I was up early again as usual and had the same performance with the patio shutters, trying my hardest to open them without making too much noise to wake Richard. I needn’t have worried too much though because I had enough time to enjoy two cups of tea before there was any sign of recognisable human movement from his bedroom.
When he did finally appear he looked rough and I was bemused by what could have caused that? It certainly wasn’t the beer because we drank roughly the same and it couldn’t have been the food because we had exactly the same, so what could it be? It must have been the sun because whilst I was covering myself regularly in factor fifteen Richard had been all macho and had tried to rely on one early morning application to last the whole day!
When I was a boy sunscreen was for softies and we would regularly compete to see how much damage we could do to our bodies by turning them a vivid scarlet and then waiting for the moment that we would start to shed the damaged skin. After a day or two completely unprotected on the beach it was a challenge to see just how big a patch of barbequed epidermis could be removed from the shoulders in one piece and the competition was to remove a complete layer of skin in one massive peel which would leave you looking like the victim of a nuclear accident. Most of us are much more sensible now that we are aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure but Richard had certainly overdone it on the previous day.
I decided that we needed something uplifting for breakfast so I drove to the Mercadona and purchased some fruit and a collection of other healthy looking things. At the checkout I made conversation with an ex-pat who was reading a copy of the Sun (Spanish edition) and immediately wished I hadn’t. “Weather’s bad in England” he said, so what I thought, we are in Spain. These people are incredible, all they want to do is rubbish the country where they made enough money to come and live somewhere else, and I didn’t want to mention it but at least in England I can drink the water without a morbid fear of dysentery and you don’t have to spend ten per cent of your household budget on sun cream to prevent premature ageing!
Back at the apartment I put the ingredients together to make the healthy breakfast and after a short while Richard was well enough to venture into the garden for another conversation with Pete who was already strutting around in that Home Guard sort of way of assumed importance.
After a while a sauntered across but was careful not to be caught by the same nasty trick that Richard pulled last night and I was ready to take flight at the first hint of abandonment. But the conversation was far too amusing to even contemplate retreat.
First of all he told us about the wildlife that included some incredulous tale about a three-foot rabbit! “It really took me by surprise he said” I don’t know about being surprised but it would certainly have scared the shit out of me! Three foot! That’s absolutely huge! Next he launched into full blown exaggeration mode and explained with a completely straight face that what made this place so desirable was that it was only a ten minute walk to the beach. Now unless Pete had discovered time travel the only way that you were going to get to the beach in ten minutes is if you are an Olympic sprint champion and I think that even Usain Bolt might find it a bit of a challenge!
So we retired inside and had a good snigger and when we were sure that Richard was fully recovered and fit for golf we set off for our mid-day tee time at the La Maquesa golf course about a twenty mile drive away.
We arrived there in good time but there was a bit of a hold up on the tee due to some confusion over start times but that gave us time enough to introduce ourselves to our playing companion for the round Bjorn who was from Iceland.
Now Bjorn was a strapping six-foot plus athlete and I got the distinct feeling that he could hit the ball an awful long way. I shared this prediction with Richard and we decided to let him go first off the tee and yes I was right, he could hit the ball an awful long way indeed. He smashed the ball at least three hundred yards and I followed up with a pathetic little shot of about half that distance and Richard put his ball into a gully that ran alongside the fairway. And then he put his second shot into it as well!
This set the pattern for the afternoon’s play and Richard clearly made an early decision to treat us to his full repertoire of circus trick shots. He began well on the second when he accurately picked out a concrete slab adjacent to a lateral ditch and the ball shot back and finished thirty yards behind where he had started. That made Bjorn laugh and put him off his second shot and I was beginning to understand Richard’s tactics.
Well, there was no stopping him now, he put another ball in the gully and then he managed to hit just about every possible obstacle on the course including a wooden bridge, a rock wall, a tree from which the ball never emerged from and finally the trick of tricks when his ball disappeared into a swimming pool in a villa next to the fairway, luckily I don’t think there was anyone in it at the time and there were certainly no news bulletins later about anyone drowning in their pool after being struck by a golf ball on the head.
He even managed to pick me out with a precision that if he had been aiming at the green would probably have gone straight in the hole. Best of all was his ‘hit the ball down the path’ trick that gained an impressive extra distance which he demonstrated to us on a number of occasions and which certainly had Bjorn impressed.
At the end of the round we shook hands and Richard said to Bjorn “I don’t suppose of taught you anything useful but I hope that I have entertained you”. He had certainly achieved that you take it from me.
It really was incredibly hot by the time we had finished so we drove straight back to Las Ramblas and spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden and in the pool and in the fridge as well of course. Our new neighbour Pete and his wife were out for the afternoon visiting fellow owners somewhere down the coast where presumably they were comparing the size of their patios and reassuring themselves about their wonderful decision to live in sunny Spain. We took advantage of the solitude to laze about and relax after a hot day in the sun on the golf course.
Later we did the same as every other night, although we were nearly tempted to join some fellow diners at a karaoke bar but the invite came from a young woman of about twenty and her mother of about forty told us not to bother. We took the hint and went back to the terrace to finish the gin.