Monday, 31 December 2007

New Year Torre Style

New Years Eve, pretty chilly through the morning but now, at 2 o'clock, a mild 16C/60F. Today at 7pm I'm due at Tina & Barrys' for an Indian Takeaway. 7pm for aperitifs followed by the delivery at 8pm of a takeaway from a local Indian restaurant. Beryl & Randy are also invited and we've had great fun choosing our wants from the extensive menu the restaurant provided. The plan beyond the meal is to celebrate the New Year at the bar which Beryl is going to open at 11pm or so. As for me ..I have the day off, yippee, although if it gets busy tonight I have agreed to help out if needed. Which puts me in a dilemma of course, to drink or not to drink, running a bar is like driving...it shouldn't be done "under the influence". But there are at least 9 hours to go so I'm having a glass of Red Wine or two while I cook a lunch of Fried Eggs, Pork Sausage and Bubble & Squeak. Cecilia called in to the bar on Boxing Day and gave me a little tub of Duck Fat (or Grease as she called it) having, I presume, reclaimed it after her Xmas Day Roast. Bubble & Squeak should traditionally be made with Lard but Duck Fat is worth a try and that is what is going to happen here in my kitchen, using up the Xmas Sprouts that are just beginning to go yellow on the outside leaves and Potatoes that have not yet sprouted. One man and his plan again, using up rather than throwing away and the Scottish Butcher in Fuengirola Market makes awesome Pork Sausages which for me here in Spain are not everyday normalities but more of a Christmas/New Year treat. I actually wanted his Pork & Herb but he'd sold out on Xmas Eve when I went shopping. Talking of using up, yesterday I knocked up a good few litres of Vegetable Soup using the Xmas veg still left (saving behind a few sprouts for today's planned meal) and even included the last of the Turkey Soup for added flavour instead of a Chicken Stock Cube. It's the old, old story of course: on Christmas Day you really look forward to the first bowl of Turkey Soup but by New Year's Eve you've "had enough". The Marx Brothers had the right idea.

Last night Tina & Barry "surfaced" in the bar after disappearing since the last (for me) meal at theirs. We were all getting worried, I'd even suggested that Christopher Columbus was wrong and that they had fallen of the edge of the world, but no, they had family visiting from Italy over Christmas and their celebration was kept quite private. Tina sat next to me last night in the bar and told me in no uncertain terms to wear my waistcoat today. "Never mind what's been said, you get dressed up in that waistcoat again, you hear!!" Of course, today it doesn't matter, I'm not on duty, so I can wear what I want and if I have to help, well, we are within the normal hours of opening anyway. No problem. I am going to wear it, but I can't remember the colour shirt that Hilde recommended. Yes I can, but I haven't got one. Ooops, there could be "trouble" tonight if she turns up for a New Year drink at the bar.

Never must I forget that there is more to life than Torremolinos. There is also Omsk where a certain young lady will be celebrating the New Year AND her Birthday 5 hours ahead of us here in Spain. So, before I leave the apartment tonight my priority is to send an email which I know she will be looking for at, or just after, her midnight mark. When I say that I mean that she will check the timestamp, she will not be able to actually access the internet until she can get to a public access point in the morning because I know that she doesn't have immediate access at home. Check the timestamp?? Oh yes, last time she went home I went to America and the timestamp gave all away, remember?....so, she'll check, believe me, she'll check!!

1635 I've just had an SMS from Austen, he's on his way home, probably at the Dominican Republic's airport right now so he'll be in the air come midnight. "Happy New Years" are exchanged. Aaron is working but I'll send a txt anyway, he just might receive it on time if he is not too busy dealing with misdemeanors on the roads of Manchester.

1730 and the message to Larisa is drafted and waiting for me to press the send button. Midnight that side of Moscow is 7pm here so I'll send it just as I leave the apartment for the evening's celebrations.

And finally....The Indian meal with Tina, Barry, Beryl & Randy was good, and, despite being a takeaway, was up to the standard I've come to expect from that particular restaurant (the newest in Town and, arguably, the best) then along to the Bar at about 2245 to open up where we found that the mop was required to clear up an "old" touch of the floods in the loos. I popped across the road into The Ship to see the folk in there where I found quite a 'do' warming up but after one vodka I slipped back to Ana's to see the New Year in. Only trouble was that, despite a customer cracking open 2 bottles of Cava and sharing them round, there was not much, if any, of a party atmosphere developing so.....back to The Ship where I found Lisa cajoling, conducting and choreographing the assembled throng and generally setting a fun mood ready for 1am (or the English New Year). The radio provided the chimes, and with the crowd providing the cheer 2008 swept in on a tide of alcohol as usual. All good fun. Aaron sent a txt at 0330 to say that he was in "the office" with his first 'nick' of the year (a driver under the influence). I sent back that I was going to walk home, which I did and was in bed by 4am I think.

Friday, 28 December 2007

A tale of One Christmas (cont'd)

Sorry 'bout keep having to do continuances but I run out of time these days when writing due to the fact that it takes a long time and I have to break to go to work and when I get home I have to eat etc. rather than get on with things here. What I have been doing is leaving a more follows----> tag at the bottom as I work on the post through the day (when necessary) and I'm going to continue doing that until the post is totally complete in future which means that, over more than a day, despite no additional post (such as this one) there may be more at the bottom of the latest, and will be, until the more follows---> is removed.

Christmas Dinner cont'd
I'd left the prep of the starter deliberately so that she could get involved if she should ask to be allowed to help, which she did. And that was followed by helping me set the table etc. I'd thought that I would leave taking photos out of it but now I wish that I had because the table looked nice with a Christmassy tablecloth, a pair of red candles and other bits and bobs. Talking about photos I remembered later that I hadn't stopped the apartment cams and checked to see if she was in any of the shots at 1530 when they would have taken their last snaps of the day. She was. Sat at the table, and also you can see the bag containing the little gift of perfumes that I'd bought. The meal was good. Nothing was spoilt, everything turned out as intended so my worries about burning stuff turned out to be groundless. Lary had never seen bread sauce before and (believe it or not) wasn't too sure about what to do with the gravy, preferring to drink a cupful of it rather than pour it over her meal. That said, she helped herself to more meat and veg which, for me, was a silent accolade. Then we shared one mince pie and cream because we were both quite well "stuffed".

As I write (28th) she has returned to Russia, having left here yesterday. Her date for the operation she needs keeps being deferred, latest being not til February. So she has decided to get it done back home where she can pay to be fast-tracked through the procedures. She has an appointment on the 3rd Jan to get things organised and said that she would be back within a month. In the meantime we have email with which to keep in contact and she has promised to bring back "something Russian" for me. My face must have been a picture as she was telling me, because she kept repeating "you do understand, I'm going to Russia on 27th, but I'll be back within a month". In actual fact that may be exactly what's going on in the snap.

Austen was up early on Christmas Day because I received a txt all the way from The Dominican Republic at 12-34pm which for him would have been 06-30am or 07-30am and I spoke to Aaron on Boxing Day as I promised him I would - he has had Christmas off but has to work the New Year so I'm not expecting a midnight "happy new year" txt from him and I don't know whether Austen is back or not. So it looks like the New Year might be unusually quiet for me what with Lary being in Russia as well (it's also her Birthday don't forget). I have the day off, and am invited to Tina & Barry's along with Beryl & Randy for a celebratory meal (Indian Takeaway) before retiring to Ana's for the midnight mark. And that's it for now.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

A Tale of One Christmas

Christmas Eve's photos have been processed so I can give you an idea of that meal with Hilde and her friends. My little Digital Camera is not very good in the dim light, the flash range is very limited so these have had to be artificially brightened somewhat which rather alters the colour balance. Anyway, the first three are views of the restaurant setting, our table is to the right in the top image where my whiteshirted arm can just be seen poking out from behind the standing figure. The middle photo is our table, I was seated to the right of the Lady in the white jacket and Hilde has her back to camera, sporting a ponytail. Next, a view of the table setting. The folk are all Dutch friends of Hilde so I was unable to understand much of the conversation although both Hilde and the Lady with the glasses spent much time translating for me. I'm not quite sure why it happened but at the end of the meal we joined forces with another table (out of camera in all the shots) and I rounded the evening off talking to an English Woman who's name now escapes me. Finally, to give credit where credit is due, there is a picture of the kitchen and staff. The meal was excellent, Hilde's friend Yvonne, the restaurant's owner (in the black top) excelled as chef and the other ladies made sure the evening went as smoothly as humanly possible. As I've already mentioned, after calling into Ana's Bar and then The Ship (to wish Lisa a Happy Christmas), I got home at just on 2am quite the happy chappy.


While I'm in the mood to upload photos I'll do a couple more for you so that faces can go with names so to speak. First one of (L)Ana-Mary, (C)Favio and (R)Beryl, none of whom require any introduction, they are usually mentioned in all the posts (letters) I write these days. And finally, Hilde, also fairly frequently mentioned here lately. From Rotterdam I believe. Likes a good laugh does Hilde, usually at my expense!! But I get my own back now and again.

Christmas Dinner
While waiting for 1 o'clock to arrive I busied myself prepping the Turkey, the veg and doing a thousand and one other jobs that I found in order to make the time pass. Lary arrived half-an-hour late due to missing the train or there not being one and having to catch a bus. I was watching the steps on the webcam and gave her a quiet "hello" from the terrace to acknowledge her arrival. A little earlier (at 10 to 1) I'd received a txt from Aaron telling me that he had just tried to ring but couldn't get through. I sent back that I would call him on Boxing day as I was waiting for Lary and couldn't talk anyway.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

My favourite day. I'm going to leave this post open and add to it as I go through the day, so scroll down on your visits to make sure that you miss nothing! Why my favourite? The anticipation, the preparation and, OK, just a little celebration ahead of the big day all go to make it feel entirely different to any other. I've got the radio on playing some seasonly appropriate music, a couple of candles are burning, the fire is on and my tea is tasting good. Things are very cosy thankyou. I'm planning to catch the 0930 Parsnip Special to Fuengirola where I'm also going to try and find a suitable little gift for Lary. I had an email from Pam yesterday, Austen is in The Dominican Republic and Aaron is probably nickin' drunk drivers!! I'm looking forward to some contact with those two tomorrow although Austen may have difficulty. And of course, you. Nice to hear that the card(s) arrived in time. Also, it's nearly a whole year since I stopped smoking. A double celebration so let's get on with it......

1345
That's it, the shopping is all done, even down to the matches needed to light the brandy to flambe the Christmas Pud. If I've forgotten anything it'll have to stay forgot! Kettle's boiling...a well earned cuppa. And while I'm drinking that I'll have a think about my menu :-

Prawn Cocktail
Langostinos & Mussels dressed in cocktail sauce served on a layered bed of Romano lettuce and fresh crabmeat and then topped with "caviar" and fresh mango.
Roasted Turkey with Sage & Onion Stuffing Balls.
Served on a Rosti Pancake with Bread Sauce and Cranberry preserve and accompanied by Bacon wrapped Chipolatas, Roast Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots, Roast Parsnips, Cauliflower and Asparragus
Christmas Pudding
Flambed in Brandy and served with Cream

Hmmmm....I might need to be up early!! Sounds good though. Had I known that things were going to pan out the way that they have for tomorrow I wouldn't have arranged the meal out tonight because I really don't think that I can afford the time, but, too late now.

1830 and it is time to go out. I'm popping in to see (English) Erica first in the bar that she is working in then it's on to meet up with Hilde and the rest for a Dutch Dinner. Still a lot to do here so it'll be a late night for me no doubt (including the "finish" in Ana's later) but I've scrubbed-up well as usual so I'm not going to waste the effort. See you later....

0155 I'm back indoors after a nice night out. For the others whom I was with the night continues but I have a meal to prepare tomorrow and I cannot afford to spend time celebrating tonight when, for me, tomorrow is so much more important. The dinner tonight was fabulous and Hilde has been given my full permission to congratulate the restaurant staff on their effort and a job well done on my behalf. But right now I have other things on my mind, including taking things out of the freezer to defrost etc etc ready for (what is probably) the most important meal of my life. Sounds dramatic? You bet. And I'll probably be back with a fresh post in 3 or 4 hours, this one is now closed, I'm going to bed.

Mad Panic

Larisa didn't decline. She said yes. Oh lordy. I've never cooked a full-blown Turkey Dinner for anybody else so it's bound to go wrong, Sods Law dictates such things. Shops early tomorrow for fresh Veg and stuff to finish off my menu then check through the apartment, all the while chewing fingernails. Favio and Ana-Mary gave me a Hamper yesterday (I've not long got it home and opened it to see what's inside) and I think that the bottles contained therein might yield a "calmer downer" that I could do with right now. Only joking of course. No I'm not. Why does she do this to me, put me in a 2 'n 8 so to speak? Luckily I've got a day off tomorrow (which is actually today now) so I think that I can get everything sorted by the time I go to the Dutch Restaurant for dinner.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

It's not True

The rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plain! For 39 hours now we have been inundated with water almost continuously and...oops....there's the first flash & bang.....exactly as forecast much has been extremely heavy. Which is why I'm up, the noise is enough to stop me from sleeping. And now we have thunder. Good 'ere innit! Costa del Agua. The neighbour is up and about as well by the sound of it so I'm not the only light sleeper round here. Another flash and...yes....not too far away judging by the time interval to the bang. Funnily enough the website weather reports are only showing Mist and that's because the 'METAR' from Station LEMG (Malaga Aeropuerto) seems to be defying convention - showing both Mist and Heavy Rain as the weather phenomenon, although mist and rain do not normally go together. Strange. Maybe there's a new boy on the job who can't tell exactly why he can't see very far so he's hedging his bets. There is also a software issue here as well because the available information is not being properly decoded. The first 'weather phenomenon' element in the METAR is "BR" (Mist) followed by "+RA" (Heavy Rain) but only the first is being read by the decoder.

Midday
I'm back up again after a bad nights sleep due to the noise of the rain and I have just sent a txt inviting Larisa to Christmas Dinner with me here at the apartment. She's probably already organised and will decline, we'll see. I also sent her one on Friday asking about seeing her over this weekend and she called me back by voice! Needless to say the comms totally failed due to my inability to understand what she was saying.

Yesterday I broke the record again in the bar. A busy session. And today I'm expecting to have to host a singsong so it could be another good one. Favio must be pleased with the way things are going because as I tried to leave last night (having returned after dinner for a nightcap) Ana-Mary told me to wait, "Favio has something to give to you". A box of bottles by the sound of it but I couldn't bring them home because it was chucking it down at the time so I left them there under the watchful eye of Beryl. It was also nice to meet someone from the UK who reads this blog and came in to meet me in person.

The supermarket got the Turkey joint packs in on Thursday, better late than never I suppose, and I now have mine. I have to do shopping for veg tomorrow (in Fuengirola where I can get a parsnip) then I'm all set. It's a normal day in the bar on Christmas Day so I have to be there at 5pm which means that my Dinner has to be cooked and eaten a little earlier than I would really like but never mind, I have tomorrow off. Beryl is going to open at 11pm or thereabouts which is why I have been able to book a meal in the evening at the restaurant run by Hilde's friend. "Meet me at 7-15 by the lift" she said last night over the bar, to which someone else responded that it is shut between 6 and 7....they think. "OK, I'll make my own way up the steps to make sure that I am not late" I answered. I hope the rain lets up.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Get Derek!!

Well, I was planning to go and get some mince today to stuff a pepper with but stuff that, it's raining, it's cold and it's just downright miserable outside so I'll stuff myself later with something else that doesn't involve going shopping. Talking about stuffing, Tina & Barry's meal yesterday was the stuff of 5 star restaurants. Incredibly delicious. I'm not going to give an account of it blow by blow but the starter, a prawn cocktail, deserves special mention and a copy of their creation will be produced here in My Kitchen quite soon. I did wear the jacket that Juan gave me plus matching trousers, shirt and tie and turned up at the their door to "gould luv us ducky, we're all dressed up, got somewhere to go have we?" I thought that I looked the "bee knees". In fact, I was so pleased with my appearance that I went straight on to work after rather than change into something else at the apartment on the way by.

Mistake. I should have known better. David and Ann called in on the way back from the shops and David just loves a tease. Later, after they had left I was standing in the doorway rocking on my heels when Juan himself drove up and with a squeal of brakes skidded to a stop just past me. A quick flick into reverse and through the electrically opening window as he backed up came "muy guapo, ohh la la!" I gave him a twirl there and then after which, and with a satisfied smile, he went on his way "to watch football, see you later maybe."

Life was suddenly quiet again. Barry came by and dropped off the Loaf Tin I'd asked him to get for me on one of his shopping trips (he goes to shops where they sell that kind of thing, I don't). 8 euros changed hands and I now have the technology to make my own bread. And why not, my new chef's assistant came with a dough hook and I want to put it to good use. Then a group of noisy Geordies called in. "Sorry about all the swearing guv". "There are no ladies present so I'm not unduly bothered " I replied, which they accepted, and after 1 round left, heading back to their hotel and, probably for some, the mother of all headaches.

All quiet again so I put a Queen disc in the player and began listening to Freddie Mercury. "You are all on your alone Derek!" "Yes Hilde, will it be your usual?" "Yes, I take just one then I go home, I have been to Benalmadena with my girlfriend, to a Japanese restaurant, I just get back and I am tired." Now, I've got a tie on and I can't hide that fact and I'm getting worried that she's going to tease about that because I suddenly remembered her telling me some months ago "DON'T wear a tie!! No!!" But she preferred to talk about her meal and gave me a colour brochure from the restaurant to back up her description of what she ate. When I tried to give it back to her she said "no, it is for you". As it happens I do want to try Japanese food sometime and now have a picture of what suchi and suchimi look like. I offered her another wine 'on me' which she didn't refuse..."oh all right, I stay for just one more then I go home!" Yes Hilde.

The reason why I'm working is of course because Beryl et al have gone to dinner with Ana-Mary and Favio. Having finished the meal Favio taxied everybody back to the bar and in they came. Sober. Sober? "Too much food, no time to drink, give me a vodka, quick" said Randy (Beryl's American Husband). "Muy elegante, muy elegante" beamed Ana-Mary in my direction. Why thankyou said I in return. Then this american accent came back over the bar "yeah, but shame about the tie" Here we go. Get Derek. Again. "What's wrong with the tie?" "Too, er, thin, and anyway, where's the funeral?" "It's brown not black, I'm colour cordinated" I countered, laying the tie over my arm and the jacket sleeve to press home my point. "Well, it's still too thin". And on the banter went over the first drink that was Favio treat, who with a faint nod towards Hilde's glass had silently told me to top hers up as well. "No, please, I go home now". Too late. She did eventually grasp an opportunity to leave, vacating her stool that was then very shortly reoccupied by Lisa. Lisa works in a bar along the road and usually closes before Ana's Bar does, sometimes calling in for a wind-down snifter on her way home. She adores cats and the local moggies adore her, very often following her as she goes on her ways and, tonight, she'd had to put up with the noisy Geordies before I did and was glad to have a moment or two of relaxation at the bar I think.

"Ana-Mary has told me that you have an admirer" announced Beryl. Oh! Was I the topic of conversation over the canapes? But, and before I could comment, back came that American accent again, "yeah, and she's insane!!" More banter followed during which it began to become clear that I was not going to be told who this insane admirer was. Lisa was taken into the confidence. But not me. I began to guess (in my own mind) and actually got it right because Ana-Mary eventually relented and gave me a rock-solid clue or two. I've met the Lady once. She is not insane, she's actually a Lawyer but does lead a stressful life coping with an elderly and infirm Mother I believe.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Lunch Party

Today I'm invited to Tina & Barry's along with Ann & Bill for lunch. 1-15 for 1-30 is my instruction. So shortly I've got to iron some clothes and I think that I'll give that Jacket Juan gave me an airing. Tina & Barry dropped into the bar yesterday and dropped some hints about the menu today but it is still more-or-less a surprise. I have said that I'll take along a bottle of Malaga Virgen for Aperitifs so first I've got to go to the corner shop to get one.

Yesterday Cecilia came in after a short absence. I'd thought that her disappearance was due to the fact that she'd gone to Mexico to join her Husband who has been posted there by his firm. But I was wrong. Anyway on her way back to her apartment last evening she called in and gave me a load of Plum Tomatoes and Red Peppers that she'd bought on her travels. Tomato Chutney seems like a good idea and stuffed peppers is also on the agenda now but, first, Tina's soiree and then a full session in the bar until closing because Beryl & Randy are going to Dinner tonight with Ana-Mary and Favio leaving me in charge. I'm quite looking forward to the day (which is cold, grey and threatening to be quite wet).

Saturday, 15 December 2007

An Early Goal!

Re: Ann She brought David into the bar to see me yesterday just after I'd opened. He's improving rapidly, his drinking arm has lost it's cramp and his face is showing signs of a smile now and then. Ann was, of course, her usual radiant self, wrapped up well in a heavy overcoat to keep the chill out, bemoaning the fact that she's lost a few ounces and is trying to find them again. She stayed for 45mins or so until she perceived that David was showing signs of tiredness and then gently helped him out, down the step at the door, and away home.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Cut & Dried

That's the Christmas Cards away. Hopefully I'm in time although word is that the last day for posting was the 12th. A little blustery outside today with plenty of grey clouds around and some extensive rainfall evident on the Eastern horizon which, on the easterly wind, could be coming our way. I've just got back from Leena's Hair Salon in the nearby hotel having had my hair cut (and a free blow-dry while walking back home). So now I'm all set for the Christmas and New Year Festive season which kicks off here on Sunday as far as I'm concerned with a (late) lunch with Tina & Barry. Tina has invited several people and been kind enough to schedule everything to accomodate my need to get to work at 5pm. Beryl and her husband are invited by Favio and Ana-Mary for Dinner in the evening so I have agreed to work through until close on Sunday. A busy day all-in-all.

One of the regulars (Juan) in the bar gave me a rather expensive Jacket the other day. Having bought and worn it just 2 or 3 times he decided that it wasn't "him" and looked for a new home for it. Me. Now I just need to elicit some help in finding a matching pair of trousers so a certain young lady will be press-ganged just as soon as the opportunity arises. Maybe the combo can then become my "new Party Frock" for the meal on Christmas Eve (the menu of which, incidently, I have not been able to clarify because Hilde did not have the info in her handbag last night when I spoke to her).

Re: Ann
David tells that she is steadily improving each and every day and I am pleased to hear that she has set herself a 'goal'...to gain enough strength to accompany him one day next week to the bar followed by a meal in one of the local eateries. Life is getting back to normal, slowly but surely.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Yorkshire Tea & Crumpet

"Can we bring you anything back from Gibraltar?" asked Ann S a week or so ago "because we are going there for a day or two soon". My shopping list was Yorkshire Tea and Beef Suet. They (her and Bill) came into the bar earlier this evening sporting a carrier bag. "For you" said she. "15Euros" said he. Deal done I poked a nose in - Yorkshire Tea, no Suet but, and wait for it......., crumpets!! "Couldn't get Beef Suet, they only had the veggie one". OK, the puds are on hold, dumplings I am doing suet-less now anyway but I could die for a bit of crumpet. I reckon that Ann's got a seventh sense or maybe she reads this blog or maybe I natter about things in the bar. Who cares. I got 6 crumpets. Well, I did have, they are all gone now. Some greedy bugger ate the lot earlier and is now suffering indigestion bigstyle. But I now know that my homemade ones are very close to the mark; just got to get the right number of holes in each one. I must get back on that quest having also proved tonight that the Marmite idea works very well. Oh yes.

Quick trip back down to the bar after dinner for indigestion medication. ???. "I got something for you Derek". Eh? What is this, Christmas? Oh, hello Hilde. "You want know what to eat? My friend has made menus, you should choose and me tell". Isn't Dutch so much like English!? There's a little story to this actually. Yesterday, before I went back to the bar after dinner, Beryl had said to Hilde that Derek wants to know what the menu is. "I don't tell him, it's a surprise" said she. When I walked in she repeated that..."I don't tell you what you eat, Derek, it's a surprise" My vacant expression caught Beryl's attention and she explained what had come to pass in the previous hour or so. I can't remember the rest of the banter that passed but Hilde enjoys a good giggle and that she had for sure. But now she has my choice of Prawns in Whisky sauce, Steak Fillet Roses in another kind of sauce and Salmon Fillet in yet another kind of sauce (I wrote it down for her but not for me. Tomorrow I'll clarify it all here.) But it all sounds very nice, Chef has me sorted at least and I'm happier about how my 40 euros is to be spent. It's a champagne reception by the way.

As for my Vodka, sorry, medication - it was taken in solitude after Hilde left. Favio will play Spanish music, loudly....it's Tuesday you see, Beryl's night off. My shift went very nicely, thankyou.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Complete Closure

Tina & Barry had a wee little celebration yesterday in the bar; they closed the sale of the Red Lion earlier in the day after delays amounting to 5 weeks or so while Bureaurcracy untangled the red tape it had got all twisted. So, that's it, the Red Lion is no more, dead and buried, gone forever. Mine ex hosts are now bumping into people who did not know and have come to Torre expecting a Christmas Dinner, a New Year Bash etc etc in their favourite venue only to find that there is nothing. I'm sure that Tina was telling me yesterday over the bar that some have vowed never to return because Torremolinos is "not the same anymore". Some legacy.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Here's more.....

Pipe Nightmares
I think that Favio is at his wit's end. Obviously digging the floor up is, at the end of the day, all things considered, going to cost an awful lot of money. Probably a necessary evil but just right now not one he seems prepared to face up to. Next move is, I believe, to employ a camera, poke it down the pipe from one of the toilet pedestal terminals in order to find out just what is going on. At least doing that might mean that the hole can be dug in the right place and kept to a manageable (costwise) size. In the meantime though, yesterday, Ana-Mary (Favio's wife) found herself mopping out while she was finishing decorating the tree and I noticed Favio himself doing it again somewhile later during the family get-together they held in the bar last evening. Of course due to my cold I can't smell it! Welcome relief. But enough about pipes. Talking to Ana-Mary while she was with me last night (decorating the tree) she was kind enough to comment that my Spanish is coming along very well. Which can, in no small way, be attributed to my lack of the Russian language and Larisa's lack of English and that brings me on to my favourite subject..........

Never say No
My cancellation last Friday was not taken lying down. Oh no. Part of the "Get well ditty" I received was a recipe for a Salt & Bicarb gargle and a mention of "Crema Antiseptika." Then Saturday morning, 11am, my convalescent snoozing in bed was disturbed with "Hello how are you? Well I hope" to which I replied "Sore throat is better but now I have a Cold and still staying in bed. I'll call you when I'm better" That should do it - peace and quiet for a few days. Nope. Saturday evening, 8-30pm, while at work, I got "If tomorrow you are well you can come to my place to eat". I gave in - "OK, what time?" And got immediately back "1200, 1300, when you want. Call me when you are on the way and I'll meet you at the bustop" She had a cold just the other week remember? I left her alone until she called, having recovered, remember? But she knows that I am not at death's door because she knows I am still going to work every evening 'cos I told her, so she's got me by the short 'n curlies, no excuses.

You no Listen?
This last weekend, actually starting last Thursday, has been a major National Holiday with shops closed left, right and centre. But luckily, yesterday, Sunday, the Supermarkets opened for a few hours to catch up on lost trade so I was able to buy a bottle of plonk to take with me. "Marquesa de something-or-other" it was. A half-decent dry white.

Here we are in early December hurtling towards Christmas at umpteen thousand miles-an-hour through space only to find me txting from Fuengirola that I'm catching the 1145am 220 in 25C in the shade!!! There must be some truth in this Global Warming mullarkey. Some while later, still clutching said bottle and with streaming eyes and running nose (yes I know, but life ain't always just about roses) I met her as arranged, only to be greeted with "Mr Derek!! I said only if you are well!" 'Scuse me? I've been trying to tell you that I am not well for the last two days! "Did you make the gargle?" A diplomatic "yes" left my lips. Then I asked about the crema. "Ah. In Russia we can get a cream which you apply to the top of the throat with a suitable thingy but I don't think that you can get it here." Remind me not to ever go to Russia with a sore throat. I do NOT fancy a thingy stuck down my throat with a splodge of Antiseptic cream on the end. Give me a Zube any day. Continuing to natter (in Spanish of course), on we went up the hill. I'm sure that it was steeper this time and in the heat I began to leave much of my cold in little wet patches at my feet. But eventually we got to the top, indoors and then, out on the terrace in the (almost) searing heat, I was allowed to collapse onto a garden lounger.

No, sólo descansas!
I remember giving her something to do in my Kitchen that day I had her, Katy and David over for a Dinner Party and then having to watch her promptly "take-over" the whole caboodle. I actually enjoy the togetherness while squabbling over the potato peeler but my offer of help was met with "no, you just rest!" "Can I have some wine then?" "Yes, the corkscrew is in the drawer". "Do you have any ice? This wine is red hot" and out I went, back to the lounger. When I opened my eyes again a short while later (to a very soft and very Russian accented "pliz" - she was saying "por favor" in English) the terrace table was laid and ready and I hadn't heard a sound. Not one.

Seafood soup? No. Lentil Soup, Lentejas. Followed by Russian style Ravioli (with a salad). Knowing full well that I adore Lentejas just as much as I'm addicted to Seafood Soup she still asked "do you like Lentils". And she won't have forgotten that together we bought Ravioli for me in the Russian Grocers in Málaga once.

I wasn 't late for work, and conversation with Ana-Mary was easier. Practice (even with a Spanish speaking Russian) makes perfect. But I'm still not brave enough to use the phone properly. Body language and comprehension go hand-in-hand still. I never ask her to slow down either. Many foriegners here (including me) speak their Spanish quite slowly but Lary doesn't. She fires it off like a natural. Full of mistakes of course, because it's not her native tongue, but nevertheless full of confidence and nowadays I rarely misunderstand her. For me, talking to her is proving to be exceptionally good practise. I have never forgotten that day, a couple of years ago now, sat in Restaurante Lanjáron Neuvo when she said "talk to me" and my ensuing blank expression prompted her to pick up her Russian newspaper and start reading. I have never given her that excuse again. That was one salutory lesson, very cleverly exercised.

I've been given Katy's email address so that I can chase up those photos that she promised to send me and hasn't, yet.


Saturday, 8 December 2007

OKOKOK

The clamour has been deafening so I carry on (it's only gossip about me, by me, anyway).

Re: Ann The Doctor, on his rounds this morning, asked her if she'd like to go home. She was very quickly on the phone to David who organised her collection from the ward and she is now back at the apartment. Home.

Where was I? Oh yes, planning lunch with Lary. I cancelled. I sent her a txt at 8am yesterday (after a sleepness night) saying that I had a sore throat and was going to spend the day in bed until it would be time for work. Which I did. She sent back a "get better soon" ditty. Very nice. At work Beryl took pity and fetched me some lozenges to take. I had them all. 6 of them. All within the space of an hour or so. I'd also overdosed on Vits C and D through the day in an effort to minimise collateral damage due to the effluent problem (the stink) in the toilets. It's how I react to strong smells, I get a sore throat then a cold. Even a lady's (strong) perfume can trigger the reaction in me if I allow exposure for long enough. Anyway yesterday a lorry came; one of those things bristleing with pushers and pullers, suckers and blowers, brushes and dusters and a bloody great big tank to gulp the sludge into. Salvation. Er, no. They told Favio that "you gotta break, mate, in yer pipe. You need t'dig 'ole and put some band-aid rahnd it. Not our job, nuvver lorry, diff'rent union."

----there's more------->

Final Post

It appears that much of what I say here is perceived as gossip. So, this blog is now closed. My letters to my Mum will now go back to being private. Shame. Byebye

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Angels do Exist.

I lost custom today; turned one away while up to my neck in effluvium and then shut the doors for 45 mins while mopping up which, incidently, is beginning to give me a sore throat. Three incidences today, one of which was particularly bad...the stench was awful. Mind you the tree was decorated tonight. I must look up the meaning of Priority in the Oxford English. Never mind, tomorrow Lary is coming into town and hopefully we will meet for a few hours which will take my mind off the prospect of having to go to work and back to the mop. Actually it's a damn good job that I'm there in the early evening otherwise the "old" opening at 9pm would be fraught with problems. How's that song go? "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", she'll never know just how important the possibility of seeing her is just at this moment, her message at 2130 was manna from heaven.

Re: Ann I overheard David telling folk in the bar today that Ann might well be coming home at the end of next week. She is improving day by day.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

What a Smashing Time Lately

I smashed all previous records today, not only in the "take" but also in tips. I've actually made a profit on the day, even after a trip to the shops to buy a trolley load of goodies!!! And it all could have been better perhaps except that the toilets blocked up and most punters decided to leave rather than sit there with crossed legs. Understandable, but a shame; maybe Favio might now do something about the drainage system. He was pleased with November's figures and the way that things are already, December stands a good chance of being excellent businesswise, except for the toilet situation........

Re: ANN I didn't see David today but Ann S did and she tells me that Ann is in her own room, sitting in the bedside armchair every moment that she can, enjoying hospital life as best she can. David now has unlimited visiting etc etc. Won't be too long before she is home methinks.

Talking of Ann S....she had something to celebrate last week and before I could say "what the..." I found myself embroiled in a hectic dance session to a piece of music that she liked the beat of. It's a long time since I've done anything akin to a Ballroom Jive but I don't think that the snap taken by Elsa-Britt and Ole-Erik shows me disgracing myself. Maybe all the practise in the local discos with Larisa these last 3 years or so has held me in good stead for such a sudden, impromptu fling. But who can resist an invitation along the lines of "come 'ere you an' dance wiv me". I couldn't. And luckily I was off duty. Ann & Bill also invited me to lunch on Tuesday, for Steak and Kidney Pud. Oh boy, was I glad that a dinner date with Lary had fallen through (now tentatively rescheduled for the weekend sometime). With fresh Sprouts, brocolli, carrots and Roasties to die for it was a meal par excellance. Shame I had to go to work after and couldn't just sit down with a Port and some Stilton to finish off in style. But good job that I did go to work because I've now got a Christmas Meal booked for Christmas Eve, via Hilde, at a Dutch restaurant run by a friend of hers. A bit of Social Networking going on and jolly good too. As it won't be Turkey (that's not the Dutch way) I still plan to cook my own Turkey Dinner on Xmas Day just as I have done for the last 2 years.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Re: Ann

Last night David was telling me that Ann is continuing to improve, that she has got her appetite back and, hopefully, will be transferred from IC to the ward today.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The best laid plans.....

I did not get to cook last night after all. The lady (Cecilia) came in towards the end of my shift (which was quite busy all through) and we spent some while discussing my ideas about how to produce mock sauerkraut. I've promised to let her sample the finished dish which will incorporate some of her recommendations but I have to say that she favours me buying a jar of ready prepared; which I would do only I have a half cabbage that is otherwise going to go to waste. The rest of the evening was spent, at the bar, mulling over life with Hilde (the lady with whom I 'share' a particular bar stool, remember?)

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

If you don't ask......

I've spent a few hours today helping Ann & Bill move stuff from one box-room to another (here they are called Trasteros) and while doing so I came across a rather forlorn looking and very bored Kenwood Chef machine. After discreet enquiry I was allowed to bring it home. It is now in pristine condition and tonight is going to be put through its paces. The meal that I was given the other night was, as I guessed, based on Sauerkraut (this time I've spelt it correctly) and I rather enjoyed it so tonight, with my new 'Chef', I'm going to shred some cabbage and try to emulate that meal without having to wait for the cabbage to ferment. What I was given was the French version, Choucroute. Whether mine will be anything like it I don't know but at least it'll be one my day's "five".

Re: Ann

The surgery has been successful. An infection and abscess were found. During the 90min procedure the abscess was removed and the remaining infection is to be treated with antibiotics. She has been receiving family visitors since recovery last night.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Re: Ann

The medical procedures have not worked so earlier this evening Ann was to undergo surgery to deal with the blocked intestine. As I write (2230) I have no further news.

Re: Ann & David - Update

Ann has been re-admitted to hospital. David called the Doctor to her after she woke up vomiting. She has a blocked intestine which they are trying to sort medically and if they can't then they will consider operating but there are concerns about that because of the Enlarged Heart condition.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Better Late than Never

The bar is doing very well at the moment, quite a few folk are over from
Ireland/Norway/England and using the bar in the afternoon. I've also had to work an evening or two just lately and they've been good too. So it looks like "quiet November" is not being so quiet after all. But I was late opening yesterday. For the 1st time the local public transport let me down..........

Saturday evening I received "tomorrow you must get the 220 bus from Fuengirola to Calahonda (etc etc)". Calahonda?? OK. That journey was quite stressing considering that I did not know the route at all and was worried that I would go sailing past the bus-stop where she would be waiting for me. But I didn't. A couple of txts back and forth, once on the bus, gave me enough information to know where to get off. She met me and then we had a 10minute walk, uphill, to her apartment. She's moved. Nice place up on the hill with good views all round. The only trouble is that, door to door, it's about a 90min journey by train and bus. But at least you can cool off in the garden pool below afterwards.

Lunch was good. Between the two of them Lary and Katy produced a Greek Salad starter with Smoked Salmon on Toast. Then Roast Chicken with Chorizo and Potato followed by a Fruit Bowl. I had to be given some Sunglasses because, despite the rainy forecast, it was a beautiful day with wall-to-wall sunshine and at the table (we ate Al Fresco, on the terrace) the glare was too much. I'd better give "La Paparazzi" due acknowledgement before I go much further!! I managed to catch her 'Red-Handed'. Between us all there were at least, I suppose, 60+ photos taken, mostly by Katy using her own, and my, camera (which, unfortunately, has produced very blurred images). The one she's holding here is new, bought by her Aunt as a gift and a sight more clever than mine...I think it even tells the time. She's now a fully qualified Lawyer in Civil Law (and studying to go higher in the profession) but I really think that she's in the wrong job!! I've made her promise to send the photos she took here to me via email once she gets back home to Omsk.

We planned on leaving at 1530 but the bus didn't come as scheduled so, whilst waiting at the bus-stop, more fun was had with the cameras. This time I happened to use my Mobile Phone Cam and got some sharper images of Katy 'posing' her Aunt every which way. Eventually a bus arrived to take us back to Fuengirola where a direct connection was made with the bus back to Torre. They then left me at Benalmadena to go down to the Marina to see friends while I continued on to work, arriving half-an-hour late as I mentioned at the beginning of all this.


The bar got quite busy fairly early on with the new arrivals this week. It turned out to be a good session; made all the better by the appearance of the lady who gave me the Roast Beef the other day with another meal for me. This time German sausage, saurkraut, bacon or Ham and potato. And she said that she is going to bring something in today as well. I had it for my dinner last night as I've promised to return the containers today, well, take them back to the bar ready for collection. The cabbage was quite interesting....a few whole cloves were spicing it; different. If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach she could easily succeed. But then she's happily married and moving to Mexico in a few weeks.

Ann and Bill have invited Larisa and me to lunch sometime this week (and Katy if she is still here). They have a Leg of Lamb that needs polishing off before they go away for Christmas. So, right now, I'm waiting for Larisa to call me back about that. My text earlier caught her busy and she replied that she will call back later (I think that they are sorting Katy's flight back to Russia in the next few days).

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Another Grey Day

More rain to come they say today. It is certainly looking decidedly grey outside and the temperature has just started to climb away from the overnight low of 9C/47F. Currently it's a chilly 13C/55F so I'm going shopping shortly to get some wine to take over to Lary's tomorrow (and a box of choccies!!) before the heavens open.

I had that Roast Beef last night. It had been cooked a little on the rare side so after I'd carved and reheated a few slices in some freshly made Onion Gravy it was just right for me...no pink. I also made a yorkshire to go with it and guess what...it worked!! Rose to a good 3inches above the pan. One idea (a one-man, no waste, yorkshire batter mix) that'll find its way into My Kitchen.

Only trouble is that I have to work through tonight. Favio is otherwise engaged and won't be coming in so any plans to work on the website etc are shelved again.

Hmmm...I think I'd better get to the shops pronto, the rain is imminent by the look of the sky and there has already been a very light shower judging by the wet on the terrace tiles. At least the washing is in.

1140
Nope, the shops can wait, it's raining. I've just had a nosey through the weather pages at the Website and the sferics page (lightning strikes) is showing some very close activity so I'm now expecting a thunderstorm today as well.

The legacy surrounding the Red Lion Party Cam continues....yesterday at the bar Richard came in to deliver the Cornish Pasties I'd ordered from him (he bakes meat pies etc at home and sells them to local hostelries and individuals) and the Red Lion partyCam webpage cropped up in conversation with others at the bar. Richard then told me that some people were disappointed that there wasn't a recorded playback of the WebCam because they were not able to login at the time it was live. That was (is) logistically more-or-less impossible although with hindsight I suppose that an image could have been grabbed every few minutes and then they could have been turned into a slideshow for posterity. It's something that I never considered, the partyCam was always conceived as a one-off "live" event and in that context was a huge success. His comments though raise again in my mind the idea of a "tribute" page that I mooted a couple of weeks ago.

I'm going to have to get wet, I cannot go to Lary's tomorrow without a bottle of wine; it wouldn't be right. Actually, thinking about it, if I use the lift and stay close in to walls I should stay dry (under shop canopies etc). Where's me wellies an' sou'wester?..........

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Busy, busy, busy!

This age of technology is all very well but people, my friends, are in the habit of contacting me by txt or email just as I am about to go to work! Latest culprit is Larisa; an invitation to lunch at her place on Sunday at 12. Get to work I thought then txt back the acceptance etc at my leisure. Wrong! What leisure? I've just had the busiest session in the bar so far!! Never got the chance to get the mobile out and txt her back, well, not until 2120hrs...4+hrs later over a wind-down drink the other side of the bar. And talking about technology, folk on the other side of the Atlantic knew the place had been busy today before the till reading was even taken!! Incredible. Yesterday the early shift performed better than the late and today it wouldn't surprise me if the same thing happened again. We'll see. I'm not going to lose sleep over it but it's nice to know that in 4hrs I can do better than the 5 or 6 on the late shift. That will probably change when Beryl gets back though...she's better looking than me!! (or Favio).

I must be looking skinny or something because today I was given the back-end of a Roast Beef joint to finish off by one of my customers (which is now in the fridge waiting it's turn in the consumption queue) and yesterday the same person gave me 2 pairs of (brand new) socks because "they are the wrong size".

All-in-all life is grand.

I'm going to bed but I won't sleep too soon; I'll be pondering Sunday Lunch a la Rusa. Long time since we've done that together, actually the Christmas before last if my memory serves me right.

BTW we had the rain....lots of it. There's over 3inches in my laundry basket which I'd accidently left out. Yesterday at 5am it was so hard that I think the whole town woke up to the noise of the deluge.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Oh-oh

The rain has arrived (there's a slight sprinkle falling as I write) so I'm going to get my skates on and get to the shops before the heavy stuff gets here.

Ann & David have been told by the Doctor that she is a lot better since he last saw her 4 weeks or so ago. Her medication has been slightly changed in an effort to decrease the side effect causing her not to sleep. Hopefully, with this good news she'll become less anxious and stop worrying so much about her situation. Difficult I know, I was 'there' myself last January for a few weeks. He wants to see her again early next month to check on progress etc etc.

1300hrs
It is doing its best to rain so I think that the forecast is right and that we are due for a proper soaking later. That 5 euro tip has just gone towards a trolley load of shopping which, if I think about it, has been totally covered by tips alone and I've still got some left in my wallet. Altogether a pleasant bonus.

Last night was another pleasurable experience even to the point of having a kiss blown my way with the comment "un caballero" - a gentleman, which made me feel 10 feet tall. I'm really hoping that Favio's cold drags on a bit and that I can work through the evening for a little longer, maybe even give him a night off or two in the future although Beryl's holiday is fast coming to an end.

I haven't had Liver & Bacon/Onion since the Red Lion shut (it was on the menu) so I've bought some today for a treat. Trouble is that I desperately need to defrost my little freezer but everytime I go shopping more stuff gets shoved into it...the liver is packed as two slices for instance, meaning 1 has to be stored for another rainy day. Talking of which, it is really getting grey outside now, I'm going to have to switch lights on I think, nearly 2 inches of rain is forecast to fall through till the morning.

I've got some prawns thawing for today's dinner. Somewhere I've seen a recipe for Pasta with Prawns, now where was that......................?

Monday, 19 November 2007

Emergency Cover

Favio was developing a cold on Saturday; so much so that he followed my suggestion and took a hot toddy. Didn't do much good though because yesterday at 1900hrs he rang me to say that he wasn't going to come to the bar, leaving me to go through the evening until (as it turned out) 0130 this morning. A good session, I thoroughly enjoyed myself even to the point of earning a 5 euro tip!! My early stint was quiet but the "late shift" was good; the exact opposite to Saturday when my session was good but the late one wasn't. You never can tell in this business.

Ana-Mary dropped in on Saturday by the way and, talking with Barry and Tina, said that she expected to see me in a Father Christmas hat later next month. All tongue-in-cheek of course but between the lines it seems that my little job is secure for a while longer yet. Whilst she has told me that she has "nothing to do with the bar" obviously at home Favio must discuss things with her and a comment from her about the future like that is good to hear.

We are expecting some very wet weather in the next 36hrs although at the moment it is quite nice from where I sit looking out of the window. It's getting chillier, so much so that I bought a little Fan Heater on Saturday to replace my old one which broke down last spring (luckily just as its use was no longer required). And the electric blanket has been put on the bed!!

Ann has her follow-on appointment with her consultant later today. I'll post any news that I get from David.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Just my Lot

Coca-Cola delivered today and I was asked to go to the bar (at midday) to receive it and make sure the empties were removed. I got there at 20 minutes to only to find that the delivery was already in and the empties were where they were left waiting and ready..........

I had my photo taken this evening whilst standing in the doorway watching the world go by. A lady decided to stop on the other side of the (narrow) road and blatantly take it. Not so much as a by-your-leave or thankyou was forthcoming, but I got an instant of fame, turning my best side to camera while pretending that I wasn't aware of what was going on. I've noticed her before through the door and tonight she came by again, stopped as if she was contemplating coming in for a drink, but then moved on at the behest of the rest of the party she is always with. I have no idea what nationality she is and she can't know mine which is probably why she didn't say "please may I". Probably thinks I am Spanish (working in what appears to be a Spanish Bar an'all) and that I wouldn't understand.

I've taken my main computer in for repair as it has developed a problem, so some parts of the website are not working tonight. Mainly it's just the apartment cams because I've managed to transfer other server functions either to the host or to this machine that I'm working on now. I've had a phone-call from the shop to tell me that it is ready so hopefully normal service will be resumed by lunchtime tomorrow. Which is when I will publish my "Spanish Onion Soup" in My Kitchen. I've been playing with this idea for a while now and this is IT!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

On the Grapevine

Fred & Pauline "found" me again last night. They are friends that I made in the Garden Bar and they came across me working in the Happy Days Bar back in June. Lo & behold I noticed someone pointing at me through the door last night whilst wearing a big Cheshire Cat grin. David was in as was Bill and Ann and Fred and Pauline know them as well (through me and the GB) so a nice time was had making old aquaintences. The GB is shut again they told me. "Oh, that's good to hear" said I, "I was planning to go over again to see the new folk. Larisa and I were over there a couple of months ago". "Yes, we heard on the Jungle Drums that you and Lary were in town" said Fred. "Everybody is disappointed that you didn't announce your visit so that we could all meet up, there is such a thing as a phone you know. Larisa is a lovely girl and it's a long time since we've seen her". Maybe I'll have to organise a reunion over there in Montemar with my friends from the GB.

Just remembered that my soup cauldron is empty so I'm going shopping to get stuff to refill it.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Pescado y Vino

Just a quick note because it's a busy day for me today. I've been up to the bank for some change, then back down to the bar to receive a beer order and tonight I've been asked to work through until 11pm which means that I can't go to Tom & Mercedes 2year anniversary 'do' at Marias Bar. Sod's Law.

Lunch on Sunday was great. Swordfish for her and Sea Bass for me + a decent bottle of wine. As it turns out Katrina is coming for a week or two arriving tomorrow. Lary goes into Hospital on the 20th (next week) so I think Katy has been summoned for some support. No doubt we'll all get together again either before or after the operation (if I can make it thro' the paparazzi throng!!). Larisa still hasn't quite got over the Flu....still had a hoarse throat to some extent causing a cough or two while talking,which I'm getting good at at last :-) We had some giggles together.

I have had a cracking last few days in the bar, breaking my record (set on my opening night) with a higher take on Saturday. Things are looking good. And I'm being trusted with those extra duties/hours I said might come my way, and that is significant because Favio is a very cautious person.

Ann is making some progress; David said yesterday that she had been out for a short walk.

I forgotten to mention that Lary is still working towards getting me a job in that shop in the Eroski Centre. While at lunch she asked if I was still interested in it and made a point of explaining that it was full-time at 7Euros an hour. My reply was positive enough to cause her to make a phone-call there and then. Time will tell.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

A Nice Day

I'm up. Yes it's quite late but my social life in the bar dragged on a bit last night not that I'm complaining. Oh no! Anyway, on to more pressing things, the morning cuppa is in hand, the weather is , well, dull to say the least but no rain is forecast so I think I'll wear that outfit (the white one) and risk not packing an umbrella. I actually rewashed that shirt and trousers yesterday afternoon to make sure that they are fresh etc etc. Just got to iron them now. I HATE ironing. I'm not sure which is more exciting...the fact that I'm seeing my best friend after, what, nearly 4 weeks or so or the fact that we are going somewhere different for our date (for me at least). No breakfast. Stay hungry. Enjoy the day. There now, that's a plan!! And the sun has just appeared with a smile on its face, must've heard me moaning just now. Day's gonna be a good'un, and will be even better if the ironing does itself. Fat chance.

Crossing the Bridge

I received a message earlier tonight sayng that, if I wanted, we can meet in Arroyo de la Miel at the train station at 1340hrs. A new venue for us. I suspect that Jesus and his wife have introduced her to a restaurant in that area that has impressed her (because his apartment is nearby in Benalmadena). I'm easy, Arroyo is far less than halfway to Fuengirola and therefore much better for me to get back to get ready for work and Lary being Lary, the restaurant she wants to take me to will be worth the effort of getting there. And I'll bet that the 1340hrs time is her arrival at Arroyo, not mine, and I am expected to be there waiting. Which, of course, I will be.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Lunch is On

I'm meeting Lary at 2 o'clock tomorrow for Lunch. Don't know where yet because many places are closed now but I'll (we'll) cross that bridge when the time comes.

I had a relatively good session in the bar yesterday and left Favio with an empty one blaring music like it's going out of fashion. Why he does that I just don't know but, fingers crossed, he's stopped interfering with my volume levels when he arrives. Perhaps Swedish Ana has had a 'word' with him like she said she would last Sunday.

Friday, 9 November 2007

What a life

Coming home late in the evening from an 'exciting' shift at work and then having to cook and eat is not conducive to a good nights sleep. So here I am up, it's just 6am and I don't think that I've slept a wink tonight after eating Chicken Curry at 11pm (that I actually prepared earlier). 3 good days on the trot and another to come I hope tonight. As I thought, extra duties are coming my way due to Beryl's absence...I've been asked to do a stockcheck today which means that I'll have to go in an hour or so earlier and Favio doesn't seem too concerned about going to the bank for change - preferring the easier option of sending me scuttling round the neighbours after he takes over at 9ish (it's been a little later of late actually) begging change from them. That doesn't impress them too much and it doesn't impress me much either so later I'm going to the bank, taking some of MY money out (in suitable change) and carrying it as a float in the bar over the weekend. BTW, my social life is second to none. Trouble is they are all married or spoken for. Esa es la vida as they say.....but maybe tomorrow.....

Which reminds me...I'm going to give Lary a call later to see if she's well enough to do lunch with me tomorrow or Sunday. The job, enjoyable as it is, is really in the way there; my 9pm finish doesn't leave enough time to get over to Fuengirola for an evening out bearing in mind that the last train back is 11-30pm.

Those official looking people did not come back so we are of the opinion now that they were nothing more than common or garden Company Reps. And that theory is strengthened with the afterthought that they didn't actually ask for him by name. Official officials would know it and use it during introductions we think. So, stand down on that one for the time-being.

And you know what? It's nice to come home with more money in my wallet than I went out with. Good days means good tips which can often more than cover the cost of the daily milk and bread.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Food for Thought

There was a news item a couple of days ago regarding the current high level of food wastage, citing "Bags of Salad" as the most common throwaway. That's as maybe but it has brought to mind two instances here in my own Kitchen of waste not, want not.

A) Rummaging through the fridge recently I came across a vacuum-packed pack of Smoked Mackeral and noted that it was one month out-of-date. I was about to consign it to the rubbish bin when I thought "hold on a minute, smoking is a centuries-old method of longterm food preservation and vacuum packing is a modern technology and this pack combines both, it has still got to be good". And it was. Those two Mackeral fillets and some salad made a delicious meal, keeping me from starvation rather than trying to kill me!!

B) Just yesterday I found a box of dried Marrowfat peas at the back of the cupboard - TWO YEARS out-of-date. Drying is probably older than smoking and if it worked for Neandertal Man then it must be working for me. Two pints of Pea Soup have been rustled up and stashed in the fridge and 2 bowls on I'm not being food poisoned.

The article went on to mention that the Government Department concerned with wastage was trying to dream up initiatives to bring back the thrifty attitudes so prevalent during the war when, if every part of your ration allowance was not used you would go hungry. Well, here's my twopennyworth. Abolish use-by dates and cut down on pre-packed portions. I'm a single person and pre-packed produce is just about always too much for me to use before it goes "off" (especially here in the Mediterranean heat).

Larisa's bout of Flu is clearing up. I had a message on Sunday to say that she was a little better and was I still working. I sent back that I'd just finished work (it was 21:30) and was going home to cook and eat. Perhaps this weekend we'll see each other if she's up and about.

I had a good session in the bar yesterday, but it was overshadowed by two 'officious looking' people coming in at about 5-30pm and on finding out that I wasn't the Owner asked about when they could see him. They were told "about 9pm". I waited for awhile after I had finished but they didn't return. Problem being that Favio is breaking the terms of his Licence and they may have been Town Hall personnel out to check etc etc. Worrying.

My idea about putting up a page on the website remembering the Red Lion may have to be shelved because contributions are not forthcoming. Perhaps I'll try a request page on the site itself rather than rely on the (single) posting here on the blog.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

A second month

There was a "staff meeting" tonight between me, Beryl (as interpreter) and Favio to discuss his plans for November. Normally November is the quietest month of the year businesswise and Favio, each year, seriously considers closing for the month but, historically, never has. This year the same. He is going to remain open AND with the new 5 - 9 shift remaining in situ despite his rueful comments that the shift is not covering its costs! AND, despite even that, on Monday he is going to apply to the court to get his Licencia de Apetura extended from 9pm - 2pm to 5pm - 2pm. Unluckyly for me I have never been in the business before and therefore do not understand the game he is playing! I have been paid my 1st Months salary and things are only going to get better. I think that, for a variety of reasons too numerous to discuss here, the new opening times for El Bar de Ana are here for good. On the downside though, because at the moment his opening at 5pm is illegal, he has asked me not to dress 'professionally' with waistcoat etc. just in case there is an impromptu inspection by the authorities (which can happen). I understand the dilemma; it would be hard to persuade officials that I have just jumped behind the bar as a friend while he has popped out on an errand, dressed as a Camerero. I know my dress is appreciated by my clientele and just as soon as he gets his licence sorted I expect to be allowed to dress properly for the job again. Things are looking good for the future. Beryl is on holiday for the whole of November and I expect that some of the 'bar management' functions may come my way in addition to a few extra hours late into the evening/morning.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Material Witnesses Required

The Red Lion is in it's last 2 days of Barry & Tinas' tenure and there is plenty of activity going on in order to successfully move themselves before the imminent end of the month.

There are plans afoot at the sierracazorla website to put up a permanent tribute page and to add a Red Lion section to the photo gallery using photos sent in prior the the Closing Party on the 30th September last (we had over 1000!!!).

Sounds very easy, and it is but we need help. If you have known the RL or B & T and would like a chance to contribute then, please send in your own tributes/reminisensces via the comments link below for inclusion on the page. And please, sign with your name and location so that due acknowledgment can be given.

Thanks

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Another update.

Ann's test have revealed an enlarged heart so things are slightly more serious than first thought and to put it lightly, David is somewhat worried. More than this I cannot say because a) I don't know and b) not my place.

I went for a meal with David tonight, just to keep him company and Larisa "cropped up". I vented some feelings about the relationship which I mentioned to you on the phone the other day and he said that she had said that she was proud to be my friend (or something similar) that day when we dined at La Salamanca with Katy and the Red Heart thingy remember?.........sooooo, following on from our telephone chat..................

Larisa's visit to Madrid is ending. I've had a txt tonight (long after David and I parted company) from "near Granada" that she is on her way home with Jesus driving and if they are quick enough we can eat together tonight. I think that Jesus has taken control here because in the next breath she sent that they are going straight to Fuengirola. I replied that that is a sensible idea bearing in mind that it is 23:30 and they are only as far as Granada. No way do I want to go eating upon her arrival here in Malaga at God knows what hour of the morning. She says that she'll call me tomorrow and I've reminded her to make it early before I go to work. My despondancy earlier in the week has gone out the window, she's coming home. And I can't sleep. look at the time!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

A relapse

It is a thoroughly miserable day today, persistant rain since the early morning and just 15C/59F as I write at 1pm. Tomorrows forecast is for much of the same including a thunderstorm or two.

David took Ann back into hospital on Monday afternoon after she woke up from a nap with breathing difficulties. She has been kept in while tests are performed to find out what is wrong and it hasn't helped that she was only given one weeks supply of antibiotics when it should have been two.

Ann & Bill have announced their Wedding Date. Feb 19th in Gibralter. I was invited to Dinner with them last night and I was pleased to accept; going straight there from work. Actually I received a second invitation to do "chinese" with David and Liam and his wife. All being present in the bar at the time, Ann gave me the right to choose which invitation to accept, but it was easy to decide on a "first come, first served basis" and Ann's chicken roast was absolutely delicious.

At the moment the 5 - 9 shift of mine in the bar is going quite well. I have had consistently good days all this week and I have not long since heard that today I will be well patronized as well because Beryl's husband Randy arrived from the States yesterday for a 3 month stay and there are celebrations occurring which kick-off in the bar with 'pre-dinner drinks'.

I must remember to turn the coffee machine on when I open up. An Italian lady has promised to drop by again for another cuppa. Hilda tried my coffee on my first day 3 weeks ago and said it was awful (too strong) so I've not been looking forward to making anymore for anyone else but yesterday I got caught good and proper. She said it was good and would come back today. Can't be bad, return customers are the best sort.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Different Routine....cont'd

I think it was about 12:30 before we saw the light of day on Sunday morning. Declining my offer of a cup of tea (but then nicking half of the one that I made for myself) she invited me out to lunch, and after I'd cleared up last nights washing up etc (don't forget that I had to rush everything to get to Fuengirola ontime) we went out and up the steps into Town. El Lanjarón was very busy but we managed to get a table and sat down to a nice meal. After killing time around the town centre I left her at the bus-stop at 4pm and made my way back home to get ready for work.

Monday evening David came into the bar....Ann had been taken into Hospital early that morning (3am or so) and diagnosed with Pnuemonia. She was still there and was expected to be for a few days. After work I accompanied him to a local chinese because he didn't feel like cooking for himself and then back to the bar (with Crystal) for a snifter, although Cystal didn't give me much peace until I'd taken her for a walk round the block. She knows that I will always do that and I know that she enjoys the walk because she gets away with "Blue Murder" doing things and going places that David does not normally allow her to. Crafty.

Tuesday saw the same scenario with David at a loose end although this time we used a different Chinese where I didn't enjoy the meal so much.

Wednesday was the other Ann's (Ann S) birthday and she was throwing a party in the Chinese Restaurant that David and I used on Monday evening. A party in the form of a Chinese Banquet. I was invited. She and some of her friends came into the bar to meet and left just before 9. I followed a few minutes later still in my working togs (I didn't have time to go home and change and anyway the trousers, clean shirt and the waistcoat I wear at work were good enough). Back to the bar after for a late drink, then home to bed.

Ann's friends Cherry and Harsha were here from the UK and they invited me to dinner at Cuemvi's on Thursday but I had to decline because I'd already prepared a meal for myself to eat at home after work. But I did agree to go back to the bar to have a drink with them (they are leaving on Saturday Morning). David also called by to let me know that Ann had been sent home by the hospital and he had a quick drink while waiting for his takeaway chicken order to complete at one of the local eateries. Cherry asked if I would be in the bar Friday evening (last night) for a final goodbye drink and again I agreed to go back after going home for my dinner and changing.

Doesn't sound like it in these notes but, yes, it has been quite hectic of late.

Right now, Saturday Morning, 11am, I'm going to cook some bubble n squeak (cos I did extra veg yesterday specifically) and a couple of eggs then have a potter round the apartment making sure everything is OK......just in case. Always be ready Mr Derek Field, always be ready.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Different Routine

Today is a National Holiday and the whole of Spain is closed (except the bars, restaurants and other essential services!) Day Trippers may affect such businesses locally this afternoon and evening, here's hoping.

The job has turned my day upside down and I don't think that I am used to the change in routine yet. Last night I slept like a log until 10am this morning, didn't hear a thing. I was so tired that I gave up on last nights blog session and went to bed so this carries on from where I left off. So why has it been so hectic? It all started last Saturday at half-eight while I was in the bar working.........

"If you want to go dancing come here to Fuengirola at midnight".
"OK, I'll be at the Bus station at Midnight. Right now I am working in a bar". Told her! She now knows that I have a job. This is the first opportunity that I have had to let her know and one that I have been waiting for. And that knowledge immediately prompted:
"I think that the last bus is at 11pm, I'll wait by The Salamanca restaurant, let me know when you are on the way". Ah, I didn't tell her what hours I was working, now she's digging and maybe worrying that I won't actually be able to make it.
"OK, I'll call you when I'm on the way and I'll meet you at La Salamanca". Then a couple of hours or so later, at the railway station after having checked the timetable, I sent "I am going to catch the 22-55 train so I'll be at La Salamanca by about 23-30".

"Where's that white shirt?"
"Which white shirt?"
"The one we bought last year in Springfield's along with those trousers" (which I was wearing).
"In the wash. Your message to meet you caught me by surprise and I wasn't ready"
"Always be ready Mr Derek Field, always be ready".
Soooo... that white shirt and those white trousers are now reserved in the wardrobe so that I will always be ready! What I should have remembered is that that day when I was taken to meet Jesus (Haysoos) it was that outfit that she chose from my closet and ironed for me while I showered. She obviously likes me in it.

"So, how are you, well?"
"Yes. I've been taking tablets and they give me a headache so I have stopped taking them".
"Tablets for what?" As it turned out she has a problem involving haemaglobin and the tablets she has been prescribed have a side effect (headaches). So now I know part of the story about what is wrong with her, I still don't know why she has to have an operation in a few weeks time, if indeed she does, maybe I've mis-understood although I don't think that's the case - we've talked about when (November).

In one of the discoteques that we went to (she prefers a place that is more-or-less empty, less noise, more room) we bumped into 2 girlfriends of hers (Ukranians) and she asked if I would mind if we joined them to which I replied of course not, so we did. I've met many of Lary's friends here in Torre, Benalmádena and Fuengirola but not these two so I was subjected to some hard scrutiny after the introduction and some "out the corner of the mouth" comments were passed. All must have gone well because Lary soon suggested that we all go somewhere else (this place was packed, I'd asked to go there but it was too busy for her. Luckily, meeting her friends was, for her, an unexpected bonus). Here I'll mention that on the way in on the train I'd noticed a Feria (Fair) just outside Fuengirola towards Los Boliches and upon meeting with Lary I had asked why it was there. The Annual Fair. We caught a Taxi away from the Disco and with Lary in the front giving the driver directions we headed off towards Los Boliches. Oh-Oh. After a tortuous drive through the one-way sytems in Los Boliches we ended up back down near the front and another disco. Empty(ish). 2am. Lary's happy, she'll stay here I think. She did and settled into conversation with her friends. Bearing in mind that they were speaking together in their own language which I do not understand I was aware that Lary was getting quite excited with what she was saying. And then she suddenly switched to Spanish and a door got flung open: she was telling them about the day that she and Katy met Austen!! She did it a second time as well, switched to Spanish so that I would understand the conversation. This time about how I managed to hold my own at Malaga fair on the white knuckle rides!! So it seems that our time together pleases her just as much as it pleases me so why-oh-why is it once in every couple of weeks and then (normally) just for a couple of hours. Mind boggling. Actually this meeting will turn out to defy that convention but 'I dont know that yet' so to speak. Alone on the dance floor she engaged me in a "smooch" to every slow track that was played which, in front of her friends, I found quite reasssuring. She's happy. Many girls would rather die than be 'first on the floor' but not Lary. Luckily for me it doesn't bother me either, in fact I quite enjoy being the exhibitionist and I certainly enjoy the fact that I am dancing with her whatever the circumstance. 4am and we decide to leave. Walking along the paseo we take our leave of her friends who carry on towards Fuengirola and home while we turn away from the sea and head towards a luminescence that I can see in the sky.

"Vamos a donde?" I asked.
"La feria" she replied
"Oh no, no la feria" I responded.
Slipping an arm through mine and coming in close to my side - "Mr Derek, sabes que tu disfrutas las ferias" (a serious reference to our conversation around my infamous SMS to her the morning after the trip to Malaga fair) and taking my hand in hers she proceeded to make sure that I didn't go anywhere but in the right direction! But in that instant I wasn't caring anything about the fair. We were holding hands (she'd taken mine). We are back at square one. Square one being almost 3 years ago, a little while after this very same young lady came into my bar one Saturday afternoon and, after watching me potter for a while, simply asked "como se llama?" (what is your name) which led to that first date when we left the bar after I'd closed and walked through the garden holding hands on the way to the Marina and the discos. This time though things are a little different and I don't think that you need me to explain.

The fair was in the process of closing, not many rides were open and some of the bar tents were shut but we had a couple of rides and a few drinks and enjoyed ourselves, always holding hands while walking between here and there etc.

"I'll walk you back to your apartment then catch the first bus back to Torre". (Yes, it's 6am by now, first bus is 7am).
"I'm going to change and then I'll come to Torre with you"
"You want to come back with me?" (Gulp!)
"Yes. Don't you want me to?"
"Of course I want you to"

She took a nap on my shoulder during the bus ride back here and we stood and watched the sun rise as we walked down the San Miguel steps at 8am. "Help me change the bed for you". "It's OK, I'll be fine here on the Sofa, you use your bed, just give me a blanket". When I got back to her a few seconds later with one she was sound asleep!!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Hectic is the word

OK, I give in. I know that it is not "tomorrow morning", it's actually an evening 4 days on from that promise, but here I am, not long in from work, my meal is being reheated and then I'm back out until a little later. Told you it is hectic. Actually I have had to decline dinner out with friends this evening due to the fact that I've already prepared mine for a quick feed tonight here at home (it is chilli). The meat sauce is being reheated (in the frypan covered by the plate to be used to serve) over a pan of boiling rice which means that I am doing my bit in the fight against global warming and I get to dish a hot meal onto a hot plate with no curly edges "a la microwave", just like Mum used to do. Ah, see? Even I think of these things although it is more to do with the fact that I don't like lugging gas cylinders up the ancient staircase that separates me from the outside world. Nuf sed.

Now that is going into my recipe list. One man and his chilli con carne, or, have frypan....can cook, or, just me..full belly...no waste. Recipe? What recipe? I can't remember what I did now, so I'll checkout the wastebin to find out what's in there and, working backwards, write it up in My Kitchen later.

Fabio (the owner) is watching the trade level carefuly at the Bar where I work. Folk are going to have to realize that, having asked him to open up in the afternoon, they should support his positive response more. Yesterday none of them came in. He's asking me about my Social Security status etc. so I feel that the little job that I have is safe (due to other upcoming issues) but it wouldn't surprise me if he eventually gives up on what may be proving to be a lost cause although the other day he mooted the idea with me about a "happy hour", and last week he mentioned a dartboard. On the other hand he likes the music too loud and some of his prices are perceived as high. But then everyone knew those things already.

......I'll be back..........

Sunday, 7 October 2007

An Early Night

Yes, I'm having an early night. Why tell? Because usually I'd be blogging here now at full speed because there is a lot to tell. In the meantime, to those that are wondering....things (and I do mean everything) are just hunky-dory but the last 24hours have been very exhausting and I just have to sleep now. I'll be back (in the morning).

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Party Debrief

Yet another thunderstorm and heavy rain last night for an hour or so. This one was very close and in fact there were two simultaneous flashes and bangs, extremely bright and extremely loud, indicating a lightning discharge overhead. More storms are forecast today but at the moment it's quite nice and rain and thunder do not appear to be on the agenda.

El Bar de Ana (Ana's Bar) has decided to open at 5pm to take advantage of the displaced trade caused by the closure of The Red Lion and I have the job of bartending until 9pm each day. Fabio is testing the market so to speak. If it works, all well and good. If it doesn't he'll not think twice about giving the idea up. The local community have brought some pressure to bear on him to do it so it is up to them to make sure they make it worth his while from a business point of view.

The Red Lion appears all set for the sale of fixtures and fittings etc. tomorrow and Friday. Ideally I think that Barry would like to leave the place as a bare shell. Through the windows I can see tables and chairs stacked in lots, boxes of glasses and lots of other stuff ready and waiting for potential buyers when the door opens for the "Bar Sale" tomorrow morning. I must remember to go and claim the full gas bottle I have said that I want!

As for the party and the webcam. The interest in the cam was enormous. I doubled the bandwidth quota for the month and all was used by close of play on Sunday. In fact my Website Hosts allowed just a little extra according to the emails I received about exceeding limits. There were nearly 800 hits during the 7 hours the cam was live and 1gb of data was transferred during the same period. Reports from around the world indicate that the cam worked quite well and for that I have to give credit to Hioxindia.com, my hosts.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Red Lion Closes

The end of an era. 32 years the bar has been part of the lives of many ex-pats and tourists alike. And those tourists come from all corners of the globe. The website is humming with activity already this morning and I can now say that interest in Barry & Tinas' last day is worldwide; there have been hits from Perth in Australia and Los Angeles in the USA. All that's needed now is someone from Sydney to log on and then it really would be from one side of the planet to the other.

I got a reply

Yes, she did reply about an hour later to the effect that she wasn't sure whether she would be able to come or not because she has had headaches all week and still has. She will see how she is tomorrow (which is today now as I type). I'm worried. There is something wrong with her health that seems to be fairly serious. She mentioned something about persistent headaches the other week in the cafe while we were drinking the cokes and before we went to the Eroski Centre.

I sent back that she was beginning to worry me, that prolonged headaches were not a good sign of anything but that I really hoped she would be able to make it to the party.

I didn't tell her this because there is not enough room on SMSs to go into detail but I now want her to come to the party not for the party's sake but for my sake. I have to see her. I have to find out, somehow, exactly what's wrong with her. I just have to know. So in her words..."vamos a ver mañana" (let us see what tomorrow brings).

Saturday, 29 September 2007

A sad day looms

Tomorrow (Sunday) the Red lion is going to close, forever. It's destiny lies in the hands of a Demolition squad and Developers. Who knows what the future holds. Presently though the local community is concerned about where they will be able to socialize as comfortably as they could in Tina & Barry's company. Time will tell.

I'm waiting for a Chicken Curry to cook for my evening meal which means that I've had time to send an SMS to Lary inviting her to attend the party tomorrow (from 2pm) that Tina & Barry are throwing to mark their retirement from (and the closure of) the bar. I have been daft enough to tell her not to bother to reply, just to surprise me by arriving but now, I am beginning to bemoan the fact that I won't hear from her in response. Which to date, I haven't and I won't. I hate one way conversations with her! But this my fault. An 'alert' about an SMS message having arrived on my mobile provides an excitement that is impossible to describe but I've told her not to bother. The curry will be no compensation I can tell you. But if she does turn up tomorrow I will know that Heaven does exist. For sure.

The curry is beginning to smell good by the way. Might be that the ever diminishing bottle of Red Wine has a hand in that impression! No! It does smell good....honest.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Paella para ella

Scroll down for the Recipe
Paella. The national dish of Spain. Awesome in its simplicity, awesome in its complexity. This particular version, my 'Signature Dish' if you like, has evolved over 3 years taking into account the comments of insiders (Spaniards) and outsiders (foreigners) alike until one person alone nodded satisfaction and so to her I am going to dedicate it. I first produced this according to a recipe aired on English TV by "celebrity chef" Ainsley Harriet and that result was shared between myself, an American customer of mine, a neighbour who ran a Spanish bar, and her spanish clientele. I can't remember the neighbour's name just now but she came from Denmark and wasn't making any profit from the bar and had no other means to support herself. We had already become neighbourly friends and she would often come over to me in despair of her business but this particular evening she came over obviously hungry and in tears (her bar was empty as was her belly and her purse) so I said "give me an hour, I will cook, then you will eat." Which is what happened. What I didn't know at the time was that the meal (my paella a la Ainsley Harriet) that she took back to her bar was shared between herself and two spanish customers who just happened to arrive as she returned and who, when I went over to get the cutlery and crockery back a while later gave me a standing ovation, literally. But the credit wasn't really mine - it was Ainsley Harriet's because I'd written the recipe down blow for blow on a piece of scrap paper as he produced it in a TV studio. Then the inevitable happened, I lost the piece of paper, and, woe is me, the recipe hasn't been published on the Internet. In a book yes but here in Spain that book is not easy to acquire. Memory had a major part to play now and, as it happened, did me more-or-less proud but also causing me to develop a passion for all things 'paella'. Like everybody else in this world I love good food and I just happen to have a friend who is also passionate about a good paella. So here we have a common ground, good food, and, in particular, a good paella. The fact that we can't discuss our food in intimate detail because we are both from different foreign lands is immaterial, there are other ways to express appreciation and we both grab every opportunity to do just that. Together we have sampled paellas all over the local coastal area and I have listened to, noted and acted upon the best comments/impressions until my version received a 'wow' factor of 10 from somebody who's opinion in the matter I have come to trust. Do I need to introduce you?
I don't think so.

Paella para Ella or Paella Lary
(Based on a recipe by Ainsley Harriet)
There are no quantities...I prefer Floyd's technique of "chuck in what looks right". Everything is optional except the rice and turmeric/saffron!!

INGREDIENTS
Olive oil
Onion
Garlic
Green/Red/Yellow Peppers
Chorizo Sausage skinned and sliced
Chicken breast bitesize dice
Prawns
Mussels..................(not used in original)
Clams (cockles?)....(not used in original)
A few Langostinos (large prawns for Garnish)
Short grain rice
Turmeric
Paprika
Stock (Fish is best, chicken will do, beef will not.)
Tomatoes (skinned, seeded, chopped) (tinned? I've used'em)
Peas - frozen are good

METHOD
Throw the Chorizo into the paellera with a glug of Olive oil for a few
minutes then add sliced onion, peppers and garlic, fry til softening. Add
chicken to brown. Chuck in some tumeric (for colour) and some Paprika (for flavour) and stir through. Add rice (TIP - just cover the contents of the pan with a layer of rice. That will give you the correct amount for that pan) and turn over in the pan to coat with oil. Add stock, tomatoes and peas then cook until rice is tender adding more stock as needed (upwards of a litre or more may be required in a 12inch/31cms pan). At an appropriate time add the seafood to cook or heat through. Stand for a few minutes covered with foil when finished.

SERVICE
Dress the pan with lemon wedges and whole Langostinos, unshelled cooked seafood, whatever. Serve at the table (preferably with everyone communually eating straight from the pan!).

NOTES
Paella is always allowed to "stick" (but not burn) in the final few minutes
of cooking. Spaniards will fight for a portion of the caramelised crustiness (known as socarrat) from the bottom of the pan. But of course todays nonstick pans are putting an end to that classical way.

The ideal rice for Paella is the Spanish "Bomba" rice but, unfortunately, it is more-or-less unheard of outside Spain.