Monday, 9 November 2009

Early Warning

For the last few months I have been pestered, via SMS, by Vodaphone to go to one of their shops and pass over my "details" in order to comply with The Law and not lose my Mobile Telephone number. After the usual 2am finish last night I got home and put an alarm on for an early rise this morning in order to do that. At the shop I joined a lengthy queue only to find out, when my turn came, that there wasn't a problem with my account, ie, they already had my details!!

Last night I overheard that the Spanish Government is going to implement a full Smoking ban in line with the rest of the EU. Although I haven't actually read or heard the news for myself I understand that the rule will come into force this coming January.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Up and Running

The pleasant weather (for this time of year at least) continues albeit with some fresh winds blowing most evenings causing problems with bar terraces and the like. Rain is being forecast for the end of next week but that's a little while yet and the outlook may change in the interim.

My usual Sunday jaunt to The Ship isn't happening today because I have to work tonight to help cover Teresa's absence while she undertakes a visit home to Ireland. The bar continues to do well relative to others in the local area and plans are now being made to capitalize on that good fortune by making changes to the interior to provide extra seating space for the times when the terrace is not an attractive proposition weatherwise.

With Ole-Erik's help all the way from Oslo I have started to setup a website for the bar. A work always in progress of course, as websites inevitably are, the site can now be accessed at Of particular interest, judging by the idea's succcess in the bar itself, is an archive of photos taken of visitors to the bar. These are uploaded immediately into a slideshow running on the bar's Apple Mac computer thereby allowing folk to see themselves enjoying their visit to Teresa's. Most then ask if they can download their photo for themselves so there is a "Gallery" on the website where that job can be done once they get home.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Back online

It seems that Autumn is well and truly with us now - rain is beginning to feature regularly in the weather forecasts and yesterday evening a prolonged and quite heavy downpour caught everybody napping, including me, despite "a shower or two" having been forecast days ahead. The local road gullies were turned into rushes of escaping water, in places well over a metre wide and, often, 2 inches or so deep which gave rise to very wet feet by the time I had paddled home from work. More of the same is due today and tomorrow although, looking out over my terrace you wouldn't think so, a warm 21C presently with blueish skies and good sunny intervals. But I've always said that the Spanish Met Office doesn't often get it wrong so I'll go out today better prepared for what might be in store.

I left Larisa's way back on Friday 11th September, to return to Torremolinos, not able to tell her exactly where I would be living because I didn't know myself. I knew that I had somewhere to go but did not know where it was. Teresa met me with a key and showed me in through the frontdoor of a nice studio apartment (bedsit), a little bigger than the one I had before and with an airy terrace looking out over a communal swimming pool and grassed garden area. Having settled in and taken possession of the Internet Dongle that I was being allowed to borrow I promptly caused Lary problems in that I started to use my phone SIM in the dongle thereby rendering myself incommunicado. Using the SIM in that way proved very expensive because it was not running on an Internet Access Tariff and I very soon realised that I had to splash out on my own dongle (a USB Modem) complete with its own SIM running on a better tariff for Internet use. That is done so here I am. Larisa had tried to contact me on numerous occasions through the first few weeks of my being here and, getting no answer, even enlisted her friends around Torre to look out for me. No luck for her there either because I do not go up into town very ofen these days. But, with a dongle bought and my phone SIM back where it belonged we made contact 2 weeks ago Sunday and met along the Paseo Maritimo not far from here, then, having seen where I'm now staying, and Teresa's Bar where I'm working, she went home seemingly happy about my lot.

Katia is taking English lessons twice a week and yesterday, seeing me logged into Skype, took the opportunity to engage me in an IM session so that she could practise. She is getting very good now, our hour-long "conversation" giving me a chance to practise Spanish as well, and told me that she hopes to be able to go to New York for a few months in the not too distant future once she is confidant enough in speaking English. I've promised that the next time we meet on Skype I'll call her voice-to-voice and give her a chance to practise more. She tells me that there are no English speakers around her over there in Omsk and once a lesson is over "that's it" until the next one. So, we'll see what can be done via Skype - me in Spanish and her in English, and vice-versa through any difficult bits!

Teresa continues to do well in the bar, beating local competition in the battle for trade more often than not which is very gratifying bearing in mind that she has been unable to get a music licence or a TV licence. Her bar's reputation as a nice place to go is spreading far and wide via word-of-mouth and cards and flyers that she has had printed, there hardly being a day go by when somebody, just arrived in Spain for a holiday, doesn't come in asking "is this the Teresa's Bar that I have been told about back home." The next few months may well be difficult but with the building reputation all the signs are good for her future. I'm in the process of constructing a website for the bar which, when finished and online, will include a Gallery section where folk who are willing to be photographed in the bar can view and download their very own momento once they return home. There are a fair few photos already in the bag so my work is cut-out for the next few weeks but I'll get there in the end!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Saved by a Belle

I have found work and acommodation which will keep me going for a little while yet. So, no flight out on Friday. This is going to be a difficult post....I'm finding it hard to find the words with which to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped me these last few weeks so I'm just going to list names because they'll all know why they are mentioned.....Lisa, Ward and Martin. Ann and Bill. David. Cristina. Keith. Margaret and Christy. Erica. Teresa (the belle of my title, more of why later) and Dave. Tina and Barry. And Larisa, who really meant what she said last year, -mi casa, tu casa-.

This last week "home" has been with her here in Calahonda where we've spent the time together gardening out on her terrace splitting and repotting all the shubbery, swimmimg in the pool, shopping, cooking and generally having an otherwise lazy time in front of Russian TV (I've nearly learnt her alphabet off the screen.) and now, sat in a cafe next to the local supermarket where there is a poorly advertised hotspot that I only realized existed yesterday I have just been called and told to buy a kilo of Sardines for lunch. No lickee fingers...that's the rule! But will old habits die? For my sake, I hope so.

Early last year I helped a lonely and very homesick lady get onto her feet after arriving to start a new life here in Spain. Teresa has never forgotten that and has always said that she will never allow me to go back to the UK if it's in her power to do so. Her bar is going from success to more success and she has now offered me my job back on the strength of that success. And I'm grateful. Included in the deal is the use of an apartment for a while (for free) that she knows of nearby the bar which, all in all, should give me time to get reorganised and maybe allow me to followup the possibilty that I can go back to that bar/restaurant in Playamar and be trained as a professional cook through the winter period. So, to kick things off, I'll be moving back to Torre on Friday, starting work with her in the evening. And to top it all I'm being lent a PAYG internet dongle to keep myself online more easily.

I'd better go and get the Sardines.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Winding it all Up

Teresa called this morning to ask if I would work with her this evening in her bar. Despite the fact that time is becoming tight with regard to finishing getting packed and clearing and cleaning the apartment I can't ignore an opportunity to top the coffers up a little, so, I'm offline at the moment (it's 2pm) and taking time out from the chores to, not only write this, but give some thought to the last few days plan of action over a cuppa in the light of her request.

Due to the airlines' restrictions on weight (9 or 10 euros for each excess kilo) I'm only going to bring clothes and toiletries etc. Sounds drastic but really it isn't...the rest of my possessions just about all belong in the kitchen and most of those will be staying here in Torremolinos. Today I'm continuing to sort my wardrobe out, disposing of those things I feel that I will not need back home, those that are worn out or damaged and those that I haven't actually used in a good long while. Tomorrow clear and clean the balconies, bathroom and bedroom and Saturday the same for the Kitchen, larder, fridge and freezer. Actually I've been running down my foodstocks during this last week, making all sorts of wierd and not so wonderful concoctions to get stuff used up, the latest being a batch of veg soup into which I tipped the last of the Pearl Barley that I had. Turned out to be too much and its overpowering presence in each bowlful is not pleasing, but there you go. Saturday will also see me pass on the stuff that is staying here, giving me even more room to wield the mop and bucket. Saturday evening I'm going for a meal with Ann, Bill, Kathy and David as I've mentioned before. Then, on Sunday morning, I plan to finally finish all the necessary cleaning and then go along to The Ship (as usual) for an hour or so before calling Larisa to tell her that I'm ready to go to her.

She doesn't have the Internet in the apartment and, having never had occasion to need it in Calahonda, I have absolutely no idea where the nearest Hotspot is with which to keep in touch. Non doubt there is one somewhere but for my purposes SMS will suffice to let you know my eventual flight details if nothing else.

As for "ItsMeInTorre", the end really is nigh but I've been asked, and even told, not to let my blog die. So perhaps I won't. And on that note I have to, again, thank those who have been emailing me lately, your thoughts and comments have been appreciated.


I'll be Moving

As she promised that she would Larisa rang a little earlier and I'll now be going to Calahonda just as soon as I'm ready to vacate my apartment, probably Monday. There I can stay while waiting for the airfares to drop, which may mean until the 2nd week in September.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

- Puedas Venir Aqui -

My plan to return this weekend has been kyboshed by the fact that it's the August Bank Holiday and, as a consequence, airfares are skyhigh: BA want more or less a 1000euros one-way to Heathrow for instance! So, I am going to have to wait a little while until the prices come back down to earth. And it looks like I'll be able to do that now because a Guardian Angel has arrived on the scene.

Larisa rang again late last night:
"Where were you last night (Sunday) when I rang?"
In the heat of the moment (I still hate talking spanish on the phone) I mistakenly told her that I had been indoors watching television.
"Ah, that's why there was a lot of background noise, where are you now?"
"Indoors, always indoors" I replied in all innocence, pointing the phone toward the TV for proof. Then I remembered that I was actually in Teresa's Bar, blogging, on Sunday when she called. Not that any of it matters but I still take great comfort in the fact that she concerns herself about me.
"OK", she said, and then asked "have you bought a ticket yet?"
"No, the prices are too high" I explained, continuing with "I may have to wait a week or so for the prices to drop."
"Good, then you can come here?"
"You can come here, to my apartment. I'll ring you again on Wednesday night."
"Oh! Ok, Gracias."
"Venga, hasta luego" and she was gone.

The mind can play funny tricks at times, not the least mine and I'm beginning to wonder (and enjoying the process) whether I'm now being reeled in. Caught, hook, line and sinker! Probably not, unfortunately. But then, reading between the lines of our recent conversations (and I only ever tickle the essence of them here on this blog), she seems not to be prepared to accept the fact that my time to leave has come. All the while I don't have the ticket she's happy with the fact that I'm not committed, and that, it would seem, is providing her with an opportunity to take control. There is no need to call me today because I've told her I'm having to wait so, she now has time to get up to whatever it is that she wants to do today before calling me again, tomorrow. But, as I say, the mind can get up to all sorts of tricks.

All the while this week I am bringing my tenancy here to a close, now deadlined for Monday. Much of the stuff that I can't carry is earmarked for others to have, and Saturday will be spent delivering to them. Saturday is also David's birthday and I am invited to his bash in the evening which will become my sendoff as well, finishing, I expect, in Ana's with a developing headache!

My mind is working at fever pitch again....I haven't mentioned this before but the other month, out on her terrace with Katy earwigging, a conversation started about relationships and we both ended up telling each other that we were confirmed singles, me having dismissed her suggestion that I ought to find a rich widow. I was lying of course, about remaining single, but stayed clear of steering the conversation down the road I would dearly have loved it to go just in case she wasn't but I did make it quite clear that I was not, and had no intention of, looking for anybody else. A wisp of a smile told me that I'd said and she'd heard all the right things. Katy grinned like a Cheshire Cat all the way through!

If I do move to Calahonda I must remember not to wear the Wrong Trousers!!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

You CAN'T!

Having come to an arrangement with those who are helping me to book my ticket home (I don't have a credit card let alone a convenient internet connection) I rang to let you know what the plan was. Immediately following that I sent an SMS to Larisa detailing the same and, not long ago, I received a return call, by voice, the contents of which gave rise to my title above. Monday, it seems, would be far better than Sunday so I have to go back and rehash the plan - I must not leave Spain without saying cheerio to her in person, and if I do so I will never be forgiven. Sat here in Teresa's bar, Larisa's call has reduced me to tears, literally and, for the moment, that's all I want to do - cry. Which is what I'm doing. It seems that life here is really not all about Sun, Sea and Sangria but more about a lady who once asked me, out of the blue, -¿como se llama?-and having to leave her company is what is really beginning to hurt.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Penultimate Bridge

The call that I've been dreading came earlier this afteroon - Cristina- "Hello Derek, are you here? I haven't seen you for a long time." Which was true because I've been keeping a low profile knowing that she was upstairs in the apartment above me, the coward in me fearful of any confrontation over the rent. After I had blundered my way through, in 'SpanEnglish', about my situation (which was, basically, "I can't pay the rent this month and have to leave at the end of the month, you have my deposit to cover") she was absolutely fine, fantastic even, in her quiet "I understand" reaction. Having been a good tenant for the last 3 years or so I'm more than grateful that she is not going to chuck me out on my ear immediately although she did say that she will have to check with her lawyer that I can use my deposit in this way. If not then she can give it me back on 31st August and I'll give it straight back as the rent albeit 4 weeks late. Easy. No problem. And that's the penultimate bridge crossed.

Things here in Torre go from bad to worse; not only is it planned to close the Chiringuitos (beach bars), they have now painted a yellow line along the length of the beach road ready to enforce a 'no parking' by-law from September. Rumour has it (which I heard last night) that, this next Tuesday, all the businesses along the front are going to stay closed in protest at the potential loss of trade.

The ultimate bridge to cross is saying goodbye to Larisa. Our parting last Wednesday was on a simple "see you later" basis as if nothing any different from normal was afoot. I could have gone to Calahonda, to a barbecue, today but I'm due to work at Teresa's bar tonight and that (the money) has higher priority! She is off to Biarritz next Saturday for a week so I'm hoping that we can get together again before. I'm sure we will as she now knows my plans for the next 2 weeks.

On the 31st I intend to tout the desks at the airport for a stand-by ticket to either Heathrow or Gatwick, hoping that I do not have to wait too long to be accomodated, we'll see.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

-¿Donde estás Derek?-

Last Sunday I was invited by Lisa and Ward to Sunday Lunch at The Ship so I spent much of the afternoon there with them. Back home by about 6-30pm after some very nice Roast Beef etc. to an evening in front of the TV. Then at 10pm Larisa called - where was I, what was I doing and did I want to go out later. We met by the station at 11-45pm.
"Fancy going to the casino (in Torrequebrada)?" She asked.
" A Casino!? I can't go to a Casino!!"
"I'm inviting you so, yes you can, and why are you wearing those trousers again??"
I like my brown cordouroys but she doesn't, saying that they are not summerwear and on the way up to a bar to kill time before the bus out of town I (re)explained why I like wearing them. And on that walk I also found out that I had been told to bring my passport. No ID, no casino, but then I thought that she had said on the phone that she wanted to go to a Cocina (Kitchen) which I didn't really understand, and never heard anything about bringing my passport. 4 rounds later we made our way back to the bus-stop and began an hours wait for the next one, due at 2-16am. On the journey she dozed off on my shoulder so I was able miss the stop for the casino and, to cut the story short we eventually ended up in Calahonda, where I stayed until this morning. Her troubles, whatever they were, are over she says and that she is back on the social scene having not made much contact with anybody, including me, these last couple of months. I'm invited back for a barbecue party on Saturday but unfortunately my busy work schedule (sic) wont allow that which is unfortunate because there are 5 or 6 other friends of hers invited as well, all of whom I know but some of whom I haven't seen for awhile.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Possibly a damp squid

Strong thunderstorms are being forecast for Monday (late on in the day) so it looks like the hot weather of late is going to break.

Friday's newspaper turned up a job opportunity to which end this connection to the net at Teresa's bar has enabled me to email my CV in support of my telephone enquiry. I just hope that the weather forecast is wrong; I don't fancy going to Fuengirola for an interview in pouring rain, should I be invited., but needs must. In the meantime I have, tonight, confirmed with Teresa that I have 4 days work here towards the end of next week which will be handy. All I've got to do is get "round" Cristina when she knocks for the rent. Perhaps I'll get the Old Spice out.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Going Critical

I've got a night's work tomorrow at Teresa's and am currently sat in her bar, having collected the key, taking the opportunity to log on, collect email etc., and bring you up-to-date here.

Cristina arrived today, no doubt to collect the rent in person rather than have me transfer it to Granada via the Post Office which costs her 6 or 7 euros in Giro fees. Trouble is that I do not have it. I'm hoping that, when she knocks, we can agree to let me see my tenancy out to the end of this month, making use of my deposit to cover. I'm dreading the knock on the door though because I hate having to let her down but I can't, at the moment, do anything else. Once I know her reaction and any follow-on arrangement it'll be time to organise the flight home. Or maybe not. It all depends on her. She has no other tenants in the block and hasn't had in all the time (3 years) that I've been there. Perhaps I can persuade her to give me more time to get something sorted job-wise but I doubt that somehow. Without going into details, Teresa has told me that there is 2 weeks work here in her bar each month which, whilst giving me some income, would not anywhere near pay the rent at its current level even with tips and the odd night "on" to cover timeoff that she might need during the other 2 weeks of each month. I have declined on the face of it but it would be handy if Cristina gives me a little "grace and favour and I know that the offer will always be there as far as Teresa is concerned.

The last few weeks I've spent cooped-up in my apartment out of harm's way in the main so I'm not really au fait with the weather now, and not having 24hr internet means that my weather scripts on the website etc. are not running and keeping me (at least) up-to-date with what's happening weatherwise on a half-hourly basis. Having said that it doesn't seem to have been as hot as it was last year at this time and from now on I expect that the temperatures will begin to slide. And not before time; the airborne firefighters, based at Málaga Aeropuerto, have been busy these last few weeks dealing with wildfires somewhere inland from here. Currently we have (at 2130hrs) 28C and on that note I'm going to go home and cook my evening meal without perspiration!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Life's never Perfect

I had to give it up, the job in the kitchen that is, because, whilst the cooking is not a big problem for me, bringing multiple meals to completion for service together is. I don't have that particular skill. All is not lost though; The boss at that bar/restaurant said that he is going to consider calling me back in the winter when it is much quieter so that I can learn all that is necessary, under less pressure, to do the job to the point when he can leave me to it and have a day off. So, I must have made an impression on him somewhere along the line that was favourable! I want to learn, I told him that and it seems that he actually feels that I may be worth teaching, which has done wonders for my ego. What I did learn in my time with him I am continuing to practise here in the apartment as best I can bearing in mind that I do not have commercial equipment etc. but the end result is much the same using his commercial techniques. In the meantime I need another job!! And quickly.

Did I just say quickly? Wow!! News about my employment situation travels fast here in Torremolinos. Between the last paragragh and this one I received a phonecall to tell me that a bar up in town is looking for staff and I have highly respected names, courtesy of the call, to drop when I go to see the owner shortly ( it's 1400hrs here at the moment.)

Bill is now on a ward, and has been since Monday, which means that visiting times are now open so just as soon as I can cadge a lift with Ann I'm going to visit him. I think that she tried to arrange something for me last Tuesday but I was working and missed her attempt to call me. Erica has found me on Facebook and we have started communicating together, my first bit of news for her being about Harry having had a heart attack last week which put him in ICU in Málaga hospital.

Katia left Spain last Thursday and I have received a flurry of calls from Lary enquiring after my situation since, some prompted by her. She and I had started talking together on Skype, in Spanish, quite regularly and I'm looking forward to seeing her online again when she gets back to Omsk. I say that because I know that she is stopping off in Italy to visit friends there first and I'm not sure when she is actually going home. Of course, life online will be much easier when, and if, I can get the phone back on; having to go out looking for a temporary WiFi connection is a real pain. It's far better to be on 24/7 so that nothing is missed by way of emails and IM etc.

Right. It's 3pm and I'd better get ready and go and see about a job....... to go back at 7pm to see the owner who wasn't there.

While I'm waiting for the clock to go round I've put a chicken in the oven and last week's bones are ready for turning into some sort of soup. The other day I went to Fuengirola with David to look for some swede but we didn't find any because it's out of season. You probably know that but we didn't. That means that the Haggis that he has caged in his freezer will live another month or two. We had intended to treat ourselves to Haggis, neaps'n'tatties cooked by him but, instead, I got to cook and turned a couple of Kipper fillets into a creamy Kedgeree. They were bought at the Scottish Butcher in Fuengirola Market Hall where I also got a couple of Chump Pork Chops for myself which I had him cut an inch or so thick for me and one is on my menu for today! Can't wait! The trouble is that I have to. I'll get the interview over and done with first, then find a WiFi signal and get this posted and then settle down back here for the evening, get my plancha (griddle plate) out and try to produce a restaurant style (which is all, really, only about presentation) Pork Chop meal because I've had it drummed into me this last week or so that "La Plancha" is the ONLY way to cook. So my cast iron, domestic, griddle plate is being pressed into service for practise, the grill and frying pan being totally ignored.

Interview, such as it was, is done - they wanted waitresses for the terrace not barstaff so I've called into Teresa's and logged into her Internet Hotspot to get this uploaded before I go home, raise the drawbridge and cook an awesome chop. But first there is a wee vodka to finish.

Finally for this post, thanks to all, anonymous and otherwise, who have written to me lately.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

More Good News

Ann rang me this morning to tell that Bill's status has been lowered to "Stable but serious" from the previous "stable but critical." Good news indeed. She then followed that by telling me that a job opportunity had arisen in a bar near here for a Cook. I went along, unannounced, this afternoon for an impromptu talk with the boss and start tomorrow at 10am. Here's hoping that all goes well and I make the grade because the money is good and the hours sufficient to meet my needs with more in the offing once I settle in and get through the first week or so successfully.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

All hunky-dory

A lousy title but too many differing issues!!

Bill continues to improve, now all the tubes, and many of the connections, to medical gizmos at his bedside have been removed and he has been able to speak to Ann and his eldest daughter, Kathy, just arrived from Georgia USA. He still has "a long way to go" (Ann's words) though, with further surgery no doubt required to finally clear the problem with his Gall Bladder. Did I say speak? Actually, despite the stresses of life in a hospital ICU it seems that he has not lost his sensa yuma (grin, Cilla Black can translate!) telling Ann to make sure that the pair of them enjoy a night or two out and, specifically, to make sure that Kathy, who has not been to Spain before, is taken on one of our infamous "Tapa Runs." You can bet that I'll save my last cent to be able to go on that should it come to pass pretty soon.

I'm sat in Teresa's bar waiting to collect the key so that I can work tomorrow for her, thereby giving her a long overdue day off, and taking advantage of her WiFi hotspot. Having walked past an empty Ana's Bar, and many others, on the way here I'm pleased to see (and this is "live") that she continues to do better than many others locally. She has just told me that a few days ago she broke her all-time record for a day's take and the following day did next to nothing. Normal in this trade, one day good, the next bad which means that you cannot budget the business easily. Been there, done that and taken the tee-shirt off as they say, which is why I'm now happier trying to earn a living rather than make a living in this particular business but even that is proving difficult in these hard times.

OK. you wished that you could enjoy the meal with us! Erm, I doubt that! The menu was very fish orientated. Larisa excelled alone in the kitchen, leaving me and Katia to talk together, lounging on a sunbed each, on the terrace. Having poo-pooed any offer of help she presented at the table a Gazpacho with a cucumber garnish followed by Octopus fried with hot paprika in a kind of pil-pil fashion, then a seafood paella preceded the main course of baked Whole Mackeral. I was offered "seconds" of this which I gladly accepted because it was deliciously simply done with just a couple of lemon slices shoved into the belly cavity and presented with a communal half-a-lemon to squeeze over it. Perfectly cooked, the fillets just fell away from the bones! I love fish and seafood and she knows that but "tea" a couple of hours later was a different kettle of fish - a fruit tea was , unknowingly to me, brewed. Together with a peach tartlet and chocolate biscuits the table looked fabulous but upon tasting the tea my enjoyment was somewhat dampened. Black or green, I don't particularly care, but "tea" is "tea" and only comes from high altitudes and a certain plant. Having said that, it wasn't bad, spoilt probably by my ignorant addition of milk but I would never buy it for myself! This, of course, was all preceded by a trip to the local beach where I grabbed my snap. I found the water too cold and we all found the beach (and sun) too hot so we cut short our stay there, ending up in the relative cool of the grass surrounding the heated pool below the apartment.

Katia has an insatiable desire to visit London so I have promised her that, should I return home, she is invited to come and stay with us, when she can and that we will show her the sights that she wants to see while, all the while, improving her English (which is the main reason why she wants to come.)

Bugger it! I've got the camera with me but the necessary cable is not where I thought it was, in the computer case so I'll upload my snap tomorrow during a lull in serving behind this bar. Sorry 'bout that - Sod's Law again! Bye

Friday, 17 July 2009


Just a qwicky because the battery is running out. The future for me is beginning to look a little rosier but more on that at a later date. Bill (Erica's Dad) is in hospital with problems centred around his Gall bladder and the latest is "stable, but critical." Needless to say that the whole of El Bajondillo is gathering around Ann through these trying times.

I missed a phonecall today from Larisa because I forgot to take my phone out with me but all that has been put right tonight and I am now expecting to go to Calahonda on Sunday or Monday. Katy has arrived for a weeks holiday and despite the economic situation that, it seems, has affected Lary as much as me I'm not being allowed to miss her nieces visit.

Got to go, seconds left on battery power, but don't give up, when I can connect, and when there is news I will pop up here. Oh, BTW, we are forecast for 36C later today! Kinda warm!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

End of a Short Story

32º? Yes that's hot for England but here we are going up towards 40º and beginning to really swelter. Last night was, to all intents and purposes, my last night at Teresa's - we've been talking together about the state of trade for some days now and yesterday jointly decided that we had to "call it a day" with regard to my position as a barman. It's a shame because she runs the place with a passion that is appreciated by all who patronize it but there just aren't enough visitors coming these days to support a second person behind the bar, and, looking forward, July and August are normally quiet anyway which won't help things. So, back to the drawing board and, as things are here with me, probably a flight home. I bet that it won't stay at 32º for long!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Mamma Mia!

I've finally seen it, the film everybody's been talking about, and now I know why. A smashing musical written around the music of Abba that has been a joy to watch. Luckily for me Sky TV are running it at least twice tonight so I'll be able to view and appreciate it again making my night off a real pleasure to enjoy.

I've had the Netbook setup all day, Heath Robinson style, on the balcony under the sun screen, connected to the Internet via the weak unsecured WiFi signal I mentioned the other day and, hey presto, at 4pm, an IM call through Skype from Katerina in Omsk. Only I don't think it actually was her! On the odd occasion and based on my musings here I've been told that I ought to write a book. Well, I don't know about that and I certainly don't know about what. But what I do know though is the style in which people I regularly communicate with write and in 4 years or more of SMS with Larisa I know her style very well. A style I recognised today even although each "over" was against Katerina's name. Those two are as close as ever despite the distance between (I know that Larisa is here in Calahonda) and a quick call for the password to Katy's Skype account would allow Lary to play with me, just like she's done before on the phone etc. Play is probably the wrong word this time though because she ended up fishing for why I hadn't called today. So I told "Katy" that I believed that Larisa does not really want to be my friend anymore and that I daren't call her in case it annoys her. "NO! She will not be annoyed" was what came back. I sent back that perhaps I might call her after next payday and got a luvvy-duvvy smiley in return! We went out together, 2 weeks ago today as it happens, to Fuengirola for a meal at Mesón Salamanca but just right now I can't keep doing that. Eeking-out my last pay packet from Bar Ana through this month does not allow for treats in restaurants, or anywhere else come-to-that but I felt a need to invite her to hopefully clear the air after her angry rantings the night that she fellout with her girlfriend and took that out on me, telling me (and here's more of the story) that I'm (also) no longer to be invited to Calahonda. Clear the air we didn't, neither of us found a way round but without the shop'n'cook trips to Calahonda, which cost peanuts, I can't afford to call and arrange a date elsewhere because it is just too expensive, and because I'm certainly not ever going to try and invite myself to Calahonda either, there are the reasons why I didn't call her today. Last Monday I didn't call and she let it ride but this week she hasn't, gleaning the promise of a call from me next week in the process. Yes, we have a problem, she really was the nuisance that she apologised for being that night, but yes, we are still in contact and if I get my way the pieces will be picked up now that she seems concerned about my reaction, which is more to do with her outburst than my finances by the way.

I was invited back to Teresa's tonight, by customers last night, for a drink or two with them on the "other" side of the bar but I've been naughty and not gone, preferring to stay at home, cook a nice Roast Dinner (Chicken, Bread Sauce, Roast Potatoes, Sprouts and Broccoli) and just enjoy my time with me! Going back to the bar would probably have been suicidal because Teresa doesn't like making the cocktails that we do or anything else "awkward" and would have no-doubt pressganged me into going behind the bar in the event of such orders. And I would have missed the film and probably the skype call if I'd managed my day any differently to the way that I have. It's cost me a bomb in teabags though and I seem to have worn out yet another kettle which, luckily, is still under guarantee and will be going back to the shop tomorrow! Some while back Beryl bought for me a Sage plant that she happened across in Torre's Sunday Market. So far so good, it seems a happy chappie so today I've treated it to a new, bigger, pot, fresh compost and a feed. The other what-ever-it-is that she gave me is out of intensive care and rocketing away like a good'un but the Tomatoes that Bill gave me are now giving cause for concern, remaining spindly and looking decidedly ill. Out on one of my balconies they only get full sun for a couple of hours each afternoon and I'm wondering whether that is not enough. Never say die though, I'll persevere but I do not think that they will get to be shown at Wisley.

This year's longest day passed us by yesterday which means that from now on the Sun will climb ever lower in the daytime sky until Dec 21st when that trend will then reverse. You'd think that that would mean that the daytime temperatures would begin to decrease but, of course, they don't until the middle of August. Currently the forecast is for the low 30s even although there is still plenty of cloud about which is unusual for this time of year. But clear days are now on the increase and word is that the summer will be hot. The AC is tested. I'm ready!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Temporary Setback

Having not been able to pay the bill my telephone has been cut with the consequential loss of my internet connection,'s difficult for me to keep up with this blog and maintain the website etc., but, nearby here someone is being daft enough to run an unsecured WiFi network which I can just about "see" and connect to so here I am. At the end of the month all will be put to rights, indeed, even possibly in a new, nicer, 1 bed apartment nearer to where I now work although I haven't yet made my mind up on that. I'm sat indoors typing into Notepad on my laptop while the Netbook is propped up on a kitchen cuttingboard out on the balcony maintaining (I hope) an internet connection flitting between no bars and 2 bars signal strength. One worry is that today it is dull with plenty of mist about and a shower or two is being forecast so I'm keepng a beady eye on things outside because the little Netbook didn't come with an umbrella. I hadn't intended to go to all this palaver but last night on my way home Lisa popped her head out of The Ship to tell me to "get something written on your blog!" Tip of an iceberg that, as I've also had emails from all over, which I pick up daily via the Internet Connection at the bar, wondering what's happening here with me. I could, of course, write from Teresa's Bar but the constant interruption with customers coming and going makes that impossible.

Opening at 6pm and closing at 2am life at Teresa's is ticking over with a slow but steady stream of punters keeping us relatively busy. Not the busiest bar in the world but then neither are many others around about; in fact, from information gleaned we are doing somewhat better than some which is a pleasant surprise bearing in mind that the bar is the "newest on the block." Hopefully things will get better as the season progresses and the Euro/Pound exchange rate continues to improve. Fingers are crossed. Cocktails are going well and we have the best brew of coffee in Spain according to those who have taken a cafeteria of fresh Columbian from us.

I've got to cook a meal then get ready for tonight's session but before I go I'll post a photo here of the busy terrace taken a couple of nights ago to give you an idea of the place and then transfer all this onto a Memory Stick, shove that into the Netbook and upload everything. Problems, problems. Roll on July and a re-instated telephone!

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Teresa rang me this morning to suggest meeting her for a coffee, which I did. After making sure that there was no change to my situation she told me that wanted to offer me a job in her bar. I start this evening. And just as soon as the paperwork can be organised I will be properly contracted as her employee. I will also be moving from this apartment at the end of this month, because there is a 1 bedroomed place nearer her bar that I can now afford, big enough to probably allow me to put the boys up when Martin comes for his visit, we'll see. She has a licence to open from 7am and is also licenced as a cafe/bar with a kitchen, so, the big plan is now to do food once things can be organised on that front and with 3 hotels on her doorstep it's worth a shot at least. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She's had all this in mind for a little while it seems but felt that she should not try to "poach" me away from Bar Ana, which is a bit of a surprise to me, but, here I am, sorted!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


I handed my key to the bar back to Favio last night and left the bar without a job to go to today. That things came to that is a real disapppointment but I cannot live on the money I have been paid for working the new hours that I was given at the beginning of April. Here's hoping that something else turns up pretty soon.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Down Memory Lane

Yesterday Gerry & Geraldine came by the bar to say cheerio etc., before leaving to go home to Ireland, and passed on to me some tea to use up. Lyons tea actually, the name of which immediately rekindled just about my favourite childhood memory; Dad taking Pam and me to London, to Millbank, where he was to rehearse for an "Office Do". Obediently, and quietly, sat in a room, I remember him coming through the door dressed in a sheet, arranged to look like a Roman Toga, playing his bagpipes. Then he took us to a Lyons Cornerhouse where, downstairs, a quartet, quintet or sextet was playing in the background from a small stage. I remember being seated, feeling slightly vulnerable because my feet were not touching the ground, and then hearing the band strike up with "Teddy Bears' Picnic". The day ended (well, my memories do) with a trip down into the dark depths of Kingsbury Tunnel to catch a tram. The scene I have in my mind of that would make a good subject for a painting in the style of Cuneo, or even Lowry, but I can't paint. Margaret can and last year, while up on her roof terrace helping Christy with a computer problem I came across her copying a Jack Vettriano from a photo. Vettriano I've "met" before - prints of some of his canvasses hang in the Europa Restaurant and I fell in love with a couple of them over "me plates of 'addock 'n chips" (sorry Brendan). Watching her deft brushstrokes producing a copy of "Dance me to the End of Love" I asked if she would do one for me and I now have hanging on my wall a portal into memories of me and Pauline on the dancefloor. The best of which is when we went to the Talk of the Town in London one Saturday night where, still teenagers, dancing a Cha-cha, we found ourselves left alone on the floor, finishing to a standing ovation! Those were the days. I can still hear Harry Targett, on a Friday night, yelling at me about putting a foot wrong, or allowing my elbow to droop. Even my left-hand baby finger had to be in its proper place!

Margaret brought in for me yesterday a bunch of freshly-cut Carnations from her roof garden which I promptly put into a glass of water and placed on the bar. Ana-Marie, when she came in with Favio, asked me about them and I told her that they were mine, a gift etc. which I was going to leave in the bar where I could enjoy them better. Next thing, I noticed that they had been "re-potted" into a different glass looking more like a vase and placed on the mantlepiece over the fireplace! Margaret also brought in a pack of Sage & Onion stuffing which prompts me to thank those who have written to me about where to buy Sage (Salvia) hereabouts. The Herbs and Spices stall in the Fuengirola Markethall is my favourite venue for such purposes as it is indeed for the likes of AWT who stocks up there for his restaurants back in the UK. Last year I even had a plant growing on my terrace, bought from the same place. So, if my date with Lary on Monday takes me anywhere near there, and it probably will, I'll take time out for a little shopping.

In the meantime I've got a big bowl of sausagemeat to use up! Yesterday morning I added another 1lb of minced pork to it to cut the breadiness down but I have to say that, with the original mix, I made some sausage rolls which, eaten cold, were very close in flavour and texture to those bought in shops. I remember another TV chef, James Martin, demonstrating cream cheese stuffed meatballs on one of his shows and that is what I did last night, turning mine into patties rather than balls. Today I'm going to have a go at one of my alltime favourites, and something that I have wanted to do for a very long time - Homemade Scotch Eggs. And on that note, adios, I'm going to get some hard-boiled eggs on the go. .

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Hopelessly Devoted

Almost midnight, and the end of an interesting day.Now a very clammy 20C with 73% humidity but I'm probably feeling hot because I've just finished eating what I cooked this evening....homemade sausages! I can't get Sage, fresh or dried, here in Torre for love nor money so, to flavour my 1lb of Pork Sausagemeat I bought a pack of Sage & Onion stuffing mix and added the lot to the meat. They subsequently turned out quite bready but, boy, the idea is there and my skinless technique worked a treat. I mentioned what I was going to do to David earlier and was given an order for 1 or 2 and I'm not going to be ashamed to fulfil his request. While on the subject of food; Bill has given me a few young Tomato Plants that he has grown from seed. A "beefsteak" variety, they have withstood the trauma of thinning out on his terrace and replanting in a trough on one of my balconies very well and have regained a proud 8inch stature quite rapidly. Growing your own is not a cost-effective exercise here and the Spanish tend not to do so but then they miss out on so much pleasure and you'd be hard pushed to buy firm, green toms for the infamous chutney anywhere.

Barcelona beat Manchester Utd tonight 2 - 0 in the Champions League cup final and I found it very gratifying to watch Sir Alex Ferguson chew his way off the pitch in abject disappointment. And some annoyance judging by one fleeting scene, on camera, of him talking to one of his players. I don't normally take an interest in such matters as football but the match was showing in the bar so I watched the first half there before coming home to cook while watching the second half and feeling just as elated as my Spanish neighbours at full time.

Despite the recent improvements to the local drain and sewer system the problem suffered by many a locale here in El Bajondillo (including Bar Ana) has manifested itself again in a major way. Late last week the Water Company (Astosam) were obliged to deal with the, no doubt, flooded cellar below The Red Lion. My snap shows men in white protective clothing and facemasks endeavouring to clear the stinking contents of the cellar after 18 months of unattended dormancy. Micheala saw fit to summon the Police in protest against the stench permeating for 10s of metres all around but on seeing what was having to happen the two officers just shrugged their shoulders and left her holding her pinny high to her nose whereupon she started remonstrating with one of the local shopkeepers who has something to do with Red Lion's future. Also to no avail. Whether the job is complete or not I don't know but nothing else has gone on so far this week.

As always, Larisa is never far from my thoughts. Today, after doing a "bank run" (for change) and a little shopping I called into my favourite Bodega as usual for a glass of wine. Whilst I was sitting near the door watching the world go by and, indeed, thinking of her, she called! In answer to my question "where are you?" she replied "here, always here" To me a strange response bearing in mind that she last told me that she was in Madrid but more goes on between us than I tell here so maybe she's being a little cryptic. No matter, I've told her that I'll call later, probably Monday, with a view to taking her out. Her emphatic "OK!!" was reassuring, causing me to reflect upon my feelings in my, now chosen, title. Actually it was chosen for me because as I came home down the steps "Eme Ochenta Radio" (M80 Radio) was playing Olivia Neutron Bomb singing those very words from every wireless within earshot. Soppy? Yeah.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Expensive expiration

My domain,, expired today leaving the website unavailable and this blog badly disrupted. It shouldn't have happened but I did not receive any prior notice about the event and got caught by surprise this morning. The blog I've managed to resurrect and a trip to a Western Union kiosk has got the relevant fee transferred to reinstate the domain, hopefully within the next few hours. I was charged 10euros to send 425rupees. Sounds good until you realize that 425rupees is just 6.68Euros!!! Cost me more in fees!! Esa es la vida.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Frustrating Times

For the second day running I was up before the Sun this morning. Muesli for breakfast and then out to catch Mercadona opening their doors at 9-15 for a little shopping. Bar is checked, dinner is cooking and the rest of the day is mine (well, at least until 4pm.)

So, what's news?? The bar ran out of beer on Monday night (as I found out last night) bringing to fruition my suspicions that control is being lost. And it's very liable to run out again tonight in my opinion. I'm not going to pass comment except to say that Stock Control is somewhat more important than worrying about sparkly fireworks in the occasional Cocktail. The systems that Beryl had in place, and taught me, have gone to pot. Yet no-one seems to be worrying except me and I dont know why I am. Yes I do; a bar cannot be run like it is now. Trouble is that I've come to love the place, and its regular clientele, just as I did the Bar Jardin. Never mind. My Happy Hours go well and I'm done and dusted by 8pm with not another care in the world. Yesterday Mojitos were going "out the door" faster than I could make them and I'm seriously thinking about adding a Cocktail Hour into my 4hr shift. If the same happens again tonight I've prepared myself by going to buy Limes to do the job PROPERLY and made sure that there are sufficient soda waters in the chill (which there weren't, but then I don't have to do the bottling up now either.)

Monday, 11 May 2009

All seems Well

I've read, re-read and read again my earlier about Larisa and, in my mind, included all that I haven't told here....and given in:-

"Yesterday, it seems, I missed a call from you. All is well? I miss you!"
Within seconds.... "Yes, (right now) I am in Madrid."
"OK. If you want, call me when you get back here. Besos" (which means XX)
"Yes, I will call you"
"Good, I am waiting......"

Much better than drinking myself silly on the cooking wine! And just maybe I've scored a brownie point by responding to her "message" yesterday which I am, now, going to dare to presume was sent as she walked towards baggage reclaim (there are no direct flights Moscow, Malaga on Sundays), and very, very deliberately. We both seem able to read the unwritten and hear the unsaid.

We will see....

I've just bumped into Favio at the bar and been asked if I can work all through next Sunday (4 until close) in order to give Juan some time off. "If you can't, or don't want to, I'll ask Beryl to help" he added. "Of course I can" was my answer. Not a problem for me except that all the systems in the bar are being changed and I'm finding it difficult to keep up with it all. For instance, I've been to the bank just this morning to buy some change as normal only to return to find him chucking change into the till with total disregard for the overnight float. Confusion will begin to reign and control is liable to be lost, I can sense it happening. Anyway, enough of the bar for the moment, at least I'm working through until next Monday! Today is my day "off".........

Larisa rang my number yesterday afternoon and immediately rang off. Which tells me that she is back. Possibly not by design though, she may have accidently dialed me. Our last meeting a month or more ago was very fretful. She rang late at night to find out where I was. "Closing the bar" I told her. "OK, wait there, I am coming" she answered. Which she did. Arriving quite drunk and demanding more, keeping me there until about 4am, she began telling me that she had fallen out with her girlfriend (which meant that she was stranded in Torre because the friend has a car) and then became very angry towards me! Taking her ventings on the chin, and becoming cross myself, I eventually told her that I wanted to go home and that she had to leave in order for me to do so. As I locked the doors she wandered off on her own having told me that I have no respect for her, and that we can no longer be friends. My "OK, I understand" was more of a pacification than an agreement and I followed her at a discreet distance with absolutely no intention of letting her spend the night on the street. Having watched her turn into a flight of steps leading up to a restaurant I did the same to find her sat down and in floods of tears. Any comfort from me was totally unacceptable so I just sat on a step or two below her and waited. Eventually my persistent and gentle "come with me, please!" got through and I managed to persuade her to spend the rest of the night, and all the following day as it happened, sleeping off a Mother of all Hangovers here on my sofa. The day was a Wednesday I remember because she showed some surprise that, come the time, I had to go to work. She had become a little playful during the afternoon as her headache wore off so things may not be as bad as they seem and as we parted at the bottom of the steps she apologised for "being a nuisance." She called my number yesterday. And she will probably do so again. Her anger towards me hurt, so I will wait, the ball being totally in her court.

It's a gorgeously sunny day today, 25C and climbing. I'm going for a walk.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Spanners in the Works

I had intended to come home straight from work tonight, cook a meal and have an early night to continue trying to turn my routine around. But towards the end of an extremely busy happy hour session (in those 2 hours I took half of what was taken last night over the course of the remaining 6 hours after 8pm, accounting for my half-prices of course) I received a call from Teresa. "Help" she said, "my gas has run out and I don't know how to change it." "OK,OK, give me half-an hour" I replied. I got there only to find that she also didn't have a spanner with which to change the cylinders over so a quick trip across the road to borrow one became necessary. My plans for a meal tonight meant that a peanut butter sandwich was all I went to work on, but while returning the spanner to its owner, my hunger got the better of me and I succombed to the temptation of a Chicken Curry as I handed the tool back over the bar. A bevvy back at Teresa's after and here I am, home, late, and hungry again. Despite a short rainshower earlier, the place is busy and walking the paseo maritimo is fraught with frustration because of all the dawdlers, everywhere, enjoying Torremolinos's "International Day" and, just down the road from here, Micaela celebrating "cruz de mayo" with her annual floral display outside her hostal. A bad night for wanting to be in a hurry.

While I'm writing I'll put the record straight, being the victim of a slight misunderstanding again. I went over to El Bajondillo on Tuesday, taking advantage of my first free evening, where Ana-Marie was, of course, singing. During her break she came over to talk to me, asking how I was enjoying my new hours etc. My answer wasn't too positive, less hours, less money and such and then, realizing that my perception of the situation at the bar was not right, she explained in English that Juan (who, it turns out is Swedish Anna's Partner, Paco's, brother) has asked Favio to allow him to work in the bar to see whether the business is a viable proposition for renting. An unusual arrangement, but Favio agreed. Only time can tell which way Juan will decide but business has been good of late.

Everybody has been expecting the Red Lion to be demolished and the plot then to be redeveloped. That's as may be but right now the apartment above, across the road from me, is being redecorated in preparation for renting out. So, hopefully, no builders muck, rubbish, noise or dust for me for some while yet. My privacy has gone though. Windows peer at each other at the same level and I've begun to keep my nets drawn to stop prying eyes. Which also cuts down on the light that my babies get. The one I'm nursing courtesy of Beryl is doing very well, having been cut right back to ground level a week ago, it has now presented me with tender new shoots, two of which have begun to unfurl their leaves. I've had difficulty taking a decent photo but...

Visitors come and go all the time here and the last to have gone after a long stay were Kate and Derek from Derbyshire. They kindly passed over the bar to me a bag of unused goodies as they took their leave last Tuesday within which was, amongst much other stuff, a couple of decent sized "bakers" (potatoes). They are to be the basis of tonight's dinner (well at least one is) of a Potato and Tuna Bake a la Torremolinos so without more ado I'm going cooking:-

Potato & Tuna Bake
INGREDIENTS (which will probably make a Pig's portion..grin)
1 good sized spud
1/2 a smallish onion
Portion of frozen spinach.
Olive Oil, Flour, Milk, seasonings and dried herbs (a nice White Sauce)
2 small tins of Tuna (mine is in Brine)
A couple of ounces of Cheddar
1 teaspoon mustard (I've got some Dijon to use up)

Peel and slice the potato crossways (1/4 inch or so slices)
Peel and finely slice the onion
Grate the cheese and combine with the mustard
Drain the Tuna tins

Boil the potato and onion slices, together, until the potatoes are done, whilst, also, cooking the spinach, per packet instructions. When ready and all is well-drained place the potato and onion in the bottom of a small casserole and then cover them with the cooked spinach. Meanwhile knockup half-a-pint of white sauce, season it well and add a couple of your favourite dried herbs for luck before adding the drained Tuna, carefully forked out of the tins without too much break up. Pour the finished sauce over the veg, sprinkle well with the grated cheese/mustard mix and bake in the oven at 190C for 20 minutes or so or at least until the cheese has melted and begun to bubble 'n brown.

I ate the "Curry" but only because I couldn't bring myself to feed it to the poor dustbin. That would have been cruel!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Big News

Happy Mother's Day from Spain.

Last night, as he was leaving to go home with Ana-Marie, Favio asked me to meet him today at midday at the bar. "Why?" was my immediate response. "Because I need to talk to you." So, after an almost sleepless night believing the worst was about to happen brought about by the economic down-turn, I did so. He has rented the bar to someone else. I haven't formally met the chap yet although I'm told that he was there listening to The Twilights last Tuesday but, a fellow by the name of Juan is now in charge lock, stock and barrel according to Favio. I have to work as normal tonight, take my day off tomorrow and on Tuesday open at 4pm and work until 8pm whereupon the new proprietor will come in and take over for the rest of the session until 2am etc. What the future now holds no-one knows but I still get to run a Happy Hour between 5 and 6 and at that time of day I'm hoping that there will be a few more people about to take advantage of it. I've still got a job though, that's the main thing.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


Today it is a very warm 26C and probably going to go a little higher before the day is out. Which makes a pleasant change from the showery weekend just gone.

Last night The Twilights performed their last "gig" at Ana's; not by choice but because, again, the Police were summoned by a disgruntled neighbour who told Favio that "once more and you will be closed." While I was at the bar earlier today, bottling-up, Ana-Marie came in with some trailing houseplants that have gone up on the picture rail and I took the opportunity to ask about a music licence. Apparantly they have tried to get one but, she told me, the town is "zoned" for the purpose and in the zone that the bar is part of the authorities do not intend to issue anymore licences for music. So that's that. No more Twilights. Not that it will hurt David & Christys' new-found career, they are well sought after elsewhere in town but it is a shame that, having given them their "break", Ana's is now to lose out.

I had a long chat with Katrina yesterday afternoon via Skype, she called me to ask how I was etc. Life in Omsk is no better than anywhere else at the moment it would seem, the crunch is biting hard in Russia as well. No news of Larisa. But then I didn't ask, just letting Katy get her moans and groans off her chest.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

What's Cooking?

The other week you mentioned that you were experimenting with Lentils. I never stop doing so, having to find different ways to use my homemade Chicken Stock to best advantage. I've got half-a-gallon waiting for my attention right now so, I've just been shopping and, making no excuses, here's a soupy, nay, stewy, idea for you:

Lentejas con Verduras y Chorizo

1+1/2 cups brown/green Lentils (The American cup measure I use)
900g frozen, diced mixed veg. (my 2x450g bags include Brussels!)
2 Chorizo sausage links (or any spicy/herby sausage)
2 BIG Garlic cloves.
1 tspn Cumin powder
1/2 tspn pepper
1 tspn Paprika (hot n' smoked of course!)
Chicken Stock

Slice the sausage into bitesize.
Chop the garlic.

Easy! Chuck all the dry ingredients into a big pot, cover with Stock (I got 2+1/2 pints into almost the brim of mine), bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat and simmer until Lentils are done. Season to taste. They say that salt added to Lentils whilst they are being cooked toughens them. I'll take their word on that!

It will keep in the fridge while you use it up over the next 4 or 5 days. And its flavour improves!!

Part of the reason why I went shopping earlier was to get some white wine for tomorrows Sunday Dinner. I intend to braise another piece of Pork Loin, this time with pears, but the wine is, already, nearly all gone (hic). Plan B? Buy another. Mercadona sell a Cooking Wine for about 1.80 but I found something cheaper at 90 cents that is actually very drinkable and, hopefully, will help me to forget to take the meat out of the freezer later so that I have no excuse not to go for my Sunday Snifter in The Ship tomorrow afternoon while waiting for it to defrost having taken it out in the morning. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! 2 weeks ago I stayed in and last week got told off by Lisa for being "conspicious by my absence," or something similar. I won't be doing that again! The force is with her and never, EVER, to be reckoned with! Life en El Bajondillo? Who would want to be anywhere else? Not me!!

It is 4pm and I've got 2 pints (more-or-less) of Stock left. What to do? A paella of course! So, put your pinny on and follow me....

I've been playing around with a one-man recipe for paella for some little while now (because I hate reheated leftovers of this particular dish) and I think that this attempt at perfection will be just that....perfick. My "paellera" for this is a deepish 18cm frying (omelette) pan, and based upon my always available roasted chicken, here goes:

1 Chorizo sausage
1/2 a smallish onion
1 clove of Garlic (choose a big'un)
1 tspn Tumeric
1 tspn Paprika
1 tomato
Cooked Chicken Meat (brown, white, whatever)
Frozen, cooked, prawns
Fresh Bell Pepper (Green or Red or both)
Frozen Peas
Short grained rice
Chicken Stock
(Quantities are more to do with not overfilling your pan)

Slice the onion.
Slice the Chorizo (de-skin it if you prefer.)
Dice a tomato.
Dice a little fresh pepper.
Coarsely chop the Garlic.
Slice the crabsticks.

Begin by browning the chorizo for a minute or so then add the onion, pepper(s) and garlic and continue sauteing until they are softening, then add the spices, fry for a minute or so more then cover all with a layer of rice (2 grains deep will be about right) and contnue frying with a constant stir until the rice is becoming translucent. Add some Stock and the tomato and cook until the rice is more-or-less tender (adding more stock as is necessary), then in the final moments, add the prawns, peas, crabsticks and chicken to heat through. Don't be frightened to allow the paella to "stick" to the pan in the final few minutes of cooking. The resultant caramelization is known as "Socorat" and is what makes a paella a paella, so, scrape it off and serve it up! You'll love it!!

Early days

It may only be coincidence compounded by a very wet evening but last night's session in the bar with the revised price list in full effect was very busy right through from the moment I opened until I closed. The Happy Hour is having a marked effect on the first hour of opening, maybe not in the till but certainly in terms of the number of customers coming in and I noted that a few did not choose to leave at the end of it but stayed on, paying the full price for a round or two more. Which is exactly what it is all about of course.

About 3 years ago one of the best loved characters here in El Bajondillo, Colin, died at the age of 66. Last night his daughter arrived and spent the evening reminiscing with us all. And while sitting in quiet conversation with David (who had returned to Ana's after the regular Friday performance in The Irish Affair pub with his partner in crime, Christy, as The Twilights) I'm sure that many of the questions she still has about her Dad were answered because he and Colin were "best mates." One question that I couldn't answer for her, though, was why she hasn't been able to access this blog since my problems with connectivity a couple of months ago. It is hosted by Google and I, unfortunately, have no control over anybody else's ability to log into it but I gave her the address and here's hoping that upon her return to the UK it'll work for her again.

Bill wants to do another Tapa run this coming Thursday. I have always thought that these things were traditionally "for the boys" but I am wrong. Andrea has been on many in years gone by and will be very much a part of the group out-and-about the town from 1pm onwards. I believe that 8 of us will be flopping down on the nearest sofa or something come 5 o'clock or so but I'm, probably, the only one who has to remember to put an alarm on for a couple of hours later. Woe is me!! Maybe I should leave the Champagne Cocktails alone? Then again, maybe not. Daft idea.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Needs must

Recent, numerous, discussions with Favio and Ana-Mari have finally paid off...he has been persuaded to lower his prices, and has done so across the board, to bring the bar more in line with others around about. Additionally, some other problems with his pricing policy have also been removed at the same time so I now feel that the bar is, at last, far better placed to ride out the economic crunch. On Tuesday he introduced a daily "Happy Hour" between 8pm and 9pm and that has been quite successful so far as well, word is spreading fast it seems. And to top it all "The Twilights" drew a full-capacity crowd again on Tuesday evening who enjoyed the performance to such an extent that one lady even removed her knickers and tossed them at David!!

Beryl has allowed me to give a new home to a houseplant that would have otherwise found itself in the bin. I don't what it is; all I can tell you is that it is green and carries a single, oval-shaped leaf at the end of each stem. I believe that it has lead a sheltered life indoors but it is now enjoying a breath of fresh air, and a good wash (in the rain) behind the ears, on one of my balconies and tomorrow will be given a feast of fertilizer to help it settle in. I've also got an African Violet (I think) that Helen passed on to me when she went back to the States a few weeks ago. I've done some reading about how to care for the critter and it is now de-bloomed and responding well with new growth in its prime position as centrepiece on my dining-table.

The showery weather of late is expected to continue into Saturday, after which things should clear up, brighten up and warm up which is no bad thing because on Monday I am invited to Dinner with Ann and Bill, for which Ann is doing one of her famous curry banquets, then, after that I've a date to go dancing with Bill's daughter Andrea who is here visiting her father.

The photos of Ana-Mari on-stage at El Bajondillo have now all been removed, as have all other trinkets and decorations around the bar and above the picture rail. In their place are big (3ftx2ft) framed pictures of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. I'm not sure that these new pictures will draw people in in quite the same way that the photos did (not that those people ever drank, they just stepped in the doorway and gawped at "the lady from the hotel") but Ana has been determined to get rid of those photos for a long time and has now done so.

Competition is stiff, times are tough and things have to change.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Lovely Habit

My opening gambit is, as more-or-less always, the weather! Some rain and showers have been forecast for the next couple of days and, judging by the sky that I made a point of observing while shopping for some Oxo cubes earlier, that is exactly what may be about to happen. Grey skies are coming in from the West and heavy Cumulonimbus clouds are being pushed high over the Sierra Nevada on their way East. I'll be taking my umbrella into work this evening just in case.

Cristina arrived early this morning. I didn't hear her because I was still sound asleep after a few vodkas last night on my "day" off but at 1145 the door downstairs into the street was rapped upon and, not knowing that she was here, I went down to answer it. The workmen waiting didn't look like painters to me but I let them in anyway and as they began to lug some heavy gear up the staircase Cristina's voice came from above "Derek! No tuyos, solamente para mi." So, as I retired back through my own front-door I waved them on up to the second floor. A little while later a quiet rap on my door brought me face-to-face with a really rather very attractive Nun. Ignoring the presence of another workman splattered in paint I found myself involuntarily exclaiming "Cristina! Muy diferente!" " Si" she replied, "Un experiencia religioso para mi." I'm going to have to ask permission for a photo. I just have to!

My kitchen walls are now repainted, as is the bathroom after a disastrous visit by an electrician last Saturday to sort out the problem with the water heater. Guess who drilled through a water pipe in his efforts to move an electrical socket that didn't need moving, just replacing. The painter was (is) Moroccan and, upon noticing my Tagine, he started talking about cooking, Morocco and other such stuff in Spanish, French and English! We had a great time together for an hour or so.

I've currently got mince, mash and cabbage on the go for my dinner later, inspired by a man-sized portion of mince and rice that Margaret sent into the bar especially for me a night or three ago. Yesterday, though, I braised some pork loin with apple and white wine. Absolutely delicious it was so, when I have the time I'll tell you more about it. Now, where's my camera?

PS On my shopping trip today I noticed Yorkshire Tea on the shelf in the local "corner shop" that I use. I doubt that it is a permanent addition to their range. Vamos a ver(We'll see.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Twinkle, twinkle, little Stars

Last night "The Twilights" performed their usual Tuesday evening spot in Ana's Bar. Not long after they started a group of three girls came in and began to busy me with the making of Mojitos two at a time. Now, Mojitos are not my favourite cocktail to make, especially when the bar has other customers coming up for service but these girls kept me at it while, apparantly, paying no attention to David & Christy as they continued with their repertoire. In fact the girls conversation was loud and distracting for those nearby trying to listen to the boys. Towards the end of the show though the girls started to do a little dancing and take more interest in what was going on around them and then, when "The Twilights" had finished came a big surprise; the offer of an all-expenses-paid trip to Copenhagen to perform in a Hotel on the outskirts of that city. The three noisy ladies turned out to be Danish, working for a big Danish hotel chain and empowered to do what they did....offer "The Twilights" a gig at one of their hotels. Nice one.

Cristina called me today, catching me in the middle of shopping for the Easter weekend, to tell me that she is coming to Torremolinos next Tuesday and, at my convenience on that day, will get someone to come and paint the kitchen for me. Whilst she was on the phone I told her that I had a problem with the hot water tank now, as well, and needed an electrician. She rang back later to ask if I could accept a visit from one on Saturday, pay him and dock her rent by the amount and that's all organised.

I now have a presence on Facebook complete with a photo, now on my profile and taken by Lisa a few months ago, of me behind the bar. I'm slowly building a list of friends on said system and have been a given at least one surprise in the system's offer of people that I might know and might like to contact.

Semana Santa (Easter) is upon us. The towns around will be hosting Religious processions through the coming weekend and I've noticed barriers around Torremolinos prepared for road closing from Friday onwards. Unfortunately for me most of what goes on is during the evening so I won't be able to see it but two years ago Larisa and I went to Malaga and watched proceedings there (everything was rained off by half -past 10 I remember) so I know what happens and have a few photos. Of more importance to me is the fact that banks and shops close tomorrow and Friday leaving me with having to worry about such things as having enough change for the bar until Moday etc. etc., hence the trip into town earlier. There is not an Easter Egg in sight though; Easter is very much a religious celebration here with, according to Ana-Mari, some special dishes prepared, one of which she has given me the recipe for and which I'm going to try.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Success story.

Yesterday I decided that I'd do a shell-less paella for myself and spend the day working on my website (the pages devoted to the now defunct steps webcam need dealing with.) On my way back from the supermarket I was invited to sit with Margaret & Christy, in the sun, on the terrace outside The Ship where Margaret began telling me about a show that was being put on in one of the local Hotels in the evening. Then, out of the blue, Teresa called to ask what I was doing and whether I fancied going to see a show with her later and, not being one to let a lady down, I arranged to meet her at 8pm.

Whilst she was working with me in Ana's Teresa began nurturing a dream to have her own bar to which end during the latter weeks of our time together in Ana's we'd actually been out looking for a suitable place. Driven by the changes to our working arrangements implemented at the end of December the plan was for us both to "go it together" and leave Ana's Bar. That hasn't happened (a longer story) but "Teresa's Bar" does now exist and there is where me met. We didn't get to see the show, opting instead for a quiet chat together elsewhere where she told me of her hopes and plans for the future. Now a far cry from her shaky arrival in Spain with just a couple of suitcases, nowhere to stay and nowhere to work her grit and determination has begun to pay off.

The paella stuff is still in the cupboard and the webpages remain unchanged.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Same Wavelength

"Where are you?"
"Just walking up"
"OK, but where are you?"
"On the street up to you"
"Derek! WHERE are you!?"
"Oh! Erm, not far from the bus stop"
"WHICH bus stop Derek, there are two!"
"OK, meet me near the supermarket, I'll be in the car.... madre mia"

I haven't been out for a restaurant meal for a long time, much preferring to cook and eat at home because it's cheaper, but I still fancy that Chinese I was going to have for my birthday and that was my Big take her out to a local "Chino". In the car she asked "where do you want go to eat?" "I don't mind" I replied, "I fancy a chinese." "Why don't we just go home and make one of your paellas?" "A paella? OK I'm happy with that" I said because the car seemed to be automatically nosing its way into Supersols car-park. A Fait Accompli. Included in my shop was a bottle of Lucozade because I was very thirsty (I hadn't even contemplated a bottle of wine) which was almost gone before we got back to the car. "Me too" she said "I haven't touched a drop for a week, just water, juice or soft drinks, you have such a thirst because you drank too much last night." "I had but one glass of white wine last night!" I retorted.

Having unpacked Clams (big and small), a whole squid, fresh langostinos and a breast of chicken to which other stock stuff from the cupboards was added she said "I'm going into the office to do some work, call me when it's ready." ?!?!?!??? What am I becoming? A House-Husband? My big plan had also included no cooking and, more importantly, no washing-up. Oh well, at least the squid won't be tough! And a few minutes later, after leaving a glass of water at my elbow along with some chopped veggies, she disappeared. A very measured little while later her head quietly popped up over my shoulder and I began to quake in my shoes. "Those (the clams) should be in by now!" "No they shouldn't!" "Yes they should, they have to open and that takes time." So in they went but I made sure that the squid stayed well away from the pan until later.

"Derek, the way you eat, you're such a gentleman with your knife and fork, just pick the shells up with your fingers and suck the meat out!" Following those instructions I then felt compelled to lick a finger or two. BIG MISTAKE. No more a gentleman! Next time I have to make "my" paella it will be just that - mine; no clam shells, no prawn peelings, no licked fingers, no nada because I lost my appetite for the second helping I really fancied in case I got into more trouble!!

The rest of the evening was spent in front of the TV watching a Russian film. "Are you tired?" "Yes, a little." "Your room is ready, go up when you want." Then, when the film finished (near midnight) - "We have to leave at 7-15am, I have to go to Malaga to chase up a money transfer." Which prompted from me an immediate "buenas noches!"

She is leaving for Moscow on either Friday or Monday (more globetrotting around Viktor's Empire), the day being dependant on the transfer of the funds that she needs. I already know about the trip: she warned me last week that she was expecting to have to go and I no longer worry about such things, it's her job. So, this morning we caught the first 220 into Fuengirola where she was very happy to find the Malaga Express service waiting. After a kiss goodbye, I turned my back on the bus and pulled 2 euros out of my wallet. Next thing, a very Russian accented "Derek?" sounded across the plaza. Turning round I was beckoned back to the bus...."Give me 2 euros please." Her Bonobus card wasn't covering the whole journey and she only had dollars and roubles in her purse. Strange but true... the 2 euros was already in my hand ready for her.

We'll see each other again before she goes.

Monday, 23 March 2009

I Hate Mondays

The other week, as we parted company at the bus-stop on the Wednesday evening that she came home home, Larisa told me to give her prior notice (by a day or two) of any plans of mine, for my new day off, that involve her. I immediately wondered why things were now required to be different bearing in mind that, before, on a Wednesday, I could expect an immediate reply, as always happened, as you know. In my mind (and ignorance) I brushed the instruction aside. Today, not long since, I have sent a message, an invitation to dinner out tonight. Her reply was by voice, many more minutes later than usual. My message had caught her driving in Malaga and she was obviously stressed having to use a phone while keeping an eye on the road etc., but, she replied; she is very busy working and will call me back later. Now it is becoming more clear to me why she has been so concerned about the change to my day off: Mondays she is busy with her own work, Wednesdays, it would seem, we both happened to have clear. I have little doubt that a date for dinner will not happen, the fact that she said that she will call me back later has always been as good as a "yes" but maybe I should always abide by instructions. Trouble with that is that she also said that I should always use voice but that idea still gives me "the nerves", hence the SMS earlier. Confidence is the key.

Update 1655hrs
BBrrr, BBrrr...."Hola Larisa!"
"Hola Derek. Estoy en Calahonda ahora. Tu quieres venir aqui?"
"Si, por que no, Hasta!! hasta LUEGO"
A giggle and "venga" closed the conversation.
As always I go to pieces with my spanish when talking to her on the fone but we get by with a laugh or two. Dinner is on then and I doubt whether it'll be out....she's given herself a couple of hours by not picking me up on the way by. Crafty.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Trips, Tapas and Twilight

Tuesday's evening with "The Twilights" was a total success, the Duo singing to a packed house that began to fill just as soon as the doors were opened. They now have a permanent booking for Tuesdays and the way things have gone these last few weeks it wouldn't surprise me if I find a queue waiting for the doors and a rush for the best seats etc.etc. in the future. I am contemplating getting all the necessary technology together and teaching myself how to podcast in order to broadcast their act, each Tuesday, over the net. An interesting idea if nothing else.

Of course, my evening's enjoyment was made all the more complete by the presence of Larisa who arrived, as promised via an earlier txt, at 10pm. We didn't see each other on Monday so her visit to the bar made up for that. She stayed overnight and our conversation included her telling me that the trip to The Crimea is for the pair of us, together, and at Viktor's total expense!! But, like everybody else in business just now, he has worries so it won't be happening anytime in the immediate future. There is now also talk of her being moved to Dubrovnik (Serbia) eventually; the kind of news that would normally alarm me greatly but, deep down inside, while sitting here writing to you about it, I'm somehow very much at peace with the prospect.

El Bajondillo's American friends are beginning their exodus now, to which end, yesterday, I was given some goodies that had to be left behind so, thanks to Helen & Ray, I was able to have some muesli for breakfast this morning (having nearly broken my teeth trying some last night for supper without soaking it.) Parting words from Joe & Emily...."please don't ever stop writing your blog, it keeps us in touch with Torremolinos." This is not just a letter to you anymore it seems. And Don (big Don) has taken my email address back to Florida.

Another "Tapa Run" was indulged in yesterday afternoon. A heady trip around town stopping off at a bar or 8 for a beer and tapa at each. Stuff for the boys. Enjoyed by me, Bill, David, Randy and Joe (for whom it was actually laid on, by Bill.) Much white wine later I got home, collapsed on this sofa (a real back-breaker as I had already found out having been beaten to the bed by Lary on Tuesday night) and fell asleep until being awakened by every phone in the house blowing its top at 8-15pm. Late for work. First time ever. No clean sheet on that score anymore. Never mind, it was worth it.

Tomorrow I'm going to make some more of my Curried Carrot and Coriander soup, the recipe for which I've been asked to "write-up" so get a kilo of carrots in, ready, along with a bunch of fresh coriander and some cumin and curry powders to add to 4pints of Chicken stock.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

St Patrick

Today is a day that belongs to Ireland and yet, everywhere here, most establishments are also decorated for the occasion, including Bar Ana. We are luckier than most because we have managed to beat the rest and book the best.... two Leprechauns, one real and one pretend (from Scotland), to perform their repertoire of 50's & 60's music. Favio appears to have quite an artistic streak in him because the poster advertising the event has been produced by him and I'm hoping that mine, his, Beryl's and "The Twilights" efforts will all add-up to the best night out in Torremolinos tonight. I've invited Larisa and her reply was "Creo que si" so, here's hoping that she can .

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Salad Days

What a gorgeous day! A clear, blue sky, lashings of sun instead of rain and a pleasant respite from the sun's heat in a light breeze. Salad weather, which is exactly what's been put on the me-and-you for today. With some of this week's roasted chicken breast (and a little leg) I'm going to throw together a mixed salad "a la Larisa", if I can, with some Patatas Ali-Oli (remember them?) on the side. That's if I can still stand up after having already opened the vino that I bought to go with it (I'm over 2 hours away from eating), namely, a Mateus Rose. I also bought another piece of pork loin - cerdo cinta trozo - today which has been divided into 3, 1 piece of which is going to be used tomorrow to perfect a recipe that I've been working on and if Lary and I get to see each other on Monday we'll reap that benefit with the other 2 pieces conveniently defrosted while I travel. Travel? Finally a lead into something I've been wanting to tell you for a couple of weeks now. Mentioning no names for fear of giving ages away, the other week, on a trip into Malaga, I was made aware that the over 60's (grin) can, for 5euros, buy a special card, valid for a year, that entitles them to a 40% discount on ALL rail travel here. I bought mine when on the way to the airport on Wednesday courtesy of 5euros I found slipped (for that very purpose) into one of the birthday cards I received on the 27th. Oh, what the heck, thanks Beryl, XXX. I am also led to believe that the same card, issued by RENFE, also works for internal flights here in Spain, which just might mean my trip to Simferopol later this year could be cheaper than Lary's!! But, before that, I can now more easily fulfill my boyish desire to ride the AVE High Speed train to Madrid and back, one Monday, coming soon. Does life begin at 40? No!!!! It began for me at 55 and you continue to read an ongoing (hopefully never ending) story.

Tuna in the salad accommpaning my bit of breast and leg?'m English! (sorry Dad, but the bad grammar just kinda'works here. Oops, sorry again!)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

No big issue really

I just made it! Malaga Airport has 2 terminals and I've always had to go to Terminal 2 to meet arrivals, which is where I automatically went yesterday morning. I got there at half-past 10, she'd landed at 5 past. Heck! She's early, but probably not off the aircraft yet. Good, I just have to settle down and wait. Settle down? Who am I kidding? I didn't want to have a cup of airport tea or coffee so I stood and watched the arrivals board doing its bit for a few minutes with, in the corner of my eye "SUxxx Moscu Llegada(T1) 10:05" repeatedly flashing away towards me. Then I noticed at the top of the board "LLegadas/Arrivals T2" T2? What's with that "T1" at the end of the Moscow flight details? Unease crept into my demeanour. Somethings wrong here. Find someone, quick, and ask. No-one official around. As I scoured the area looking for anything to do with a "T1" I saw it, above me; a big sign "Llegadas/Arrivals T1" pointing back the way I'd come. I didn't know, honestly, that there WAS a T1 Arrivals Hall let alone WHERE it is. Letting the handbrake off my new shoes, I pointed them in the direction of the big arrow above me and began to accelerate. When you are in a hurry (and I do mean a hurry, even a hurried hurry) Malaga Airport becomes a ginormous dinosaur of a place and it seemed to me that T1 must be the other end of town let alone the airport with the amount of walking I was having to do but I found it eventually only to see the "Arrivals" directions disappear just when I didn't need them to. Ah! An information desk!
"Is this the right place for the Moscow arrival?"
"Yes sir. Over there", was the answer with point behind me, "they are coming through now."
Gulp. If the Red Lion were still open she'd probably already be sitting at the bar I thought but, having spun round I noticed some familiar garb trundling a trolley away down the hall, 20 metres from me, looking as lost as I had been slightly earlier.

Looking me up and down her hello came out as "Zapatos nuevos!!" with further approval about the shirt and trousers, both of which she'd chosen for me in times past.
"Hello Larisa!"
"Hoy tu dia libre? o no?"
"No, Hello!"
"Por que no?"
"Three months have passed, things are different. Hello!"
"Cuando es ahora?"
"Mondays. HELLO!!"
Her disappointment was tangible, having had confirmation straight from the horses mouth about something that, I'm sure, she actually already knew despite me not having told her personally. Streets have ears you might say.

With her plans for today, and probably tomorrow, going up in smoke we caught the train, whereupon she pressed on with The Big Issue:
"Are you free all day on Mondays?"
"No. I've said before that my day off is actually more of a night off. But I can wangle things to be free from about midday until opening time on Tuesday."
Satisfied with that she got her camera out and began showing me her life in The Crimea for the last 3 months. Snowy. And then began to fret about the fact that neither of her mobiles were working (problems with the accounts and 3 months of none use.) In Fuengirola she plonked me down at a cafe table, sent the waiter for a Cafe con Leche for me while she went to the bank for some cash. 20 minutes later she came back with more problems. "I can't get any money, my bankcard isn't working." No doubt more to do with being away for 3 months. The 220 must have forgotten what I look like because the trip to Calahonda in its care was uneventful other than the fact that I asked after Katia:
"Why don't you call her? You never do"
"She wouldn't want to hear from me!"
"You should call her every once-in-a-while"

"We'll get some shopping in for something to eat, and some wine?" she said as we climbed the hill towards the local supermarket.
"OK" I replied, "but just one bagful, there's enough stuff here" (the cases I was on about) "to cope with already!" She must be stone-deaf because 3 bags came through the checkout ("no pasanada" towards my glum expression), followed by a re-arrangement of responsibilities over who lugged what on up the hill and home.

With my shirt covered by a teatowel I was put to work frying some splattery pork while she prepared a tuna salad and fried a couple of eggs.
"We wouldn't do this back home."
"That's because you are English and know nothing about food!"
Then The Big Issue was raised again...
"what time do you work tonight?"
"When do you have to leave?"
"About 6 I reckon"
"Time for some Vodka then, REAL Vodka."
Produced from her suitcase, brown in colour, with 3 chilli peppers floating around and flavoured with Honey we downed 3 shots each (never an even number) through the rest of a lazy afternoon in the Spanish sunshine on the terrace and before I left she topped me up with a half-share of an Aeroflot Flight Meal that she'd brought off the plane.

She's going to call on Monday. In the meantime I'm to start preparing for a trip to The Crimea later this year, Viktor is really insistent that I (we) should go apparantly.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Killing time

It is 20 past 4 in the morning and I've not long been home after a smashing night in the bar due to "The Twilights" producing an excellent performance in front of a full-capacity crowd and me prepping the empty chills ready for tomorrow before locking up in order to give me a free day until opening time. Larisa is an hour and three-quarters away from takeoff on a flight still scheduled "on time" with an expected arrival here at 10:24. So I'm going to try and grab 40 winks now although the chances of that actually happening are pretty slim. But not as slim as hers may have been tonight....I believe that she has had to endure a 12hour stopover in Moscow Airport.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Home, sweet Home

Last Wednesday's Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Malaga was 80mins late (do y'really think I wouldn't be watching such things?) and tomorrow's is currently scheduled as "on time", so no anticipated delays...yet. I think that she is going to be tired because the flight will have left Moscow at about 6am (local) which could mean that she might have had an overnight stopover after the flight from Simferopol. She doesn't know yet that tomorrow is not my day off now and that any plans she may have, once she gets back to Calahonda, to go shopping etc. with me onhand to help are going to have to be rushed through in time for me to get back here for 8pm. But that's all by-the-by, she's coming home and I'll be watching that flight's status all through today, tonight and tomorrow morning, that's a four-for-sure.

Cristina has just called. She's moved to Granada for a while it seems and I now have instructions about how to pay the rent, through the Post Office, to her.
"Toda bien?"
"Si, pero me falta pintura para la cocina"
"Ah, tu cocina! Vale, voy a torremolinos en las semanas que vienen y entonces me lo hare"
"Vale, gracias. Te echo de menos"
(which brought a giggle down the line).
So, maybe in the not too distant future, I might get my kitchen area repainted after the repairs that were done to the plumbing some weeks ago.

Tonight David and Christy are back at the bar with another rendition of music from the 50s & 60s and it'll be interesting to see how we fare with the new layout (the 2 big tables have been replaced by 6 smaller, round, ones) and whether anybody takes advantage of the extra floorspace for a little bit of dancing.

Favio has solved the FTP problems for his Anas Bar domain and has been busy uploading a webage to the site. On Sunday I was given a copy of all the files so that I can tweak anything that really needs to be tweaked and, more importantly from Favio's point of view, provide the english version that people will get if they click on the Union Jack icon. Our joint effort is in progress at Do pop in!!

A friend from Leeds, Elise, arrived on Sunday, for a 4 day stay in El Bajondillo, presenting to me that evening a big box of Yorkshire tea "as a present". Last night she called to ask if I was going to go out for a drink but I'd already settled down for a night in with a chicken in the oven, soup on the boil and a paella in preparation for dinner. Hopefully, tonight, after "The Twilights" have finished, I'll get the chance to make amends. (A seafood paella it was, the idea for which was given to me by Ana-Mary on Sunday. Her passionate description of one she had recently made using fresh prawns, clams and peas enticed me to copy it using frozen prawns, crabsticks and spinach. In a smallish frying pan I tried to make a mini, one-man, version but I still got 3 portions, the last of which is for lunch today.) Actually, while I'm on the subject of good fortune I can tell you that Margaret & Christy, on their recent return from a trip to Ireland, brought me back some Irish White Pudding and Irish Back Bacon and Emily & Joe (here from Florida) went on an excursion somewhere and surprised me with a huge jar of Rosemary Honey on their return. I'm running out of space!!

OK, I've got to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube just in case I have to play host to a tired traveller tomorrow which, if I don't do now, will get forgotten.