240114_SU_TRAVEL_CRETE Beautiful Preveli Beach.JPG

Back from the brink of a breakdown

Dear Editor, It is becoming more and more of a struggle each time I have to tear myself away from my beloved home in the Algarve back to England. Children are getting older and more independent: though notably have not ACTUALLY moved out of our home in England yet, as it is becoming harder and harder for young people to get there own little pocket of England’s green and pleasant land.

Also we now have a lovely grandchild to consider and, don’t get me wrong, I love ‘skype’ but say what you will, it is not the same as a cute two year old hugging you and giggling when you tickle him in the way that only small children can.

So I keep returning to England, but this time it is with increased trepidation.

Along with many folk I would say it has been a hard winter, long grey days, freezing cold temperatures, incessant rain followed by a hosepipe ban of course! Add to this, soaring petrol prices, utility bills higher than ever, the news that we are now in the second ‘low’ of the double dip recession – whatever that actually means- and I understand why, despite the toll on the A22, so many of my fellow countrymen stay here all year.

Hopefully within the next few years I too will be a permanent resident here.

This winter had been a tough one for my family on a personal level too, illness in the extended family, a complex and protracted court situation and the threat of redundancy.

This launched me into some re-training which meant that when I found out my job was indeed secure, I was committed to a training course. Study as well as work meant I was out of the house from 7.30am to 8pm each day – oh and then of course there were assignments etc to do.

Having uncharacteristically lost my rag a few times and at other times burst into tears for seemingly no reason, my nearest and dearest suggested a visit to my GP.

Despite what people say about the NHS in England, most of which is undoubtedly true, I have the good fortune to belong to a GP practice that still gives appointments within a few days and the GP certainly appears to listen and care. After we spent some time chatting, with a few tears here and there, mine, obviously, I waited for her words of wisdom and was, I suppose, slightly hopeful there may be some legal chemical that could help (in addition to wine etc). But what she prescribed was simply a holiday. Well a rest at least, some time away to get perspective and simply to stop working so hard. Sadly the stretched resources of the NHS didn’t offer to pay the flight – but here I am.

Within hours I felt better – who wouldn’t – we arrived to warm weather and bright sun. In the morning we breakfast by the pool on fresh bread from our local village shop, after a day when the hardest decision is which book to read next or whether to use factor 6 or 15 sun cream. Then we sip wine on the terrace in the pleasant cool of the evening overlooking the olive trees. And watching as our neighbour walks his goats.

We have bought a return ticket so I will go back to England and then I will probably go to see the doctor again as clearly there is something very wrong if I once again make the illogical decision to return. Or maybe I should hand in my notice tell the kids to move out and look after myself. Food for thought, perhaps!

Sheila Mulvenney, By email