Friday, 19 December 2008

Christmas Cheer?

It's cold here at the moment. Overnight lows down to 4ºC and daytime highs not much more than 15ºC so we are all wearing woolly jumpers and stuff to keep the chills away. But at least the rains have gone away at last, we've had a good few heavy downpours in the last 2 weeks keeping my babies out on the balcony well satisfied but now, because of the sunshine, I'm having to keep a wary eye on their welfare.

My photo of one of the Xmas decoration pieces set out in the town centre does nothing to uplift my spirit this Christmas time because the annual disaster occurred last Friday while I was visiting Ann & Bill for a chat.......Larisa sent a message to say that she was leaving for Russia on Saturday night. I knew that she had been waiting for a visa to go to The Crimea with Viktor to meet his family etc. but I hadn't been expecting it to arrive before Christmas. My reply some 3 hours later (after I'd left Ann & Bill) let her know that the Saturday was my day off and that I had been hoping to see her as normal and was disappointed that that could not now happen. "I'm busy until 6pm" she replied, "come then and go to the airport with us, we have to be there at 10pm". I did one better; I dared to ask Ann if I could borrow the car so that I could take her to the airport. And that is what happened on a "filthy" night weatherwise. I've not seen so much rain in a long time but, after a meal together indoors at Calahonda, we made it safe-and-sound to the airport with time to spare. Whilst she hadn't interfered with, or tried to influence, my holiday arrangements (for Aaron & Shellies' sake as well as the fact that she hadn't known when her papers would arrive) she let me know that she had been hoping that I would have been able to go with her for a couple of weeks. "But you've got my email address?". I quoted it off the top of my head right there-and-then in the middle of the airport departure hall and judging by her face on hearing it, that pleased her very much. She's back on March 11th.

Folk are beginning to arrive for their Xmas break here in Torre, including a lady from Germany, who visits every year at this time, who told me last night on her first sortie into the bar that she had printed my paella recipe off the website and made it for herself back home in Kiel. Fame at last!! Ann & Bill have invited me to Christmas Dinner and I've managed to persuade Favio to allow me to open a little later than normal so that I don't have to rush the Brandies! Teresa is away for the Christmas week so I'll be running the place on my own, no doubt without a day off (again), and then she returns in time for New Year's Eve when we are planning to throw a little bash with some grub 'n stuff on the bar, having opened at 11pm or so. It'll be a busy day for me prepping food etc., and without Larisa here to give me a hand it won't be the same, previous years we've always been together at this time. ¡Esa es la vida!

Monday, 8 December 2008

A Souper End

All good things come to an end they say. It's true, my holiday finished yesterday and later today I pick up where I left off 2 weeks ago. Aaron's visit was too short of course but despite some dull weather he and Shellie enjoyed their stay on the Costa del Sol. They went home last Monday and then Larisa called me early on Wednesday to say that Viktor had arrived and that I should come to see him etc. I stayed for 3 days and got told off about keep asking if I can do things (such as make a cup of tea) with the words, from her, "esta casa, tu casa". During my stay we went for a walk down to the nearby Calahonda Beach where I took this shot of the sun descending towards setting for the day before going to a local Chinese for a meal but the real highlight for me was a bowl of the soup that she was making when I first arrived. A Ukrainian recipe, she told me, involving Chicken pieces, cabbage, carrot, onion, beetroot and potato which I am having a go at myself this very afternoon. Mine's not as pink as hers was so next time....more beetroot, but I think that I have got it nearly right.

I'm going to have to brush-up on my dancing; Thursday evening the living-room floor was turned into a dance-floor whereupon I found myself required to lead her in a Viennese Waltz to the strains of a suitable Russian tune. There not being enough space for such a dance in the average living-room with the carpet lifted we soon had to give that idea up which was a shame but she keeps taking (or getting me) to dance and I'm rusty. It's well over 35 years since I last danced regularly and it is time to go back to "school" I think.

You did not meet Viktor while you were here simply because he wasn't but he has asked after you and I'm to pass on his regards....in fact this last photo here is a wave to you from both of them which they wanted me to take especially, while I was there, so that they could do just that.

OK, I think my soup is cooked and I have to bash on and get ready for work which means that I cannot serve it like she did with cloves of raw garlic on the side to nibble between spoonfuls. Never mind, maybe for supper later on when I get back home.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

In Conjunction

I've just noticed that across the internet there are thousands of photos posted of the conjunction between the Crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus. As it happens here is one more taken from Larisa's terrace on Sunday after I'd noticed the event for myself in the evening sky. I tried a dozen times to take a decent shot but my hand wasn't steady enough so I have to thank Shellie for coming to my rescue, taking my camera and photographing the phenomenon for me with such clarity that the whole orb of the moon can be seen in the image
Calahonda, MARBELLA, España, 30/11/08, 18:44

Monday, 1 December 2008

¡¿Por que no me dices antes?!

An early start this morning saw Aaron and Shellie arrive on-time for their check-in and later he sent a txt to say that they had safely arrived in Manchester. Although the weather was chilly throughout their stay at least the rain stayed away during the daylight hours allowing them to enjoy themselves in the wintry sun.

Yesterday we went to Calahonda. Paella was on the menu, paella mixta to be precise, full of seafood. And the starters? Amongst all there was Sardinas (Sardines), Pulpo (Octopus) and Gulas (Baby eels). Upon seeing all this being prepared in the kitchen I took a deep breath and quietly kind of mentioned in passing that Aaron was not all that fond of seafood. "Why didn't you tell me before??" to which I unsuccessfully explained that there hadn't been an opportunity before what with Bill's Thanksgiving do and stuff. As it happened Aaron and Shellie coped admirably with all that was offered, including the very worm-like eels!

They had to pack ready for their trip home so the evening came to a close earlier than normal with a walk down to the bus-stop and the dreaded 220. Once back in Torre they decided that they still had enough time to pop into the bar with me to say cheerio to Teresa and anyone else who happened to be there and while we were there Larisa rang to make sure that we had arrived back in one piece (so to speak). Unusual, that; she normally trusts the bus and train to do their job without incident....anyway, the last two photos of their visit to see me are posted here. First, at the bus-stop bidding Larisa goodbye and second, taken by Teresa in the bar minutes before they went back to the hotel to pack.

Friday, 28 November 2008

¡Fabuloso!

Tonight, as I write, the rain is back with a vengeance but that cannot take away the fact that tonight has also been, probably, the best I have ever spent. A photo is worth a thousand words they say....well, I have to tell you that that is not true; I need more than a thousand words to recount this evening's events but I do have a few photos to augment the saga. Bill's menu was built around a "Standing Rib Roast" (and, yes, American is probably more difficult to learn than Chinese) and a bottle of Port. Awesome it was too. No mint sauce but I can excuse that in all honesty, the horseradish was a damn good substitute!! Aaron and Shellie had arrived safe & sound 17mins early yesterday lunchtime and whilst the first planned sortie with Larisa into town in the evening did not happen (with her) here is a shot or two of all of us enjoying Bill & Ann's hospitality, and as she and I don't often "get together" there is one that puts that to rights!! Because she couldn't get to Torre yesterday I worried that she might not be able to come tonight and told Ann that there may be one guest missing. But at 2 o'clock she called to say that she would be in Torre by 1440 and where should we meet. I was hellishly busy doing a couple of starters for the meal and Aaron was due here at 3pm so I told her to come straight here, which she did, and, running late due to my cookery efforts, we eventually got to the party at 3-30 or so where, after a surprised "oh! She's here after all!" from Ann, an extra place setting was quickly laid. Over the aperitifs Lary quietly explained why she had had to disappoint me last night and her worry about that touched me somewhat but nothing stopped her rolling sleeves up in Ann's kitchen to help me finish my dishes. Erm, help? Not a bit of it; I was shooed firmly out the way while she dressed my 16 steamed asparagus spears in smoked salmon and laid them out on two platters. Bill's Roast was expertly cooked and carved, satisfying everbody's needs from my well done (jokingly labeled "cremated" by all and sundry) to the medium rare of others' choice. A trip along to the bar for an after-dinner get together followed by 179 steps up to the station with her brought a fabulous evening to an end...........

........It's Saturday and Aaron, Shellie and I have spent the day in Málaga doing the sights etc. and tomorrow we go to Calahonda. Larisa had invited Ann & Bill as well, in keeping with her habit of always returning an invitation just as soon as she possibly can. Unfortunately they have other commitments but I know that she will not forget their hospitality towards her and will not rest until the compliment has been returned. Walking around the city today really took its toll on my poor legs and I opted to "leave them to it" this evening, returning home for a rest and a homemade Chicken Pie. Tomorrow we have to travel by buses all the way because there is not a train station handy to their hotel and it's my turn to walk the paseo to them (they are 30mins away on foot) rather than them come here as they have done so far. I'm going to lug my paellera over as well, as I don't like the one that Viktor has bought, because I believe that we are going to have a paella and that raises one issue: Aaron is not keen on seafood or fish and I haven't told her that.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Typical !

It's Wednesday and it is raining and judging by the grey skies above it is set to rain for a while yet. We've even had thunder as well today so it's drawbridge up, heater on and stay indoors. Whilst Wednesday is normally my day off, today, of course, I am on my holidays which is no doubt why it is chucking it down and the forecast is bad throughout the weekend while Aaron is here. I sent an SMS earlier this morning advising him to bring wet-weather gear and a jumper or two because it is also cold.

There has been a damp patch forming on the outside wall next to my front door and yesterday Cristina called me to tell me that someone would be coming this morning to investigate and, hopefully, fix it. Awakened by loud knocking on the door at 1030am today I opened it to her and her odd-job man who duly set about with cold-chisel and 'ammer. A leaking pipe joint within the wall was eventually found and replaced leaving me with an untidy, untiled wall in my kitchen which has to stay that way for 2 or 3 days while it dries out. Just my luck....Aarons coming, Larisa may well want to stay tomorrow night and I've got bare brick and cement in the kitchen area. The photo doesn't show the attendant mess on the floor or in the doorway which, when the job was over Cristina meticulously cleared up for me. Now all that is left to do is mop over to remove any last vestige of brickdust off the floor. But first I will have to clean the stairs outside the apartment otherwise I'll be treading in more which, with wet shoes from the rain, will be otherwise be a muddy mess.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Holidays!!

Yep! My holiday started yesterday morning at about 3am in great style with 6 crumpets going down the hatch courtesy of a "care package" from Bill & Ann bought during one of their recent trips to the shops. Yesterday evening I spent back in the bar in answer to a "please Derek" plea by Teresa, staying until about 1am I think. Tonight......home alone and resting.

Out and about earlier I took a couple of shots of the Paseo Maritimo (the Prom) to show a) the mess at the bottom of Calle Peligro due to sewer pipe trenches having been dug etc., and b) the revamped paseo itself, slowly being improved all the way along The Front; well, certainly from La Roca north towards Málaga. Calle Peligro is shut to cars and a good few of the businesses in the locality have closed as well while the works are done. Others, desperate to maintain their trade levels, have resorted to strategically placed ads as the picture shows. Walking in the area is dodgy as well, I've have seen one broken nose sustained after a trip over a raised board-edge like that in the same photo (an incident to which the Police were summoned and now I have noted that the offending bridge over the trench has been properly leveled).

Saw me coming didn't it. The weather that is. All set to get wet over the next few days including heavy stuff on Sunday...just right for a holiday in Torremolinos and I've waited 15 months for the privilige!

Let's hope that things don't get too bad for Aaron's sake. Bad weather added to the miserable exchange rate won't make for a good time but things are falling into place this end in preparation for him and Shellie....dinner in Torre Centro with Larisa Thursday evening, then all of us at Ann & Bills' thanksgiving celebration on Friday (postponed, due the forecast rain, by a day) and then on Saturday or Sunday a tapa lunch in La Cariheula with Teresa, who, if she doesn't get to meet them will give me so much stick....she wasn't too happy about not having met you. Anyway, there you have it and I think that I have met his brief of "some good eateries".

Talking of Larisa (which I wasn't but am now), she led me right royal dance yesterday by SMS, feigning misunderstanding and confusion while I was trying to explain what I wanted to happen during Aaron's visit. Over 2 hours we were at it until she finally admitted that "hoy quiero bromear", today I want to joke. Eventually though I got what I wanted......"Vale, hasta jueves a las 1900", just in time to cook my meal and then get down to the bar for 6pm to be on hand for Teresa's first solo night of my holiday cover as I mentioned earlier. Una bromista she may be but inadvertantly she brought my spanish on a little more, chucking many words at me that I didn't know and had to look up.

Yesterday Ann sent me a couple of pictures taken at the dinner party she held some months back and, despite me hating my own image, I've posted one below for you to see (you'll recognize her terrace now of course). David is missing so I think he's on the button. But, then, so is Ann so maybe she is. Or was she getting the port? I can't remember.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Back in the Swing

Last time I wrote I said that I was planning a Dinner for Two which immediately prompted me to say to myself "what the heck, do it now, send an invitation for tomorrow" and I did. Teresa and I had swapped days off so that she could extend her weeks holiday by a day which meant that tomorrow was actually last Monday which I thought would catch Lary by surprise and, with other things planned, she'd have to decline. Silly me. She arrived just after 5pm and after a gander round the new pad she rolled her sleeves up and began peeling prawns and chopping hard-boiled eggs for me. My menu was dictated by the most awesome luck....Teresa, prior to starting her holiday, cleared her fridge etc. and passed on to me some some Smoked Salmon and some Steaks. In addition, David has a "thing" about Use-by-Dates and gave me some vol-au-vont cases amongst other stuff he wanted to clear from his store-cupboard. So, with a minimal shop I was able to to produce Vol-au-vonts and Asparragus wrapped in Salmon as starters followed by two steaks with all the trimmings accompanied by two bottles of very decent Red Wine. A typsy trip along to the bar for a bevvy or two preceded going "home" to Calahonda......train to Fuengirola first where we were just in time to miss the last 220.
"Give me 15€"
"Why?"
"Just give me 15€ and keep quiet!"
Pleading poverty with her last 15€ Lary managed to get us home in the luxury of, what should have been, a 20-25€ taxi ride.

Once we were boarded on the train Lary had produced one of my Sundae Dishes and a bottle of Sambuca (which I'd bought for the bar many moons ago when we ran out but Favio never paid me for it so I kept it for myself). The Sambuca I had told her she could have because I don't drink it and the dish she consequently "nicked" from my cupboard behind my back! So, there we were, sharing a Sundae Dish of Sambuca until the Security Guard came along and with a wagging finger said "Tch Tch, you mustn't drink on the train" whereupon, feeling like two naughty little kids, we giggled together and hid the dish whenever he passed by again (which turned out to be quite frequently!!) At nearly 61 life can be real fun at times!

I've been on my own in the bar since Wednesday but Teresa comes back this Thursday and I start my 2 weeks holiday on Sunday. First real break in 15 months and I can't wait. Aaron and Shellie, his new friend, arrive on the 27th of course which is Thanksgiving Day in America and the 4 of us have been invited to Bill & Anns' for their celebration dinner in the evening. Bill is a dab hand in a kitchen so I'm looking forward to his meal very much. Aaron has been told (by email last night) to pack party frocks at the top of their cases in readiness for a relatively quick turnround once they get to their hotel. And judging by his reply Shellie has begun to suffer the "I've got nothing to wear" syndrome! Women!! Actually I'm looking forward to meeting her for the first time (which is the reason for their visit here) very much and Bill & Anns' dinner is a very opportune moment "to break all the ice" so to speak. Unfortunately though they are only going to get 1.18€ for each pound they bring which is a shame.

Back in the Swing? You bet! A chicken is roasting while last week's is being turned into a hearty Lentil & Veg soup ready for later before I go to work.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bucks Fizzing

I'm finally re-installed in my own apartment, still putting things away etc. and getting organized after Ann & Bills' return from their holiday. I've taken some "stick" since you left because, apart from David (and Larisa of course), nobody met you while you were here so next time you come we will have to put that very much to rights. As for my new apartment; I'm really beginning to enjoy it. Although smaller than my old one (I think Bijou is an appropriate word) it's nicely refurbished and lot easier to keep clean. Cristina has been a star keeping a beady eye on me while I settle in and she is now busy refurbishing my old one for her own use. Handy that: having my Landlady living on site; takes but a minute to sort problems out.

I'm making plans to throw a dinner party for two soon and to that end two friends (of the bar and hence mine) are here from Helsinki for a few weeks and last night I discovered that they (the Finnish) have a close affinity to the Russian cuisine, sending me home with some awesome ideas for a menu! Right now I'm cooking a piece of "secreto de cerdo"; marinaded in my tomato chutney and then drizzled with a little chili sauce it is going to be served with my take on Larisa's onion and mushroom saute (I've added diced pepper and some bacon I found in the fridge curling at the edges), roast potatoes and Asparragus. I'm early with my meal because I want to go and stock-take the bar later because Teresa and I have swapped days off this week - tomorrow now being mine and I want a "clear" day to myself. Favio told me to alter the hours to 6 'til 2 at the beginning of the month, which I did but we still are going through until 3, 3-30, 4am (with no extra pay!!!) and the extra hour or more is making me quite tired.

Bill & Ann have been patiently bringing in, by the carrier bagful, stuff that I left behind but, luckily, I'd remembered to remove the Cava we never used for a sangria, and added to some of that tropical drink you liked and today I've been drinking (while cooking) quite the nicest Bucks Fizz ever invented. Bill commented about me leaving the petrol tank somewhere near empty but that's all sorted now and somewhat eclipsed by his news that on her return to America, Erica married!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

All Change Again

Since you went home (to all that snow) we have had nothing but torrential rain, so much that on Friday I was paddling in 6inches of water in the flooded towncentre shopping for the Halloween party in the bar on Saturday. That went quite well despite the horrendous weather and I heard many a punter commenting on the effort that had gone into decorating the bar etc. (my photo shows one of two pumpkin lamps painstakenly made by one of the customers) and my food offerings were very much appreciated, especially the mini pizzas I make:

Salami
Cheddar cheese
Chili Sauce
Dried Oregano
Ritz Crackers

Mix some finely chopped salami with some grated cheddar and a very good sprinkle of Oregano, moistening well with as much chilli sauce as you dare. Plonk a teaspoonful or so in the centre of a ritz cracker then microwave on full-power until the cheese just melts. I'm told that they are yummy but I never get to try one for myself; done a dozen at a time, in a ring round the edge of a plate, they disappear immediately that I serve them.

Larisa agreed to come and help me prep all the food (for the party) here in the apartment but that plan went wrong because her House Alarm was upset by all the water and she received a phone-call from the security company into which the alarm is linked telling her that there was a fault, which forced her to change plans and return to the apartment and I wasn't able to take her because a beer delivery was due and I didn't know when. Worrying that the party might well be a washout I then postponed the plan to prep beforehand anyway and decided to play it by ear during the evening, producing stuff as folk came in. It worked, nothing was left and nothing was wasted. As it happened the beer never arrived (another story) so I could have taken her back to Calahonda after all but time marched on and it just eventually ran out leaving no time for her to return. But, we'd had an afternoon together in Puerto Banus on my day off browsing warm coats etc. that she needs to get ready for a return to Russia in the not too distant future. And that was because I'd invited her out to dinner to thank her for her hospitality while you were here but even that went by the board, we ended up back in her kitchen doing our own thing after a quick shop for stuff to eat.

I'm beginning to move myself back to my own apartment now because Ann & Bill are back on Wednesday coming and I'll be sleeping in my own bed from Tuesday onwards, complete with my electric blanket, it's very cold of a night-time at the moment! Things will be getting back to normal soon I hope and I can return to my normal routine, I'm missing my Roast Chickens!!!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Well, Here it is

As usual, my day off dawned very wet and very bleak, putting the dampers on my mounting excitement about the day's pending activity...going to see Larisa in order to introduce you two to each other. An early trip to the shops was first on the agenda which bagged some packets of Bomba rice and stuff to finish off the list of ingredients for a sangria followed by an ironing session to try and dry the wet trousers brought in out of the rain earlier. I was worried about driving a strange car (and an automatic to boot), in the rain, all the way to Calahonda but after realizing that my left foot was not required I was soon relatively comfortable poodling along in the inside lane through Torremolinos Centro, then Benalmádena and Fuengirola on the Coast Road, eventually arriving at Lary's open front door rather later than she wanted. Prawns, Baby Squid, Chorizo and Sardines, all cooked on my plancha, started us off and, much to my amazement, you found even the squid tentacles delicious! The sangria, my sangria, wasn't bad either it seems because two jugs (two small jugs, pressed into service quickly because of the disaster with the proper one) disappeared between the three of us. Later, after an hour or so's respite, back into the kitchen we all went where you witnessed one of our "committee jobs" take shape....a paella, and the fun we have together making the thing! After cheesecake and a cup of tea, and just before leaving on our spontaneous tour of the back streets of Benalmádena due to someone moving the road from where I thought it was, I remembered to get the camera out and here it is, something that I have waited 4 years or so for ...... say n'more.

Actually, had I forgotten about the photo (and I nearly did) it wouldn't have mattered would it because on Saturday she wants us all to do it again, out on a terrace, hopefully in some sun, either here or there. And if things pan out in my favour (ie she comes here) I'll get to do my Trout dish.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Some Thanks are Due

To those people who have emailed me about the cam etc. I'm sorry I don't reply personally but there are too many for that and in any case the ADSL connection here in this apartment is very intermittent and I'll be extremely lucky if I get this note published before it goes down again.
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Quite where this blog is going to go now that you are about to meet Larisa I don't know because of course the underlying theme has always been to paint a picture for you about my friendship with her and what we get up to. I have been waiting these last few years for the very moment that is fast approaching, and looking forward to it, but now that it is almost here there is for me a sense of "closure"...my penultimate goal is being achieved. All on hold at the moment of course while she gets over the bad cold that she has but the two postponements so far may be fate taking a hand because it will be better for the three of us if, as she now hopes, she is well enough on Wednesday, my day off. While this ADSL connection is alive tonight I've checked the weather forecast.....more of the same....wet and gloomy, even thundery so Trout Al Fresco, out on the terrace, may not be possible after all. We'll see; whatever happens, the sangria will go down well I promise! And I must remember to collect my camera from my own apartment beforehand, there will be at least one photo that I just have to take!!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Just when We Don't Want It

The celebrations continue on this Saturday of every year with a large paellera uptown in the main plaza providing a taster of paella for the gathered masses and down here Michaela (the self-appointed "queen" of El Bajondillo) always runs a Street Barbecue and party outside her Hostal. The trouble this year is that it is raining. Bad weather has been forecast all this week but it hasn't happened until now and the poor forecast is continuing well on into next week as well, so it's likely that the paella cook-in will be postponed or cancelled. Micheala always has the street shaded at the start of the summer with a giant awning stretched across from one side to the other at 1st floor level so she may be able to carry on as normal if it proves to be an effective umbrella as well. 1330hrs update.....as my photo shows, the paella is being cooked (under cover) but unfortunately for the chef the crowds are missing due to the wet weather. A shame.

1515hrs and a further update....I can hear Micheala's "bash" sounding like it is in full swing just down the road so when my camera has finished charging I am going to pop along for a hotdog and a photo or two..........OK, nothing much going on now (seems it was 2 o'clock) but look at this - a sign advertising some of what was on offer and what's interesting is that, apart from Tripe, there are two paellas - one Spanish and one Philipino and that has fired my imagination. I'm going to investigate on the net and next time Lary and I do paella together maybe I'll be able to ring a change!

Randy has kindly given me a few euros for a new black cartridge as payment for all the printing I have done in recent months for him and Beryl. I haven't been unduly bothered about the lack of ink until now but last night Teresa came up with the idea of having a "give 'n take" bookshelf on the mantlepiece over the fireplace in the bar which, after gaining Ana-Mary's enthusiastic approval, (she'll always welcome any excuse to remove some of the photos of her that are around the bar) is going to be actioned straight away and I've been put in charge of making a sign and I much prefer a DTP document off a computer than a scratchy job with a felt-tip pen. So, I've got to go out and, likely, get wet.

I'm not surprised about the rain though. It had to come this week because I'm trying to move!! I can't get washing dried easily, the plants are soaked through, heavy and wet and having to lug cases along to Ann & Bills' for my temporary move into there won't be fun either in inclement weather.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Romeria/Feria

Since last Sunday, and until next weekend, Torremolinos celebrates its adopted saint, San Miguel (I think). Last Sunday the Romeria took place and a couple of shots of a young lady enjoying herself in the Bullock drawn procession are now posted on the Website Front Page. I took 72 photographs of the procession and some will eventually find their way into the archive at My Gallery but, first, I have to remind myself how to do that.

This coming week is La Feria (the Fair) for which lights have been put up all over the place (including bang in front of my webcam outside my bedroom) and banks and businesses are shut on Monday at least with many taking the whole week off, including my brewery and other suppliers; hence a double delivery of beer today (and that won't probably be enough!) A fun time.

The large delivery earlier today and its attendant workload gave me an appetite that wouldn't wait to be consoled later, so, what to eat for a late lunch? On Thursday morning, seeing me sleepily descending the stairs, Larisa asked "Quieres Pan y Huevas?" That floored me a little until I remembered that she has a habit of using an "A" when there should be an "O". I've read about eggy bread in the past and even seen Worrall-Thompson produce the dish on TV (he has a home not far from here which makes me wonder whether Pan y HuevOs is actually a spanish dish that he has added to his breakfast repertoire.) Her quickly produced offering served with jams and pates was delicious, although I wouldn't buy pates for myself, I'm not too keen. Have a go I thought, do it for yourself, and I have, just now. I know you are not fond of eggs but:

1 egg and a dash of water
2 slices bread
Salt
pepper
Paprika (I just love the Hot , Smoked, Spanish stuff.)

Pour the beaten and seasoned egg and water onto a shallow plate and soak the bread slices (both sides) in it before frying them in hot Olive Oil.

Easy. I didn't bother with jams, marmalade and the like though, I served mine with some bacon rashers, a turkey burger and an extravagant splodge of ketchup.

"O" and "A"?? If you look up the difference in a Spanish dictionary between, say, Pollo and Polla you'll realize why I was careful to look at the Mis en Place before deciding to say "yes please".

Thursday, 25 September 2008

I Caught One!!

It couldn't see me at the back of the queue so I managed to get a shot. Left with its tail wagging out on the street a 220 is beginning its next meal. All went well until I got to its mouth. "Espera!" and I had to wait while it checked its belly for more room. With reluctance I was allowed in (along with 3 more behind me) and my journey to Calahonda began. Having had to allow me in it then wanted revenge, which it got at Calahonda by shutting the exit door in my face as I queued to get off. Having none of its fun and games with me I shouted at it and was promptly disgorged out onto the dusty street without further ceremony. What a beast!

I've come home early today because Larisa has taken the girls into Marbella and there was no point in me going with them only to have to turn round and begin the journey back as soon as I got there. Juli goes home on Saturday so they are cramming as much as they can in before she leaves. Katy has yet to buy her return ticket so maybe I'll get to see her again before she goes although I've told Lary that next week will be difficult for me because I will be moving. The trip to Benalmádena and the flamenco show was aborted because, at the door the entrance fee was 35€ and Katy and I immediately started counting the number of days shopping that the spend would deprive us of. Juli was disappointed but we drove to the Marina and had an amble round there instead where, luckily for me, my new socks didn't give me blisters.

Larisa has asked about when you will be arriving and I've told her the story as it stands but, just in case, I've checked out Mesón Salamanca in Fuengirola today on my way home for opening times etc. and hopefully a trip there for a meal together can be arranged because I have been given the use of Ann's car and there is an underground car-park just 50 metres away with a lift back up to Terra Firma. I might even be able to drop you at the door and then park the car. We'll see, one way or another I'm hoping that you will get to see some of our favourite places if you come.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Brighter Horizons

A grey, miserable and damp day has dawned in keeping with the forecast which, for the next few days, is more of the same with rain and possibly thunder to boot. We (Lary, myself and the girls) are going to go to a Flamenco show in Benalmádena this evening and I think that I'm going to have to dry my washing in front of the fire in order to be ready to catch the infamous 220 later this afternoon. It's all go here; Christina has just knocked to tell me who to speak to to get the telephone line moved (I asked her to call Telefonica for me, she has but only I can place the order), a trip to the bank for change is necessary, then prep the bar for Teresa and in-between whiles nibble away at the jobs required here in the apartment in advance of my move downstairs. One day soon I'll get to make the temporary move into Bill & Anns'; things have come all at once and whilst I'm not losing the plot I'm beginning to wonder which way to turn next! The other week when she was here Lary offered to help me clean this apartment as I vacate and I might just take her up on that remembering the help she gave me in Carolina's when Aaron and Lizzie visited a few years back. A woman's touch makes all the difference.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

I'm Moving!

Christina has just knocked to tell me that I can move into the studio downstairs on 1st Oct. She took me to see what has been done since I last saw it and I have to say that the little kitchen is a gem, she's really done a nice job with cupboards and workspace, all nicely thought out. I'm looking forward to it although I'll be house-sitting for Bill and Ann and not able to take proper advantage of my new abode until November.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Here's Hoping

A trip to a different Accountant this morning, one where English was spoken and understood, has switched the light on at the end of the tunnel. I have now found the right paperwork here in my files with which to prove to the Social Security people that they should lift the block on my bank account, stop the payments that they expect every month, and indeed return all monies to me that they have been erroneously taking over the last two-and-a-half years. A tidy sum if I get it, some of which will be used to by a second-hand car. Then I can take you to Calahonda if you can come for the visit. What's even better is that this accountant, for a very small fee, is going to do all the business with the Soc Sec office for me.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Days Full of Surprises

I woke up this morning to find that my mobile was as dead as a dodo. No amount of threats, shakings, bashings or rechargings would bring it back to life (it was fine last night) so I've had to nip up the stairs to buy another. An unexpected expense, which, at 49€, has bought a basic phone without a camera into which I have transferred the SIM in order to keep my number.

Last night was the repeat performance that Teresa and I were looking for (actually slightly better) and the new phone's first job today was to contact the brewery for an extra cask of beer over and above the order I placed with them on Wednesday. Things went well and the beer was delivered promptly while I was there this morning bottling up. A "Hi Derek" while my back was turned to the bar door doing that (making me jump out of my skin) turned out to be Teresa looking for some first-aid to a cut finger she'd suffered in her apartment. Randy was summoned and duly dealt with the situation for her, after which she and I went for a quick beer together. And here I am, back home...........

The plancha is for another day - my job was to cook a paella for Juli to try as part of her first trip to Spain. She is a Newscaster for a local TV station in her city north of Moscow who took a great interest in the proceedings and, needless to say, La Paparrazi found a camera or two and photographed me and her at the cooker. With me firmly in charge of things I found time to bring Juli into the frame with me while the Paella looked after itself. At the table the whole lot went, along with two jugs of Sangria, for which Lary and I went back down to the shop in the car because I forgot about having to buy the stuff beforehand. And that was because I was very late in arriving because the 220 sauntered into the bus station at Fuengirola well over an hour late. I actually tried to photograph the beast's Nose & Beak to show what one looks like but while we were in a standoff with the camera it barked at me and decided to move forward a little so I missed my shot.

Thursday morning I was woken up by Lary bright and early (qué pasa Mr Derek Field, todavía estás dormiendo? through a wide open door) to be told that we were going to go into Málaga and the Police Station. Katy had to get her papers ratified or something and it can only be done there at the Comisariá. 4 hours later we were safely back with the car parked in the garage without a scratch. Around 3pm the two girls decided to go out on their own, leaving me and Lary alone until my time to leave at about 4. During that time I decided that one day in the not too distant future, all things considered, I ought to ask for that job I mentioned the other day but I'll be absolutely devastated if I can't have it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

All of a Rush

"When you come bring your plancha" so whilst heaven knows what's on the menu tonight I've got to take my electric griddle to Calahonda today even although Charcoal was bought during last weeks shopping trips. But first there is much to do in the bar. The place looks like a bomb has hit it, Teresa is worried that another night like last night will mean that she'll struggle to keep up etc and I, despite her pleadings, will not be on-hand to help. We actually had an overflow out onto the street yesterday of about a dozen people because there was no room in the inn and they included Favio & Ana-Mary who couldn't get into their own bar!

I'd better get on, time is precious.

Wow!!

Teresa and I have just had what is probably the best night
ever in the bar. Hopefully not a fluke but more to do with a couple of recent radical changes to the way that the bar is managed. After long discussions with Favio and Ana-Mary the pair of us have managed to get our own way in the way things are done because, despite Favio's ditherings, Ana-Mary has taken all onboard and persuaded him to listen to us and, at least, try what we are suggesting. Repeat performances like tonight will prove us right and we have every confidence that that will be the case. The only trouble is that here I am at 4-30am, having more-or-less just got home, waiting for a meal to finish cooking. The carrot, of course, is that Favio promised more wages for increased business and we will hold him to that, mark my words and watch this space as they say. Why's the room full of choking blue smoke?......I'm not paying attention to the heating deep-fat fryer!!...must go.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Un Hombre Único

A call from Larisa just before 3am Friday morning sent me into a panic; she was in Torre and was going to come down to my apartment. That meant that she intended to stay the night and then the both of us go over to Calahonda etc. etc. I told her that I would call back when I was finished in the bar and proceeded to plan a strategy - get closed, prep for Teresa and go. Sod's Law took over immediately, I had a few slow drinkers in who were disinclined to drink-up and leave. Eventually, at 3-45, I managed to close the doors behind a group of disgruntled punters clutching plastic cups. Too late to prep what with Lary waiting for a call so the closing procedure was hurriedly completed and on my minutes walk back to the apartment I made the call.

"Were you watching for me on your camera?"
"No, I watched from the terrace balcony as you saw."

I opened a bottle of Red Wine (Doctors orders) and we settled down to chat well into the small hours, going to bed at 6am or so (usual arrangements BTW). Apparantly, during one of her calls with Carolina in Majorca (we were discussing my impending move) the fact that none of Carolina's tenants, since I moved, have paid her any rent. She was bemoaning that fact and said that she "wished everybody was like Derek, Un hombre único (A unique man). I'm not blowing my own trumpet here, it's just that, for me, it is nice to know. Lary's point was actually that I should twist Cristina's arm and get a better deal here etc. etc.

Friday morning, somewhat after 11am I quietly made my first cuppa while she continued dozing on the sofa. What with me having to prep the bar and wait for a delivery we didn't get away until 3-45pm and, chatting like we hadn't seen each other in a long long time, we made it by train and bus to her place. During the journey we spoke to Katia on the mobile and I was told that another of Larisa's nieces is coming this weekend and that Katia is coming on Wednesday. Larisa showed me some papers addressed to Katia - a work permit and rights of residence here in Spain, valid for 2 years, which means that she doesn't have to apply for a visa for every visit. Larisa's expired some little while ago and she didn't bother to renew them so I guess that that is why she goes home regularly, to renew each 90 day visa. Maybe, now, Lary might overcome her dislike of bureaucracy and get her own again.

She did it!!
"You go to the pool" she said as a pair of Viktors shorts winged their way across the room, "I'll make something to eat and then we are going to go shopping." At this time of year pool heaters tend to be turned off so I opted to sit out on the terrace in the autumn sun and wait for what was coming to the table. Reheated paella (from the freezer) is not the best way to enjoy Spain's national dish but we both tucked into it with gusto, leaving nothing for the ever present flies. "Vale", after everything was cleared away, washed and put away, "nos vamos de compras" and with a pointing finger I was directed down to the garage. Its a Seat Ibiza with the steering wheel on the wrong side for me and, luckily, a manual gearchange (I hate automatics.) Having gingerly manoeuvred out of the garage, up the ramp and onto the road I was beginning to feel at home behind the wheel so off we went, to the Mercadona supermarket. In charge of the trolley, I dutifully trotted behind, only once ramming her backside in a moment of distraction, keeping quiet while she concentrated on what to fill the cupboards with for herself and her visitors although, when I saw a carton of Sangria coming off the shelf I drew the line. "Larisa, por favor!!" "No?" "No! If you want Sangria I'll buy the proper ingredients." "OK but not now. When you come back bring them with you," and with that the carton went back where it belongs, left alone on the shop-shelf. "Can you see Bomba Rice?" I've got her converted it seems but unfortunately it's either out of season or this branch doesn't stock it because there wasn't any to be had. So stuff for a Sangria and also some Bomba rice are now on my list for a future trip to my local Mercadona prior to catching the train and 220 back to her. Oh, great! It's now dark, we've finished shopping (for now) and I don't know where the headlamp switch is. She didn't know the way back either so, after twice round the roundabout and once up a dead-end we eventually got home.

Hoy no día de descanso para ti Mr Derek!
Saturday, 1pm, and a call to Lary's mobile announced that Julia (her expected niece) had boarded her flight from Moscow. Due here in Málaga at about 1930 hrs her arrival was to be preceded by last minute dusting, tidying and more shopping so here I am, very domesticated (maybe I should put in for the job as husband), out on the terrace with the aspiradora doing my bit. Remember, the shorts are not mine so I make no excuses!! "Vale, ahora nos vamos a la piscina, entonces nos vamos a las tiendas y entonces algo comer." I was right! The pool (and the poolside shower) was excrutiatingly cold on hot skin but we enjoyed a frolic overseen by an English lady enjoying a rest on her sunlounger nearby on the grass. Another trip to the shops saw Larisa happy that every eventuallity was covered and, back at the apartment, Sardinas, Russian something-or-others (pork mince and onions wrapped in a filo pastry like an overgrown ravioli, and all homemade), Prawns, Chorizo sausage and salad brought the clock round to about 4pm and my time to leave for work. "I'll call you, probably on Wednesday" she said as we parted, which could mean that maybe, just maybe, I might get to drive her and Julia to the airport to meet Katia in the arrivals hall.

More Crumpet(s)
Back at the bar I hadn't long been open before Ann & Bill came in. "We've got something for you" they said, and peering into a carrier bag I saw some Smoked Mackerel and a pack of six crumpets. Supper last night was a couple of those, followed by a couple more and then a couple more. The empty package was all too soon in the bin and I went to bed with a smile on my face and indigestion raging inside. A fine end to another fine time.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Tomorrow Instead

I'm going tomorrow. Larisa has just called and I've said "of course" because I'm now due a day off and am expecting to be able to take it at a moments notice bearing in mind that I had no idea when we would be able to re-arrange our time together, I was leaving it entirely up to her.

The other day I mentioned a stag party in the bar and wrote about a photo...well here it is and my thanks go to the guys concerned for taking the trouble to send it to me. There are actually 4 and one or two more of them will go onto the TV Screen, believe me.

What a Day

I never got to see Larisa after all today. One of the chores that I mentioned earlier was to take some change to the bar to set the till up ready for Teresa. There I met with Beryl who was concerned about the fact that a little earlier a Town Hall Official had delivered a revised licence (the outside tables are now allowed) accompanied by two Police Officers. She was worried that the Officers were there to check other things and, between us, we decided that I should work the bar alone and well within the bounds of the opening licence, in case they intended to return during the open hours. Having taken that decision I asked Beryl to speak with Larisa on the phone explaining why I wouldn't be able see her, which she did and everything was fine. 6 hours later I learned that Officials delivering licence papers always have a Police Escort and that that was their only business...to ensure that he was able to deliver the papers without hindrance. Too late to change plans, I lost my day off again. I've sent a txt to tell Lary that it was a false alarm and that I intend to take a day off at mine and hers' convenience but she hasn't replied yet. Sometimes this job really gets in the way! Favio owes me a big favour.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Good Job Too!!

I'm up early because I have things to do in town (including going to see the Accountant again) before I leave for Calahonda. Having had just 3 hours or so sleep last night I don't feel too bad but I might just snatch forty winks after the chores.

Yesterday I managed to sort out the problem with my website. Well, not sort it, more of a workaround. Either way my sierracazorla.net domain is back online albeit with a different host. Luckily for me this new hosting company provide exactly the same hosting services as the old one using the same software so I now have a reserve site which is a cinch to bring online with nothing more than a simple address change. Oh, and there's another thing: this host is totally free!!

We had a belter of a storm last night after all. It lashed it down after I went to bed and I'm glad that I didn't put any faith in my assessment of the weather situation despite going up onto the roof terrace to watch the storm apparantly passing by us some miles out to sea!! The heat has been taken out of the ground by the water leaving us with a cool 21ºC /70ºF this morning. Nice. But the sun is already out, the sky is clear and the temperature is rising so it won't be long before we are sweltering again. At least my babies out on my terrace won't need any attention for a day or two, they are all well-stocked with overflowing pot-trays.

Larisa said last night on the phone that she is alone so I'm presuming that Viktor has gone home with Anastasia. There's Paella in the freezer (or there was) so apart from, maybe, some wine and stuff for a Sangria I can't see the reason why we are going shopping. Yes I can, I get to practise in the car! Or perhaps Viktor has eaten her out of house and home and she needs to restock. We'll see, I don't mind a dose of Retail Therapy at all.

By Hook or By Crook

The weather report at this hour of the morning is "thunder in the vicinity" and I can hear rumbles in the distance. I've checked the sferics and the nearest activity is on the Moroccan coast. Southerly winds prevail so I don't think there is any risk that we will get the storm here although there is other activity to the north around Madrid.

Last week, having been told that Larisa was going to Moscow I arranged to go to the Marina in Benalmádena tonight, discotequeing. That appears to have been forgotten about by the others involved and good job too because I'm off to Calahonda later when we will go shopping together. I'm to have my Driving Licence with me so that we can go in the car! By hook or by crook she's going to get me driving Viktor's car.

Ooooh I dunno....brighter lightning and louder rumbles, maybe the wind has changed, I'd better bring the washing in.

0501 and I'm battening down the hatches, it's starting to spit rain.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Website News

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More
The problem with the domain (sierracazorla.net) has been sorted and the alternate site that has been in use is now back on "reserve". Hopefully no other problems will arise and the proper domain can be maintained daily as is necessary.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A Night in the Parlour

Not as strange as it may sound, my title, because before Anna turned the premises into a bar, the bar itself was her front room!! An extremely good night last night, Teresa and I took a lot of money and had an enjoyable time with a lovely crowd. It all started bang on 7pm with a Stag Party turning up to start their celebration. School friends from South East London, they found the bar early on Friday evening, fell in love with the ambience and returned last night for a bevvy or two before going out on the town. Seated at the end of the table the "victim" is getting married in October and, here, is dressed in a ladies dress with Pearls and allsorts to accompany. I'm sure that they will have had a good time and they promised to return tonight to tell me all about it. Actually there is an hilarious photo of me being held up, horizontally, legs and arms all akimbo by the chap standing. Time will tell if I get to see it again but he has my Email address to send it to.

Ann & Bill came by and gave me the Roasting Rack that they'd bought on my behalf in the UK during their recent visit. A nice, small, non-stick one that fits in my little oven just perfectly. Then the fun started. Teresa commented about having a few aches and pains so Ann offered to do a little massage on her. Unfortunately I didn't think to get the camera out but, as the queue grew for Ann's attentions I did and a few shots of folk undergoing Ann's almost hypnotic treatment follow. Then a singsong started. With Bill & David in the bar it is becoming inevitable that one occurs and always it is not long before some of the others find their voices and join in. And then the dancing started and Irene had her wicked way with me. Something she's been trying to do ever since she arrived a week or so ago, get me to dance with her! And all because of Rod Stewart. Requested by Bill so that he could smooch with Ann the background music turned the bar floor into a dance floor pretty quickly. Some, of course, prefer the quiet life tucked away out of the hullabaloo. Anna, Randy, Beryl, Ole-Erik and Elsa-Britt found conversation easy at the other end of the bar although, as it turned out, Randy was deep in thought about another bowl of his homemade chilli, some of which was offered as a takeaway to me and Teresa. Gratefully accepted, and with my name ringing in my ears (if Deidre used it once she used it a thousand times and was eventually gagged by Ann), my evening ended out on the terrace in quiet reflection over Chilli and Tortilla Chips and a cuppa or two. All the fun and games means that there is plenty to do in the bar to prepare for tonight, which is what I have to go and do shortly. I have the place to myself tonight because Teresa is having the night off as she has a visitor so I'm going to charge the camera up in the hope that things are as busy today even without her blonde charms!


Other Stuff

The news broke last night that Erica is going home, back to the States, tomorrow having decided that Spain is no longer for her. As a friend and confidante I have known about her decision since she took it and she came to see me on Friday afternoon to say cheerio (we actually bumped into each other in town, where, not having noticed her, I heard "don't you dare walk by without saying hi!" She said that she was actually on her way down to see me whereupon I had to point out that we'd better keep moving because my shopping bag contained a trout and I didn't want it to start stinking in the heat. "Friends forever" we will stay in touch through email.

Ann & Bill have mentioned again about me house-sitting for them while they are away in October. If I do, and with Ann & Bills' blessing, then we'll have to arrange a trip over here for you . Their apartment is more suitable for you than mine because there is a lift.

Christina and I have come to an arrangement over the Studio below. I will be moving into it, probably at the end of this month. Whilst I didn't get all that I was after in terms of rent etc I'm quite happy with the outcome and, as it happens, house-sitting for Ann will make it easier to effect the move without leaving me in limbo with my things split between the two. I reckon that I can do it in two or three days, leisurely, during the time available to me. Where's heaven? In the new BATHroom!!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Una Broma (A Joke)

My phone went tonight at 10 to 3 just as I was preparing to close. I didn't need to look at the screen to see who it was, I just picked it up, accepted the call and answered with "Hola Larisa". All the way from Moscow?? Erm, no, all the way from Torre centro. "When you finish, come up the stairs and call me from the top of c/San Miguel" She said. "OK" I said and having closed, came home, dumped my stuff, collected her keyset and, at 20 past 3 in the morning, climbed the 181 steps up to the top. I didn't need to call her, I could hear her talking and laughing with someone just out of sight on C/Mercedes and sure enough she burst into view from around the corner only to go into hysterics upon seeing me huffing and puffing after the climb (not easy at 3am after 8 hours work in the bar!). "I thought that you were going to Moscow today." "Una broma" was the reply through a little grin. She was in the company of her friend Irena and I had approached dangling her keys expecting just to exchange them for mine and return to my apartment, something to eat and then my bed. Oh no. I still have her keys, she wouldn't take them..."otro día" she said "you keep them "for security", where's open now?" "I don't have any money on me, I've left my wallet at home" "No problem, Irena is inviting you". "Back downstairs then, there's a bar open down the stairs" I said, and we turned to go there. Irena has a car so I said that we could drive there whereby we turned back around again, found the car, and did just that. Back to Titos Bar which is not far from here. Irena knows the bar, she has been there before in times gone by and having all got in via the knock on the window that is necessary (somewhat like an American Speakeasy bar) we had a drink. Upon leaving I told them that I could walk home from there which prompted from Lary "you don't want to come with us?" Then Irena took over saying (to Larisa) that they were going back to Málaga so goodbyes were said and here I am, bemused. She's going to call me in the next day or two. Una broma? Maybe she'd had a wine or two which made her "sound" despondent. Maybe she's upset about the fact that I may have to return to the UK if I can't resolve the problem at the bank and wants me to know how it feels to receive that sort of news, as if I don't already from previous partings of ours. She quizzed me again, tonight, about the status of my attempts to get things put right and I brought her up-to-date but I think that she's really bothered that we might not be seeing much more of each other.

Cristina caught me on the stairs as I was going out to work today. I couldn't stop but apparantly the Studio below is ready and I have first option. Tomorrow I'm going down to view it properly having just had a glimpse in the bathroom, the door to which she opened during our brief discussion. Guess what! There's a bath. A real one, well, half of full-size one. But that's big enough for me!! Where's the Radox? Let's hope that we can come to an amicable agreement about rent, and I can sort the bank.

Bed. Nite nite. Moscow? What the devil next?

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Any Old Trout Will Not Do

A Reminder
The active website is still the alternate. Click the link on the side panel to the right and update bookmarks. Sierracazorla.net is not "live" at the moment.

OK, about the Trout
Now that Wednesdays hold no anticipation or excitement for the forseeable future what to do is the question. Next week is organised...a trip to the Marina discotequeing all night long, just like the old days but tonight? I've bought a trout. A fresh one, which is presently marinading in the fridge so it won't be long before the plancha is fired up and Trout with Salad and Game Chips will be served up, al fresco on the terrace, hence the swap in cameras for tonight. I've done a pile of the chips because I really like them. Already prepped and de-starched I am now drawing water off them with some salt while the Trout is marinating. They will be crisp and delicious and I'll be picking at the leftovers all night long if I get my way! Bright-eyed through careful selection, the fish is wallowing in White wine, Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice and chopped fresh Parsley. No expense spared as the saying goes although the fish only cost 1.41€ (one Pound, more or less.) The white wine was even cheaper and if my ability to spel disappears I'll give you won guess wy. OK, the Sun is down, life is cool and my wine glass is empty, again. see you later!

A Mix-up

It seems that I should have done something yesterday about getting the keys exchanged because last night she sent a txt asking what was wrong, she has no time today and that she'll call another day (which, I presume, means sometime between now and next March if I've understood the possible timescale of her trip to Moscow properly.) I sent back that I thought that I had been told (and I know I was..."te llamo mañana", three words I didn't miss at the end of our conversation late on Sunday night) to wait for a call from her to arrange the meeting and that, if she wants, I can pop over to Calahonda today if necessary. No reply yet so I suppose that she really is very busy packing etc., or maybe even en-route to Madrid for the flight tomorrow. Oh well, not to worry, but I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to talk with her face-to-face and find out a little more about why she has to go.

A lazy day indoors then, except for a trip to the shops. I prepped the bar last night after closing so I am totally free today. Lazy day? I should coco. There's washing to do, cooking to do and cleaning to do. No peace for the wicked.

I've just been shouted at, through the open patio door, by one of the local Sparrow flock!! His (or her) problem? There's no water in the plant-pot tray it is wanting to drink from. The cheep of it!

PS. I've noticed on the WebCam this morning that the lights have been put up for the Romería here in Torremolinos. My dictionary says - "ROMERÍA Originally a pilgrimage to a shrine or church to express devotion to the Virgin Mary or a local saint, the term romería has been extended to describe the rural fiesta which accompanies the pilgrimage. People come from all over the country to spend the day in celebration, bringing copious amounts of food and drink with them." Well, I know that here in Torre a long procession of decorated floats makes its way out of town to a site where barbecues and picnics can be (and are) set up for the celebration. I'll try and get a photo or two.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

It Can't be Co-incidence

When I got back from work on Sunday night and checked the Web & Blog stats (as I always do) I noticed a marker pinned into Moscow on the Google Map that is part of the information that I receive. On further investigation, sure enough, on this blog a hit from Moscow had been logged.
The same evening that Larisa called me about going back to Russia there was (earlier) a hit to a specific page (no referral, no search and, namely, the one where I told you about the special ringtone I assigned to her name on my mobile) 6 hours or so before she called me. First the hit from St Petersburg prior to Katia going there for a visit late in June and now this prior to Lary's imminent departure. Somebody in Moscow has been told to read a particular blogpage of mine. Co-incidence? Who knows.

As yet I haven't heard from Lary about the keys so, if I don't hear anything tonight I'm going to prep the bar ready for Teresa's solo stint tomorrow (my day off) before I lock up tonight in the hope that she'll call tomorrow morning (like she did last week) and I'll be able to respond without hindrance but, somehow, I don't think that Gibraltar will be on the cards if she does which will be shame because I was really looking forward to getting a big box of Yorkshire Tea in the Morrisons Supermarket there at least.

Favio is away for a holiday today and I've been left in charge of Buying and Banking for 10 days or so but I doubt that I'll get any overtime for doing so!!

BTW, I know that you updated yourself here on Sunday also! Having not spoken to you for a couple of weeks now it is comforting to know you were, at least, on the computer that day.

Monday, 1 September 2008

We Don't Say Goodbye

I knew that a week was a long time! Tonight at 2am Larisa rang and sounded really despondent as she told me that on Thursday she has to return to Russia, possibly until March I think I heard her say. And when I asked "¿para siempre?" (for ever) just to make her repeat things there was an emphatic "¡No!" but she is not sure just how long she has to stay in Moscow. The call knocked the stuffing out of me and all I wanted to do was go home from work but I soldiered on until 3-40am trying to entertain the punters but my heart was no longer in the job.

We have almost identical keyrings and last Thursday, as I left her, I picked up the wrong set and found myself locked out upon arrival home. A phonecall back to her sent her looking and she found mine. Together we agreed that it didn't matter and could wait until next Wednesday (I was able to rustle up a spare set of mine and she didn't need hers) but now, later today, we have to meet to exchange them and she is going to call me again to arrange where and when and hopefully, I'll be able to find out more.

Right now I need Celine Dion and "Immortality", one line of which is my title tonight.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Busy Times Ahead

August is notorious for being quiet in the bars despite the fact that Spain is on holiday throughout the month and everybody descends on The Costas. The trouble is that the Spanish are renowned for not spending any money. September is always better because the Spanish go home (to Madrid etc.) leaving room for the rest of the world to enjoy a holiday here. Last night, for me and Teresa, it started; the first of our Irish friends arrived for their annual September jaunt and filled the bar and the till. The evening was also bolstered by David celebrating his birthday in the company of a "long time not seen" friend whom he bumped into a few days ago. His friend was so enamoured with his evening with us that he left a 20€ tip behind! David and some of the other Irish clients engaged in a wee singsong that was still going on when Ana-Mary arrived and she took the opportunity to join in as well, even singing a song for all on her own. The four of us (Favio, Ana-Mary, me and Teresa) are in the process of brainstorming ideas to improve the bar for all and after last night I think that I'll ask David, Christy et al for a list of singsongy songs that I can then search for the words to on the internet and eventually produce some song-sheets via my printer so that everybody can join in when these (always) impromptu things happen.

Last night, for no other reason than I just simply decided to, I wore my waistcoat with a white shirt and black trousers, which was fortuitous because Irene and Deidre arrived from Ireland (they are the ladies who had me line up with them outside the bar for a photo last May as they left to go back home) and Irene professes to "like me in white" to the point that she actually bought me a white shirt as a present on that last visit. Unfortunately, the shirt I wore last night was given to me by Larisa but tonight I'm going to do the same and wear Irene's gift and, hopefully, the appreciative comments that I received over the bar about being "properly" dressed will continue because that aspect of the evening was extremely pleasing to me.

Make up a cup-a-soup mushroom sachet adding a smidgen of cream, some cold roast chicken breast, a pinch of Tarragon, some Pepper and a few frozen peas to heat through then pour over a portion of spaghetti tossed in a little Tomato purée and that's me done for my evening meal.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Passionate Patriotism

First of all....Larisa didn't give up last Sunday despite me not replying to her invitation for Paella that she had sent on the Saturday; she had faithfully cooked one expecting me to turn up at 1pm anyway. She showed me the meal safely stashed in the freezer for another day, another date, with the words "para ti otro día" (for you another day.) No wonder she called, she was disappointed and also worried that something might be wrong. Hence the reason why you'll read later about next Wednesday I think, she has made sure that plans don't go awry over the phone. My old moans about the amount of time I get to be with her are now going out of the window, things are changing again and I believe that Viktor is playing a big part between us, tying up loose ends in our story. Speaking of which; I remember writing a little while ago that a new chapter begins. Ongoing, and the best so far, I'm going to entitle it "Viktor's Bit".

The early evening barbie went well. Overseen by Chef Viktor there were lots of goodies nicely done over the hot coals with plenty of salad and fruit to accompany. Viktor has been back home and returned with his Grandaughter, Anastasia, who is a flaming red-head and 8 years old. She warmed to me very quickly and many times dragged Larisa and me to the pool for a frolic in the water. Larisa had waited for me to arrive before going shopping so I was able to help in that department and made responsible for the choice of ingredients for a Sangria. It was a good'un and enjoyed by many a jug-full well into the small hours. The problems in Georgia were high on the conversational agenda and, again, a restaurant and The Crimea cropped up as well, just as I expected. Judging by what I saw on Russian TV the country is still rejoicing in its successes at the Olympics and I have a photo here (snapped with my mobile) of Lary sporting her allegiance while walking with Anastasia, who is also similarly garbed, albeit in a different size, to a local bar for a game of pool (at which, for once, I beat Lary fair 'n square.) After the games Anastasia suddenly realized that she was hungry and led us all to the nearest chinky for Peking Duck which, apparantly, she cannot resist and will always find room for, despite a full belly!!! One portion shared by all was enough to satisfy her desires though and here in the photo we are finished and thinking about a midnight trip back home in the car.

We have made tentative arrangements for next week already; I am to go to Calahonda early on Wednesday morning with my passport because a day trip to Gibraltar is planned and if Viktor offers me the car keys again (as he did this visit, and always does) I might just do the driving for them as it is a nice easy drive on the motorway. Larisa keeps pressing me to drive the car but as I haven't driven for about 4 years now and as it is a strange car to me I have declined to. But next week.....no drink and a straight road, I might accept the opportunity to get my hand "back in", maybe with just a little practise outside on the street first. Having said all that next week is a long time away and I'll see what happens when I call her next Tuesday to confirm etc. Actually I'm beginning to think that, if it wasn't for my job, I'd be invited to do a lot more travelling with her, what with Andorra and Paris in the weeks gone by and now Gibraltar (for a day, which she knows I can manage) and possibly to come, an inevitable invitation to The Crimea. Inevitable? Yes, I think so because Viktor keeps dropping hints about me visiting his place there.

My Spanish took a bashing! On Thursday morning Viktor decided to go down to the Tobacconist for some cigarettes and I went with him for the ride. Upon realising that I was going out Larisa worriedly enquired whether I was leaving and I had to explain that I was only going out with Viktor to the shops and that my plan was actually to leave at about 3pm, which satisfied her concerns. After we had got back the President of the apartment complex came to the terrace gate to discuss issues with Viktor. He is English, which Viktor doesn't speak of course, and doesn't speak Spanish. Having politely stayed indoors minding my own business the next thing I heard, from Larisa, was a soft "Derek? Ven por Favor" and I was put to work translating Spanish into English for the President while she translated Russian into Spanish for me (from Viktor), and vice versa of course. 45 minutes later, with every point brought up successfully resolved, I was thanked by all for my effort. I've always known that, somewhere, I have a calling!!!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Phones are Not so Bad after all.

I'm off to Calahonda a little later for a barbie. Our phonecalls are working well, I'm findng it easier with each one, getting used to her accent on the phone and, no doubt, her with mine. Funnily enough I'm finding that I am thinking faster and thinking in Spanish which makes it all the more easy. I still make loads of mistakes though (and probably always will) but who cares, we understand each other sufficiently to successfully organise things between us. Thinking back to that evening on the train with David, when we all went out for meal in Fuengirola and I had been told to ring her from Los Boliches, the bad nerves I had over that little call have disappeared completely. Mind you Katy is not in the background egging Lary on to tease me over my Spanish this time.

She may not be in when I get there (shopping) but Viktor is there to open the door for me (I was wrong to suppose that his holiday would've ended in July it seems.) So, more talk of a Restaurant and The Crimea no doubt over volumes of wine. It might be a long night again!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Esperando

On Sunday evening I was twiddling my fingers in an empty bar and decided to delete my inbox/outbox on my mobile phone. Immediately I started doing that 2 SMSs came in, one from Larisa and one from Aaron. Larisa's had been sent 30 hours previously on Saturday and Aaron's had also been sent on Saturday. Now I'm wondering if the phone's memory had been too full to receive anymore, although, normally, it will flash-up a message to that effect. Not to worry, Larisa followed up with the phonecall on Sunday afternoon and Aaron had already done what his said he was going to do and sent me an email with his visit dates detailed. Having suggested to Lary that we ought to start talking on the phone I have seen fit to take the bull by the horns and have just called her myself to see if we can meet tomorrow. So, plans are afoot, nothing concrete yet, I'm waiting on a call back from her. But at least I did it, spoke on the phone for once, in spanish and I think that she was more nervous than I was with the spanish language on the blower. It's not easy as I keep telling you. Now I hope that I can look forward to more of my handwritten little ditty waking up my mobile's screen.

Last night was so quiet in the bar that I was able to prep it for today before I locked up for the night so today I don't have to worry about going "in" before opening time. Which means that I have to find something else to do.........where's the kitchen.......

OK. Here's a silly take on scrambled egg. Done because I've time on my hands and I'm all a'dither waiting for Larisa to call back. Life's good, well almost...I still can't get any of my money out of the bank. Anyway.....,

Fun Egg on Toast
A year ago last April (as you know of course) I visited Austen at his caravan in The Cotswolds and very nice it was too. Actually hotter there at the time than it was here; there's Global Warming for'ya!! While I was over there I decided to buy some "egg rings" to use with my plancha, and I did. 6 of 'em. 2 star shaped, 2 rings wiv 'andles and 2 rings, non stick, frying eggs for the use of. The star shape... err, no. Rings wiv 'andles? In regular use, I like them! But the nonstick are the subject of this little exercise, never used before but deep enough to contain a dose of "scrambled" egg as the photos show so here goes, but let's get the photos imported first.....

INGREDIENTS
2 Eggs
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Parsley
Spanish smoked Paprika
2 slices of Bread

METHOD
Using a ring, cut the crusts off the bread slices to produce a nice, round, shape.
Beat the eggs together with a pinch of salt, some pepper, some paprika and some freshly chopped parsley.
Fry/toast the bread. Pour the egg mixture into the rings and stir as they set until the rings can be removed and the "pancakes" turned over to brown the other side. Turn out onto the toast and serve. As you can see, I also served a burger and a fried tomato.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Holiday Time

I've just had an email from Aaron to tell that he is coming for 4 days at the end of November. He tells me to "scrub up well" 'cos he's bringing a friend! Well, he'd better "brush up" on his Spanish because if I can get Larisa to join us on a few sorties here and there...........

Sweet Music

Many moons ago when I bought my mobile phone I discovered amongst its menus a compose function that allowed me to write my own ringtone. I played with it for a little while and assigned the result to a certain young lady's number. It has only ever rung once until today and even not having heard it for ages (that first time was over my confusion about her coming to see me here when I went up to the bus stop and waited in vain, having already been told that she was going to be late, remember?) I recognised it immediately. She has been sending texts which I have not received and today she resorted to a voice call to invite me over today, but I had to tell her that it was too late today (I have to work later), and that Wednesdays are always better for me. Actually I was working in the bar, when her call came through, doing the stock count. Our last contact was on 22 July when she invited me over for the evening etc., but I could only go in the afternoon due to having to be back for work at 7pm to continue showing Teresa the ropes. That proved inconvenient for Lary so she responded by putting it off until another day. And I (supposedly) haven't heard from her since. Now we are sorted. I've just sent a txt to tell her that in future we should use voice and I'll just have to cope without the body language assistance, and, hopefully, this coming Wednesday, we can get together once more. It's a shame, though, missing her previous messages because I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to Katy or Viktor when they returned to Russia, I presume, at the end of July. Anyway, I'll chase her up on Tuesday to see what can be arranged, my day off is always good in Calahonda.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Its Happened Again

My website at www.sierracazorla.net is down again. The alternate site is up and running in lieu and I think that I'm going to keep it as is from now on because, having tidied up a few glitches with it, I won't be able to tell the difference. Click the link in the side-panel here an reset any bookmark that you have.

Quite cloudy today and, dare I say it, there is a "feel" in the air that some rain is imminent although the forecast is that the cloud will clear later.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Lazing Around

Yesterday I took this computer into the bar to show Favio a spreadsheet that I have setup dealing with the Bar Stocks (well, those that I am responsible for). He was impressed enough to tell me that he would like a copy of each week's stockcheck emailed to him. Good as done as they say. And there is the reason why the WebCams were down yesterday...everything was disconnected. Sorry 'bout that!

Today, of course, is my rest day and I'm taking it easy with a few Tinto Veranos (50/50 Red Wine & Lemonade over Ice in a Highball tumbler, although I'm actually using a bitter lemon instead of lemonade) while sorting the Soup cauldron out and thinking about my evening meal. Chicken and Parsley risotto is what I have in mind using the meat pickings after straining the stock. Waste not, want not.

Late last night Hilde came into the bar with a couple of friends. I haven't seen her for a while (to talk to) but she came behind the bar and asked me to dance with her to the background music. Whilst we were doing so Emilio (who was showing off his sooper-dooper Digital SLR camera to all and sundry) took a dozen or more photos of us and, hopefully, I will be able to post a shot or two here soon, having asked him to email me them. Over the course of time hundreds of photos have been taken of me in the bar and I always ask that they be sent to me but, as yet, nobody has ever obliged. But Emilio is a neighbour, not a tourist/visitor, so he won't get off so lightly. Talking of visitors, the first of the Autumn regulars have arrived (Christy & Margaret from Ireland, immediate neighbours of mine you will remember) and I am now the proud owner of a Clonakilty White Pudding, safely stashed in the fridge. Spread on toast, apparantly, it is supposed to very nice.

I was wrong about my Bank Account; I still cannot access my salary. So, tomorrow I'm going back to the accountant to elicit more help from him in clearing the problem. They say that the average day-to-day vocabulary is just 500 words so I'm hoping that I wont need 501 because he doesn't speak any English.

Sun's down, griddle is warming, time to risotto. BTW Cristina came to see me last night to tell me about all that she has had done in the studio below, especially emphasising "the new kitchen including hot water"! I think that she thinks that I like to cook. I must tea-smoke some more salmon and then invite her up to discuss rent levels.