10 July 2008
Teeside, England
54°36'53.31"N 1°18'32.21"W


Back to famine and flood again. Can't believe that this has been sitting on the laptop for 2 months waiting to get spell checked, proof read and uploaded. And that doesn't count the time that I had it finished, hit a key by mistake and clicked Yes to Revert To Previously Saved File? D'oh! Just goes to show what happens when you have plenty of newspapers to read and plenty of things to watch on TV.

So, where were we? Oh yes. Minorca. For the first week of our stay, the ever growing Gatley clan were all over the hotel, and then for the second week it was just me, Peter and his mum and dad. I missed out on the trip to the capital of the island, Mahon, as it was my turn with the dreaded 24 hour lurgi. I think just about everybody in the hotel came down with it at one stage or another. Peter's cries of food poisoning fell on deaf ears. , Even though it was really nasty, as I was able to pinpoint the exact time that I started to feel odd I can say with authority that it lasted for exactly 23 hours and 5 minutes. Anyway, we were all feeling good again by Sunday evening, which as well as being their last day was Kath and Ken's 40th wedding anniversary. We even got dressed up for it. OK, it might not look it, but that's as dressed up as it gets for us. We almost celebrated at dinner with a bottle of wine, but as Peter only drinks red, I only drink white and Kath and Ken don't drink wine, we passed up the idea, but we still had a lovely time. Apart from Peter spilling food down his shirt, but we're used to that.

Anyway, we spent another relatively uneventful 4 weeks on Minorca, wandering from resort to resort. We got a good insight into the psyche of the English Package Holiday Tourist whilst we were there. We learned the most important lesson, which is never to stand between such a creature and the buffet. The amount of food being piled onto plates was obscene. Just because it's free doesn't mean you have to eat that much. Or think you can - mostly eyes were bigger than bellies and the amount of food left on plates was even more obscene. But no matter how much you leave on your plate, you have to go back for at least one helping of pudding. Yeah - why not try this and this and this? Nothing wrong with that, but if you're trying new things, try a LITTLE bit because if you don't like it, the rest goes into the bin.

Personally, I could have lived on the green olives and the occasional slice of chorizho Got a lot of odd looks when I poured some extra virgin olive oil into a saucer and dipped my bread into it, but I didn't care. It was yum. Apart from this though, I have to say I was disappointed with the food. I tried 'Spanish' food in the hotels we stayed in where we had free food, and at restaurants outside, but I couldn't get away with it. Maybe we were just unlucky and eating in the wrong places, but we looked really hard and didn't find anything that was particularly good and not cooked with the English tourist in mind. The good thing is thought that by the end of the holiday I was back to eating as usual and had put on about 10lbs/5kg which was amazing - not that I'd put it on, but that I hadn't put more on. Sitting here now after a month of home cooking and eating out, I've put about another 10lbs/5kg on, and I really have been eating for England for the last couple of weeks. I thought I must have piled the weight on, but am still only sitting on about 9 stone or 57 kg. Oh well, not complaining.

For anyone eating out in Billingham, the Three Horseshoes as Cowpen Bewley (as Gordon will tell you, that's NOT the same as Newton Bewley) is amazing. Usually, I won't touch the steak in England as it's always disappointing, but the steak was not only cooked perfectly, it was good quality. We went there no less than 5 times in the last month. Quick - get in before the chef leaves. He's really good.

Nana Lyn had a couple of great parties - what am I saying? All of her parties are great. The first was a Hawaiian night at Shirley and Onions' house, the second part of her fundraising efforts. The first part was held at the ICI club whilst we were in Spain so we missed out, but the second part got her past the £2,000 mark. Of course, it would have been a lot more if the manager at the ICI club hadn't been so Bah, Humbug! He claimed that he'd already done his bit for charity this year, and charged full price for hiring the room. Of course, he got a bucket-load of money over the bar from a couple of hundred people who wouldn't have been there otherwise, but that didn't seem to count for anything. If I still lived there, I'd boycott the place. Forever. Still, I'm sure the North Tees Breast Cancer Unit appreciate everything that Lyn and everyone else involved with organizing the fundraiser's did. They just would have appreciated it more if the ICI club had come to the party.

Next was the English night - Lyn's parties always have a theme. Last year it was the Australian night, complete with blow up croc's and roo's, plastic snakes, hats with corks and Steve Irwin outfits for those game to wear them. The English night just happened to coincide with Peter's birthday. Heaps of bunting, flags, wigs, hats and Vera Lynn songs on the CD, but Eric stole the show by sneaking off to Hartlepool on the afternoon and hiring a Hitler costume. Not exactly English, but everyone got it. Have to say thought that he wasn't game to walk (the very short distance) to Lyn's house dressed as Mein Fuehrer on a Saturday night though - he drove and had to come back for his car the next day.

Next year, we're going to have a Malaysian night. It was my suggestion, so I'm desperately trying to think up suitable finger food. I know the Tiger Beer will go down well (even though it's really Singaporean) but I think Angkor, the Malaysian beer, will be a bit of a challenge to get, and even more of a challenge to get anyone to drink more than one.


I've spent a lot of time up and down between Billingham and Doncaster on trains. This is the first time we've been to England without having a hire car - we thought it was going to be a nightmare, but it really wasn't so bad. We did a lot of juggling and a fair bit of walking, and if it hadn't been for the outrageous prices of bus fares, it would have been great. In Doncaster, I can't believe how much Alex and Hannah have grown - Hannah seems to have come on a lot since we were here 6 weeks ago. Instead of random words, she's starting to put them into sentences which I find amazing. SHARE was favorite a few weeks ago, but ALEX NOT SHARE is favorite now. Of course, SHE doesn't share. Sharing doesn't apply to her. Only Alex has to share. And the strange thing is, he does. Go figure. Having not been around little ones very much, or it being a couple of years in between seeing them before, it's really weird to see them growing up.

Anyway, it's off to Singapore tomorrow and then probably onto Sumatra. I've always fancied Sumatra, and have managed to convince Peter because of Lake Toba - Google it, seem awesome that a volcano could have so much power to create a seemingly bottomless lake. After that, back to Aus then who knows where. Decisions, decisions.