Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘Heat’

Torn

I’m a little late, but not entirely missing!

I didn’t manage to write last weekend because I was busy trying to sneak in as many cuddles as possible with Oliver before flying back to Spain Sunday evening.

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So shoot me.

I was, if I’m honest, a touch ambivalent about returning to this peninsula. Not only because I was leaving behind my new grandson, but also for the reason that various sun worshippers here in Spain had been sending me boastful messages of temperatures in excess of 30ºC, which didn’t strike me as being conducive to a gentle return to normality after my month-long sojourn.

I had actually been enjoying the soft thrum of rainfall on the roof of my UK abode, in the same way that I was appreciating the easy greenery that it nurtures. Much as I love our river valley spot here in Spain, it is true to say that it is much of the year scorching and dry. The maintenance of any sort of garden becomes a daily chore of watering the delicate plants that are welcome, and the endless war against the hard-as-nails native triffids that can grow vigorously on a dry stone throughout a five-month drought. More than anything, I found I missed grass. While Ben and numerous other UK folk bemoan the need to mow the stuff weekly, it is a great source of disappointment to me that it is almost impossible to grow a lush emerald lawn here.

My place of residence in damp old England is a large static caravan. Cyclic, my life, much? This spacious and downright luxurious two-bed unit is, however, to the Sardine Tin (in which you may remember I spent some eighteen months of my life whilst building the house in Spain) as a prince is to a toad. It is far more civilised, and entirely without pain! It is situated in east Cheshire, alongside the Macclesfield canal that sees the regular passage of colourful narrowboats, walkers, dogs and ducks, and I have loved being there.

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So the thought of melting anew upon homecoming was almost enough to make me tear up my flight tickets and dig in as a permanent satellite of planet Oliver.

The only thing that tipped the balance and persuaded me to drag myself to the airport was my useless upper left appendage, which was continuing to reject the implanted metal bits to the point where it was beginning to resemble a stocking full of marbles.

Back I came obediently, then, as planned, to find that a) the weather in Spain is now every bit as cool and damp as was the UK, and b) I was anyway listed for the second operation on my arm on Wednesday.

I am going to speak now of the arm and its treatment for the very last time ever, and will henceforth summarily excommunicate anyone who mentions it to me again.

The operation on Wednesday morning was in the end far more difficult and traumatic than the original, since it’s obviously easier to insert than to remove. I was conscious throughout the four hour process, having been subjected first to the unconscionable torture inflicted upon me by the anaesthetist as he attempted to numb four major nerves by direct injection into various points on my shoulder and neck. Suffice it to say that success in this matter did not come easily, but when it did, his prize was convulsive, violent and fearsome movement of my arm. Unfortunately, said limb was not in such a position to allow me the satisfaction of accidentally punching him in the nuts, which action may have allowed him suitably painful empathy.

As far as my theatre experience is concerned, I will only say this: the drilling and slurping sounds to which I was subjected first time round paled into insignificance in comparison with the hammering and sawing that I suffered this time…

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I then spent two nights in hospital under observation because my elbow continued to bleed. As therefore did my ears. Rest and recuperation are definitely not a given luxury in a Spanish hospital.

My room-mate, Puri(ficación), was bed-bound following hip replacement surgery, so at least one member of her family stood guard to jump to her every need at all times. This is the norm – everyone, including nurses, looked aghast when John left my side to attend to the kennels, eat (see note below) or sleep. Puri’s night guard slept in a chair in the room, snored like a warthog, loved to watch TV for a solid seventeen hours a day, and objected to open windows. During the day, there were a minimum of six ever-changing visitors around Puri’s bed (and by necessity of space, also around mine), talking at elevated noise levels to combat the sound of the TV which was then turned up by the night guard to exceed the noise of the conversation, which was then raised to drown the TV (and so on and so on).  These visitors also managed between them to maintain full occupation of the loo to the extent that I could barely slip in myself…

My final word on this subject. Spanish hospitals are brilliant – they are spotlessly clean, efficient and well-staffed. There is no hesitation in carrying out necessary tests. Nurses on night duty respond quickly to a summons (I know this because Puri’s carer tested them to destruction). I couldn’t fault the treatment I received.

But the food? Ye gods. Light, easily digestible and healthy are all descriptives to avoid when it comes to hospital food in Spain. My last lunch, which is a pretty good example of the stuff presented generally, involved a plate piled with a random mixture of chick peas, chorizo, rabbit and lumps of luminous yellow potato, heavily laced with garlic. While this works well as a tapas dish in a restaurant, its post-operative effect on me was nothing short of vomit-inducing.

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John ate well in hospital, anyway.

Hot and can’t-be-bothered

44ºC in the sun and 33ºC in the house, and it’s just coming up to 7pm. Remind me, if you will, why it was that we chose southern Spain as the point on the globe with the climate that we felt would best suit us.

As I sit here semi-naked before my keyboard I am aware that I am slowly liquefying. There are little springs arising all about my person and running impatiently in rivulets to kiss the floor below my chair. My musculature lies torpid and unbiddable and my brain is melting and running out of my ears. The ceiling fan above me is swooshing round efficiently but the air it moves is too warm to be of much help. Pretty soon I’m going to have to drag my reluctant and bone-idle limbs off this chair to get a bowl of iced water for my feet – the only remedy that seems to work for me in this heat.

I made a vain attempt to siesta earlier, in a bid to make it comatose through the worst of the heat and to assuage in part my need for sleep so that I can be awake and functional at midnight and beyond when the cooler and fresher night air revives me. Alas, slumber eluded me as I lay fretting about all the furry and feathered children in my care. Ridiculous though it is, I worry when they’re kicking off but I worry more when they are deathly quiet.

So I heaved myself out to the bird house and spent a while showering the parrots. This is always given a mixed reception. Jack and Lucas absolutely adore it, and throw themselves bodily into the stream of water with their wings fully outstretched, heads down, shaking their tail feathers and making gratifying noises of appreciation. J.T. bears it but chatters crossly at me. Little Sweetpea darts around manically to avoid the water droplets, Oven-Ready sits and screams at the top of her lungs and Cookie stands on one leg and chews his nails worriedly. I carry on regardless and tell them how refreshing it is, while they observe me coolly as one would an insistent clown with a large lapel flower.

As I retreated from the parrot soup, I tripped over the hulk of Marcos lying across the doorway and, noting his laboured panting and voluminous slobbering, decided that he was sporting altogether too much hair. So I took him into the house with me – a rare treat that had his huge tail beating against doors, furniture, walls, me – until he realised that he was probably being conned since we were ending up in the bathroom. I shut the door before he could organise all parts of himself to turn and flee, so he flopped on the floor and regarded me with the sad eyes of the betrayed.

However, it was not the dreaded shower that I had in mind for him. Instead, I sat on the floor with him and set upon his long and straggly locks with John’s best hair clippers – sorry, ex-best hair clippers.

It took me the best part of an hour to do my worst. At the end of it, I would not be exaggerating if I told you that the mountain of blond hair (his, not mine) obliterated any sign of the loo in there. Fortunately, Marcos decided he quite liked the whole experience – all apart from the rather rapidly-executed foray into the dreadlocks of his underbelly near his private parts, which part of the exercise I regarded with as much trepidation as he did. So on the whole he stayed still enough for the entire process to be counted a success. Okay, I’m not likely to be considered the Vidal Sassoon of dog coiffure, but at least he’s (pretty much) the same length all over and there aren’t (too many) long straggly bits left. And he still has both eyes, the majority of both ears, and his sensitive bits.

He obviously appreciated the lightening of the load. When I took him back outside he jumped and gambolled in what he obviously thought to be the fashion of a spring lamb – an incongruous sight, given that he looked more like an elephant trying to be a dolphin.

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