Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Food Shopping in Spain

Well the weather has calmed down but rain is forecasted. Off food shopping. It's strange that even though I love eating, I detest food shopping. I didn't mind it that much in the UK because it wasn't just about food Asda has its great George clothing range and homeware as do the others Sainsbury's, Tesco's. In fact they are pretty much up there with the US and one stop shopping. However, your choice here is Mercadona which requires lots of imagination, Supersol, expensive for the quality and Carrefour which does have a clothing and home range but it is a bit dated and not the best quality. I will also be doing my bit for the environment by reusing my old carrier bags.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My weekend

Friday was a dashing about day or rather a 'chasing the tail' day as it often is in Spain.

It's been gale force winds all weekend which for us have been magnified since we live on the beach. On Saturday night the storm hurled the tiles off the roof and our garden furniture took off for the sea. We stayed in all day on Sunday and only went out to hire a DVD and stock up on choc! It seems that half of Spain has been snowed in and many villages in Almeria have no electricity, water or phone lines due to the weather. According to the weather report, it is the first time in 100 years that Baza, Granada has seen snow and from the pictures on television it seems that they have had 100 years worth over a couple of days.

My excellent foresight told me to get the girls new wellies so we took a trip over to Dunnes, an Irish store in Fuengirola on Saturday morning just before the rain started. Dunnes is great for certain things that I feel there isn't the choice in the Spanish shops such as character pyjamas and slippers for children. You will find them all there including Noddy and Dora The Explorer. The also have a really good home section which is, in my opinion, quite similar to Matalan with an excellent choice in bedlinen, duvets etc so it is worth a trip especially if you are in the process of furnishing a new place.

If you are confused with all the continental underwear sizes, Dunnes is great for bras. They also have loads of ladies pyjamas and I bought a supersoft, fluffy bathrobe for just 14euros! Plus they have some fab, funky ladies wellies in leopard print or black with tropical flowers. I love funky wellies and I am wearing my black ones with white daisies. I really wanted to buy some more in Dunnes but I just couldn't justify it as we really don't wear them that often here. One essential item I did pick up though, especially for those trips back to the UK was one of those handy little hooded rain jackets in a bag.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Bidet - how do you use yours?

In the already tiny bathrooms that we find in the new apartments in Spain, why do they insist on installing those bidets. Surely the space would be better made use of as a useful little cupboard when the absence of lofts, garages etc makes finding places to put things almost impossible.

I know that you are supposed clean your bits and your bottom in the bidet by habit just as you should wash your hands. However, it is so awkward to crouch so low down and start faffing about trying not to get your clothes wet and grabbing a towels, when a quick dry wipe with some Andrex will suffice.

Melanie Griffith speaks spanish

Lately I have been feeling a bit disappointed with the fact that my spanish has reached a bit of a plateau and really isn't going anywhere. I am half Italian and I remember as a child bumping into the Italian wives of my dad's side's friends and thinking "How come her English never gets better?" And I bet that's what the spanish think of me "How long has she been here now, she still talks crap!" Inevitably I will embarass my children in the future with my accent and unawareness of the subtle nuances of the language but after watching Melanie Griffith being interviewed on TVE1 last night, I feel a whole lot better. My partner is Gibraltarian so it kind of helps that I know spanish so that I can't be spoken about in front of my face but since his first language is English and the official language of Gibraltar is English initially it wasn't necessary that I learnt. Of course, knowing that I would relocate to Spain put extra pressure on me to improve. But hey Mel, what's your excuse girl, you've been with Tony, a Spaniard, for the same amount of time that I have been with Justin and I hate to say it but my Spanish is much better than yours!

I have to tell you the interview was so painful to watch but Antonio was so kind, patient and encouraging. Had it been Justin he would have told me to get a grip and speak properly! She could barely string a couple of words together and when asked who her fave actress was, in a bid to score brownie points with the ever devoted Spanish, she answered Penelope and turned to look at Antonio "Cruz isn't it?" es fantastico! First or second lesson in Spanish is surely the adjective must agree with the noun and don't tell me she hasn't had more than a couple of lessons.

I hate to blow my own trumpet but I bet with the number of and quality of Spanish lessons that Mel's had, I would be an official interpretor for the UN by now as would most of the keen expats attending the classes ran by the local councils throughout the coasts.

Two Brit Girls Go out Walking

My good friend and walking partner in crime and I have been getting hounded by dogs recently although according to her charming husband we are the ones who are bothering the dogs! He has renamed us Yappy and Snappy, cheek! This inspired me to write a poem about one of worst dog related experiences to date:

Yappy and Snappy
Two Brit girls out walking
With a goal to keep fit
Spurred on by their talking

Happily trekking through stones, brick and rubble
Two little innocents unaware of the trouble
That shortly awaits them in the form of a dingo
Their only defence is their strange sounding lingo!

The dingo is desperate, been hungry for days
His only last hope, the foreign voice in the haze
Two pedigree chums, no hunting required
Two juicy bums, the scent gets him fired

No time for thought as he leaps into their sight
Snappy stays cool as Yappy screams out in fright
Snappy thinks fast as she whips out her tongue
Yappy is losing it, starting to run

"Go away, go away" and a right goood old bollocking
Snappy's determined to put a stop to his frolicking
Yappy is frozen, can't quite believe her eyes
As the predator turns and shys away from his prize

Yappy and Snappy were actually quite lucky
If it hadn't been for Snappy being so plucky
They could have been mauled and left there for dead
If it hadn't been for Snappy using her head!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My head is killing me!

They are fixing the ramp into the drive of the apartment that we are working from. The guy might as well be drilling into my head. I can't believe he has been at it since about nine o'clock this morning. He is going to be vibrating in his sleep tonight!

I am now starting to wonder if I am doing more harm to the environment driving around looking for the containers to dump my recyclable rubbish. It is such a hassle especially since I have to take the rubbish out of the bags to fit in the circular holes on the lid of the bin.

I am also starting to wonder if changing my girls to home lunch rather than comedor was a good idea too. It has taken two hours for one of them to eat and the thought of having to cook again in a few hours fills me with dread especially since I have had to leave the dishes piled up to drop them off at sports so that awaits me on return. Back to comedor me thinks!

Watching TV in Spain hurts

I know that watching television is a really good way of improving your Spanish but the truth is it's just so painful! We initially survived two years without UK television and we did get used to it but, dare I say it, when we finally connected to satellite, it was like all our christmases had come at once. Anyway we have just moved into a house without satellite TV, so it is back to spanish television again but no matter how hard I try I just can't sit through it. In fact, the more I understand the worse it gets. An hour's schedule is usually as follows:

Programme begins with an introduction - 2mins
Commercial break - 20 mins
programme resumes - 10 mins
commercial break- 25 mins
programme resumes - 3 mins and presenter spend 5 minutes selling a lump of margarine.

It is practically impossible to get into anything and who finds men stuffing balloons down their tops and trying on bras funny?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tie up your dogs

My favourite form of exercising is walking. I love it because you see so much more than you see in a car and it's not too painful, that is if you don't get bitten by a dog. In the past couple of weeks, my walker friend and I have found that everytime we walk we are getting more and more terrorised by dogs. I know I am going to get flamed by all those dog lovers out there but these dogs who aren't securely tied up are really starting to bother me as I am terrified of them. I am actually running out of walking routes as we have now had a couple of near misses of dog bites and change our routes so as to aviod them. I know dog lovers like to believe that those dogs are harmless, even the campo ones but my friend's husband was bitten by one whilst he was out jogging.

The garden, al fresco dining and playing with real things

We have spent the entire weekend in the garden enjoying the wonderful weather, not unlike a British summer. Howver, according to the weather reports on Spanish television the cold is on its way and there is finally snow on the mountains.

We had a barbeque yesterday and some friends came over and it's incredible being able to eat al fresco in January but I think our days dining outside are numbered, well at least for the very near future.

The girls spent the whole weekend playing with a cupboard box which they have customised with pens and paint. I know what to get them for their birthday! Not only that playing witches on the kitchen broom also kept them entertained for hours. I don't know why we waste our money on all that pink plastic, kids have always and always will prefer real things and using their imagination.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mercadona in Sabinillas and recycling

Food shopping in Spain is just that, food shopping. Unless, you go to Carrefour, there's nothing to distract you just a lot of food mainly in the raw form unlike in the UK, where it is a challenge to find food in its natural state. I think I mentioned that I was getting into recycling and I managed to find a bin which is a bit small with two compartments, one for tins, plastic bottles etc, the other for non-recycable waste.

Here in Spain, well in Andalucia, you do have to go out of your way a bit if you want to be green. Oh no, they don't come and collect it for you. You have to drive around looking for contenedors. The big yellow ones are for latas (tins), packagings and bricks (any tetrapak packaging), big green ones for glass of any colour and the blue one is for paper, cardboard etc. So I am really making a big effort here. I couldn't believe though, how the containers were completely empty and I do worry if Spain do have the resources to do the whole recylcing thing as it does take a lot of effort to seperate all your rubbish and drive around looking for the appropriate bins.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Customer Service in Spain

Following on from yesterday's mention of the new shop in Sabinillas, this morningI picked up my jacket that had been repaired in the factory in Sabinillas which does all the alterations for El Corte Ingles. If you know Sabinillas, it is tucked at the back of the square where the private medical surgery is and there are also a copule of bars there. Next to the private medical surgery I happened to notice a beauty/hairdressing salon. As it was conveniently right next to the factory where I was collecting my jacket, I decided to drop in and ask if I could have a quick wax. When I opened the door a young guy was doing whom I presume to be the owner. She told me to come back in fifteen minutes when the wax had been warmed. So I went off for what felt like more than fifteen minutes, only to return to a rather annoyed face, rolled eyes and complaint that it was going to take another ten minutes to heat the wax. Er, hello, sorry to be a diva here but shouldn't I have at least been offered a chair, forget the coffee! To send me off for fifteen minutes was fair enough but to make me feel like I was really bothering them. Customer Service of the year award will not be going to them. I should have asked for El Libro de Quejas!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New shops in Sabinillas

Did a big one and half hour walk this morning and was delighted to find that a new shop called Gaudi has opened in Sabinillas. Not only do they have a range of perfumes for sale and my fave make up brand Bourjouis but they are also very friendly in there and they have a modern beauty salon with reasonable prices. I left the shop and noticed that another new shop is soon opening across the road which will be a hairdresser/beauticians so soon there will be no excuse for people looking a mess around the Sabinillas area!

I also went to the doctor to get the pill. I have heard that you can buy the pill over the counter in Spain but I would prefer to have it prescribed to me and have my blood pressure checked.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Recycle in Spain

I know that I promised I would blog frequently and it was one of my New Year's Resolutions and I have failed miserably. However, in my defence I would like to point out that on my somewhat slow connection Blogger is painfully slow to download so cut me some slack and I have also moved house over the past couple of weeks so there!

Another one of my New Year's resolution was to recycle and I am getting right into it. I have set up what I call a little Recycle Station in my kitchen where all the seperation of refuse takes place. There is a big blue bag for plastics, packaging, cellaphane, tetrabrik cartons, a small bin for paper and card, a bag for glass and a bin for leftover food ect Amazingly, most of the waste is turning out to be recyclable waste. So I let it all build up over two or three days and I drop it off in the appropriate coloured bins on the roadside on the way to dropping off or picking up the girls from school. I am so into it and that I am actually wondering if I can find a farm to take my left over food to feed to their pigs as pig swill.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back for 2007

Been away for ages, went to the UK for a while during December and spent some time in London. When I came back, I had to prepare for Christmas and so on. Well here in Spain, Christmas is still going strong as everyone is waiting the arrival of the Kings whilst meanwhile in the UK the sales have been and gone and people can actually get on with their lives without the supermarkets being closed for the third entire weekend. Personally, I am sick of it and just want to get the damn tree down and get into a new year routine. One of my resoloutions is to blog everyday so watch this space!