Tag Archives: Tenerife

2016, the first full year without Julie


It’s been a quirky, funny and at times a horrific year.

2016 started less than three months after Julie died after losing her battle with cancer.  In January I made a trip out to Tenerife to stay with our long time friends, Linda and Pete.  The trip was a welcome break from the intensity of caring for Julie, then watching her slip away, her once beautiful body racked and ruined by disease.  Tenerife was my first time travelling abroad alone and it was a strange experience, sitting in Gatwick airport feeling alone amongst the throngs of other passengers, having a coffee without anyone to discuss the forthcoming trip with, just waiting for the boarding gate to be announced.  Once in Tenerife, I was made to feel at home by my lovely friends and it was a welcome and pleasant distraction from the previous three years.

February arrived so Nathan, my son and I set about carrying on with our business,  because without a doubt life has to carry on, doesn’t it? The sheer shock of losing someone so close is never far away though but you get up in the morning and get on with your life.  You laugh and feel guilty, then some days well, you wish there aren’t going to be anymore days.  That of course is selfish, because how would my children react if they were to lose their Dad so soon after their Mum?

March saw a visit to a medium with my friends Bev and Stuart, comforting? Yes, but possibly too soon! My mind was still in a turmoil and many things didn’t register at the time, since then? Well let’s just say the medium was spot on!  March also saw a wedding, Pete and Linda tied the knot in Gibraltar then the party moved on to Tenerife.  It was there I realised that I had taken a real emotional battering.  My confidence had disappeared and usually a planner, I had to “wing it”. That was a difficult time.

Arriving back from Tenerife in early April I felt bruised, not in the physical sense but emotionally, my mind had been constantly spinning and I felt I’d let my two dear friends down. I coped by throwing myself back into work, then towards the end of April I had some more bad news.  Angela, one of Julie’s closest cousins lost her husband to cancer! I’d only met Angela a couple of times but something compelled me to pen a letter to her, I did and felt much better for writing.

During May work as always was busy and weekends were busy too with family, one thing losing someone close teaches you is money is only secondary, it’s time that is the most valuable commodity.  Unlike money, you never know when time is going to run out.  So May was like most other months during my adult life, filled with as much time spending time with my family and grandchildren.

It was Julie’s first birthday without us on June 5th, she would’ve been 58 this year and the way she carried her age before she became ill she probably would only look about 45 had she still have been alive.  We, as a family decided to have a meal together and a small intimate party, the weather was good so we carried on the party into the evening sat in the garden.  Laughter and children filled the garden that day, just the way Julie liked it. Of course June also saw Brexit and the resignation of our Prime Minister.  The “Brexit” vote made me realise and see some of the hatred and selfishness locked away inside people, I watched and was subjected to veiled comments and abuse as a leaver.  I forgive all of those abusers because I know they are frightened and fear tends to bring out the worst in people.

July and August were a mixture of meals at my home for the family and visits to various museums, English Heritage and National Trust properties with my grandsons.  Trust me, boys love cars, castles, cannons and dinosaurs! We made a visit to the Isle of Wight, firstly to Alum Bay, the less said about that the better, it’s a total rip off with run down attractions.  Osborn House, however was a real treat, picnic in the grounds and a walk around Queen Victoria’s retreat, brilliant.  We also made a trip to the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and were delighted to find The Mary Rose exhibition had been updated.  Really we made loads of memories this summer, little things which everyone will remember but boy did we do some stuff!!

September of course, saw the first anniversary of Julie’s passing, difficult because that first year is full of “firsts”.  We marked September 7th not by being morose but with a chilli, laughter and lighting candles in the evening.  As September 2016 drew to a close, it was difficult to comprehend that a full year had passed since I lost the love of my life. Oh, and I bought a new car.

October? Well it was busy that’s for sure! Hannah’s birthday, work, just busy and then awaiting the clocks to go back and the darkness to draw in.

November started with a visit to my brothers house for an big ole’ family firework party on the fifth.  Work, as it always does at this time of years ramps up, then tragedy, a phone call from Yvonne, the middle of my three sisters, my lovely brother-in-law, Steve had been killed, cycling home on his way back from work! Another family devastated! Nathan flew to the US for a holiday and thanks to a member of our staff, I ended up working for the following two weeks like a twenty year old!

December 2016. Steves funeral took place early this month then a week later Julie’s dad had a malignant tumour removed from his arm.  Then a milestone, I went out socialising without my family for the first time in probably three years, up until that point I’d just not really wanted to be anywhere apart from home.  Christmas decorations and tree were put up then a week before Christmas I was lucky enough to be invited to attend another wedding, this time it was Stuart and Bev tying the knot, lovely service in the wonderful Rhinefeild House Hotel in the heart of the New Forest.

On Christmas Day I got up at 6am to prepare a meal for Julie’s mum and dad who due to ill health were unable to leave their home, Leah, Hannah and Nathan delivered it along with Simon and the three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie?

Later that Christmas Day, another milestone, I cried for the first time since the birth of my son nearly 27 years ago.  Oh I’d felt like it, but even on the day Julie died the tears just wouldn’t materialise.  I guess all of my life had to be strong for someone?  When the tears came I felt relieved and realised I was still human and miss Julie as much, if not more at these family occasions?.

2016 didn’t finish pushing up surprises, a happier surprise happened on December 31st.  What was it? I’ll tell you about that one in due course. ?

So what did I learn during 2016? Well just when you think you’ve got life under control it throws a curve ball, then another, in fact so many there were times when I struggled to cope but cope I did.  It’s not just me who has to cope though, everywhere I look there are people struggling to cope. I’m lucky though, I write it down and hope someone reads my words and hope the words bring comfort to at least one person who feels the desperation caused by loneliness..

So to anyone who reads this I send you my heartfelt best wishes for 2017, may all of your dreams come true.

As always, thanks for reading?

 

 

 

 

 

Life As A Widower 2 (6 months on)

IMG_0069I can’t believe it was six months ago today the love of my life for forty years, Julie, died from cancer.  Do I miss her?  You bet I do, she’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to  sleep.  Only someone whose been through this would understand and I hope although against hope you won’t have to live through this experience, although unfortunately life dictates a good percentage of you will.

Luckily my family are all grown up, although I’m unsure whether this makes it harder or easier for  them,  my two lovely daughters, Leah and Hannah and my son Nathan have been and still are very supportive along with their respective partners, Simon, Leah’s husband, Matt, Hannah’s partner and the lovely Georgia, Nathan’s fiancée.  photo(29)These six, along with my three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie are the main focus of my life, as they too need support from time to time of course.

So what about me?  Well I went to Tenerife in January to visit my long time friends, Linda and Peter, Julie and I had some great times with them and they’re the sort who no matter how much time between  talking or seeing each other, we just pick up where we left off.  I’m off to Gibraltar on March 27th to meet them and to be best man at their wedding on the 30th at The Rock Hotel 🙂  Then back to Tenerife for more celebrations, really looking forward to that trip!  I love the island, I’m able to sit and write without disturbance and have been able to concentrate on my first novel, “Soulmates” which is, apparently, so I’m told, turning into a really good read!

In November I’m flying to Florida with Nathan, Georgia and her parents to look over the wedding venue with them ready for 2018, looking forward to that trip too. 🙂

I’ve learned changing my bedding and fighting the duvet cover every week is a much better workout than jogging.  I’ve found I can deal with almost any problem now because life’s too short to tolerate most of the bureaucratic bullshit that confronts us all throughout our daily lives.  I’ve also learned to say no whenever I feel I’m being taken advantage of.

I’ve found out I’ve high cholesterol, high blood pressure and may be diabetic which is quite strange really because I cook and eat healthily, and I’m always active.  So armed with information, I eat more fruit, don’t take sugar in my coffee and only drink red wine generally at weekends.  I’ve also cut out the medication which treated me for depression, (before I lost Julie and not as a result of).  Do I feel better?  I don’t know, what I do know though is now life has a certain clarity to it, the sort of clarity which makes you unafraid to forge ahead, not be coerced into doing things I don’t want to do just to please.

Are there things I miss apart from my wife?   I miss travelling with her, her witty conversation, her wry humour, companionship, her undivided love.

The one thing I don’t miss?  Julie and I were instrumental in setting up a comedy drama group twenty years ago, did they support her when she was ill, no.  In fact I had to go to a meeting and explain to them how ill Julie was and still they expected us to go down and “help”, they expected me to go and build sets, even when she was having chemotherapy and dying.  Well members of that drama group, I hope you all can live with yourselves, maybe now you believe just how ill she was!  You know the beauty of not naming them is they know who they are, they have to live with themselves because when we resigned from the group due to Julie’s illness, we were never even offered a lifetime pass even though for many years Julie and I worked hard for the group, many times at financial cost to ourselves.  In Julie’s words “Fuck ’em, they’re all up their own arses and have to live with themselves”

Being a widower (or a widow) I guess,  sends you into a world of sometimes darkness, sometimes despair, loneliness at times when you miss the love of your life,  but I think also a voyage of self discovery until you meet the love of your life once more xxxx

Thanks for  reading 🙂

Inner Peace and Sanctuary

IMG_5722Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, situated on the north coast is a tourist destination but one which, away from the main seafront, maintains it’s old world buildings interspersed with a mix of terraces and restuarants.  Walking around this small Canarian town with Peter, Linda and Matilda, their lovable beagle only seems to pull me closer to this island.

GarachicoHistory is abound throughout Tenerife, on one of our journeys we drove through Garachico a small town filled with reminders of its violent past.  Up until 1705 this picturesque town was a thriving sea port, exporting Malmsey wine and food then,  on May 5thIMG_5635 Mount Teide erupted.  Apparently, the large rock in the picture to the left was washed down by lava flows during the eruption which lasted several weeks.  Garachico’s residents lost their livelihoods and the port was destroyed!  As you travel though the town even today you can see the black volcanic soil that marks the direction of the lava flow down the 500 metre (1500 ft) steep cliff the town nestles below. Garachico 1The few old buildings which remain standing are testament to the beauty of old Spanish architecture.  I’ll be returning here on my next visit to investigate further and to quell my curiosity for knowledge about this old town which was rebuilt after the disaster!

Over the years Julie and I made many visits to the Canary Islands but this time, alone after her passing, it has been different, probably due to the change in my outlook on life and my attitude to growing older.  We both had noticed the sharp differences between Canarian and English culture many years ago, however, I’ve felt it more than before this visit.  I know this is the easiest place for me to write my book.  Indeed, prior to my return this time I’ve written the first chapter!

Over the years I’ve travelled to America, Russia, Europe and Australia but the Canary Islands seem to carress me with a gentle, relaxing peacefulness.  Here in the UK, life is about money, it’s fast paced and stressful, I’ve noticed parents have little patience with their children.  In Tenerife, you still need money but life is such the residents are more content. I’m not and never have been motivated by money, although have had to work hard to support my family and to give them a reasonable standard of living.  The native Canarian population are more family centred as am I, preferring to go to the beach or out for a simple family meal rather than sit in front of the television night after night.  Weekends are always special to them, some driving out to the many picnic areas for a barbecue, while others simply walk around with their dogs, call into a bar, sit and have tapas with their children, who also are content. I watched two boys of about eleven playing, not with playstations or XBoxes, but spinning tops.

The Canarian children have plenty of exercise and are respectful and polite.  While in Puerto de la Cruz, sitting with Peter and holding Matilda, a little girl rode up on her bike and asked “Puedo yo para mascotas tu perro?” which means “Can I pet your dog?” “Ce darling!” I replied, and gently she patted and stroked Matilda until called by her brother who was calling her for tea I guess, off she went with a “Mucha grasias, adios” and a friendly wave. Women and men alike have respect for each other and stop and talk in the street.  If you pass them on the pavement they will always respond if you wish them “Buenos dias” or “Buenos tardes” (“good morning” or “good afternoon”).  People in the UK either look away or look down, generally preferring not to answer and go about their business!  It’s almost as if being friendly is a crime.

I’m lucky enough to be able to travel, but while I’m in this green and pleasant land, I’ll try and spread some of that Canarian charm and cheer to all I meet, hopefully some of it will rub off! 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

Relaxing day, good evening, disturbed night!

imageThis is a fairly new village named Abedas, one of the quietest, peaceful places I’ve been to over the past few days.  Overlooked by an old leper colony, it’s residents are mainly Spanish but like most villages there are some German, Dutch and English ex pats.  Abedas (pronounced Abedath) is set in a little bay about half an hours drive east along the coast from Tenerife airport.  I’m pretty sure this is where I’m going to buy a property because I felt immediately at home, almost as if Julie was whispering in my ear, telling me to settle here and write. Peter, Linda and I had an excellent tapas lunch consisting of tuna, prawns, octopus, peppers and salad along with the obligatory beers and wine, except Pete, “the apple juice king”???.

imageAfter leaving Abedas we turned back westward to the little fishing village of Tajao, which reminds me a little of Polperro in Cornwall where I spent some of my childhood, busy but gently going about it’s business during peak times.  Surrounded by steep hills, Tajao is made up of two small bays, one for the port and the other a stony but beautiful beach. image

There are a few restaurants, all very busy even at this time of the year, all serving an array of dishes, the best of course being the locally caught fish which are usually displayed proudly by the the establishment owners in cold cabinets. No microwave meals here! U.K. Restaurants take note! ???. image Of course we even found time for Linda and Matilda to have a paddle.

I took the photo on the left in anticipation that Matilda might get a little over zealous and pull Linda into the sea!??? Never happened imagethough and Matilda decided she would take one final gaze at the sea before we set off back home to Valle San Lorrenzo. What a lovely well behaved dog she is, that of course is a testament to the love she receives from Linda and Pete!

Anyone who knows Linda will know she is a fantastic cook, she quickly put together a delicious curry at the apartment in the evening before suggesting Peter and I took a trip up to a local bar. Of course we obliged and several drinks later returned home…..for a few more.

About four in the morning I heard my door open, Pete stumbled into my room.  “Are you ok bud?”  I asked. “Aye fine lad” was the reply, he then stumbled around the room and climbed into bed with me!  “What the f..k” I think, and shot out of bed faster than a Trident missile on its way to Russia!  I went to the lounge and decide to sleep on the couch.   Linda obviously heard me get up and came in. “Are you ok?”asks Linda ” He’s in my bloody bed!” was my answer.  She then went into overdrive,  swiftly removing the still drunk intruder from my sleeping quarters! ?. ??????

Thanks for reading???

 

 

 

Rest, relaxation and clarity

Arriving at Tenerife airport to see my longtime friends Peter, Linda and Matilda, their new baby imagehas been the highlight of the last very dark months.  Julie and I would have liked to have come back sooner but of course that was never to be.

Thursday was a day of conversation, wine and catching up, it’s a rare thing in life when after not seeing each other for so many years, you’re able to just pick up where you left off.  Pete, being the straight talking Yorkshire man he is greeted me with “bloody hell Acky you’ve put on some weight!” “Mate, I’m back to the weight I was when I got married” I laughed in reply before proceeding to take the Micky out of his new haircut. Linda unfortunately has laryngitis, which of course is not so good, except for Pete ??.  She seems to be ok but I think she is suffering more than she is letting on, all in all though they both seem pretty good and the Canarian lifestyle definitely agrees with them. ?

Look at the picture, how can you not feel good when you wake up to this every morning! image

Julie and I had planned to live in the canaries when we finally stopped work.  The only selfish dream we had was to move out here and merge with the cosmopolitan, less violent population and live our days out.  Julie, my darling, visiting our friends, has given me new resolve to live out our dream here albeit without you in body, I know you’ll be by my side all the way whatever I decide.

My talents are varied and plentiful, so if I can rebuild my life on this beautiful island, while writing my long planned novel I shall do just that.   The flowers are always in bloom, the people friendly and the sun shines most of the time.  If I can’t produce a written piece under these circumstances then I probably never will……????

Thanks for reading ???

8. A funny thing happened on the way to London!

imageI opened up Twitter, 8 days away from the Election and there it was, probably the most bigoted statement thus far from a party.  UKIP proclaim” Christians who object to gay marriage will be granted legal protection”.   If anyone votes for this party they are surely voting to send this country back into the dark ages.  UKIP is indeed the party of lunatics.

The leader of the Lib DEMs, Nick Clegg moaned today, ” there is so much uncertainty in this election”.  Sounds like this man thinks he is already beaten!

Apparently Labour will recruit another 1000 border staff! Milli, trust me if you win, there will be no one left in the UK except the SNP. All you need to keep them out is a gang of Eastern European bricklayers to re-build Hadrians Wall.  Even your mate Russell Brand will have gone 🙂

There was a party of four ladies on our train today, all on their way to Tenerife via Gatwick Airport.  One was dressed in deck chair colours, another wore a strange pale turquoise travelling suit not seen since the sixties, yet another dressed in attire more suited to a brothel while the eldest of the party who was at least my age was wearing black with peroxide blond hair 🙁 ! Nothing at all wrong with that, everyone is entitled to dress how they want I hear you shout.  That’s exactly what this lovely bunch were doing shouting.  I’m pretty certain they will be staying in Las Americas and trying to pull every night in an Irish bar. 🙂

I’m a strong supporter of ladies in general and in the Daily Telegragh today there was a story about a 23 year old lady who felt intimidated by the wolf whistles from a gang of builders.  She went to the police, who then went to interview the builders, then the builders were reprimanded by their employer.   Now, I would hate to think that all builders get tarred with the same brush.  My guys are politeness itself. I say this to the offending gang, come on lads treat ladies with the same respect  you would treat your wife or mum, this is 2015 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

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