Thursday, 10 February 2011

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

Major Tom, you may recall, was the astronaut who featured in David Bowie's classic Space Oddity.

Whether through accident or choice (it wasn't entirely clear in the song) he became disconnected from Planet Earth and drifted hopelessly away into space, never to be seen or heard again.

I felt a little bit like that earlier this week.  Having arrived in Portugal for my annual working holiday my mobile telephone, which Virgin had promised me had been set to roaming, hadn't been set to roaming.  True, my business 'phone did have roaming enabled, but as I only use it for incoming calls it had no credit.

The booster package that I'd purchased for £40 from T-Mobile to provide me with mobile broadband for 30 days with "normal usage" expired after two days, meaning that either T-Mobile or I have a strange idea of what constitutes normal usage.

It took an age before it occurred to me that I could use the telephone in my apartment to call home.  Psychologically I had for some odd reason convinced myself that it would cost millions of pounds to use, when in actual fact it is only a few pence dearer than using the mobile.

For the most part I have been communicating with my family through Facebook chat.  I have also been placing myself under far too much pressure than is healthy, having assumed that with a week to myself it would have been easy to get so much done, only to realise (for the second year running) that there is only so much one can do even in a week.

As it happens I spent the first few days looking and feeling busy but in actual fact doing very little of real value and then, having subsequently got most of the urgent stuff out of the way, decided to live a little.  As I am writing this I am by the pool, enjoying the last hour or two of sun on my penultimate whole day.  In a little over 48 hours I'll be stepping onto the transfer bus to take me back to Faro.

Contrary to what certain people would have others believe I do not own a "holiday home".  Indeed unlike most of those who like to peddle these stories I don't own any home at all.  What I have is a timeshare, for which I pay over £600 each year to enjoy a holiday that, due to the financial climate, non-owners can purchase for not much more than £100.

But as the saying goes, I'm not bitter.  I really do love it here at the Clube Praia da Oura, doing my thing during the day and wandering off to Amanda's Bar in the evening.  I feel terribly selfish with my family being at home (our timeshare week is not compatible with the school holiday timetable) but I'm hoping that in a few years, when the kids are grown, Caroline and I will be able to enjoy it. 

As for myself, whilst I enjoy my holidays very much and look forward to them with an impatience that is difficult to contain I do like the familiarity of returning to a place I know and seeing people I recognise, even I do not know them much at all.  It is quite difficult for me to describe the inner emotions I experience when I return to certain places that I have been away from for a while.

My next challenge upon returning is to make sure I have enough in the kitty to return with my family in December, when we are "owed" a week.  Boa noite.


Anonymous said...

You're right about the bottom falling out of the timeshare market Phil.
Taken from the travel section of yesterdays "News of the World":


Seven nights self-catering at apartments Clube Praia da Oura, from Gatwick February 24.
See or call 0871 423 8642.

Not tempted to bail out then Phil ?

Phil Andrews said...

It's not quite as simple as that Anon, even if I was tempted. Would you buy it off me, or for that matter take it off me?

But possibly I overstate the injustice. I'm assuming the £125 you quote is per person. Our timeshare has four beds and I think is insured to accommodate six so, at full capacity, it would still work out marginally cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Yes, almost certainly £125 per person Phil, but we're guessing the terms of your timeshare affords very few opportunities for the entire Andrews clan to benefit.

Judging by your previous postings from your Iberian bolthole, you always appear to be unaccompanied, so it seems you're not getting full value for money.
It's the old swings & roundabouts scenario I guess, some people are able to make better use of the system than others.

Anonymous said...

Never mind your holiday homes in Portugal/Portsmouth, when did you buy one of the almshouses down Mill Plat ?

And the huge volume of motorists trying to enter or exit this otherwise unoccupied alleyway "taking their lives in their hands!"

Honestly, the Chronicle make you want to scream at times - I'm glad I don't have to pay for it anymore.

Phil Andrews said...

Mmmm, I've not seen this article yet but presumably the Chronicle has me living in the Mill Plat alleyway?

Like as opposed to one the two the bloody great developments comprising 300 houses and flats that sits right next door to it?

Ho hum...

Anonymous said...

The whole article was rather ho hum, wasn't it ?

All locals really want to know, is how much longer work is going to continue in the present location (now over two months) and whether the complete Isleworth to Brentford job will be finished in "about six months" as promised.

No answers for either of these issues !

If they're running WAY behind schedule, do you suppose they're gonna tell us ?