Sunday, 7 March 2010

Geez, it's a long time

A day or two short of 4 months since I last sat down to write here. But a lot has happened since I left Torre on Xmas Eve last and all in chilly temperatures which are STILL hovering around 0C. Just a day or so after I landed at Gatwick I saw my first snow in, what, 6 years and up until this week I'd almost forgotten what a blue sky looked like! Jealousy dictates  that I keep an eye on what I'm missing on the Costa del Sol and I'm all too awarPICT0313e that it has been quite wet this last few months, albeit with warmer temperatures than here near London. But Snowdrops are out, Crocus as well and the Daffodils are waking up so Spring is on the way at last.

My attempt to sign-on for jobseekers allowance on the day after Boxing Day was turned into an application for Pension Credit by the departments concerned because they said that "you'll get more and wont have to attend the jobcentre every fortnight". After a frustrating wait of 5 weeks (due in part to the country coming to a standstill while the snow lay) I received my first payment, backdated to my arrival date (nice one) and now I consider that what was told to me at the CAB to be true, (I queried with them just exactly what a pension credit was, thinking that I might be being offered a part of my state pension early) that I have been "put out to grass" without affecting the national unemployment figure. Apparently HMG appreciate that, at my age and in the present employment crisis, I'd have next to no chance of finding work. So. A wee benefit each week, sufficient for my circumstances with no strings attached is my lot at the moment and I've no complaints. And to top it all a surprise letter 2 weeks ago informed me that I'm to receive a little something from the estate of one of my Aunts who died last year. Which means that I might be able to afford a cheap trip or two abroad this coming summer. I fancy Torremolinos for a few days!! All in all, life seems a little rosier now. I've even got a free bus pass for the whole of the country!! Not to mention a clubcard for Tescos!! I wonder if that is of any use in The Ship for Sunday Lunch?

I've had a go at making a cake (under the watchful eye of Mum), a Victoria sponge. In fact I've had 3 goes. First one was stodgy, second one less so and the third got the thumbs up and all with homemade lemon curd in the middle. So no more Mr Kipling. Here's something soupy though. I call it "All the Twos" but its actually :

Carrot & Coriander Soup (makes quite a lot)

2lb Carrots
2 Onions
2 Cloves garlic
2 heaped Tspns Coriander Seed
2 Ounces Fresh Coriander (including stalks)
2 litres Chicken Stock

Dice the carrot, onion and garlic and chuck in a big pot. Grind the Coriander Seed and throw that in as well. Add the 2 litres of Stock and cook until all is tender. Except, when nearly done trim the green coriander of any rooty ends, roughly chop and throw in to the pot then let it all finish cooking for the final few minutes. Blitz smooth and serve with a swirl of cream and some hot bread. (I bought a couple of small baguettes that needed finishing in the oven.)    

Monday, 9 November 2009

Early Warning

For the last few months I have been pestered, via SMS, by Vodaphone to go to one of their shops and pass over my "details" in order to comply with The Law and not lose my Mobile Telephone number. After the usual 2am finish last night I got home and put an alarm on for an early rise this morning in order to do that. At the shop I joined a lengthy queue only to find out, when my turn came, that there wasn't a problem with my account, ie, they already had my details!!

Last night I overheard that the Spanish Government is going to implement a full Smoking ban in line with the rest of the EU. Although I haven't actually read or heard the news for myself I understand that the rule will come into force this coming January.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Up and Running

The pleasant weather (for this time of year at least) continues albeit with some fresh winds blowing most evenings causing problems with bar terraces and the like. Rain is being forecast for the end of next week but that's a little while yet and the outlook may change in the interim.

My usual Sunday jaunt to The Ship isn't happening today because I have to work tonight to help cover Teresa's absence while she undertakes a visit home to Ireland. The bar continues to do well relative to others in the local area and plans are now being made to capitalize on that good fortune by making changes to the interior to provide extra seating space for the times when the terrace is not an attractive proposition weatherwise.

With Ole-Erik's help all the way from Oslo I have started to setup a website for the bar. A work always in progress of course, as websites inevitably are, the site can now be accessed at Of particular interest, judging by the idea's succcess in the bar itself, is an archive of photos taken of visitors to the bar. These are uploaded immediately into a slideshow running on the bar's Apple Mac computer thereby allowing folk to see themselves enjoying their visit to Teresa's. Most then ask if they can download their photo for themselves so there is a "Gallery" on the website where that job can be done once they get home.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Back online

It seems that Autumn is well and truly with us now - rain is beginning to feature regularly in the weather forecasts and yesterday evening a prolonged and quite heavy downpour caught everybody napping, including me, despite "a shower or two" having been forecast days ahead. The local road gullies were turned into rushes of escaping water, in places well over a metre wide and, often, 2 inches or so deep which gave rise to very wet feet by the time I had paddled home from work. More of the same is due today and tomorrow although, looking out over my terrace you wouldn't think so, a warm 21C presently with blueish skies and good sunny intervals. But I've always said that the Spanish Met Office doesn't often get it wrong so I'll go out today better prepared for what might be in store.

I left Larisa's way back on Friday 11th September, to return to Torremolinos, not able to tell her exactly where I would be living because I didn't know myself. I knew that I had somewhere to go but did not know where it was. Teresa met me with a key and showed me in through the frontdoor of a nice studio apartment (bedsit), a little bigger than the one I had before and with an airy terrace looking out over a communal swimming pool and grassed garden area. Having settled in and taken possession of the Internet Dongle that I was being allowed to borrow I promptly caused Lary problems in that I started to use my phone SIM in the dongle thereby rendering myself incommunicado. Using the SIM in that way proved very expensive because it was not running on an Internet Access Tariff and I very soon realised that I had to splash out on my own dongle (a USB Modem) complete with its own SIM running on a better tariff for Internet use. That is done so here I am. Larisa had tried to contact me on numerous occasions through the first few weeks of my being here and, getting no answer, even enlisted her friends around Torre to look out for me. No luck for her there either because I do not go up into town very ofen these days. But, with a dongle bought and my phone SIM back where it belonged we made contact 2 weeks ago Sunday and met along the Paseo Maritimo not far from here, then, having seen where I'm now staying, and Teresa's Bar where I'm working, she went home seemingly happy about my lot.

Katia is taking English lessons twice a week and yesterday, seeing me logged into Skype, took the opportunity to engage me in an IM session so that she could practise. She is getting very good now, our hour-long "conversation" giving me a chance to practise Spanish as well, and told me that she hopes to be able to go to New York for a few months in the not too distant future once she is confidant enough in speaking English. I've promised that the next time we meet on Skype I'll call her voice-to-voice and give her a chance to practise more. She tells me that there are no English speakers around her over there in Omsk and once a lesson is over "that's it" until the next one. So, we'll see what can be done via Skype - me in Spanish and her in English, and vice-versa through any difficult bits!

Teresa continues to do well in the bar, beating local competition in the battle for trade more often than not which is very gratifying bearing in mind that she has been unable to get a music licence or a TV licence. Her bar's reputation as a nice place to go is spreading far and wide via word-of-mouth and cards and flyers that she has had printed, there hardly being a day go by when somebody, just arrived in Spain for a holiday, doesn't come in asking "is this the Teresa's Bar that I have been told about back home." The next few months may well be difficult but with the building reputation all the signs are good for her future. I'm in the process of constructing a website for the bar which, when finished and online, will include a Gallery section where folk who are willing to be photographed in the bar can view and download their very own momento once they return home. There are a fair few photos already in the bag so my work is cut-out for the next few weeks but I'll get there in the end!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Saved by a Belle

I have found work and acommodation which will keep me going for a little while yet. So, no flight out on Friday. This is going to be a difficult post....I'm finding it hard to find the words with which to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped me these last few weeks so I'm just going to list names because they'll all know why they are mentioned.....Lisa, Ward and Martin. Ann and Bill. David. Cristina. Keith. Margaret and Christy. Erica. Teresa (the belle of my title, more of why later) and Dave. Tina and Barry. And Larisa, who really meant what she said last year, -mi casa, tu casa-.

This last week "home" has been with her here in Calahonda where we've spent the time together gardening out on her terrace splitting and repotting all the shubbery, swimmimg in the pool, shopping, cooking and generally having an otherwise lazy time in front of Russian TV (I've nearly learnt her alphabet off the screen.) and now, sat in a cafe next to the local supermarket where there is a poorly advertised hotspot that I only realized existed yesterday I have just been called and told to buy a kilo of Sardines for lunch. No lickee fingers...that's the rule! But will old habits die? For my sake, I hope so.

Early last year I helped a lonely and very homesick lady get onto her feet after arriving to start a new life here in Spain. Teresa has never forgotten that and has always said that she will never allow me to go back to the UK if it's in her power to do so. Her bar is going from success to more success and she has now offered me my job back on the strength of that success. And I'm grateful. Included in the deal is the use of an apartment for a while (for free) that she knows of nearby the bar which, all in all, should give me time to get reorganised and maybe allow me to followup the possibilty that I can go back to that bar/restaurant in Playamar and be trained as a professional cook through the winter period. So, to kick things off, I'll be moving back to Torre on Friday, starting work with her in the evening. And to top it all I'm being lent a PAYG internet dongle to keep myself online more easily.

I'd better go and get the Sardines.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Winding it all Up

Teresa called this morning to ask if I would work with her this evening in her bar. Despite the fact that time is becoming tight with regard to finishing getting packed and clearing and cleaning the apartment I can't ignore an opportunity to top the coffers up a little, so, I'm offline at the moment (it's 2pm) and taking time out from the chores to, not only write this, but give some thought to the last few days plan of action over a cuppa in the light of her request.

Due to the airlines' restrictions on weight (9 or 10 euros for each excess kilo) I'm only going to bring clothes and toiletries etc. Sounds drastic but really it isn't...the rest of my possessions just about all belong in the kitchen and most of those will be staying here in Torremolinos. Today I'm continuing to sort my wardrobe out, disposing of those things I feel that I will not need back home, those that are worn out or damaged and those that I haven't actually used in a good long while. Tomorrow clear and clean the balconies, bathroom and bedroom and Saturday the same for the Kitchen, larder, fridge and freezer. Actually I've been running down my foodstocks during this last week, making all sorts of wierd and not so wonderful concoctions to get stuff used up, the latest being a batch of veg soup into which I tipped the last of the Pearl Barley that I had. Turned out to be too much and its overpowering presence in each bowlful is not pleasing, but there you go. Saturday will also see me pass on the stuff that is staying here, giving me even more room to wield the mop and bucket. Saturday evening I'm going for a meal with Ann, Bill, Kathy and David as I've mentioned before. Then, on Sunday morning, I plan to finally finish all the necessary cleaning and then go along to The Ship (as usual) for an hour or so before calling Larisa to tell her that I'm ready to go to her.

She doesn't have the Internet in the apartment and, having never had occasion to need it in Calahonda, I have absolutely no idea where the nearest Hotspot is with which to keep in touch. Non doubt there is one somewhere but for my purposes SMS will suffice to let you know my eventual flight details if nothing else.

As for "ItsMeInTorre", the end really is nigh but I've been asked, and even told, not to let my blog die. So perhaps I won't. And on that note I have to, again, thank those who have been emailing me lately, your thoughts and comments have been appreciated.


I'll be Moving

As she promised that she would Larisa rang a little earlier and I'll now be going to Calahonda just as soon as I'm ready to vacate my apartment, probably Monday. There I can stay while waiting for the airfares to drop, which may mean until the 2nd week in September.