19 agosto 2005

Spanish Diary (Part 2)

Pam's brother Nigel came over a couple of weeks ago, he is a lovely lad but rather camp without realising it; he is also well known for speaking without thinking! So it was no surprise that when he was offered cannabis in the local bar by a pusher who is about 17stone and 6', Nigel, in English, said the first thing that came into his head: "I'm a policeman!” Saying this is not a good idea in the first place, but fortunately I doubt the pusher believed a 5'-5" tall mincing Brit was in the constabulary! When the same thing happened the next night with another pusher, Nigel now knew that it was not a good idea to say he was a policeman so he said "Anglaterre, Anglaterre!", which I think is French for "England, England!" Yep, that should do it in a Spanish country bar…Nige!
Nigel also needs to go to the bar every day for a drink. As we didn't want to go he went alone. He didn't want much to drink so after the first one he said "Poco cerveza" which he thought meant "I don't want much to drink" Unfortunately what he actually said was "that wasn't much beer" so they brought him a bigger beer next time and when he said it the next time he got an even bigger glass of beer, and the time after, right up to a schooner! They also bring you a small plate of food with every beer which he was also unable to stop, so he didn't really need the meal we had prepared either.
I rang the builder - Rafael - again about his estimate and found another pool-builder to get another estimate [Both are coming today, I hope, the pool-builder in the morning and Rafael at 20:00 hours] This did not work out as planned, the guy who came was in fact a plumber but he did know a pool builder who could do the work for us, so I rang him and he came the same day. He looks quite promising. Rafael did come and will give us an estimate next week.
We also went to a company that make reinforced concrete beams for the pergola to find out suitable sizes of main beams and top struts. I will be quite expert on these things when the garden is done! It seems the main beams weigh about 200Kg each…scary.
Our Spanish lawyer has been promising us for months that he will sort out our local Council Tax but as we need to get planning permission for the garden we went there ourselves yesterday - and it seems the lawyer had done nothing – the property is still in the name of the previous owner, but we have now started arrangements for it to be transferred to us in Granada. We have just noticed, though, that the receipt we have is for the correct previous owner but the wrong address [it is for next door] I feel another trip coming on.
If we can sort out estimates and building dates over the next week or so, we can set out to explore the countryside a little, at the moment we are always in waiting for a builder to call. Maybe we will take off for a few days to another part of Andalusia.
We were driving down a track a couple of days ago when we saw a sign ahead with an exclamation mark that said "Undefined perils!", so we turned back only to find a similar sign on the route we had just travelled! They only seem to put signs randomly; mind you it was a hairy road with hairpins and sheer drops on one side with no barriers at all.
We also went to a hole in the wall for some money. I put the card in and pressed all the right buttons. Out came the card and receipt but no money…panic. Pam went into the bank and then I noticed that the receipt said “transaction cancelled”. Apparently they had lost the computer line for a while so all is well.
Today was a bit quieter, we went across to one of our neighbours for lunch and very nice it was too, even if it is an acquired taste. We had spiced sausage, followed by fried squid, rabbit paella and some lovely meringues with coffee. Quite a spread don’t you agree! We then came home and slept until about an hour ago.
Rod - Retired

11 agosto 2005

Spanish Diary (Part 1)

I have just started to keep a diary of the misadventures of being retired in Spain. I hope it give some impression of the life we now lead! I have not put any dates in but it is sequential, so there may well be more than one today.
Pam wanted the utility done out properly with a sink and work surface. This has taken some time and along the way we were persuaded to have a marble worktop [don’t ask… I’m easily persuaded]. This project has not run to schedule. One weekend has turned into 5 weekends’ elapsed time and still it has not been completed.
The builder – Rafael – finally came and put in a proper flue for the gas heater and 5 electrical sockets… then he went away again.
Thursday was supposed to be a quiet day…then at 1500 came a plumber we had never met before, completely out of the blue to do some work; we were expecting someone on Saturday! It's lucky we were home at all. He dug into the internal wall with an enormous jack hammer to find the water pipes! I could not believe it, but it worked, he is clearly expert at what he does. Two hours later he had gone and we had revised water piping and we could have our, very belated, lunch!
Another [new] builder was coming at 6:30 to quote for the pool/patio. He wanted to meet by the church as it would be easier to recognise each other there…only…there was a funeral with about 150 people outside, complete with hearse and lots of cars! It was more by luck than judgement we found him! I had done some comprehensive plans and proceeded to discuss them with the two new builders who turned up and our Spanish neighbour [with Pam in the background]. When they eventually understood what I wanted, they needed to get another guy to come who specialises in pools. He came round so now there were six of us! During all this, Pam had a telephone call which we had to interrupt and then we all trooped round to a house in the village where a pool was being constructed to see what we would be getting. Pam is surprised at the actual size of the pool we are having - 3m x 5m, it looks much bigger than she thought it would.
Friday night we had gone to bed when the phone rang…unfortunately Pam answered it and managed to put the phone down on Rafael who was trying to contact us for some reason or other. I couldn’t be bothered to ring him back until the morning. I rang at about 0900 and asked if he was coming or not to be greeted by a most authentic cough to signal that he would not be with us on Saturday. I do not understand Rafael very well. He is a great bloke but very difficult for me to understand. I thought he said he would pop by to see us on Sunday [today] and then do the work next Tuesday. Pam and I were relaxing in bed this morning having a cup of tea when I heard a van outside, Rafael had arrived at 0800 to do the work, complete with a very bad cold.
You cannot put marble onto wooden supports; you have to use brick columns! At present Pam says the utility looks like a stable with brick stalls in it but I’m sure it will look just fine in a couple of days.

When Rafael came to do the kitchen, he did not bring enough bricks, so we had to go and get some more. Unfortunately, there is a street market so we had to thread our way though the market stalls, twice.
He originally said he would come back next Tuesday to fit the marble, make that Monday – I think, I’ll let you know. Now I have to go to a builder’s merchant to get some edging tiles for them to be fitted.
The kitchen has now been done and looks really beautiful. The marble top is shiny black but has an iridescent sheen of different colours depending on how the light catches it.
Our 71 year old neighbour is helping us get some quotes for the pool/patio. When I saw him today it is obvious that he thought I should have done that yesterday! I didn’t realise! We have had bad weather for the last few days with lots of snow and rain and were getting stir crazy so as Saturday dawned bright and clear we went to Granada for the day, from 0930 to 2030. We walked for miles and had a great time; Pam had seafood spaghetti for lunch, rather her than me. The wine was nice though.
The doorbell just rang [Sunday at 1700] and the pool man just brought a quote for our pool, it seems very expensive, I hope we get better [cheaper] quotes than that.
Pam has just brought in the dinner which was excellent with salad, patatas bravas [spuds done in oil and spices] pork in breadcrumbs and of course a glass of vino.
Now we are going to settle in for the night with the, Spanish, TV. Pam watches it but I doubt she understands a word of it – I rarely do! She just needs it on in the background, like the soaps.
Oh, I almost forgot, we went to Malaga with the other OAPs in the village this proved to be a great laugh, the first charabanc I have been on since I was a kid! We visited some beautiful caves and the Picasso museum. Then we went to a “restaurant”…you’ve never seen anything like it! It was full - about 500 people, and the waiters come round with plates of food shouting out what it is [in Spanish], if you want it you call him over and they give you a plate. You keep doing this until you have had enough! Then they count the plates and charge you by the plateful. The noise was horrendous!
To be continued...
Rod Parker - Retired

07 agosto 2005

Muere a los 78 años el cantante cubano Ibrahim Ferrer (1927-2005)

Info y Obituario: Ibrahim Ferrer, icono de la música cubana.


La canción de la semana #19

Everybody knows Santana version of Tito Puente song. But this is Oye como va performed by Klímax. The lyrics is just two lines:
Oye como va mi ritmo
Bueno pa gosar mulata
Like it? Then check other great Cuban stuff at Timba site. I could play it all night long! Meanwhile, I am going on holidays so next posting will be in September.

Adios a todos,