We rejoined the Internet just over a year ago. I had fought against it for ages as it was no longer part of the way I wanted to live my life. When I returned to the UK and stayed with friends who had mega-fast broadband access, I was impressed. Information at the touch of a key.
So on my return to Spain I signed up with Telefonica. Dear service but efficient. And the first thing Partner promptly did was join every single Land Rover forum under the sun. But we only really post much on one. However on some of the others, people said they were coming to Spain and asked if we would meet up. We said yes, of course. And never heard any more. We didn’t lose too much sleep and appreciate that people change their minds, and don’t want to spend a day out of their precious holidays with someone they have never met before in their life.
The first forum we joined gets up my nose. People are sexist, racist, classist, bigoted, even more self-opinionated and arrogant than me (I think). But we have also had some great help on there, and in return have tried to help other people.
A couple of months ago, one of the members on the first forum said he was coming to Portugal and Spain and was interested in visiting Gibraltar and meeting up. As usual we said fine, and didn’t hear any more. We thought it would be good to meet him and his partner but by the time they had left for Europe, we figured it wasn’t going to happen. Also to be fair to them, visiting Gib was a serious detour on their route – and because the flat is so small and grotty we couldn’t offer to put them up either.
So there we were on Christmas Eve, having a relaxing drink, and chilling out as you do. And the ‘phone rang. “Hello, it’s Marc, and we’re in Gibraltar in Morrisons’ car park.” I passed the phone to partner. He agreed to go and meet them. It gave me time to put on the mascara and brush my hair, while I waited to be notified of the venue of choice.
The intercom rang. “Hello,” said Cheerful Partner. “Here we are. Let us in.”
“No. Go away. The flat is filthy dirty, I do not wish to be so embarrassed.” And put the intercom ‘phone down. Smartly. You have no keys, go find a pub. Triumphant. Then the door opened. Partner did have keys, just too idle to get them out earlier.
This was BIG TIME embarrassment. Small flat. Damp (it’s humid here in winter). A week’s worth of ironing piled up on the ironing board. The toilet doesn’t work. We flush it with a bucket. There is no seat on it – it fell off a while ago. The flat is floating in dog’s hairs, and naturally the sofa belongs to the dog. So that leaves two armchairs for four people. Oh well. At least I had time to put on the mascara.
But this is so just how you do not want to meet people for the first time. If we had really thought they would have turned up, I might have cleaned the flat. Maybe.
Anyway, they were adorable. Super company and lovely people. Easy-going and interesting. I still find it hard to get it into my head that you can meet people via an Internet forum and enjoy their company so much. The men went to get an Indian take-away (all the local decent restaurants were closed or we would have taken them out – given the effort they had made to come to Gib) so we stayed at home all night.
In the morning we planned to go up the Rock. Because they were on a fairly tight schedule they decided to drive round Gib and asked us if we wanted to go with them. First we went to Europa Point, the southernmost point of Gibraltar, with Africa a few miles away.
Then we started to climb the Rock. I knew this was not a good idea. I get vertigo. I particularly get vertigo when I climb too quickly, ie in a car. I HAD to get out of the car, and stagger around with wobbly legs and a dizzy head. I should add – this was nothing to do with Marc’s driving which was very good.
Meanwhile, when we all got out of the car, Brigid clambered around on the rocks taking photos of the SHEER DROP beneath her. “I don’t think you should watch me,” she said. I thought she was so right. The monkeys loved Brigid so much that they jumped on top of her. Marc suggested she was wearing Eau de Monkey (Odour monkey?). They left me alone. Wrong perfume.
Then we walked up to the top of the Rock, with me shading my eyes from the views either side, and then Partner and I started walking down. After I had stopped wobbling too much, and could handle the car again, we eventually all drove down again together, and then said our goodbyes.
I live with vertigo. By now we have worked out that it happens mainly when I climb too fast. I can describe it best in Spanish – it is so succinct: “No cabe en la cabeza” – it doesn’t fit in the head. I just can’t handle the rapid climb stuff.
Today I went for a walk. Both on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day we like to go for a walk. But Partner was struggling with a ‘flu/chest infection so I trotted out on my own. I decided to wander part way up the Rock.
The first time I did today’s path (Library Steps, and up towards Devil’s Gap) I felt quite dizzy. Today, I had no shaky legs and no dizziness. It was important to me to climb on my own and not get vertigo. And it was a beautiful walk in glorious sunshine. Vertigo is so in the head. But it ends up leaving you physically struggling. If you get vertigo, you will know what I mean. If you don’t, please take time to help anyone who does have vertigo. It is not easy to overcome, and it takes a lot of concentration and fortitude to climb when you are struggling against fear.
But today was a good result for me. And we had a lovely and unexpected Christmas. Very many thanks to Marc and Brigid for making the effort to come and see us.
Best wishes to everyone on the Internet – because now I know that Internet people really do exist – for a happy, peaceful, and confident New Year.