Sunday, May 12, 2013


I couldn’t wangle a decent seat on this flight so I am typing this on one of the rear seats in a free row, so at least I have ben able to put the other arm rest up and give myself a little more room.

The weekend is over and I am totally wrecked.  I need the rest of the week to recover from the excesses of the past two days (and one night) which I spent in Cardiff, but that is not to be and I will be teaching at 8.15 am tomorrow.  Retribution is swift after indulgence!

Friday evening was almost civilized as I arrived far too late and far too tired to do much more than drink a glass of wine or three and go to bed.

Saturday, I was graciously informed, was mine to do in as I wished.  I therefore decided to keep the appointment I had made to go to the optician in Tesco, Culverhouse Cross.  It was a very good thing that I did so because the service there was exceptional.  From the pre-tests to the choosing of frames everything was done with a friendly courtesy and professional ease which was a delight.

The optician even managed to fit in a consultation for my contact lenses by checking appointments and making time.

The end result was I spent over five hundred quid!  So see what doing your job gets you!  And, even though that might sound a little steep, it does include four pairs of glasses and a month’s supply of a new type of contact lens for me to try.

I did voice my idea that the basic problem with my eyes was that I have cross dominance.  In other words I am right handed by left eye dominant.  At the moment my left eye is adjusted for distance and my right for reading when I am wearing contact lenses.  The brain is supposed to work out which eye to use for which activity which it pointedly doesn’t when I wear them.  My solution was to swap functions.  The optician decided not to do that but changed the prescription so that the difference between the two eyes if more obvious and, he said this would make it easier for my brain to accept.  I hope it does because I prefer to wear contact lenses than glasses, though at the moment it is much easier for me to wear glasses for the amount of reading and writing that I am doing.  Hopefully after June when the schoolwork ends I will be able to use my contact lenses more.  That is the plan anyway.

And going back to the five hundred quid spend, I actually had a bit of a bargain there.  If you are not a glasses wearer that might seem to be impossible – but if you are visually challenged then you will have grown up being regularly being shafted by opticians.  I have been wearing glasses since I was about eight and contact lenses since I was eighteen.  So if you count up all the money that I have spent and money which has been spent on my behalf – and have every payment adjusted for 2013 prices I must have spent tens of thousands of pounds on flimsy bits of metal, plastic and glass and consultations when you, the customer, have to do most of the work to get the prescription right!

So with Tesco the consultation and prescription were free.  They also have a buy one and get the second pair free.  Which is good value.  Until you realize that all the little extras are extra.  So I have the lenses thinned, I have varifocal made to my specific prescription with a wider reading area and they are photo chromatic and they are lightweight.  All of that little lot of extras add about one hundred and fifty quid!  And those extras are not “free”.  So I decided to have two pairs of glasses with everything and then two “basic” pairs with no extras.  And the contacts lenses are daily disposable, but they work out at less than a quid a day.  And if you have been wondering at my slumming by using colloquialisms like “quid” it is merely because I cannot be bothered to find the pound sign on this Spanish keyboard, far too much effort!

So my lunchtime on Saturday I had justified the trip in purely financial terms, quite apart from seeing the Pauls.  I did call in to see my Aunt Micky and was horrified to see a picture of That Woman set out for contemplation and adoration.  But she is my aunt and so I didn’t say exactly what I felt, but I did relate the story of my setting fire to my candle of That Woman and her blue bouffant is now well and truly burnt.  I also told her that the film of this act of fully justified post-mortem fiery revenge was freely available on YouTube and that she should watch “Burning Thatcher” as something which would be good for her soul.  I regard my little film as the equivalent of an act of devotion and a modern take on a chantry where the evidence of my act of immolation will have some form of life immortal in the electronic world!

I did call in to see Louise but she was out and so I was denied my traditional cup of tea and a chat.  Another time.

Uncle Eric too did not have a visit from me this time around.  Shame on me!

Saturday night was supposed to be the opportunity for me to take the Pauls out for a meal.  Our first, second and third choices were full so we decided to patronize an old haunt, “Le Monde”.  Our ill luck was to continue however as there was a power cut in the recently reopened restaurant and while we waited for our table a round of drinks was fourteen quid.  Not the place to stay and get drunk in.  Time crept on and we felt that there must be somewhere else in the centre of Cardiff which could offer us a meal.

Our plan was therefore to go to one of the restaurants that said it was full and take a chance.

This was a good plan because it worked.  Our meal in “Viva Brazil!” was interesting and good.  There is a substantial buffet island with cold and hot food to load onto your plate.  When you have regained your seat you have to turn a beer mat which is green on one side and red on the other.  Green means that you want one of the roving waiters to bring something to your table.

The waiters wander round with a metal spike on which is impaled meat of some sort and, with the large and menacing knife that he also carries around be begins to carve off a slice which you pick up (with what looks like a pair of sugar tongs) and transfer it to your plate.  A very nice idea and there was plenty to eat.  I think the trick of the place is to ensure that your first selection of food will accompany what is going to be brought to your table.  I chose various types of potato and fish – I do like surf and turf!

But it was expensive.

Sunday was The Day and it Went Well with our eventually being upgraded to “White” armbands which meant that we were able to walk through the crowds (rather than be part of them) into the area directly in front of the stage on which the heroes of the team were to parade themselves.

This achievement was preceded by a beautiful meal in La Strada (if my memory serves me properly) in which I had the best risotto, of the seafood variety, that I have ever eaten.  It was washed down, however, by one hundred and twenty quid’s worth of booze which made an al fresco meal into something of a fiasco.

But an excellent day which prepared me in no way whatsoever for the next “illegal” day off school.

Monday started on a somewhat delicate note because of the alcoholic orchestration of the previous day but I was determined to use all the time to the full so I went to Tesco and spent, because that is what I do.  Well.

There was also time to visit Hadyn (yes I know that it isn’t spelled like that, but I have spelled it like that for as long as I have known him and I am simply not prepared to change now) and sit, in glorious sunshine, in his back garden.  Somewhat unexpectedly I was also able to help him repair the fence.  Never let it be said that I was not prepared to earn my cups of tea!

The exact time of my departure was a bit hazy for me and so it was only when I was galvanized into activity by Paul 1 who said that I needed to make a move that I did.  Through a complicated piece of key exchange I had to leave the Pauls in a pub go and pack and then return to key to the Pauls and go on my way.

The packing, amazingly, took longer than it should have done and, with all my little purchases stuffed into the walk-on luggage the damn thing would hardly close.  As it was I have to carry my computer and hope that they would not insist, as I have seem Them do, that I put it in my suitcase for the passing of the control.  Shutting the case with a computer in it would have broken the thing in two.

I left the Pauls (at least the Pub) with a vague feeling that I could make the flight with enough time, but I did not have the confidence to check that this was so.

In the event this che sara, sara approach worked and I got petrol and to the airport in plenty of time.  I must try that attitude again!

I failed to pass the security check and was patted down and my shoes checked.  My case failed the security check and various things had to be dug out of the congealed mass of commodities and dirty clothes.  The Sudafed didn’t make it and my mobile phone was checked for traces of explosive.  I asked.

I think that my idiotic purchase of sparklers and Roman Candle type decorations for Toni’s birthday cake may have been the cause of this as I plonked the sparklers and candles into my case before I realized the impossibility of actually getting them out of the country!  Can it be that their machinery is so sensitive that it can pick up decorative gunpowder, still wrapped after having been left in a case for a day or so?  If so, so impressive!

I eventually got through and settled down to while away the stretched time that exists in every airport terminal in the world.  In the event it was not too bad and the flight was called at the time that they said it would be.

Bristol Airport is now one of the most unfriendly places I have ever been to.  If you are flying EasyJet the walk from the plane and to the plane is of almost comic length.  Indeed they have put up notices to tell you that you are still on course and I have seen more than one able-bodied traveller eye the wheelchairs provided at strategic points throughout the Long Trek with what can only be described as longing!

The flight was full and generally uneventful and, although I didn’t get an emergency exit seat I was allowed to move to the back where there were free rows so I was able to spread out.  I will pass over the collection of returning Spanish schoolchildren in silence, which is certainly not what they did!

An 8.15 start the next day dampened the spirits when I finally got home in a much more expensive taxi than usual and so I drifted off to sleep eventually, I was that tired that sleep was not easy, with the dread of an examination marking packed week ahead.

And that it what it was, with OU work being a distant memory.

In spite of the crap in school I did, at the end of the week I managed to write my “object driven” and “object centred” approach to the Festival of Britain Crown that I chose as my object for the first exercise on the Tutor Group Forum.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to the course and I am finding the comments on the National Forum even more stimulating.  I am not as securely in my comfort zone with this course material and I think that is a very good thing.

I did make the mistake of looking at some post connected with “A150 Exam Results” which was a foolish and masochistic thing to do.  Hysteria is, after all, catching!

So to the end of this week and The Wedding.

This was held in a Masia in the countryside, down a winding dirt track and was excellent.

The actual ceremony was held outside with white draped seat a la Americana with real rose and flower petals strewn along the sides of the path leading to the “stage”.  All very pretty, but when we arrived we were not given a drink.  And we went on not being given a drink (apart from a table with bottles of water on it!) for longer than was strictly necessary!

Once the ceremony was over we were ushered to a canopied area where, to my horror, we were offered a drink composed of tropical fruits!  My aghast face must have spoken volumes as glasses of Cava soon appeared.

The yucca crisps were a nice touch and they prepared us for an entrance to the courtyard area of the Masia where, passing by the kids who had been issued with soap mixture to create a curtain of bubbles we came to the tapas.  These were, without exception, exceptional!

From sushi with cream cheese (!) to jamon iberico everything was tasty, beautifully presented and interesting.

The highlight for me was a mini scallop gratinated on its shell.  Toni’s mum and I regarded these as our rightful property and consumed a plate of them before we were dragged away clawing for more!

Some of these tapas were presented on plastic spoons, the disposable equivalent of Chinese soupspoons but with an arched stem.  I believe that the traditional adjective to use for such elegant constructions of food is exquisite – and they were.

The Cava was on tap, as it were and with hot tapas following the cold together with plates of risotto we had had our meal before the meal started!

Food, food and more food.  And we were even threatened (I thought it was a joke) with yet more food after the dancing.  It was not a joke and I refused to push another morsel through my mouth!

The distribution of gifts meant that I am now the proud possessor of a mini bottle of Cava and a Cuban cigar!

At the moment we are preparing to go out to lunch after which I think the next time that I will need to eat will be sometime in the distant summer.  You will note that I used the word “need” in the last sentence.  That gives me, as they say, “wriggle room”!

And I still have to get back to Castelldefels to prepare for the week which is getting closer all the time.
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