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 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


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.....

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

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 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.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Strange Conversation

Yesterday, just after I'd opened the proprietor of the German cafe just up the road called in for a drink, which in itself was strange...the cafe sports its own bar! Anyway, he started talking about things to do with his business and I now know that he has bought the little bar next door (Antonio's as it is known) with the intention of turning it into a seafood restaurant. I also now know how much his staff earn and how many more will be required for the future (he expects to open his new venture next year.) We have never, ever, spoken before; Larisa took a job there just after I moved into this apartment but she didn't like the conditions and left after 8 days or so but while she was there I patronised it, just for her company, and he and I never more than nodded in recognition of each other. But now, all of a sudden, I'm party to info that is really none of my business. Strange.

Last night turned out to be quite good with a late dash for the post so to speak. Teresa and I eventually closed up at around 4am having hosted quite a nice little party including a visit from a Laplander which, for me, was a first in terms of nationalities encountered. A huge guy who, at first sight, seemed to be a little strange but after his second pint he "came round", warmed up to us and proved to be quite pleasant. Hopefully we will see him again during his stay.

Today is changeover day in another sense.....this week's carcass is in the stockpot, boiling, and a fresh Bird is in the oven but if Cristina turns the electrics off........

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Changes all Round

So far this month trade has been a little better, exactly as Ana-Mary forecast but last night it went "dead" again. Saturday is changeover day; those folk who have been here with us for a week or two leave, usually very early Sunday morning, and those arriving haven't found us yet. This last week or so we have had a good "crowd" in most nights but last night they all went home, leaving us high and dry so-to-speak. Hopefully, new faces will appear in the next couple of days who will choose to use us as their local for the duration.

Favio put some prices up on Friday; all normal spirits have gone from 4€ to 5€ a measure. By normal I mean standard Rums, Gins, Vodkas etc., the dearer brands remain the same. With inflation running at around 5% at the moment in a cooling Spanish economy I'm not surprised that he has seen fit to do so. Beryl and I were both really surprised when, after the brewer raised the price of a barrel of beer by almost 6€ a few months ago he did not respond with an increased price at the pump.

I can't remember whether I have already told you but I gave up my Spanish Lessons with David: I just don't have the time now what with all that I have to do with this job. Teresa took over my slot and she is doing very well it seems but I now have increased opportunities to practise, translating for her, not only across the bar with customers, but with Favio as well; Last night she booked a couple of days off next week after having asked me to lend her a hand asking him.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

All Done & Dusted

I've a sneaky feeling that I'm about to receive visitors from the UK (into the bar) who "know" me via this blog. If that IS the case then I look forward to it.

Yesterday my copy of the Contract of Employment was returned to the bar for me to collect and also yesterday Beryl was kind enough to accompany me to the accountant's office to help me sort out the final bits n' bobs with regard to the paymemt of my salary straight into my Bank Account. All was accomplished and this morning I note online that my salary is indeed sitting there in my account, totally all mine for the use of. Next move is to downsize apartments to a studio, releasing more disposable income each month. All in all, things look good for the future at last. And good job too because last night there was an official visit from the Town Hall (luckily Favio was on-hand and able to deal with it) querying the illegal terrace and opening times and, as I understand it, he has been given time to apply to have the Licence altered to accommodate the variances . Being legally employed now has its advantages....not only was I not told to "disappear" while they were there but, come to think of it, I can also wear my waistcoat etc. if I want to!!!

Favio raised the point with me a day or two ago about getting the bar onto the Internet. He can't; he admits that he doesn't know how to but he knows that I do. He does have a Domain registered already, and when he's prepared to pay for a telephone line into the bar maybe we can get it all organized, webcam an'all. (StreetCam not a BarCam before everybody starts panickin'!)

38ºC /100ºF as I write, another hot day. Shopping is done, a seafood salad is on tonight's menu and the Chicken Stock has been turned into another Lentil Stew which, this time, includes half-a-dozen streaky (spanish) rashers, coarsely cut up and thrown in, that I found in the fridge beginning to dry at the edges. It's my day off tomorrow and if the temperatures are much the same I'm going to spend the evening in the Med keeping cool.

100ºF???.....1700hrs and the local weather station (the airport) is now reporting 40ºC/104ºF

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Caldo de Pollo

I keep being asked how I make my Chicken Stock. All I can say is that, always, it uses what's available in my cupboard. You have to bear in mind that at this time of year fresh produce does not remain fresh for very long and I tend to use what is nearing the end of its shelflife so, without too much detail, here's today's concotion......
1 Chicken Carcass (Inc unbutchered wings, skin, bare leg bones, the whole caboodle! Save everything as you use the meat up.)
2 Doble Caldo cubes (veg stock cubes)
1 Onion
1 Dried Red Pepper (halved at least).
2 Bay Leaves
5-6 whole unpeeled cloves garlic
1/2 a tomato
1 complete large sprig Rosemary
1 Bunch fresh cut Thyme
1 Bunch Fresh Cut Parsley
1 dozen Peppercorns
1 good pinch sea salt

Chuck everything (don't peel the onion, just quarter it) into a large stockpot with 3 .5 pints of water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for as long as you fancy, topping up if necessary. Then strain, recovering as much chicken meat (I'm very picky) as you can (for other uses) and use as required for soups etc.

As I said, this uses what I had available (hence the 1/2 tomato) so additional flavours are up to you. Sea salt? I don't believe in the (English) TV Chefs' addiction to Maldon Sea Salt. I just use a crystallized sea salt that contains no added E numbers etc which comes from nowhere near Maldon but tastes of......salt! And, I'm lucky, my herbs are fresh cut from my "garden" may have to compromise.

The Best Laid Plans

After leaving the stockpot on a slow simmer and this week's Chicken in the oven with 1hr 40mins to go I have been out to prep the bar for tonight. Christina (my landlady) is working, cleaning, in the studio below me. 45 mins later I come back to find the chicken in a cold oven and the stockpot shivering! With not so much as a by-your-leave, seeing me go out she's turned off the power for her own reasons, leaving me in the dark. What's wrong with the Spanish? Why can't they ASK first. Check, even, that their wants are in accordance with the rest of the world. I may be leaving this apartment soon and, to be quite honest, I wont miss her inconsiderations if I do.

We are in August. It's hot. Very hot. Daily we are suffering maximums in the mid to high 90s (and occasionally higher) with a high relative humidity. Not unusual for this time of year, no, but always uncomfortable nonetheless. Last year, and those before, I was able to put off cooking and eating until the cool of the late evening but now, of course, I can't because of my job. But you soon begin to understand why the Spanish "dinner" is always very, very, late into the evening.

On a lighter note....I had heard that 5 weeks ago an English Supermarket had opened in town and following Ann & Bill's directions I eventually found it this morning, not quite where I thought it was and not quite the size I was expecting, more a "corner shop" type of enterprise. Today's lunch is a proper Pilchard Salad, tomorrow's is a Kedgeree made with "boil in bag" kippers and in the cupboard is Malt Vinegar, Oxos, and Corned Beef, oh, and wait for of your favourite Steak/kidney pie know, the round one you can't open but when you do you are greeted by luscious, soggy, flaky pastry, and all at prices not inflated by the "it's imported" excuse. And what's more, maybe, in the not too distant future, I might be able to buy Smoked Haddock - which I discussed with the shopkeeperess - she's already been looking at availability, must've seen me coming!!! I nearly didn't buy the malt vinegar because I've been pickling my beetroot in a 50/50 mixture of White and Red Wine vinegar (in lieu) with an added dash of Balsamic and the usual spicing. Trouble is that Malt is the only condiment for Fish and Chips and my newly perfected, awesome, homemade (double fried) chips absolutely demand it!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Up and Running again

The website is back. I tried it this morning and was able to get on to it. I still don't know why there has been the problem but I think it must have been at the Server end because I have done nothing this end to the system. So, as I am now able to properly maintain "" now, things are back to normal.