Going shopping

If anyone hasn’t worked this out yet, I do not like going to the supermarket.

So the other day we had one of those conversations where we argued discussed who had gone last, and therefore whose turn it was to go now.

Naturally I pulled the winning card out. I can’t possibly carry 2 x 2 litre bottles of a water, a six pack of sparkling mineral water (in glass bottles), a six pack of tonic water….And I added helpfully, “You don’t like the bread from the village shop.”

So off he went. Up the track, across the river, and off to the boring old hypermarket.

Fortunately it was relatively empty. They have some new tills now. The sort where they can serve two people at once. Having dealt with Reluctant Shopping Partner, the cashier then went onto the next customer.

“Pasa por aquí,” she said. “Tiene Travel?”

The short dumpy Spanish woman with dark dyed hair looked at her bemused. (Partner and the cashier both knew she was Spanish because she looked exactly like all the women in our village, who have all been cloned).

Partner twigged. “She wants to serve you. Move up to the till. And do you have the supermarket loyalty card?”

“Oh, thanks,” said the short dumpy non-Spaniard with dark dyed hair. “I hadn’t a clue what she was saying.”

“They normally speak English,” she added.

“No, they don’t,” argued Partner. “Emma speaks English, and a few of the others can say numbers and please and thank you.”

“Well, it’s so difficult. Why don’t they all speak English?”

Aaaaaaaagh. No wonder people get racked off with the British. Two weeks holiday on the Costa del Sol, you shouldn’t need perfect Spanish. But this woman has been here the same number of years as us, more or less.

“Would you expect someone in a shop in the UK to speak fluent French, German, Polish, or Rumanian?” said Partner, warming to his theme. “Why don’t you speak Spanish?”

“I have no interest in speaking Spanish,” she declared loftily. “I live here because of the sun.”

People like that really piss me off. How rude.

She was obviously a BWM (Brit with money). Her trolley was heaving with spirits and wine, expensive food, frozen food. Nothing else. It cost her well over 100€. In comparison Partner spent around 40€ of which 20€ was for a 5 litre bottle of extra virgin olive oil. The rest of it was staples, bread, pasta, rice (OK that was organic and he bought two), a couple of six packs of beer and a bottle of wine.

I condescended to go out to the veg man in the afternoon when he turned up. Now this is my style of shopping. Man comes to door and I wander out to peruse goods. Said goods are cheap and fresh.

Actually Partner was sitting on the terrace. The veg man drew up and sounded his horn. “GO BOY GO,” I shouted, thinking about the dog rather than Partner. He ran out so he could be first in the queue. I followed a few minutes later. It was one of the rare occasions we had beaten next-doors. This meant we had first pick at everything (we fight over the fresh peas).

So for 15€ I bought 2½ kilos of peas, a kilo of broad beans, 2 or 3 kgs of potatoes, some carrots, some white turnips, celery, cucumbers, artichokes, green peppers, and radishes. I got a huge bunch of parsley too, but that’s free anyway. The veg man doesn’t speak English, but I think it’s worth learning a little Spanish to get all that for 15€.


12 comments on “Going shopping

  1. Fresh broad beans…………oh I am in heaven, you lucky so and so’s I adore fresh broad beans.I am ashamed of the Brits abroad, why do they flock to Spain and everywhere else and want to eat Brit Greasy Spoon breakfasts, never ceases to amaze me!ok, now pass a broad bean or twelve over to me, pleeeeeeease. I love ’em!My gripe with living in Scotland is this….we have the best, fresh fish and shellfish in the world arguably, so why does none of it appear in the shops here?All I can buy (and I adore fresh fish – and I know I am talking to a Vegan….but I love love love Fish…..all I can buy here is some frozen “Youngs” seafood, which has been to the far east and back for processing.oh and your track you showed in the photo was very much like our track when we stayed in Frigiliana!love and light, Jeannie xxxxx


  2. BWMs are the reason I avoid supermarkets East of Casares.La Línea is all right at the moment, but more brits are appearing.Unfortunately we don’t get door-to-door deliveries – all the donkeys have been sold for quads. Besides nobody’s going to come the forty-two steps up to our street to call on three occupied households.Bloody glad I bought myself a stair-climbing shopping trolley for Christmas though!


  3. Finally, someone who feels the same as I do!I am so ashamed of Americans (of which, I am one), when they come to Japan (which is where I am living now) and expect everyone to speak English and act westernized! These folks aren’t interested in trying to learn the local customs or become fluent in the local language. Then they complain that they are discriminated against because they are foreigners. I feel like telling them, “If you really are unhappy here, please go back to your own country!” On a happier note, I am envious of your fresh fruits and veggies! Although I must say that my local supermarket actually has very good fruits and veggies at a decent price, I am sure that your veggie man has much better produce!Love your blogs! Keep up the good work!Dog lover


  4. Confession.I read your blog and I remember when I had itchy feet and lived in Paris where dinner meant stopping at a succession of shops to gather meat, bread, vegetables, milk—More later.Joan (Jake and Just Harry’s Mom)


  5. I can’t believe the stupid…puta expected them to speak English. She lives in their country, not the other way round…don’t get me started!


    • One of the attractions of living in Spain for me has been able to learn a decent competency in another language. I did French and Latin at school, the only option for O level was German, but I went for physics and chemistry instead. Had Italian been on offer I might have done that. Anyway, German didn’t attract me although I’ve studied it since. I’ve always learned something for wherever I have gone on holiday, I can ask for beer in a fair number of languages and count to ten in quite a few :D and say I’m vegetarian in Greek.

      I do think the English school curriculum is at fault. Other countries start teaching english in primary school and yet I had to wait until 11 to start French, and the following year for Latin. I think they should be teaching at least one, if not two other languages at junior school. Gibbos grow up bi-lingual so you can’t say that kids can’t assimilate it. And as Spanish, along with English and Chinese, is one of the most widely spoken, I’d start kids off with that. Plus it’s easy as it is so phonetic. Maybe French for the other? Compulsory Welsh/Gaelic in non-English countries. Maybe they should be the other languages? Gaelic for the North of England, Welsh for the west and French for dahn sarf. Urdu or Punjabi for where I lived in Yorkshire.

      People are still surprised in Gib when Partner speaks Spanish. He looks so Celtic and 99% of Brits don’t speak Spanish. So they speak to his colleague, half Gibraltarian who doesn’t understand a word of it, and A has to translate, and he sees their thought process literally going across their face. ‘This one looks like a Gibbo and doesn’t understand. This one looks like a Brit and does. What’s going on?’ It really doesn’t compute for them.

      I’m a different kettle of fish, the long brown hair throws everyone. Next door to us is Louis who sells wallpaper and furnishing fabrics. He thought for ages I was A’s younger Spanish girlfriend. Haha. Most British women my age (apart from being shorter and fatter) either have short grey hair or short dyed blond hair. What you see in front of you colours your expectations about what languages someone will speak. Gibbos like to switch hit their languages. And mix them, hence llanito. With Louis, A and I both speak a mix, si and pero always end up in Spanish, they just feel better. I don’t claim to be fluent and I don’t speak Spanish as well as Gibbos, but it’s certainly good enough, and I am quite capable of telling someone to escuche if they are pretending not to understand.

      If you live in Spain, why not learn Spanish? I actually don’t understand the mentality. At least that way you know when someone is slagging you off.


      • Like you, I attempt to get at least a basic grasp of some languages. I like language…wish I had changed my major to languages in uni instead of doing psychology.

        It must be why the Spaniards enjoy talking to me when I go over on holiday. I immediately go into Spanish mode, Una cerveza por favor senor o senora…muy tranquil aqui, no?

        It usually does the job…eyes light up, smiles appear and the usual, habla bien espanol! para ‘donde esta? Americano?

        No, de Inglaterra, At this point they look in awe as if they can’t believe it and the conversation goes on.

        Now, I understand why.

        Seriously, does it hurt to try a little? People like that women piss me off too.


        • I was really shy with spoken French until the day I stopped in Paris and a really lovely waiter chatted so nicely with me. It’s crap now, but he really boosted my confidence.

          Psychology? I think I need to watch myself!

          We had friends who came over to stay, a daughter was doing GCSE spanish. What’s the time, she said ‘Que hora es’? Is that right? And that was the level of her Spanish. I can still do quelle heure est-il now!!


          • That’s the problem with learning a language in school…even conversational language misses the idioms etc. I learned Spanish from living with people who spoke it….much like yourself.


          • We had a couple of good French teachers. But in five years I had three which didn’t help.

            So when we got streamed (I think there were five for French!) I ended up with a crap teacher, while the good one I’d had before taught the second stream. I suppose I might as well say to avoid any embarrassment that I was in top streams for mathS, Latin and French.

            Anyway, the crap French teacher really set me back. I had no idea what she was talking about. She didn’t explain the grammar, the rules, the conjugation.I think the only reason I got the O level was that luckily we only had her for a year and we got another – very strict, but explicit – teacher for the two years before the exam.

            Both the two good ones did teach some idioms. We were all encouraged to subscribe to Paris Match as well!

            I bought Lingaphone tapes for Spanish (and Portugues), basic and advanced for Spanish. I thought they were very good. I was determined to have a reasonable level of Spanish when we moved here, at least one good enough to buy a house and read contracts.


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