Friday 17th July

WE couldn't get on the plane fast enough this morning. The last two weeks have been fairly horrendous with the heat and humidity. It's fine if you are on holiday but trying to work in those conditions is not easy unless the air-conditioning is roaring away…. and as for trying to sleep, it's well nigh impossible.

I'm not quite sure why we call it “leave” rather than “holiday” or “annual break”. The word has a certain Civil Service quality about it – ambassadors go on leave, soldiers and sailors have leave but everyone else simply goes on holiday – but I've decided I'm going on leave and I'm now off work for just under three weeks. The big question of course is do I travel in shorts or long trousers? I opted for shorts because, after all, that's what holidays are all about. Mistake! On arrival, it's raining at East Midlands Airport and as I collected my hire car the attendant gave me a very funny look indeed, but I'm sure he's seen it all before - holiday makers falling off the plane wearing huge sombreros, clutching stuffed donkeys and dragging a crate of duty free gin behind them.

And it rained all day.

Wednesday 22nd July
SON has rented a flat in York for his second year at York University. We went up today to help him clean the place up and get it ready for the beginning of term in October. One of his flatmates had left, leaving a real mess. The bins were un-emptied and the lounge was full of empty lager tins. My wife gave the place a good fettle – isn't that a lovely word? But as we peered out of the window, there sitting on one of the black dustbin bags was the largest rat you've ever seen. Ten minutes later, there was a whole herd of them – do rats come in herds I'm not sure, but there were certainly a lot of them, so the Public Health Department had to be contacted. The flat is fairly near the river so that may be part of the problem, but leaving half filled bin liners around is certainly not helpful.

Guess what? It's raining! Thursday 23rd July
RAIN is forecast for today. My brother, who is filling in for me as the locum priest, phoned me this morning to ask “where is the restaurant, the one up the mountain that does lovely lamb?” I told him to head up the Inca motorway, take the Alaro turn off and then follow the signs for Alaro Castle, and he'd find it halfway up towards the top. I also threatened to kill him if he damaged the chaplaincy car on any of the hairpin bends or huge potholes on the way up. He told me the sun was shining in Majorca and I told him it was raining cats and dogs in the U.K. His response is unprintable in a quality newspaper such as the Majorca Daily Bulletin! The forecast was right, it has rained on and off all day.

Saturday 25th July
TO Longdon near Lichfield, where I used to be the vicar, to officiate at the wedding of a girl who I last saw nine years ago, when she was playing in the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra for a production of Carmina Burana. Her parents are friends of mine and she had particularly asked if I would officiate on the big day. Her husband is an Australian and a whole crowd had travelled over for the wedding. It was strange being on my old stamping ground again. In the church, the magnificent Norman arch was still there, which I suppose is not surprising as it's been there since the year 1100, so why it should suddenly either disappear or fall down in the last twenty years is a bit silly. The old yew trees still gloomily hang over the church path, but the chairs which replaced the old Victorian pitch pine pews, are still looking smart and it was a obviously a good decision to make the change. They are much more comfortable and allow for flexibility. Afterwards, we all retired to the local pub for Pimms and a barbecue but the big miracle of the day is that it wasn't raining.

Sunday 2nd August
TO Grantham in Lincolnshire, for my aunt's 70th birthday party. She lives in Skegness but my brother had fetched her over for a party at his house. Everyone had brought a dish of food and I had spent the previous week icing a birthday cake for her which we managed to get there in one piece. I could not believe our good fortune as it was not raining.

My aunt told me a remarkable story about my father, who, if he had not died, would have been 90 yesterday. As a young man, he signed up to serve in the Yorks and Lancs Regiment during the 2nd World War. After being evacuated from Dunkirk, he was then posted abroad again and my grandmother never heard from him for four years for security reasons
She always presumed he was alive because she had not heard anything to the contrary. She had got it into her head that when he did eventually return home it would be in the middle of the night so she always kept her dressing gown ready by the bed. She would regularly wake my grandfather up in the early hours “is that someone knocking on the door?” thinking that it might be my father returning. Every week she saved up some of the carefully rationed coal because she believed he would be feeling the cold when he got back, because she knew he was returning from India, Palestine or Egypt. Strangely he did arrive back in the middle of the night to walk through the door to discover he had a three year old sister he didn't know he had got, but fortunately it was July because the fire wasn't lit. It must have been a damned sight warmer than July this year.

Monday 3rd August
OOUR three weeks' leave in England is whizzing by and I am doing my best not to worry too much about work. I have been to visit my mother in her nursing home, not that she recognised me or even knew I was there. I suppose I go for my own needs rather than hers. I dread the trip up and it hangs over me for days beforehand, but at least it shows the nurses that she does have a family, someone who cares and who is appreciative of all the work they do, for a mere pittance, for her.

For the rest of the time I find myself doing very English things. The lawns have been cut, the hedge trimmed, coal got in for our Christmas leave and the calor gas tank filled. Weed killer has been put down, we've had fish and chips, and we've stocked up on marmite and gravy granules. All this feels miles away from Majorca. I do miss my ‘menu del dia', being able to wear shorts all the time and the warm weather which seems to ease my arthritis. But I'm so glad to have this reminder of just how much there is to miss about England too. …. and it's raining again! Tuesday 4th August “WHICH” Magazine claims that LPG – that's calor gas to you and me – is the most expensive form of heating. Unfortunately our house in the U.K. is in a village where there's no mains gas, so for the last twenty years we have been burning liquid gold. This morning, I did a ring around suppliers to see how competitive they were. Calor, who have been supplying me up till now, was the most expensive and there was no negotiation when I spoke to them, so I have now arranged for another supplier to take over their tank and hopefully I shall now save some money. They must be mad to think that one will continue buying off them when there are cheaper options around. Today it rained constantly until about teatime.

Thursday 6th August
GUESS what! It was raining as we boarded the plane this morning at East Midlands Airport and on arrival at Palma the sun was shining. We're back!

Fr. Robert Ellis is the Anglican Chaplain of Majorca.
C/ Nunez de Balboa 6, Son Armadans, Palma 07014.
Tel: 971 737279 e mail: anglicanpalma@terra.es www.anglican-mallorca.org

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