First I must add another couple of photos as a post script to my previous blog. Yesterday Chris and I were invited to lunch up at the home of our friends Julie and Robin. This meant driving to Zurgena village and we were quite shocked by the devastation we saw on the way. We knew their village had been cut off for a few days but we hadn't realised just what the damage was. But this is what we found.
We left the motorway to drive up to the village on a road we have used many times, but this time the road just stopped in mid-air. You can see the broken tarmac below what is left of the road, and this gives some idea of the depth of the mud that was swept away by the torrent.
Here is a second point where the road should pass over a bridge, but half the bridge was missing. I took this from the car, but you can just see the workman on the top of what is left of it. The tarmac stretches out a bit further, and then - nothing!
This is one of the temporary diversions that have been set us to take the traffic down through the 'valley' and back up on to the main road. As you can see, it is only compacted mud and sand, and yesterday it was raining again. On Saturday they closed the road again because rain was turning the diversion into a quagmire. We took a different route home but on that road we came across another bridge that was washed away with a diversion around that.
It made us realise just how lightly we had been affected in our village.
Now for happier news. We arrived home from our holiday after midnight on Saturday 13th October. Ben was due to arrive that morning for a week, but Tom was collecting us from the airport and had just two more days with us, (or so we thought!). We had arranged a little party with a few friends to celebrate both of our birthdays, and Tom had asked us to move it to the Monday so that he could be there, so we had done that. But as we pulled up to a dark house, a row of faces appeared above the garden wall, and not just Ben was waiting there, but all of the boys, as well as our grandson Mikey! It was such a surprise and I couldn't quite take it in. Apparently they had been planning this for over a year, (starting at Jim's 40th birthday barbeque in June 2011). We had absolutely no idea, and had swallowed all the tales that Tom had told us in order to keep it a secret.
They had even had the forethought to get Tom to book us all in for a carvery meal at our local bar the next day so I didn't have to cook for them.
It turned out that the party had to be moved forward to Monday because Mike and Jonathan had to go home on the Tuesday evening, but all the others stayed until the following Saturday. They each came alone because not all the partners or families could come away during term time, and they knew we would struggle to house them all without prior warning. As it was, they had already set up all the spare beds and I just had to throw bedding at each of them, and they managed.
They were very helpful with the party preparations. I had made a huge curry and chili before our holiday and frozen them, and I had left a shopping list for Tom. On the Monday some went with dad to buy some drink, and the others helped me at home, moving furniture, putting up fairy lights, and doing what was needed in the kitchen.
I had arranged to borrow a piano for the evening so that Ben could entertain us, and Robin and Julie came with a guitar. Robin is very good at leading 'community singing'. Julie's party piece is to sing Summertime, and Mike and I sang Fields of Athenry (with Chris being daft between us!)
It stayed dry all evening and warm enough for half our guests to sit outside on the porch in the fly-free area. The rest sat around the main room and the piano was set up between the two.
The food was well accepted and there was plenty to drink though we have more than enough left to see us through Christmas, and some!
We had a lovely mix of friends there; some from Church, some from my sewing group, some from the village and of course family too. They all got on very well together and it was a real success.
When they had all gone home, we sat chatting with the boys out in the yard, and then all the boys went swimming in the pool at 2.00 a.m.
In fact the pool was put to good use all week. The water was still around 22-24 degrees and once you were in it, it wasn't too cold, but the weather has changed for the worse again, so it isn't likely to be used any more this year.We also had some lovely days on the beach, that were warm enough to need suncream, and to swim in the sea.
We went to our favourite beach at Los Cocedores, and the boys had lots of fun climbing on the rocks. I stayed at the other side of the bay and used my zoom lens to get photos of them.
Jonathan managed to arm-wrestle with a jelly fish and got a very nasty sting for his efforts, but we went into a farmacia on the way home and got some cream that settled it down.
Later in the week we went down to Mojacar beach and the sea was really rough. I stayed on a lounger and read my book but the boys enjoyed it in the waves. It was good to see Jim messing about with them. He isn't often that relaxed, but they were just like a bunch of boys together and I enjoyed watching them.
My birthday was on the Wednesday so that evening we relit the candles on the cake the boys had bought us, and opened one of the bottles of bubbly we were given. It was another lovely warm evening and we sat outside playing dice games all evening.
Friday was Tom's birthday and he chose to go to his favourite beach-side cafe for breakfast. Actually it was nearer to being lunch by the time we got there, but we had a lovely meal, so it was a good choice.
That evening we went down to the bar for the karaoke evening, and once again Ben wow-ed them all. He sings with great confidence, and lots of folk came and complimented him.
They had to be up and out quite early on Saturday. They all had an early flight to Birmingham except for Ben who needed a train to go on to Benidorm where he was meeting up with Dave for their usual half-term break.
It was a wonderful week, probably made even better because it was so unexpected, and we are left with lots of happy memories.
I have dotted quite a few photos throughout this but there are these ones in a larger format, and many more in a folder on my gallery which you can see here. Just click on 'Slideshow' to see them all.
I am now sorting out all the photos of Ireland, and as soon as they are uploaded I will do a blog post about them as well.