Sofia the artist

Internet meet-ups are a hit and miss affair.

It’s anyone’s guess as to whether people you have encountered on a forum, or Facebook, or via blogs, will turn out to be great fun or a pain in the neck.

The first couple we met, from South Africa, were great. I’ll draw a veil over the next internet meet-up. The third meeting, a couple of friends from Scotland, was another good session and sadly we didn’t get to see one of them again on a return visit to Spain last year. A fourth meet with someone else never happened.

I guess you just need a pretty open mind, and if you don’t get on, shrug your shoulders and accept that’s life.

So at the weekend, we smartened ourselves up (vaguely), and wandered down to Casemates for another close encounter of the internet kind. A couple from America with their charming daughter Sofia.

You don’t have to read far on my blogs to find out I am not particularly child-friendly. It’s not that I like or dislike them (screaming babies excepted – they are totally vile), but little people on the whole just don’t interest me.

But Sofia was like I used to be. She kept herself perfectly occupied while the grown-ups were chatting, didn’t interrupt, stamp her feet, or generally be obnoxious. I didn’t know they made children like that any more. Amazing.

I was busy admiring her work – far better than I could ever produce at any age – so she gave me her creations. Thank you Sofia. She agreed I could put them on my blog, so here they are.

A selection of coloured drawings by Sofia

Our new friends were staying in the trendy and somewhat expensive Ocean Village, so we agreed to go back to their flat to have a look.

We’ve actually seen a couple of these before, because we’ve priced work in a few and co-incidentally Partner had worked in one just down from their holiday flat.

What did surprise me was the view. Not of the Rock, because I know what that looks like. But that I could actually manage to get out on the balcony and take photos because of the nice high glass screen. Takes a lot to get me on a fifth floor balcony.

However, the west facing side of the Rock looked beautiful in the evening sun, so as I had not bothered taking a camera, they kindly lent me theirs and then forwarded the photos to me.

Looking across Casemates towards the Moorish Castle on the left at the top of the Upper Town area
Looking south, with the Reloj (clock) and the recently painted and refurbished market hall on the right

And an earlier pic I took at OV…

The luxurious pool area at Ocean Village

It was a very pleasant evening in good company, and before we went home we decided to call in Pizza Express (also at Ocean Village) where a few months back Partner had painted the bars at the restaurant.

Good practice. Wet paint signs and the area is taped off

They have a new menu which includes a Leggera Pizza. This involves taking out the centre of the pizza dough and filling it with a salad. That seems a particularly good idea to me, as both salads and pizzas are around £9 each on their own, so you get both at once for that price. There is a decent vegetarian choice, including a vegetarian chicken salad, with not just chicken but anchovies too. Ooops! Partner enjoyed helpfully pointing this out when he paid the bill.

Wonder how many of those menus with a chicken and anchovy salad, described as vegetarian, they’ve had printed??

45 comments on “Sofia the artist

  1. Names can be deceptive. I remember pointing out to a vegan friend that he was eating a beef and tomato potnoodle (in a sort of caught you kind of way). He showed me the label, they are approved by the UK Vegetarian society, so not a lot of beef then. The concept of “vegetarian” chicken is increasingly common over here, in supermarkets and restaurants; I believe it refers to something like quorn marinated in Monosodium Glutamate. Yum yum NOT.!!


    • I do use Quorn occasionally when there is a shortage of Redwood or Cauldron food. Or the yummy mortadela that we couldn’t find in Spain at the weekend :( I’ve not noticed the Quorn being high in MSG or else it would have gone back on the shelf. MSG is like sugar with me when I read it on a label, gets dropped back on the shelf like a sugar laden MSG overdosed hot cake.

      But most of the veg type fake meat products have something in the title that say that, eg cheatin’ chicken, or chicken/beef/ham ‘style’ slices, or a line underneath that says meat-free or whatever.

      I’ve not noticed too many vegetarian anchovy products kicking around, a few mediocre fish ones.

      My favourites are tofu, seitan and tempeh, so any Quorn product is a always a desperate measure when I can’t get my hands on anything else. Pretty sloppy way to cook in a restaurant anyway if they are just grabbing some Quorn out of the freezer. You’ve reminded me I’ve been going to do a post about Quorn for ages…..

      Whichever way you look at it, either it isn’t real, by which real means dead animals/fish/poultry, chicken, anchovies, so therefore unreal equals fake products. In which case, it should say so, or, it is real, in which case it shouldn’t be labelled as vegetarian.

      I reckon you should do a bit of research when you get here and go and order one. ;)


  2. I’ve only ever cooked with Quorn when feeding my brother. Keeps me within my cooking comfort zone, as I can do quorn and mushrooms in a white wine sauce just as I would with chicken. I think they only plaster it with MSG when they want to specifically impart a “vegetarian chicken” taste, as opposed to plain quorn which you can marinate how you please, in my case usually good Olive Oil and garlic.


    • I’ve never seen plain Quorn, but there again, I never ate it in the UK as they weren’t using free-range eggs at the time either.

      Our cooking styles don’t sound dissimilar (an age thing?) – as you’ve seen on earlier posts, I take a poultry/meat recipe and just substitute something else, I tend to like sauce/gravy as much as the rest of the meal, so suits me. No more on here, I need to write that quorn post, but not today, the Kirchners are calling over on Clouds.


      • I did some research on Quorn yesterday with the help of my friend Mr Sainsbury. Looking at the ingredients of the pre-prepared quorn and other soya based products in the freezer section, it read more like an A Level chemistry exam. As for the Chorizo style Quorn, that was full of ferric oxide. Rusty guts ?

        Would have posted earlier, but had house buying shaped peeps around earlier.


        • I didn’t know there was a chorizo version. It’s processed food though. What do you expect? :D Which is why I prefer the tofu, seitan, tempeh products which have hardly anything in them apart from either soya or wheat (seitan). I buy the organic versions too before you remind me of GM soya products ;)


          • A take away pizza menu arrived this morning. Normally they go straight into the recycling, but this one trumpeted its new vegetarian options, so thought I’d take a look:
            Tikka style vegan chicken
            Vegan style chicken
            Vegan style garlic sausage
            Vegan style pepperoni.

            No idea what they make them from, and there is no further information on their website. Probably can’t be quorn though, as that generally has egg in it.


  3. Have wondered about face to face encounters since engaging a bit in the world of blogging. Lots of food for thought.
    My youngest who I suspect is about Sofia’s age broke her arm yesterday and while at the hospital needed an injection for pain – she explained that she didn’t want it and that she would be screaming very loudly through the whole process. The staff said, ‘that’s ok, you can scream’…They had no idea….A nurse turned to me afterwards and asked, “is she like this at home?” “Like what?” I asked. “So vocal”, she said. To which I replied through clenched teeth, “we have tried to beat her into submission but to no avail”. End of conversation. My eldest on the other hand sounds just like Sofia! Both girls however, are a treat. The thing is that when it is your own kid screaming, it is somehow more tolerable. (perhaps others feel differently!) I never believed it though until now. Thanks for another cool post. Love Sofia’s art.


    • Face to face? Food for thought? A post in itself. A risk. Something to lose, something to gain.

      I think screaming with a broken arm is perfectly acceptable!

      Parents are probably used to artwork, but mine was always poor which was why I admired this. I couldn’t have drawn animals or birds or nicely-arced rainbows to save my life. I am sure Sofia will appreciate your compliment.


  4. I hope that children around the world now have a goodwill ambassador in Sofia. ;-) Sounds like a great meeting all around–sort of an Internet “blind date,” I guess? I haven’t quite arrived at that intersection of cyberspace and real world, so my hat’s off to you!


    • Blind date is a good description!! Even worse (from my point of view) when people know lots about you, and you know little about them, but hey, open minds.

      It’s always worth a try. Like all things in life, sometimes it works, sometimes not.

      Sofia would be an excellent ambassador :)


  5. Ha, ha! Vegetarian chicken salad sounds great! :) I’ve never heard of sneaking a salad into the middle of a pizza – it must look very pretty. Love the pics! And your enjoyment of Sofia! :)


    • I’ve got visions of someone ordering the salad and expecting a vegetarian version and being faced with a huge plate of chicken and anchovies!! I tell you, after 20+ years of being veg – not good.

      The salad in the pizza worked great. Light and thin pizza base, really tasty, and not too filling. Reminded me of a pastry dish one of my friends did once, a puff pastry thing with some topping, and when I asked for some salad she plonked it on top :D!

      Sofia was good company. Some adults could take a lesson or two.


  6. Love your photographs, but I LOVE Sofia’s art more.. How wonderful are those drawings..They would be framed if they were mine :-)
    Lucky you!!!


  7. Great post on many levels – love Sofia’s artwork esp. the rainbow. I think kids enjoy themselves more when they can behave well in any company & not need to be continually checked – good on Sofia & her parents :) The pizza – not the first tme I’ve heard something like this. Some think that vegetarians don’t eat just red meat, and chicken & fish is ok. I don’t assume people even in the food industry have food smarts. I have a foodie acquaintance who once said to me, truly “well, eggs ARE dairy…” I didn’t bother to debate.


    • Thanks. I was fascinated watching her do the rainbow, she did it so quickly and the curves are so straight, by which I mean not wobbly. Interesting perspective about behaving, and right I guess. Certainly makes for independence and not being bored if we can be happy within ourselves.

      Pizza was new to me, but hey we don’t live in Sydney any more! You’ll get newer ideas before us I guess. I guess eggs are dairy because cows lay them, right? Has your foodie friend not heard of the word(s) lacto-ovo-vegetarian?? You don’t need to answer that one.


      • Apologies, one word missing from my reply changed what I meant completely… The pizza PLACE – not the first tme I’ve heard something like this – staff not having fantastic food knowledge. I’ve never seen a pizza with a salad centre but I don’t get out a lot. I have encountered the ubiquitous “wild” rocket topping…


        • Haha!! I’m good at guessing what people mean, but I did read your comment literally about the pizza, but the rest of it made sense in context anyway.

          We try and avoid getting out a lot too, but we were starving and it just made sense to eat out rather than get in and start from scratch at night.

          The rocket in my garden is pretty wild. I leave it to self-seed and it happily just keeps growing away. Wildly. Like an idiot I forgot to bring some back this time :(


  8. What a lovely time. (You know what is great about living where you do? It’s not flat. Nice pictures from the balcony)
    Sofia’s drawings are colorful and detailed: charming. The figures show action and movement. Very happy work.
    Have you ever noticed how great some kids draw until they get into school? Then they lose confidence and appear to try to conform to someone else’s idea of “art”. Hopefully Sofia’s quiet confidence can get her through. It would be a shame to have her visions shelved.
    Got a real chuckle over the veggie-ness of the pizza (but the salad in the middle is a good idea)
    Enjoy your day – your post has started mine off on a good note!


    • What’s great are the beautiful views wherever you are. Which reminds me must dash out. Flat is ok – at least you can see for miles :)

      Nope, I know little about children (as above) but I liked this one and admired her artistry.

      Actually our pizza was quite good, although we tend to go for the same one whether at home or out, – olives, capers, chillies, garlic, pretty boring but suits me.

      My day is closing down so hope your Texan one goes well. And thanks. Pic of the German was rather lovely though that I just spotted.


  9. Hopefully one day, perhaps we will meet :-)
    Good pics again :-)
    Sofias’ drawings are really good, how old is she?
    Like you, I’m not too child friendly either, but we’re just back from another break, where we met a little girl called Ruby, who I found extremely appealing.
    Pizza Express do something similar here, it’s called something like a ‘slimers pizza’


    • Who knows V, would like to think so.

      Pix – it was the light that captivated me, but I didn’t capture it well enough, suppose I should have fiddled which as usual I didn’t :D

      I’ll have to check when I next see her again (old person syndrome here). As others have said, great combination of animation, colour, vibrancy etc.

      You make me laugh every time you say you are not child-friendly when you are a mother and a grandma!!

      Slimers pizza – that would be the greens in the salad bag that have lost their crispness and gone rather wet and yucky? [sorry, couldn’t resist]


  10. Talented girl.
    I don’t get this imitation meat thing: I love tofu, seitan and tempeh, but when they’re made to look or (supposedly) taste like meat, it puts me off. When I stopped eating meat I stopped liking the smell (of bacon especially), so there’s no nostalgia.
    Never heard of Quorn, is it something British?


    • I think there are a few ways of looking at the ‘imitation meat’ products. Some people stop eating, or cut down on meat for health reasons – rather than ethical, so may well miss meat, or want something similar to eat. Or maybe it helps people who are newly vegetarian/vegan. Or who can’t cook. People who are vegetarian because they don’t want to eat dead animals (ie the ethical vegetarians) mostly don’t care about imitation meat. As far as I am concerned it is a vegetarian product, if there is nothing else available and I’m stuck for inspiration I’ll buy it. But not because it reminds me of meat/chicken/fish.

      Quorn was developed in the UK as I remember. It’s pretty mainstream now. I’ll make it my next post on Clouds ! I think it has found its way to the USA but I’m not sure about elsewhere in the world ie Down Under, Asia, Europe, or even Canada. I’ll do some research for the post.


      • Looking forward to your post on Quorn. From the comments I’ve read here it sounds like something to avoid, but I’ll rerserve judgement till you give more info.
        I suppose there’s a variety of motivations for not eating meat. I started out avoiding it generally for health reasons, eating it only on certain social occasions . Then I had to kill some puppies my dog gave birth to because in the country here (north of Spain) you can’t get rid of them all, and one or two dogs is the limit for us. Reflecting then on how that made me feel, I decided that if I can’t kill animals, mammals that is, without feeling sick and guilty, how can I eat their flesh? Don’t mind killing fish, no identification with them – which I suppose some people think very strange, but that’s my feeling – so I’m not a vegetarian, although people continually try to slot me into the label. As far as I’m concerned, a vegetarian is what people call a vegan (wierd word), and any variation from that should be qualified with lacto- or ovo-. I don’t think a pesco-vegetarian is faunalogically possible!


  11. I’m not very ‘child-friendly’ either, but Sofia sounds like one I could communicate with. I don’t dislike or like them …just as you said. Loved her art work.
    The only person from my online life whom I’ve met face to face is my Partner :) That was 2003. It just hasn’t happened … before I lived in Sweden and most of my Internet buddies lived in North America. Now I’m here, but still … not.


    • I think you look for the same in children as you look for in adults. Honestly, openness, someone interesting, easy to talk to.

      The few I have met have mostly been from the other side of the world, so coming here, or near here on holiday. The nearest were the two women from Scotland who came to Spain not far from our finca, the other meets have actually been here in Gib. I’m usually willing to give it a go, meet on neutral ground, have a chat and take it from there. Or not as the case may be :D


  12. I love the Leggara pizzas at Pizza Express! They recently changed the vegetarian one, so can’t remember what’s on it now but the idea is brilliant. Stops me being a complete fatty. ;-)

    Next time I go, definitely checking the menu for ‘vegetarian’ chicken pizzas!


    • I think it is just a Gibraltar thing!! We like to be different here :D

      I always thought it was going to be a sort of a pizza hut type place with poor quality food, but I do think it is good. I certainly enjoyed the Leggara.


  13. That’s funny. I went to a place in Japan and the menu said, “Vegan option – made only with REAL cow’s milk!!” Ha! I think you were most fortunate to have a petite artiste like Sofia visit with you – children that are well behaved (and artistic, to boot!) can be few and far between nowadays (with the exception of my own perfect spawn, naturally – they are both exemplary little people…bwa ha ha ha!) Quite enjoyed looking at her work and the new view too. Perhaps one day my own hubs and kidlets will be so fortunate to visit Gib. :)


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