Good morning folks
I trust this finds you fit, well and sane.
We are alive, and back in sunny Yorkshire (sometimes windy, rainy, hailing and even trying to snow one day, can’t beat the sheer variety of British weather!)
After a month of radio silence, the blog is back!
Issues with (little/no/sketchy) internet is the official excuse.
I have been on the case for 3 weeks, or rather BT Openreach are trying to decide if they will leave me with a couple of ha’pennies to rub together after connecting me/setting me up (literally).
Hopefully these wonderfully efficient wand-wavers will click a few magic buttons and tie the 2 broken lengths of cable together to get us online this Friday!
I failed dramatically in getting connected to the internet, but if you put a positive spin on that last sentence, I was the winner of the month in finding the worst mobile phone service/coverage in a feckless company called Smarty. (Never heard of them? Neither had I!)
The Luddite in me is happy to be disconnected from the World, but in reality internet connection is pretty blooming essential in modern life.
So, after a 4 week sojourn, here is the Superclunk.com blog, back on home soil and like an unguided missile (damn fine Gordon Richards racehorse) going off in countless undefined, uncertain, unplanned and unusual directions!
Bit of a ramble-on-a-thon, so grab a brew and read on…
Last days in Limaland.
Time went so fast that last week in Lima. I had had visions of reading, relaxing and endless brews.
The reality was of re-packing our gubbins and spending hours enjoying the hospitality and queues of BCP (the World’s most jobsworth &/or useless bank ever!)
We had a dilemma/minor problem with our Nelsons. What was the best way to get my readies from BCP back to Blighty without getting bent over excessively with exchange rates, fees and charges.
Option A: The easiest way would have been to transfer my last wage and CTS (work savings scheme) from my account into a dollars account and then via Paypal/Transferwise back to the UK. This would have cost/lost us around $1000!
Option B: A none too safe way would be to withdraw the do$h in cash (Soles), change it with a Cambista (money changer) into dollars or Euros and stash it under my insoles all the way back to Leeds. This would have saved us around $1000.
Being the skinflint Northerner that I am,
I obviously opted for Option B.
What could possibly go wrong?
(Getting mugged outside the bank, false notes, getting caught at customs, losing the bra$$, countless other tales of woe/bad luck were possible outcomes).
Option B did come back to bite my backside later on however…
I did manage to see my two good mates, JB and JB, for one last time, masked and at a safe social distance. We had hoped to paint the town a crimson shade of red and take over Sargento Pimiento’s one last time, but alas, beer-by-Zoom was the only option/substitute.
So, after my final “Arroz con pollo” and some last minute re-packing, it was one last sleep and up early doors for a fleet of (2) taxis to the airport.
The excellent services of my mate, Walter’s “Gringo Taxis” took us and all our monster-bags to Jorge Chavez for one last time…
(Walter is the only man in Lima with size 12 feet so his tip was 7 pairs of my clown’s shoes!)
Airports are airports world over. A stressfest even for the most laidback of travelling punters! It was eerily quiet (compared to usual, usual is a chaotic type of bedlam) due to only limited domestic flights and only one international (humanitarian) flights operating, with most shops closed.
We dropped on lucky with the baggage clerk check-in guy, he wanted to practice his (excellent) English and looked the other way as each and every bag was about 800g heavier than our woefully inaccurate pocket scales. He could have been a stickler and stung us, but he didn’t, his assistant did at the next kiosk later though.
HUGE relief to get 8x23kg bags (our material lives basically) checked in, just hoped the plane would be able to take off!
The big trip.
Until that moment, Air Europa had been absolutely spot-on. A lady called Regina had been the absolute queen of customer service.
Stepping on the flight was a different story. After all, this was one of the first humanitarian flights to Spain in a while.
“Humanitarian flight” does sound a bit dramatic, we weren’t leaving a war zone or impending death, it was just a one-way flight for EU citizens (of which we are/were, at least until the end of the year). This meant that most people were leaving the country with all that they could. There were very few first class travellers with a tiny suitcase containing a paperback, an apple and a tiny bottle of Evian! I take my hat off to cabin crew on a good day. A difficult job with difficult/impossible punters. Right now I don’t think there are many good days. Respect!
Cattle class was jampacked, no reduced capacity here. I got the token little $h!t kicking my chair and his mum resting her sweaty plates of meat on my armrest, all the way to Madrid Flight tucker was one shabby meal in a paper bag which looked like it might have been salvaged from a bin round the back of Gregg’s. There was another meal payable only by card, (my UK card had just expired and all the BCP coffers had been emptied), but you just have to daydream yourself forward 14hrs (and ignore the tummy rumblings). It was a case of daydream as the Nipper refused to sleep, it would be a very l-o-n-g second half…
Watched “I am Legend”, quite poignant under current circumstances.
At 7am, we arrived at Madrid Barajas and caught the train from Terminal 4S to terminal 4 (which is possibly closer to Barcelona than Madrid) and waited over an hour for our bags, then humped all 8 holdalls onto the shuttle bus, then checked in, then went through customs, to the point of almost fainting and on the edge of a precipice of a huge row, by which point we were all ready to eat my winter climbing boots (too heavy to pack, too nostalgic to chuck away, too sweaty for a 36hr journey).
As mentioned, everybody was getting a bit ratty at this point, but I had promised a “beggar-the-cost” breakfast and after selling both kidneys we had a costly “desayuno” which was worth every Peseta!
7hrs of waiting passed quickly, then the connection to Amsterdam Schipol (absolutely dead) with another 6hrs to kill (mainly pushing the Nipper up and down the Travelators on a baggage trolley-go-cart).
We had half made plans to meet our good mate, Matthew P, who lives locally, but we couldn’t guarantee getting out and back in the airport, so didn’t dare risk it for a biscuit.
At 10pm we boarded a flight to Leeds-Bradford and by the powers of KLM time travel/time difference, we arrived at Leeds at 9:55pm.
It was an emotional elbow greeting with my folks and a 30 minute ride and HOME!
We all slept like sleepy logs after missing a night’s kip and awoke to bright sunshine, was this really Blighty?
Two weeks of quarantine seemed like a holiday, as it generally was!
My Dad brought us our shopping up socially distanced. I have a shed full of junk, the remnants of the previous 4 house moves that we had not had time to sort at the time. Mainly for the recycling! I had told Lina “No room for sentiment”, but what kind of sentimental old fool am I to have saved every birthday card, Christmas card, letter and pair of running shoes ever. Found a school diary from when I was 7 years old!
As I grumblerd earlier, I had bought some Sim cards from a company called “Smarty”. A tube of Smarties or 2 yoghurt pots on a piece of string would have given better coverage.
Bought a heap of tat off Amazon Prime (way too easy), ate a heap of tucker and drank gallons of unrationed Yorkshire Tea 🙂
Two weeks passed in a flash.
Out of quarantine.
Invariably, when we woke up on the 15th day it was tipping it down in biblical fashion.
Our first real day of freedom in 191 days and the Bairn’s first day at school.
A big day, I think I was more nervous than her!
First full day, last time she was in Kindergarten and only did 8am-noon.
Quote of the week was after her first day was “and they all spoke English!”
When I told her there was no school on Saturday she was gutted, a good sign then!
(There was to be no school however on Monday, another story to follow there).
For me the most surreal experience of release from lockdown was driving to the supermarket at 8pm. (First time driving since I was last here and first time out after dark since March curfews began). It was only Morrison’s in Wetherby but I drooled over forbidden fruits like HP Sauce, Fray Bentos pies-in-a-tin, Bran Flakes and Red Leicester cheese! Daft but true.
Got politely booted out into the monsoon by the stock replenishers at 10pm with enough grub to feed a batallion (a batallion who march on a very stodgy diet that is!)
As our original jollies were scrapped and April was taken as enforced leave (at a time when nobody really knew what was going on and we spent our first full month in AQP lockdown), I had promised the ladies (and myself) a bit of time off. As we had no internet, jobhunting was tricky (this was my mantra to calm my nerves and ease my conscience!)
So for a few weeks we just larked around. Eating too much, going for walks, riding horses and sorting out my shed.
Everything suddenly ground to a halt when the Nipper gave us a bit of a shock and ended up in YDH.
She was in for 24hrs but is much better now.
Even in these crazy times we are currently living in, every single nurse and doctor we saw was an absolute superstar, even when you rock up at 10pm on a Sunday night. Long live the NHS, as I have always said.
Sometimes a pair of shoes can feel like a pair of slippers for yonks and then suddenly start rubbing.
Walking up the lane with the bairn one morning, my Salomon banana boots felt very uncomfortable and then felt very, very uncomfortable. I took them off to find a very angry looking wasp and a little toe that was the size of my big toe!
The little bleeder had stung me twice and didn’t even say sorry :-/
‘Ello John, got a new motor?
I am not really a car person. I have mates who wash their cars and scrub their floor mats with a tooth brush religiously.
Most of my motors normally only get a wash when they go for an MOT (not that it makes any difference on the test) or are getting flogged on.
(The only exception to this rule is the Silver Streak, I loved that little Micra to bits).
We basically needed a car to get the young ‘un to school and by sheer luck my mate Steve.S had a mate who was selling one.
A day trip to Beverley was arranged and a deal was sorted.
We have wheels 🙂
A fantasy shopping trip that turned into a nightmarish “all-my-parking-meter-time-in-the-HSBC”.
I always used to go to Thomas Cook’s to change money, but Thomas Cook’s had gone (“a year to this very day” the dewy-eyed assistant told me) and so had my mate John, the man who would beat any currency exchange rate in Leeds, real or complete fiction!
The only other place I could find was a dodgy money changer down Boar Lane, who should have worn a balaclava instead of a facemask, so I took a deep breath and walked into HSBC.
Cutting a long story short I was blessed with a bloke who didn’t know his ar$e from his elbow who was (understandably) suspicious about why I was wanting to put a breeze block wad of Euros and Dollars into an account that hadn’t been used in months!
An email from Britanico HR (in Spanish) saved my bacon by baffling him into probably breaking all the banking rules in existence and 90mins later, I was sprinting back to the multi-story to avoid paying another £2.20.
I failed at this, but consoled myself with a cold Gregg’s Cornish Pasty, (“No Steak Bakes” was a tough sentence to hear, but I’ll get over it!)
The joys and delights of a day of shopping in Leeds will have to wait, possibly until Christmas, 2021…
All about the bass…
After selling the old (practically new) bass and amp to Andres I was left bassless.
So, with a bassless future on the horizon I signed up for “Scott’s Bass Lessons”, on the back of a generous discount.
SBL is the World’s biggest bass community and world heavyweight champions at putting your arm up your back with one hand whilst gently removing the card from your wallet with the other! $50 off a year’s subscription was a steal. I will learn this bloody instrument…
Meanwhile, I had another mission to accomplish first.
My Dad always says that my old Double Bass is worth “Ten bob for firewood, and that is being generous”.
It was at the back of a lock-up, half covered up by a sheet, the other half covered in guano and the webs of a million spiders.
It was last picked up/put down around 8yrs ago, when I clumsily knocked out the sound peg, the piece of wood that keeps tension inside the bass, which is a right royal pain-in-the-ar$e to replace, but with the help of the Young ‘un shining a torch through the hole on one side and a bent coat hanger through a hole in the other side, we got it back in place, fixed the bridge piece and breathed a big sigh of relief! One string had snapped and the other 3 were really old and knackered when I bought the bass (1989) so I found some cheap new strings on Amazon, then swatted up on Youtube tutorials on what to do next!
It had been set up wrongly and this made a simple task a bit of a headache but 2hrs later (“Change strings in 10 minutes” my ar$e), I closed my eyes and tuned it up. My eyes were closed in case a string snapped as they seemed to be incredibly tight, I realised the bass had probably never been in tune since I bought it as all I did was slap the living daylights out of the poor thing.
Next stop, learn to play the thing (and not just the 12-bar-boogie!)
Double Bass is a different kettle of fish to electric bass, different sound, different playing style, albeit the same strings/notes order (Everybody-Ate-Dead-Grasshoppers).
I have a lot to learn with both (and bass is the easy option compared to guitar, so shows my musical slackness/ineptitude, but I do try). Where is it all heading? Who knows. I don’t really have any musical mates nor the bare bone skill to play anything, but I would love to maybe be in a band before I pop my clogs. Middle-aged crisis No. 378…
More news, next time.
The little red one could be back on the road, just needs a bit of time/TLC/parts/MOT and we might be clunking again. Fingers crossed!
From March the 16th until August 28th I ran ten zillion there-and-backs on my rooftop. It served a purpose (stopped me going Honey-Nut-Loops) but it was only when I got back here that I realised that I had barely been ticking over. Runningwise/physically it had been of almost zero fitness value and (despite the altitude) I had really been kidding myself. Better than nowt? Just, possibly.
In my first 2 weeks back, I had the luxury of a field to run round in quarantine. 325m in circumference and only shared with 8 little bemused-looking, socially distanced sheep.
The fresh air in my lungbags and soft grass underfoot felt like bliss!
Then, after 2 weeks I could go out into the big wide world…
On my first day I bottled it. I wasn’t quite ready for such openness. I put it back a day and ran round the field again. On the second day I grew a pair and headed out. Round here is familiar territory, but it felt like a l-o-n-g time since I had actually been on the road. It was much harder than I had imagined to run at any kind of decent pace. Made me realise I have a much work to do, but as there are no races, I have time on my side so I will just enjoy the newfound freedom 🙂
(Stop press: I won’t enjoy the newfound freedom just now as my hamstring seems to have gone pop! Historically both hamstrings have been as strong as wet toilet roll, so it was only a matter of time, might need to dust off my old jallopy-pushbike in the meantime. Not like i have any races planned in the near future…)
Back into lockdown?
At the time of writing there is a hint in the news that we may be going back into Lockdown. Cases are rising, dramatically.
Something needs to be done. Socialising rules have already been restricted.
We did manage a few weeks of freedom!
It is a different kind of lockdown here. We can still go out but it is the social things that are restricted, so that long-held daydream of going to the Boozer with my mates might have to wait. I have seen my folks, my brother and one or two mates but not many folk really. Strange times.
After 6mths of wearing a mask (and visor) in Peru and being mainly cooped up in our flat, Lockdown became “the norm”. We kind of got used to not seeing anybody, not going to work (“Home Office”), not going to school, not having any real face-to-face conversations, not being able to go out (unless Metro Supermercado was seen as a day out, and then it was always a solo mission).
So, if we do face another lockdown, so be it. What can we do? The blog eschews politics, it would be pointless giving my tuppence worth on here. I just hope I find a job beforehand :-/
Vizcarra tried his best. BoJo is doing things differently. Who did better?
How do you measure “success” against this damn “Bicho” anyway?!
The past, present and future?
The past: We kissed “adios” to our Arequipa dreams. The Nipper’s new school that never was, a new Britanico that I had dreamt and raved on about for the previous 4 years which lasted less than 4 months, HUGE mountains that I could only look-at-but-not-touch, a new family home that cost us dearly (time, effort and bra$$), but alas, not to be!
We got royally screwed over by our Landlady. We had been promised a refund, but that was changed to “Landlady keeps all”. No surprise, we just have to suck it up, nothing we can do here except hope that karma comes round to bite her on her lying ar$e! We got screwed over renting out our house in Morley. It is a pain in the ar$e renting or renting out, full-stop.
We left Peru, a big sacrifice for Lina and we came back to Blighty to start again, (again!)
It felt good to give lots of stuff away (not just out of the goodness of our hearts, we simply couldn’t bring it all back), but the flip side is that we’ll have to replace it now, when spondoolicas are being watched carefully, (we’ll come on to the 3-letter-word that is “JOB” in a minute!)
We kissed goodbye to a lot of red tape (and the possibility of getting my sticky paws on my AFP/pension) and said hello to a LOT of phone calls (and a shedload of junk) here to sort out a lot of loose ends that never got tied in 2014.
Goodbye queuing up for Metro, hello online shopping (dangerous, especially with my past record).
The Present: It is 9:30pm and I have to get this gubbins completed before midnight as my Smarty contract expires (and I normally advertise the blog via Watsapp, a number which will soon change along with Sim, phone and contract. My last attempt at this ended in fiasco).
Tomorrow we should have the powers of internet, which will mean that I will have to accept that the holiday is over and jobhunting will have to start in earnest. I will be honest, I’ll accept anything, I’m not fussy nor proud. Watch this space…
The future: Looking for a job in, a pandemic, during a recession? That might be interesting!
The rest we will bumble our way through, like we always do.
Regarding the blog, I am not too sure.
We are now obviously back in Blighty and for a while we are just going to get/keep our heads down and start a new life again.
It is a process of adaption, Tadcaster is a bit different to Arequipa (And Lima!)
I will try my utmost and keep some semblance of a blog going on an ad-hoc basis, fingers crossed!
I dropped off social media a while back. Is a blog social media? Yes/no/maybe?
The main reason I scribble this nonsense is so that I don’t forget what I have done.
It is like a school diary for a 48yr old.
It is not for blagging nor bragging, I just say it how it is. I do sincerely thank you if you do read my bobbins.
I stumbled across this guy on Youtube, to listen to him he sounds just like Henry Hill off Goodfellas.
The Cynic in me personally thinks that he has got things summed up pretty much spot-on…
A very close second place video and a good way to sign off from my extended claptrap this week is this…
So, following that, I wish you a mighty fine week.
Not 100% sure how often I will get to publish the blog, watch this space.
Look after yersens.
Johnny and the girls x
p.s. I have a new phone number by the weekend, please give me a nod if you need it!