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.