… stays mainly on the N340.
The second journey in less than a month, setting off in rain. I like travelling in soft rain though. It’s soothing. They grey light doesn’t jar on the eyeballs or give me vertigo over the nasty drops when the N340 takes the high road. The N340 is the coastal route that runs down the Mediterranean side of Spain.
The non-toll road hugs the coast closely whereas the peaje soars above the coastal plains into the hills, although mostly keeping the sea views. It has evil bridges over rivers, and horrible tunnels through the mountains, neither of which are good for people with a fear of heights and claustrophobia. Bright sunshine triggers the vertigo, but cloud or rain make the journey much easier.
Back at the finca, I was relieved to hear José call out to us not long after we arrived. With neighbours in their late 80s you can’t help but worry about the inevitable even though the pair of them seem invincible. The next day he was pottering around on his terrace messing about with his plants (as was I) and Adelina wandered outside in her dressing gown too. Of course they gave us a bag of veg.
More wretched pumpkin – but I have found a pumpkin bread recipe, so it will be that or soup, or the curry I found a while back on a blog (assuming I can find it again). Plus a couple of artichokes, (which went straight into my paella), a few peppers and three courgettes that were bordering on marrow size.
While on the subject of food, I went in to see my darling cockerel, still doodling away merrily. He did not like the vile cacis either. He’d pecked at one, obviously thought it tasted disgusting and left that one and the other two untouched. Discriminating chap, say I.
What do you do in Spain when it rains? Not much really. No TV, no internet, although I did have a book with me that got finished. Sit around, chat, drink beer/tea/cava/tomato juice, depending on your preference. Cook, eat, stay in bed.
Last time I’d forgotten to remove the yellow rose. It was still there in the glass of water looking perfectly for all the world like a dried paper rose. Bizarre. Not a single petal had fallen. Outside, the red blooms valiantly stood up to the wind and the rain.
The potatoes were doing well. One tomato was persevering despite the non-tomato weather. A nasturtium grown from seeds acquired off a plant down the street was displaying its triffid tendencies. Pretty flowers too. Must look up how to use them for salads.
As I mentioned breakfast tea, and crockery last time, here is a Spanish version. Reb said that her Twinings breakfast tea comes in red boxes. So does ours in Spain. Also, they are packed in dinky little envelopes and have a nice string on. Our British ones in Gib are just a plain square tea bag, no fancy packaging. Are the red ones for the export market I wonder?
This crockery is Tognana, which I bought years and years ago. I thought I had better add that before my observant crockery experts started guessing again.
As both Reb and Jenny were guessing at the blue crockery in the Gib flat, I had a quick search on the tinties. It’s made by the Churchill company in England, and comes from the famous potteries area in Staffordshire.
Jenny and Reb had the right idea as it is Scandinavian inspired, the crockery is called Finlandia. Bread and butter plates seem to be going for $10.99 on ebay, I could have me a nice little earner there. In fact, on closer inspection, I suspect mine is a salad plate which goes for a very pretty $25.99. Even better. Trouble is I like it, so it won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. Now I’m beginning to wish they had given us the full dinner service, lock, stock, and smoking barrel.
The Churchill company dates back to 1795. On my hunt around to find out more about Finlandia, I discovered the crockery was originally made by Myott Meakin, which was then bought by the Churchill China Group in 1991.
This firm was a young upstart compared with the Churchill Group, as it was only founded as Meakin in 1875 in Tunstall, Staffordshire. Most of the tableware was made for export, particularly to the USA.
Their products were used on the Flying Scotsman, and they were employing between 1000 and 2000 workers in the 20th century. In 1976, they were bought by Myott, Son and Co to become Myott Meakin. No idea when Finlandia was first designed and produced.
I am a sucker for The Potteries (the area of the UK where the famous firms were located eg Wedgwood) and can always be found browsing around the ceramic section of any museum.
After that crockpot diversion, back to the weekend in Spain.
Partner insisted on olives with his evening salad. Off I went down to the shops in the village. Who should I meet? but Paco the van man.
Hola, como estas?
Bien, bien, etc etc
My marido told me you had work last time he spoke to you.
Yes, he said, but only for four days. Sad face.
(The going rate in the fields for a day’s work is €40)
Better than nothing, I said brightly. Yes, he agreed.
How about you? he asked.
Nobody wants me, I said. Nadie me quiere. Sad face from me this time.
Suddenly I was enveloped in a big bear hug ‘Yo te quiero,’ he said. I want you.
I couldn’t be offended, he’s a nice man and it just seemed like a friendly gesture.
For non-Spanish speakers, the verb querer is an odd one. Primarily it means to want but it can also mean to love. So te quiero can be either I want you or I love you. Presumably to Spaniards the two are interchangeable anyway :D
We saw him again on the Saturday. Days of rain had started to make their mark on the river bed when we went for a walk down there. I love the way the water course changes from time to time, with the water always choosing its own way regardless of how the bed is levelled by tractor or filled with rubble.
Leaving the river bed and wandering up the railway track, we heard loud music coming from his van. In fact he wasn’t there, he was busy cutting down cane at the side of the track, hoping to sell it to other agricultural workers who were too busy or disinclined to cut their own cane. I’ve got a lot of time for someone who is trying to survive as best as he can, and who has such a neat and tidy plot where he lives – even if it is just out of the back of a van. (There are pix over on Clouds on the link above of his plot)
We stayed in bed on Sunday. ‘We’ll get up when Manolo comes,’ said Idle Partner. There are two bread deliveries in our street, the half seven/quarter to eight one, and Manolo who, over the years has come anywhere between 8am and half nine. These days he comes pretty early. Shorter round maybe? Still, he had the presence of mind to open up a shop when a large new housing estate was built so that must help supplement the delivery income. He’s a nice bloke. We used him when we first came, although I cringed as he would sit in the back of his van, dispensing bread with fag ash falling everywhere. He has one day off a year – Christmas Day.
After we had both dozed off again, I wondered if we had slept through Manolo’s visit (he toots the van horn). Then I remembered it was Sunday and his Sunday delivery is usually around 12.30. I asked Partner if he was planning to stay in bed until midday? I got up to take out Snowy.
Not only was it a wet weekend, on Sunday morning, it seemed cold. I glanced up at the sierras that form a border with Granada province, running from the highest peak Maroma down to Nerja. Ah yes, that would explain it, topped with snow. And even as I watched and tried to take a pic, the cloud dropped rapidly over the top of them.
José and I agreed that we were having a little of everything – un poco de todo – regarding the weather. Sun, rain, cloud, wind, snow on the sierras. Looking for things to do in the garden, I decided to take down the shelter over the veg plot. It’s there for a number of reasons, sun protection, cabbage white and other veg hunting predator protection, and more recently Snowy protection. But in winter, my veg need light and sun. And obviously rain too, on the rare occasion it happens.
So down came the casa de Bolivianos. And the name? It refers to one of our neighbours up the street. A number of houses have their basement garages converted into living space. Selina is one of them, and has always rented it out. With an eye to the main chance, she decided to build a second rental property on the front terrace which is NOT big. It was sort of garden shed sized, presumably with a subterranean level as well. She promptly installed a couple of Bolivians. First they had one child, then another, and on the arrival of the third, the casa de Bolivianos obviously wasn’t big enough for five people so they went elsewhere.
But ever after, whenever we see a tiny space, we wonder how many Bolivians we could rent it out to. You could certainly sleep two in our veg plot. If you haven’t met Bolivians, believe me they are very short.
And suddenly the weekend was over and it was back to city life and work on Monday.
No queue. We sailed back across the frontier.
The pikies – part 2
It’s a good thing Partner and I don’t go out in public. He definitely fits the category of ‘if it isn’t nailed down…’
Busily working away on Friday before we left for Spain, scrounging tea and biscuits or whatever else, Partner was chatting to a woman who had 12 umbrellas. Who on earth has 12 umbrellas? She was throwing two of them out.
‘I’ll have those,’ he said, almost snatching them out of her hands. Luckily she was quite happy for him to acquire them.
Umbrellas don’t always last long here. OK when it is downwards rain, but when there is a gale-force wind, they are ripped to shreds.
So, a couple of new brollies came in handy. One each no less.
Wandering out on Monday to the supermarket, I encountered a couple of pikies of a different type outside the block.
As I’d emptied the rubbish bin, I helpfully threw the bag at the monkey. He didn’t look impressed. Clearly no tasty food inside, and he totally ignored it. (I know he was a he because I got a glorious eyeful of his rear end)
Down Main Street, one of the shop attendants was waving a brush at encroaching monkeys to keep them away. Poor monkeys.
Monkey espied my Morrisons bag. Morrisons bag means food. Junk food for monkeys. Not in empty bags, silly monkey.
He grabbed my bag. This, I can proudly state, is my very first sort-of monkey attack. Attack is too strong a word.
‘There’s nothing in there sweetie,’ I said, in my best nice dog voice. ‘Go on, leave it alone, fuera.’ (I figure monkeys speak llanito). And off he went. No harm done.
‘Are you all right,’ asked one person standing in a shop doorway. ‘Yes,’ I said puzzled. Perhaps I knew this person. ‘How are you?’ I asked quickly. ‘I’m fine but the monkey attacked you.’ ‘No, he didn’t, it was nothing.’
But therein lies the problem. People ARE frightened of monkeys attacking them. What is cute to tourists is frightening to some Gib residents. The little ones aren’t frightening but even I wouldn’t be too happy if a big alpha male decided to have a go at me.
The one sitting on the rubbish bin outside my front door was a big alpha male. Luckily he was busy finding tasties from inside the wheeliebin. As I was walking down Main Street, locals were warning each other that there were monkeys further up the street. I rang Partner in case he was going to take out the dogs.
Personally I think tourists – and taxi drivers – feeding monkeys should get an on-the-spot fine.
Almost forgot the book I finished over the weekend. ‘The Shakespeare Curse’ by J L Carrell. One of those books about a possible unfound manuscript by famous person of the past. I’ve read one before about Wordsworth. This wasn’t any better. They always involve murder because the manuscripts are worth so much and the manuscript always ends up burnt. Yawn.
The only promise seemed to be the ex-boyfriend who was former Special Services so I was expecting him to kick the shit out of everyone. He didn’t. To cut a boring story short – not recommended.
Rating, a generous two and a half out of five. Style was ok, but plot was not good.
Tightrope, on the other hand, by Antony Melville-Ross was a cracking read. It’s the usual MI6 type tale, with naturally, the odd traitor or two within the department, baddies to hunt down, a smattering of sex, departmental politics, and a few good people getting killed too. If you like that sort of book, it’s highly recommended, even Partner couldn’t put it down and polished it off in a couple of evenings.
Rating, four, or four and a half, out of five.