Saturday, 31 May 2008

Friday Night

On my way to work I usually dump my rubbish bag, which involves a diversion away from the bar to the Rubbish Bins. The trip takes me past Sheerin's Bar where Erica is currently working as a Holiday Relief. Yesterday evening she called me in because she had a problem with the Guinness pump which she thought that I might be able to sort out. I couldn't and had to leave her with a badly fobbing font. After work I went back to check that she was OK and whilst sat there I noticed David arrive outside and made sure that he knew I was inside. He and his party were on the way home from a meal and it wasn't long before I was in the company of him, Jimmy and Pat and two more friends of theirs, whose names escape me right now, in the bar . Not having seen Jimmy since Ann's Dinner Party we set to reminiscing about that amongst many other, rather raucous, topics of conversation that must have caused poor Erica and the rest of her customers a headache or two. Eventually, though, between them, David and Jimmy decided to go over the road to El Bajondillo and maybe do "a turn or two" for Ana-Mary. Which is exactly what happened. And here is Jimmy singing a duet with Ana-Mary to a packed Cafeteria Bar in El Bajondillo (the audience is out of shot.) My foto series shows his opening phrases, Ana-Mary's response and Jimmy's closure in classic duet style. In Spanish, no rehearsal, very spontaneous. Absolutely Fantastic.
David wasn't to be out-done either except that he chose to serenade one or two of the ladies in the audience. It's amazing how, here in Torremolinos, particularly here in El Barrio Bajondillo (The Bajondillo District) what starts as an innocently quiet and normal evening can evolve into something quite fantastic.

Aside from the spur-of-the-moment songs, the party, both in Sheerin's and outside on the terrace in El Bajondillo brought tears of laughter to just about everyone I think. Tonight I intend to try and keep a low profile though, just dropping into The Ship to give Lisa her pots back on the way home to my evening meal. But, then again, it is Saturday.......

Friday, 30 May 2008

Tied Up

I mentioned a little while ago that I would have to stake my Tomato Plants somehow. My terrace garden does not afford the opportunity to push a stick firmly into the ground but I have managed to provide a stringy solution to the problem. Two "downers" of Blue Nylon Line can be seen which are tied to my washing line. They are loose at the bottom and the plants are being tied to them as growth dictates. Simple but effective. I'll let the plants grow another few inches, I think, and maybe then I'll pinch the tops.

Larisa's request for me to cook a Paella has been put on the back burner for a while. She is going to Russia on Monday for a couple of days and a text last night to apologise for having to postpone is probably to do with the pressures of preparation for her journey I expect. Not to worry, she'll re-schedule when she can, she's not one to turn a nose up at Paella.

Ann has sent me the photos that she took at her Dinner Party and I'm going to post one here that shows all her guests beginning to savour the Port & Stilton , "Death by Chocolate", Strawberries & Cream and other dessert treats served after the Roast Beef.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Lo Siento

"Hola Mr Derek! Que tal?"
"Hola Larisa, ha sido mucho tiempo, y no lo se por que!"
At the bottom of the steps, outside my apartment, we met and, after the greetings, made our way at a slow amble to Ann & Bills' apartment where, bang on time just about, we were the first to arrive. I can remember Bill seeing Larisa with me in The Red Lion once but whether he was introduced then I can't remember and whether Ann has met her properly before I really don't know either. But now they have. Introductions over, a bottle of Vino Rosado was opened followed by Ann telling me to give Larisa a tour of the apartment, a duty I passed on to Bill. By halfpast five everybody was assembled and, having been introduced to Jimmy and Pat, Larisa gave David a bigger hug than I got..."mi amigo, David, mi bueno amigo, hola, que tal? Y no tengo más decir" She knew about Ann, I had primed her in my email and she enquired after more information while we were walking to the apartment. The last time that those two met was, of course, at the Bus Station in Fuengirola when I took him with me on one of mine and Lary's Dinner Dates at Méson Salamanca; the one when Katy was allowed to greet me first and pin a brooch on me while Lary watched, remember?

"Places please!" And David and Jimmy immediately took Larisa away from my side and sat her down between them, David brushing me off with a "you sit over there, out of the way" instruction. Ann's meal was superb. At least 4 different starter dishes, then the Main Course which was followed by 3 or 4 different dessert options. Absolutely delicious. Between them Jimmy and David made sure that Lary was not left out (she'd actually said to me in the lift on the way up to the 5th floor and the apartment that she wished that she could speak English and I had to tell her not to worry, that Ann, David and Jimmy could speak Spanish and that everything would be all right.) In fact it was Pat who felt left out, complaining to Jimmy about speaking too much Spanish, leaving her out of the conversation! A balance was drawn.

After teaching Lary how to say "how ya'keepin!" Jimmy then, mischieviously, waggled a finger between me and her and asked "are you two married?" which David immediately translated for her. My response was not much more than a simple "no" but hers was somewhat different. I heard the words "....y lo siento" finishing her response to which both David and Jimmy, almost in chorus, said across the table "Oh Derek? Do you realize that you have just been proposed to, that she's saying that she wishes?" My reaction was to remind her of that evening in El Bar Jardin, 3 years or more ago, when she brought her friend Victoria in to meet me. Maybe now I do have food for thought.

Between us all, the conversation, fun and laughter, out on the terrace, continued on, into the encroaching darkness, with David, Bill and Jimmy finding their voices for an impromptu singsong at the table. Larisa loved it. Her face showed it. So much so that she said at the end of everything that it was one of the best evenings that she has ever had, having spent many a moment videoing with her Mobile Phone Cam. Taking our leave we went along the road to Bar Ana, with David and Crystal, where she met Beryl again and, over a final drink, we brought things to a close. But not before I had been told that Katy is coming for a visit soon (in July I believe she said) and that on Saturday I have to cook Paella in Calahonda. Paella para ella. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else! I don't want to be anywhere else! (And this time I'll get the grey, fresh, prawns!!!!!)

Remember the caviar that she brought me back from Omsk and gave to me last time I saw her? Well I left it there in Calahonda, in her fridge, forgotten. She brought it with her, and I now have it in my fridge, safe and sound.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

A Busy Day

A hellishly busy time in the bar last night between about 9pm and 12pm saw most of the day's take taken with me being kept company until about 3am this morning, over a slowly savoured "wind-down" drink, by Hilde and Ward (the owner of the nearby Ship Inn who almost invariably calls in for his own wind-down after closing), while I cashed the till. Hellishly busy means (to me) that it was a 2 man bar throughout that time. Olivia came in, saw the crowd and took on the job of Pot Lady for a little while for which I was grateful, then Favio and Ana-Mary fought their way through the throng and he rolled his sleeves up as well, clearing a few tables and straightening chairs. David also called in with Crystal but opted not to stay because "it's too busy". Favio took Ana-Mary home at about midnight and then promptly came back and sat with me during the empty lull until 1am. A couple of Ladies (Mother & Daughter I think) came by looking to say goodbye to Beryl as they are leaving soon, saw Favio and came in. I've never met them before but Favio saw fit to use my camera to take a photo of me beside them and then, of course, one of himself in the same situation. I'm showing the one with me because I think that I have come out well for a change, usually I hate my own photo image. Anyway, all done now, I've had a few hours sleep and will be going shopping in a minute for some new "smellies" because it's my Day Off and I have a Dinner Date later. My local Supermarket, the Mercadona branch in Playamar has been closed for refurbishment for the last month or so, re-opening a few days ago so my trip to it shortly will be a new voyage of discovery as you might say - trying to find where everything is etc..

Back from the shops with, amongst other things, a new pair of shoes. Brown ones to replace my old pair that now leak and to complete my outfit for tonight. I'm feeling quite pleased with myself because I managed to haggle the price down from 35€ to 27€ although I suspect that the Moroccan Shopkeeper has still ripped me off!

I have managed to sew that missing button back on to my shirt but not before having quite a hard job working out how to use the needle threading gizmo in the kit I have. I was putting the thread into it before pushing through the needle's eye instead of pushing it through THEN threading the cotton and pulling it out. Easy when you know how of course.

more follows----------->

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Quiet Reigns

Well, more or less. This morning, at half-nine the builders started below me, with a pnuematic drill, digging an'ole. Add that racket to the noise of an incessant rotary tile cutter that I have lived with for the past few days plus the banging into the mortar as the cut tiles are mounted on a wall and you have an idea of what life has been like here lately. And that's not mentioning the mess (dust) which is still a BIG problem but hopefully (all bar the shouting, and Spaniards just love to shout) life appears to be quietening down now, the major works may be over. Tomorrow I need to dust round again just in case Larisa decides to come up to the apartment, and if she does it'll be because she wants to check my fridge. She does see what I've got in there and to make sure that I seem to be eating properly. It must be a woman thing! Anyway the fridge is chock-a-block with stuff at the moment, including what has been given to me by Margaret and others just lately. So, what do you do with a half-used pack of Oxtail Soup powder, some left-over Sun-Dried tomatoes (in oil), an opened packet of Macaroni and (my contribution) the bottom of a bottle of White Wine? Well, as it is Tuesday and I have to work through to the bitter end tonight I've decided to do a big plate of "Spag Bol" for today's dinner only it isn't of course, not with Macaroni but who cares, at least my hunger will be held at bay until the small hours, which is the aim.

1510 and it is looking ominously like rain and guess what? The clothes I want to wear tomorrow are washed and hanging on the line. The shirt that she bought me for my Birthday back in February and the trousers she chose (and altered) on a shopping spree that we had a year or more ago. Talking about the shirt, It has lost a button which I have safely kept and later I'm going to get a needle and some cotton out (I have a kit of such things) and have a go at putting it back on. Could be fun, the kit didn't come with instructions.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Confirmed. Como que Si.

Like I said, she has never, ever, let me down. Larisa confirmed earlier this morning via SMS (which I've already mentioned) that she would accept my invitation to accompany me to dinner at Ann & Bills' and this afternoon, just as I was leaving for work, my computer notified me of an incoming email which I deemed to read immediately and lo and behold, further confirmation by virtue of the fact that she was detailing arrangements for her arrival here in Torre. Her reply also tells me that that she now knows all about the situation with David regarding Ann's death. Which is good. Jimmy and Pat have also now been invited and I just know that the evening will go perfectly. Jimmy speaks perfect Spanish and his jokes........ well, what can I say, I don't think that any of us will want to go home. How ya'keepin??!!

Una Cita para Cena

My Email to Lary included an invitation to accompany me, on Wednesday evening, to Dinner at Ann and Bills' where a spit-roasted joint of Beef is on the menu. I've just had confirmation back that she will do so. Which means that my Spanish is going to get a good bashing keeping up with the conversation that Ann and David (who is also invited) can, and probably will, engage her in. Here's hoping, though, that I do not get let down at the last minute as has happened of late with similar arrangements made with others, although I have to say that Larisa has never done that. Sod's Law again.....I've tried to contact Ann, to let her know, by an IM in skype but she is not even online let alone "away" or "unavailable". Of all the days in all the weeks......................

My neighbours, Christy and Margaret, are going home to Ireland later today because of an unexpected family bereavement and Christy has just passed on to me the contents of their Kitchen Cupboard, Fridge and Freezer "rather than see it go to waste". One of the benefits of living in an extremely mobile society!!

The birds are using the trays under my plant pots as drinking troughs and bathing conveniences so I have put a large, heavy, cazuela full of fresh water out especially for them but will they use it? No! They sometimes use my plancha as a landing pad but it is oily and if they approach touchdown at a shallow angle it can really be quite funny to watch.

Sunday, 25 May 2008


It looks like it has been there for a day or two but I have only just noticed!
The First Tomato

Sunday Brunch

A little cloudy and a spit or two of rain is the order of the day at the moment, but still a lot better than the UK which, it seems, is heading for the usual (traditional) Wet Bank Holiday. Lately the weather has been quite warm here, 32ºC recorded on my terrace in the shade on Friday, prompting me to use my Air Conditioner for the first time this year in the bedroom overnight because it never dropped below 24ºC. The fine weather has also brought the first bloom out on one of the plants that Lisa gave me which makes my hard work with the watering-can very worthwhile.

Eggs, Bacon, Beans and Potato Cakes a little later for a Brunch and in the meantime, while I wait to eat, I have made the cakes, giving them a tiny weeny little twist that living in Spain inspires.

Potato Cake Makes 3.
4 Small to Medium Cooked Potatoes, Mashed.
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
3 heaped tablespoons of flour
Good pinch of Dried Thyme
Good pinch of Dried Parsley
Level teaspoon of Dried Dill

1 Beaten egg
Some flour seasoned with a level teaspoon of Hot Paprika (Spanish Smoked??)

METHOD (The photo shows mine made, ready to cook).
Combine the mashed potato, flour, garlic and herbs and work with a wooden spoon until it all "comes together" and becomes doughy. Divide this into 3 and form each portion into a pattie, dip into beaten egg then roll in the seasoned flour to coat. Slowly fry in some Olive Oil over a medium heat until very nicely browned on both sides.

I did not cream my mash ie no butter or milk was added.
The flour quantity is not definite. Yours needs might be slightly different.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

All done

I was up early this morning and took the opportunity to finish off the email I've been composing, in Spanish, for Larisa. It has been sent and a txt to let her know that that has happened because she doesn't have an internet connection at home (or didn't the last time I was there) and will have to traipse to an Internet cafe somewhere when it's convenient.

1pm and this weeks Chicken is in the oven, stuffed again with a homemade Sage & Onion mix made with fresh herbs from the terrace. This time I've used breadcrumbs to bind it in the hope that I can use some on the plate beside a dollop of bread sauce. Leek & Potato soup is also on the go, a big pot of it that also contains the Carrot, Mushroom Stalks and Chicken Meat recovered, via a strainer, after making the stock from last weeks carcass. A glass of White Wine has added a nice dimension! Also, a tray of Minced Beef has been portioned into 5 (200grams each) and shoved in the freezer which means that later I can publish a recipe for you, sort of based on a Spag Bol, but different, when I redo it and write it down!

Some people have said to me that having a chicken each and every week is so boring. Boring? Not a bit of it. That bird, roasted or boiled leads on to so many other things that they are almost un-countable.......Stir-fries, Stroganoffs, 'a la Kings, Salads, Paellas, Supremes, Curries, Pastas....the list is endlessly interesting and, of course, it can all finish with the most delicious homemade soup(s) if you have the patience and the inclination, which I do!! I can get at least 8 meals off a 1.7Kg bird, each one different, with just the one shopping trip required for meat. Oh and let's not forget 5 or 6 bowls of soup as well. For 5Euros a bird (more or less) that's a damn good return.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Como que si

The paella didn't happen, Teresa had reason to cancel her invitation as well so I had to revamp my day. As Retail Therapy is one of the best therapies I went shopping and a goodly spend later saw me back home with enough stuff to see me through a nuclear holocaust for a week or so. On my way back with the overloaded, heavy, trolley I called into La Placita for a breather (the weather is getting hotter by the day now, summer is marching in fast!) as I sometimes do just to show my face to Yvonne and her staff. This is the little Cafe/Bar where I had a meal on Christmas Eve and I have occasionally popped in since just to show that that evening put the place "on the map" for me but being not much more than on nodding terms with the folk there I generally do not stay too long and yesterday was no exception. Continuing my way home I called in to The Ship to check that Lisa would be working later because Favio had given me some cat food to pass on to her and there I crossed paths with Christy who had his guitar slung on his back and was on his way to El Bajondillo to sing, at Doreen's request, at her regular Wednesday Sangria Party. Having invited myself to listen to him I went home, sorted the shopping out, collected the rubbish bags and went back out intending to dump the rubbish on my way in to El Bajondillo. Passing "Sheerin's Irish Bar" I heard a feminine voice begin to shout "Hey, Oy!" in my direction and turned to see Erica (English Erica) sat at the bar talking to David. After dealing with La Basura I joined them. Erica is doing a holiday relief there for a couple of weeks and David was passing the time-of-day with her. "Oh, I'll come with you" said David after I'd explained what I was up to. Doreen was pleased to see David; he and Christy are "her boys" and it wasn't long before David was summoned on stage to perform a song or two as well. The photo is awful due to a flat battery not firing the flash but here is Christy in full song with Doreen MC'ing behind him. The battery wasn't flat, mind, when I went out (although it wasn't fully charged either) but Erica decided to nosy through the photos in the camera's memory while I was talking to David which knocked enough stuffing out of it to prevent the flash charging up. "What's THAT!!!" she queried. "A shepherd's pie, what do you think it is?" I replied. Silence. Anyway, both the boys are together in another shot on another Camera (which wasn't working properly either, Sod's Law again) and when I get hold of it I'll post it here.

Continuing to make the most of my day off I decided to have a Chicken Curry in The Ship where I duly settled, at the bar, in the capable hands of Gary and Roisin (I think that that is how you spell her Irish name but I know that it is pronounced "Rosheen"). I can't remember how it cropped up, or with whom, but during the course of my stay there I was asked how to say "thankyou" in Russian. As it happens, I do know, and gave the answer but the very incident set me to thinking about how often, of late, people have asked me about Larisa or have expected me to know things "Russian" because of my friendship with her. I've allowed things to fizzle out between us as I have told you, due to the distance, time and changed circumstances I have found myself in. Not finished, no, "fizzled out" is about the right way to express the situation. But this incident began to raise the question in my mind about whether she was still here, in Spain, having not heard from her since early March and, strangely enough, I have long been feeling that she sort of has a right to know about what's happening with me here in Torremolinos, what with Beryl's retirement, the job, an'all. Which tells you that despite the fizzling out she is never far from my thoughts, and so here we are, back on the very subject that is the real reason why this blog exists.

I sent : Dónde estás esta noche? Te echo de menos Where are you, I miss you.
She replied : Hello!
I sent back : Hello! Hola! Pronto quiero verte, ¿si o no? Hello. I want to see you soon? Yes or no?.
She sent : Como que si Absolutely!

I then sent that I would email her because there is so much to say, and there is. And there you have it, another chapter opens perhaps. What a woman. Always there, always no more than a phonecall away. Whats wrong with me??

By now, by the way, I was in El Bar de Ana having gone there to solicit Favio's help to translate that last phrase that Lary sent (very idiomatic). Beryl came in to take over from him allowing me to doublecheck with someone who speaks English and fluent Spanish and it was she who gave me the word I have used, a very positive affirmation!

While Beryl and I were talking the fact that neither of us had seen Hilde for a while came to the fore and, talk of the devil, who should come in shortly after? Hilde with her friend, the waitress from La Placita. She has had a couple of weeks in London she says, where the weather was better than here she reckoned! Well, there's a first. So, having not seen each other for quite a while we sat outside, the 3 of us, catching up on what there was to catch up on and me also getting beyond a nod with her friend. Flitting between them and The Ship I was able to give Lisa the catfood and answer a question or two she had about her computer when I also commented that I think my tomato plants will soon need staking which is going to be difficult to do out there on my terrace. But I do have an idea about how to provide some support except that it is too late....this morning one has gone over. No damage done though, thank goodness.

Lastly I will probably go quiet for a day or two here while I write to Lary. These notes take long enough but to do it all in Spanish takes even longer. I'll be back!! Hasta Luego - until later.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Downright Piracy

Yesterday while I was browsing the statistics for my Website I noticed an unusual piece of information - what is known as a "referral". Following it through, it turns out that another site (about Benalmádena) has linked to my PHP script powering the dynamic weather updates here at Now I could break the link, secure the script, complain to the webmaster concerned etc etc and probably should do because my bandwidth quota is being plundered but, at this moment, the problem is minimal so I'll sit back and monitor the situation for a while happy in the knowledge that my hard work and long hours coding the script is obviously valued by others.

I think, no, I know that there were half-a-dozen pepper plant seedlings given to me by Anna. They have been potted-on as a group (I didn't thin then out) and this morning are standing tall and proud in their new home after that trauma. Anna tells me that they are a normal pepper so it'll be interesting to watch what develops later in the year.

There has been no noise or mess coming up from below so far this week which means that I have stopped worrying about the state of the place ahead of my Paella Party tomorrow. A quick, final dust round late tomorrow afternoon (I suspect that an 8pm start is on the cards) will ensure that everything will be just fine. Fingers crossed.

The Shepherd's Pies turned out OK in the end although I would have preferred to mince my meat instead of using a fine dice but beggars can't be choosers...I didn't bring my mincer with me. Today? Chicken Curry I think to finish off the remaining meat from last weeks bird, which reminds me...I must strain the stock and soup it up. No peace for the wicked.


David can't make my Wednesday Paella party after all due to pressing family commitments but Teresa can so I now know that I can shop tomorrow morning for my classic Paella recipe for two. She wants to learn how to cook the dish so it is not the time to be clever. Better to stick to what is known and Tuesday evening in the bar, when arrangements are finalized, because she has said tonight that that is what she will do....come in Tuesday to confirm the times, they will encompass all that is necessary for the two of us to prep and cook the dish together. Yes, I've been here before but the big difference this time is that we both speak English and I now know what I'm doing in the kitchen (I think.) Boy am I excited. Maybe I might try to sneak a photo for you. Vamos a ver (we'll see).

Monday, 19 May 2008

Birthday Boy

Bill celebrated his birthday today (Sunday) and despite trying to leave the bar twice after "just one" ended up having a good time with friends and a glass of Jack Daniels. But his real treat? He got to wear Favio's shiny chrome crash helmet.
Boys will be boys.

Shepherd's Pie

I've managed to make 3 pies with the available meat so two will eventually go in the freezer (I need more mash to top them off) and one, this one, is going in the oven right now.

Not too successful I have to say. I didn't pre-cook the veg (Carrot, Onion and Green & Red Peppers) and half-an-hour in the oven at 180C, whilst enough time to heat it all through adequately, did not cook the veg. So, the remaining two are going to be reworked to correct that error. The Aluminium Trays I bought turned out to have cardboard lids and are identical to the trays that Chinese Takeaways use to package their stuff.

I had a busy session in the bar tonight during which Swedish Anna came in (her regular Sunday visit) and gave me a young Pepper Plant which I have yet to plant into a pot. At the moment it is still in the plastic bag with the rootball wrapped in newspaper which I'm being careful to keep dampened for the time being.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Those Photos

A group of friends gathered in the bar the other evening to say goodbye to Irene and Deidre who were leaving for the airport. As the girls were leaving they suddenly decided to have a photo taken with me between them.................

The first is that one. Favio chose to invite himself into the little group as well but modern technology and digital photography have enabled me to cut him out to show the picture as it was originally intended.

The second is a follow-on when the whole group were put together as Irene and Deidre finally took their leave at about 9pm to catch their 11pm flight to Ireland. Ann kindly took control of Christy's camera and pressed the shutter button.

Lastly, I have just got back from my neighbour's apartment (Christy, him in the yellow embellished shirt) where I was able to photogragh the view that I would have if it weren't for the wall at the back of my terrace. But you can see why I can hear the sea!!

Trying Times

The ground floor locale here is a shop which is currently being refurbished (into, rumour has it, an Ice Cream Parlour or something similar.) Today, Sunday, I seem to be being spared the bang, bang of hammers and chisels etc (I wasn't last week) which is giving me a chance to get rid of some of the attendant brick dust that has settled EVERYWHERE here in my apartment. Big worry is, of course, Wednesday and my Paella Party; I'm really beginning to worry that I'll still have a noisy, dusty problem to contend with then. Yesterday I put my rugs through the washing machine but I'm not going to put them back down until the work below is finished or at least not generating more dust and I just hope that, come the day, my efforts won't be wasted and everything will be hunky-dory.

I'm going next-door shortly to help a neighbour send an email to me with those photos I mentioned yesterday (he took them), and I'm going to see if I can let him log into my WiFi Network so that he has an Internet Connection available while he is here. Kind of returning a favour because everytime he and his wife come here they bring me a Black Pudding the brand of which (Clonakilty) is said to be one of best in the world. Then I'm planning to have a late lunch on the terrace today where there are currently a right pair of young boozers languishing in the warm sunshine. Rosemary and Thyme. I can't keep up with them!! Water, water and more water!! But first I've got to wash the dust and a couple of Seagulls' calling cards off my Electric Plancha and get it set up.

Yesterday while helping Ann to do her shop I saw and bought a pack of 5 small disposable Aluminium Pie Dishes which means that I can now make and have my first real Shepherd's Pie since leaving England for these sunnier climes. And I've decided that Nigella Lawson is not mad after all. Chillies with everything? Well maybe not as many as she uses in all her dishes but certainly one will be in my homespun, make it up as I go along, recipe along with a fresh mint leaf or two. Tonight after work. Can't wait.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Taking Stock

A day of lazy pottering so far. The weather is nice and sunny, currently 25C in a shady spot on my terrace, with a few clouds scuttling across the sky. The plants have had their morning water and weeding, a new pot of chicken stock is coming to the boil (the meaty pickings from the bones are in the fridge and should give me at least two more meals) and I've prepped a Lamb Curry ready for tonight. The extra hour at home until 6pm is proving useful and the later finish at 10pm is not inconvenient at all.

Last night I was required to pose for a couple of photos, out on the street, by a group of ladies who were returning home which was all a little embarrassing because I hate having my photo taken but these turned out nicely. Later I'll post one here after I receive them via email as has been promised. I'm told that one of these ladies already has a photo of me back home on her mantelpiece and she herself is not afraid to admit that that is the truth!! Maybe there's hope for me yet so I've updated the picture of me on my profile, here in the blog, using a snap that Ole-Erik took on the tapa run 2 weeks ago, but I've had my hair cut since I think. Yep, just checked in the mirror, definitely since.

Joder! (That's a Spanish expletive), Ann S has just called asking if I've forgotten and, of course, I have. I agreed to help her to go shopping today at 2pm. Well, now it'll have to be 2-45pm.

All done and I'm back with a Parsley plant, a Mint plant and a Marigold (I think). Plus some fertilizer for all and sundry. The parsley is a bit leggy but the other two are nice specimens. Hopefully now I'll get a good crop of Tomatoes, not necessarily entitled to an "organic" label but certainly the husbandry will be ecologically friendly! The photo shows the latest additions to the fold.

Friday, 16 May 2008


What suspense? There's no suspense, I know exactly what's going on!!

Good 'ere innit.

Au revoir

Cecilia has not long since sent me a txt apologising for not finding the time to come in to say goodbye this evening which made me think that she was in the bar having gone in looking for me (she's had but a couple of days to pack house and home.) So I've just got back from checking that. She wasn't so, unfortunately, she will leave for Mexico tomorrow to join her partner there with just a short txt of a goodbye between us. No more pots of this and pans of that then but deep down inside I have a feeling that she will be back, sooner rather than later.

On my way to the bar I heard "hello Derek" and looked up to see Teresa hanging out of her 1st floor window somewhat disconsolately watching the comings and goings into and out of the bar. Our short conversation and it's circumstance doesn't matter here but she is now under strict instruction to come into the bar tomorrow for a little company and I think that she was really glad to have me take the opportunity to re-affirm the invitation here next Wednesday for a Paella.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

¿Por que No?

Why not? That's a damn good question. Cooks, it seems to me, when they want to "dressup" the potato element of a dish usually, if not always, plump for Potatoes Lyonnaise. Well, let me tell you that there is an alternative, certainly more healthy if not more interesting, that comes from Andalucia here in Southern Spain which is known as Patatas Pobre (or Poor Man's Potatoes). The recipe I'm about to describe was animatedly explained to me yesterday afternoon by Emelio (you either know him or you don't) as the perfect accompaniment to my Paleta de Cordero (con hueso).

There are no really definitive quantities as such but as a single person I am using a medium sized spud as the basis with green pepper and onion added as the classic extra flavours. so.........

Patatas Pobre (enough for one at least)

1 medium potato
1/4 of a medium to large onion
1 inch slice off a Green Bell Pepper

Peel and slice the potato to about 3mm then soak in water to remove starch
Roughly chop onion.
Slice or dice pepper into good, bite size, pieces.

Drain and pat-dry the potato then in a deepish frypan containing enough Olive Oil to cover fry, over a high heat, the potato slices for 5 mins, stirring and turning over occasionallly then cover with a lid, lower the heat right down and continue the fry for 10 minutes more. Then add the Onion and Pepper, recover and fry for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender and browning, crisping, at the edges at least.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008


I have bought a 1.23Kg Leg of New Zealand Lamb as a treat for myself. Trouble is that it was frozen at the point of sale and, as I write, has not fully thawed. So tonight I have had to have the second portion of Macaroni Carbonara that I cooked for lunch today. I've traipsed the leg around El Bajondillo tonight enjoying a drink or two while waiting for it to thaw but to no avail. Still frozen deep inside. OK, no problem, make a few slashes on the soft outside, stuff them with Rosemary and Garlic and leave in the fridge until tomorrow. That's where I am right now in the big scheme of things. Then follow some advice given tonight and serve with Patatas Pobre along with my choice of veg...cabbage and Asparagos.

More importantly, Favio and I have discussed the future this evening. I take over the bar on 1st July, under contract, running from 7pm until close for a satisfactory level of remuneration and, possibly later, moving into the apartment (over the bar) that Beryl currently has until she leaves for America. I'm pleased with life right now despite having to wait for my lamb! He has also commented that it might be worthwhile putting a kitchen (of sorts) in!! Fair enough, but I explained how I would want that to be implemented and also made the point that 2 behind the bar might be necessary. He promptly came up with a name!! Very astute. He'll have me married off sooner rather than later!!

Tomorrow we start a new timetable for the bar....opening at 6pm with Beryl taking over at 10pm. Which gives me more time to roast my leg and mash a Mint Sauce together

And to the person who has just sent a note.....Hi there!!

El Miercoles

Yep, it's Wednesday again. I had a late finish last night in the bar, finally getting away at 3am only to find a most important email in my inbox on arrival home the reply to which kept me up until 6-30am this morning. Tips were good though in the bar (partly due to the fact that one party of Americans ordered 6 Mojito Cocktails and appreciated my effort in making them) so I'm going shopping later to treat myself to a Little Leg of Lamb to keep some rosemary company in the oven tonight. That trip has a two-fold purpose......A couple who are regulars of mine took over a bar in town on Friday (which makes the phrase "were regulars" more appropriate) and last night I said that I would visit them this evening. So, that's what is on the cards including, probably, a nightcap in either Ana's or The Ship. Musn't forget to keep an eye out for Marigolds either, and some Mint Sauce. What did I just say?? I'll make that for myself!!

Randy left Málaga early this morning bound for Washington DC via CDG and a 4 hour layover, ouch. Last night, in the same breath used to gently but firmly charge me with making sure that Beryl is OK throughout his absence, he announced his return in about 6 weeks and hopefully the completion of his wifes application to enter the USA permanently. In the meantime I'm going to miss the rapport between us in the bar most evenings and, as the snap shows, out on the street during the recent "tapa run". One hell of a nice guy.

Oh and before I forget - here's the recipe for Haggis as requested! Buy them complete and just boil.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Full-Time Job

Whilst the days can be cloudy still and somewhat showery to boot the sun is beginning to reign supreme through the midday and afternoon hours which means that my babies are requiring more and more attention to keep them happy, two bucketloads of water are given each day now, a couple of litres to each pot. I told you that I had bought some herbs the other day which I believed would help keep the Tomatoes free of whitefly and stuff but talking to Lisa she reminded me that it is Marigolds that the bugs don't like so tomorrow I may go out on the hunt for some. This morning I've taken a couple of photos to show you what is happening in my terrace garden just now. The first, above, shows the tomatoes that Lisa gave me transplanted into a bag of compost, growbag style, fronted by the herbs which, left to right, are Rosemary, Thyme and Sage, Basil and Dill. To the right are the Lobelia?, potted on.

This second picture shows the rest of my pots in another corner of the terrace. These are the ones that, earlier this year, gave me some blooming pleasure. I can identify two Yuccas and a Dragon Tree, the rest? I need a book, but I like the shape, colour of foliage etc. etc. Keeping this lot happy in the sun and heat is a challenge and I'm still trying to fathom out which prefers full sun, partial or full shade so there are a few brown (scorched) leaves about as I learn. One of the yuccas by the way was given to me by the shop as I was buying the other one because "it is probably dead so you can have it." It wasn't and is now happily enjoying a new lease of life thanks to some TLC.

Last night I was invited to David's where he cooked Haggis, Neaps and Tatties. Teresa (the Irish Lady I have mentioned recently) was also invited who approached the dish and the Whisky "gravy" with some trepidation but having spent last Wednesday shopping in Fuengirola with her (basically showing her round, how to use the trains etc.) where we ate Spanish (at Mesón Salamanca of course) I knew that she would jump in feet first and give it try. She did and was pleasantly surprised I think. Haggis IS a nice meal, no doubt about it and, preceeded by a Finnan Haddie (Smoked Haddock) starter, David's presentation was superb. Next Wednesday I have invited them here for Paella on my terrace, al fresco style, to which Teresa has said that she would like me to teach her how to cook it. Ningún problema. I actually went back to Fuengirola on Saturday to shop for the Haggis and Swede (Neaps) for David and found some Lapsang Suchong in a specialist Tea Shop that I subsequently discovered so my starter may be that Smoked Salmon dish I tried a month or so ago but done properly and by that I mean according to the original recipe. And that brings me full circle, today I've been tidying the terrace in anticipation!!

PS. She's done it again! A lady that I know keeps dropping hints about me cooking for her here. Yesterday evening she waltzed into the bar and asked again!! And we weren't even talking about food, cooking or anything like it, she just came out with it....."and when are you going to invite ME to yours for a meal then?" But will she arrange a date? No! Strange.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Los Cinco Tapateers

Here we are - the five Tapateers at the meeting point, 1230pm Wednesday sober but hungry (well, I was). Organised by Bill, photographed by Ole-Erik (in the main, but this one is mine and was taken by a Waiter using my camera which is why I'm praying it doesn't get dropped) with the rest of us along for the ride. I don't think that you have met David (my Scottish Spanish teacher) and Randy (Beryl's Husband) "in the face" before so here they are.

A little potted history first. "Tapa Runs" are the brainchild of Gerry Shaw who used
to delight in taking a taxi, with a gang of friends, all the way from El Bajondillo to the top of town, deep into the heart of El Calvario and then proceed to return to El Bajondillo on foot (and The Red Lion) stopping at many Bars on the way down for a bevvy and a tapa. Down? Yes, that was the craft you see, the taxi had the uphill journey, the Gang could then do a Jack & Jill down the hill because it was easier. The Red Lion was known as the "collection point" because the womenfolk would gather there and wait to take their men home by the ear like naughty little boys. Gerry and many of the original gang are no longer with us of course but thanks to Bill (a long-standing gang member) today we traced a few of those historical footsteps in memory of days gone by.

David was elected to hold the kitty because he says he can speak spanish so 20€ a head was passed his way and a tapa ordered at the table in the photo. A sobering half-hour later saw almost half the kitty go straight away! Well, fairs fair, the place wasn't a tapa bar as such and actually gave us raciones instead.

First Stop
Onwards and upwards (we had to break with tradition and not use a taxi because half the kitty was gone already) Ole-Erik wanted us to try a bar that he knows, run by one of his kinsmen, where the beer is very cheap but there are no tapas. He was right. Cheap beer, no tapas but a floorshow like you have never heard before. The next-door locale is being refurbished and the noise.......eventually we had to leave. Where's Randy?...get in front please, where I can see you! The trouble with photography in this sort of situation is that there is always one missing, the one behind the camera, this time, me!

For the rest of the expedition I'm just going to show you the photos that were taken because the tale to tell is much the same at each stop - a drink, a tapa and then move on.

Second Stop
These shots show scenes in a bar along the main road which had a very nice seafood selection, kept a record of your "tab" in chalkmarks on the bartop and had a makeshift terrace outside on the pavement. Very Spanish.

As it turned out Ole-Erik wasn't too keen on Mejillones (mussels) and Randy...well, in his American drawl he just simply said, at the sight of all that wonderful seafood, "it ain't a burger, so it ain't food!

There is nothing to eat on the table (a barrel-top) yet because we are waiting for David who is at the bar trying to order the tapas in his very best Spanish.

This particular bar is in an area of town that I don't normally frequent but I intend to go again one day when I'm feeling like a tapa.