Thorness Bay on the Isle of Wight. This week I’m at the Infiniti Beach Resort at Vera Playa in Spain’s Almeria province with my daughter Rosie, having been wrongly informed that there was no availability at my preferred port of call – the Clube Praia da Oura in Portugal, my regular Iberian haunt.
No matter, IBR is a beautiful place – a quaint holiday village a few hundred yards from the wide and relatively unpopulated beach at Vera. The resort itself is tiny by comparison with CPO – the apartments are to a similar standard but boasting two medium-sized pools and a small bar/restaurant which closes at 9pm, in contrast to CPO’s bustling portfolio of facilities and activities, pool parties, ballroom dancing and big screens.
The town itself reminds one a little of the Mid West, at least the one of popular televisual mythology. Wide streets and hazy, arid horizons overshadow bars and small stores which spill out onto the road. Trading and social interaction, mostly indigenous but some of it English, combine to lend character to Vera which is quite unlike anything I have experienced in the course of my admittedly limited travels.
But my short Spanish adventure has been hampered by the advent of a debilitating malady which began to afflict me during the latter days of my Isle of Wight holiday but which has asserted itself with a vengeance over here. Attempts to self-diagnose have thrown up such options as sciatica, proformis syndrome and a slipped disc, but whatever it is it is damned painful, and make attempts to walk even the few hundred yards to the beach or into town a real ordeal, and a thing to be dreaded whenever I contemplate a move, no matter how slight or unambitious, from the settee in my apartment.
Perversely, it has also made me consider how lucky I am that my pain is not (I hope) permanent – that I can, usually, walk good distances without pain in spite of advancing years. It has forced me to remember that for many, pain is a regular fact of life and that not having to endure it is a privilege, not a right.
Sometimes it takes a little suffering of our own to enable us to understand the much greater suffering that others have to put up with in their lives. I hope I will remember Vera Playa for the pool and the palm trees, the beach and the bars, and not for the itinerant pain which travels with impunity from my hip to the base of my spine and back again, stopping to rest at various points in-between. The doctor will tell me more, I hope, when I get to see him on Monday.