Thursday, 31 December 2009

Reflections on 2009

It is the last day of the year. We are in a very wet Madrid getting ready to welcome in 2010. And my mind starts to reflect on the year gone by.

It has not been a great year. I went to three funerals, and would have attended a couple more had I been around. One of those took place early this week. And all were of friends hardly older than myself. Some other friends and relatives have taken ill during the year and will struggle to survive though next year.

All of that is very sad, but does of course put my problems in perspective. I have not greatly enjoyed work in 2009, I have frittered away a lot of my leisure time and I have procractinated when things needed to be done. All of which has been frustrating, but all of which can be improved in 2010.

So without the time to do a long, deep reflection on the year, I would simply class 2009 as a wasted year in many respects. But I am where I am. I cannot return to times and places now passed. So I should be thankful for my life, my friends, my family and especially my loving partner, Andrew. And I move on to a better and hopefully more interesting year in 2010.

We are going out this evening to a restaurant in the Chueca district of Madrid to see in 2010 Spanish style. Then tomorrow we take the train to Malaga.

I hope all friends enjoy New Year and achieve in 2010 whatever they wish for themselves. It is the first year of the rest of my life, and I will make the most of it.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

A Particular Problem

I realise that this is a topic seldom mentioned. Yet it can define whether a day is going to be pleasant or not. It can dominate ones thoughts throughout the day if it becomes a problem. Yet is never thought of when all if going okay.

I refer to regular bowel movements.

I guess over Christmas in Scotland and now here in Spain, I have drunk less liquid than I should have. And most of what I have drunk has been alcoholic. The result is that I have become severely constipated. And this is not pleasant. I continue to put in more food at one end than is being expelled at the other end. So I am severely bloated, digestion is not good and sleeping is fitful at best. The more I try the more frustrating it is. I am now overdosing on Activia yoghurt and drinking loads of water. I am emptying my bladder very regularly. But still nothing is coming out at the other side. I make a lot of noise to little effect. Aargh.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Goodbye Scotland, Hello Spain

Once again we were lucky with the journey south. The road to Aviemore was tricky but drivable with care. The A9 was difficult in places, especially since the windreen washer had frozen. Temperature was minus 9C in middle of day. Then things improved, though traffic increased the further south we went.

Anyway we made in to Hitchin and after a night's rest we headed off to Madrid.

Which is where we are today. A very wet Madrid. Which has restricted sightseeing. But we are well settled in the Hotel Room Mate Oscar and looking forward to seeing in the New Year in Madrid.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Well, we got here. The journey could have been worse. Our timing was lucky - we seemed to pass some areas before the snow arrived and not reach other areas until the snow has stopped.

So today, me, my father, my sister and my boyfriend had Christmas lunch at the Ugie House Hotel in Keith. It was all very pleasant - and the snow gave the scene a magical quality.

So Happy Christmas to all.

Tomorrow we start the return journey.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Traveling to Scotland

I had hoped that there might be a thaw. But there won't. So our drive to Scotland is becoming increasingly risky. All Easyjet flights to Aberdeen before Christmas are full and there are no seats left in the train. So we have no alternative.

Unfortunately Andrew has a meeting on Tuesday lunchtime that apparently he cannot miss. So what we have decided to do is this. We will leave Hitchin around 6pm on Tuesday and drive for about 3 hours before staying in a Travelodge, probably around the Leeds area. Then we head off before dawn on Wednesday in order to give ourselves the best possible change of getting to Aberdeen early afternoon and thus getting to Keith before dark.

Normally we would drive M6 then up to Perth, leaving the A9 at Aviemore to drive to Keith via Grantown. But I think in view of the weather we'd be better going up the A1 to Edinburgh then up the east coast of Scotland to Aberdeen and along the A96 to Keith. I be checking the weather forecasts over the next 24 hours or so.

And then of course, at the weekend, we have to do the whole journey down south ready to catch the flight to Madrid on the Monday (a week today).

And just to make things even more tricky, Madrid has had some heavy snow and the airport is currently closed.

I think we've decided to do too much. But we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Scotland in Winter

Last week I had to go to Stirling for a regional meeting of AGI Scotland. Getting to Stirling from London for an 11am meetings meant a bit of an early start, but I made it.

I then took the opportunity to head up to Keith for a couple of days to see my Dad. The weather in Keith was glorious. Cold, yes. Frosty, yes. But crisp and clear with not a cloud in the sky. Breathing in fresh, crisp air was invigorating.

One day we went to Spey Bay. It was lovely to stand at the mouth of the Spey watching in the birds and the seals sunbathing in the low winter sun.

And at night, in the local park in Keith, there were myriads of stars twinkling in the black, cloud-free sky. Something I never see in London.

I am now back in London. But we are planning to drive all the way up to Keith on Wednesday. Which might be tricky given the current weather throughout the UK. I note from today's Press and Journal that the North-East of Scotland had quite a bit of snow overnight and that there were a number of accidents on the roads. Police suggest driving only when strictly necessary. So fingers crossed that the weather might relent before Wednesday.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


The day after we visited Tenerife, we docked at Madeira and again took a tour of the island. I enjoyed Madeira. Perhaps I wouldn't want to spend a fortnight there, but would be happy to go back for a few days.

Anyway here is the video I took -

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I have just returned from a couple of days in the North of Scotland (of which more later). I had some spare time so I edited some of the flip video footage I took on our recent cruise and uploaded it onto You Tube. Here is the day we spent in Tenerife, my first visit to the island -