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 Plan....to 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 manana...no!! 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?...er...no...I'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 Anasbar.com. 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.

Sunday, 8 March 2009


I forgot to take my meat out of the freezer last night to thaw ready for today's dinner so, having done so earlier, I´ve been along to The Ship for a Sunday snifter or two while waiting for it to thaw. Having put the world to rights with Ward and Lisa I've come home to "meet me at the airport please?" by email. I don't need asking twice! Wednesday morning cannot come quick enough.