Best of Both Worlds

Happy 2014 to all my regular readers and anyone else who chances upon this esoteric mix of life in Gib and Spain. Or perhaps that should be eclectic. Maybe both.

New Year’s Day was spent happily tidying up the finca, and returning to Gib. The reverse of Christmas Day which was spent happily tidying up the flat and returning to Spain.

On Christmas Day Gib was pretty flooded out. Not to be defeated, Partner dressed up in his orange condom suit of waterproofs and navigated the Land Rover around Gib in four wheel drive, past various abandoned cars, on a road that was later closed by the Royal Gib Police.

Flooding in Gib (this wasn't the bad road)
Flooding in Gib (this wasn’t the bad road)

Eventually we set off and had a peaceful journey up to Spain.

roughseasinthemed near the finca
roughseasinthemed near the finca

It was equally peaceful when we arrived, poor weather so no sign of our neighbours. Turned out they were imprisoned inside because they both had bronchitis. Poor old dears. Our time in Spain isn’t the same without them leaning over the wall interfering with my gardening or chatting about nothing in particular. And even from their sick bed, one of the daughters was instructed to give us a food bag.

Another good veg haul from next doors
Another good veg haul from next doors

You can’t see the caquis (pronounced cacis). Caca (Spanish for shit) more like. Vile they are, I gave them to the cockerel, hope he enjoys them.

After a week of doing nothing (us), we finally saw our elderly neighbours, both in their late 80s, this morning before we left. It was good to see them, because one always worries about older people who are sick in winter – or even in the summer heat waves. Older people are the first to die in either olas de calor or olas de frío.

There is no central heating in our village (no mains gas), although some people have electric dual systems, air conditioning in summer/heating in winter, but for most of us in winter the warmest place is normally outside in the sun. But, next doors have this wonderful invention called chapas over their terrace to keep off the sun in summer. Chapas are sheets of corrugated steel that look like something out of shanty town. José has spent the last ten years trying to persuade me to have them and I have point blank refused.

Because although they keep off the sun in summer, they also keep it off in winter, which is when you really need the sun. So my poor neighbours are shivering inside in a house with a measly electric fire, and not enough warmth outside on the terrace. No wonder they have bronchitis.

So not seeing them for the past week was the down side of the break. Normally today on New Year’s Day we would stand together and drink anís and eat grapes soaked in anís. Might have done them some good actually as they were both very hoarse.

But I was in festive mood this year for once. Before we left Gib I put up my meagre decorations, which I had acquired last year. I did annex a tree but as I didn’t have ornaments it didn’t make it this time around. I did, however, put up a tree in the finca. Couldn’t find the base, so put it on a chair surrounded with paint pots to keep it straight. Partner had to interfere, and put it in a waste paper bin weighed down with paint pots. Regardless it looked jolly, if slightly at an angle.

But working much further backwards, how about a quick review of 2013? Last year’s was done by month in contrast to the previous themed year, so I’ll revert to themed again.

On a personal level, work ie the need for money, dominated the year. For the first part of the year, Partner could get no paid employment, nor did he get any self-employed jobs. It goes without saying that no-one wanted to employ me. But luckily there was a fair bit of maintenance work to do on our block, so that brought in a small crust for him, and no full-time paid work also meant the flat got a bit of attention. While I don’t get paid for my work chairing the block management committee, I have to say it is satisfying to be able to get necessary work done to a good standard. Nobody likes to walk into a scruffy building, and having the front door, hallway and staircase repainted certainly makes the place look better and makes it feel more like your own home.

Come July, he fell back onto the old firm who he worked for last year and it was back to the 8-5.30 grindstone of the construction industry, and me opening the sandwich bar at 6.30 am to prepare his food for work.

Luckily that didn’t last too long as I cleverly sprained my ankle in August, this was the second major event of the year, and the third of course, was the adoption of the rescue Podenco who appeared in August while I was still hobbling painfully.

Sleepy Podenco tucked up safely in someone's jacket
Sleepy Podenco tucked up safely in someone’s jacket

Partner worked all hours under the hot Mediterranean sun while I limped around at the finca uselessly and looked after the tiny puppy. There is something about taking a new animal into your home that is very powerful and does change your life significantly, even when you already have one (or more). Pix & kardz has expressed similar thoughts after acquiring her cat Timmy this year.

So that was a riveting year on a personal level.

What about a little wider?

Well, anyone who has dipped in and out of these roughseas will know about border queues at the frontier with Spain and the fishing dispute where Spanish fishers want to ‘hoover up the fish’ in Gib/British waters – in the words of a Brit MP.

Constitutionally, the Treaty of Utrecht was signed 300 years ago where Spain ceded Gib to Great Britain in perpetuity – and has been trying to get it back ever since.

And in another British Overseas Territory, the Falkland Islanders unsurprisingly decided to remain British in a referendum in March, by 99.8%. I think that is fairly decisive, Ms Kirchner (of Argentina). Not that Spaniards or Argentinians respect self-determination when it goes against their ‘post-colonialist’ ambitions.

I do detest the attitude that says ‘these territories are still British colonies, and need to be decolonised by us taking them over.’ Er?????? And if I hear the alleged justification of territorial integrity once more I will go down and lie in a nice quiet corner. Because that is basically ‘might is right’. Or the biggest country takes over everywhere. So colonial don’t you think?

The Falklands leads me neatly onto La Thatcher, who died in April 2013. My first Thatcher post was also the one that got the most comments last year (77, but that includes mine obviously). Not surprising as many of my commenters are not just my age, but also British, so there are very few British people who didn’t live through Thatcher years without having a strong view about her.

Just to remind anyone who didn’t read the earlier posts (in April), my main gripe was her destruction of British industry, of trade unions, of the working class, selling off council housing right left and centre, attempting to privatise the health service and move to that ghastly American insurance-based system -aaagh! need I go on? And, as I said last year, I didn’t agree with the Falklands War. But with hindsight, I do now, very much so.

I thought she went to war to boost her electoral standings. I now think she genuinely wanted to defend the sovereign realm.

And from one controversial figure to a much-loved peace-maker. The former terrorist Nelson Mandela. Another famous death this year. I have read a lot of adulatory tributes, and a few criticisms saying perhaps he wasn’t quite so perfect. I have no strong view, he didn’t impact on my life and my knowledge of South African politics was, and still is, zilch.

As far as I can see, he joined the ANC, the South African Communist Party and co-founded the militant Umkhonto me Sizwe. However you look at it, he was involved in sabotage against the government, training in guerilla warfare, and broke the law. Sometimes people have to do that to get change in our society. Democracy doesn’t bring change, radical activity does.

So contrast the two, Thatcher and Mandela. One destroyed a large part of the country (working class, industry, unions, – all largely northern – while the southern part of the UK prospered), the other brought together a split nation. Thatcher defended the Falklands, Mandela sought peace and the end of cruel discrimination. His nation was threatened internally, hers was threatened externally. She has been vilified, he has been called a terrorist, and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Who would be a woman in politics?

Last century – not just last year – I remember reading a quote from an American president – but I don’t have the time or appetite to hunt down who said it: ‘you can be a good American president by doing blah blah blah, but to be a great one you have to go to war.’

Anyway to end on a lighter note, 2013 was a good year for freebies. Clothes (best jacket was from the street), dinner set, bread bin, pans, painting scuttle, mop buckets, roller pole, radios, timber, Land Rover roof rack, 70+ books, loads of fruit and veg from next doors – and – a free dog. Some of these were acquired from the street, others were given to us. A good year for recycling, if nothing else.

And the title? It refers to my schizophrenic life. The busy city life in Gib, and the peaceful life in Spain. The calm and tranquility of being time rich and money poor when out of work, and the busy-ness that returns when employment rears its head again – complete with regular income. Two very different lives, both with their pros and cons. It coincidentally happens to refer to a housing development in Gib on the eastern side called Both Worlds – one side is available for everyone, the other side is specifically for over 50s. While it’s right on the beach, it’s a bit of a hike from town.

Both Worlds, east side of Gib
Both Worlds, east side of Gib

Me, I love to live within the city walls when I’m not idling at the finca. The beach in Spain always makes for a fine walk.

Enjoying the beach
Enjoying the beach

Although the construction shut-down doesn’t end until Monday, we’re already back into that city life, and gearing up for work again. Well, I’m gearing up for getting up at 6am, taking out the little dog, and making breakfast and sandwiches. He’s already thinking about running up and down eight floors of scaffolding.

Hope you have all enjoyed a lovely Christmas and New Year break and that 2014 brings you whatever you desire. It’s been good to meet new blogging friends and retain old ones over the past year. Look forward to reading all your blogs – your thoughts, your stories, your photos, whatever it is that makes your blog uniquely personal.


83 comments on “Best of Both Worlds

  1. Raining like hell here too. Fun and games re: The Thatch will begin again as State Papers for 1984 are declassified. Blood pressure warnings abound. As far as I am aware, when the decision was taken for the “armed struggle” against the SA Govt., Mandela accepted that it probably had to be taken but nonetheless distanced himself from it and refused to either support or, I suppose significantly, condemn it. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, eh ?
    I hope you have a good year and the sun shines for you. Gonna be in sunny Spain myself in June(ish) and looking forward to it.
    Best wishes for 2014.


    • For us the rain doesn’t usually last long – it didn’t. That one day’s rain was all we had.

      1984 state papers – that will be interesting. I wonder how many references to Orwell there will be? I think I’ll start drafting my post on it now.

      As I said, I am ignorant of SA politics. One can put so many different spins on the whole SA situation, especially if you start delving into the history and look into white settlers, apologies, reparation etc. There’s never a perfect solution, but to anyone with a shred of civility, apartheid in SA was a vicious and ugly system, just like the discrimination in the US. The difficulty comes when apartheid/racial segregation has been officially dismantled – and the same old prejudices continue. Just as hard to fight against. I do love that quote about terrorist or freedom fighter. It’s rather like rewriting history with hindsight…

      Spain will def be sunny in June and HOT. Well, it will in my part of Spain, but not so hot in el norte. Hope to read about your plans/travel/hol later this year then.

      Thank you. Igualmente.


    • Hello Jen and Rumpy
      Thank you and to you all. I know the life does seem idyllic. I’m incapable of writing about the gloom and doom, so for the most part I sound like a happy little person, content with my lot as it is, which is probably the case. Because if you dwell on the down side, it doesn’t help things anyway. Best to look on the bright side of life ;) I might try and write one gloomy post this year though :D


  2. And a happy new year to you, too. I shall be dropping in regularly to read more Roughseas posts. I loved the startling comparison between Thatcher and Mandela – good food for thought, and as you say – who’d be a woman in politics – can’t name one around these days who’d make you quake in your boots. Shirley Williams was always a favourite.
    Your Spanish beach looks delightful – no crowds which makes for the best sort of beach any time (what’s it like in the summer?)
    Oh – and why is it that men are always better at anchoring the Christmas tree? That job always falls to my husband too.


    • Hi Jenny, hope to see you from time to time in 2014, always enjoy your comments (and your blog). I couldn’t resist the Thatcher/Mandela comparison. As world events pretty much pass me by, those two deaths were a couple that actually flitted across my radar. Probably courtesy of other bloggers if I’m honest. Who needs news when you read blogs? I could have written far more about them both (although my Mandela knowledge is scanty and based solely on John Pilger), but I’d done Thatcher to death – so to speak – in April, and, I didn’t want it to dominate the post (even if it did!). Interesting though, that the two who hated each other died within months of each other. As for women in politics, what about Barbara Castle? I think people who did admire Thatcher, whether or not they agreed with her politics, admired her for her strength, resolution and determination. The inventor of conviction politics. Of course, it helped to bring her down in the end. That and the fact that the British people get bored with the same government all the time.

      Beach in summer:
      It’s from my blogger days so pix are small but will blow up. It actually looks fairly quiet which is odd as I always think it is packed in summer!

      He is NOT better at anchoring the tree! He just thinks he is. Although I have to say it did look better in the plastic bin than just surrounded by paint pots. I found the missing base when I put the tree away :D – after I had blamed him for throwing it out.


    • Haha Helen. Loved it. Trouble is, I’m not cluttering up my blog with any sort of badges and awards. If I did, that would be one to use though. But from a practical point of view, the more clart you have on a sidebar the more distracting it is and the longer the blog takes to load. I am nothing if not user friendly. I shall pass it on though in the spirit of blogging awards :)

      Thanks Helen, I enjoy yours too. And your comments on here. I write when I have something to say. I really loathe all these ghastly prompts and challenges. My only exception being the weekly photo challenge which I do from time to time if I can put a different twist on it. But really, if I need someone to give me ideas for what to write, I shouldn’t be writing and neither should half the idiots that indulge in that sort of exercise. They might as well be doing homework at school. Do children still do homework I wonder? Maybe from their iPad?

      I’m old enough to be happy with seeing yet another year, and so long as it isn’t bad, that = good for me. I hope yours goes well too. Perhaps your cantankerous neighbour will fall into a water pipe or drain or deposito of his own making.


      • No, I don’t put them up either…but I loved the idea of it.
        I did one challenge – by the back door, as I noticed a map on somone else’s blog and had a go at it myself – but I can’t get to grips with people who need prompts and whatnot to write.
        I do it…like everything else – my way.

        The Neighbour is currentyly trying to sell his finca – or what’s left of it – as it has finally dawned on him that by refusing to co operate in the Great Water Redistribution Plan brought about by his meddling with the system he will not have any water when the Plan sees the light of day.
        Accordingly the two families who live at the access to his place are busy flagging down unknown cars and putting potential buyers right…

        All good fun if you don’t weaken….

        And what is all this about not liking persimmons?
        Unless they are those ghastly Israeli sharon fruit, that is.


        • It was a good idea, I have to say. If I ever got pressed, I would probably put something somewhere that said ‘This blog has been freshly pressed but I am so not putting a badge up to say so,’ which of course would defeat the object!

          What gets up my nose are the blogs that do nothing but challenges. Plus the challenges are so general there is nothing inventive about them. I’m left wondering what these people would post if they didn’t do challenges. Each to their own I suppose.

          The question is though, how long will it take for the Plan to actually be implemented?

          No, they are definitely date plums, persimmons whatever you want to call them. I had to look up the English as I only know them as caqui/caca. The neighbours gave them to us years ago and we both screwed up our faces simultaneously and we have avoided them ever since. I may give them another try. If I am feeling bold and daring the next time the neighbours give us some.


          • They have to be bletted, like medlars….otherwise they are so astringent your mouth is dry for hours, quite apart from the taste…
            The skins should start to be translucent and the flesh within softening.

            The Plan might well be a five year one the way things are going… year down already which is quite fast for co operation between a large number of people sometimes with decidedly conflicting ideas about water use….and all fixed until one man – the one whose land was to carry the main pipe…backed out.
            I gather he was to be interviewed by someone with a machete over the holiday period.

            Then we have to go through the hoops of getting legal rights of way imposed by government, not by private agreement and sort out the tangle of who pays what to whom in this respect at rates to be set by a specialist taxation court….

            Still, after France it is a doddle, machetes included.

            As to the challenges….it makes me wonder why people take up blogging…I can see those with something to sell doing it but apart from that if you need to be prompted to write, why did you start?


          • Never heard of bletting. A bit like never eaten caquis before. We had a quince tree once and my neighbour was desperate for them so we told her to help herself. But back to caca. They aren’t sold bletted, and my neighbours don’t blet them either, so will have a go if they give me them again. Sounds a bit like eating ripe figs – which – I do adore, can’t get enough of them. Not that I buy them, I just wait for the gifts.

            I am loving the Plan. And the developments, or side plots/plans?

            One of the reasons I like my part of Spain is that it is still pretty lawless. Or at least people do their own thing and find a way around most inconveniences. No machetes that I know of, but there are probably a few kicking around.

            The Franco era left its mark, ie informers and people being carted off to jail to die/be killed, eg my neighbour’s father. You do not dob your neighbours in (eg British mentality about somebody working and claiming the dole), you look after your neighbours and they look after you. What they do is their business. You walk past the drug deals, you ignore the drunk drivers, although keep well out of their way. State interference and control is A Bad Thing. Well it is to me, as I don’t like being told what to do by some half-wit.

            I wouldn’t mind selling my writing but I never seem to get around to it. Anyway I shall write me a post this week on Clouds about ignoramus bloggers. If I was being dictatorial – which I am not of course – I would delete 80% or more of blogs.


          • OK, I wouldn’t really delete them. I am just suggesting there are relatively few decent ones out there, let alone good ones. It also depends on your interests too. I am sure photographers are fascinated with each other’s close up of a wildebeests left nostril or whatever, but it does little for me. Similarly cookery blogs telling you how to boil pasta and make tomato sauce. Etc.


    • The floods are due to the inadequate rainwater drainage system. Even though they have carried out repairs and renewed some pipes in the main problem areas, the volume of water that can come down in 24 hours is just too much for the system to cope.

      That’s a neat quote. It also feeds my prejudice about the intellectual capacity of American presidents.


  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, a refreshing lift to the winter doldrums :-)
    Your Finca looks very welcoming with the decorations, you did far more than I did in that department.
    The beach looks wonderful, oh to be able to wander along a deserted beach, I so wish I lived nearer the coast.
    Two pics of the rubbish bin pup……and non of dear Pippa? Tut tut!


    • Thanks Vicky. Still looking for the summer eh? I used to like doing Christmas decs, and until I found some in the street in Gib (TT syndrome kicking in), we didn’t have anything here in Gib, and I never know which house we were going to be at for Chirstmas/New Year anyway, so this year it worked out nicely with a little something at both houses.

      There was one other person on the beach, but it’s big enough for the odd influx of one or two people. And it’s great for giving Snowy a run. I did think about adding a Pippa pic. But we didn’t take him down the beach – too cold, damp, arthritis so too far to walk etc – and Snowy was something new this year, whereas Pippa is, well, just Pippa. Maybe I’ll add Pippa next time, and there will be another post on his blog soonish (if I ever sort out the movie :D).


  4. Happy New Year! This is the time of year for chilly, too wet, and worry about colds getting dangerous. Had to laugh about the neighbor’s metal roof – you see that on barns in rural areas – but Dad used to say “never to put it on houses: it’ll broil you in the summer, freeze you in the winter, and is awfully loud when it rains.”
    So hard to relax and enjoy that “time rich” when not working, but looking backwards, it is a gift if you can manage. What you do around the block is a job – and makes living there better. It must be difficult to deal with personalities though.
    You found a Land Rover roof rack? Cool!
    Enjoyed your yearly review – with the normal humor and insights.
    Hope this year brings lots of adventures and happiness. (Snow is bound to be a good luck charm. Paw waves to Pippa, too!)


    • Not too bad here, moderate temps in Gib, colder in Spain. Both are pretty sub-tropical climates and my pueblo seems to have its own micro-climate.

      Your dad’s view so sums up mine. We were discussing it only last weekend. What is the point of having a tin roof with the sun blazing out of a totally clear sky in temps of 40 degrees? It’s radiated heat. It’s like sitting in an oven. Stupid. And yes, it does sound like a dustbin in the rain. It means you can sit on the terrace and do your garden, but I just put on a coat and garden anyway. And sit inside in the kitchen with the door open watching the rain. Of course, not having chapas means all my plants get watered by the rain too :)

      Construction is a funny industry. When the works there it is hard work, and then, when the job is finished it is over. It is insecure, but at the same time, it means some time off without any pressure when he is laid off. Plus there is usually some redundancy, holiday pay for leave not taken, and when he was laid off last time, I think we managed for four months without diving into savings. The only worry is when you have to go a year or so without work – the first few months are fine, but then it begans to gnaw away at you as you wonder when/if there will be more work.

      Yup, the block work is a job. When we first bought here, our solicitor told us that the chair of a management committee often got their charges waived, but as no-one has suggested it, (they are all too mean in my block), I can live with the satisfaction of being in control, keeping the block clean and tidy, and ensuring the finances are spent prudently.

      The roof rack was a friend’s. He’d originally planned to fit it to his, but he has some fancy air con system and it would all have needed altering so he gave it to us as a thank you after we had helped him with a couple of jobs on his Landy.

      This year has whizzed past. I did look through old blog posts for the year, but sometimes it is easier to do a summary with whatever comes to mind. After all, if you haven’t remember things, they can’t have been that significant.

      Thank you, and to you too. The good luck charm is currently on morning madness which = attacking Pippa and my wooden chair. Hey Molly, come and help eat this chair please?


    • We left the UK twelve years ago, bought in Spain, and then later bought a flat in Gib, while keeping the finca. Hence the blog is about life in Gib and Spain. While Gib life is dearer (well food is), at least Partner can get work here. Spanish life is cheaper but eats into our savings, hence swings and roundabouts.

      Leaving the UK was due to our mid-life crisis, ie I didn’t want to die in an office, and we wanted to recapture the travel and idle lifestyle of our twenties when we first met. Buying in Gib was due to wanting to invest in another property, but not in Spain with all eggs in one basket. Does that answer – vaguely – your questions?


      • Yes, thank you. I didn’t realize you had two home bases, so to speak. That explains a lot. Hats off to you – I don’t want to die in an office, either!! :) I am tentatively looking into teaching jobs in Europe with the expectation of some time abroad in places I would love to explore before I am too old to enjoy things…. We’ll see how it goes. One daughter is still at home so it will have to wait a wee bit…


        • I actually started the blog when we were in Spain before we bought Gibflat, but I can’t imagine anyone reading back seven years or more :D In fact quite a lot of people in Gib have places in Spain, not that everyone here is rich (although some are) but nearly everyone lives in a flat, either private, rented, or govt rented and it is nice to have more space in Spain for weekends or holidays.

          I do follow a blog of an American woman, teaching in Belgium (on a NATO base), and there seem to be quite a few in Spain. I’ll have a look and post the link back in here. Although she is in Belgium she does travel around Europe for holidays. If you haven’t travelled around Europe I do recommend it. One of my best trips was on a month’s interrail ticket back in my twenties. In my later years, apart from city breaks (Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid) we’ve tended to travel around Spain because we like the culture (obviously), it’s relatively cheap, and there is so much to see.


          • There you go, it was under my ‘More blogs I visit’ page. Linky no seem to worky, but I’m sure you can find it from there. It may work on the page connection.

            American in Belgium


          • I’m more interested in the out of the way ‘real’ places than the cities – most cities have elements to them that erase any cultural experience (after a while they all seem very much alike in some ways). I have only been to Europe once, several years ago, and loved it so much that my new goal is to return as soon as I can save my pennies up…


          • I love European cities, probably because I love the architecture and the old buildings and all the history imbued in them. I think everywhere can be ‘real’ – just depends on how you go about it. It’s a bit like saying the Costa del Sol isn’t ‘real Spain’ because it is full of northern Europeans drinking lager and getting sunburnt as quickly as possible. It’s largely full of Spaniards drinking rum and coke and getting as brown as quickly as possible. Most Spaniards holiday in their own country. If they are adventurous they will go to the Balearics or the Canaries.

            I’m obviously using Spain as an example because of living here but it applies equally elsewhere. The twee idyllic little unchanged villages don’t represent ‘real Spain’ any more than the cities, or the coastal resorts. My village is as ‘real Spain’ as anywhere, but it would be boring as hell to visit. a) there is nothing to see, no touristy attractions and b) you would never get anywhere as they are very insular and don’t particularly like strangers (from anywhere – including Spain). Sure you might chat to people in a bar, but that’s bar life anywhere.

            If I was travelling around Europe again, I would do exactly the same as I did last time, and that was to visit the timeless cities, buildings, monuments, museums, churchces, archaeology sites etc. I’m probably just a city woman at heart :D


          • And I just a country bumpkin! Although – most of the world’s most amazing treasures – art and history and architecture – do reside in the cities. So I will concede to your points! And having never explored more than a handful of them myself, I will retire with a humble blush and resolve to see more of them before I die. How’s that? ;)


          • Hey, it’s my preference, that’s all. One thing I learned on my world trip eons ago, was that the places that are famous and most-talked about ARE worth visiting and that’s why they are famous and talked about. A few examples: Sydney harbour and opera house, the taj mahal, the Parthenon, the leaning tower of Pisa, Sacre Coeur, the Himalayas, Rotorua – you get the idea. And not all cities there, I hope you note!

            When time and money are limited (as they usually are when I travel) why visit one hick town and the next? They are pretty much all the same.

            Let me know when you are coming, I’ll give you an itinerary.

            In the meantime, I ‘ll leave you with a fave;



  5. Interesting picture of the floods – I thought the sun always shone in Gibraltar. There was poll recently to identify the crappest towns in Britain – somehow Gibraltar managed to come sixth, as it isn’t actually in Britain I wondered if it had become detached from Spain somehow and found its way north and was now relocated next to the Isle of Wight and all that rain seems to confirm my theory.
    Good US president quote, I don’t know who said it, probably Bush, but I do remember this rather contradictory one from Ulysses S Grant – “I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”


    • I didn’t get the best ones, I was safely and dryly tucked up in the flat while orange condom man was wading around. Took his boots a week to dry out :D

      The sun always shines in Andalucía. One of their ad campaigns was that it did actually shine somewhere every day of the year. Given that it’s so big, and places like my pueblo get little rain I can believe that. But Gib? Nope, as well as rain, we get the Levanter cloud which can sit over the Rock nearly all day. Nice though. Sunshine all the time is soooo boring.

      Gib often gets bad press (I seem to remember some from you even though you haven’t been :D). The approach across the airfield greets you with what is now government housing, and was originally built as squaddy accom in prob the 60s so pretty crappy looking. Then there is the inevitable complaint about overpriced rip-off crap British pub food, fish and chips etc. Can’t disagree with that either but as I never eat at pubs, it doesn’t affect me. There are better places to eat.

      The trouble is when you live somewhere, you see it with very different eyes. It’s not just about the appearance, there is also the sense of community, the mix of so many different cultures in a small space without tension, well, apart from bleating at Spaniards for being a PITA. Can’t remember if I have done a top ten things about Gib post, but if I have, it was a long time ago, so maybe I’ll do one. And maybe ten bad things too – if I can think of ten.

      I actually thought it might have been Clinton so I lied, because I did do a quick search but got nothing, and then got bored. Now isn’t the Grant one so indicative of the American mentality? Ooops, forgot you are rather pro-US. It was def the old Bush who referred to Oliver Sambo though :D

      Not like you to miss having a go at Maggie though. Most disappointed me.


        • Can’t agree with that. Well, not as a generality. Fair to say, I don’t want to visit, for example, Gibraltar, because it is full of council estates and fish and chips. Equally fair for someone to come back and say, no it’s not. Or, I don’t want to visit Spain because the food is greasy, oily and fried, and it is too hot, full of cockroaches, lager louts etc. Which, as you know it isn’t. Not even my part of the Costa del Sol ;)

          That’s really kind of you. I appreciate your generous offer for something you know I won’t take up.


          • That is really true.
            In my ignorance I never really wanted to go to Germany due entirely to national prejudices but when I finally went there I was forced immediately to reassess my preconceived opinions about the country.
            I adore Spain – you know that.
            Thanks for rejecting my invitation – you have saved me the cost of a lunch! haha!


          • I quite liked Germany, but I’ve never rushed back. It’s ok in a sort of northern european way. Berlin was good. Before the wall went down. Driving through eastern Germany and all the controls with evil communist police was a serious adventure.

            I like Spain too. So much so, that I’m too idle to bother going anywhere else. A bit like all the Spaniards who never holiday abroad because why go somewhere else when half of Europe wants to visit your country?

            I’d have thought it was genuine if you had asked me to recommend a decent fish and chip place that also provided vegetarian food. Haha.


          • Potatoes are vegetarian – I’ll have fish and you can have double chips, and mushy peas!
            Spain – a wonderful country – I think I now prefer it to Greece. I am back again in April but it might (sadly) be my only visit this year unless I go to Gibraltar – oh sorry, that isn’t Spain is it!


          • Wow, you are hellish considerate. Thanks for that. I bet you were a great date in your youth. Double chips and mushy peas. Irresistible.

            We thought about moving to Greece originally (along with France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and goodness knows where else). I do like Greece. But I am too hispanicised these days.

            Where are you going in April? Somewhere in el norte again? If you visited Gib I am sure you would stay in La Linea as it would be cheaper, so you would end up with a dual trip. No Ryanair to Gib that I know of, just Sleazy and Monarch and BA, but I’m not Mr Cheap Flights so things may have changed.


          • We are going to Siguenza again for the Santa Semana. I’d like to go to Seville or Valencia but in Siguenza you can get up close and personal but I am sure that there are other places just the same.
            Easyjet flies to Gibraltar but only from Gatwick which is probably my least favourite UK airport because it is so difficult to get to from the north. Best option is Ryanair to Jerez and that is a place that I would like to see as well.


          • Yes, the smaller towns are good for worrying whether or not the tronos will fall on you in the street. Our local town is like that, and although we didn’t go, I suspect Conil (de la Frontera) wd be the same. The big cities are great for spectacle. I might point out that all the best ones are in Andalucía.

            Jerez is good. Struck me as very elegant. Jerez to Gib is worse than north of England to Gatwick though! What’s wrong with Monarch from Luton?

            Too wet for golf today? Or are you playing ping pong with me?


          • I used to like it too :D I played against a seriously good person and she taught me loads, my game improved so much but never enough to beat her. Anyway, I am resigning from this bout as I am messing with a dogblog video which isn’t quite your thing :D


  6. Love reading your blogs. Sometimes I don’t quite get the point and other times I must resort to the dictionary but I enjoy reading your blogs and down to earth dissertation of life in Spain and the finca.
    Nice of you to rescue and make a nice home for Podenco.
    I wish you well in 2014.


    • Thank you TA. I’m not trying to be obscure, so if there is something you don’t understand, then please ask, for example there may be references to British culture/history that my Brit readers will understand but others may well not. On the other hand if it is about politics eg Spanish unemployment and austerity measures or Gib disputes with Spain, I’ve written about them a few times so tend not to go through the history.

      As for words, I now our spelling of words is different in English and US English,, and also our usage. One of the different phrases that fascinates me is when Americans say ‘I could care less’ When I originally read it, I thought it was a spelling error as in fact, I’ve now worked out you all mean the exact opposite, ie I couldN’T care less, which is what we actually say. Most odd.

      My partner decided it was time we got another dog (even though I’d wanted another for years) and it turned out to be Snowy. We’d have taken pretty much any dog that needed a home. When I asked our vet to look out for a rescue for us, I told him it didn’t matter what age, breed, size, male/female.

      Thank you for your good wishes and I wish you the same.


  7. The torrential rain in your first photo is a stark contrast with my environs. It’s -18 outside right now (around -30 when you factor in the wind). That’s bloody cold. Add to that the 110 cm of snow already down plus the 25-30 that’s coming over the next day and I imagine you are already feeling warmer :-) Everything is relative.
    My neighbour’s daughter, who attends University here will be spending her graduating semester (the one that stars next week) at Harlow (in Essex) where Memorial University of Newfoundland maintains a small campus. I say this because she is spending this week (and part of last week) touring Spain and has been sending back photos on a daily basis that make me wish I lived there, not here…at least while the nasty frigid weather is around.
    So, off we all go for another jolly ride around the sun! I send you best wishes, hoping that it will be a good one.


    • It does sound bloody cold, rather you than me. I don’t dislike cold weather, but of course it’s relative. Anything in single figures (Celsius) feels cold when you have summers of upper thirties/early 40s. I like snow too, mainly because I like walking in it and cross-country ski-ing. But I tend to make the most of wherever I live, so it’s no snow here :D and I try and enjoy the mild and warm temps. And the torrential rain.

      I think there is/was a journalism college in Harlow. It’s a new town. Well, not any more, but it was last century when it was built, say 50s? Britain had a phase of building soulless new towns. Post-war optimism I guess.

      Depending on where she is in Spain, it may not be particularly warm (to us) but it may well be sunny much or all of the time. Certainly our week there saw sun every day. Will you be sharing any of her photos on your blog? Or she could write a guest post :)

      Thank you, and I wish you and all yours the same.


  8. I used to eat caqui in Brazil, but only when it was given to me. When they’re ripe, they’re positively delicious and taste a bit like chocolate. When they’re not ripe, they’re the nastiest things ever. Unfortunately, even people who grow up around them can’t tell the difference between a good one and a bad one without taking a bite. I guess that makes them nature’s revenge on humanity.


    • Well as I’m not fond of chocolate, apart from Green and Black’s I guess I’d never like caqui, ripe or otherwise. i tell you, we had one bite each out of one, years ago and – ugh, never again!


  9. enjoyed your retrospective. that certainly was a lot of water on the roads. unbelievable!
    how lovely that you now have Snowy in the family! and that he and Pippa get along so well. and thank you for the link by the way. much appreciated!
    your last comment about the caqui reminds me of the story i remember my Dad telling. after the war, when you could again buy groceries in stores, he came across a grapefruit which he brought home to my mom. not having seen one before, they assumed it was something like an orange, and so they peeled it and separated a section from it and tried it.
    it was so bitter and so sour and so disappointing and so hideous that my Dad took the rest of it, and he said he threw it into the back yard as far as he could, it was so awful. but i guess it is an acquired taste because years later, as he was telling the story, he rather enjoyed them, although he generously sprinkled them with sugar.
    ‘i could care less’ is rather ironic, when you think about it, isn’t it? that is said here in Canada as well.
    anyhow, this is not my blog, so enough said. wishing you and yours a wonderful 2014 as well!


      • Well, the water wasn’t as bad as the road Partner drove through on his own, his boots took a week to dry out :D

        Pippa is very patient but if he gets fed up with all the silly puppy games he gives him a sharp nip. Snowy still has a dent in his forehead from when Pippa got tired of his youthful enthusiasm :D

        I’ve always loved grapefruit, but then I like sharp food/fruit anyway. Our best memory of a store error was when Partner decided to taste some cherries before buying and discovered he had shovelled a load of round red hot chillies in his mouth. Too funny. I still tease him about it nearly 30 years later.

        I think ‘I could care less’ grates with me because it is so inaccurate in literal terms. It sounds like it is an attempt at sarcasm, but it just fails for me. Differences across the water eh?

        Snowy loves the beach too :) it’s a great place for him to run. We used to take Pippa but he spent most of his time looking for things to eat including dead seagulls. These days it’s a long walk for him unless the weather is just right, not too damp, hot or cold, so no triggers for his arthritis.

        All the best to your and yours too of course, especially Timmy.


    • Hi ad2ip, thank you and the same to you.
      I don’t claim to know about Mandela which is one reason I never wrote about him on his death whereas I did write a few Thatcher pieces (it’s my age!). But I did find the differing treatment on the deaths of the two national and international leaders very contrasting and interesting.
      Indeed. Or why else would they become leaders?


  10. Great post again. I enjoyed reading about the contrast of Spain and Gib. Quite different. The flooded streets of Gib looked to be a mess. Loved seeing the pic of your vegetable bounty. Those are some very long radishes. Never have I seen the likes of any that grow so lengthy.

    The one white Christmas decoration in the upper right had corner of the photos collection is beautuful. And the tree was a good looking one. Actually


    • Thanks Yvonne. Have to say I do feel a bit schizophrenic moving between the two lives. I often wake up in one place and wonder where I am – I usually get it wrong and think I am in the other place :D The drive is a good transition, it’s just the next morning when I haven’t got my head around my relocation!

      I don’t know how they manage the radishes. When I grew them mine were tiny. I’ll be writing a post about my garden next or next but one. Maybe next.

      The little silver tree is pretty. I keep knocking my head on it because I have crap peripheral vision, but luckily it is light so it doesn’t matter too much, nor is there a lot to damage in my head.


  11. Well I thought that the whole thing was gone and then when I was about to correct “actually” it “flew away.” Now I am too ticked off. Oh well.

    Metal roofs are used here In Texas more and more. Good insulation under the corrugated metal keeps the temp even. The kind we have here is being used on expensive homes and I have it on my cat barn. It is not any hotter than composition shingles. Depends on construction I suppose. Lots of variables.



    • Sorted .. I do find the similarities between Spain and Texas interesting. Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge (up above, and A Good Animal Person) lives Galveston way I think and we often discuss common issues. Although we don’t have alligators that I know of. Anyway, she mentioned the chapas too.

      There is no insulation under the ones here, they are just for external protection. In olden days it would have been cane, which was on our terrace before it all rotted away. Old house rooves tended to be some sort of cane and plaster mix I think, must check) with tiles on top. New ones are a cement roof with tiles mainly for decoration.


  12. That’s some flooding. It’s raining again in London–so much this year. Luckily we haven’t had to deal with flooding, but I know many others are. Oddly enough, we don’t have central heating at the moment. Not too impressed with our new landlord.

    Happy New Year! I’m waiting for your BD post


    • It was pretty bad considering it only started overnight and my early morning there was one lot of water. It’s the old water drainage system that just can’t cope with sub-tropical downpours. Still, have wellies, not too much of a problem (except my wellies are in Spain).

      I’ve got used to life without heating, but I don’t think it would be too good in the UK. We used to start lighting fires in late August. Tried to keep central heating off for at least three months a year, but it is chilly and damp there. Not working here helps too, I can wear warm and practical clothes instead of dressy and useless ones.

      BD tomorrow or day after, depending on life getting in the way, I’m thinking about it and drafting it in my head though. As you are probably my only other reader that has read Meyer, it will be pretty much for you :D


    • Thanks, mbl. It was just a random mix of what came off the top of my head. Like you, most of my readers are pretty regular so I don’t want to rehash too much just a quick flavour. Who knows what 2014 will bring? Thank for your comments as always. Have a lovely new year at your sunny end of the world.


    • Thank you CBC. As I said above (I think!) it was really what came off the top of my head. Although I did have a quick look back through posts during the year, I decided to go with what had stood out to me. Even the non-personal events I mentioned did have a vague personal link, but they seemed to fit neatly together.

      Wishing you a good 2014 too, who knows what it will bring? Some things we can guess at, others will be a surprise. I’m happy for a calm and peaceful life without major events, but that’s probably too much to hope for :D


  13. Ah yes, late of course, but I just wanted to say I love the insights into your schizophrenic life. It makes me feel in good company, in the context of my own, and that the world is not such a large and strange place as many would have us believe, with kindly and thoughtful souls in it such as yourself :)
    Ah, persimmons… I did wonder what caquis were. Finely sliced and/or with a little a little good cheese they are lovely but otherwise, yes, chook food. A little goes a long way both in ripeness and quantity.


    • Catching up is always difficult, I tend to go back three posts or so, after that I lose concentration, so thanks for commenting on this one. I don’t want you labouring under the illusion that I am kind and thoughtful though, far from it! I feel for your long journey though. The only thing to be said about a journey from city to country is that it gives you time to adjust and walk through that Tardis door into a different world.

      I wondered what caquis were too! vile things. And no they weren’t chook food. El totally rejected them :D


  14. […] Blogging isn’t much different. While the old training kicks in and I feel compelled to review the year, the idea of reading a year’s worth of blog posts is not exactly appealing. Last year ie reviewing 2013, I chickened out and went for what I could remember with: Best of Both Worlds. […]


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