Thursday, 28 February 2008

We go Bump in the Day

Well, it's all over now, my 60th birthday that is and what a good day it has been, extending until this hour (see the timestamp below) today (Thursday) and beginning the day before (Tuesday) at 5pm when I opened the bar. In fact the whole weekend has been one hell of a time for me as well, an insight to which I gave you on the phone earlier. Lary arrived back in Málaga at 1am on Saturday last after a long flight from Omsk which included a 10 hour stopover in Moscow waiting for a flight to Madrid. She is in the best of health and full of smiles etc after a 20 day stay in Hospital having her ailment treated. I have joked with her since that she said that she would be back within a month to which she responded that the nursing care in Russia is different to that in Spain (and, I suppose, the UK as well) in that you are not "in and out" in a matter of days, you are cared for until you are totally, fully, recovered and convalesced which in her case took almost 3 weeks. Having arrived back at that 1am she was on the phone to me just as soon as she got up at 3pm on Saturday having slept the journey's stresses away, worried as it turns out, that the lack of communication might have upset me. I was quite correct all the way down the line about her situation with phones and Internet though except that I never guessed that there are only two, yes two, internet cafe type places in Omsk and they get pretty busy.

Sunday we had a lunch date together. Restaurante Salamanca was open but very, very busy. We were told that a table would not be available until about 2-30 which was an hour-and-a-half away so we went for a stroll along the seafront, taking a coffee in a cafe/bar dedicated to Humphrey Bogart in its manner of decor. Over the coffee she explained why she was unable to maintain proper contact and told me about the Russian Medical System as I've described above. She was very concerned about the lack of emails from her etc and I had a hard job convincing her that none of it mattered, that I'd guessed it wouldn't be easy for her and that I'd realized that while she was in hospital it would have been more or less impossible for her anyway and I topped-off my reassurances by showing her the SMSs I'd had from Katia giving me snippets of news. Arriving back at the restaurant just after 2 we noticed an empty table just inside the doorway, gave a nearby waiter an enquiring nod in its direction and were duly allowed to take it.

"Why have you got such a short haircut?"
"Because I fancied a change and it's cooler in the Sun"
"It doesn't suit you, I don't like it!"
"My friends in Torre say that it makes me look younger"
"They are wrong"

So I'm going back to normal, which means that I am going to have to buy a comb. No expense spared as they say. Lunch was fine as usual in that place, seafood soup etc etc. Nothing changes, except that she took a soft drink with her meal so I asked for a glass of Rosé Wine (Vino Rosado) only to be given a whole, full bottle. I took two glasses and when the Bill was presented I noticed that they hadn't been charged for. A quick word in her ear solicited the fact that "that is normal here, drink the whole bottle and they charge, take a glass or two and it's free." Thinking back, we've always shared a bottle and drunk the lot so it has never happened before. On Xmas Day you'll remember that I told you that she'd told me that she was going home to get treated, she would be back within a month and that she would bring me back something very Russian. Well, two out of three ain't bad, she has brought me back some Russian Caviar, two tins of it. So precious it has to be kept in the fridge even although the tins are not open!!

Tuesday I opened the bar as normal at 5pm and and shortly after Claire came in - "this is for you" (handing me an envelope) "I know it's tomorrow but tomorrow is your day off so you get it today and you must open it now." One of the funniest birthday cards I have ever seen. And that heralded a good night of celebration, albeit while I was working, which finished with me getting to bed at 5am or so having (I'm told) walked the last of my customers home to her Hotel first.

Feb 27th dawned on me at about half-past Midday and over my first cuppa I txt'd Lary.
"What are you doing today? I have a day off"
"Feliz cumpleaños, no hago nada"
Over the lunch on Sunday she commented that she wanted to cook Paella but didn't answer my query about when.
"OK, can I come and cook at your place later?"
"Claro, cuando quieres?"
"OK. First I have to go shopping. I'll call you later, at around 4 or 5".

My shopping spree netted all the ingredients for my "Paella para Ella" recipe only this time I left the mussels out because she's not particularly partial but bought some more expensive, bigger prawns and clams instead and also lashed out on some Saffron and fresh peas-in-the-pod as well. Back home everything I needed was thrown into my shopping trolley, including my paellera - have kitchen, can travel. I was ready. When I got back from the shops I found a message on my mobile (I'd forgotten to take it with me) saying that when I leave for Calahonda I should call her because she is in Torremolinos. I sent back that if she is already in Torre then why not come to mine instead (that packed trolley is heavy and I wasn't looking forward to lugging it halfway to Marbella.) She replied that she was visiting girlfriends (catching up on the last two months news) and didn't want to stay in Torre afterwards so I let her know that I was intending to catch the 4-30pm train. Which then meant that I had to because I immediately began to suspect that she would use that as an excuse to take her leave of her friends. Panic stations, 2 hours to go, I'd lost that freedom of choice about when to leave and I was waiting for the clothes I wanted to wear to dry after having put them through the washing machine.

Despite my best efforts with a hot iron I did end up putting on damp clothes but by the time I got to the station they were more-or-less dry. No sign of Lary though. Oh well, she'll work out when I'm due to arrive at the bus-stop and be there to meet me I expect. Ten minutes to wait for the train and all the while I kept a sly eye out for her, just in case. I struggled on board with my 2 ton trolley and grabbed one of the folding seats just inside the doors and as I settled down and raised my head after putting the seat down I heard "Hola" and there she was, right in front of me and I hadn't seen a thing "No te Vista?" she said with a grin and passed over a designer carrier bag containing a leisure shirt, "Feliz Cumpleaños." Then she asked "why didn't you call me earlier this morning? The weather was better, we could have done other things" and I explained about my late rising due to a party in the bar keeping me up til 5am. "A party??" Her tone was such that she sounded like she suddenly felt ignored by not being invited to my party like she has been in previous years and I had a devils own job (lack of adequate Spanish) trying to explain that it was impromptu, not planned etc. etc., that I was only expecting a normal shift in the bar and I knew that I was going to call her today anyway. "Actually I was going to call you today and invite David and Ann as well just like the dinner we had on your terrace when Katia was here, but while I was thinking about it you txt'd me" she said and I had to gently point out that Ann and David would have declined due to Ann's own convalescent state after her recent operations etc.

"Have you got the whole shop in there" she quipped as I unloaded everything, including my own knives, onto the work surface next to the sink. Hands washed, cutting boards sorted and with a "dame algo hacer" - give me something to do - we got stuck in to making a paella. I was told that I should have bought fresh (grey) prawns, not cooked, pink, ones but despite that major problem an hour or so later we were eating out on the terrace in the dying sun.

I've taken an opportunity to put my new all-singing, all-dancing digital camera that I told you about to good use to show our simple table setting within sight of the sea on the Costa del Sol. A view of Heaven? Not quite, an Angel is missing.

On the way home I began to worry about not having heard from Aaron but my fears were unfounded because for an hour between half-nine and half-ten or so my mobile was alive with texts going back and forth between me and him, me and Austen and me and Martin, and having been caught out on the street (so to speak) away from my computer and skype I was concerned that I'd run out of credit but I didn't and I'm not so sure now about the rumour going round that texts from here to the UK are €1 a time because my credit should not have lasted at that rate...but it did.

The day finally ended after a phonecall with Austen (who has had his computer highjacked as a spambot) with me going down to the bar at about 11pm only to find Else-Britt and Ole-Erik expectantly hoping to see me because they then presented me with a card and a gift.....the most awesome corkscrew machine thingy that you could ever imagine. I'll try to photogragh it later to show you. I'm glad that I went back to the bar and met them because they returned to Norway this morning and will be away for about 6 weeks, I think, and I know that to have been able to give me the gift in person really pleased them.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Fancy Lunch?

She does, so we are meeting in Fuengirola at 1 o'clock today, and here's hoping that our favourite restaurant is open. It has rained all night I think, needless to say it still is, and it is also pretty chilly at the moment so the heater is on and I'm having to dry a pair of trousers over the back of a chair. Later I have to run an errand for Favio, go get some credit on my mobile (I only keep it in credit when Lary is here) and buy a new umbrella because I lost my old one the other night. Right now some Eggs n Bacon is on the cards.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Hola Mr Derek!

She's back. I've just had an SMS from her. She's home in Calahonda. It is going to be a great weekend I think which started yesterday with Ann & Bills' do last night. But I'll write more later, right now I'm all in a 2 and 8 again. She's back.

Friday, 22 February 2008

A Pressing Engagement

Today is the day that Ann & Bill Suiters are holding their wedding reception in Playa Mar having got themselves hitched on Tuesday. The "do" starts at 7pm with a sitdown meal and ends somewhere around midnight I believe. I have to work as normal until 9pm so I'll be late for the grub but I've been promised that something will be kept aside for me which all sounds a little mercenary but going straight from work means that whatever I eat will become my evening meal. My trousers have been altered and I collected them yesterday, a day late but I was warned not to expect them on time by others who have used that particular seamstress. All that remains now is to press them ready for wearing today.

A steak & kidney pud is steaming away and, hopefully, I'll get a nice lunch inside before I go to work. I hate making pastries - I get stuck to everything and everything gets stuck to me and my kitchen area always looks like a bomb has hit it but I'm confident that the finished job will be worth the effort.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Bloomin' Lovely

Today the weather is so much better. Yesterday there was rain and thunder and stuff that went on for the whole morning at least and included an overhead simultaneous thunder clap that (I'm told) actually struck in La Nogalera up in town, just a couple of hundred metres from here, if that. But just a risk of a shower today so they say. Currently the sun is out, there are a few clouds floating around and the humidity is 100%. 100%? Then why is it not raining? Strange! Anyway I'm pleased that it seems that I won't get wet when I go to retrieve my altered trousers a little later for the princely sum of 4 Euros. Talking of which, euros that is, I had a very good night in the bar last night, really earning my day off today. Thoroughly enjoyed myself as usual. Favio and Ana-Mary came in after she'd finished work and Favio raised the question of me taking over Beryls shoes in June when she retires. It's the second time he's mentioned it so now I feel that he might actually be serious! Last time he talked with me he suggested that I might like to move into Beryl's apartment (which is over the bar) assuming that she moves to USA to join Randy and asked if I had a Driving Licence because I could then use one of their cars for stock purchases etc. All sounds good and makes the future more rosy. Ana-Mary suggested that I might enjoy the show in El Bajondillo's bar tonight because there is a comic musical troupe (students from somewhere) performing at 10pm so I'll probably pop over there and see and if I do I'll probably get a little more Spanish practise if she talks with me for a minute or two once they takeover the mike from her.

I've dug out my old laptop, the one that Austen gave me many moons ago, loaded it with Linux and I'm working with it right now typing this blog through a browser called "Seamonkey". I'm using the SUSE distribution of Linux which of course is a free download off the internet (albeit a long one) and I'm really getting to grips with it now; I've got digital camera connections working, a functional modem and network connection and USB flash drives operational which, for me, is a plus because I've never understood the OS that well before, but now.....I am getting to grips with it and it really ain't that bad. At least I can now leave my Vista machine alone again to get on with the job of serving the webcam images etc.

My babies out on the terrace seem to have enjoyed the rain of late, they are in flower!! Well, some are. I don't know what they are called but I've just taken a couple of photos (in Macro Mode, boy, I'm really getting clever) and I'll upload them here for you to see. The yellow one has lots more flowers to come yet (note the buds at top left of the picture) so I may take another photo if the display really "takes off" in the next day or two. But for now I'm plugging the camera in to download the two I already have.......................................
..............................OK, all done, except that for yellow read pink - the colour balance is all wrong, they are actually very yellow!

Yesterday, last night, Richard brought in for me some kidney that I'd asked him to get next time he goes shopping in Malaga market so later today I'm going to make a Steak & Kidney pud using one of the small pudding basins that Ann brought back from the UK last year for me - speaking of whom - there is going to be a small bash in the bar tonight at 5 I believe to toast the new Bride and Groom who, hopefully, will have returned from Gibralter by then. Anyway, whatever happens won't stop me dishing my pud with Red Cabbage and Beetroot, very Lancashire!! But first I need some Stewing Steak.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Wedding Bells

It's definately not the weather for it. A wedding that is. But the week ahead is forecasted as wet and today, at least, that is right. It is downright miserable. Nevertheless Ann and Bill are travelling to Gibralter today for their wedding tomorrow, then returning on Wednesday in time for the reception on Friday. So this morning I'm taking my suit trousers in to be altered. A temporary job was done when I first bought them 18 months ago but now I want to get it done properly so that I can wear the suit on Friday.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

St Valentines Day

Finds me at home celebrating alone with the bottle of Cava that came in the Christmas Hamper that Favio gave me and a dish of homemade Kedgeree made with a pack of "boil in the bag" kippers. Enough for three I think but I went back to the pot three times (because it was so good) and now it's all gone!

A couple (Derek and Kate from Derbyshire) leave tomorrow after a stay of a few weeks and tonight they were kind enough to bring me in a little "somethng" and a card which I am going to unashamedly quote for you......"To Derek, Thankyou for your company and hospitality whilst here in Spain. We really appreciated your efforts and wish you every success in the future. Our kindest regards......etc etc." A smashing couple who were brave enough to try each and every of my Tuesday Tapas while they were here. The sort of result that really makes my job in the bar worthwhile and I will treasure their card, with it's Paella motif, forever but the beer won't last as long!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The Tuesday Tapa

Don't get me wrong, the title above might be making it sound like my cooking exploits on the odd Tuesday are a weekly feature of mine. They are not. Only High Days and Holidays, as they say, or an occasion that can be marked by a tiny morsel or two. Just like today. I am going to celebrate Dia de San Valentin today (yes, today) with that Pasta recipe that Helen gave me. I shopped yesterday so all that remains is to organise the cooking and I think that I'm going to do it restaurant style which will just require a reheating operation at time of service. All good fun.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

If at First.....

A rather good few days has not been topped with €133m going into the bank, I failed to even get one number right in the EuroMillones Draw. Oh well, another day, another euro. It has been a busy last few days in the bar though and I can now (thanks to Else-Britt) show something of my pancake production line last Tuesday. This coming Tuesday I'm going to do a little something for Valentines Day. It's awkward to do it actually on Thursday because there is not a lot of room behind the bar and I would get under Beryl's feet while trying to cook and serve etc. But I can do things on Tuesdays because I'm there all night long on my own. So, last night a few of us huddled together and brainstormed a name for the dish I'm planning to cook and we came up with Pasta D'amore which will be my take on the recipe that Helen gave me the other day (Shell's Shrimp Pasta). Helen has also offered to help with the shopping costs and I'm very grateful for that.

Yesterday's Lunch Party on Else-Britt & Ole-Erik's roof terrace was thoroughly enjoyed by all. And, again, thanks to Else-Britt's superb digital camera I can publish a photo or two. Her menu was Lakserulade followed by a Beefy stew and finishing with a Lemon Cheesecake. "Don't let Ole-Erik get you on the Aquavit!!" said Beryl when she heard about the invitation, "you have to work after your meal." Well, that was like a red rag to a bull so I had a sly snifter or two (maybe three) and it is quite nice I have to say, never having tried it before. At work I was in a perfect state because the food had soaked up the modicom of alcohol taken with it, but I did feel tired. Two photos of the assemblage, 1 including me for a change and also a shot of the Lemon Cheesecake Else-Britt made for dessert.

Yesterday I received an email from Katia to tell me that Lary is out of Hospital and back home, and giving me a phone number. Earlier, before starting this blog, I sent an SMS but I don't know whether the phone is a Mobile or Landline although it seems from looking up the area code that it is probably a mobile.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Here's Hoping

I'm just off next door to join Ole-Erik and Else-Britt for lunch on their rooftop, well I think that that is where they are serving today. Anyway, while I wait for the appointed hour I thought that I would just let you know that today I have played the Lottery, the EuroMilliones to be exact, because it cannot roll-over and the jackpot stands at €133,000,000 (95,000,000UKP) and must be won. Worth a shot. I'm playing 3 lines.

San Valentino

First I have to tell that I accompanied David this evening for a meal out at a local Chinese. Ann was readmitted to hospital a couple of days ago with a blocked intestine. I don't know the full details but she was in IC until yesterday and is now on a ward while the Doctors assess her situation and decide what to do. Essentially a non-critical condition but, of course, the enlarged heart gives continuous cause for concern when surgery has to be considered.

Pancake Day was an un-mitigated success. I took along 2 batches of batter and brought back hardly enough to make a couple for myself back here in the apartment. I'm so proud. I'm so pleased. And today, tonight, I 've allowed myself to be talked into doing something for Valentines Day next week. Well, that's easy, "Prawns in love" seems a good choice. A dish invented by a local Indian Restaurant that I will personalize and use next Tuesday when I can use the whole evening/night to serve my variant without getting under Beryl's feet after 9pm. Tomorrow (really today as I write) I have been invited to Elsa-Britt's for a late lunch along with a few others, and I am humbled that their schedule is revolved around my need to go to work at 5pm. Right now though, I ought to start refining my ideas for a St.Valentine's Tapa but bed beckons, tomorrow will do, there is plenty of time.

Claire from Bentonville, Arkansas in the USA arrived today and chose to meet with friends in the bar straight away rather than nap, get over the journey and unpack etc, etc. Besides bringing some Ground Pepper for me ( by special request) she has also brought, she tells me, some "Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce" and some "Jack Daniels Spice mixture" which all sounds very, very interesting and heralds more mucking about in the kitchen because, as Claire says, "that's where you always seem to be". It seems that she reads this blog!!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


OK, the shoppings done, which was where I was when you rang earlier, and I'm all ready to make a couple of batches of Pancake Batter to take with me along with all the other gubbins I'm going to need. I've even bought another (cheap) fryingpan so that I can go into mass production - 2 at a time!! And there is going to be a fantastic choice :

2....Plain with Sugar.
3....Plain with Lemon.
4....Plain with Lemon and Sugar.

Served very simply, no silver service here, and all for the asking!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Pancake Day

Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday and I seem to have let myself in for doing pancakes in the bar. OK, no problem as they say but it means that I have to go back later tonight to see Favio (when he calls in while waiting for Ana-Mary) to check with him that a little bit of cooking is allowed. What I intend to do is make a load of batter here in the apartment then transport it along to the bar along with a frypan, some butter and an electric hotplate and cook to order (should I get any that is). Traditional Pancake Day fare....a pancake rolled with Lemon Juice and Sugar. Should be fun, it's a long time since I tossed a pancake in public.

BTW I baked this week's loaf yesterday. Due to circumstances beyond my control, having started at midday with blending the flour, salt, yeast and liquid, it didn't go into the oven until after work at 2200hrs or thereabouts, with the interim time being used for 1st and 2nd provings. It came out perfectly, just like a shop-bought one. I haven't got an airing cupboard so I can't provide a warm spot for the dough to rise in but yesterday I accidently learned that hours of proving time, rather than minutes, are best here in my apartment.

0030 I'm back from seeing Favio only I didn't get to ask him personally about whether it was OK for me to cook in the bar; I ended up walking a customer home who was otherwise slightly unstable on his feet and when I got back the question had already been asked by Ana-Mary and Beryl and I was told "yes". So, pancakes tomorrow it is, and I've had to promise to save one for Ana-Mary. Anyone know how to make the damn things cos I don't?!! :-)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Head in Hands?

Windows Vista is not an easy OS to get to grips with (especially when everything is in Spanish) but I think that I have succeeded. Due to my XP machine's soaking the other day I've had to migrate all Internet and Blogging ops to my Vista machine. To completely do that has taken a few days involving downloading new drivers and software to cope with the Vista environment and then getting everything to work. Not easy. But it is done now, more or less, I think, so camera turn-offs, despairing attitudes on-camera etc should all be a thing of the past now, I hope. I should also note here that my email notification of posted comments to the blog is back-up-and-running as well and I've just read a 3 day backlog! To those who missed out on waves, this is a verbal one. :-)