Brindleboy123's Blog

Evening all!

I thought it was about time I let my fingers do the typing again.  Seems quite a while since I have been on here – don’t suppose for one minute you have been waiting with baited breath (is that right saying?!) but anyway, I will start my ramblings!

Well, Madrid must now be full once again as they have now left the area in their drones.  We still have one or two “hangers on” but it is only a matter of time before the last one leaves and we can lock the gate!  In all seriousness, it really is very quiet in our block now with just 4 or 5 apartments occupied out of 54.  Another month or so and it will just be three of us here.  I don’t mind, even though it is “quite” nice to have everyone around it is also good when we have the place to ourselves again and the community swimming pool and area becomes, once again, our front garden!  The weather has remained very warm though and the beach opposite is still full each day.  It is the “oldies” that are here now (know the routine nowadays – its the younger couples in May/June, families July/August and anyone over the age of 65 thereafter!). The “oldies” are experts at beach days! The use old shopping bags on wheels and convert them into deckchair carriers! There is usually a place for the brollies and when it is all up and running on the sand, they even have somewhere to hang their clothes without the risk of creasing! Curtains are also often stitched with eleastic and these apparently make good changing rooms without the need to leave the beach!  You have to give it to the Spanish – they waste nothing!

We ventured onto the beach for the first time in weeks yesterday.  We were only there for an hour or so but were offered two “free” day trips (in the hope that we buy a new bed/heater or blankets!), sunglasses, watches and would you believe tableclothes!

I went back to the UK for a few days to visit Samantha, Ben and of course, baby Jacob! He is enormous (thats Jacob not Ben!) It really was lovely to see them.  Babies seem to grow so quickly and I thank Mr Skype everyday for his invention so I can still see them when I am here.  Many of the clothes that we had bought for the little one were now too small and probably had not even been worn more than once! It seems that the Spanish sizing for babies is on a par with sizing for women because the 3 – 6 monts wouldn’t even go near him!  We managed to get out and about quite a bit and the weather was very kind.  I’m not blond but I do seem to have several “blond” moments nowadays (menopausal!) and I left £50 worth of shopping  in a changing room.  I couldn’t believe it when we got back and thought it was gone for good.  Thankfully, the shop assistant handed it in to the information area and so we had to go back the following day.  It shouldn’t have been a problem other than the fact that on the way home there was an accident on the motorway so we took the other road.  Big Mistake!  It took us 3 and a half hours to travel what should have been a half hour drive.   Feeling a bit stressed we pulled in for fish and chips …..the queue was outside the door.  It really wasn’t our day but one positive thing was that the journey gave Samantha and I an opportunity to have a nice mother and daughter chat.

Took Jacob swimming too.  I’m not 100% convinced he was really impressed but I would love to think he will get used to the water and not be a water phobic like I was.  I didn’t even learn to swim until we moved here.  Tony eventually taught me how to swim by getting me to tread water.  I couldn’t believe I could even do that and spent a week or so swimming in an upright position! Now I really enjoy it but not too keen on the sea as there are no sides to head for!

A few weeks ago Tony was looking out of the window and saw a small black dog sat outside a house across the road from us.  A lady came out and was trying to kick him out the way.  The little dog wasn’t deterred and stayed there when she went back in.  After a white Tony called him over and we gave him some food and water.  He was such a lovely little chap and I thought he was actually a puppy until I looked inside his mouth and it was then obvious he was actually getting on a bit in years.  We took him to the vets to check to see if he was chipped and fortunately he was (or so we thought). The vet phoned the owner who said he was too ill after a hip operation to collect the dog who was named Percy and 10 years old, so we took him back to the old chap.  Poor Percy was terrified when we got there and didn’t want to go inside.  The old chap was Spanish and obviously liked the dog but was unable to look after him .  He gave Percy a pat on the head but Percy moved his head.  I hated leaving the little chap there.

Three days later (you’ve guessed) Percy was back outside again! I brought him in, fed him and he played with our two dogs. Believe me I was solely tempted to keep little Percy with us but sense told me that our little flat was really too small for three dogs.  I know we had done it before when we had our dear Chunky boy but I knew I needed to find a new home for this little chap.  Someone had told me that a mutual friend had had to have her dear little dog put to sleep a few weeks earlier and I bit the bullet, put a lead on Percy and went out on the hunt for Diane! Luck was on Percy’s side as I found her in the local cafe with her family including her son who is a dog trainer and animal behaviourist in the UK!  Result!  I asked Diane if she knew anyone who would possibly take this old chap on for his last few years and Percy played the part too – smiling and rolling over exactly as I had told him to on the way down there!  To cut a long story short (unusual for me), Percy is now happily living with Diane and her husband and Peppy their other little dog who has now found a new lease of life.  Percy is enjoying life and I am very hopeful that the years he has remaining will be spent with this very loving family. He is loving the sunshine around the pool and has already been trained to play ball and now even gives the ball back – mind you, only so he can go and lounge by the swimming pool!  Percy has landed on his paws.

I have become obsessed recently – Jigsaws!  Is it possible for a 53 year old woman to be obsessed with jigsaws?  I discovered an app on the Apple Mac and it allows you to create your own so now the majority of our photos that I have on the laptop have been convered into a jigsaw!  Last month it was cross-words, I was doing them day and night.  Actually if I’m perfectly honest it became more a case of looking at the clue and then copying the answer from the back of the book, that’s when I decided I needed a new hobby – I had a book of 500 crosswords and the thought of copying all those clues was a bit too much!

I must be sad because I know I mentioned Celebrity Big Brother last month but I started watching the new Big Brother and noticed that one of the contestents came from my home town of Weston super Mare!  It turned out to be one of the lads that went to Playschool and on to all the other schools with Samantha!  Aaron Allard….well, he has changed!  I remember him at playschool and when he was in A Christmas Carol with Samantha!  I had a text from Samantha when she heard and she said she was considering selling her Christmas Nativity story from primary school to the Sun!!

We have decided to go on one of the Coach trip tours that are popular around these parts.  It is to a place called Cuenca which is north of here.  Its only for 3 days but I think it will be a nice change for Tony to be driven somewhere and will give us chance to see a bit more of Spain.  Our friends have said they will look after the dogs which is going to save us a little too.  We will return the favour later in the year.  I’ll let you know how our little adventure goes next month.

I have been using Twitter a little more lately and getting into the swing of it too although I’m not that good at working out how everything works on there – give me time and I will get there!  Following a dear little lad named Jack Marshall.  He is only 6 and suffering from a terminal brain tumur.  His mum writes each day and there are always smiles and happy memories recorded.  If you are “in” to Twitter give it a quick look.

Whilst on to things to look at – someone posted this on a local forum – if you don’t mind a bit of nudity you should give it a look (it really isn’t anything vulgar!) Again, could only happen here! I just love the look on the policeman’s face and also the fact that the same man seems to be following her around taking photographs!

http://player.vimeo.com/video/6779174?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&autoplay=1

Right then folks, time to get going as there are some grapes with my name on them – I know sounds ridiculous but Tony has decided to lose weight AGAIN and that means I can’t eat anything naughty either as it would seem so wrong!  Apparently the Johnny Rocket burger doesn’t count!  Hopefully I will look so slim next month you won’t even recognise me!

Take care everyone and those carers who are reading this – thinking of you all often and still stalking the forum!

Love as always,

Bell x

Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.  ~Author Unknown

Good Afternoon and welcome from an extremely hot Torrevieja (38 degrees at the moment)!

The holiday season is in full swing here…I’m sitting in relative quiet in our little flat at the moment as the one saving grace of living in Spain is that many still adhere to the afternoon siesta which gives a reprieve from the noise from everyone in the pool and general chatter.  I know it sounds like I’m a real miserable old goat but I’m not…honest!  Everything just seems so much worse when you are trying to cope with the heat!  Last year we put a gate up which meant that the children didn’t come over to the door to put their hands through to the dogs.  Our neighbours (unfortunately the only people in the block that we just can’t see eye to eye with who have made it perfectly obvious they don’t like British!) complained about the gate!  We came to an agreement to take it down in August as this is the only (thankfully) time they are here (yippee!).  The good thing is though that the children this year are that much older and boys appear to have taken the place over my dogs!

There are still a few little ones that adore our little Lola and every time I leave the flat with her we are surrounded with little ones who want to pat her!  She is very good and well behaved even though the little ones can be a bit frightening when they have hands going in all directions.  When its too bad I take her for a walk by collecting her from the other window from Tony!! Poor little Bobs, no-one bothers to touch him – guess he isn’t that pretty but he’s gorgeous in my eyes!

Do you have one of those memory foam mattresses? We bought ours a couple of years ago and all has been well with it until this year.  Not sure if it is because now the ceilings have been lowered and the flat is even more warm that usual, but we have a problem with moisture underneath in the storage part.  It has been an absolute nightmare.  We have about 10 boxes underneath full of clothes for the winter (Tony has one or two as well!) I know I shouldn’t have so many clothes but there are a couple of “one day’s” in there…you know the ones I mean, “one day I will go somewhere to wear that” or more often “one day I will fit into that again”!!! Anyway, to cut a log and tiring story short, it has meant that we have had to empty everything out and either wash it or air it outside.  People have looked at me as if I was completely crackers over the last few weeks.  They have bikini’s on their lines and mine were full of woolly jumpers and coats!

We discovered household vinegar which worked a treat.  Now our clothes are aired and have a delightful smell of fish and chips (nah, not really)!  It has taken away the mould that was under the bed though so fingers crossed it will be better now.  Leaving the bed up during the day so it gets a good airing too.  OK so that may be boring to read but it has been traumatic!  I guess the mattresses are great because they do mould into your body shape (ugh…that’s possibly not so good and means when I get up I have to try to hold my tummy in so if Tony looks the imprint I leave behind looks better than the real thing!), but I’m not convinced they are the best thing for a hot country like this……we’ll watch this space with vinegar in hand and fingers crossed.

Bob is quited excited though and has taken to crawling in the boxes when we are not looking……!

Tony has finally had the last part of his tatto finished.  It has taken four sessions and was apparently very painful although I didn’t feel a thing.  It started off with just having our little grand-child Jacob’s name on the arm but he then decided to go over a tattoo which he had done when he was just 17. Someone asked if he had been deprived of a colouring book when he was a child and I think they may have a point.  I used to think it looked awful to have tattoos and I’m not keen on them on women but if you take a step back and think out the box a bit, it really is very good art.  The artist that did it is, I admit, very talented.

When I first met Tony he had just a couple of small tattoos, mostly from his army days.  I’m not sure how I would have felt if I had met him and he had an arm like this!  Hopefully I wouldn’t have been as narrow-minded as many people are when they see someone with tattoos.

Little Jacob is now getting really big and even more gorgeous if that is possible.  I’m off to see him at the end of September and we are both going over in November.  I never would have believed that Tony would be so keen to go back to the UK and it is amazing what impact this little man has had on him.  Thank heavens for skype because it gives us the chance to see Samantha and Jacob each week.  To see him smiling at his mum is also a wonderful thing.  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that Samantha was phoning me so disappointed that she wasn’t pregnant and now here we are with him at nearly 3 months old.  He has already outgrown so many clothes and even the moses basket.   I’ve put a photo of him below with his cousins.  Little Callum is about 3 or 4 months older than Jacob and until recently clothes have been coming to Samantha as Callum outgrew them.  I think, as Ben’s Mum said,  it may well be the case that the clothes will be going in the other direction in the future!

I’ve known several people since I have lived here that have gone on about how much they missed their grandchildren and how they couldn’t wait to see them.  Some have even gone back to live in the UK because they simply couldn’t be apart.  I used to think they were crazy!  Now, I am beginning to understand what they mean – although I know I would not return to the UK to live.  Knowing that I can pop back for a little “fix” whenever I want certainly helps.

Have you been watching this year’s Big Brother?  I know it is probably something that you shouldn’t admit to, but I have been enjoying it!  One thing though, what are those Abs on the pap guy all about??? Perhaps if he had a flat stomach he could have got away with it but when you have a belly like his (nothing wrong with it but certainly not flat), seeing Abs rippling on the top looks just a little odd! As for Jedward…well!  I can’t make up my mind if it is all just an act or if they really do behave like that day to day.  They sppear to be so very young for their age….but at the same time I guess, they have probably made more money that most at their age so they can’t be that daft can they!

Someone mentioned on another forum recently about the price of gold at the moment.  I had a rummage through and found a few odd bits and pieces that I no longer wore.  I thought it might get me a few euros but was REALLY impressed when I took it into town and was offered 608 euros!  Then I became a bit suspicious about the man in the shop and decided to tell him I would “think about it” and we went to a different shop.  Would you believe that we actually managed to get 980 euros for exactly the same bits!  Did the deal and this will give us our holiday with Jacob later in the year! I wasn’t going to sell some of the pieces I had but then, as Tony said, what is the point of keeping it and just leaving it in a box forever!  He is right and this way we get to have some enjoyment out of it too.  Don’t think I have anything left to sell now though that isn’t of sentimental value so in the box it will stay.  I would recommend anyone to go through their box though and clear out any broken or unwanted pieces that you have.  Don’t leave it in there – get some enjoyment from it too!

We are in the middle of a “debate” with the company that we bought our sofa from at the moment.  I’m really annoyed because when we had the flat renovated we bought what we thought would be a hard-waring sofa and last years.  Now, just a year later it seems to be falling to pieces.  Initially, they are saying that I havent maintained it properly. Damn cheek!  I know that everything in the EU is guaranteed for 2 years (did you know that?) so I’m going to hold out to get it replaced or repaired.  I’ll keep you posted on this one. Although my Spanish isn’t too bad and certainly good enough to get me by day to day, it can be quite difficult to understand some people on the telephone so I’m hoping that I can meet with someone face to face to sort it out.

Right, well it is time for me to get going now.  I just wanted to catch up with you all and to let you know that we are still alive and kicking, albeit very slowly in this heat!  We are intending to go to Karaoke tonight (ok, ok, not everyone likes it but I enjoy a good old sing song).  Reminds me, last time I went someone asked me if I would sing at their charity night!  I knew if I held on I would be spotted!  I had been hoping for Simon Cowell but the local fundraiser is better than nothing!

Take care everyone and I’ll catch up with you again soon when there is more going on – when I actually venture outside the front door that is!

Bell x

 

In spite of the cost of living, it’s still popular.  ~Kathy Norris


Hello, good afternoon and welcome!

Just looked back and it was the end of May when I last wrote….not like me at all! There has been so much going on (not that is an excuse, I am retired afterall!).  Anyway, first things first and we are now grandparents!  Jacob James Roseff entered the world on the 8th June at 1.53 in the afternoon, making Tony and I very, very proud grandparents. Weighing in at 7lb 8oz he has the longest fingers and feet that I have seen but when you look at how tall his dad is, why would you be surprised.  He is smashing and yes, I am totally biased but I don’t care!  I went over the day after and stayed in bed and breakfast in Weston (Spreyton House, on Locking Road) which I can thoroughly recommend.  Dean there does the best omlette I have ever tasted!  Samantha was exhausted, as you can imagine and still looked a bit “shell-shocked” by the whole thing.  She is a truely wonderful little Mum and Ben her husband is now getting quite an expert at changing nappies even though the thought of it before Jacob was born did not appeal!

Tony and I went back over on the 9th July and stayed a week in a “luxory” flat!  It would appear that one man’s “luxory” is totally different from another.  Charlton Holiday flats.  In a lovely spot just off the sea front but far enough away not to be bothered by the 44,000 people that were there for the T4 concert the day after we arrived.  The landlord had actually offered us a “free upgrade” to one of the flats right opposite the pier before we left which we turned down – ummm, think it might have been just a tad noisey!!!

Anyway, the flat was clean but not sure what constitutes “luxory” unless it is the fact that it did have two smallish flat screen tv’s on the wall?!  Couldn’t actually open the fridge door completely if the kitchen door was open, no washing machine, towels or cleaning equipment at all when we arrived.  The owner came around and did find some towels for us to use and bought some washing up liquid and an iron to replace the one which had more wires showing than the national grid! The first night we were exhausted and did manage to sleep despite the attempts of what I thought must be a water bed but turned out to be just a mattress that was so soft it was best to sleep holding on to the drawers next to the bed for fear of falling out!  The best bit however was when we arrived back on the Sunday night to find that the place was in complete darkness.  No electricty whatsoever.  I telephoned the owner with the last little bit of credit I had only to be asked if I had put any money in the meter!!!!  Dumbstruck or what!  I “asked” him if he was serious that after paying him £400 I really had to pay for my own electric too!  Apparently so…….guess we won’t be going there again!

Accommodation aside we had a glorious week.  Loads of cuddles from both Jacob and Samantha (some spare ones for Ben too!) and of course lots of shopping!  Marks and Spencer do love it when I visit the UK! We took Samantha and Jacob to a large shopping mall and at one point she returned to the car to feed him only to find herself stuck in the back of the car – she hadn’t realised that the doors had child locks on and her bag was in the boot with the phone.  After quite some considerable time she did eventually manage to get out and come back to meet us but I think it will be some time before she tries that manouver again!

I had the chance to catch up with a few friends which was also great.  Ros and Owen cooked us a meal and we had a lovely evening chatting about all sorts of things and doing the grand-parent thing of showing photos of babies/children in all different poses, places and ages!   We also spent time with Carol and Andrew and the beautiful Jack Russel lookalikes that don’t (if you know what I mean!).  Basically they are supposed to be x with Jack Russell but look nothing like them.  Bella and Archie, I love you both whatever you are! (Topper….not forgetting you either, you were a gentleman!).

We also had time to visit Windsor where Tony used to live and made our way down to Slough and Wexham Park Hospital where Tony’s son Sam passed away in 2001.  A chair had been dedicated to Sam and placed in the children’s play area. This was the first opportunity Tony had to see it and also to catch up with one or two of the nurses that were still working on the unit.  I’m sure it brought back many memories for Tony to return to the hospital but I know he was pleased he had seen the chair and also to know that other children and families were making good use of it on a daily basis.

As many will know, I have worked in the NHS for many years and so I was quite interested in the hospital.  I have to say that I was very disappointed to see how generally “neglected” it appeared to be.  The flooring on the corridors was broken up in many places and an absolute danger to anyone who had any type of difficulty walking.  I saw yellow clinical waste bins on the corridors and I did not see ONE sanitiser unit anywhere!  Having visited Bristol/Weston hospitals since the increase of MRSA has been documented over the last 10 years and since I left the NHS I had assumed that all hospitals did as these two hospitals do and have sanitiser at the entrance to the main hospital and also on the outside of each ward.  I walked past several wards in Wexham and there was no evidence of anything to clean your hands before entering a ward and certainly nothing in the entrance area of the hospital. I have sent a quick email to the hospital hoping that they will consider the comments – not a busy body, genuinely concerned.  Mum had C-diff and MRSA and I know how much she suffered from both.  Perhaps it wouldn’t prevent all infections but something so simple could help couldn’t it?

Met up with my Auntie Eileen and cousin Karen.  Wonderful to see them again.  I visited their home for the first time ever and it was strange but I felt so very much “at home”.  It was as if I still had a “family home”.  We went out for a meal and had a lovely time for a few hours together.

One thing I did manage to get done this time was to have a granite vase made and inscribed with Mum’s name.  Tony and I took it up and placed it one Dad’s grave where I believe my sister would have placed her ashes.  It looked good and matched the headstone perfectly.  I had just Mum’s name, date of birth and death and the sentence “Love you more than that” inscribed.  Whenever I, or even any of the grandchildren used to tell Mum that we loved her she would always answer “Love you more than that” so it just seemed appropriate.

I will probably go back over to the UK in a couple of months (or less!) and Tony has said that he may well come over before Christmas!  That is a miricle….Jacob must certainly be having an impact!

We saw the funniest thing when we were booking in at the airport on the way home.  There was a family there who were trying to take over their deckchair….not anything special, in fact one that looked rusty and had seen better days. The lady told them that as it was separate from their luggage they would have to pay £25 for it each way! The daughter was moaning about how expensive it was and it would be cheaper to buy one there (yeah, right….we even have running water and electricity here in Spain too!). The family were not going to be outdone though, the suitcase was opened, clothes removed and worn and the deckchair was placed inside!  Unbelievable! The guy was last seen walking through departures complaining that “it was the deckchair that probably took them over their weight!”

I was saddened to see that one of the Carer UK’s members (JohnRJ) passed away recently.  John helped me several times when times were difficult with Mum and I will always be thankful to him for that.  He was totally devoted to his dear wife Pat and family and I know, like myself, many people from the CUK forum will have the family in their thoughts.

The holiday period is well upon us now here.  Cars and people everywhere. The beach is so hot it hurts your feet if you don’t wear flip flops and it is the time of year when you get “up close and personal” with everyone on the beach – not necessarily through choice but if there is more than 12 inches between you and anyone else, someone will park a chair there!  There are so many lovely beaches around this part of the country but for some reason the world (and their mother literally) seem to want to sit on “our” beach! Not long, and Tony will be calling out “close the gate on Torrevieja as you leave please” whenever he see’s someone packing up to go home!

Bobby and Lola apparently behaved themselves when we were away – not strictly true, I think Lola did her best to make sure everyone human and canine knew she was the boss.  Tony was just concerned that she would return a virgin – Fiona had her Mum’s shitzu (sp) there and I noticed the look of lust in Mervin’s eye! Maddie and Mervin how cute is that for two dogs!

Right, well best be off now as we are off to a quiz evening.  We never win and quite often get the donuts for coming last but the landlady does a mean free egg sandwhich so who cares!

Take care one and all.

Bell x

Grampy Tony and Jacob

Nanny, Daddy and Jacob

Jack Russell Cross Dressers aka Bella and Archie!

Hello…..it’s me again!

Just thought I would come on and catch up with everyone, it seems to have been quite a while since I was on here last but when I checked it was just a month.  Time flies when you are having fun and we have this month….well, we have had some relaxation which in my book is fun!

The beach adventure has continued and we now have our own “spot” to aim for each day!  Seems like this is the done thing as we are normally surrounded by the same people. The Moroccons still haven’t got the message that there is no way that I am going to get into the skinny costume they try to sell me every day and I am refusing to buy the flower dress that is flashed before me on a regular basis…not just reached that stage yet!

We had an influx of Jelly fish a couple of weeks ago….horrible little creatures apparently as they bite or do something ghastly which leaves you in pain.  The beach, even though it is only small compared to some has 2 red cross life guard posts and the red cross hut.  The guys from there were going up and down the place collecting the jelly fish in bags…loads of the little blighters.  I went over to warn a family as they were about to let their toddler loose in the sea for the first time.  He was still placed in the water mind you….I wouldn’t have let mine anywhere near it that day.

Tony took me to the Chinese shop again and has bought me….wait for it, a Miss Daisey hat!  I can’t believe I actually wear it but hey ho, who cares!  Besides, Gok says hats are good, doesn’t he??!

Last week Tony took me kicking and screaming to the dentist.  I hate them with a passion unknown to man and have managed to avoid all visits for a few years.  Someone stupidly went onto the local forum and went on and on about this wonderful dentist in the area and before I knew it, an appointment was made.  I kid you not, I would rather have had my eyeballs done again than go to the dentist but dragged along I was.  What a wonderful surprise I had.  She was lovely!  For the first time in my life I felt at ease.  She knew exactly how nervous I was and even put some cream in my mouth (not the edible sort unfortunately) that numbed the area before giving me an injection.  I was very impressed.  I had a clean on the bottom teeth and am going back tomorrow for the upper teeth to be cleaned and to look at the possibility of a bridge or two – looks like it was worth her smiling at me nicely as she is going to get some business!  Apparently a bridge here costs around €1,000.  Anyone know how that compares with the UK?  Just wondered.  When I have my new smile I will send you all a photo (something to look forward to ..NOT!)  Tony wants a George Clooney smile but the dentist said that to achieve that he would need to have a brace! He has decided that at 54 (55 next month!!) he is probably a bit too old for that so no George Clooney smile.  (I think he is far more handsome that George Clooney anyway)!!

I’ve often talked on here about the problems we have with stray dogs in the area.  Well, this afternoon I was walking dick and dorf when I noticed this little poodle walking around all the cars. He was just about to walk out into the road and a car was coming.  I called out and don’t ask me why, just sat down quickly pulling the two dogs behind me.  Fortunately, the little lad came running over to me and I managed to scoop him up into my arms.  I took him back to show Tony what I had found and went back out to see if anyone was around looking for him.  Not a soul to be found.  As we already have the two and having lost Chunky recently, I really didn’t feel that I wanted to take on another dog yet,a neighbour kindly said she would give him a try with her little dog.  He was adorable and so gentle.  We discovered he had fleas so gave him a special bath and put some exspot on him.  All was doing well for an hour or so but then I had a knock on the door and it was my neighbour to say that she couldn’t keep him because she feared her husband who had recently had a stroke would fall over him.  I went straught around and picked up Rusty as Tony had named him, to bring him home with me.  I was just giving him a little talk that we mustn’t fall in love with each other as it may be that he wouldn’t be able to stay when a lady that lives not so far away, came running in and calling for “Chico”!!! Turns out her little boy had unfortunately left the gate opened and Chico had escaped!  The little boy was at home in floods of tears!  A happy ending for once.  Chico turned out to be 7 months old and I miss him already!

Went on Skype this week and spoke with Samantha.  Baby’s head has engaged and she has just 3 weeks officially left to go….getting very excited now.  Looks like it will be Jacob now but not holding my breath as that is still up for a vote when he arrives! Ive decided that when I see her, of course I will buy baby a few bits and pieces but I thought it would be nice to buy something for Samantha.  Considering a nice locket.  I can get a photo put inside and the baby’s date of birth etc.  I know everyone always thinks of the baby when they arrive (quite rightly so) but at the end of the day she is still my little girl and I want to do something special for her too.  I had an email from Samantha’s mother in law the other day telling me about how Samantha is looking well but that she is tired etc.  Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY grateful that she is such a caring lady and I know she looks after Samantha and Ben, but part of me just aches when I read things about my daughter written by someone else.  Is that stupid?  It is times like this when Spain just seems so far away.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mum and Dad this week too.  Wondering how they would have felt about having their first great grandson.  Guess I will never know.  I was trying to remember conversations that I had had with my Dad and do you know what, I couldn’t really remember any.  I’m sure there were some but Dad never really talked about much.  Of course we had what I suppose you would just call day to day chats, but very rarely did he ever get into deep conversations with me.  What a sad shame we never talked about his childhood or things that he had done in his life etc.  Can’t turn back the hands of time as they say.

Those on Carers UK will know that I am still having trouble sleeping at times (from the grumpy messages I put on roll-call at 2 in the morning!).  My blessed menopause just gets better and better!  I’ve tried herbal remedies, knock you out pills and even a painkiller with tremedol which seems to be the only thing that can get my eyes to close and stay closed until the morning.  Thing is, when you are not particularly in any pain, it does seem a bit extreme doesn’t it to take Tremedol!  I remember Mum telling me that her menopause had lasted 19 years….ah well, only another 18 to go!

I’m sure you all heard about the Earthquake earlier this month in Lorca.  It was a little close for comfort I have to confess.  Lorca is only about 35-40 minutes away from here.  We did hear something on the afternoon of the quake, I went outside but couldn’t see anything so had assumed it was a lorry or something going past.  How wrong could I have been.  Such a tragedy for all those living in the area.  There are various fund raising events going on around to help those who have suffered.  There but for the grace of god as they say.  There was a memorial in the town last week which had to be held outside of the churches because they were all damaged during the quake.  Horrendous.  Thank you all for your messages of concern, but we were lucky and very thankful.  My son in law, Ben telephoned whilst we were at the Chriopodist to check that we were ok.  He was in a real panic as he had heard about it on the radio.  Its nice to think that someone cared…Tony was really surprised that anyone would be concerned enough to phone!

Right, well time to go because Tony is having a “chocolate day” and has the malteezers out!  Days like that don’t come along too often on his fitness regime (yawn, yawn!) so I’m certainly not going to miss out!

Take care everyone and thanks for popping by to see what this old girl is getting up to here!

Bell x

Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.  ~Author Unknown

Howdy folks!

Here we are then at the end of yet another month…May 2011 on the horizon. Unbelievabubble! I have now entered the brown brigade….at the moment I look more Jamacan that I do Bristolian!  As many of you will know, we have lived here in Spain for coming on 9 years and until this month I would say that we had been on the beach probably 2, maybe 3 times!  May not sound remarkable but when you consider that we live right opposite the sea, people do often find it strange!

Since we have been without Chunky boy, our life seems to be very different and we don’t seem to have such a routine as we did previously.  Quite out of the blue (probably a “tropical moment”), I suggested that we went to the beach and sunbathed!  Not sure if it was the shock of the suggestion or what, but within a few hours there we were…on the beach! We had a great time, just relaxing and people watching…excellent!

Now when the Spanish “go to the beach”, they “go to the beach”! They walk past our window with chairs, bags , umbrellas the lot usually tied together and pulled along on wheels from some old shopping trolley that they have found by one of the bins!  Not to be outdone (that just wouldn’t be right!), the following day we took ourselves off to Carrefour to buy in our supplies!  Two fold-down chairs, an umbrella (largest possible of course!), a tray for the umbrella pole, a cool box and the obligatory battery operated water squirting fan!

Our next trip to the beach we were prepared!  The wind had picked up a little but everyone seemed to have their umbrellas up so we didn’t envisage any problems.  But there was…..the other umbrellas were your standard “umbrellas for the beach” type….not ours!  Let’s just say a family of 10 could probably sit quite comfortably under it and still have room to invite their friends around!  Anyway, the umbrella obviously required a much calmer day and probably something more substantial (like a bulldozer) to secure it into the sand, so we decided that we would just play it cool and pretend that we had decided to toughen out the sun and keep the umbrella down!  The tray by the way didn’t fit on the pool anyway!  The fold down chair was fine although something that didn’t fold quite so low would have probably been preferable.  I wasn’t too keen on the fan…the idea of something squirting water directly into my eye just seemed to be ridiculous and a complete waste of me investing in new lens’s for someone to just squirt water, mixed with the odd bit of sand, directly into them! Loved the cool box though!

Also for the first time in 9 years, we bought some sun cream.  Probably a bit late to feel the benefits as my skin is now something akin to a wrinked up piece of paper that has been ironed out in places, but as least we were now trying.  As seemed to be the norm, Tony covered me and I covered him….why I ended up with bruises on my legs led me to believe that perhaps he was purposely a little heavy handed though…ok I could have got it from falling over my own feet but I’m not going to tell him that!

Tony had taken me to the Chinese shop up the road (my man knows how to treat a woman) and bought me some new swimwear so there we were, all kitted out and ready for our relaxing afternoon.  What I didn’t know was that when you visit a Spanish beach it is also necessary to take everything with you, practically including your bankers card! We were approached by 3 moroccans selling sun-glasses (hey, I’m wearing some!!), one chinese lady who was offering me a massage on the beach…..is that really decent?!, another chinese lady offering me every DVD or CD known to man for 2 euros, a leaflet for a night in a new bar, 5 lemons for a euro and another woman who threw a bag of bikinis on the sand and every Spanish women within a mile radius came over and just stripped off in front of us and started to try them on…..the best bit was they were the exact same ones that I had bought previously in the Chinese shop!

Several visits later, we are now apparently “looking well” as several people have told me…have to say that Mum always used to say that I “looked well” although I normally found out that what she really meant was “you have put on weight!”  Hopefully that is not the case now, particularly as Tony and I are still “eating sensibly”.  Tony has managed to lose 18 kilos through his continued keep fit regime and I still have no idea what I have lost although some of my clothes seem to be fitting me better (fitting at all is an improvement to be honest) this year.

This being Easter weekend has seen a huge increase in the number of people that have arrived in our block.  It is now probably 2/3rds full and completely different to the block we have known over the last 6 months or so. It feels like we are sharing our “front garden” with everyone as we have been so used to being able to walk outside the front door and not seeing anyone.  Now when you go out there are people sat around the pool and children running around everywhere…joy of joys!  It is actually quite nice to see the old faces again.  On the whole they are a very friendly lot and its nice that they all take the time to come over to say hello and give the obligatory kiss.  Did I ever tell you about dear old Carlos’ mother in law?  She was in her 90’s and sadly passed away a few years ago.  She used to come down from Madrid with Carlos and his wife every year and everyone loved her.  She was very independent and would walk around the pool area with her stick saying hello to everyone that she passed.  The best bit was when she gave you a kiss.  She would practically suck your cheeks and Tony always used to say “you’ve been kissed…you’ve still got the marks on your face!”  You would hear granny kissing someone from 100 meters!  God bless her.

Heard from Samantha that my other daughter, Colette, is planning to get married in December.  I’m deeply sad that I will not be invited to the wedding as Colette still prefers not to have me in her life.  Nothing would make me happier than be able to see her marry but I know that is just not going to happen.  I know it is terribly sad when divorce comes and I don’t know where I failed in handling the situation but although in my mind I was leaving my husband of 25 years, I also lost a much loved daughter in the process.  Perhaps one day the situation will change, at the moment is seems to be unlikely but who knows I just have to hope against all hope that one day I will be able to share life with her again.  In the meantime I am blessed with Samantha and her husband Ben and the fact that in just 7 weeks or so my first grandchild will be born.  Samantha is doing ok but I think she is very tired.  They have been coping with so much, moving home, office and the baby that its no wonder she is tired.  Not too long now….soooo excited!

In Spain, each “community”, ie block of apartments etc has by law to have a meeting each year to elect its president, discuss finances etc.  Our normal meeting is in August but this year we have had to have an extra meeting because of problems with the pool area – leaks into the garages below etc.  Well, this meeting was on Friday.  Started at 8 and finished at 11 and total madness is the only way to decribe it!  Everyone shouting to be heard…hands flying around (why do Spanish need to express themselves so much with their hands?).  Our 3 hour meeting achieved absolutely nothing to do with the repairs that were needed on the square and only succeeded in an agreement to repair the pipe that is leaking into the street!  So we get to go through the whole lot again in August….just can’t wait.  The funny thing is when they argue and moan at each other you would assume that they would not speak to each other again.  Funny thing is, as soon as the meeting is over it is as if nothing has happened and they are all sat together having a glass of wine!  No grudges whatsoever….isn’t it a shame that isn’t the same everywhere.

Right, I’m off now to put the TENS machine on my back…..stupid here cleaned the toilet and managed to twist awkwardly and put my back out – old age doesn’t come alone does it! Small problem compared with what others have to put up with.  I’ve seen that several friends on the Carers UK forum are struggling at the moment….big hug to you all, thinking of you all often….hold on in there folks.

Take care everyone, see you again next month.

Bell x

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.  ~Frederick Keonig

Hi there everyone,

Long time no write!  Its been a month now since we said our farewells to our mate marmite and it has been quite a tough month in many ways emotionally.  I haven’t really felt much like writing and have just spent much of my spare time doing mind numbing things on the internet.  Anyway, today I have celebrated my 53rd birthday!  I really can’t believe it….53 alwys used to seem “so old” and now, I’m there….does that mean I am now middle aged? I received some lovely cards and the funny thing was, they all referred to either food (on the whole, cake and chocolate), handbags or shoes!  My friends and family must really know me better than I thought! Tony did a brillient one on Moonpig and it is like a magazine cover with the story of my singing and hopes for a record deal!  I can but dream!!   I don’t feel my age, in my head anyway, my body gives me constant reminders that I am older now and it is about time  to stop walking on sea-walls, skipping along the road with Tony (don’t worry, we always check that no-one is watching…the thought of a 6 foot 2, 17 stone man and a 4 foot 11 inch (not daft enough to type my weight!) woman skipping would be too much for anyone!) Then again, why not…so long as I can get my leg over the wall and we don’t fall over as we skip along, who gives a damn!

At the beginning of the month we sorted out Chunky’s bits and pieces and passed on some things to a local charity that cares and raises money for the Spanish galgos dogs.  They do a brillient job and need all the help that they can get.  Life, or should I say the people in it, can be very cruel to these dogs so every little helps them with their attempts to not only save the animals that are being mistreated but also to raise awareness of their plight.  It was interesting that this particular charity have also started visiting children in local schools…wht a great idea.  Please take a moment to read about the charity here:

http://www.torrevieja.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=76794

Other things belonging to our big boy have now been placed in a box and put away as I think we both found it too painful to have the reminders that he is no longer with us around.  We still have his photo of course and I’m sure he is looking at me…let’s hope so anyway!  Bobby seems to still be in a bit of a depression and has changed quite a bit in his ways since Chunky boy died.  He no longer will sleep with us but insists on sleeping in Chunky’s old bed and like Chunky used to do, he has began to refuse anything at breakfast time.  In fact, he is a bit of a misery and very clingy.  We took him to the vets yesterday just to get him checked out and the initial blood tests took fine but we have paid to get a further analysis done just to be on the safe side.  Evil Edna is fine and is keeping Bobby on his toes! Actually, they are both fast asleep next to me and it is actually quite nice to see them actually snuggling close together.  Peace in our time!

I went over to the UK just for a weekend to see Samantha and Ben.  Samantha was almost 30 weeks when I got there and unlike her mother is carrying her baby  very neatly.  I really did resemble Demis Rousos (not sure of the spelling but I’m sure you will recognise the name!) very early in my pregnancy but Samantha just seems to have a bump and doesn’t even look pregnant from behind.  It was really lovely to see her.  She seemed very tired which isn’t surprising as she has had such a lot to contend with lately. Apart from being pregnant, she has also moved house and the company she works for have moved offices so she has further to go each day.  Not sure how much longer she will be able to cope with working full time as well.

We went to the Eastgate centre where they have shops such as Mamas and Papas, Mothercare and Boots…everything you could wish for when little one is on the way.  Now, buying a pram is no mean fete.  It is like going to battle without knowing the apparatus.  Pregnancy and menopause both play their part in ensuring that you are unable to make a decision so 3 hours later it was time for me to move the car.  For some stupid reason, you can only stay in the car park for 3 hours and you can’t return within a certain time either so I had to leave Samantha and leave the car park to move into Ikea next door!  Not exactly a rule that encourages you to stay in the area to shop!  Obviously a rule put in place by a man!

Neither Samantha nor I knew what to get when it came to prams.  It all seemed so difficult and we walked around Mamas and Papas looking very much like newby’s to the pram scene.  It wasnt too long before a very kind shop assistant took pity on us and showed us exactly what all these machines do and the way she turned that pram into a car seat carrier was truly professional!  Sold to Mrs and Mrs Gullable!  Add to the bag plenty of baby clothes, a moses basket and stand, blankets and bibs and a very harrassed Mum to be was ready to go home.

For the first time on my travels to the UK, I hired a car.  I have to admit I was a little nervous because I really haven’t driven for a couple of years.  I booked through Argushire on the internet and it was a fairly good price at £47 for the 2 days.  They picked me up at the airport and took me down the road to their offices to fill in all the paperwork.  I was waffling on to him as I normally do about how I hadn’t driven and how it will be strange to be on the “other side of the road” when I realised that he looked abit worried!  When I asked him if he had a pillow he asked if he should get one to go all the way round the car!  Cheek! Anyway, I decided to pay the full excess of £15 per day because if you don’t do this they automatically put £750 on your credit card and this is taken off again when you bring the car back in tip top condition!

On the Sunday my flight home wasn’t until just before 8 o’clock at night but I had to get the car back for 3.30 otherwise I would be liable for a further day’s hire.  I filled up the car on the way back to the airport with another £5 as it only had to go back quarter full, drove around the forecourt of the garage and noticed that the petrol guage hadn’t moved so went back to the pump and put in another £5 and paid the now very confused attendent!  When I drove away and along the road, the guage went right up to nearly half full!  Typical…mental note not to do that again in future!  I pulled into the office of the car hire feeling very pleased with myself that all had gone well on the driving front….then I met him. Mr Jobsworth!  He must have been 16 (ok, probably more like 19 but he still had spots!) He looked all around the car, ticking as he went on his clipboard (every jobsworth should have one!) Then he invited me to return to the office with him.  I was then told how lucky I was that I had taken out the excess otherwise I would have been charged £150 for the damage!!  What damage I asked???? Apparently I had damaged the wheeltrim on the kerb.  I defended myself demanding that I hadn’t parked anywhere near a kerb all weekend.  (Actually that was absolutely true because I had only parked on Samantha’s drive and in the shop car-park where there were no kerbs.  Mr Jobsworth just looked me in the eye and with that Easyjet manner (you know the one, its on all the programmes you see), asked why I was making such a fuss “Madam” when “you are not being charged”!!!  Little upstart…I hadn’t parked by a kerb!  Mr Jobsworth told me to just “sign the paper”.  I signed but made a note on the page to say that I hadn’t parked by a kerb!!!  I was taken back to the airport by Jobsworth who, obviously feeling sorry for the old dear, said that it was possible that the trim had been damaged in a pot-hole!!!  Must have been a very deep pot hole and I think I would have noticed don’t you!!  Mental note to try a different car hire company next time and to definately make sure that we pay for excess.

Back at the airport I had 4 hours to kill so I got myself a paper and a sandwhich and settled down in a comfy chair to phone Tony to let him know that the flight was on time.  Tony suggested that I went into the VIP lounge…ummmm not a bad idea!  Went upstairs to the lounge and paid the £16.  Payment has to be made by a card not cash…ok.  Then, I give my boarding card, home address and then have to show more id! Come on, I have just got through departures easier!  Eventually settled down and have to say it really was worth it.  Free drinks, snacks, papers, internet for 3 hours.  I was able to phone home and Samantha for free on Skype and don’t tell anyone, even managed to sneak a can of coke into my bag for on the plane!!! When we went to Las Vegas Tony and I used the lounge in Gatwick and it was great because they served hot foot too, so it was really worth the money there as food costs an absolute fortune in Gatwick.

Flight home was ok and the wine I had earlier meant that I didn’t even take that much notice of the man next to me snoring…it was just like being at home actually!

Tony has continued his “keep fit” regime and is still doing 1 hour a day down in the garage on the walking machine and all the other articles of horror otherwise known as gym equipment!  So far he has managed to lose around 11 kilos which is very good for him.  I have avoided the “gym” but have followed the healthy eating  (don’t really have a choice do you when your significant other is doing so well with his diet?!) I have a phobia about scales…don’t go near the things for fear of what they may say…but can tell from my clothes that I have obviously lost some weight.  I think perhaps I need to do some exercise too so have decided to wait until the swimming pool is warm enough to do an hour or so a day (yeah right!).  Unfortunately (!) the weather is still a little too cold at night to keep the pool warm but the day is near.  I actually woke Tony in the middle of the night on Wednesday because he WASN’T snoring!  It scared me because I guess I am so used to hearing him howling grunts into my ear throughout the night.  I think it is because of his weight loss as it happened once before when he lost weight.  Can’t win can you….snoring keeps me awake because of the noise and nowadays I can’t sleep because he isn’t snoring.  Not sure which I prefer!

Torrevieja is still rather quiet with very few holiday makers arriving in our area. No-one has arrived at all in our block which is unusual for this time of year.  I think nowadays it is probably cheaper for people to take once again, the package holidays which  became less popular over recent years.  To pay for a flight, apartment, food and car hire it is very expensive and probably far cheaper to buy a complete package deal.  I think several people will be struggling this year as many seem to rely upon the rental market to survive and more and more apartments and villas are on the market at extroadinarily low prices.  One two bedroom apartment here has recently sold for just 67,000 euros whereas just 12 months ago it would have been expected to get a minimum of 100,000 if not more.

I was talking to a young lady that makes a living out of renting apartments and asked her why she didn’t do more “long term” rentals.  I knew it can be a little complicated here in Spain but didn’t realise how complicated!  She told me that it is very, very difficult to get people to leave if they don’t pay the rent and the courts will always look favourably on those who are renting, allowing them to stay up to 5 years without payment.  Surprisingly (or not!) it is apparently not the Spanish that flaunt this law the most.  I’m told that the most problems are from those from immigrants who quickly learn the rules and take full advantage.

Well, today was Mothers Day in the UK and I had a lovely card from Samantha.  Next year she will have one herself from her little one.  How strange it is to think of your own baby having a child.  We were due to go out this evening to celebrate my birthday and it was very difficult to find a restaurant that wasn’t full of families celebrating Mothering Sunday, even though Mother’s day in Spain is later in the year.  We did manage to book somewhere but have had to cancel because we are absolutely full of cake.  After our joint fasting (ok, should call it healthy eating), I decided that I wanted chocolate cake on my birthday. Tony and I took a trip to town this morning and I had a lovely piece of chocolate cake with coffee. We bought some more cakes and ate those when we got home!  Then just after, our dear friends Jane and Gordon came around with a huge chocolate birthday cake for me!  I can almost hear my arteries thickening and the warm air is obviously shrinking my dress as I type!  Ah well, tomorrow is another day and I have the joy of yet more carrots, cabbage and broccoli awaiting me!  Lovely!!

Forgot to mention, have I told you about my attempts at Karaoke?  Tony and I have avoided it like the plague since we came over here but about a month ago we were persuaded to go to a local bar with friends.  Now Gordon sings wonderfully and his rendition of I Pretend (Des O’connor) can bring me to tears but there was no way I was going to get up and give it a go.  The following week I don’t know what happened but I found myself up there, in front of all those people singing (well trying to) Que Sera Sera! Four weeks later that is my signature tune!!!  I sing like an angel, unfortunately a tone deaf one but hey ho, I don’t care…I have a laugh and really enjoy myself.  I know I should be looking at songs by Adele, Janet Jackson but for some reason am drawn towards Doris Day, Connie Francis!  One song that I adore is Frankie by Connie Francis but it would appear that no-one else has heard of it and the Karaoke man has to put in a special order for me!!!  So I guess I really am old!……..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Jetds-O38 ..

Take care everyone and I would just like to thank everyone for their emails following my tribute to Chunky Boy.  It meant a great deal to us both.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Speak to you all again real soon.

Love Bell x

They say that age is all in your mind.  The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body.  ~Author Unknown

CHUNKY
December 2002 – March 2011

Wednesday, 2nd March 2011 we had to say goodbye to our dear Shar-pei, Chunky.  At just 8 years old, Chunky had become a victim of a dreaded tick disease which had slowly invaded his body.  He fought a battle for much longer than we had known and our beautiful special little man could fight no more.  Tony and I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of our lives.  We so much wanted him to stay with us but it would have been just cruel to put him through any more.  We had always promised never to let any of our dogs suffer and Chunky would not be an exception.  Even though both our hearts are broken, we know we had to do this final thing for him and take away his pain. 

When you have to say goodbye to someone, whether it is a family member or a pet (which in my mind are one of the same), you often try to think of what you can do to keep the memory of that person or pet alive.  Do you buy a chair, place it somewhere that they loved to go? Perhaps plant a tree?  What can you do for an 8 year old shar-pei who was totally misunderstood by some, but loved by so very many. Tony has taken the decision to have a tattoo on his back with all three of our dogs together, Chunky being in the middle keeping an eye on the two little ones.  For me, I will write this blog.  I would like to think that perhaps one day, somewhere, someone will type “Chunky” into their laptop and up would come this story of our wonderful friend……..

The Beginning……….
Tony and I moved to Spain in December 2002 and settled into our little flat.  Our first real home together and the first few weeks of our marriage.  Everything was wonderful and we made the place look beautiful but there was something else that I hoped against all hope that Tony would also want….a dog!

We used to shop often at Carrefour and in those days there was a pet section to the side which had young puppies in horrible glass cages.  I hated to see them in there but at the same time was drawn to them every time we went in to shop.  We would go in and ignore the signs and touch the side and try to encourage the dogs to come and see us.  It was always so tempting – I just wanted to take them all home but we really weren’t sure whether the community that we lived in would even allow pets.

One particular day, off we went to Carrefour as usual and as was the norm, Tony said “I guess you will be going to the pets bit first!”, he didn’t need to wait for an answer because I was already on my way.  In I went, straight to the back and there he was…just looking at me, a baby lion!  He looked absolutely gorgeous, tan colour, long hair and lots of wrinkles!  A Shar-pei.  I had seen the breed on many of the adverts on TV for beauty creams but knew absolutely nothing about them.  Tony came to look too and we both thought this puppy was the one.  We asked if we could hold him and of course the assistant agreed.  Tony could see by the look on my face that I wanted him there and then but I was very sensible  (for once) and told the assistant “we would think about it”.  That evening we did nothing but talk about this pup that had stolen our hearts.

The next day I went upstairs to see a neighbour and told her about our meeting with the pup.  Ann said she would happily look after it if we had to go away, so why not get it?  Well, you could not see my feet for dust…I was down the stairs quicker than you could say, “get the car keys”.  Who cared what the other people in the block would say….we were going to rescue that beautiful baby boy from the glass prison and bring him home.  Tony didn’t need much persuading and we were soon on our way to Carrefour.  Tony could see the anticipation in my face and also the fear that I would get there and he would be gone so he dropped me outside the door and went to park up.  I went straight into the pet section and could see a crowd around my dog!  I decided my best move was to find the assistant first who just happened to be by the counter nearest to me.  “I would like to buy the Shar-pei please” I said in my very best Spanish!  I then followed her to where the others were stood and waited whilst she opened the door to freedom for my boy.  She took him out, kissed him on the top of his head and handed him to me!  He had that smell of puppies that you would only recognise if you have been fortunate enough in life to have had a young pup.  Another English couple were there and the lady turned to me and asked if I was having the pup and I beamed and told her I was.  I then realised how lucky I had been because she told me that they were just about to go and buy him!  Close shave that one!

Chunky was 960 euros and it was quite strange that we actually had to take him through the checkout! As far as I could see there was no barcode attached to him, but who knows!  The assistant told me he was expensive because he was very rare…don’t get many long haired shar-pei’s she said.  A long time after I discovered that she was right, the long haired variety are not that popular (known as Bearcoat’s) purely because they are often considered as a throw-back and certainly the kennel club in the UK would not recognise them because their hair was “too long for the breed”.  Sadly, it is also well known that some breeders would kill them rather than let the bearcoat be allowed to go on and breed.  The bearcoats are however very popular in the USA for some reason.


That night we took our little pup who we were told was just 3 months old to the vets in Guadamar who had some sort of deal with Carrefour and provided a free check.  All was well apart from a possible infection in his ears which needed treating.

The next few weeks Chunky grew rapidly and it wasn’t too much of a surprise when we received his documents through the post to discover that he wasn’t in fact just 3 months old when we bought him but five. He had, according to the documents, been brought over to Spain from Hungary. There was a lot of talk in the press at the time of how these animals were suffering at the hands of traders prepared to risk the lives of the puppies bringing them across continents in an attempt to secure hefty amounts of money. It appeared that our Chunky boy had been one of them. Five months or three months, our little lad was getting bigger by the day!

We took Chunky for all his immunisations and in the meantime he was very well behaved in the flat, always using the newspaper to “do his business”. I remember one day waking up and discovered that Tony was already up playing with him and had taught him how to retrieve a ball!

After the first time he was allowed out to walk in the real world there was no looking back. He was completely clean from that day on. We walked him into the town and it seemed like we were stopped ever 100 yards or so by people wanting to know what breed he was, how old etc etc! Chunky had his photograph taken with quite a few holidaymakers in those days. He loved it when he was younger if we took him into the town, we used to walk along the pier (had no idea at the time that dogs were banned!).



It wasn’t too long before we noticed that he wasn’t up to walking so far and when we took him in to the town he started to just sit down and refuse to walk any further. Tony had to carry him home on his shoulder. Back to the vets we went and were told that his body was basically growing faster than his legs could carry him! He was put on to a light diet and he wasn’t too happy about that! Over time Chunky lived up to his name and he again found his feet and enjoyed his walks.

Living in a complex everyone got to know our boy. When he was very young he was happy to stand and be petted but as the years went by Chunky became far more interested only in Tony and myself. He would tolerate anyone else but just didn’t want to be touched. He was a real protector to both of us when he was out on the lead. No-one would come near us – when he was walking with Tony if anyone gave Tony eye contact he would try to pull towards them! I remember one day we were out and a car stopped with Moroccans inside. I was on my own with Chunky and one of the men put his arm out towards me; lets just say that he soon moved it!! I felt completely safe walking with him, he wasn’t going to let anyone hurt me.
The funny thing was though, even though he was so protective once he was on the lead, inside the house he would let anyone do what ever they wanted to him. You could tickle him, cuddle or even put your fingers in his mouth….he was a real baby!

After we had Chunky for about 3 or 4 months we took him to the vets as we were concerned that his eyes were weeping. Shar-pei’s obviously have a lot of wrinkles when they are young (they tend to grow into their skins as they get older) and these wrinkles were causing him some discomfort in the eye area. He needed an operation to reduce the wrinkles – basically, a face lift! After surgery he was fitted with a white halo to go around him so that he didn’t touch his eyes…poor little soul, our flat is only tiny and every time he went up and down the passage to play his halo banged on the walls! We always knew where he was then and if we couldn’t hear him, we just needed to follow the tracks on the wall!

He was such a good little lad, no trouble whatsoever to the vet. He had 16 stitches and didn’t even need a mozzle or anything when the stitches were removed by the vet! He just sat there and let the vet take them out one by one.

All was well for the next few months until one evening as I stoked him I felt a lump on the back of his neck. It seemed quite large and I immediately thought the worse. Once again we returned to the vets in Guadamar who decided they would take a biopsy. We had to leave our boy there and returned late in the evening to collect him. When we got there the vet said that they had actually removed the whole lump and showed it to us, it was the size of a golf ball. It now had to go off for testing. We could hear Chunky crying for us but the vet said that he had lost quite a lot of blood and they needed to keep him in overnight. Poor Chunky. When we collected him the next day he did look in a state. He had to have a drain from his side and we were given some netting to put over the wound. The wound had to be covered and I remember we ended up buying packets of ladies sanitary towels to put on them….they seemed to be the most absorbent thing that would not stick to him! Each day the wound had to be cleaned around the drain. Our little soldier was as good as gold and allowed Tony to do this without any problem. Some days the wound seemed to have grown over and Tony had to almost cut the area to clean it….not a murmur from him, just a look of thanks really.
One morning when I went in to see how he was, I couldn’t find the drain! We looked everywhere and came to the conclusion that Chunky boy had eaten it! Back to the vets who decided that they would need to put in a further drain, so yet another operation. The next couple of weeks we were back to the drain cleaning until finally the area was clear and his netting and sanitary towels could finally be removed!

The vet telephoned us one night to say that he had the results of the biopsy. The language barrier at that time caused us some problems, particularly over the phone, and I was sure that he told me that Chunky had cancer. I didn’t hear anything else. We were both absolutely devastated. We gave Chunks cuddles and Malteesers! It wasn’t until we went personally to the vets a few days later that we realised (thank god) that the lump was in fact benign and Chunky was going to be absolutely fine! No more Malteesers for Chunky!

Just after Christmas 2004 Tony and I decided to go for a holiday in Florida and were needing to leave Chunky for the first time. We had been recommended someone that lived in La Romana, Trish and Tim and we visited them with Chunks to ask if they would be able to look after him for us. Chunky spent his first of many visits to Trish and Tim and they fell for him 100%. They used to call him Major Chunky! There were no kennels as such, Chunky had the run of their home and used to wake Trish up early in the morning to let her know that he needed to go out! Trish and Tim used to joke that Chunky enjoyed sitting in the study and had become quite good at reading now!

On our return from holiday we both thought that Chunky looked so miserable at home. We were convinced that he was missing the friends he had met at Trish’s home…the other dogs. So, despite only having a relatively small home, we decided to go and find Chunky a little friend.

Our first visit was to SATS. We came across a lovely little black dog and we took him for a little walk. He was adorable, even did tricks like rolling over etc I think so we could be persuaded to take him home! We were all set up to have this little man when the lady suggested that we came back later in the day with Chunky to see how they got on. Back we went and we took the two of them out for a walk together. Well, the little black dog almost ran back into SATS when he looked at Chunky! The thing was, to us Chunky just looked like a gentle little man but it appeared that to others he looked quite mean!!! Black dog was taken back in and I went in and chose another, and another, and another! Each time I brought them out they almost cowered and begged not to be taken home with us!! I almost expected to go into SATS and see the dogs holding on to the walls refusing to come out! We gave up and went home with Chunky no mates…..

Not one to give in, I telephoned someone in the local paper who was looking after some small dogs and agreed to meet her with a small little dog that she had. Just before we went she telephoned to say that someone she knew was fostering a little dog that needed to be re-homed. Bobby. We arranged to meet the lady in town and she brought Bobby to us. It was love at first sight. Bobby happily got in to our little car and off we went to meet big brother! Bobby was fearless – a street dog. Chunky chased him around the room and tried to have his wicked way with poor Bobby for a little while but eventually realised that it was a useless game and in time gave up. Bobby and Chunky were like brothers for the next 7 years and didn’t spend a night apart.


Chunky became increasingly devoted to Tony. In the pecking order I was obviously far down the list but it was also obvious that he loved us both. He was most definately a creature of habit. We didn’t need a clock with Chunky. He knew the time to get up, the time to walk and the time to eat but never did really catch on to British Summer Time! As soon as you moved in the morning he was there. Some mornings I would lay in bed and dare not to open my eyes….he seemed to be able to sense when your eyes were open and he would start huffing for you to get up! His greeting for Tony, whether it was first thing in the morning or after we had returned from somewhere, was to hold his mouth around Tony’s hand and he would, oh so gently, rub his teeth on his hand. Tony had marks on his hands where Chunks did this all the time.

Due to ill health in the family, I had to go back and forwards to the UK to care for my parents. This meant that I was often away for a week at a time or so. On my return Chunky would ignore me! He wouldn’t even look at me, choosing to stand by Tony as if to say..”where does she think she’s been”! It was really so funny. In the end the only way I could get him to come near me was to arrive with a biscuit in my hand and then he would very reluctantly come over but was still miserable with me for a day or so!
He loved his food but particularly bread. He was a bread fiend. There wasn’t a time went by when if I bought a French stick he would always be there…the ends were his! I would cut them off and he would be in heaven!

We have always had “two” Chunky’s….the first was the long haired version where he was often mistaken for a Chow chow and then the short back and sides version! Chunks really did not like having his hair cut but as he would molt so much we used to take him to Anna at Tidy Paws to turn him into a “real” shar-pei from time to time. Anna was great with him and he very reluctantly would go into the salon but always came out like a different dog! When he had his hair cut he seemed to become like a young dog again. For the short time before his coat grew again, he looked like a shar-pei and you could see his wrinkles that were always well hidden under his very thick coat.

Chunky hated water. As far as he was concerned, water was for drinking and certainly not for washing or walking in! I have known him do a credible long-jump over puddles rather than walk in them! So Anna was never able to give him a wash, we used to laugh that he was like a self cleaning oven….which in a way he was because he really did keep himself quite clean, just like a cat would. He also hated having his ears touched. Shar-pei’s do tend to have quite sensitive ears and are prone to infections and Chunky boy did have a few of them. He did let me clean them but it was always with reluctance.

In 2010 my aunt came to live in Spain. It was very brave off her as she was already 86 and not in the best of health. She loved it here and enjoyed each day in the sunshine. Once when we were out she saw a pomaranian dog and said how much she would love one! Tony used to say whatever Miss Daisey wanted Miss Daisey shall have! That very same week I saw an advert for some pomaranian puppies that were being sold. I thought it must be fate and although it was a ridiculous idea, we went out and bought Lola (aka Evil Edna!)

Life became quite difficult looking after Miss Daisey (my aunt), our two dogs and now also a strong minded puppy that lived a few doors away. Our boys were terrified of Lola and each time I brought her into our flat, both Chunky and Bobby used to run away from her, more often than not landing on the sofa! It was so funny to see a great dog like Chunky trying to hide from a tiny puppy like Lola. Lola thought it was a great game and so chased them all the more!



Sadly, my aunt passed away just before Christmas 2010 and we suddenly had a new member in the family! Chunky was not impressed but in time the boys accepted that Lola wasn’t going to go anywhere and that it looked like she was here to stay. In time she became a member of the gang and joined in the chorus whenever someone went past…..if one barked they would all bark. If one ran to the door, they would all run; Chunky would often get it wrong though and when the little ones ran to the door because they heard something, Chunky would end up running in the opposite direction not really sure why he was even running!

Despite his size, Chunk was extremely gentle with the other dogs inside the flat. Both Bobby and Lola would torment him and would often go over to try to take his food. Instead of turning around and giving the little ones what for, he used to just stand back and let them eat his dinner and at the same time look at us as if to say “can you get them off PLEASE”! He was such a softie. After dinner the little ones would play with their toys, Chunky would play tug of war a bit but wasn’t really that interested. If Bobby and Lola became a bit boisterous, Chunky would, after a while, run after them and open his mouth wide open and put it down, usually on Bobby’s neck. He never, ever closed his mouth or hurt either of the dogs. It was as if he was just warning them to behave. They never really took any notice of him anyway!

Chunky was never very good at travelling and quite often would end up with a dodgy tummy when he was in the car. I guess we should perhaps have taken him out more often and he may have got used to it, as it was, our trips in the car were normally either to the vets, hair cut or when we were going to leave him so it is no wonder he wasn’t too keen on going out in the car!

We heard of a family that looked after dogs in their own home in Quesada (Fiona and Ian) and went to meet them with the gang. Chunky was very happy there. Usually when we left him with someone he would be quite stroppy when we returned but I really believe that he enjoyed himself with Fiona and Ian because he was much better. I remember the first time that we went to drop them off, Ian had bought Chunky some bread because we had told him how much Chunky like it! It was not unusual for Chunky demanding to be hand fed the first night we were not there and I think he probably played this trick with them.

Before we had Chunky castrated, it would not be unusual for him to do a very good impression of a kangaroo when he was on a lead and another dog approached. It certainly calmed him down a lot. The funny thing was though, whenever we took him somewhere, like Fiona’s or at Trish’s house where there were plenty of other dogs, he would not bother with any of them. He enjoyed his own company and really never looked for any trouble.
In December last year, Chunky was 8 years old. Over the last few months we had noticed that he was slowing down a little bit. He seemed to be getting a little stiff in his back legs which we had put down to old age. He certainly didn’t seem to be struggling and still was very keen to go out for his walks although perhaps not so far as in previous years. We did notice though recently he was more tired than usual and when, for the second night, he wasn’t interested that much and needed encouragement to each his dinner, we decided to take him to the vets on the Monday (21st February). The vet at Petsworld, Habanaras, said that she would give him a blood test and also gave him a jab and some antibiotics to come home with plus pain killers.

The goodbye ……
The vet telephoned us and advised that Chunky had tested positive for a disease transmitted by a tick….Ehrlichiosis. It is a truly horrible disease and is caused by a tick which may have attached itself to Chunky even up to say 5 years previous. The disease has 3 stages and Chunky had unfortunately already reached the chronic stage. All the things that we had started to notice in him were actually symptoms of the disease and not just “old age” as we had thought.

We thought we had always given our dogs all protection that they needed. Even when money was a little tight, we would always have ensured that they did not go without any injections etc. I did however believe that the drops such as Expot, Frontline or whatever is the chosen brand, was only needed March – November. What I didn’t consider though was the fact that a tick could appear at any time of the year and it wasn’t just the mosies that we needed to be prepared for. I know from talking to other pet owners, we aren’t the only ones that have worked on this basis, so if nothing else, PLEASE if you are reading this and have a dog, remember this. The vet assures me that it is just as likely that Chunky could have had a tick when he had the drops because they are never 100%. I have been reassured by everyone that I “did everything you could” but I know there will always be a nagging feeling that I let him down for which I will be eternally sorry.

The night we went to the vets he really seemed to pick up and even wanted to play with his toys again. The following day was also quite a good day for him. Chunky always hated taking pills and we couldn’t give them to him with food as he was a clever so and so and very suspicious, checking out his food very carefully. Tony always gave him his tablets by crushing them and giving them in a syringe. After 3 days of antibiotics I was concerned that he was not improving and in fact he had started to revert to the tiredness again. Over the weekend, Chunky really started to look poorly. The colour inside his mouth had started to change and by Monday morning he was unable to walk outside to go to the toilet.

It was absolutely heartbreaking and still is. We called a friend, Gordon, and he agreed to go with the vets with Tony. I felt in my heart my boy wouldn’t be coming home and tried to take him out before they left. Poor little man couldn’t do it but did manage to stand when he saw Gordon and the little spurt of energy got him out to the car. Tony put him into the car and I think the other people that had also come out knew in their hearts, like me, that our boy would not be coming home again. Chunky sat down and I kissed him and told him how much I loved him. Then they were gone…..

Tony telephoned from the vets and part of me didn’t even want to answer the phone. He told me that Chunky was very poorly but that the vet had said he needed a blood transfusion. There was hope! For the rest of that day and the next we clung to the possibility that the new blood would help our boy. We received a call on the Tuesday from the vet to say that if we went to the surgery she would explain the situation. We arrived at the vets with trepidation and met a different vet but he was fully aware of Chunky’s situation and explained that the blood was not expected to arrive until 6 pm that evening and that he was stable. He asked if we wanted to see Chunky but I felt that it would be too upsetting, especially for Chunky as he would be expecting us to take him home.

Wednesday, 2nd March came and Tony went for his usual walk along the pier first thing. I decided to walk the other two dogs into town early and took my ipod with me to listen to as I walked. We walked all the way into the centre of the town and were about 10 minutes from home when the piece of music that I had at both Mum and Miss Daisey’s funeral came on…Goodbye by Lionel Ritchie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7JU7lBSrRI

At the very same moment, a stray, unbelievably a shar-pei the very same colour, length of hair as our boy came towards me. I couldn’t move from the shock. I have lived in Spain for coming up 10 years and can honestly say that although I have sadly seen many stray dogs, I have never, ever seen a stray shar-pei. I could not stop the tears from falling.

When Tony came through the door he looked at me and said “you won’t believe what I saw” but before he could finish, I knew he had seen the same dog. It was just so strange. We decided that it was possibly one of two things, it was Chunky coming to say goodbye or it was Chunky saying “don’t you give up on me”. I prayed that it would be the latter.

I didn’t hear the phone ring but Tony came in and told me that the vets had phoned and it was bad news. The new blood that had been transfused the night before had in fact increased Chunky’s red cell count but not long after the count had dropped again. The parasites were now attacking the new blood. The vet told us that they could give him a further transfusion if they ordered more blood that would take a couple of days to arrive from Madrid but that the chance of it working and Chunky boy surviving had now decreased to just 20%. We knew that if we did this option it would mean more suffering for Chunky and that would be unthinkable. The vet was in agreement that it was really time to say goodbye.

I had said my goodbye’s and didn’t go with Tony on the worse journey ever. He said that when he got there he spoke with the vet and it was agreed that the kindest thing (but at the same time the hardest thing for us) was to let Chunky go to sleep. The vet went to get Chunky Boy and Tony tells me that the poor boy had hardly any energy to stand as they brought him into the other room. Tony sat on the floor with Chunky as the vets gave him something for the pain and to allow him to sleep. Tony cuddled our boy and squeezed his nose as he always did. Although Chunky was really very, very weak he did manage to give Tony a kiss. Chunky passed away peacefully in the arms of the man he adored all his life and we lost one of the most loyal, faithful and wonderful companions anyone could ever have had. Tony was very upset as was the vet who was also crying. Our boy had touched her heart too.

Coming home without Chunky was very difficult and I was fortunate that I had Jane and Gordon to lean on whilst Tony was at the vets. I will always be grateful for the kindness they showed me, particularly as they have gone through a similar experience when they lost their own dog, Bella.

Bobby and Lola are the only remaining musketeers now. Lola is her normal crazy self although we have caught her looking around, we think for her big brother. Bobby has been very different this last week and is obviously missing Chunky a lot. Bobs has always slept with us but this last week has chosen to sleep instead on Chunky’s bed. A couple of times when we have been talking about Chunky, his little tail has started to wag thinking that perhaps he was here. We have had to try to keep them both entertained a little bit more than usual. Guess it will take time for them too.

The vets called yesterday to say that they now had Chunky’s ashes. We collected them and they had been very kind and were returned in a beautiful glass case with a red velvet bag inside and our boy’s name on the glass. Some people I know will think it crazy but we will keep them and they will eventually go with us when it is our turn to say goodnight for the last time.

At the beginning of this blog I wrote about lasting memories and today Tony had a tattoo on his back with all three of our dogs. Chunky boy in the centre keeping an eye on the other two. Crazy thing to do? Possible but who cares…we may not have our Chunky boy with us to smooth or cuddle but I know he will always be with us and others will never forget him when they look at Tony!



I have been blessed in my life. I have two wonderful daughters, a husband who is caring and everything a woman could want, a beautiful home and friends and now two gorgeous dogs but things will never be quite the same without Chunky Boy. Of course life will go on, we will enjoy life, that is what it is given to us for but there will always be times I know when our thoughts will return to that little lion that shared our lives and hearts for so very long.

R.I.P. Chunky boy and thank you for the happy times…………..


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBHcUv_42zI

Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:39 pm View user's profile Send private message


  • Linda: Thanks Bell, I'm currently in the 'will I or won't I' situation. This has certainly been helpful. All the best Linda
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