Posted by: glenswatman | March 22, 2012

20120311-20 SPAIN Getting ready to return to England and St Patricks day celebrations

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SUNDAY 11 MARCH – We drive to the coast then take a walk in both directions along the beach with good views over “our sunbathing beach” and in the other direction to Torrevieja.  After a leisurely drink in the comfy outdoor lounge chairs at Nautilus we move on to the “Wok” buffet at Punta Marina.  €8.95 buys you starters, mains and desserts on an all you can eat basis.  You put the uncooked food on your plate then take it to the chef who cooks it in your choice of sauce.  This results in almost too many food combination choices.  I manage 1 plate of starters, 2 mains and 3 desserts.  We are all stuffed so Claire and I retire to the roof to sunbathe whilst Steve slobs on the sofa watching sport.  Late afternoon we drive down to John & Shirley’s for a drink and chat.  In the evening we all meet at “The Damos” Irish pub for the quiz.  This time there are 10 faces you must name and they keep cycling on the TV screens.  Meanwhile we have 4 sections of 10 questions.  Halfway through they break for bingo, €3 for 3 games.  Steve marks the first and wins the line prize of €5.  Claire fails in the second but in the 3rd game I get the €5 line then €20 full house.  Our luck has not ended as our team win the quiz, by 7 points, and we give the prize bottle of wine to John & Shirley.  Will be giving that a go again next week.  I get an Email from Netty to say I have received a fine, supposedly for camping on El Pinet beach back in November.  I am really annoyed because 15 minutes after we parked up the Police came and said we could not stay overnight but could stop for lunch then move.  They took my passport details and motorhome number (Steve was out walking).  We moved within the hour and as there are no signs prohibiting any kind of vehicle there we cannot understand the fine.


MONDAY 12 MARCH – Whilst Steve goes for blood Claire and I enjoy chocolate and churros although I am getting slightly fed up of them.  Steve ends up being over 1 hour as it is so busy.  We visit Dr Fernandez to ask him to write referral letters to our final 2 choices of hospitals in England, Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham and The Christie in Manchester.   Claire hands over her Anthony Nolan bone marrow donor results in long shot hope she may be a match for Steve.  With a couple of hours to kill we walk over to the area of stadiums where Steve recognises the Alicante Hercules home stadium from when Scotland played there in the European qualifiers last year.  Our 12.00 appointment gets us seen at 1.30pm by a Doctor Blanca.  She speaks reasonable English and explains Steve’s platelet count is going down, which is what the chemo is supposed to do, but it is not low enough for him to have a platelet transfusion.  We must return on Thursday for another blood test and probably the platelets.  Whilst waiting we have drunk 2 litres of pop and eaten a huge bag of crisps between us so no longer feel like the planned fish lunch at Santa Pola so just stop and walk along the seafront which is very pleasant.  At El Pinet we check where we parked to take photos to prove the lack of signs.  Not only are there still no signs but there are about half a dozen motorhomes parked up where we were.  Some have been here for many days and the Police have been round but not bothered anyone.  They will be getting quite a letter from me once we get back and certainly no money.  Its 4pm when we get home so only time for Claire to get a short sunbathing spell.  We finally get our fish meal when I cook fish, chips and peas followed by strawberry crumble and custard.  At the moment the strawberries here are very cheap, 99c (85p) half a kilo, and huge with some almost as big as a Satsuma.


TUESDAY 13 MARCH – We need to pay some money into Karen’s account to cover the bills on the apartment.  It ends up as quite a tour of the area whilst we are trying to find a Bankinter.  Google maps and other banks all have different ideas of where there is a branch.  Finally we find one slightly inland at the community of Villamartin, famous as an area favoured by golfers as it is surrounded by courses.  Claire is please to get back by 12.30pm to give her plenty of time to tan on the roof. Talk through our options and virtually come to the conclusion of The Christie in Manchester.   We drag her away around 4pm and head to Poco Loco bar where Pam is celebrating her 60th birthday.  John & Shirley are there along with his brother Brian and wife Carol who have flown over for a few days.  When it opens at 6pm we feast on the buffet at Times Square, for the 3rd month running they have a €4.99 (£4.20) promotion.  Late evening Steve drives to the pub to watch football.


WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH – Claire has opted to stay at home and sunbathe rather than go for a drive.  Probably a good thing as I can see Steve is starting to look a funny colour again and getting lethargic.  It is getting noticeably hotter now to the extent we have to put sun cream on in the afternoon to stop burning.  The Christie emails me offers of appointments on 19th and 26th, will have to see which one we can make.  The hot water boiler keeps tripping the switch and Chris suggests we contact neighbour George.  He comes down and dismantles it to find the inside really furred up and the sacrificial rod invisible for scale.  Tomorrow he will return to fit a new part so no hot showers tonight.  My Couchsurfing host Flaminia helps in translating a copy of the letter that was received about the parking fine.  She says it is very serious and must be dealt with, they are asking for €30.05 per square metre making the total over €500, this news does not make for a good night’s sleep.


THURSDAY 15 MARCH – After Steve’s given blood we chase up the referral note that has still not been received in Manchester in spite of being requested last week and this Monday.  One of the Docs confirms it will be done tomorrow (just hope this is not the Spanish tomorrow which means basically not today).  Still no results received on Kevin’s bone marrow and no news whether Claire’s matches.  We walk down to the British Consulate, as featured recently in “Our man in Alicante” TV programme.  In fact the girl we see is the Scottish one who was in the programme.  I ask advice about the fine and she suggests we get a lawyer translator on the job – at our expense.  We opt to go across the square to the Office of the coast which issued the fine.  We are taken to an office and asked to wait for someone to come.  We need to be getting back to the hospital so after about 10 minutes ask how long and find the person is on lunch break!  In the end I write an English letter explaining our case and refuting the offence.  Steve is really weary so we take a bus back.  Claire stays outside sunbathing whilst we go for our 12.00 appointment.  A nurse comes over says Steve has a 4pm appointment for platelets so we know his blood count is down.  We speak to Dr Rivas and explain about us getting back to England.  Steve is too ill to travel today so we must return on Sunday for blood tests and again on Tuesday.  If that’s looking good we can then fly and take our appointment on 26th in Manchester.  When we leave at 2pm we go to the same Chinese we visited with Mark & Netty and enjoy a leisurely lunch.  There’s still time for Claire to grab a last bit of sun before catching buses to the airport, she is totally confident having done it before.  We arrive at the day clinic at 3.30pm and they have a lot of trouble getting a needle into Steve.  They fail on both hands and end up half way up his forearm.  Whilst doing this we notice quite a few strange red scuffs on his skin which turn out to be due to his lack of blood clotting.  He has 1 bag of platelets and 2 blood transfusions and it is 7pm when we are through.  We get back at 8.30pm just ahead of a text from Claire to say she has arrived.  An extremely tiring day but at least we have a plan. George has been in fixing the broken boiler but we still have no hot water and I eventually turn it off.


FRIDAY 16 MARCH – Steve is already feeling a little better but we plan a quiet day at home.  I phone the Christie and confirm Steve has an appointment for Monday 26th at 1.30pm with blood tests an hour before. I have quite a chat with the receptionist who completely understands me.  George comes and goes trying to fix the boiler and the subsequent leak.  Eventually we speak to Chris who OK’s a new one at €189, luckily whilst waiting at the store I spot some other ones as we end up with a different brand for €129 but still with guarantee.  By 9pm George has it up and running.


SATURDAY 17 MARCH – Steve’s feeling a bit better but still lingers in bed. We visit John & Shirley and find Shirley is not well and they won’t be coming out to the St Patricks celebrations.  They have new though, when his brother and wife were out they went to look at a bargain 2 bedrooms 2 bathroom property near the salt lake, put in an offer of €22.500 (£19000) and had it accepted.  The plan is for John to deal with the TLC that is needed and then rent it to his sister in law (his brother works abroad) giving her an option to buy at a later stage.  Another Winton bargain buys.  Meanwhile Shirley’s sisters Pam and partner Dave have bought the lease on The Friendly bar which is next to Poco Loco where she works.  Steve & I head off to La Zenia where the streets are heaving with people and its standing room only at the bars.  Guinness is on offer at the Aussie pub The Bushwacka at €2.50 a pint which pleases Steve.  I sit on a wall waiting for him and when I turn to wave to indicate where I am my hand gets stuck on a cactus.  One of the spikes has gone right into the back of my hand and is agony.  I pull it out and find it was a good ½ inch long and straight in.  The barmaid assures me it is not a poisonous cactus so with luck the pain will wear off.  The parade consists of lots of motorbikes, old cars then floats mainly representing Irish pubs.  Once this has gone through we drive to Rocky’s where they are playing some terrific music and serving free Irish stew.  Once it starts to get cold we head for home.  During the evening my hand starts to hurt more, swells up and feels like a rod pushing up inside.  Steve suggests going to hospital but I opt to wait until Steve’s visit tomorrow.


SUNDAY 18 MARCH – Arriving at the Emergency department as instructed Steve first registers and is sent to triage then I follow and do the same.  We meet in the waiting room with me being called ahead of him.  They do x-rays and confirm no damage but I have got an infection.  I get a tetanus jab, prescription for anti-biotics (will hold off for a couple of days as I always have bad side effects from them) and they bandage my hand to stop it swelling more.  In between these appointments my name gets called and a Doctor tells me Steve is in the hospital, I confirm nothing is wrong but as soon as I am through find him in bed in a side ward of the emergency department.  He’s not at all happy.  Apparently the protocol in this department dictates he must be in bed for the blood test, have a full catheter inserted in case he needs a transfusion and must wait a couple of hours for the test results.  Dr Fernandez appears around 1pm and says the platelet count is good and if we get good results on Tuesday the he agrees it is a good time for Steve to leave for England.  I can’t drive as my fingers won’t grip anything and I can’t change gear so Steve parks up at the pub to watch his football whilst I walk home and fit in a bit of panic tanning.  In the evening the “Global travellers” team gather at the Irish pub but the quiz is more difficult and we struggle with the blanks in the newspaper headlines and dates for events.  To give an example one of the newspaper headlines was “Princess Diana was still ______ hours before she _____.  You only had to guess the first bland and unbelievably the answer was alive!  Even so we manage to come out the winners.


MONDAY 19 MARCH – It’s such a windy day that at once stage we have to retrieve our washing from next doors terrace.  John & Shirley join us for lunch, a bit of a using up mixture, pork shops, onion gravy, roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, peas and breaded garlic mushrooms.


TUESDAY 20 MARCH – Heavy rain and wind during the night mean we get even less sleep than normal on a hospital day.  It’s still pouring when we set off and traffic is slow getting to the main roads as parts of the estate streets are live rivers with water even coming up out of the manholes.  We’re late getting to the hospital and have a long wait at the blood clinic but this gives us chance to chat to Stewart & Marcia who are still there.  She has acute myloid leukaemia and has been told that her blood is finally cancer clear so sounds like she is in remission.  It’s a 2-hour job at the blood clinic giving us just time for coffee before our important meeting with Dr Rivas.  She knows we want to fly back this week and we ask when would be best.  She says Steve is fit to fly yet.  His platelet count has gone up following last week’s transfusion but his immune levels is dangerously low.  She thinks an injection today and tomorrow of some stuff will bring these levels up and if return on Thursday for another blood test they can give him a last minute transfusion if needed and we will most likely be good to fly on Saturday.  We collect the prescription from the hospital pharmacy, noticing that each injection costs over €30.  At the day clinic we wait for about an hour before they can give Steve the injection.  Dr Rivas says if I watch carefully I can do the other at home tomorrow to save us going to a clinic.  The nurse pinches a big chunk of Steve’s lower stomach skin, pushes the short thin 1” needle straight in and pushes the plunger – easy!  It rains all the way back so we are happy to shut ourselves in for the night and put the heating on as it has gone cold.  Good preparation for England.  I’ve already done my flight research and there are many airlines doing the Alicante to Manchester route.  Easy Jet have the advantage for us in that hand baggage has no weight limit only size and if you pay for 20kg of hold luggage it can be in 2 pieces.  (Just got to learn the procedure for checking in bags having travelled with only carry on for so many years.)  For a total of €165.98 (147) I book us on the 11.10.




  1. We follow your blog from Houston with Ineke and Jos. Have a good flight back to the UK and we hope everything will go well.
    Love, Klara and Henk

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