‘You can’t eat roses,’ my neighbour Adelina snapped at her husband José. ‘Why do you keep growing more of them?’
‘I like them,’ he said obstinately, and off they ranted away at each other having one of their convivial spats.
In fact, it’s not the first time she’s said that, according to Partner, who heard a similar conversation a few weeks back. When money’s tight, and times are hard, why grow roses?
The fact that he used to work in a nursery propagating roses and carnations amongst other tasks, might explain it.
And the gripe about not being able to eat them was probably influenced by my broad beans, which I took the first harvest from at the weekend.
‘You’ve got a sackful there,’ said Adelina leaning over the wall admiringly. ‘Not quite,’ replied Partner, laughing.
‘But at least there is enough for a meal, so that’s good,’ she said. And in fact there was, around one and a half pounds. Along with some new potatoes from the 15kg sack we’d bought, I added half a pound of my beans to give to next doors. After all, if José didn’t water my garden and nip out the top of the beans to encourage the pods to set, I wouldn’t have any beans at all.
Partner had just walked in from handing over the goodies when he was called back to the wall by José. Ah, yes, four avocados and three lemons.
‘We had visitors yesterday and they brought avocados, the lemons are from my daughter’s,’ he explained. I hate buying lemons when the trees all around are full of them, so I was well pleased.
Then we decided to walk down to the beach. As we wandered around the circular loop, one of our neighbours who works in the field called us over. He was picking some beautiful cabbages to take to the local corrida (veg wholesaler). Because our village is the centre of an agricultural area – a lot of the land was previously sea – we have a very large corrida, which gets trucks buying and selling from all over Andalucía and further afield.
Joss (well actually he is another José but he reminds us of Joss out of Bonanza) asked us if we wanted some cabbage. Yes please. How many? One, two, three, four? I thought he was going to keep counting so we interrupted and said one would be fine. He looked most miffed, and said ‘Two or three?’ One clearly wasn’t the right answer. ‘OK, two.’ He cut three anyway.
Luckily we’d taken some shopping bags to call at the village supermarket on the way back. The golden rule in Spain is that you should always take a plastic bag with you, and preferably a knife in case you find something growing wild, eg wild asparagus, prickly pears, or even just veg that have fallen off the carts on the way to market. The trouble was, the cabbages (around two kilos each), filled the shopping bag, so as we approached the village, I took the cabbages in my arms and walked home up the stream bed, and he went on into the village. Six kilos of cabbage is ok to start with, but by the time I’d walked up the stream bed – uphill – they were getting pretty heavy.
Later on when Partner had returned, Adelina came to the wall to chat and asked why we had given them beans when we had muy poco (very few). Odd, earlier on it had been a sackful! We explained that we wouldn’t have any if it wasn’t for them. Sometimes the gesture is worth as much as the gift. We gave her a cabbage as well, we can’t really eat six kilos of cabbage that quickly. Expect a few cabbage recipes appearing on the recipe page here!
It’s impossible to give something to next doors and win the game though. Later on, José returned from his daughter’s garden with yet more lemons.
The next day on our walk – the same one, why walk another route when walking around the beach is peaceful and beautiful? – we met a couple of neighbours. No idea what he is called, probably José or Juan like the rest of the village, but we refer to him as Walking Man.
We’ve always chatted to him since we moved here, and some years ago, he told us he had gone to the village medico. Like a UK GP I suppose. The doc told him that his problem was that he spent all his time in his car and he should get out and walk more. So he did, and has been doing ever since. Each morning, around eight (earlier in summer), he sets off for a walk of at least an hour. Often with his wife, and sometimes with other neighbours or family.
When we met, we had come along the beach road whereas they had come in the opposite direction down the beach, a harder and longer walk than ours as they were walking on sand. We met them again as we approached the village, and they were still striding out energetically.
Contrast that with another neighbour who was given the same advice. He bought a bike and cycled off to visit relatives in the next village. The next we saw, he had ‘phoned his wife to walk to the village and meet him, so she could push it back for him, he was so exhausted. Hopefully he’ll throw the bike out at some point and we can rescue it for our free bike collection. He’s certainly never used it again after that first and fateful outing.
Next door, the two younger generations all weigh 90kgs plus. But, when we were chatting to the daughter and her husband on Saturday afternoon, they were going out for their daily walk too. ‘We try and do seven or eight kilometres,’ she said. which basically means walking into town and back. Do hope she doesn’t stop for an ice cream though when they get there.
The doctor who ‘prescribed’ exercise to the first two men was Peruvian, he’s gone from the village now, but what eminently sensible advice to give someone. No prescription for a silly gym. Just, get out of the car, and walk more. Of course, although people might well make a special effort to go for that walk, what they don’t do (with the exception of Walking Man) is build walking into their normal routine. Walk or cycle to the shops, don’t drive. My father would get the car out of the garage, pull out of the drive to go to the newsagent a couple of hundred yards down the street. You could have walked there faster. And all to buy a newspaper or a packet of fags. Honestly!
Meanwhile, as soon as I leave Gibraltar, chaos reigns. I received an email updating me about the dog’s Twitter account. No he doesn’t tweet either, but as neither of us log in, I’ve not got around to unsubscribing from the pesky emails.
ROYAL NAVY CONFRONTS SPANISH WARSHIP INVADING BRITISH/GIBRALTAR WATERS
Headline from the Daily Wail and full Daily Mail article here.
In summary, large Spanish warship decides to cruise into British/Gib waters and do some sabre-rattling. As you do when you have a country with nearly five million unemployed people and financial scandal surrounding the government about secret slush funds of £25M in Swiss bank funds.
According to the Gib Chron however, the figure in Spain unemployed is six mill, the highest since Spain returned to democracy following the Franco régime.
Over the border in La Linea, some 11,000 people are out of work in a town with a working population of 44,000. That’s an easy sum, 25%, slightly lower than the national average of 26%, but without Gibraltar it would be way higher.
Enough of politics however. Maybe next post. Time for some sunny Spanish pix from our beach walk. Our beach used to be a favourite location for wild camping by northern Europeans in campervans, but not any more. It seems there is a big clamp down. Given that there aren’t enough camp sites in winter, I see no reason for that.
There are a couple of chiringuitos (beach bars) down there, both run by the same people, but the one hasn’t been opened for some time. This time we went, it had been burned down. Doubt it was to claim on insurance as they probably don’t have any.
And the 48-hour vigil, which ended yesterday, by the Defenders of Gibraltar Group.