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London and Seville

It had been some years since my last stay in London so I decided to have a 2-week holiday there followed by 2 weeks in Seville in September. My great friends in London, with whom I stayed, are now a wonderful family of 4 generations and are all a joy to be with. There we were doing to usual things I have missed, especially going into the centre of London to see a show and eat out. This time, there was even a surprise as we walked into Leicester Square and found ourselves in the middle of the excitement of a world premiere about to take place. The film was ‘Ticket to Paradise’. If it hadn’t been for large boarding, we would have seen George Clooney and Julia Roberts close up but we settled for watching them on a big screen. All that was usual then changed when the Queen died. A great sadness descended over London as well as many places around the world. We went to see the floral tributes and saw everything being set up for the funeral. Meanwhile, my daughter, Susan, paid her respects at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh. Her daughter, Holly, had met the Queen when she opened the Queensferry Crossing Bridge and Susan had taken a photo of the hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin as it exited the bridge on its way to Edinburgh. I was in Seville when the funeral took place and I watched it on BBC World in my hotel room. I found lots of things to see in Seville. My favourite things were seeing the tomb of Christopher Columbus in the spectacular cathedral, seeing the amazing Plaza de Espana, the huge, wooden “Mushrooms” sculpture and eating lunch in the Hard Rock Cafe which was in a beautiful building and had very interesting memorabilia. I also have to mention that the family and I had a lovely holiday in Asturias in July when we visited a safari park which was as good as Busch Gardens (without the roller coasters) and an interesting dinosaur museum. There were lots of places to visit amid the gorgeous scenery of Asturias. Now my thoughts turn to Glasgow where I will be spending 5 weeks in December/January helping my son and his business partner with the Christmas orders. It’s a “labour of Love”.

Proud Grandmother

I have always been very proud of my daughters and son. They have achieved so much in their lives and will continue to do so in the future, I’m sure. Of course, they also gave me six amazing grandchildren, three granddaughters and three grandsons who are now aged from nine to fifteen. In their short lives, they have also achieved so much – at school, in sporting activities and through all being very creative. In the last few months, both of my grandsons in Scotland have signed to play for pro-youth football teams. My oldest granddaughter achieved straight A grades in her Prelim exams and the second oldest was given a Maths award. My bilingual, half-Spanish grandchildren constantly amaze me with their command of both English and Spanish plus learning the Galician language and French at school. I am very lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful family.

Celebrations

After another trip to Glasgow at the start of December and working hard there, helping with Christmas orders, a series of celebrations started. There was Christmas followed by New Year when all the family got together in Scotland. We came back to Spain just in time for the ‘Three Kings’ Day’, celebrated on the day of Epiphany. That was closely followed by my daughter’s birthday, my birthday and it will be my grandson’s birthday in a few days. Just before my birthday was my daughter-in-law’s birthday in Glasgow. Of course, my birthday was also a day of celebration for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as she has now reigned for 70 years. Not quite my 70th birthday though! Since returning to Spain, it really has been sunny Spain every day which has been a treat. After a difficult two years, I hope that 2022 will be a better year for us all.

Brexit, Covid and Barcelona

I’m not sure how it got to October already. The year is flying by. It has been dominated by three things. The main thing for me has been Brexit. It meant I had to apply for Residency here in Spain or, if I left the EU, I would only get a 90-day visa when I came back in again. Luckily, I took a friend called Juan to the government office when I first applied. Basically, all the official did was shout at us. It was horrible and Juan said we should leave but the man did give me another appointment. Juan and I went off to have lunch with his wife to recover. We went a second time and the woman was much nicer but she didn’t seem to know what to do. I had to prove my income was over a certain amount a year and had to pay for documents to be translated. I had also had to buy medical insurance. When Juan’s wife asked how it had gone, we were not sure. However, my application was approved and, after 2 trips to the main police station, I received my card. Yeah! Of course, Covid has been on everyone’s minds this year. I was double vaccinated but didn’t let my guard down. Here in Spain, we had to wear masks everywhere outside our own houses for about a year. We don’t have to wear them outdoors any more but most people still do and we have to wear them in shops, on public transport, in cafes when not eating or drinking and anywhere where there are lots of people around. They vaccinated all the kids over 12 before school started last month but they all still wear masks at all times in school and each class is a “bubble”. They are going to start vaccinating 5-to-11-year-old kids but, again, masks will be worn at all times in school and the classes will be “bubbles”. Last July, I was supposed to visit friends in Barcelona but the trip was cancelled. I finally went there this summer and had such a nice time with friends I originally met in Singapore and then we met up in London a few times after they moved there. Their amazing son was born in London but they moved to Barcelona when he was a few months old. Meeting him for the first time was a joy. At 2 years 5 months, he speaks to his dad in Italian, his mum in Spanish, is learning the Catalan language at nursery and he knows a lot of words in English too. I enjoyed the sights of Barcelona as I had not been there before. I wore 2 masks in the airports and on the planes and I wore protective masks at all times unless I was in my hotel room or at my friends’ flat. (They were both double vaccinated but had also tested positive some weeks before so their immune systems were in good shape!) Not only am I booked to go to Glasgow again this December but my daughter and grandkids here are also booked to go just after Christmas to spend New Year in Scotland. Hopefully, it will be less stressful than my trip last year. Take care and stay safe all.

My Trip to Glasgow

I would like to wish anyone reading this a Happy New Year. Take care, stay safe and stay strong in 2021 please!

Each December, I like to go to Glasgow to help my son and his business partner in their busiest month. This year, however, was a bit of a challenge. A friend said that the title of my latest book – ‘In a Class of Her Own’ – was an appropriate title for my book and it did feel like that as I wondered who else but me would take a 3-plane journey from Northern Spain to Glasgow during a global pandemic? There were flight cancellations and airport changes, timing the journey to the airport after the Spanish nightly curfew and an important online form to fill in, print and carry on the journey but, after changing planes in Madrid and Heathrow, I finally arrived safely in Glasgow. After 14 days of quarantine in my son’s house, I finally started work and, boy, did we all work hard! Orders were flooding in every day and it was great to see the business thriving and to be part of that, if only in a very small way, through my proofreading twice a year remotely and my hard work for the month of December. We all had an enjoyable Christmas although it could only be spent with part of our family due to restrictions. Too soon it was time to leave. This proved to be even harder than getting there in the first place. I spent so many hours on the phone talking to B.A., I felt as if some of the wonderful people I spoke to were new-found friends. It was impossible to get a PCR test because of the holidays so I only had one option. The first task was to persuade the woman at Glasgow Airport to check myself and my luggage as far as LHR. Once there, I collected my luggage and joined the queue for my pre-booked LAMP test. I had to wait 90 minutes for the result but it felt good to have the certificate in my hand and I was able to board the next 2 planes and I finally arrived home. I had left my son’s house at 4am and got home at 9.30pm Spanish time but what a joy to be home – before Brexit and before Madrid Airport was closed because of snow!

Latest Book Now on Sale

I haven’t checked all the websites but I know that my latest book is now for sale and I have my own copy. I had no idea that it would be published so quickly as I had planned to send copies to people for Christmas. I cannot thank the publishers enough for their kindness, patience and understanding and their efficiency in producing the wonderful finished product. I didn’t plan to make the book as long as it is. I hope it is not boring to read. It certainly wasn’t boring living through all the experiences in the book !

Proofreading

I must be getting old. I found it so difficult to proofread my latest book. There have been a number of reasons. It is much longer than my previous books. I was able to proofread them on hard copies but printing this one in order to proofread it did not seem like an environmentally-friendly idea. I found it difficult to remain fully concentrated on the task in hand when it was on my screen. The next problem was that I had changed all the names of the characters on which the book was based and I even changed some genders too. Keeping track of all that was very difficult at times. The final problem was that it was one thing to live through all the experiences in the book without having to read about them over and over again and relive them. I got to the stage where I just had to stop and hope that I had found all the mistakes but I am still breaking out in a cold sweat at the thought of all the mistakes I could have missed. (A Million Thanks to my publishers for being so patient with me.) Of course, there will probably not be a great number of people who will read the book. Especially with this one, I wrote it to document for my six grandchildren what a crazy life their Nana had lived – and survived !

A New Book

I hear that a lot of people have been writing books during Lockdown and I have been one of them. My 4th book is now with the publishers and is being typeset as I am writing this. I thought I would be delighted to send it off but I felt quite sad knowing that it would be my last book and that I would not have lots of stories to tell in the future. However, the way my life has gone, who knows what will happen once world travel is viable again? I hope that, as you read this, you are all staying safe and I hope that none of you has been affected by the virus. Thanks to all my family and friends for their support and for letting me write about them.

Retirement

I opened my last post saying that months were flying past. Now it is years which have flown past. How did that happen? Life in Singapore was amazing but, as I neared my 64th birthday, the school, where I was so happily teaching, was finally to move to a new, bigger location. It was going to mean tons of commuting 6 days a week. I bit the bullet and decided to retire. For the last 2 years, I have been living in northern Spain near my daughter, my son-in-law and their 2 amazing bilingual kids. I have made lots of new friends and help some people with English and with playing piano but I do miss teaching Maths. I try hard with my Spanish but the only time I am with people who don’t speak English is at the hairdresser’s. My 6 grandkids are all totally amazing – now aged 7 to 13. We have sporting superstars, of course they are all very clever, and they are thoroughly wonderful people to be around. I spend as much time as I can with the family in Scotland as well as enjoying the better weather here in Spain. At some point, the 4th book just has to be written and I am making preparations to start it. I recently looked at the other 3 books and realised that it seems as if I wrote them a lifetime ago. I need to get my brain back into book-writing mode. My message in this Blog is – Watch This Space!

Holidays and Shows

The months just fly past these days. I have been back at work for some time now but my summer holiday is still fresh in my mind. I spent nearly 4 weeks with my family in Spain and Portugal. To start with the weather was cool but it soon warmed up and, on one day in Portugal, it was almost 45C. We rented a lovely house with a pool but there was also a beach at the end of the road. Being in Portugal felt like going back in time. Lots of old buildings and churches, lots of cafes but not an internet cafe or a Starbucks in sight. Since returning to Singapore, the lovely Mrs B and I went to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ when it came to Singapore as part of its world tour. Then a colleague and I went to see ‘Hairspray’. Totally different stage shows but both were very enjoyable. The family are all thriving. 3 of my grandkids are now at school and 2 are at nursery which just leaves the youngest one to catch up on the others. I suppose he will always feel like that as the others progress through education. At my school just now we are preparing for UN Day which we are celebrating on Friday. I will be playing the piano for the songs the whole school will be singing in front of parents and invited guests. After our little show, everyone will tour the decorated classrooms and then there will be food for all. Happy UN Day to You All !

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