Oh England, My England

2nd August 2015

Ooops, should be ‘my Wales’. Ne’er mind eh, same island innit…..

Oh my green and weathered England,

Your welcome, cool summer comforts this heat-worn traveller.

Blackberry-tangled hedgerows profuse with berries sustain the weary

And border gentle downs of harvested wheat fields twixt leafy glades.

By chance, a glance through forested copses reveals a distant, old and grand manor

And soon, a cluster of thatched-roofed homes grown round an ancient church appears,

The graveyard’s tottering headstones declaring an age long gone.

And lo, behold the welcome low-roofed weathered inn

Within which one finds comfort and cooling sustenance.

Ohhhhh . . . forsooth, I wander lonely as a clod . . .

And yeah, behold a host of golden yokels just back from ‘the Costa’.

(Alfred ‘Lord’ Cedric)

Uncle Fred - Stoke Bruerne UK 2015

After our roasting in southern Spain and Morocco the visit to my Uncle and Aunt’s (Fred and Sue) up in Buckingham, England was a welcome relief (we even made use of our jackets) as well as being fully rewarding and entertaining. Our reluctance to visit the UK is purely on economic grounds; it is truly a beautiful country in the right season (this was) with wondrous ancient architecture in its villages and seaside towns that will warm the cockles of the most cynical heart, but . . . for someone using the dollar from down-under, it is shockingly expensive. Fred and Sue were able to show us some more of their beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside and canals, while Rachel and I managed a good day’s walk between rustic villages (Buckingham to Gawcott to Preston Bissett and return) – a mini pub crawl. ‘Twas all gawjus!

Canal Boat - Stoke Bruerne UK

Stoke Bruerne UK Canal Boats

My Uncle’s story has yet to be told. A uniquely interesting tale of struggle and survival of emigres from Gibraltar during wartime (2nd WW), he and his mother (my Grandmother) with no financial support from his deserting father or the government evaded bombs and hostile landlords in London to not only survive but to handsomely succeed through effort and ingenuity. My Uncle Fred’s story is an exemplary tale of the underdog, the forgotten, and of thriving against the odds. As always, in talking with him and his lovely wife Sue I am inspired and am better educated. Rachel, too, loves their company.

Well-fed, watered and having had hours of stimulating conversation we cantered off south on Brit’ Rail for a brief two-night visit to our friends Syd and Veronica in Eastbourne. It was, though brief, equally rewarding and in their company we took in the fantastic Victorian architecture of that seaside town and its neighbouring fishing village of Hastings – that of the historic battle of the same name, 1066 and all that. The whole region just oozes ancient historic events, and because of many still-standing buildings, inns, coach houses, houses and pubs, it is not difficult to actually get a feel for it. This is, of course, the same throughout much of the UK. Syd is a friend of mine from the 60s when we were both working in Gibraltar. Before that he was on tankers running to the Middle East and has subsequently worked in the Middle East and Barbados. We go back a long way, as do my Uncle Fred and I.

Syd & Cedric Hastings UK

Local Pub in Hastings
Local Pub in Hastings UK

Syd is a ‘Jag’ man – shown below is a local Jaguar restoration workshop
Jaguar Workshop - Buckingham UK

Spain, Gibraltar, the UK and Family

19th July 2015

Well, brief but bountiful …..

But first a little lingering memory of Morocco: on our first day, all the young blades, the old, young girls and women were dressed in their finery for the celebration of the end of Ramadan. It was an eye-popping, rich tapestry of colour and styles. Unfortunately, we were quite unable to confront the crowds of people on the pavements with our cameras as they approached and passed us; it seemed just far too intrusive so – no pics. The following photos may give you some idea, but fall far short of the real, colourful and beautiful designs. Daily, even after Ramadan, Moroccan streetwear clothing presented us with a kaleidoscope of colours and styles anyway: Ali baba trousers; gorgeous flowing gowns; full, black-robed niqab and burka-wearing women; and young men wearing the most modern and stylish designer jeans, shorts and t-shirts (styles ripped off in Turkey and sold here much cheaper and of good quality). The variety of clothing was entertainment in itself.

Tanger - Moroccan attire

Tanger Clothes Shop Morocco

Our arrival at the end of Ramadan, on the other hand, was perhaps not the best time to arrive as there are another two full days where most of the shops and food producers are closed – we’ve struck this before. However, the rudiments were there, but nothing to compare with in-between the Ramadan fasting period when Moroccan food production and snacks excel.

Return to Algeciras
What’s to say? We both like this big port city but it can be very grubby and the current heat-wave doesn’t help. We are once again staying near the port itself, but had to change our accommodation after a couple of days because we couldn’t sleep in the oven-like, non-air-conditioned room. We managed to score a much bigger, spacious-and-cool room in another small hotel just 50m away. It had air-con and cost the same (30 Euros per night).

There seems to be more street hookers about lately – none of them too young. Maybe the heat brings them out.

Off to the UK in a day or so to visit my Uncle in Buckingham (flying out from Malaga), then down to Eastbourne to visit an old friend and his missus. After that (about a week to ten days maybe) we’re off on a mystery tour with Rachel at the helm, counting down our last days of this holiday.

Old Algeciras

Of course, we walked over to Gibraltar across the runway from La Linea (on two separate days) and visited my family; an enjoyable walk-down-memory-lane experience for us both.

The outer suburbs of Algeciras are surprisingly well kept and in some parts very flash. We passed through them on a local bus on our way to the neighbouring beach of Getares and the village of San Garcia. It isn’t a bad part of this corner of Andalucia though clearly developed in the holiday-villa style. It is a pleasant break from our gritty (but savoury and colourful) current domain. A lot of the locals in these outskirts keep horses and mules, and not for steeplechasing or shows.

It is incredibly hot and humid today, and we are assured by locals that this is not typical for this time of the year – we are in the midst of centennial, if not greater, climate change.

Rock of Gibraltar in background from up above Getares Beach
Getares and Rock of Gibraltar in background Spain

This horse in Algeciras’ outskirts has just been given a cooling hose-off
Outskirts of Algeciras Spain

The beach of Getares
Playa Getares Spain - Gibraltar in background