hotfoot_jackson (hotfoot_jackson) wrote,

Catching Up...

Been a while since I was on here, things to do, life being busy...

It's been hot. Stupid hot. At least no-one can complain we haven't had a summer, but there comes a limit. The grass went brown and tinder dry, we've had numerous grass fires on the golf course here at Woodford Green (maybe a careless cigarette, possibly some delinquent goit thinking "Dur, this is fun!"). The Wife and I were at the Father-in-law's for a BBQ on the edge of Leytonstone when the Wanstead Flats went up. Huge pall of smoke, fire engines everywhere.

Our little flat, being north facing and with the rest of the building wrapped around it, has stayed cool for the most part, but even so we were eventually forced to break out the fan to get the air moving during the nights. Likewise the museum where I work in London is in a huge lump of a building that takes a long time to heat up, unfortunately we reached that limit some time ago and, like a storage heater, it is now radiating that heat into its interior. The tube, the Central Line in particular has been a choice slice of hell, both The Wife and I take water bottles with us and quite often the've been emptied before we get in in the morning. On the way back we refill before we leave work and I am fortunate enough to have a chilled water dispenser at the museum which, together with a metal water bottle, means I can hold it to the side of my neck and get some relief that way.

The hot weather has broken now thank smeg. We've a had a few days of good persistant rain, a few storms rumbling over. The air is fresher, everything is dampened down nicely, much to the relief of the local fire brigade and the local ducks on the pond, which was drying up. In fact somebody, I suspect the aforementioned fire brigade, actually filled the pond up at one point, so good for them. It'll get back to sunny weather for a while now, but not the excessive temperatures of before.

We have also had a holiday! Been to Gibraltar thanks to the fact that The Wife has an uncle who not only has a large aprtment there but also a house in Spain. So he and his family headed off there and we got the apartment for several days. I liked Gibraltar, it has its own identity and is quite confident (and fiercely protective) about it. Ex-pat areas of Spain are too self-consciously trying to be British, with nothing but bad traditional british pubs everywhere, but Gibraltar is a huge melting pot of everything and revels in it. There are traditional pubs, yes (in one of which I had the best full English breakfast I've had for a long time), but we have tapas bars, Indian/Japanese fusion restaurants, Italian pizza places, Argentinian steakhouses Mexican grills, the works. It's packed with history too, the military presence has shrunk down to little more than an observation and listening post but it's been such a huge part of the place's existence that it's shaped almost everything on it. We went up the rock, saw the monkeys, went to the gun emplacements, the caves (unexpectedly spectacular), the Moorish castle. we took a boat trip and saw dolphins, visited the churches and little museums, walked down the high street (with it's Marks and Spencers and Debenhams). Used the pool in the apartment complex we were staying at (one of the best ones in Gib) once or twice but I spent most evenings on the balcony with a beer or a jug or sangria, watching the sun set behind the Spanish mountains across the bay and seeing the lights come on and flares start to glow in the huge refinery the Spanish have (with some spite aforethought apprently) plonked right on the coast there. Doesn't bother a Swansea boy though, what with the Baglan refinery being over the other side of Swansea Bay I felt right at home, look you.

We even wandered across the runway and into the little town on the other side of the border. And I do mean wander across, it's the only runway I know with a level crossing over it. Since it's built on the isthmus that connects Gibraltar to the mainland (with a fair bit of relaimed land extending it) the only routes over have to cross it. So every so often the warning lights flash, the barriers come down, a plane lands of takes off, the barriers go up and off we go again. Customs were a doddle, slap your passport on the reader, an automated camera zips down and takes a look at you, decides you're ok and the gate opens. The only guy in the cubicle there didn't even bother to look up. The town is actually very nice, lots of pedestrianised streets, some lovely bars and eateries, market stalls, the odd fort (destroyed by the British ages ago naturally). Dunno how Brexit is going to affect all this but seeing how both sides rely so much on Spanish people working in Gibraltar I imagine something will get sorted out very quickly.

So I can recommend Gibraltar, we were there nine days or so and still didn't see or do everything (even with it only being six square miles or something). Lots of places we wanted to explore but didn't get around to. The only downside to the whole holiday was that on coming back it actually felt hotter in the UK than it had been over there! Which felt wrong. Oh well.
Tags: ramblings

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