour along with its share of shops, bars and restaurants. It also has a surprisingly quirky church built to suggest a boat.

 Image

Image

From the port a walk up the hill takes you to the old part of the town with its wonderful fortified church, indoor market, narrow streets and small squares. Here you’ll find some excellent restaurants and tapas bars as well as the town hall.

Image 

Enclosing the bay is Cap San Antón at one end with Cap Prim at the other. To the rear are the hills with their old, derelict windmills and the looming shape of Montgo, the area’s highest point and most dominant feature.

Image

Image 

We love it all. But shh.. It’s a secret. 

Image

Alicante Aggravation

14 Mar

Friday

Image

As extending the hire of the car without returning to the airport was beyond the capabilities of Budget we thought we’d make the most of an inconvenience and have an overnight stopover in Alicante. The weather forecast that had promised a warm and sunny day when we booked the hotel changing its mind on the day to 100% probability of rain wasn’t going to put us off. When the previously rather temperamental sat nav chose this day to have a complete hissy fit and refuse to load the destination, still we were undeterred. 

It has to be said, though, that the queue for Goldcar and their hard sell of insurance along with a demand for 800 euros pre-payment on the credit card when we finally reached the desk was rather more aggravating. And we really could have done with the sat nav when it came to finding the hotel which despite its name was not on the Esplanade but in an awkward back street with no parking and round the corner from the sex shop. 

Our stay was always going to be about the food, though. The anticipated wandering of the old town as we perused the menus of the various tapas bars and restaurants was rather marred, however, by the promised precipitation and the over-attention of the staff. This pouncing, rather than luring us in, only served to drive us away. At some points the pestering was so ridiculous it became almost impossible to stay polite. 

Fortunately, Neil had done some research and we came across one of the tapas bars on his list. There was no menu outside Sento Barra and the waiter made no attempt to grab us. We simply walked in, surveyed the dishes displayed in the chilled bar cabinet and went with his recommendation. Perfectly cooked skewers of chicken marinaded in in garlic and lemon and served with shavings of Manchengo cheese, drizzled with a balsamic reduction were followed by small crispy rolls with melt-in-the-mouth beef, rocket and a mustard dressing, all washed down with a local beer. And the sun came out. 

The lure of the marina proved too much, though, and we headed for the seafront in search of further tapas. With a view of the boats and castle, a restaurant advertising chiperones fritos (fried baby squid) at 6 euros a portion got our custom despite not being on Neil’s list. When the wine proved to be a favourite Rueda we were also tempted to order the garlic potatoes and some alioli to go with the warm bread rolls. Not wanting to spoil the experience, we took the decision to ignore the blatant over-charging when the bill came and just deducted it from the tip. Well, the Spanish don’t tip and we won’t be going back in the near future. 

The road noise proved to be the least of it when we returned for a siesta to our hotel room. The restoration work on the building opposite our window now involved continuous drilling, much reversing of vehicles that needed warning alarms and instructions that had to be shouted over the cacophony. All this was drowned out by the mini-bar fridge that was only silenced by unplugging.Image

 We can but hope it will all quieten down overnight. A few bevvies should help. 

Palm Trees

4 Mar

Image

I’ve never really rated palm trees much. Other than as a symbol of being somewhere warm and sunny, they’ve never struck me as being particularly attractive trees. But reclining, half in sun, half in shade, on the patio sheltered from the gusting winds, I’ve been particularly struck by them.

This early in the season the leaves are a glossy green, without the sharp desiccated, brown ends I tend to associate with them. As the wind catches their fronds they sparkle in the sunlight, the flashes catching my half-closed eyes as I lie in my somnolent posture, like exploding fireworks against the blue of the sky.

From this you can probably gather how I’ve been spending my days, or afternoons, at least. Neil has caught some dreaded lurghy and is pretty much housebound, curtailing our activities somewhat. So I’m forced to lounge around outside, sometimes sitting and reading, sometimes just sitting. I could do with bar service, though.