Our retirement adventures


Saturday 19 January

Supposed to take Renault Modus to Oxfordshire to sell to Andrea but snow prevents this and we fly to Gatwick to get to Reading to see Flic and Gary in Panto.  Meet Gary’s mum at Italian restuarant.

Sunday 20 January

Walk by Thames in snow watching the rowers training hard before going to Flic & Gary’s Panto.

Cold walk by the Thames

Messing about on the river

Small girl nearby in audience absolutely hates Flic’s character – the wicked witch – and has to be taken out, crying!  Flic makes it up to her afterwards.

Crowne Plaza does not cover itself with glory in not having much on the menu for dinner.

Monday 21 January

Supposedly my first Easyjet flight – back to the IoM – but despite all other flights getting into the IoM, Easyjet manage to cancel their flight (due to a broken de-icer at IoM airport!!!) and then re-instate it for the following day some two hours later.  We had already opted for cancelling our flight and getting a Flybe flight at an extra £120 cost.  Full flybe flight as a consequence with one person paying £250+ for a flight but we do get home that afternoon.

Friday 25 January

Easyjet managed to fly us out on time, my first Easyjet flight as it turned out which is somewhat surprising as it has flown for 17+ years.  Overnight at Premier Inn, Gatwick North terminal – only opened mid November 2012 and half the price of the Sofitel so guess where we will be staying in the future.  Restaurant wasn’t bad either.

Booked through Travel extras so got a free Fairfx € card but guess what, it didn’t arrive in time.

Saturday 26 January

Another Easyjet flight and we land in Barcelona in 16 degree temperature.  Long wait at Avis car hire desk (25 minutes) whilst three female staff deal with one booking for the two guys in front of us followed by the departure of two of the staff without dealing with my booking – how rude.

VW Passat quite nice to drive once I had mastered how to start the car.  Lots of tolls on way to Andorra spending c €25 in getting there although one wrong exit following the sat nav explained some of the cost and nearly resulted in us flying over a cliff edge.  Reach chalet complex and get into lodge before Sarah, Ali & Harry arrive.  Chalet complex Mk1They had bad snow on the French way into Andorra and a problematic van.  Car parking a bit difficult!

Sunday 27 January

All of us sleep in, including Harry, so breakfast and lunch late.  It snowed overnight so some fresh stuff to walk in.  Go for walk in snow with Sal, Mel and Harry whilst Sarah and Harry off skiing /boarding.  Long roadside walk to supermarket but seemed even longer back up.  Stopped for lunch at skiers cafe and watched bungee jumpers, Harry was enthralled.

Back to chalet just as Sarah & Ali return so Harry tried his skis on and felt the snow – he wasn’t over impressed with a snowball thrown but he didn’t cry.

Look, I can ski as well as walk.

Look, I can ski as well as walk.

A few steps walking is a first for Harry and was managed to be filmed.

Monday 28 January

Walking and the snow obviously wore Harry out as he slept for 11 hours: a first.  It snowed overnight and Sarah & Ali have gone boarding.  Meet them for coffee (€9.50 for 5 hot drinks!!), let Harry ski down a slight slope and then drive off to supermarket for more provisions.

Harry's own brand food

Harry’s own brand food

Tuesday 29 January

No more new snow and sunny again.  Take Harry up a gondolar to higher ground at Espiolets to mingle with all the skiers in their colourful outfits.  Harry totally bemused by the experience but did manage a walk on the snow and to throw a snow ball.

A cable car ride

A cable car ride

Drove to Andorra la Vella and found a few clothes shops that interested Mel.

Harry managed a walk towards car park supported by two hands which thoroughly zonked him out; he was asleep by the time we had driven back to the chalet and stayed asleep for another hour.

Another dose of noisy neighbours (above us) who appear to have some youngsters.

Wednesday 30 January

No more snow today so with Ali and Sarah having a day’s rest from boarding/skiing & we all try to go to NaturlANDIa but despite only two of the rides at the main area being open they still wanted €23 entrance.  Rip-off so we didn’t go in.  Went to Andorra la Vella instead so that Mel could buy a coat.  On way back we  visited an “artisan” shop which had loads of reproduction items for a “chic” house interior design.  Sarah, Ali, Mel and Harry tried to go swimming but Harry fell asleep so that wasn’t a starter.

Continued noise at chalet so we are moved to another apartment, this time up the hill and into a block now solely occupied by us.

"Chalet" Mk 2

“Chalet” Mk 2

It is only two bedrooms so we are on the bed settee and whilst it is extremely cold to start off, it soon warms up.  A very modern apartment but with probably 10 in the block it is surprising that this is the only one occupied.  Surprisingly we manage the move in just over an hour.

Thursday 31 January

More sun, no cloud and no new snow.  Off to Encamp for another gondolar ride, this time up to the top of the hills at Cortalls.  That was a no go as under threes are not allowed due to “atmospheric reasons” I think she said.

Lunch in the cafe at foot of gondolar caused staff a problem as it appears that I got the omelette that Sal ordered, Mel got mine and Sal had to wait.  After our querying the delay, they produced a ham and cheese sandwich that Mel ordered but as she had already eaten mine and I had eaten Sal’s, it was Sal who remained under nourished.  Eventually, after an hour,  they produced two omelettes but we only needed one.

Obviously a language problem here but they ended up not charging us for the omelette.  Tried to get Harry to sleep in the pushchair by taking him down to the village but I had to walk back to get car and he eventually went to sleep.

Went up gondolar at El Tarter and had coffee at top meeting Sarah & Ali  there.  This is a steep gondolar in a very popular area and seemed to intrigue Harry.

ski rush hour

ski rush hour

Back and out for dinner at Restaurant Terrassa del Sola in Canillo.   Excellent service and food, watched food being prepared on open fire but disturbed by Christmas songs being played in the public car park.

Friday 1 February 

Another sunny and clear day.  Off up hill past tunnel to France with sled and baby skis.  Meet Sarah and Ali for lunch and take Harry onto snow on sled and skis.  A bit apprehensive on the sled but tried to walk with the skis.  We had tried to get him to walk all week and now he is on skis we don’t want him to walk.  No wonder he is confused.  Head to top of pass  but not into town on French side, instead, turning round and back to Canillo to go swimming.  Harry again not sure of this to start with, preferring to shiver.  Eventually, however he loved it.

Back to apartment and start packing for home journey.  Harry decides “enough is enough” and takes a walk on his own with no prompting towards a packed stacker box about 15 steps away.  His first proper walk and there will be no stopping him now despite Ali’s protestations.

Saturday 2 February 

Oh no, it’s snowed and the only way to the car is down a steep slope or about 100 steps.  Take two bags down and Sarah brings the other one.  Move car out of garage and walk back up to get Sal and Mel.  Harry has decided the day is right for a lay in so we don’t get time to say good bye.  Drive off down valley and snow soon disappears from roads.

Sat nav sends us around some back streets of Barcelona near the football stadium but we manage to get back to Gatwick on time, dropping bags at Premier Inn and taking train to London to meet with Flic and see a show.  It is far colder in London (the biting easterly wind) and Sall has a shivering session for much of the time.  Dinner in Cafe Royal and Spamalot for the show with Stephen Tomkinson.  Excellent choices but the return train to Gatwick had no heating!

Not sure about Andorra; obviously a good skiing area with cheapish food prices and shopping but not a lot to see otherwise with characterless chalets unlike Switzerland.  Might be good to come back in the summer (en route to or from Spain) to see what is going on but it won’t be this year.

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Christmas 2012

Thursday 20 December

The drive from Heysham to Clearwell somewhat stressful due to torrential rain. Sal had not been well the previous night, had a doctor’s visit so we were glad we were able to travel.

Friday 21 December

A clear day and shopping in Cheltenham for food, last minute presents and a Dongle for Internet access. Whoever came up with the name Dongle? Internet access very slow at Clearwell so not sure Dongle was worth it.

Saturday 22 December

Not such a good day but better than they had in Cornwall with floods. Sarah, Ali & Harry arrive after an overnight ferry from Jersey and a visit to Yeovil. Manage to fuse lights as outside garage lights not good.

Sunday 23 December

Hardly any rain but Wye starting to swell on road to Monmouth. No Cauliflowers in shops. Sarah, Ali and Harry off to Hereford to see Ali P and Craig. Flic and Mel arrive.

Monday 24 December

Wye really full after overnight rain and crowded. Internet access good in Cafe Nero whilst girls shopped in Monmouth. Sarah, Ali and Harry back from Hereford but no swimming as pool closed at Ross. Lots of flooding at Ross. Harry very tired.

Tuesday 25 December

What a day for your first Christmas, Harrison, spending virtually the whole day curled up on your mum or dad with a temperature of abut 40, no energy, no smiles and sickness. Let us hope you are better tomorrow and that it is not contagious. Well at least I got some presents this year but Mel managed to get two slow cookers – so much for the Secret Santa list!

Harry & Sarah Xmas 2012

Harry & Sarah Xmas 2012

No walks today as Harry not well which is a shame as weather bright and only a little drizzle, unlike parts of the country.

Wednesday 26 December

Harry a bit better but didn’t sleep much, not surprising as he slept most of Christmas day. He did manage to open some presents though. Nick, Peter and Paul arrive and Gary came to see Flic after work in the early morning.

Harry opening Xmas presents with Flic

Harry opening Xmas presents with Flic

Ali & Harry @ Clearwell

Ali & Harry @ Clearwell

Sarah and Ali’s ferry home cancelled due to bad weather. Sarah not able to book anything until 2013 so Ali has to fly back on 28 December

Xmas @ Clearwell

Xmas @ Clearwell


Thursday 27 December

Stuart and Lynn (Ali’s dad and step mum) visit but only manage to do small walks as weather not brilliant. Harry now beginning to get better. Re-arrange ferry back to IoM for 31 December for a quiet NY eve.

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