Happy pig

Top marks for everyone who has dutifully taken their history lesson and learned:

a) who ‘occupied’ Gibraltar and for how long [answers: Moslem 700+ years, British 300+ years, Spanish <250 years, added bonus point for those of you who remember it is currently a British Overseas Territory]

b) that England (later Great Britain) took Gibraltar in 1704 as part of the Spanish war of succession, and the rights to Gibraltar were later ceded by Spain in perpetuity to GB under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 at the end of the war of succession.

Remember that though, because there will be more on this next week.

Back to present-day Spain.

Wandering around our pueblo we noticed a new development at one of the local bar-restaurants (the village has six for some bizarre reason) – take-away pizzas. That could be useful for an evening meal. If we aren't asleep by the time it opens. Shall have to ask around and see if it is any good and find out when it opens.

Pizza para llevar
Pizza para llevar

The nearest pizza places before this were in town which is four kms away. Not exactly five minutes walk down the street, and cold and soggy before you return, so you might as well eat at the restaurant in town which is far too much like hard work.

On we walked around the houses lining the main road, and we noticed this new and extremely compact vegetable garden. Got to love the way people use space in Spain. In the UK, we like to have lots of space to wander around in and feel affluent. Here, many people use whatever tiny bit of space they have to best advantage.

Compact veg garden
Compact veg garden

The house itself has been reformed and has been for sale for some time now. The entrance is below street level and it's not a very big house. A British acquaintance we knew went to look at it (it was cheap) but obviously decided not to buy.

The reformed house
The reformed house

A closer look at the veg garden: peas, broad beans, runner beans, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. Pretty impressive. So impressive that when we returned home, we started making our plans for adding another veg plot on the terrace.

So little space, so many crops
So little space, so many crops

On the return leg we stopped to talk to a pig. As you do.

(Just out of the picture on the right is a young cockerel, but I have my own, so he didn't get his pic taken).

Happy pig?
Happy pig?

(The happy pig was the name of one of my childhood books – I loved it – happy pig had balloons and was generally such a smiley pig).

Hello pig.

Gently snoseing
Gently snoseing

Oh, here is his/her pal. With the evil eye.

Perhaps s/he didn't like my camera.

What's going on here?
What’s going on here?

So cute, rubbing their sensitive noses together.

Still got my eye on you though
Still got my eye on you though

Poor little porkers, they will probably end up as jamon serrano. It is ironic that I come to live in one of the best cured ham-producing countries in the world when I am vegetarian, but life is like that. And I couldn’t eat either of those pigs. Not even evil eye.

And back up the main street, one of the local fieldworkers ploughing his ground. I can't call them farmers because basically everyone rents the plots of ground so they are not landowners and they don't have farms. So while I say 'his' ground, I mean the ground he rents. He's never without a huge cigar in his mouth, but sadly he kept turning round to check his work as he was ploughing, so no pic of cigar. Maybe next time.

Earning a living
Earning a living

Still, on with the gardening/growing/crops theme, here is what is left of my nispero tree. One of two, both of which sadly we had to cut down because the roots were beginning to cause cracks in the walls and we didn’t want to see the wall in the street one day, especially not on top of someone or someone’s car.

A sad looking nispero stump
A sad looking nispero stump

Now being a right-on person and not using pesticides or herbicides, I didn’t want to use poison to kill it off. I did plenty of internet-searching and came up with a few options.

1) Dig it out.

All well and good but because it is in a narrow wall we couldn’t even get a spade in there. No leverage.

2) Salt.

This is meant to work, but apparently it doesn’t do much for the neighbouring part of the garden and remains in the soil. Another no.

3) Human urine.

Worth a go in the dark.

4) Chicken manure.

Got plenty of that too.

5) Seal up the stump to prevent the light getting to it.

Easy enough as well.

So, we reckoned on 3,4 and 5 as our options for a natural way to kill off the stump and roots.

It’s nearly two years since we cut them down, and initially after a period of a few months, I was sad to see that new shoots were vibrantly growing back, even under the plastic and black plastic pot.

This month however, those perky shoots seem to have died back. Could be a success story for urine and chicken manure. And certainly nothing else in the same patch of garden wall has any problems with growing. Two of my lettuces are right next to this tree stump.

Oh, and as well as being chemical-free, it was money-free as well.

When I’m not gardening, walking, cooking, or losing at cards at the finca (a disaster, I got beaten at seven card rummy and gin rummy) I’m reading.

Three books read were: two Jack Higgins, Exocet and Thunder Point, and Len Deighton’s Funeral in Berlin.

Good reads
Good reads

As soon as I started Exocet I realised I’d read it before. An officer in the Grenadier Guards is seconded to the SAS, goes to the Falklands, gets pulled back to do another job regarding the potential (illegal) acquisition of more Exocets by the Argentinian government. The story moves through UK, France, Falklands and Argentina, and is a good action novel. Also somewhat timely given the 30 year anniversary of the war conflict and the forthcoming sovereignty referendum in the Falkland Islands. Needless to state I read it again and enjoyed it all over. Sometimes books are often better the second time around.

Thunder Point had a wicked anti-hero, or villain for a goody. An ex-IRA killer, who went on to sell his services to any terrorist organisation, is employed (under duress) by the British Secret Service to carry out a job for them in the Caribbean. Another good read.

Funeral in Berlin was a different kettle of fish. Apart from anything else it was set in the Cold War period – hence the scene of activity being Berlin and lots of toing and froing across the wall.

I did get lost in some of the double deals and triple deals and twists with every turn, but that may have been because I read too quickly and I also read it at night. The plot is centred around the premise of the Russians selling a scientist to the west, but nothing is ever what it seems with Deighton.

What is good about both these authors, is that they are hard-hitting (in different ways) and although there are plenty of deaths, there are no gory details or gratuitous murders. The people in their books are professionals and killing is their job. Whether you or I agree with that is another matter, but at least they aren’t writing about sick psycho serial killers and giving us every vile horrific detail about victims being tortured to death.

Before we left Gib, our neighbour plonked a load of books with us. I managed to read one of them at the finca (after I had finished the decent library books). It was the Ravenscar Dynasty by Barbara Taylor Bradford.

This is not a book I would ever choose. But it was readable, at least it was largely set in Yorkshire (Ms Bradford comes from Leeds, and worked in journalism for the Yorkshire Post company so I suppose we have something in common) so that was a minor advantage. It’s about family feuds, family business, handsome hero and, well, you get the idea. Oh, everybody is rich too.

Not one I would recommend, because it isn’t my taste, but if you like that sort of thing then no doubt you would enjoy it. It wasn’t well written, it wasn’t badly written, it just wasn’t anything. Looking up Ms Bradford, I see that her original manuscripts are housed in the Brotherton Library of the University of Leeds alongside those of the Brontës. Does that mean they are comparable authors? I would like to think not. I see Ms Bradford even has an award (OBE) for services to literature. Um.

Speaking of awards I can neatly mention some of the ones I have totally failed to acknowledge over the past few months.

Thanks to the following:

Gerry at Restawyle for Blog of the Year 2012 (told you I was late)

Helen at The Venomous Bede for Versatile Blogger Award

Sisterhood of the World and Very Inspiring Blogger from being mrscarmichael

There were some questions with this sisterhood one, so I thought for once I would graciously answer them.

1) Favourite colour – sludge green

2) Favourite animal – all of them (excludes people of course)

3) Favourite non-alcoholic drink – tomato juice with ice, lemon and tabasco

4) Facebook or Twitter – neither

5) Favourite pattern – Vogue Designer by Armani (I think, because I don’t have it to hand) an asymmetrical jacket, short skirt, all seams over-stitched on the front, and the jacket stiffened with iron-on interfacing before it was put together. Great design. Pic to follow at some point when I remember.

6) Getting or giving presents – getting simple ones – food or flowers

7) Favourite number – 5 and all its multiples, followed by sevens, followed by twos

8) Favourite day of the week – Sunday, it is so peaceful in both Spain and Gib, and when I don’t have to work Monday, there is none of that depression that sets in post lunch when you start thinking about WORK. It’s also a great day to cycle or walk in Spain due to less traffic.

9) Favourite flower – gladioli, lilies, crocuses, jasmine, hibiscus – oh, only one?

10) My passion? – Not a word I use often, although it does occur in my about me page. Otherwise those of you who read Clouds can work out what I get remotely animated about (the latest post being about horse meat in lasagna). Those of you who don’t read Clouds will just have to wonder.

And on blog awards generally, about which I am extremely lax, I never realised there was any value in them until I read timethief’s excellent post about backlinks today.

I’ll end on a serious point for Valentine’s Day because it merits it. Maurice on Duck? Starfish? but…23 has written an excellent post commemorating a tragic oil industry disaster that happened 31 years ago on this day. Not just that, he points out we still don’t learn our lessons from history.

Well worth a read.

Better than reading blog posts about red roses – £45 a dozen today apparently – and no, thank goodness, he didn’t buy me any.


47 comments on “Happy pig

  1. So nice to read something interesting that’s not all red hearts and sugar.
    Sweetie pig and jealous cranky pig – had to laugh at those.
    Congrats on all the awards ( neatly handled)
    Oh, the horsemeat – will have to slide over there to read your take – bit interest here, too. Some have suddenly discovered that horses are bought for $50.00 and chopped up for export. (This is news? wake up people) And some of us would prefer the wild mustangs on federal lands not be rounded up for those slaughter houses.
    Not spending the day at the computer – sunny and almost 70 – Molly’s Valentine was a day at doggie camp with friends – also RC’s valentine (she’s delighted to be alone in the house and sitting in ALL the sunny windows). I think we are packing sandwiches and headed to walk the beach or something.
    Hope your day is perfect


    • I think Evil Eye Pig would look rather stunning with a red rose behind his/her ear, senorita style though. We’ve actually got enough room for a pig pen but I think they need ground too and we don’t have that, sadly. What was a pig pen currently houses the remains of a shed that we bought ten years ago. A shed pen in fact.

      Awards are one of those things that I appreciate receiving, but like many people, I have other things to write about. I would always pass them on to the same people anyway (ie virtually everyone who reads and comments on my blog). That’s why I don’t bother playing by the rules. I was mildly entertained with the questions though. Silly trivia that is sometimes quite interesting.

      Ah yes. America’s take on horsemeat. No longer acceptable to eat it, just to kill horses for production and export. Values eh?

      Sunny here and 17 earlier, so sounds pretty similar. Pippa met no doggies today so he is a very sad Valentine dog and very much appreciates Molly’s greetings. Sadly no cats to chase either. He did get lots of Valentine toast however which was a pretty good result in his opinion.

      Thank you. It’s been pretty good.


  2. I will need to get back to my comment if I remember or have the time. I am so glad your mate did not waste money on flowers.Just get some seeds or plants to put out in that expanded garden you were writing about? Was it this blog? I think? I had to scan (fast) most of what you had written.


    • No worries. Not half as glad as I was. £45 on flowers? That would keep us in food for a week. In fact he has never bought me red roses on Valentine’s Day, but he has bought me flowers on other days that meant more to me. (And cost less!).

      Yup, it was this blog where I was talking about building a new veg plot on our terrace. It is tiled though, so we need to make an area to add soil. If that makes sense.


  3. His lordship fled to work on the house in San Jose just in case I had any ideas….which I hadn’t as the commercialism gets me down.

    The tiny garden reminds me of a row of houses near a supermarket we used in France…pocket handkerchief gardens tended by retired men keen to be out of the house and packed to the lugs with plants.

    I loved the suspicious piggy…not wanting to miss out on anything but decidedly wary as to what the something might be….


  4. Two here, one in France that I would love to sell….French banks seem to have turned off the money supply even for French civil servants….I had three would be buyers last year, only needing a top up…but no.
    So…if you know of anyone wanting a house in the Loire Valley…send them my way.


        • Oh dear. Then I don’t think it will make the grade. I think the posh in town thing is a particular hotel or some such name in french. I on the other hand think your mini chateau sounds delightful. I seriously considered France for a long time, but I’ve got rather used to Andalucía, and it is somewhat nearer to Gib.


          • Hotel particulier as in belonging to a private individual or family as opposed to a royal or state entity.

            The place falls between two stools…much too big for a charming rural cottage, and much too small to house a Russian oligarch and his bevy of mistresses.

            Knocks your eye out, though, all the same.


          • Yeah, that’s the one Hp, I mean (not the sauce).

            Oh dear, you should have learned by now, always go for the bottom end of the market, always easier to sell. I’m just an endless first-time buyer.

            Sounds like it would knock out my bank balance as well. I’ll need to prowl around to see if you have some pix of said not a chateau on one of your many blogs.


          • No pics whatsoever on the blogs.

            We never think we are going to move on…that’s the problem.
            We see something, like it, buy it and live in it and then see something else; like it buy it and live in it…

            We did rent it out…but had an American family from hell so what with that and French rental law it’s just sitting there being cared for.


          • We let out holiday houses for years…so I thought we’d met all the oddballs possible but these were special.

            Taking the biscuit was complaining that cattle shat in the field beyond the lawn….


          • That is class! We just had the sort who broke all the rules, you know, no sub-letting, no using the property for a business (child-minding, not covered under insurance), local rules saying only one dog and one cat so they had four dogs! etc


  5. When commenting on blogs I like to harp on one single thing. You know you cause me endless frustration because each post gives me at least 2–generally more–things to weigh in on. This one–even more. Alright, here goes:
    1–synchronycity. Pizza–you know it’s true ’cause I just commented, using pizza, on ‘clouds.’
    2–pig does not have an evil eye. He/She’s grinning ’cause he/she knows you won’t eat him/her.
    3–your #3 (technically it was #1, eh, heh heh). Okay–laughing again at the thought. That is THREE times you have done it this this evening.
    4–I have just decided to call that minivan of mine exocet. I have my reasons.
    5–Your #10. Okay–that’s FOUR times. Yes, I read ‘clouds.’ :>)


    • Sorry about the multiplicity of topics. Makes it easier mainly for me of course, to cram a load of stuff in at once, that I consider to be vaguely related. And gives people a choice on what to comment, no obligation to reply to all topics.

      Pizza, just laughing. I won’t even ask if it was any good.
      Aw, both pigs were cute. Differently.
      Sorry about incurring too much laughter. Luckily I am off to bed.
      We do give our vehicles names. Usually female. Nothing as vicious as exocet. A minivan called exocet?
      I know you read Clouds, so do other readers on here. But not everyone does, so if they want a different style of blogging, people need to read over there, because roughseas is normally a sedate blog. Well, sort of.


  6. Three houses is the perfect number. The mini chateau sounds nice. A pal of mine has one in the Dordogne. Turrets, moat, the lot. I don’t covet the chateau but the garden is to die for. I could probably afford one if I sold something here in HK. Not the dog of course. We’d keep her. But a flat maybe. Hmmmm. But then we’d have to live under the ‘government’ of M. Hollande and that doesn’t sound much fun.

    The porcine pair look rather splendid. I’m sorry to relate that Mrs. H and I consider Spanish pork chops the absolute best. Like Pakistan’s mangos. Can’t be beaten. Nevertheless I could never eat a dear friend and once you and porky have been formally introduced and swapped visiting cards then the prospect of munching on his meat is simply off the menu.

    I shall have to go over to the cloud but another pal with a different place in the Dordogne (said pals are convivial neighbours when en vacance) tells me that in his village the butcher’s counter with the longest queues is that for horsemeat. Shergar’s revenge, peut-être?


    • As many houses as possible is the perfect number in terms of long-term investment/renting out etc. I don’t actually agree with having more than one home (!) but circumstances have dictated (ie moving around) that I’ve spent more of my married life with two houses than one.

      One of the downsides is, that unless you rent out, you feel obliged to use the other house for holidays. I know, it’s such a pain having a ‘holiday home’. I think wanting ground/garden is such a British thing. While my outside space in Spain is small, living in a flat with no outside space has given me a totally different sense of perspective.

      I didn’t take you for a potential vegetarian. Oddly naturalists never seem to be (you will now come back and tell me 100s who were/are). When I was a kid in the YOC, later the RSPB and also the WWF, it did actually cross my mind that if I was so interested in all this animal/bird life why I was eating them, but I rapidly pushed that to one side.

      It would seem that horse meat is cheap. That may explain a lot. I have moved onto donkey burgers on Clouds. That ride on the beach will never be the same. Poor old Shergar. Do hope he is having a quite neigh somewhere at all this fuss.


  7. I saw this post and the piggy piccies earlier but I got sidetracked on the Clouds donkey post… impossible not to. Good to revist the cheeky pigs. Pig 2 looks like it’s sizing you up and finding you acceptable. My afternoon walk from the train involves lots of cat pats, possibility of dog but nary a pig. I’m feeling bereft.
    Good luck with the takeaway pizza. Such things if they work out, are gold. Especially as you are going into Summer, it would be nice to sit outside with a beer & pizza somewhere that’s not home but not too far.
    In the Sydney apartment world compact/balcony/courtyard/communal gardens are all the rage…well, everything that’s old becomes new again.
    We have a tree root at TA that keeps re-shooting. I’ll try the plastic bag remedy. Not sure about the others. We have a neighbour who when he’s had too many beers wanders off into the garden for a pee. Maybe I’ll point him in the direction of the tree root.
    Congrats on the awards, and thanks for reminding me I have a couple to acknowledge as well befoe I can consider 2012 done & dusted. Nice segue from the book topic(s).


    • I totally blame you for the style of the donkey burger post! You just encourage and incite me. However this post is about not eating pigs, rather than not eating horses or donkeys. Actually the place next to them used to have loads of pigs, and piglets, plus lots of draught cattle, but for some reason they have all gone and the place is up for sale. I’m sure you can imagine how soppy I got over the piglets. I love pigs. I can never understand where the myth of them being filthy came from. Look at those two, they are immaculate. Probably cleaner than me.

      If the pizza place does work out, the only place we would be sitting would be outside on our terrace in our own space. It’s probably not even five minutes walk back home if you leg it.

      I’m not sure which worked with the tree stumps. As we’ve not applied either of the other two for some time, it could well be the plastic bag plus plantpot = light deprivation over a period of time. We had a neighbour who used to do that too. He’s since moved. We, or rather he, found first thing in the morning the most convenient time, Spaniards are too night-owlish for our liking. Not helped by the fact that the street light shines onto our garden. If I can find them again, I can always send you the links that I used when I was looking up what to do.

      You know me and awards. a) I genuinely forget about them b) I like to acknowledge that someone enjoys my blog/s and c) there is no way I’m playing by the rules. Got too many other things to write about.


  8. Good post – I like the tiny vegetable patch. My previous garden was quite small so I experimented with lots of intensive plots and was always surprised just how much I could grow and harvest. Perhaps next year you could try growing your own red roses in a similarly sized space?
    That Len Deighton book (and Funeral in Berlin) was one of my favourites. I remember buying them and reading them in a sort of snobby way because all my pals were reading Ian Fleming Bond books, although I did read them as well!
    Well done on the awards, I read that post by timethief but didn’t really understand it. My stats have really gone down since Google made changes to picture search so perhaps I need to reread it and participate but I don’t like all this ‘tell us about yourself’ stuff – I mean who cares that my favourite colour is blue?


    • Thanks. I was just about to read your Ios post!

      If you include the buds, there’s a baker’s dozen in the photo on this post!


      Small gardens are interesting though. You have to focus more on what you’re doing without the luxury of space. I think the difficulty is the rotation. I thought my container was too small to divide into three, hence just chucking loads of beans in, so now I’m wondering whether I can get a second crop from them by cutting down the haulms, whether to have a quick lettuce crop, or whether to go straight for brassicas and hope to get a crop before summer. Decisions, decisions. That’s why another plot, and maybe slightly terraced to separate the beds would be useful. I found that tiny plot really inspiring.

      I didn’t read Bond or Deighton when I was young. I did read The Saint though, probably because I had a crush on Roger Moore. I like the Bernard Sampson sets (game and match etc), but our library doesn’t seem to have all of them which is a real pain. So I’ve got gaps in the stories. I’ve actually got an autobiography by Benazir Bhutto to start next, but I need some time to sit down without any distractions, ie cooking cleaning blah blah, internet etc. I must remember to look for Brennan when I take back this latest lot of books.

      I’m not into awards which is why I never bother passing them on, but I think it is courteous to acknowledge those blog authors who have been thoughtful enough to name me. I don’t usually like ‘Tell me all about yourself’ either, but for some strange reason I felt like doing that one. I bet nobody else has sludge green for a favourite colour (the colour of my Barbour jacket is exactly the colour I’m thinking of). I care deeply that blue is your favourite colour but think it depends what sort of blue – cerulean blue, prussian blue (had an oil painting discussion elsewhere which is why I mention those colours), turquoise, boring old navy blue (school uniform colour), royal blue? You need to be specific. Blue isn’t sufficient.

      If you read TTs reply to mine, she is saying they aren’t of much value. So there you go. Her previous post was interesting. I got totally distracted with the first link to Lorelle who wrote some really sound information.

      I haven’t looked at my stats for ages! And as for people who click like as soon as I publish a post when I don’t even have a like button activated?!


  9. This is kind of an “out of the blue” question for you, but there are few bloggers out there with personal knowledge of Gibraltar. I found the following reference:
    The History of Gibraltar – From the Earliest Period of Its Occupation by the Saracens
    By Don Ignacio López de Ayala, translated by James Bell
    London: William Pickering, 1845
    pages 15 – 16
    “In the time of Portillo a ditch was commenced in the front of the new wall at South Port, in which was a pond noted for its noisy frogs, and a well of sweet water, called La Tarosca. A few paces farther on was another well of good and excellent water, which was drunk throughout the city.”
    Have you ever heard of “La Tarosca”? Do you know what this name translates to in English?
    Thanks for your help.


    • Hi John

      Here is a bit more info about Southport Ditch – http://wp.me/p1XwsS-xd

      (The pix blow up larger, they are small because I imported the blog from my previous one on blogger).

      I haven’t heard of La Tarosca, but I’m happy to ask, look it up at the libraries etc

      Is the spelling accurate – tarasca means a drain on resources, or a big mouth, which could be applied to a well.

      There isn’t a reference to a well on the information sign at Southport Ditch that I remember but I will check next time I walk past, ie tomorrow morning.

      As for other nearby wells, there is one not too far away on Rosia Road, by Jumpers Bastion. I’ve taken some pix in the past, but it will be easier to take a new one rather than hunt out the old one, so I’ll try and remember to post that next week.


  10. I enjoy the history lessons I am reading very much.

    Re: getting rid of the weeds
    Try pouring boiling water on them. You may have to pour it on more than once but it works for killing many different kinds of weeds.


    • Thanks for the comment re history. As I am a huge history person, I’m always worried about people who find it boring, there is nothing worse than endless tedious stale text that just sends people to sleep. And it is even worse on the internet than on the written page. And while I could write a full-time history blog, I know people don’t want history all the time. Although my next post will more than likely be another history one!

      I’ve read about boiling water before. In fact, I’m not sure if I used that as well on the tree stump. For normal weeds though, I’m happy to just take them out, gets me outside and is a pleasant way to spend a morning


  11. Loved the pig pictures … that naughty look is priceless!

    I’ve read many books by Ms. Bradford, while I traveled more by train and bus. Right now, I’m so into reading a lady by the name of Maureen Lee. They’re so good … if you ever come across one, please try. They’re all about Liverpool.

    Oh, and I so totally agree with you on answer #2! :lol:


  12. I just LOVE those piggy pics, is that you tickling his/her nose?
    I had a bit of a titter at the thought of you both piddling on a tree stump in the middle of the night :lol:


    • It’s A doing the tickling while I was taking the pic, I’m not clever enough to tickle nose and take pic. Cheeky pig did open mouth thought expecting treats so felt a bit guilty that we didn’t have any. A has long delicate fingers for what that’s worth!

      Er, A, again on the tree stump, thank you very much. I doubt I could have reached!


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