On the hoof again…

airport queues

Things have been somewhat eventful here lately: Leo has been diagnosed with COPD – as if he didn’t have enough medical problems to fill a doctor’s waiting room to overflowing as it is – and we have been clearing up after Saturday’s hurricane which took the tops from a fair number of trees but which left house and livestock sheds undamaged.

The last remnant of the storm appeared today: a highly indignant crab found on the balcony, menacing the poodle with its distinctly large nippers.

Crab removed with tongs to the stream, poodle comforted with biscuits and the two big dogs awarded biscuits as well, as they have decided that they were traumatised by the hurricane (which they spent tucked up on our bed) and are being needy. Black Tot has just helped herself to biscuits…nothing disturbs Black Tot, but she never misses a biscuit opportunity either.

I am cooking for the freezer, as I am off to England shortly for mother’s one hundredth birthday bash….and between arrangements for here and for there I really do not know whether I am coming, going, or been.

First of all, mother had thought to celebrate her birthday at the house in Spain – with her friends, known to me as the Naughty Nineties. Needless to  say, the logistics had been my problem.

The mere idea of transporting them to the end of the road without the assistance of sheepdogs and cattle goads is enough to give me the heebie jeebies…but to  Spain?

Ryanair, who run planes to the new airport at Castellon half an hour from the house , were helpfulness itself. I could get all the wheelchairs and zimmer frames aboard without problem….

However, getting the Naughty Nineties to Stansted airport was another matter.

National Express coaches could not take all of them on one coach…which would mean half the party lost in the loos at Victoria Coach Station while awaiting the stragglers and the process being repeated at Stansted airport….though there again the airport was helpful: staff were available to deal with people needing assistance.

The train? Forget it……crossing London on the Tube with the Naughty Nineties was out of the question.

A taxi? The only thing on offer was a stretch limousine used for hen parties….which mother turned down on the grounds of moral turpitude. Goodness only knows what you might catch…

So Plan A was abandoned…much to my relief as I could see that once in Spain I would have been doing the cooking for a group whose dietary requirements would have been stringent on the home front  – All Bran to open the bowels, hard boiled eggs to stop them up again, plenty of beans to provide musical accompaniment – while going the whole hog in the caffs…requiring Alka Selzter and Milk of Magnesia on the industrial scale once back at the house.

Further, that week would have coincided with a village fiesta where bulls run loose in the streets: you look left, look right and look left again before you leave the supermarket in case something taurine has you in its sights.

I suspect that the bookies would have their money on the Naughty Nineties and their zimmer frames but the whole thing seemed fraught with undiplomatic possibilities….

So mother is going to Winchester for her birthday, where she she served in the army in World War II: where she met David Niven: where she was taught to fire a rifle and to throw a molotov cocktail into  the turret of a German tank: where she adopted the phrase of the sergeant instructors…’take one with you’. …and where she learned the words of and actions to ‘The Spaniard who blighted my life’.

She is also…and the Guildhall have been warned…seeking the visitors book entry in which she and the girls who served with her signed their names together with that of the young American serviceman who was adopted as a brother, taken home to what hospitality their families could offer… and who disappeared off the radar after June 1944…

From the practical point of view, Winchester being as hilly as it is, I’ll order a taxi to the heights where the barracks which she knew have been perverted into luxury flats…long gone the days when Sir John Moore,  master of the light infantry once based there, inveighed against the promiscuity of crowded lodgings…but where once these conditions were imposed on the soldiery in these days the well heeled bustle to live cheek by jowl.

peninsular barracks

Thence we can visit Oliver Cromwell’s Battery to see the house in which she was billeted on an elderly lady who had an art when it came to using mother’s rations to feed both of them – pass the castle with the Round Table then out through the city, past the cathedral to the monastery of St.Cross, where bread and beer are still served to those who declare themselves as pilgrims…

By that time I’ll need both as we shall then be wending our way back to the cathedral to admire the memorial to the diver whose contribution was vital to the restoration of the building.

And what will the Naughty Nineties be doing?

Preparing a party for mother on her return.

I prefer not to think how they will blow up the balloons….







55 thoughts on “On the hoof again…”

  1. Sorry to hear about Leo’s latest diagnosis.
    But (sorry, Leo) the logistics of chaperoning your mama and her Naughty Nineties chased all gloom from my mind.Bull-running with Zimmerframes!

    Winchester should be doable on the sane level. But, wait! Isn’t your mother rather keen on cricket? A trip up to Lords, perhaps?

    I’ll just cross my fingers that there is not another hurricane while you’re away…

    1. At the moment she is glued to the box for the Olympics…..so communication is limited, but I will look into the idea of cricket.

      This hurricane was not expected and unfortunately destroyed the best fair that the town has had in years so i too hope that another one will not be along in a hurry…

      I have to say that the idea of shepherding that lot to Spain did not fill me with delight but Leo suggested that, given their age, I should issue them with gas masks and tell them to imagine that they were being evacuated…Might have worked…

      He could have done without this latest health problem…he has been issued with enough puffers to repopulate the Clyde…

  2. So sorry to hear about Leo’s latest diagnosis. He must have a very strong constitution to cope with everything thrown at him. And so must you! Although Winchester sounds a better option than Spain, it’s still going to be really hard work for you. Please take care of yourself too xxx

    1. He has the constitution of an ox…or he wouldn’t be here now. I begin to wonder just what else he will be called upon to cope with…
      It’s not the best moment to go, while he adjusts to all his puffers, and I could do without a long journey – via Mexico City this time – followed by hectic activity…but there it is.

  3. I’m sorry to hear of Leo’s latest…COPD is terrible and I’d say have fun with your Mum, but that trip doesn’t sound enjoyable for you, though I hope there is some enjoyment to be had for this milestone…Best to you all and a happy birthday to your Mum.

  4. Poor Leo how he suffers!
    On top of this he is left with the work on the house and freezer food for an eon while you are away partying with mum and the Tiller Girls! I suspect he, Danilo and the dogs will lose weight. Unless there is enough beer in…
    Just look forward to the work restoring everything when you return…what…oh!

    The trip to Spain sounds just a wee bit daunting, let alone using Ryanair, and Winchester sounds a better bet. It would be good if she can find that place where they all left their names, I wonder what happened to their Yank?

    At least you have given me a good start to the day, I will be laughi…sorry thinking of your troubles all day instead of mine! 🙂

    1. It’s reassuring that some things don’t change…your happy laughter will cheer up my day…!
      We’ve lost Danilo to the hurricane: a tree came down on his house and while he was chainsawing lumps of it away one fell on his leg, breaking the small bone in his calf. He is off for at least a month, but has sent us his son Rigo as a replacement – a very capable young man.
      The car, of course, has chosen this moment to play up and is in the garage…

  5. Those Naughtie Nineties sound like a handful. Phew! I don’t envy you at all with that lot.

    Is COPD the same as COAD (airways as opposed to pulmonary, I assume)? Leo does seem to manage to overcome all these things in a miraculous way. I know how worried you were about him only a few months ago.

    Sorry to hear about the hurricane. When you are in the thick of that sort of thing they are jolly unsettling.

    1. The Naughty Nineties are a handful….what with their ailments and their characters…thank goodness that the stretch limo did no meet with approval!
      The hurricane was, shall we say, interesting, watching the shrubbery sail over the balcony…
      I’m not sure if the two are the same…knowing how beastly COPD is I could howl…he has so much to deal with as it is…so we’ll just hope that it can be arrested.

  6. ‘Geçmiş olsen, Leo!’ As for you, I thought you were somewhat of a stalwart – what is all this getting intimidated by a mob of dear, old ladies? Whatever, enjoy the experience. Just lie back and think of Costa Rica!

  7. Oh no, poor Leo. 😦

    I cannot imagine how you cope with hurricanes, exploding volcanoes, roads that are not there, gun-toting neighbours, and terciopelos to name just a few of the hazards I can recall from your posts.

    But then I think of your mother approaching her centenary and planning a knees up in rural Spain with her aged friends. The apple does not fall far from the tree. 🙂

    All best wishes to Leo, bon voyage to you, and many happy returns to your mother.

  8. First of all I am so sorry that Leo has added another (and rather serious) entry to his increasingly large medical dictionary. However, you had me wheezing with laughter at the thought of chaperoning those nonagenarians across central London, let alone in Spain! Winchester is one of my favourite towns and we have strong ties to the army there two of my Uncles having been Rifle Brigade – one in the war, the other fighting the mow mow in Kenya. Have a good trip and I’ll keep fingers crossed that there are no cries of ‘Zimmer down’ along the way

    1. The uncle in the Rifle Brigade during the war might have met my mother – sounds a bit like ‘Lloyd George knew my father’…
      She was given a Greenjackets badge to wear (unofficially) which led to her being asked by an indignant veteran of WWI (clearly not a Light Bob) how did it come about that she had been awarded the Iron Cross…
      I cannot tell you how thankful I am to be spared the trip to Spain…not what I need just at the moment.

      While Leo could have done without it, at least the health service here picked up the problem: I just hope they are right when they say that they can arrest it.

      1. Mother is now fully engaged with the tale. Her elder Rifles brother was killed in North Africa in May 42, the younger did his National Service in Kenya and Malaya and was there in 55 when my grandfather died. They both spent periods in Winchester and it is highly possible your honorary Mother knew Uncle a John or at least that their paths crossed. She sends her own birthday greetings for the Centenary and I think you for giving her an excuse to reminisce at length 🙂

        1. Very kind of your mother. I’m expecting quite a torrent of reminiscence once we hit Winchester…some tales I know or half remember, but I am sure to hear more: she remembers the difficulty the regulars had to adjust to war time conditions – and the influx of newcomers to military life!

          1. My Uncle was 21 when he died. My youngest daughter is 21. They deserve to reminisce …. We know not how fortunate we are that they gave their youth to preserve our futures 💫

          2. No giving about it. Those lives were taken…and all thanks to politicians who ruined Germany after WWI and refused to cope with German rearmament afterwards. And yes, the post war settlement was one of the great achievements of British society…and its heirs let it go…

          3. No correction intended…just a blast of indignation at the sheer waste of life…Wilson, yes…and the French politicians, looking for revenge for 1871.

  9. Sorry to hear about Leo’s health, that doesn’t sound good.

    The rest of your post though; was hilarious and had me laughing out loud and reading excerpts to my own mother with whom I’m on holiday in Wales. 🙂

  10. I admire the fortitude of both Leo and yourself. Your mother seems to have quite a bit, too. A hard-nosed bunch all the way around. I’m hoping Leo licks this latest diagnosis with a minimum of discomfort.

    That said, this line gave me the best chuckle I’ve had in some time: “The last remnant of the storm appeared today: a highly indignant crab found on the balcony, menacing the poodle with its distinctly large nippers.”

    Hope all goes well at the party; take notes so when your mom turns 200 you can avoid making similar mistakes.

    1. I hope so too..he has so much to put up with already.

      The crab astonished me…how in blazes did it end up on the balcony? However it got there it certainly disapproved of its surroundings.

      200…and you think you;re joking…!

  11. I’m sorry to read that Leo’s medical diagnoses now include COPD. I hope that it’s in early stages and that he’s comfortable with many more good years, like your mother! Give her a special hug (if she’s a hugger) from your cyber friend across the pond and being that I’m half-English I know how to give a proper hug. So glad you’re not having to schlep the gang to Spain. Also glad that there wasn’t too much damage to your property. Thank goodness. Safe travels and I’ll be thinking of you whooping up with the youngsters. ❤

    1. It wasn’t what we wanted to hear…so fingers crossed that it is caught in time to be able to control it.
      Taking that lot to Spain was risking a diplomatic incident…so I’m jolly glad I’m not…
      Traveling via Mexico City airport this time…after last time when they confiscated my sandwiches…and an eight hour wait this time, deep joy!

  12. Sounds like you’ll have your work cut out dealing with the various needs and idiosyncracies of the naughty nineties. I hope you survive to tell the tale!

    Sorry to hear of yet another medical problem on top of all the others.

  13. Sorry to hear about Leo, as you say he has enough problems already do you really need more. Someone up there is not sharing things out properly it seems to me.
    Wow the birthday sounds like it is going to be quite something and I bet at the end of it all you are going to be the one exhausted while everyone else will be ready to carry on partying!!!
    A very Happy Birthday to your Mum, a very special one, is the Queen invited 🙂 ?
    Take care (all 3 of you) Diane

    1. I think a more equal share out would have been a very good idea! I have candidates!

      I think I’ll need a holiday after all the running around….fat chance!

      The Queen will be sending her letter….and if it doesn’t arrive on time it will be my head on the block!

  14. Oh my! Thank you for the laugh, Helen. I fear it was at your mom and her friends’ expense though. When I got to the part about the loose bulls running through the streets I almost choked on my drink. You are going to have your hands full as the official birthday organizer.

    I’m sorry to hear about Leo’s diagnosis. I hope there are some medications that will offer him some relief.

    1. It’s as well I didn’t think of a career as a party planner…
      Taken individually they are all nice old ladies – well, mostly…
      Get them in a group and it’s Hell’s Grannies.

      We’re just hoping that the puffers will do the trick….

  15. Sorry to hear Leo’s diagnosis but he seems to be able to ignore most illnesses that would have the rest of us horizontal. I look forward to the report of your mother’s celebration.

    1. Don’t know about ignore…but he tries to cope. Frustrating for him for a lot of the time, but he tries.

      Mother’s celebration? I shall be lying down in a darkened room to recover…she will be watching the racing on the box…

  16. I hope you all have / had a wonderful time. Congratulations to your mother on reaching 100. I’m still laughing about the cooking you would be doing!

  17. Poor Leo and lucky old lady, your Mum.
    By now the worst – and the best – will be over and I am looking forward to your description of the festivities.

    1. Things divided into emotion and happiness: she had lost so many friends in the war but the vergers at the cathedral made sure that she could see the entries in the roll of honour.

  18. A belated Happy Birthday to your mother. Reaching 100 is quite an achievement. After all that rushing around you must feel about 100 yourself. I hope that your mother appreciated your efforts.

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