By Jenny Grainer [email protected]
Jenny Grainer arrived in the Algarve to live, work and raise a family in 1968. She is a freelance writer and her book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then’ has sold more than 2,000 copies.
I’ve just returned from an exhausting trip to the UK and am trying hard to get my feet back on the ground.
Perhaps UK is too broad a generalisation. I was in Brighton for nine days and just one day in the West End of London, both pretty unique places and I’m sure that neither is an indication of the true British Isles.
Brighton seemed full of the weird and wonderful, as did London in a totally different way, and both were heaving with tourists enjoying all the sights and sounds at a frenetic pace that frankly overwhelmed me.
It has been many years since I have visited either city in the summer and finding myself in a heat wave was contrary to all my hopes and expectations for a little light cooling drizzle, if not a consistent downpour after all the heat I thought I had left behind me.
The motive for my trip was the one that usually gets me there, namely my three children, two of who live in East Sussex and the oldest who came down from Warrington to join us for a weekend.
This was the good part, as there’s nothing quite like gazing fondly upon your grown up babies with partners and children to make you feel a great sense of a job well done, just as there is nothing quite like the rather more depressing realisation of how very long ago it was since they were in fact little babies and how far apart you’ve all grown.
I stayed with my daughter in her first own home and after the miniscule flats she and her husband have been occupying in Brighton, I was impressed. As first time buyers in the present financial climate, they have worked long and arduous hours to build up the required deposit and managed to find a whole house with an upstairs, downstairs and a garden with views of the beautiful Sussex Downs.
No more groaning about my aching bones on the sofa in the city but a whole bedroom and bed to sleep on in the outskirts.
On Saturday, mother and daughter shared moments of blissful togetherness working on the wild flower garden and shopping for her birthday party the next day.
Later, we joined friends and dined in central Brighton, sitting at an outdoor table observing the arrival of exuberant youngsters, hell bent on having a good time.
The Hen and Stag parties were plentiful, colourful and, happily, all good-natured, at least until we headed for home at the Cinderella hour.
Sunday morning meant more shopping for forgotten items, then preparation and finally time for the party. Meeting your children’s friends is quite an eye-opener and a revelation of facets of their lives undreamt of.
My little girl is one very popular young lady and London high flyers mingled merrily with down-to-earth Brighton mums and dads in a happy sun blessed BBQ afternoon.
My youngest son, just recovering from jetlag after three months study of Bikram Hot Yoga in Las Vegas plus gorgeous partner Ayesha was able to join us, although number one son was sadly still missing.
Shopping in Brighton was a nightmare I don’t want to experience again. Bumper to bumper double-decker buses, hoards of foreign students swarming into them with no sense of queuing, shops full of Barbie dolls, their clothing and accessories with nil, nix or nada for ever so slightly more mature and rounder ladies who once upon a time caused heads to turn, strutting their stuff in Carnaby Street. Not even M&S was a sacred sanctuary.
Midweek had me and my daughter headed for London with only one destination – the theatre – any theatre with a musical. A Leicester square ticket office produced two tickets for the matinee of Sister Act and after an exceptionally good lunch in China Town, we sped off to the Palladium and fought our way through some equally ill-mannered foreign students into the glorious interior of this fine theatre.
We thoroughly enjoyed this fantastic musical, the incredibly high octane performances and huge talent were both visually and musically a wonderful experience but, the heat…the Palladium may be beautiful, but with an audience that packed the auditorium from stalls to upper circle and no air-conditioning.
My heart went out to the performers on stage in the glare of stage lighting dressed in nun habits, dancing their hearts out for our entertainment.
On my final weekend, my other son joined us and we all enjoyed a rare two days together catching up on each other’s news then sad goodbyes as number one son returned to the midlands and all back to the workplace.
Good things never last long enough.
An airbus returned me to my comfort zone in the Algarve and the welcome sight of husband, home and air-conditioning.
Future family trips will definitely be restricted to autumn or spring when life is calmer and cooler but equally joyous.
Jenny Grainer’s book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then,’ about her life and the recent history of Portugal since she arrived in 1964 will be available in book- shops from August 7 or place your order online from Amazon.com ISBN 978-1-907499-00-5.