Trials and tribulations, algarve

Trials and tribulations

By Skip Bandele

It’s strange being alone again – but then I have, much like my father, never really felt any different.

Maybe I should rephrase my opening words: it’s kind of eerie, yet exciting, not to share the same living space with another person following seven years of cohabitation at the very young age of 50.

Yes, as you may have guessed by now, I am no longer manacled to my ‘Guarda’ although the separation was amicable once the flames of the initial, trivial argument had died down and we remain firm friends – I am grateful to my little big sis Christiane for dealing with my dirty laundry in the interim and to Jim for bearing the load.

The transition was eased greatly by the fact that I have moved to the centre of Alvor, a bustling fishing village turned tourist resort not far from my former place of residence, which I have loved for 20 years.

I feel thoroughly at home here, and my particular thanks go to Lisa and Gordon in the Crow’s Nest, Mike, Linda and the delectable Debbie of the Dog House (which I am NOT in), Terry, Lynn, Ciao Baby, Danielle, Sonia, grumpy Manuel, Mick from Tip, Paddy’s Pat and Sahra, my ‘Buddy’ Jorge, Senhor Palma, manic Gareth and too many others to mention not least of whom is Bob the Spanish water dog.

The freedom I have suddenly regained makes me feel lightheaded at times and the temptations at my doorstep are plentiful, as the village enjoys a teeming nightlife, boasting more bars than you could possibly visit in a week, promising any amount of company, young and old, local or foreign.

Fortunately, I have Ms Bojangles, Bobo for short, my eight-year-old tabby, who has been with me this past decade, patiently awaiting my every return to keep my feet firmly planted on terra firma.

But enough of me for now … Life has a funny way of tripping you up sometimes. Some very good friends of mine, part-time residents in the Algarve and active members of my tennis club, went on a 10-day trip to New England last week which Brian had been eagerly anticipating for a long time.

If you knew him, his vitality, energy and humour both on and off the court, you would never guess that we celebrated his 70th birthday only last June in the presence of his wife Carol, her sister Sue-the-Roo and partner John.

Yet, upon arrival in the States, he was almost immediately admitted to hospital with a suspected gangrenous gallbladder and has remained encarcerated there unable to travel anywhere ever since.

We, his friends here and back in England, fervently hope that he makes a speedy and full recovery and continues to enrich our lives for many years to come.

The episode has also helped to reinforce my strong belief in the motto Carpe Diem. Seize the day, live your life today to the full – as I do and always have done, and I am sure Brian would agree – because the above only too clearly illustrates (the odd hangover apart) that we never know what tomorrow may bring.

Once again, it has fallen to me to write this column in October, almost two years to the day since my father passed away unexpectedly. My ‘Monchique’ mother is bearing up well having celebrated her 71st year recently (although she doesn’t look a day over 59) and I hold Colin largely responsible for that – I hope this month will be a ‘golden’ one as we were lucky enough to experience during the last three autumns.

I do apologise if I sound a little downbeat this time round with everything that has happened, but I am not! However, separations, illnesses and deaths are unfortunate realities of life and, sadly, become ever more poignant the older we become.

Our time on earth is so limited … a Sunday during my school days used to drag on for an eternity while a year now flies past at ever increasing speed, a relative passage of hours, weeks and months which makes me realise that we have to make the most of our lives while we still can.

I pity flies and all other creatures less blessed than ourselves, for their propensity for ‘enjoyment’ is zero compared to what we humans are capable of. Go forth and multiply!

As for me personally, liberty affords me time. Time to think, time to reflect, indulge in memories of times gone by and time to make new plans (shall I have a Jack Daniels and Coke or a Gordon’s and Tonic, ice and slice?) – for today and perhaps tomorrow. If tomorrow ever comes…

Cheers to all and sundry, even Dave in the Lounge, a big hug to all who happen to be bored enough to have continued reading this page to its promising end – see you in 2014!

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Skip Bandele moved to the Algarve 15 years ago and has been with the Algarve Resident since 2003. His writing reflects views and opinions formed while living in Africa, Germany and England as well as Portugal.