The thunderstorms when they arrive are extraordinary. We are floating in the pool watching large drops of rain falling and landing painfully on our faces. We retreat to the house as the dark sets in and the weather gets serious. The sky flashes constantly with sheet lightening. Then the fork lightening hits very close just behind deafening thunder that shakes the house and moves the air around us. Everything lights up bright as day. This lasts for a number of hours without a break. We hide in the tree house and watch the show. A vast amount of water is dumped on the jungle that happily sucks it up.
The fireflies are here in force now the water has turned up. When the moon is waning and the nights are darkest it is pretty much impossible to tell where the stars stop and the fireflies begin. It’s stunning.
My Dad is unwell and we arrange to return to the UK to see him and clear out our house to make it more saleable. It’s tough to leave this place emotionally and logistically. We have our man guarding the land & have cancelled a booking or two. We have acquired standby flights, which saves us a large chunk of cash. We pack light and accept a lift to the airport.
We are arriving in the UK about the same time as Trump. London is rammed with protesters. Only the Brits can come up with such spectacularly abusive banners and be encouraged by the London mayor to wield them in public. My daughter is front and center in Trafalgar Square under the Trump blimp balloon. Very proud Dad.
Aircraft seating is designed for humans of different dimensions to me. My shoulders are wider than any seat on any plane. My legs are long enough to jam in front of me if my knees touch my nose. It’s not pretty. Sleep is impossible. 11 hours of numbing contortions later we land in London. We are collected and taken for a quick lunch by Jayne’s Uncle and then head to Lincolnshire on the train loaded with newspapers & cake. The jet lag kicks in properly. The words on the page are blurred and the cake remains uneaten. I watch the countryside pass by baked by unfamiliar sunshine. Everyone we meet bangs on about the heat wave. The UK has a single week of sun and there is such a drama and hose pipe bans as standard. It’s been sunny here now for months and the population is going nuts. World Cup football and no rain. Doesn’t get better than this.
We finally arrive and my Mum collects us from the station. We have arrived in a state of hallucinogenic fatigue with stale clothes stuck to us holding newspapers and cake. We spend a few hours struggling hard to stay awake until dark when we have planned to give in. I am fully jet lagged. My brain is effectively useless. I realise how useless when I set about unpacking. My backpack has our two laptops, a tablet, kindle, all my most important paperwork and pretty much everything of any value that we own. It’s not there. It’s not anywhere. It’s vanished. I’m gripped with slow gut gripping panic. I have a clear memory of moving uneaten cake from next to my backpack as we left the train. It must have been on my back. The car is searched a dozen times as is every inch of the house. No mistake our lives in a bag is missing. We are in the car driving the 30 minutes back to the train station. The rising level of stupid mixed with anxiety and the growing realization of the many many consequences of losing ALL our most important things does not make for a good driving state. We somehow arrive at Grantham station without an incident.
At this point our angels conspire to save us from our imbecilic selves. Grantham customer services happily confirm that I am indeed an idiot. I was distracted by cake and left the bag on the train. It has been found at the next station 20 minutes drive away. We manage to avoid collisions and police speed traps and arrive at Newark Northgate station customer services. The boys there recognize a moron when they see one and give me an appropriate amount of banter. The bag is returned. I can’t remember being as grateful. I get back to the car and realize I am without my wallet. I return to Newark North Gate station customer services to prove beyond any doubt what a complete fool I have become. They look at me with almost disbelief as they remind me I put my wallet in my newly returned bag. I thank them once again and invite them all to Mexico. They clearly never want to see me again. Bloody cake.
Darlington in the sun. We have rented a van and arrive at my house which we emptied in a massive hurry 10 short months ago so we could rent it out. It’s currently for sale as we intend to move our kids inheritance to Mexico (with their permission). We very cleverly created three hidden spaces in the house where we have stashed all the things we didn’t throw out or sell. We are here to clear these spaces. One is an entire cellar and the others are attic spaces. Memory is a strange thing. We have very generously been gifted a storage area at a friends house which is more than adequate for the few boxes of stuff we need to move. Three days of hard graft later our friends now hate us. Their house is now home to a full size Elvis, two mannequin wives and four rammed van loads of our ever expanding stuff.
Our great value standby tickets from London Heathrow to Mexico City require us to be at the airport for 9:30 pm to grab the first two spare seats available. This involves a long sweaty airless hour and a half tube ride from our friend’s flat in London in the heat wave. We have acquired two suitcases which are rammed with all the best 25kg of things we have rediscovered along with as much hardcore cheese and marmite as we could squeeze in. We are fully laden and exhausted and ready to fail to sleep for another 11 hours. This was not to be. We have chosen the busiest week of the year at Heathrow. First week of school holidays. Everyone wants to go to Mexico City. The flight is overbooked and we are 11th and 12th on the standby list. Not happening today. Maybe tomorrow. We stash our bags and return to the delights of overheated London.
Tomorrow comes. This is the busiest day of the entire year at Heathrow. No seats. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow comes. With immense relief that we don’t have to get on the suffocating tube yet again… we fly away. Thankfully we have spent two unexpected days in steaming hot London abusing hospitality, eating well, loading up on Guinness and catching up with friends. Some of which we said goodbye to 3 times. We even squeezed in a visit to the National Portrait Gallery which is entirely impressive. This was my favorite. “An angel at my table” by Miriam Escofet . A portrait of the artist’s mother.
We are relieved and delighted to be home. We unload our massive amount of cheese and marmite into the Razor and head back to the land. The rains have been regular since we left but nothing dramatic and to our surprise the arroyos (rivers) are still dry. This is unusual. Never been this dry this late in the year we are told. As we drive there are clouds of butterflies surrounding us. Many types and colours and thousands of the buggers. There are clusters of them all over the place. We disturb them walking around and are covered. It’s extraordinary.
We are straight to work. We have to get water pumping and we install our third water pump which we have brought with us from the UK. The second pump proved to be worn out. Probably was running without water in the well and stuffed the motor. Anyway our third pump is running like a champ and we are back to full tinacos in no time. The rain tends to wash out some sections of road quickly so I am deployed with pick axe to create water trenches leading the flowing water down drainage channels rather than removing our road. So far they have worked well which means I will have to create more of them. We have Hurricane John and Hurricane Ileana whipping things up out past Baja so we are expecting a huge water dump sometime soon.
In our absence the rains have taken down our devil fruit tree ( as Jayne affectionately calls it due to her deep seated loathing of all things bananary). We have rescued all the fruit we can and to Jayne’s great delight they are ripening slowly on our balcony.
We have three sets of guests arriving in the next week so we have to set about making the pool sexy and clean all the cabanas. We remove all the sheets from the beds and find half of them to contain mouse nests! With mice in residence. Mausetrappe is deployed. Everything washed and replaced and we add an electric fan next to every bed. It’s inhumane to not have a fan handy in this humidity.
Our house is in one piece but now sits in a huge mass of green foliage. It’s machete time. The boys have spent two solid days on hands and knees removing as much of the new growth as they could. It’s a losing battle these days but we keep at it. We survey the massively overgrown land. It’s only been two weeks but it’s changed so much. There are vines that you can watch grow in front of you. These vines are brutal and not just a little spooky. They have overtaken the area underneath the solar panels where my sunflowers and bougainvillea were happily getting bigger and better. The bougainvilleas are tightly wrapped in vines but I manage to save about a dozen. The sunflowers have not faired well. The vines have lifted every one of them out of their earth bags and broke them into pieces and dragged them off. I take the machete to the murdering swine. It’s a futile gesture as they immediately regroup. It’s going to be a long battle.
Mausetrappe has certainly missed us. We locked her out when we were away and constructed a temporary enclosed house that we attached to the cat flap. We couldn’t take the risk of coming home to large piles of rotting mouse bits. She has forgiven us and spends a great deal of time clingingly wrapped around our feet. The chickens remain dumb and ugly. Three have full sets of tail feathers now but Sister Bland remains stubbornly bare arsed. Despite the lack of any signs of intelligence they do have their lucky moments. The cutter ants raided their chicken coop and made off with most of their food. There was a long line of ants bearing huge loads of grain headed directly into the jungle. Exactly where all four chickens were waiting . Chicken feed with bonus ants. They scoffed the lot.
Dragon flies are appearing. Brightly coloured and often in pairs attached in a push-me-pull-you copulation flight pattern. The bright day-glo lizards have returned and dart around the bush at great speed. The dogs here are experts at catching them. It’s pretty much their go-to snack.
So life has returned to a somewhat normal state of affairs if such a thing exists here. The World Cup ended up in France of all places and won’t be coming home anytime soon. Hose pipes are banned throughout the UK and surprise surprise we are expecting more rain. The pool is our sanctuary and still worth the constant attention it demands. We are fully stocked with Marmite and also have the added bliss of a fridge filled with proper mouth punching Cheddar cheese in which we indulge with dollops of original Branston pickle. Now that’s paradise for ya.