Monday, February 19, 2007

My weekend

Saturday morning, we decided to seperate the girls to give them a bit of one to one. So I headed in the direction of Banus whilst Justin headed for not so glam, Los Barrios to help our friends choose a PC. We opted for Marina Banus, which is a lovely, manageable sized shopping centre with everything that you need except for a supermarket like La Canada and Miramar. That doesn't bother me as I don't think food and clothes shopping should be mixed. Anyway, I prefer Marina Banus when I have the girls with me as it is smaller and always quite quiet. What's more is there a Terra Sana which have a really varied menu with lots of tasty but healthy options. They have also sectioned off a little play area for young children with a playhouse and building blocks.


I think that there is a really good selection of shops including the usual Zara Women,Kids and Men, Massimo Dutti, Adolfo Dominguez. As far as toys are concerned for younger children or 'shopping bribes', there's an Imaginarium. There's a lovely shop with loungewear and cute underwear called Oysho but, of course, the biggest cup size is a B and I don't think any of the cothes are bigger than a 12/14 maximum!There's also an Elle and if you are after shoes and are dissapointed with the poor choice in La Canada, there's a really nice shoe shop called Fosco. The only drawback is that their sandals are often on the narrow side. I bought some wedges from there once and I had the really awful hangover the sides look going on whilst my feet walk a stationary tight rope. If you are looking for things for the home, El Corte Ingles is just across the road, plus there is an excellent English bookshop around the corner. There are a couple of blingy designer shops if you are looking for something a bit special. I picked up a new pair of trainers for the spring/summer from the sports shop for the barganious price of 32 euros. Not bad for Adidas and perfect for tennis, walking etc.

We reunited the girls in the afternoon and settled down to watch The Break Up with Jennifer Aniston that evening.

Yesterday (Sunday), we met up for a picnic at the beach in Estepona with some of the girls' classmates and their parents. It was really good fun as parents brought kites and we played all kinds of games. The girls then went on to play in Estepona's fantastic, long park with all its brand new equipment. Parks in the UK just do not compare. It gets really packed on a Sunday with generations of Spanish families, all in their Sunday best.

Did a beach walk this morning and guess what? No dogs. I find beach walking so invigorating as your lungs feel like they are swelling with oxygen (erm,probably not a good thing?). I then tackled Mount Everest of ironing piles.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentines, tennis and Friday nights out

I played tennis on Wednesday morning and I am still aching. Valentines was spent with a Chinese takeaway from the only Chinese takeaway in Sabinillas which happens to be very good and reasonably priced. That was rounded off with a slab of Dairy Milk Crunchie mmm romantico!Yesterday, was a day for writing articles and a pile of ironing. Out tonight with friends at Fox's restaurant in Sabinillas. They do the most delicious British food and large portions! Seafood and salad is all very nice but in the winter sometimes you just crave your British stodge.
We have invested in a couple of paddel rackets to make use of the court on our urbanisation so who knows, might even squeeze a game in today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Chatting with old friends

It's a lovely bright sunny day. Trying to get organised after having just spent an hour and a half on the phone to my friend Luzy in the UK. We had loads to catch up on and I can't wait to see her next week. This is the drawback to moving to Spain, leaving your old friends behind.Mind you, we just slip back into where we left of.Then I'm back again to the UK without the girls and we will no doubt spend a day in Oxford Street. This kind of compensates but it would have been nice to nip over for a coffee and a chat this morning in person. Nowhere beats London for shopping.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The bra issue is finally resolved

I finally have well fitting bras. I made it to Dunnes and they have a fantastic selection of styles. They don't have the best range of sizes but it's the best I've found without going to Marks and Spencers in Gibraltar. If you are looking for lounge and leisurewear, they have a really good choice and sizes go up to a 22 for some styles. They also have some lovely swimwear ranging from bikinis to more sporty one pieces.

I am prepared for Valentine's with a heart shaped mould for the cake I am going to bake. A lady working in the gift shop in Sabinillas at the 'new' end on the corner commented today on how much my Spanish has improved since the last time I was in. I felt really chuffed and put it down to watching Spanish TV.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rollerblades,bras and chicken in Sabinillas

Yesterday early evening I loaded the car up with girls and a huge bag of rubbish for the recycle bin. The plan was to get rid of the rubbish in a yellow bin and drop into Supersol for some essentials i.e water,bread etc. Instead I ended up in Decathalon in Los Barrios on the hunt for Rollerblades. Avoid Los Barrios, Palmones, Carrefour early Saturday evening as it is absolutely heaving. Anyway, I'd driven there so there was no point turning back. I had a quick mooch around C&A which hasn't changed a bit since they closed in the UK, neither has their stock. Feeling uncomfortable in my badly fitting bra, I decided to see what they had on offer. T-shirt bras for less than 5euros in neutral black, white or beige. Shame about the sizes. I have worked out the spanish sizes though:

70 -32
75-34
80-36
85-38

and so on. However, in the standard section there were no cup sizes bigger than a B. then I noticed a slightly frumpy looking 'larger' range and managed to find a bra that might fit. I tried it on. Perfect fit than I noticed from the colour of the strap that it had obviously been worn or someone really sweaty had tried it on before me. Yuck! It wasn't cheap though at 20 euros for a bra from C&A. So next stop is Dunnes and if all else fails Marks and Spencers at the end of the month.

Anyway, getting back to Rollerblades in Decathalon. I bought them a couple of sizes bigger and they haven't taken them off since. They were a bargain at 16 euros and they come in bright pink for girls or bright blue for boys. It was the pads that were as expensive as the skates. I had to get them some as my partner as Justin had bought me some for Christmas and didn't seem fair for them to have to watch me having all the fun skating!

By the time we got home it was eight and I wasn't in the mood to get the pots and pans out so Justin offered to get what we call Cateto Chicken. Cateto means a bit rough which describes the guy who makes the chicken in his shop 'Boutique de Pollo'. Yes, the name does conjure up images of chickens in D&G mini dresses. Anyway, I forgot to mention that by this point I still hadn't dealt with the recycling so the bag was stinking out the car. Justin parked up by the non-recyclable bins near to Cateto Chicken. He could have just easily thrown it in the normal bin but conscious of how much effort I go to seperating the rubbish he dragged it across the other side of Sabinillas on foot, in search for the yellow bins. Meanwhile, Chicken Man and crew looked on confused as they sipped their wine and served their chicken and chips. Justin loves the guys in there. They are always so happy, drinking and discussing all kinds of things. Last night the subject was the difference between cava and champagne.They really do the best chicken in the area and he won't share his secret or what he calls his 'arte' with anyone. Justin always comes back from there in such high spirits (which he always gets offered there). You can find them on the road behind the seafront in Sabinillas.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A phoneline

We got up this morning, weather was iffy and decided to head for some Banus action. We thought we'd pick up a couple of new CDs for the car since we are getting a bit bored with our current selection. To be honest there wasn't much choice in El Corte Ingles so I am just going to hold out until I go to the UK at the end of the month to stock up on the latest as I am a bit out of the picture musicwise at the moment. Anyway, we applied for a phoneline for our new house about six weeks ago and we had just about given up hope when the mobile rang in El Corte Ingles. It was a Telefonica technician saying he was ready to set us up if we were in. We both looked at each other, thinking the same thing....run for the car! When Telefonica call you offering to install a telephone line you never tell them you are busy as you never know when the opportunity will arise again, if ever.

Anyway, we have been running an internet business for two and half years with the minimum connection ranging from scrounging other people's wireless outside dustbins in Estepona to 250k (which was considered a luxury in comparison) Iberbanda connection which often goes down for days. So to have 1Meg is like all our Christmases have arived at once and for the first time it has been a pleasure to logon to blogger which has up until now been off puttingly slow.

I made a lovely cheat's cake this afternoon.It is a Bizcocho (sponge cake) mix that you can buy in the chiller section in Carrefour. It's Nestle and absolutely delicious, really homebaked tasting. It comes in a sealed pack as a ready to bake mix that you just need to pour into the tin.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Even More Sales Assistant Troubles

Well just as I thought, I turned up their first thing this morning with the said dress and low and behold they started to question the matter because the price tag was not attached to the dress. Well, I felt a rush of hot fire inside my belly which flushed up my osephogus and I said in my best Spanish "I knew this was going to happen. I bought this dress yesterday and I have not worn it. I am not a criminal and I do not go out at night wearing your dresses so I can return them the next day".This was the only way I could get the point across in Spanish as I am lacking the subtle nuances of the language. Well after chatting with the manager and making me feel like a cheating scunner, they'let me off'. What a flaming cheek! For god's sake I've known people to wear Marks and Spencer's knickers and return them because they make them itch. I am sick of it now, don't they realise that they lose customers treating people this way. If I had the patience I would just wait and do all my clothes shopping in the UK but sometimes you just need new clothes and you can't.


That brings me on to the subject of needing new bras. My shape has changed since I've moved here and I've, ahem, put on a bit of weight. Hence the need for new bras and a definite need to be measured. So , what does everyone do here apart from waiting to the next visit to the UK to be measured in Marks and Spencer? I tried a shop in Estepona. I asked the SA if she could measure my bust and she looked at me in horror as though I was suggesting some kind of act of lesbianism. Once she had got over my suggestions, she asked me what size I thought I was. "Here we go", I thought, "round and round in circles". I asked her what people usually do and she replied that people usually have an idea of their size and just try on until they find what fits. I explained that I needed a bra with a narrow back and large cups and then she gave me that 'you freak' look again and with that I made my excuses about running late and left the shop. It was all so painful, I don't know why I bother, I just complicate my own life attempting this stuff. However, this doesn't resolve the issue of my badly fitting bras and potential back problems and sagging breasts in later life.

Why doesn't someone set up a service out here where they visit you in your home, armed with a measuring tape and a bag of bras. Why don't the spanish do measuring? Don't get me started on children's shoes, another bug bear of mine. Here, you just guess the size and hope for the best until your child complains about sore feet. When I last visited the UK , I had my girls' feet measured and felt so guilty on discovering that one of them was wearing a whole shoe size too small despite my having just bought her new ones. So another potential business service, children's foot measuring.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Estepona in the rain

I can't believe how much it rains. Now, I know it looks bad but I ended up having a look around some more clothes shops today. I went to Estepona high street in the rain. I just felt so peeved with the rain and wearing those blasted polonecks everyday that I needed a bit of cheering up. I promise to work extra hard next week Anyway, I came across a shop that I can't remember the name that stock a brand called Only and I found a lovely summery shirt dress which I can wear with flip flops in the summer. But since I can't wait until then, I'll wear it with my leggings and boots in the meantime. I also bought myself a little early Valentine's present (just in case I don't get anything), some cute, art deco tulip, cloth studs from an interesting shop called Superocho which sells some clothes and unusual jewellery etc. I had a scour around the shoe shops but they all looked a bit cheap and the same old thing. I have to say the clothes shops in Estepona don't really get me excited as again they are a bit conventional and there isn't much there, anyway. I bought a tunic dress/topic in Mango but having tried it on properly at home, it makes me look pregnant and I feel a bit matronly in it. So, I'll take it back. I have the receipt in the bag but hasty old me, ripped the tag off so no doubt the SA will have a scratch and sniff to make sure I didn't wear it out the night before, as if, I can't even find a baby sitter. I haven't been out for so long, I wouldn't even know how to behaviour in public. Mind you, in the shop where I bought the earrings, the SA asked me if I was a student here. I felt flattered that she thought I was young enough to be a student. Mind you if I can recall from my own university years, some of the Spanish students were about at least forty so perhaps she wasn't implying that I look young.

Soup,gameshows and a hot bed.

I went to the fridge last night and found some random veggies. Not quite sure what to do with them I decided to throw them together to make a soup for today's lunch. I put in pumpkin, carrots and some other bits and bobs including chick peas. It was all going okay until I added the spinach. I decided to leave it overnight and I looked at this morning and despite its potential vitamin content, the thought of eating it made me reach so I sieved it and threw it away. I am really lacking imagination foodwise at the moment. My friend has emailed me a nice Moroccan Chicken recipe but we always seem to eat chicken at the minute. It doesn't help that I have a partner that 'can't cook, won't cook'. Talking of game shows, I was watching the Spanish version of 'Millionaire' last night. Well, if you live in Spain you will be aware that Telefonica are a real nightmare and people complain about all sorts of problems ranging from weak signals to phoneline issues. Anyway, it came to phone a friend and the poor guy could barely hear his friend as the signal was so weak!

Rain again, which gave me the opportunity to wear my new Dunnes rainmac in a bag. If you are moving to Spain do not get rid of your winter wardrobe thinking that you will never need it again, you will. In fact, often you need to wear more clothes indoors, especially to bed. We like to warm up the bed with an electric blanket until it stopped working a couple of weeks ago. I dread getting into a cold bed, what a passion killer! Anyway, I was shivering under the duvet last night and I wandered how my mother survived the cold in Scotland without central heating. Then it came to me, the hot water bottle! So, I managed to track down three hot water bottles and it worked a treat. Not quite an electric blanket but what a difference!

Oh, I forgot to mention that my friend and I breakfasted in Terra Sana in La Cañada yesterday. I was really impressed by the standard of the service and the healthy choices on the menu. I also noticed a recycle bin in there something which is very lacking in the fast food places which package all their foods in potentially recyclable packaging. That's another thing that puts me off the fast food chains as well as the crap they put in their food and the low pay and working conditions that their staff receive. I worked in Wimpey as a student for about a pound an hour and it was horrendous.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Shops and keeping fit

Yesterday, en route to Carrefour in my bid to try a different supermarket, I stopped off at Lidl. Every week a circular goes around promoting all the offers of the week which are usually far more interesting than their food. Well, it's been exercise equipment recently so I stopped off and bought a mat and a set of dumbells. I then realised that I didn't have enough cash as any purchases under 25 euros must be paid with cash and the two products combined were about 2 cents short so I hopped back in the car to find a parking space to get to a cashpoint to withdraw the cash.

I bought the goods and drove onto Carrefour. I had a quick browse around the DVDs and stumbled across Claudia Schiffer's excercise DVDs. Now these DVD's are really old as I had the lower body workout on video but compared to all the latest sleb fitness DVD's it was actually very good, if not a bit dated now as it is just straight forward aerobic exercise, lunges et al, although not quite Jane Fonda. So, I opted for both DVD's for upper and lower body. For 8euros a go, you can't go wrong and I know they work because I did the lower body one albeit at a slower pace, throughout my pregnancy and I was fit enough to push out twins without any pain relief, assistance etc. So here goes. If I can't get walking because of those blasted dogs, I've got to do something in time for summer. I am also planning to join the Albayat in Costa Galera to do the classes there. It makes sense at only 45 euros per month for unlimited classes in beautiful surroundings, if you consider that I pay 10euros for each belly dance class and I have to schlep all the way to Estepona at night and look for a parking space for half an hour.

I met a friend in La Cañada today (god sounds like I just visit shops everyday). Maybe, it's because we are in between seasons but the shops are so inspiring and they are either polyester paradises or beige/brown classic fests. I am at a funny age where I am too old to dress like a teeny bopper with fun tshirts and hipsters but I am not ready to resign myself to wearing the same classic white shirt and beige trousers combo a la Massimo Dutti. It is all so matchy matchy in the shops here and nothing excites me. Even Zara is very dull with same old fitted shirts and cropped trousers coming in, in other words conventional, safe officewear. I mean I don't want clubbing gear by any means, just a bit of variety. Perhaps, I just need to be patient and wait to see what comes out over the next month or two and in the meantime just shut up and suffer my neck strangling polonecks.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Agro Jardin and eating out prices

The sky has just clouded over with a black soot like blanket. It's freezing cold. With the amount of rain we have had recently surely there won't be any water shortages this year.

We took the girls to Agro Jardin yesterday at about midday. It's like a huge garden centre but more off the N340 Estepona. They also sell some furniture, have a pets corner and a coffee shop with a small ball park with slides etc. It is very popular and if you pick the right time of the day it's not too choca with kiddies. Well, yesterday it was crammed. There were no English children which is unusual for there as the Brits love it. However, it was midday which is almost lunchtime for the Brits and the Spanish don't eat until at least half two.

We then tried a new restaurant around the corner from where we live San Rafael. We stuffed ourselves silly as the food was yummy. We had paella and the girls had swordfish and chips. It wasn't cheap though as it came to nearly 60 euros without starters or dessert. It is a misconception that it is cheap to eat out in Spain compared to the UK. For example, if I wanted a kiddie friendly meal, I could go to the Beefeater or Harvester and pay the same but with desserts.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

More Sales Assistant Troubles

Lots of rain yesterday so in true modern day British fashion we headed for shopping centre. As I had to exchange some cool dungarees for my girls in a bigger size in Dunnes. I love these denim dungarees. They are super soft and kind of worn looking and only 21 euros. They are so versatile with a long sleeved top underneath and a cardi over the top for playing around the house. Anyway we you enter Dunnes there is no sign for a customer service desk so I wandered into the store with my bag of too small dungarees and asked an SA where I should go. She pointed to the cigarette counter, uh am I missing something? When I got there I got a right telling off for walking into the shop with the bag. Following my incident in the furniture store, I am unlucky with SAs or what. What happened to customer service instead of treating every customer like a potential shoplifter. Don't they realise by being so defensive they lose sales. I happen to quite like Dunnes for certain things so I can't boycott that one but I should have asked for the Libro de Quejas. Anyway, we went into Miramar for breakfast and it was dead. A rainy Saturday morning and there was none to be seen except a handful of fellow expats.

Anyway, the sun is shining again and the whole place looks a lot better.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Railway Station in Malaga

I read Camel Humps and Strawberries yesterday. Talking of books, the date for the Harry Potter 7 has been released. As a Harry Potter geek, I was expecting it to be released on the 7th day of the 7th month of the 7th year but hey I still can't wait. Now if I can't get to the UK for the release date, please don't spoil it for me, although, I am guilty of scraping together bits of storyline on www.mugglenet.com.

Good news for shopaholics at a loose end on a rainy Sunday in the Malaga region, the new Renfe station has opened! Vialia María Zambrano includes 100 shops, a cinema and is open on a Sunday. I am also keen to check out the new and only ice rink in the area in Benalmadena.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Camel Humps and Strawberries

I have just been sent a copy of Marianne Tommsen's Camel Humps and Strawberries to review.The author and her husband were in their late forties when they began looking for a holiday home on the Costa Del Sol. After four years of searching they bought three old properties in a morrinsh village. I will let you know what I think.

A hat stand

Not being feeling well the past couple of days, feverish and shivery. I hope the weather brightens soon as the south of Spain isn't half as pretty without the sun shining on it. We had an alarm installed yesterday that has a button which connects you to the guardia civil instantly so I can now sleep at night. I feel a bit vulnerable with a house backing onto the beach.

I am desperate to find a hat/coat stand or some hooks that you can slide over the door to avoid making holes in the wall. My friend and I went into a large furniture store in Sabinillas yesterday, Bernardo Muñoz. It made us so uncomfortable as the sales assistant tailed us all around the store whilst we looked at these ridiculously expensive hat stands. It was awful as she followed us all the way to the front door and pulled a face at me when I said thanks and bye. What's wrong with these people, surely they don't enjoy it when they go into shops. I won't be returning there again but Justin reminded me that it has happened to us before in that shop where they have chased us up and downstairs whilst we looked at the furniture. Anyway, if you like heavy, old fashioned furniture and a shop reminiscent of the past head for there.