Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bazaars and Bright Blue Skies

Yes, it is cold today and I spoke to some Spanish ladies at the gym who are finding it unbearable but I find it quite pleasant. It is still bright outside for most of the day and the sky remains blue despite the drop in temperatures. In the morning you can still go for a walk along the seafront and feel invigorated at the end of it. It is two thirty now but it is still daylight and the day still feels quite long and unrushed.

I think I may have mentioned before about the number of shops that I see closing down at the moment. It seems that for every shop that I see closing there is a chinese bazaar opening. Some of them sell all kinds of things from stationary to sponges but the quality is often really bad and you end up buying a load of stuff that you don-t even need. Also, there are lots of chinese clothes shops opening. The clothes come from the warehouses in Malaga.They are priced cheaply but they probably won-t last you more than a season. The reason behind the opening of these shops can only be that in an economic crisis we should all feel compelled to buy tat instead of quality that is more likely to see us through until the end. I suppose parents who are really struggling will buy children christmas presents from the chinese shops but the standards are so low I find it worrying from a safety point of view and think that they would be better off looking for quality toys at car boot sales or charity shops.

That-s not to say that everything that they sell in the bazaars is bad, you can be lucky but I have bought things that fall apart or break easily and then I end up buying the more expensive alternative. I find that the quality of stock is usually a bit better in the euro shops or the moroccan owned shops.

In the UK charity shops are experiencing a boom in trade as people are looking for quality at cut price rather than having to continually buy from cheaper shops like Primark. Having said that, Primark quality is still far superior than the chinese clothes shops that are opening and the prices are similar.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Día del niño

My children informed me yesterday that it was Dia del Niño (Universal Children's Day). I found it quite ironic that it should happen to fall around the same time as this survey in the UK. Imagine growing up in a country where you are regarded as vermin!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lovely Oranges!

A friend of mine has kindly shared some of her oranges that are grown locally around here. Wow they are delicious and kind of pregnant as they come with a cute little surprise baby orange inside, a bit like an egg with two yolks or a pepper with a baby one inside.Oranges can be a pain to peel and that puts people off but these ones peel really easily.

Fruit, the ultimate in fast food, with its own biodegradable packaging!

Back to blighty

Well we have been to Blighty aka shopping mecca and back over the past week. There is temptation of every kind everywhere especially food and spending wise. There are some bargains to be had compared to Spain especially where clothes and toys are concerned. However, you have to be so careful not to lose control because you could end up succumbing to every offer that is put in front of you.

I was quite restrained this time and limited my shopping to some practical, comfy shoes from Clarks (tiny spanish shoes have given me bunions over the past five years!), as did Justin who instantly felt less giantesque in the UK. I also got the girls feet measured(poor things are at the mercy of my guess work here). Of course, I had the requisite little Primark spree. Okay, I know we have Primark in Jerez but it still doesn't beat the UK stores in terms of rapid stock turnover.Not content with one pair of shoes, greedy old me, I used a rather generous 20% off voucher for Dotty Ps which I found online and treated myself to some new boots which again allow me to spread my toes when worn.

So what were my impressions of the UK after six months of cold turkey away? Well, it feels almost like going to bedtime soon all day long. The central heating makes me dozy and lethargic. The cold isn't a problem. Wrap up and you are fine to go out and enjoy the stunning autumn hues but the oppressive grey sky is a lot to bear. A bright blue sky would make a big difference.

Customer service was, on the whole, very good as shop staff are generally jolly and obliging despite the grey blanket hanging overhead. In fact, people were polite and courteous despite what the media would have you believe that everyone is stabbing the next person. The roads were busy and everyone looks so purposeful. I had to keep reminding my girls to say thank you as they are not programmed to instantly react with a thank you here but I did have to hold back from saying hello to people that I passed on the street. I did get tired with such a short day as we felt under pressure to cram everything in during the limited daylight.

It is also sad not to see people out walking along the streets enjoying the mild autumn. Where are all the people? In their cars it seems by the volume of traffic!

Friday, November 07, 2008


In our house we really like a cereal by Quakers called Cruesli but at over 3 euros for a tiny box of 375g per box it can work out quite expensive over a week so I am always on the look out for cheaper supermarket equivalents and so far the Mercadona version has always been the winner at 2 euros 10 cents and tastes nearly as good. Well I have been ranting on about my hot Lidl finds lately and so I thought I would try their version a much bigger box of 750g and entitled Muesli Crousti. The brand name is Bellona and it costs 2,20 a packet. Well, I have to say yuck, yuck and yuck again to this one, it bears no resemblance to Cruesli with a really strong vanilla ice cream flavour. So no doubt it will sit in the cupboard collecting dust unless I can dream up some other use for it.