Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Another Christmas funny

Just hope this goes on properly.   It's well worth a listen

It's Christmas Countdown by Frank Kelly who used to be in Father Ted......hilarious.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

and a Christmas-y one for fun

Good health, peace and joy to you all - always. xxx

Friday, 22 November 2013

Aging Siamese

 This is Yang, a few years ago.   He is still sleek and athletic and during the summer he prefers the outdoors.   But, come the drop in temperature he stays in and picks the choicest spots to snooze - our chairs and our bed.   He's never been a lap cat but he does like to be close to us. 

 Yin is a different matter.   She does the talking for both of them, hardly ever goes out and has turned into a butterball.  If we could put her in a baby sling and carry her around with us, she'd be in 7th heaven because she won't stop nagging until we sit  or lie down and she can snuggle up.   She even harrasses us at night to close down the PCs and go to bed.    What a tyrant. 

Well, poor love can't get out from the study window now - it's too deep a drop -  so el jefe has made her a ladder.

It's a crude affair from oddments of wood, but she loves it and didn't even need showing how to use it.  

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A bit of a moan

Usually, if I want a bit of a moan I go to a private file in my PC and let it all hang out.  But today whoever passes by  can read about the downside of living in Spain, in particular this forgotten s.w. corner of Spain.   We are between a town and a popular beach resort - an area known as the "campo".   As such, we are seen as rural and most of the houses are not quite legal.   This does not deter the local council from charging us the full urban rates, even though we have no mains water or sewerage, no proper roads unless we all club together and get them asphalted, and no street lights.   We draw water from a well with an electrical pump, filter it and boil it.   The supermarkets do a roaring trade with 5 litre bottles of drinking water. 

The infrastructure here is the pits.....electrical equipment in our area is ancient and unstable;  the telephone service - Telefonica (a world wide organisation making huge profits) is also unreliable and they won't spend the money on improving the equipment to give the majority in the campo an internet connection of more than 3 mB.  

In the last three months we have had failures of equipment, necessitating replacements - our gas boiler (all gummed up with calcium), fridge freezer, the new one of  which we now discover is not auto defrost, the t.v. (5 years old) gave up the ghost.  These were all major purchases.  

We've had two major power outages so when there's no electricity there's no water, of course,  as the pumps don't work.   We are lucky:  we have a legal electricity connection while so many do not and they have no hope of getting one as the council has clamped down on the power company's providing it.     And to cap it all, it seems a part of our router has failed and we get no wi-fi.   It's been 2 weeks since we ordered another from Telefonica....and still waiting.  Nearly all expats here watch British t.v. via satellite and the UK is moving to a new satellite whose beam will not reach the Continent, only Britain.    Alternative systems are being touted, all involving wi-fi.   There are going to be a lot of sad faces around.

Individually, these things are no big deal but put together, the frustration builds because the energy it takes to deal with Spanish bureaucracy is phenomenal.   I've been learning Spanish for over 10 years and while I get by in most situations, I'm sure I only understand half of what's said:  the local accent is almost indecipherable.   Think of a southern English person trying to fathom out a broad Glaswegian or Geordie!

Well, that's some of my moans out of my system and I feel a bit foolish in view of the catastrophes  some peoples of the world are suffering - bush fires, floods, hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes and  many have lost their homes and possessions.    That certainly puts things in perspective, eh. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Paella, Pam style

I love paella and if you've ever been in the company of Spanish people who make it, you'll notice that it's the men who vie with one another to cook it over a fire in the open air, each one swearing their recipe is the best.  

El jefe loves rice but not all the seafood stuff that goes in paella.   Instead I make one for him  with bacon, peas, chopped fried egg, sweet corn, mushrooms and onion, all flavoured with Worcester sauce and any fiery sauce I can find.   I prepare all the ingredients first by frying the bacon, then the onions, then the mushrooms.   I fry the egg separately.

My rice is idiot-proof - it always comes out light and fluffy - because I coat it in a small amount of oil or butter, or a mixture of both, in a heavy frying pan.    I add twice as much liquid as rice - usually 1 mug of rice to 2 of plain boiled water.   Bring the water back up to the boil, then turn the flame down to the minimum and cover with a very tight lid (use kitchen foil if necessary).    After 12 minutes turn off and it'll be excellent.   I use a fragrant, long-grain rice and it never fails.

Well, I've found this in my local supermarket....

Sachets of spices for paella which make it ideal for me to cook for one.   They contain garlic, paprika, saffron, cloves, pepper and cornflour.     Add to this the availability of frozen dressed mussels and huge prawns in the same supermarket, and I'm in seventh heaven.    You could add calamares and clams as well, bits of chicken or rabbit, whatever you fancy.

Poach the seafood gently in some white wine, then reserve.   Use the liquid as part of the amount when cooking the rice.  

Gently fry one sachet of the paella spices, add the rice, then the liquid and proceed as above.    All the liquid will be absorbed, the rice will be a lovely yellow colour and you can start adding your bits.    Include some peas and strips of roasted red pepper.   Here's the finished result.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

El Jefe's culinary delights

About 5 years ago, D produced his first cooking session for me - an apple pie made with Bramley apples that a friend brought us from Gibraltar.  

Next, a couple of years later,  he made a very good loaf using the bread maker.   I took pics of both and posted them somewhere on the blog as it was such a milestone:  these from the man who said food is fuel. 

I couldn't believe my ears when he said he wanted to have a go at Paul Hollywood's Chelsea buns.    I rounded up all the ingredients and stood by to be the plongeur, clearing up all the pots and bowls.   Well, he didn't back out and last week produced a tray of 8 and all very good.    The recipe on line was slightly different from the YouTube demo, which I think if he uses the modified version in future, they will be much improved.   Meanwhile, here are the results - just after proving, pre-icing and then iced.....

The icing is very special - the zest of an orange, plus icing sugar and suffient water to make it like a thickish creamy consistency.  Slop it all over the buns with a paint brush. 

It's always hit and miss with baking here because of the fluctuation in the electricity supply.   Endesa, the supply company, is making millions, but will they improve their infrastructure - no they won't.    So normally I don't bake as things tend to get burned on top before they're cooked through.   But these buns were great.  

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Fascinating Aida

I've long been a fan of theirs and their "Cheap Flights" about Ryanair is as good as it gets.    Here's their latest "Down with the Kids".....have a good chortle....


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Jottings for July

The new PC is up and running and now whipped into shape and behind me in the study el jefe is battling with a new system for himself.   In computer generated images there is always a demand for more and more memory ( I know the feeling - if only there were little DIMM slots for humans), so he is upgrading his system amid curses. lamentations and whoops of joy at something going right.

So we are settled back into something like the old routine, except we couldn't get out in the garden in the teeth of a Levante wind.   10 minutes and it felt that every ounce of moisture and energy had been sucked out of us.   It went on for almost 9 days and although there is a lull today, we hear it will be back any time now. 

Anyway, I said I'd post some holiday pics and here are just a small number to show steam locomotive stations and trains as they have been renovated by enthusiastic volunteers over the years, even down to the pre-War advertisements on the stations. 

First, here's a pic of a de-luxe 1st class carriage with its red velvet upholstery.

 This is the Tornado which had journeyed from Kings Cross to York and there was quite a crowd to see it arrive.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Cats overjoyed

We arrived home last week at 1 a.m. and were wary about the reception we'd get from Yin and Yang.   Our friend had told us that they could win an Oscar for sulking while we were away.  They've known her for about 4 years but during our absence, if she walked in a room, they walked out, only turning up for their meals.  

We were gobsmacked by the warm greetings - lots of yowling from both and following us around for the next few days, sleeping on the bed at night.   What a surprise.

I have pics and more to write but the PC crashed the day after our return and I'm busy now loading up and trying to get back to normal with a brand-new one.   Man oh man, what a lot of frustrating work.  

Monday, 3 June 2013

Yorkshire Holiday

They know something's up.....they're eyeing up the cases, sitting inside when they realise I haven't closed them, and generally have a reproachful look in their eyes.    "You're going without us, aren't you"!

Yes, we are - for the first time together - because a kind friend is moving in to look after Yin and Yang as a substitute servant.   We are off to Harrogate, York, Whitstable and Bronte country.   From the various recommendations from friends about places of interest, we are going to eat our way round E. Yorks... Yorkshire curd cake, and a long indulgent visit to Betty's team room for her dainties, Wensleydale blue cheese, fish 'n chips at the Magpie in Whitby while dodging Dracula memorabilia.  And all this in between the purpose of our holiday:   journeys on steam locomotives.   This is el jefe's special interest (see his website here )  It's full of his graphic illustrations of 19th century steam locomotives in glorious colour. 

We are getting very excited.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Socks in Seville

We had a jaunt to Seville, despite wall-to-wall rain.   El jefe's shoes let in water, we had no umbrellas nor protective clothing......disaster.    So, new shoes for el jefe, lovely Spanish leather boat shoes.   But the socks had to be dumped - they were soaking.

We were in a very posh area and the only shop (apart from MaxMara and Loewe's) was Carolina Herrera, haute couture, and the only place for socks: yes, they had them.....lovely silky black ones with red toes and heels 15€.  We could probably have bought 6 or 10 pairs for that in M & S!

The hilarious thing was the packaging - presented to us in a beautiful monogrammed red box, ditto small designer carrier bag and the receipt looked like a flyer for the fashion house with the name of our server printed at the bottom.     All very tasteful, elaborate - and expensive.   But who cares:   his feet were dry!

Take a look at this


Monday, 4 February 2013


I write so infrequently on here that I'm half ashamed to return to this blog to write about stopping smoking tobacco.   Ah, to hell with it - it's quite a milestone for me so why not share it with everyone.   I say everyone, but I think anyone who did stumble across this blog quickly faded away because of my lack of input.

Anyway, back to the point of all this post.    I am 72 today and apart from an 18 month tobacco abstinence period back when I was 54 or so, I have been a dedicated smoker since I was 14.   It was the thing to do then, it was normal.  Go and see your doctor and he'd be sitting there, smoking.    Spend the evening nursing a glass cup of Expresso in the new coffee bars back in the 50s, everyone was smoking.    Cinema, ditto; same for department stores.....anywhere and everywhere.  Bachelors  (the brand of ciggies!) were my poison of choice,  with a short period of those elegant Du Maurier in the red flat flip up box; short-lived because they were more expensive.  

In my latter years I've stuck to Silk Cut Silver, the very lowest tar and nicotine that you can buy and as I used to say to anyone who wanted to try one, "don't give yourself a hernia inhaling - there's nothing there".

Last month I went on a rare visit to UK for my niece's wedding.  It was freezing and I spent a great deal of time outdoors in the wind and rain having my ciggies (no-one else smokes and I was banished from the house).   Everyone was either just getting over or just acquiring a vicious cold and bronchitic-type cough and there was no escape for me.    That was nearly a month ago and I'm still wrestling with the aftermath.   I gave my germs to D, el jefe, and he gave them back.....and so it goes on.    Last week, el jefe wondered if I should not smoke and try to get rid of this whooping-type cough.   It was obvious he was worried.  

I saw an ad in our local internet forum for vaporised electronic ciggies so gave the guy a call and he visited that evening with all his wares.    I chose the psychadelic-looking one in the picture above.   It's light, neat and does the business.   I get a nicotine hit (there's a choice of strengths from 6-24 mg) a cloud of vapour that looks like smoke but isn't, and a lovely vanilla smell as that's the ejuice I've chosen.   I've got a standby of cherry, also very fragrant.   I just have a puff now and again, rather than light up and smoke (or let go out while I'm busy) a whole ciggie.   I've removed the ashtrays from my desk and side tables so the areas are now clean - so is my keyboard that used to get silted up with ash, along with the front of my clothes!  

And I don't want a real fag.   Aint that amazin'! 

No, I don't know the long-term effects of using ejuice and I don't care at the moment as I'm breaking the tobacco habit.   I'll keep you posted.