What does the Doctor Think, this month?

For many years, Management and I have wanted a holiday in a shack of some sort actually on the beach. The idea of sitting outside the villa, feet in the sea, watching the sun go down, has always appealed to both of us. We have tried a few times and have ended up on the coast, but the other side of a main road, or behind several hotels, clever brochure photography having misled us. Eventually, we foundMeeruIsland(in theMaldives) where the advertising material shows the accommodation about three feet from the sea’s edge – a lovely, basic double room with bathroom and jacuzzi behind. At the front, steps go down to the sand and the sea comes up to the steps at high tide, and is 12 feet away at low tide – idyllic.

We flew to the Maldives, spending a few days in Dubai on the way, using BA and Emirates, both using a Boeing 777. This is a very capacious aeroplane and I failed to mention to Head Office that an Air France version had dived into the sea and that a BA version had pancaked at Heathrow after the fuel iced up. Having confirmed to the authorities at the Maldives airport that we were not importing pork, firearms, explosives, drugs or pornography (we did not mention Deannie’s prized photos of the English cricket team in the swimming pool of our Dubai hotel!), we arrived at our island at about 5pm after a 50 minute speedboat journey. We were told that our accommodation would not be ready until the next day. However, at no extra charge, we were being given a free upgrade to one of the two honeymoon villas. Needless to say, Management was very excited about this. Then, we then discovered that the honeymoon villas were offshore in the lagoon and that the only access was by boat. We had to walk into the water and climb up over the side of the very wobbly boat. Now, most honeymooners will be young and agile and, to them, this would be no problem.We, however, are old and stiff. Granted, we behave like a honeymoon couple a lot of the time – for example, if we go shopping, I always hold her hand. If I let go, she shops! The boat turned out to have a flat top with a high bench for the honeymoon couple. It had a remarkable tendency to tip sideways by about 45 degrees when anyone walked along the side of the boat, to the point that Deannie was terrified and quite convinced that we, and our luggage, would be thrown into the water. Using my weight to counterbalance that of the boatman, who poled us over to the villa, we managed to keep upright and then had to balance carefully to avoid falling in the water while balancing on the side of the boat and trying to climb up onto the steps of the honeymoon villa.

It then occurred to us that, every time we wanted to leave the villa, we would have to summon the boatman. Out came the waterproof shoes and the short skirt (Management, that is) for the return journey for dinner. The journey went well and we ate in the restaurant. During the meal, the wind got up and the skies darkened and we were faced with the return boat journey to the villa in the dark, in sheeting rain and buffeted by a howling wind. In the midst of this, Deannie asked the boatman whether or not the island had spiders – “Oh, yes” he replied, ignoring my imploring look. Thoroughly soaked, we were blown well off course and the boatman needed all his skill to reach the villa. We retired that night, discovered that the doors on the sea side of the villa would not lock, causing management a restless night wondering about pirates and spiders. (A few days later, when we were in the middle of a tropical storm, we could see the honeymoon villa from our warm, dry and comfortable waterside villa, and we watched an unfortunate honeymoon couple getting soaked and terrified by the journey to their accommodation).

Next morning, I used the shower and ended up with a flooded bathroom as there was no shower curtain and all the water ran on to the floor. I was still grumbling about this when Deannie pointed out that the bathroom was, in fact, a “wet room” with a drain in the corner and that it was supposed to get “all wet”.

Very soon, the boatman reappeared and we managed to load all our luggage onto the wobbly boat and reached the shore safely.We then transferred to our villa which was exactly as described – absolutely wonderful. It was absolute magic – right on the beach with its own tame heron and so many luminous fish to float amongst with the snorkel and mask. I would float above some rocks and the fish would swim in and out of my legs and arms, having a nibble here and there (no, not there!) All absolutely wonderful.

Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet

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