Just a pair of pikies

A pikey, for non-Brits, is slang for gypsy/traveller. There are a couple of explanations for the derivation of the word:

1) from a ‘turnpike’ which was where people would pay tolls in olden times in the UK, and apparently the travellers would gather and camp around the turnpike (source, urban dictionary)

2) from a 16th century word ‘pike’ meaning to go away/from (source, wiki, from routledge)

The urban dictionary has a brilliant definition:

whose main sources of income are as follows:

Stealing cars, flogging roses in pubs for “childrens’ charities”, nicking lead off roofs, burgling garden sheds, blagging entry to old peoples house to rob them, doing dodgy tarmac jobs (“we’ve got some black stuff left over from a job up the road”), sometimes with mint imperials used as a substitute for white chippings, or, reportedly, using snow to lay slabs on when the sand ran out, stealing your bollocks if they weren’t in a bag and anything else that’s not nailed down and anything that is nailed down but will fit in the back of an untaxed Transit when nobody’s looking.

When I was a kid, gypsies were renowned for stealing chickens, and selling clothes pegs and sprigs of ‘lucky’ white heather – both my mother and grandmother would buy it for fear that bad luck would fall on them if they didn’t.

I was made of sterner stuff. When I was approached in Córdoba one day, i refused to buy the heather. As I walked away, a stream of abuse followed me complete with very unlucky gypsy curses. Sadly my family fear kicked in and I sat shaking in Córdoba railway station wondering what terrible fate would befall me. Perhaps the ‘plane would crash on the way back to the UK and I would never see Partner and the dogs again. I rang him up so I could hear his voice one last time.

It goes without saying the ‘plane didn’t crash. It was the last time I flew though.

So what does that have to do with us? Well, while we don’t go around nicking things, readers will be aware that we do forage around rubbish bins and are more than happy to accept freebies.

The latest acquisition is a bed. Partner meets all manner of people, I have no idea how, and one of them naturally offered him a bed. To which of course he said yes. I am quite happy sleeping on the floor, especially in summer when it is lovely to put an arm or a leg on the nice cool tiles, but he thinks as 60 looms ever nearer, that, one day he may struggle to get up off the floor in the mornings (OK, he already struggles). Personally I think it is just more junk to clutter up the flat, and it will make it more difficult to mop the bedroom floor.

The bed was duly collected, and now all it needs is a mattress. I say all, but that’s not quite true. It is pine finish. Nothing in my flat is pine, it is all oak (my mother’s furniture) or dark oak stain. Sort of suits the fifties style we have.

My holding ploy on this tedious bed then, is to have it stained dark oak before it goes down, or rather, gets put up. It’s fairly obvious that once in situ it will never be dismantled. And as Partner is working five days a week, that only leaves weekends, and normally he spends most weekends absolutely whacked. The last thing he wants to do is put on his overalls yet again and pick up a paintbrush :)

So there it sits, behind the sofa.

Lurking. Up to no good
Lurking. Up to no good

‘You’re just a pikey,’ says his British Gibraltarian colleague at work every time Partner mentions one of his latest freebies.

One of the Moroccans couldn’t understand why we didn’t have a bed in the first place. He figured if we had three houses (two at the finca and the flat in Gib) we could possibly be able to afford a bed. Well, true, but it’s not a priority – and – everything comes to she who waits.

There is a strange alliance on the worksite. The Moroccans and Brit/Gbs get on well together, merrily describing the Spaniards as racist. Given that the Spaniards have been heard to say that the site should be all Spanish workers, that’s not an unreasonable assessment.

Having said that, one of the Spaniards ripped into another yesterday in defence of Partner – who is well capable of defending himself.

He’d left his overalls in the vehicle overnight, collected them, and walked to the job wearing his shorts. Pepe pointed out his skinny leg and commented on it, asking if he had been in an accident. Partner had polio when he was a baby. When he’s tired he has a limp, and he’s also got a slight curvature of the spine. He’s not quite the Hunchback of Notre Dame though.

Sebastían exploded at what he thought was an insulting, thoughtless, derogatory question. After nearly 60 years of having one leg skinnier than the other, Partner is pretty used to tactless comments. At one point, he thought he and his skinny leg were going to have to limp between the two of them to stop it coming to blows.

Later that day, Pepe went back to Partner to apologise for his ill-thought comment.

If there is racial tension underneath the current of friendly camaraderie, what about the residents of the flats where they are working?

They are quite overt in their dislike of Spaniards. Many of the windows are being replaced, and a Spanish firm is carrying out the work. Many of the residents do not want Spaniards in their homes. Simple as that. One of them went so far as to say she would do without new windows, but she was told any future problems would be down to her. She caved in. As no doubt would have the windows eventually.

But one way the residents do show their favouritism is tea and biscuits. Partner and his Brit/Gib mate are regularly treated by the Gibraltarian residents, including left-over boxes of chocolates from Christmas.

Spaniards are renowned for their sweet tooth, or teeth, if they have any left. They come sniffing around to see what treats the Brits have got.

‘Don’t give anything to the Spaniards,’ the Gibbos always say. ‘They wouldn’t give anything to us.’ And there we have it, the building site, not for the first time, is a microcosm of the world, or at least the relationship between Spain and Gibraltar.

But to prove I am a total spender, here is not just one item, but two I have bought in the last month.

Some time ago, when Pippa was a youthful dog, he jumped up onto the cooker looking for goodies, and in the process managed to knock off the pestle and mortar sitting next to it. Finding a decent pestle and mortar in Gib was not easy. No ceramic ones, just flimsy little wooden ones. I looked in Spain. None! None in my village, none in my local town either. ‘You’ll need to go to Málaga,’ said one shop person. Ridiculous, I thought, everyone uses a pestle and mortar in Spain. Except most people only ever buy one because they don’t have dogs knocking them on the floor and breaking them, so it’s not exactly repeat trade.

Eventually I found a cast-iron one in Gib. It seemed these were very trendy, made popular by some TV chef or other. They may have been, but what they weren’t was practical for a climate that can top 90% humidity. I know how to work with cast-iron pans, I have loads of them. But baking it, oiling it, drying it thoroughly did not alter the fact that everything I ground up in there tasted ferrous, and had a healthy coating of rust on it. Eventually I looked at it one day, covered in dust as well as rust and chucked it in the bin. Wasn’t even worth advertising on freecycle in Gib although I suppose I should have taken it to the scrappy in Spain. A true pikey would have done. I hang my head in shame. And recommend you never buy a cast-iron pestle and mortar.

What a strange shape for that pestle, the less said  ...
What a strange shape for that pestle, the less said …

But at Christmas time, I was wandering around our Spanish town and decided to venture into a kitchen shop. Yes! A real ceramic pestle and mortar. I nearly said ‘I’ll have that. Wrap it up. Now.’ but prudence won over and I cautiously asked the price first, thought about it and then said, with a sigh, OK, I’ll take it.

Cost of new mortero: nearly €12 (and much less than the cast-iron one)

Finally! A new pestle and mortar that doesn't taste of rust
Finally! A new pestle and mortar that doesn’t taste of rust

Back in Gib, I was wandering down Main Street and noticed a sale at the Silver Shop. I like silver earrings. They are cheap. It is cheaper to replace them when I lose them than it is to replace gold ones. I noticed a pair with £15 off that I liked. Nearly half price. A couple of days later, I clutched some twenties and bought not only those but a non-sale pair for Partner.

Cost of my earrings: £22 down from £37

Silver earrings
Silver earrings

But here, because I haven’t posted it before, is a pic of some of the free crockery some neighbours gave us. Sadly they had already given the cups away for some reason, but not the saucers, so we have half a dozen redundant saucers. But bowls and plates are always useful and he seems to like the mug for his morning tea (I’m a cup and saucer person hence my annoyance at the missing cups).

Free dinner service, well, part of one
Free dinner service, well, part of one

And, although not remotely relevant, although possibly so in terms of something for nothing, here is a photo of tourists feeding monkeys, not five yards away from the sign that says, ‘Don’t feed the monkeys’. Their only saving grace was that they fed him/her a banana rather than a bag of crisps. But still it encourages monkeys to come down to town and causes problems. Locals are frightened of them, the monkeys raid the rubbish bins, and all for a tourist here for a few hours to get a photo of a monkey close up.

Baby monkey eating banana for the entertainment of tourists. Hmmm
Baby monkey eating banana for the entertainment of tourists. Hmmm

Disclaimer. I do not endorse the use of perjorative or derogatory language towards people of the travelling communities, whether gypsies, romanies, irish travellers, new age (they are probably old age now) people etc etc. Nor do I endorse racism, or discrimination against people who have had polio, many of whom are so badly disabled that they have never worked.

I’m just a reporter.

Blog updates:

There is a post on ‘Presentations‘ over on Clouds, which follows on from the last post on here about the architecture students.

I’ve added some posts to the recipe pages which you can find underneath the header photo.

Baked beans (which I have made this week) has gone under starters.

There is a new page for breads, which includes herb bread, spinach bread, and I’ll add the tomato and onion one.

Fresh herbs added to yeast and flour
Fresh herbs added to yeast and flour

And here, is what I should have taken, when I went to the presentation. One of Partner’s packed meals.

A salad pot, with olives, tomatoes, red peppers, clementine, veg feta in oak barrels or some such blurb, cucumber, herbs and salad leaves.

A bag of crisps, yes we do eat junk food, but at least these are just potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. I buy a big pack of five so each little pack of crisps works out at 39p. At the shop a bag of crisps is 58p. If he wants crisps, he can have decent, cheap ones.

The sandwich is the tomato and onion bread with a veg salami filling, and although you can’t really see, there are some sliced onions pickled in red wine vinegar inside the sarnie. This is a standard in my fridge as we both like pickles.

Just what I needed on Sunday
Just what I needed on Sunday

In fact, I think I will devote a whole post to how to slice onions and add to bowl, cover with red wine vinegar. Bound to get me Freshly Pressed that one I’m sure.

Oh and the tea. Well, obviously weak Twinings Breakfast Tea with food wouldn’t have had the same effect as strong black coffee without food…..

86 comments on “Just a pair of pikies

  1. I read the other day that you are not supposed to feed bananas to monkeys any more, apparently they are not that good for them!
    Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean etc. That bed looks ok – if you assembled it without a mattress you could put some floor tiles across the wooden slats and then you would have your cold floor and partner would have his bed!


  2. It was terrible to hear recently that the Spanish Government was stirring up resentment with Spaniards over Gibraltar belonging to Spain.No doubt that doesn’t help the relationships between the two peoples. I thought both sides crossed the border to buy at each other’s shops making me think relations weren’t all that bad, Is it dearer to live in Gib than in Spain?
    Freecycle is good isn’t it. Sounds like the partner’s a fan. You should get a mattress from there. Maybe for the sake of the youngsters approaching 60th you could treat him to a paint job on the bed. You never know, he might prefer going back to the floor when he’s tried it.
    Hugs xxx


    • The Spanish govt has always been stirring up, but the election of the right-wing Partido Popular has made the situation a whole lot worse.

      Many of the older (well that actually older than us, just not teenagers) people we know lived under Franco and the border closure. They are never going to like Spain or Spaniards.

      People do, or rather did cross the border to shop. Each side has things that are cheaper over there, each side has things the others don’t have. But I know more and more Gibraltarians who are refusing to cross the frontier to buy in Spain, 1) because of the queues, and 2) because of the government’s attitude. Gibbos are tough.

      I’ve written about the different costs before. Some things dearer, some things cheaper. For us, Spain works out cheaper on a day to day basis. But Gib is a winner because Partner can get work, so therefore we don’t eat into savings. I’ll do an update on costs soonish.

      I use freecycle (to donate to be honest although we did get a compressor from there) and sometimes Friday ads if I think I can get a couple of quid for something. I am afraid his painting skills, and in this case, varnish, are so superior and vastly quicker than mine, that it isn’t worth considering. He would only tear his hair out at the remedial work needed to be done.

      The doors – no not the band: http://wp.me/p1XwsS-1dH


    • I’m not that keen on Quorn rashers, they are ok, but I don’t buy them. Prefer the Redwood rashers made from tempeh, but having said that, I just marinate my own tempeh rashers.

      Anyway, yes, depending on what you mean. Morrisons normally stocks a wide range of Quorn products. Turkey, ham and chicken slices, and rubber sausages. At the moment, they have/had lamb grills and pepper steaks too. In the freezer section they have a load of other Quorn goodies (or baddies). My fave being the fake steak pies. Too good. There are usually some of the breadcrumbed escalopes too.

      I tend to buy vegi deli slices, sage and onion, and beef when they have them. Plus Cauldron tofu.

      In the health food shops, you can buy tempeh and seitan (HFS in City Mill Lane and Engineer’s Lane).

      Morries has veg cheese, plus free range and organic eggs. I do some of my shopping in Spain, which is where the veg mortadella and salami come from. With the exception of seitan, tofu, tempeh, and vegideli slices, none of those are vegan.

      If you want to know about anything specific, please ask.


  3. hey, nice pictures and very well detailed report..Glad to see a pack of Twinings..my cousin sent packs of Twining and PG Tea for me from UK..love the tea in UK:) Sorry for commenting after longish. Happy New Year 2014:)


    • Hi Vishal
      I’m behind on comments too, so no worries there. I did see you had been posting on some challenge, and I can’t keep up with those! Catch up soon.

      PG is horrible but Twinings is good. I also love Indian tea, darjeeling and assam are quite my faves.

      HNY to you too :)


    • I’m wondering if people enjoy it actually. The ‘Them and Us’ syndrome. Mental and physical strength. Little displays like the tea and biscuits. But people have long memories. In Spain, my neighbours don’t forget the Franco régime for different reasons. Here they don’t forget it for trying to isolate and destroy Gibraltar. There is so much more solidarity in standing together than being nice to everyone. Eso va la vida.


      • Of course people enjoy it! It’s partly how they define their own identities. Southerners make fun of Northerners. Northerners counter with ‘we’re more straight forward’… The case with Gib is more intense because Spanish politics is highly based on division and exclusion. The expulsion of the Moors, the repeated persecution and expulsion of Jews… I mean, really, if we just look at the Jewish case we can get a good picture of how Spain functions on cycles of blatant persecution- granting and removing rights from the populace and whenever they have a chance confiscating their property.


        • I think there is a difference between deliberately setting out to do it, and retaliation. I’ve done both. I certainly grew up with the northern thing, not just we’re more straightorward but we are blunt and honest, is I think a more accurate way of putting it. And we are soooo tough. Southerners are soft. That’s a big one actually. Northerners are very macho. Even the women. I happen to think it’s crazy now, but it still exists. But you don’t need to look for a north/south divide, there is always a barrio one. You live two feet outside of the boundary – enmity.

          Spanish politics has been based on religion, which you might as well have said. It’s part of the heritage ever since the glorious reconquest and unification of Spain under Los Reyes Católicos. Every right wing government does exactly the same. Hits on non-Catholics, ergo, anyone not white, and women. Opposition to same-sex marriage by the Partido Popular (ie a marriage isn’t a religious marriage if it isn’t hetero). Hits on class too, workers’ rights, benefits, public services. Yawn yawn, you know the list as well as I do. The right wing favours the rich and the religious. Hey, you make one part of that equation.


    • Hi TA

      Well the views about gypsies come from my UK childhood, the incident in Córdoba obv from a Spanish holiday, and the rest of it is a mix of Gib life.

      A bit like most of my blog posts. A bit of a mish mash!


  4. The universality of racism would be almost comical if it weren’t so pervasive. My family has a business in California, where I worked summers during high school and college. The county the business is located in has a high percentage of Hispanics, but almost no blacks among its population. Not surprisingly, our business has a number of Hispanic workers. Many had worked there for several years and I knew some pretty well. I was always struck by the derogatory terms they would use when referring to blacks. Finally, one day I said to one of them, half-jokingly, “Let me get this straight, you’re a minority group and blacks are a minority group; shouldn’t you have some common ground?” His response was something along the lines of that he and other Hispanics had nothing in common with blacks, who were beneath them. I simply shook my head and laughed.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that racism is never going to be eradicated until we’re invaded by aliens, in which case everyone on Earth will join together to direct their anger, fear and loathing toward the aliens.


    • I think you’re right, we will never get rid of our prejudices. We are brought up with them as cultural norms and however much we want to genuinely treat people equally we don’t. One ‘ism’ takes the place of another. Fatism for example. People complaining about sitting next to fat people on aeroplanes and buses, or even just taking up the pavement.

      I like the building site stories because they are honest in a way. They portray what is, without gloss or political pretence of equality. The Brits and Gibbos think they are superior, and people actually accept that. The Spaniards want Gib and don’t like not being in charge. The Spaniards look down on the Moroccans, but the Moroccans do the same because there is no antagonism between Morocco and Gib (remember, that Spain has two enclaves in Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla – just to complicate things) so therefore Moroccans have a different status here.

      Back in Spain, my neighbours were having some work done. They needed to the shops, but one of the workers was black, North African I think. Could we keep an eye on him while they went out? I ask you. He was a perfectly nice young man – but he was the wrong colour.


  5. Hmm… glad you put your disclaimer in. Our local travelling community get very heated if they hear anyone calling them pikies. The fact that they all live in houses doesn’t deter them from their indignant roots. I think the term is ‘static travellers’ or something of that ilk.
    That china looks familiar – is it called Copenhagen or at least have something to do with Denmark in its nomenclature? Danish Blue, maybe – or no, that’s cheese. Probably get the cups on ebay.


    • While I may repeat popular culture, slang, idioms, views etc, it doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, hence the disclaimer. My parents used to know a travelling family, they did the feast circuit. Not sure if they were Italian heritage originally, think the name was pretty Italian sounding, can’t remember it for now. But every year, they would turn up to see my father at this market stall and we would go and visit them at the feast and sit in their extremely opulent caravan. As a kid I liked them, and you know that kids are often like animals, they have a sixth sense for good and bad people.

      I gave a link to a Spanish gitano below, we have a lot of gitanos in Andalucía who live in houses, they just have their gypsy heritage, and it is usually pretty obvious from their appearance. Juan was a good bloke. Partner went to visit him once when he wasn’t in, and his mother was something else. Grabbed his hand to read it before she would even speak to him!

      Finlandia, I think. You and Reb both had the right idea, but I’ll check it out for my next post to put you both out of your misery :D


      • We got to know a few gitanos during the times we spent in the Camargue at various times of the year. One of the most spectacular events is of course the revering of Saint Sarah at Stes Maries de la Mer – takes place during May. Saint Sarah is the patron saint of gipsies and they come from all over Europe to attend. Manitas de Plata was from here as are the families who make up the Gipsy Kings. We became friendly with Davide from the local café – he has the most wonderful singing voice and many a happy time was spent in his company. Sadly we don’t get to go quite as often now but, whenever we do, Davide will always reserve us his best table and we communicate in a stilted mixture of French and Catalan.


        • It’s sad isn’t it that a few low-life rip-of types give a whole people a bad name. Gypsies/gitanos are no different to anyone else, some good, some bad. As I’ve said both on here in comments, and in much earlier blog posts, I’ve met good ones. Pressurising people to buy white heather, begging for your kids, and threatening them with bad luck and trading on fear is not good. Treating people equally, generously and expecting equal respect back is what we should all aim for, whether romany, feastie, gitano or whoever.

          Sounds a great café. Have you written about it/posted pix?


          • I mentioned it briefly ages ago in a post about the Camargue – it was a short piece and the mention was incidental. I regret that now and even worse, with all the times we have been there, I have not one photograph – can you believe it. I suppose we felt so at home we ceased to be tourists, snapping away at every opportunity. But the Brasserie Belvedere is there, on the first floor over-looking the beach at Ste Maries with views towards Marseille and La Gacholle (local light house). Strains of flamenco can be heard day and night. Marvellous.


  6. The lack of a bed is a bit … unusual. I had always thought it was the first thing to be stuck in the cave or hut or whatever.
    Why don’t you lighten all the other furniture to match the pine?
    *becomes a dot on the horizon, receding rapidly*


    • The very first things that got stuck in my cave/hut when I bought it were a second hand cooker, a washing machiine, and a fridge. Quickly followed by a free Belfast sink (sitting unwanted in someone’s garden) so I could get rid of the nasty stainless steel job. We used my Partner’s painters drop sheets for curtains. We did buy a futon after a while, but no base, so effectively we continued to sleep on the loor.

      Come back dot, pretty please come here. Because a) I don’t like it and b) it suits the flat better and c) crap timber looks better in a darker stain.


  7. Diddicoy is the phrase I grew up on….and the urban dictionary definition fitted them well…as it did the ‘gens du voyage’ in France, less colourlessly known to my French neighbours as manouches, bohemiennes, gitanes and generally regarded as being emmerdant.

    Their recycling only went one way…and in my area they had taken over the local dumps, so any recycling benefit to local government was lost.

    Your recycling is of another order….though having similar tendencies I would say so, wouldn’t I.

    Snappers up of unconsidered trifles…that’s us, though opportunities are limited here as most of our neighbours use something until it can be used no more and then find another use for it and the American immigrants think that anything that they have owned takes on an aura of value and ask high prices.


    • Yup, I grew up with diddicoys too. A northern v southern thing maybe? Whenever we went past some caravans parked in the usual spots my parents would refer to them as diddicoys.

      Gitanos here of course, and of course quite interesting their impact on Spanish culture re flamenco (both music and dancing). In the days when I would iron watching telecinco – to learn Spanish, I add quickly – I watched a morning chat show, which invariably had excerpts of Gran Hermano from the night before. There was this absolutely stunning gitano on there and the woman in GH with him had left her husband for him! Amazing what people will do on television.

      I wrote about one of our local gitanos
      sadly he’s disappeared off the face of the pueblo, which is a shame as we may need a new cockerel at some point.

      Never heard of them taking over tips mind. More like creating them when they move into shanty town permanent housing in our local town.

      My recycling is a newly acquired trait, it started when I stopped earning money. I remember you mentioning the strange American pricing before.

      I think people just think we are poor :D


      • We have always raked around other people’s leavings!

        I used to like the days when tips were open…or had holes in the fence….but I was never so lucky as a neighbour in Norfolk who returned in triumph with a bamboo framed bicycle.
        As flowerpots were so expensive in France I used to make sure I went to the tip after Toussaint when the commune’s workmen would clean up the cemetery and dump the pots, flowers and all, on the tip.

        The local Britpack certainly looked down their noses at us…..it just fuelled the rumours about our lifestyle.

        We had a predatory gyppo pack on our doorstep…but we didn’t have a problem with them as Leo used to shake their hands when he met the chaps in the village – much to the disgust of the real locals.
        I blogged about it
        when events were such as to put our little village on the national television.


        • pesky blogger. Brings up the post and then just as I read the first couple of words, it steals it away to leave me with a white screen. I’ll have to try and go about it a different way later.

          Bikes were Partner’s pride and joy, when Spain was somewhat better off, they were endlessly dumped at the contenadors, I’ve lost track of the number he’s rescued. Six maybe? No bamboo frames though!

          People are people. If they are decent to me, who cares whether people don’t like gypsies or blacks or someone who’s not from the barrio? Juan the gitano was perfectly nice to Partner so he always spoke to him and acknowledged him when he went past the house. We speak to a lot of allegedly dubious characters. We don’t have the history of the village in our head and the family fall-outs so we take people as we find them.

          We don’t mix with Britpacks, not from the inverted ‘I’m an expat but I’m really integrated into my local community’ snobbery but just because we have stuff all in common. It’s much easier leaning on the wall talking to my neighbours, who needless to state, are an excellent source of gossip.


          • I was always amused by how much my – and their – neighbours knew about the habits of the Britpack.
            A car parked behind the house….bedding on the line…conclusions were drawn!


          • Yup, I think any misdemeanors on my part in my exile looking after Snowy with Partner in Gib would have been very swiftly noticed and equally swiftly passed around the village. There are a lot of eyes in Spain, which can be good when people are looking out for you. Not so good if you are not up to any good.


  8. We don’t have any monkeys around here but we do have alligators.
    Coincidence? Humm… not sure.
    Although monkeys would likely behave better then some of the tourists we get at the beach.


    • That’s an interesting one – do monkeys and alligators (or even crocs) co-exist anywhere? Suspect they like different terrain at a first guess.

      Any animal probably behaves better than most tourists, qv the ones above flagrantly ignoring the sign not to feed the monkeys. I did snarl at them in Spanish asking if they could read as I walked past. They probably didn’t speak Spanish!


  9. Loved reading this post, Roughs!
    That porcelain is Konglig Dansk, I’m pretty sure, and it’s very expensive in Europe. http://goo.gl/ZymbcX Those little cups that I wrote about in a post a few days ago [about my mum] were the same.
    In any event, I’m a cup and saucer person too. My Twinings Breakfast Tea is a red container. I can buy PG here too, if I want to. I really like it when I was in England thirty years ago, so I bought a box to see if I still liked it. It was alright.


  10. That bed looks exactly like the one we’d been storing for Shell for years, I eventually sent it off to a second hand shop about three months ago.
    I’m surprised you threw your cast pestle and mortar and didn’t find an alternative use for it in the garden somewhere.


    • It’s actually quite a solid bed. I’ve just never been a piney sort of person. I grew up when it was all over the place, and while some of it was decent, a lot was sheet tat. I had my mother’s dresser, table and chairs for long enough though. Still got the chairs as I was too tight to buy matching oak ones for the dining room table. That was a mistake. Got a couple of bits in the flat too that were let, but I’m not planning on keeping them, even if they have been here seven years already :D

      Too small for a plantpot. Truth is I was sick of it being so bloody useless and for once, actually enjoyed throwing something out.


  11. Looks like I came late to the party–quite a few comments there above me!
    I should first let you know that I’m not replying from the land of snow. For the past few days it’s been decidedly warm and rainy and as a result, most of the snow is gone for now. I don’t miss it one bit! Not as mild as your weather, mind you.
    Your story of the travelling folk reminded me of when I would visit my grandparents in Ireland and one of them would knock at the door, always to ask for water. My grandmother would always give what they asked for–not that they asked for much–as she was deathly afraid of the tinker’s curse.
    Newfoundland doesn’t have the travelling people to any great extent. Some do come here for a while from the US but they treat it as more of a working holiday, I think, as they generally don’t stay the winter. The few that do seem to do okay, though.


    • And I’m even later replying due to a blissful internet-free weekend. OK, not strictly true as I had the ‘phone but I don’t do ‘phone blogging as I am on roaming and it is just toooooo expensive. Weather forecast and emails only!
      Rainy rainy here too over the weekend, although cold (relatively) and windy now.

      I’m glad I’m not alone then with maternal relatives afraid of gypsy bad luck. To me it was totally irrational, but the belief can still be quite powerful and hard to shake off.

      I think it is too cold where you are :D EllaDee put up an interesting link about travellers visiting Australia and spending time in Canada, see below.


  12. This was a very interesting post my sweet friend. I learn something new every time I visit your blog. Those are really pretty dishes that were given to you. Your comment on the cast iron pestle shape made me giggle, the new one is a much better shape in my opinion. lol I can’t even imagine any one making a pestle and mortar from cast iron, I had never seen one until now. Keep enjoying sleeping on the floor for as long as you can. I love sleeping on the floor but no longer can because of difficulty getting up when my body is stiff of a morning. Hope your weekend has been wonderful. Hugs give Pippa some nose kisses for us!


    • Thank you Mags and lovely Chancy. I think they are pretty too. Why anyone would buy a full new set of dishes when they had a perfectly good one is beyond me. Still their loss, my gain etc. I wish I had never bought that cast-iron thing, I knew it was a mistake even while I was parting with my money! The new one is just fine, works perfectly and looks nice too.

      I’ve always liked sleeping on the floor! Or at the very least, a nice firm hard mattress. When we bought our first house we slept on camping mats (as now) and eventually we graduated to a futon which we put on the floor rather than a base, and rolled it up every day. We had it for years before we bought a bed. I actually wouldn’t have a bed. It is so much easier for cleaning and gives space during the day without something 4×6 cluttering up the place.

      Our weekend was very, very lazy, but more of that soon. Snoses back to Chancy.


  13. And the ‘gypsy scams’ are still happening here – http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/caravan-of-con-artists-on-notice-as-police-target-gypsy-convention-at-cessnock/story-fni0cx12-1226755261365
    You & A, however, are of a very different ilk, similar to the G.O. and me. Collecting free, discarded stuff is quite respectable, and sensible regardless if you keep it or sell it on for a few dollars.
    I’ve never seen or heard of a cast iron mortar & pestle. The new version looks far more user friendly. And I love the new dinner set.
    We have beds on our agenda also. Our 8 year old TA mattress although only slept on for holidays & long weekends, after 3 weeks this time is not firm enough and we realized it’s not going to be permanent, and our 10 year old Sydney mattress is up for replacement… far easier & cheaper to sleep on the floor I think, although I would have similar troubling getting up.
    The bed will be nice though once A. waves his magic over it. And worth a new mattress, the one thing I’ve never done second-hand is mattresses.
    I will comment on your presentation post separately… eventually… but yes, a ‘bag’ lunch is so much better & convenient than most offered alternatives. And your example looks especially delicious :)


    • Amazing link. Didn’t know gypsies were sun-seekers!

      My dad had someone do his drive. I thought they were a legit firm, but they ran out of tarmac and never came back to finish the last bit, so we had a tarmaced parking area outside the house and garages, and a drive right up the slope, until the very last bit, where there was an odd triangle of the old rubble/concrete driveway :D

      yeah, we always try to give value for money, and accepting people’s unwanted goodies is hardly nicking. He acquired a couple of others on Friday, must write about it :D

      We really must do a car boot sale when the weather fines up. The Gib ones are pretty tat, but the one we did in Spain wasn’t bad, trouble is right now, no money, so not much in terms of takings, plus I think the pitch fee was €10 so you have to clear that before you are in profit, plus fuel to drive into town.

      I’m all right at getting off the floor, my legs are pretty useless, but they are anyway, the floor doesn’t make them any worse. I’m in no rush for this wretched bed, it will probably mean a rearrange of the furniture too. But he is, he’s threatened to varnish it next weekend.

      I can understand the mattress issue although I suspect A would have accepted it if had been offered!. When we bought the flat, there was a bed and mattress here. It went. Very quickly. Talk about disgusting – and uncomfortable. I cringed every time I got into bed. The floor was far preferable.

      I try and make his lunches something that I would like to eat. I thought this looked quite delicious and it struck me that it was exactly what I had needed that morning. I doubt there will be any similar next times, but it would certainly be one of my stipulations. A food break.


  14. As always, I enjoyed your take on life from your corner of the world! Love those pretty dishes – had to laugh at your shame-faced admission re the mortar and pestle. I wouldn’t think that the world’s master chefs would hold you very accountable for that one… ;)


    • Thanks Melody. Actually I really like the crockery too. I wasn’t going to take it, but Can’t Resist Anything For Free Partner insisted we did, and – I’m using it all the time. Our other earthenware was my mothers, so over the years, lots had got broken and we don’t have a lot of it anyway. Not that we need a lot as there is only two of us.

      They might not, but I hold them accountable for popularising cast iron p&ms without a cast-iron warning they shouldn’t be used in damp climates. I didn’t want to buy it in the first place, but it was all there was! Anyway, alls well that ends well as the new one is just fine.


    • I never really used it much in the UK, and it always seemed to take ages to grind things up, but it’s one of things that when it works, you just get into using it all the time. The humidity also means that salt/pepper grinders don’t work either, they get clogged up, so I use it for salt and pepper too. A Spanish friend was was a chef came to cook at our place one day, and I watched him make mayonnaise in it too. So I tend to use it for dressings, crush salt and garlic together and then add whatever, usually I make a mustard dressing which is vegan – recipe on pages, Sauce moutarde.


  15. A very entertaining post, as always. There’s so much, that I don’t know what to comment on, but I’m so glad you found a replacement for your rusty pestle&mortar. I think you’ll quite enjoy the bed once you get it to your liking, unless you decide to throw it out first. :) I so agree with you about second hand mattresses, but then I think that when I stay in a hotel, thousands of strangers have slept in that bed. A scary thought. 8O I’ll bet that monkey was so happy that those tourists couldn’t read. :)


    • Thanks a2p. I’ve waited years for the replacement! I do sometimes use a knife to crush salt or pepper or spices, but it is so much easier with a p&m. Especially when you are using something like cumin seeds for example which aren’t so easily crushed with a knife but do grind in a p&m.

      I’ve been threatened with bed varnishing this weekend so it looks like I will need to go on the mattress hunt pretty sharply. Yes, the hotel comparison is interesting. I suppose it’s the thought of one or more people sleeping in the same bed all the time, but what’s the difference with that and lots of people spending a night or more on a mattress? None when you think about it. But when it’s your bed, you are going to spend most nights on it, I suppose that’s the significance. Anyway, off to the shop I will go this week. There is one five mins walk away (as are most things in Gib) and I nearly bought a bed at one point, but decided to save my money instead :D I’m still toying with the idea of putting the camping mats on the frame of the bed!

      That little monkey was nothing compared to the ones I encountered yesterday evening, but more on that for the next post.


  16. Don’t know if I’ve seen a gypsy. There are some in the states but have no idea of the numbers.

    I don’t see you and partner as pikers. I don’t turn anything down that is used if I can put it to use. The bed looks like a good one and eventually you’ll get the color changed, the bed set up, etc. and then you should sleep next to a wall so that Snowy does not kick you out. I had the same problem with my cats and two little dogs. I keep them all out of the bedroom now except for 2 older favorite cats. I was not getting enough sleep with 2 dogs on the bed that tended to hog the space.


    • Now the wall is a good idea, we will need to move the furniture around anyway. Trouble is how does the one next to the wall get out? and would I feel imprisoned if it was me? Dilemma dilemma. Our first dog was a black lab and he used to sleep in the bedroom with us. Of course we were sleeping on the floor as usual (on the futon mattress) and gradually Ben moved his way onto the edge of the bed and then the middle. It’s one thing sharing a bed with a small Podenco, but a full-grown Lab is another matter, as you well know. What Snowy actually does is hog the blankets. With only one short coat he must get quite cold, so likes to curl up between us and tuck the blankets around him (and thereby pulls them off me).

      Gypsies are a part of life in the UK and Ireland, and also here in Spain. Very much a European thing I suppose, but no different to nomadic tribes in Africa when you think about it.


      • Well, you sit up and then get on your hands and knees and crawl over the dog and your husband. It is lots of trouble but then again it would give you exercise for muscles you never dreamed of using. Not trying to be funny. I have always catered to my dogs and cats and even not sit in my favorite spot at the table if a cat was already occupying the chair. The things we do for our pets. Some times I feel stupid as I cave in to my pets habits and whims. :-)


        • Haha, but I did laugh. The thing is, I get up first to take Snowy out so it would make sense for me to be on the outside – and then no doubt Snowy would push me out :D I’ll report back. I can see this being an ongoing saga.

          I think we all do. It’s difficult not to. Mostly they are so little trouble, why not? Snowy barks for his breakfast and as I don’t want him annoying other people in the block I feed him. So it reinforces his behaviour, he knows if he barks he gets fed. But hell, if I was hungry I’d bark too! Same thing if a ball rolls under furniture, he barks, I retrieve it for him. I’m not a tyrant, I want my animals to have a fine happy comfortable settled life. Nothing wrong with them occupying the furniture IMO.


  17. I read Andrew’s comment that bananas are bad for monkeys. Gosh I didn’t know that. Not that I have ever fed one to a monkey. I don’t mess with wild animals. I admire them, but I know not to feed them and such.

    And thanks for the education about pikeys. I’ve heard the term but didn’t associate it with gypsies. I’ve been learning a lot from you via this blog. It’s neat.


    • Yes, but did you read colonialists, about the difference in bananas? anyway I don’t feed monkeys so not something to lose sleep over. Sounds like we think the same way. Because you are right, they are wild animals. Shame people don’t realise that.

      Given where you live, pikeys is probably more associated with chavs? Sort of rough, working-class chancers? It wasn’t a word used in my part of the world (oop north) so I am guessing it is more southern UK. As Helen said above, we used the term diddicoys, but it wasn’t necessarily derogatory.

      Thanks, is that about Spain, Gibraltar or the UK? No matter.


  18. I ran into some gypsies in Brazil. They called us over because one of their family had converted to evangelicalism and ditched them. We sympathized with their tears and comforted them that God didn’t want to break up their family, but missionaries of one church don’t really have that much to say about the poor behavior of missionaries of other churches.


    • Wow! That’s a big one into a discussion about how destructive missionaries can be. But would you have told someone to choose between God and family? Surely missionary work is about converting people at all costs? I’m as likely to buy double glazing (which I would certainly not do) as be converted to any reliion but I do dislike the concept of basically selling religion – to what value? – how does it enhance someone’s life or improve it? Financially – no. Sexually – no. Relationships – no. The afterlife – what afterlife?

      I am not a fan of missionaries whether it was Brits traipsing out to Africa to convert the savages or Jehovahs knocking on my door. Serious sales pitch preying on defenceless people.


      • I’ve been conflicted about missionary activity since I was doing it. I only made it through because we refused financial remuneration from the people we talked to. I don’t regret what I did, and I think that I helped some people live in peace with themselves and with their families. Is it really such a bad thing to tell people that they were created because of love, and that love can continue forever?


        • I can’t even believe missionaries would consider taking money from people they ‘converted’. Def double glazing sales.

          But to return to the theroretical. Who is to say what religion is right? Why are the beliefs of any missionary better or more correct than the ones of the people being ‘converted’?

          Should one follow JAHWEH/Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Allah peace and blessings be upon him, Buddha or Mammon? Does following or believing in one signify more love than another?

          In most cases people were created because two other people had sexual intercourse and the woman became pregnant. Unless of course you believe in immaculate conception and that IVF was kicking around 2000 years ago. But sex doesn’t equate to love or even the love of a God.

          To me, it’s a bad thing to interfere in other peoples’ lives and not let them think for themselves. You know better than I do how harsh so many religions are regarding LGBTQ – where is the love in that? In Nigeria? In the auto da fé? etc etc Where is the love in the repression of womens’ rights whether that is in fundamentalist USA or Islam?

          I might as well go around trying to convert people into vegetarianism and tell them to love God’s animals as themselves. I could become a Jain missionary. But I won’t, because it’s not up to me to do that.

          If you think you helped people, fine. Some people need religion, some don’t and some are happy with the one they have. All best left alone. Religion, or at least, acts carried out in the name of religion, has been responsible for some rather nasty deeds.

          And that comes to mind far more than eternal love.


          • Look. I don’t even consider myself Christian any more. All I’m saying is that having been a missionary doesn’t make me a bad person. If it’ll make you feel better about me, I wasn’t a very good one, being too hesitant to push my beliefs on other people.

            I also think that while religion has been responsible for huge sweeping evils when taken on a global scale and is responsible for my own personal tendencies toward suicide, in some situations it has been a positive force. On a societal level, Martin Luther King accomplished his advances for civil rights by working through religious organizations. Even Islam has helped prepare minds and cultures for women’s rights movements. I’ve seen many people find the comfort and emotional strength they need to endure crises and overcome addictions through their faith. Religion is not an unmitigated evil.

            And it really depends on the mind in question, doesn’t it?


          • I think you are a lot more Christian/religious than me though. You think about and question religion. It is of no interest to me at a personal level, and only at an intellectual level because it impacts on other peoples’ lives.

            I don’t think being religious makes anyone a bad person per se. Missionary or otherwise. I know your views and your past, or as much as you have written about, makes no difference to me, you are you ‘Ricky’ not Ricky the missionary, not Ricky the husband/father/son/brother etc – just you, in Rick’s café.

            At university, my degree was split between ancient and medieval history. The medieval side was so annoying, it was all based on religion in the middle ages. Endless wars, allegedly about religion. Ancient history was much better, straightforward politics and power games :D And for me, being British, missionaries always tends to remind me of do-gooders going out to Africa to convert the poor savage natives, who were more than likely perfectly content without interfering whitey.

            I won’t dispute your point that some things have been achieved through using religious organisations. But that’s because they have a power base and people need to use them to gain change. While ever religion is used to justify acts of war, interfere with a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, (whether contraception, abortion, how to dress), discriminate against homosexuals, gloss over paedophilia etc etc, it does not strike me as A Good Thing. I agree it has helped some people to get over individual traumas and problems. Some people need faith and religion, others don’t. As I said, keep it to yourself, and it’s OK, once it becomes a desire to convert everyone else to the same point of view, that’s the problem. Or when it is used to justify power politics.

            Maybe. Almost certainly.


  19. Great bed.

    My husband loves what he calls “dumpster diving” (a dumpster is a giant commercial trash bin). I’m not so crazy about some of the things he insists on bringing home (because, mostly, they are useless) but occasionally he comes up with a good find. I, on the other hand, love charity stores. Nothing beats finding something I need for a couple of dollars, that would have cost many, many more at a retail store.


    • Free bed and solid. Good enough.
      Hey, I have heard of dumpsters! Mine sounds similar. Will never say no. Always looks sad if he finds something and it is useless. Insists it will work eventually :D

      But some of his acquisitions are good. I am daily wearing the jacket he found up the track, it is great (also needs a wash, as I lift Snowy up when I walk down the stairs in it). I don’t do charity stores, no reason, I’ve looked but nothing ever takes me.

      I need to go to a shop at some point though. Wretched leggings are full of holes due to puppy teeth. Over to yours soonies.


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