Apart from involuntary duckings enjoyed by the Boss during heavy weather dinghy sailing, neither of us had swum in the sea this year until our siblings came to stay. From then on, the family enjoyed a daily dip, while I found other things to do – not being a great one for the Atlantic chill.
Never twin souls in the past, the sisters got along famously during the two days that their holidays overlapped – under the same roof for the first time in about 20 years! It was a joy. Accident prone in her youth, number two daughter ran true to type when swimming off Alvor beach with friends and had the misfortune to stand on a Weaver fish. Blessed with common sense, she made the wound bleed while at the same time praying earnestly to God, and then hobbled over to a lifeguard. The pain was excruciating and invasive. He made it bleed some more before spraying her foot with a strong analgesic, also telling her to walk for 15 minutes on the hottest sand she could find.
Having cycled from Monte Ruivo, which took one and a quarter hours, she had to make her way home again from Alvor and reached as far as Penina before phoning for help. This reminded me of the past in England, when she had the occasional motorbike accident and the Boss had to hitch up our trailer and pick up the pieces. Not so serious this time, and her pedal cycle fitted neatly in the car boot. Now they have all left – the spare bedroom is horribly empty and only their perfume and washing remains.
With nine days before the next onslaught of guests, we intended to takes things easy for a while, but, suddenly, the Boss was motivated to build Fred a kennel so that we may reclaim our spare shower room. Since I lifted him off the road, it has been his pad, with direct access to the open air through a lobby. And heaven help anyone who sought to use the loo once he was tied up for the night. There was also an assortment of anoraks hanging in the outer room, which, to a bored dog, were just too much to resist and now they hang in tatters – some providing additional bedding for his basket while the remainder were shredded at leisure. As for the kennel, it promises to be an impressive pied-à-terre. We took careful measurements of his height, length from nose to tail and allowed enough width for three rotations prior to lying down – a nightly ritual after the style of a dancing dervish getting into his stride.
It being that time of year when influenza lurks in the wings just a sneeze away, we made enquiries about the cost of inoculation at our favourite private clinic, an excellent and reassuring place to attend when unwell. Still reeling from the price quoted, the next day the Boss queued for an hour at our local health centre for prescriptions. We bought vaccine from the chemist and it was administered without charge in Odiáxere Centro de Saúde, quickly and painlessly.
The same applies to the compulsory vaccination of dogs against rabies. A visit to the Câmara vet in Lagos involves much hanging about, but, in each case, if one is prepared to wait for as long as it takes, the cost is greatly reduced.
Not so, when a friend from Vancouver had a mild stroke last week. Taken to Barlavento Hospital by ambulance from Lagos, he underwent a series of tests to assess his condition. He had no complaint about those, but, being used to the speed and efficiency of Canadian clinics, he became rather worked up over his slow progress. After five hours, he asked for the bill, having refused to wait for a scan. When the account was presented, he found that the scan was included, bumping up the total considerably but, having no Portuguese, there was little he could do about it. His partner was refused permission to see him while he was there, which seems rather archaic and made the whole affair very traumatic.
However, if I had to choose, it would be preferable to the mayhem seen weekly on television. The chaos of relatives milling around in the middle of the action in both Casualty and Holby City must be pure fiction, although, on second thoughts, perhaps things have changed since we left the UK. This might account for the prevalence of MRSA infection throughout NHS hospitals, where the lives of patients are at more risk from this than their original affliction.
With most crops safely gathered, we celebrated Harvest Festival in Luz a couple of Sundays ago. Because the old Church is being refurbished and the roof replaced, we now worship in the Village Hall, meeting there on September 26 to give thanks for God’s goodness, his bounty, and for those who work to produce our food. By request, only tinned and packaged, non-perishables, were laid at the foot of the altar, to be distributed to those whose homes and livelihoods were lost in this year’s fires. The Hall was packed out and the Service was a joy, as we all sang our hearts out with organist Nigel Gaze and our excellent choir. It was a happy welcome home for the Reverend David and his wife, Margaret, back where they belong.