Week 3 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 30th March 2008

The clocks have gone on one hour and this has greatly improved the weather and the sun is shining. We drive up to the North East as I need to take some photos of something. On the way back we stop at Betty's in Harrogate for tea which is terribly English as usual.

Monday 31st March 2008

A man arrives at 8.00am to do something to a tree but suddenly disappears at 3.30pm which makes me decidedly irritated. Maybe this is an early April Fools joke?

Tuesday 1st April 2008

In the office working. I remember that nobody's last words were " I wish I had spent more time in the office"

Wednesday 2nd April 2008

We have a huge pile of dead shrubbery and branches which we decide to light. Usually this does not work but today despite the rain the bonfire gets going with a vengeance and there are flames at least twenty feet in the air. In due course the fire brigade turn up and we have the usual conversation about hosepipes and smoke obscuring the road. After a chat they drive off. In due course we get a snotty letter from the Council as well.

Thursday 3rd April 2008

To John Lennon Airport in Liverpool to catch the 7.20pm to Malaga.

My girlfriend spots that for 2 each we can jump the check in queue and the security queue. To a point. The fat slag on the speedy check in is like a TV parody. She is giggling with a couple of other girls and endlessly waving to passing men. With me she is extremely rude. "Gates 1 and 10" she snaps. When I enquire what that means she says "it means gates 1 and 10". Her colleague is clearly embarrassed by this and explains that it will be either gate 1 or gate 10 but they don't know yet. I am tempted to take her photograph and send a copy and complaint to the chairman of whoever owns the airport (John Whittaker of Peel Holdings) but decide life is too short.

We pass on to security who are friendly and helpful. We board the plane and I am sitting next to a Jewish man to whom I chat. Turns out he too is going to Gibraltar and he gives me a few useful tips. The next day I buy some luggage from him in his Main Street shop Benamor and pay too much (I did not wish to haggle) but decide that this is all part of my Gibraltar charm offensive.

This time at the car rental, Auriga Crown, I am so astonished to find that the car is on the same level as we are already on that I forget to listen to the helpful man's description of the car's location. We do a full circuit of the entire floor and after only half an hour or so we find the car which is blue and snazzy. We cannot open the boot. We can detach the rear wipers but the boot lid remains virgo intacto. We try everything we can think of but no luck. Eventually we discover that the badge presses in but in a counter intuitive manner.

The car is fun to drive. We stop at a petrol station and point to ice creams. The girl points to the cash register which displays the amount and the whole transaction is flawless. When we leave I give her a wave and she responds enthusiastically.

We arrive at the Rock Hotel at 2.30 am. The room we have been given is very small and they agree to find a bigger one which they do. The room is delightful from what we can see with no electricity but after an hour or so of running round the building we have lights and finally we get to bed at 4.00am.

Friday 4th April 2008

We get up at mid-day and by 2.00pm I am with the expensive accountants. I ask them to recommend a lawyer and they suggest the firm who thought I had come to mend the toilet. I decide to think this over.

Later we look at flats with a lady from Bray Properties who shows us some beautiful places which as always are above our budget but within reach if we give up eating. On the other hand we could just take some money out of the bank but as a businessman I hate to do that. Money for a real businessman is not for spending but for using to make more money.

We walk into town to buy a memory card for my new camera. The man quotes 49.95 which he quickly drops to 38 and then 28 as we start to leave. I know that 25 is reachable or even 20 but I am tired and pay the 28. I believe you can buy them in Tesco in the UK for about 5.

In the evening we eat at the Pizzaghetti Factory in Irish Town. I have a pizza and my girlfriend has spaghetti. With this we have sangria. It is truly excellent and the bill is 20 or so. The dessert is OK but comes with artificial cream which is a pity.

In the harbour is a cruise ship all lit up (later we discover that it is the Omani Royal Yacht, Al Said)

We walk home and find that the hill up to the Rock Hotel is seriously steep.

As we are going to sleep a buzz bike goes past, the buzz made somewhat lower in pitch by the steepness of the hill. My girlfriend remarks that it is a Christmas Tree but before I can get an explanation of this remark, we are both asleep. Next day it turns out she was thinking of the cruise ship in the harbour.

Saturday 5th April 2008

I wake up at 9.00am and look out over the harbour. Sadly the cruise ship with Cristmas Tree lights has gone and so has Rubicon Maverick. I feel a sense of loss and wonder where they are now and hope they are OK. The drab grey military boat is still there and I take a picture on my new camera at maximum zoom. I find that it is HMS Chatham aka F87. It looks very small compared to all the other ships but it is evidently a Type 22 Destroyer.

I remember how the huge battleship HMS Vanguard (the biggest and last battleship to be built for the Royal Navy) would sweep into Portland Harbour and we kids would wait with baited breath for the bow wave to wash away all the people in deck chairs on Weymouth beach 45 minutes later. The beach attendants and my dad would warn them but they would never listen and they were all swept to destruction. Well, some of them got very wet, anyway.

Noah must have had a similar experience as all the unbelievers drowned. "They that taketh the piss out of the constructor of mighty vessels shall drown by the pissing down of the rain" He probably didn't use those exact words but it would definitely have been something along those lines.

I decide to check the clock on my laptop and discover it is an hour slow and still reads 8.00am. I adjust it to read 9.00am and then decide to change the time zone. Sadly Gibraltar is not there and I decide to go for West Central Africa as it sounds exotic and is in the same time zone as Gibraltar. The clock resets to 10.00am and I give up. Computers can be very irritating.

Later in the afternoon I notice that F87 has departed from the dock. In fact, all the interesting boats have left. Maybe they have gone to have more fun somewhere else? Like that awful feeling at parties where you look round and discover that the girl you fancy has suddenly disappeared and so has your best friend.

At 5.00pm we go to meet a nice lady we have talked to via the Gibraltar News Online Discussion Board. We sit outside the Little Rock in Casemates Square and chat until almost 7.00pm drinking endless coffees but the bill is only 10 and the coffee is very good. We are later than we booked for dinner at the Rock Hotel which is exquisite as usual. The restaurant is quite busy as the summer season gets under way.

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