Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘Spain’

Deborah Who?

Almost like Doctor Who but much less famous and far more dangerous! And, regrettably, incapable of time travel, or I really wouldn’t be sporting these wrinkles…

Fourth Doctor and the TARDIS by LinusL

Sooo – a big HELLO to any of my previous readers who haven’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil

I, in a moment of celebratory fervour, made a New Year’s resolution to renew my acquaintance with the keyboard. OK, I will hold up my hands and confess that I’ve left it a while to action this lofty declaration. Especially since I made it in 2013.

But apparently people occasionally still read “Bitten by Spain”, the book. Who knew? Some even buy it, although this latter group is but a very tiny subset of the first.
So perhaps it can be inferred that maybe people still enjoy sitting in their fave book corner, reading about my various struggles and calamities and thanking their own personal Divine Being that they’re not me!

To that end, I have made a firm promise to my current literary line manager, the inimitable Jack Scott of the fabulous “Perking the Pansies” (book and blog) fame. I promised that I will once again resume the weekly blogging. I have resolved to keep that promise, and have further resolved to hold fast to that resolve. As far as circumstances allow, that is…

First, I guess I owe some sort of explanation for my prolonged lassitude, and so I’ll try to present a brief resumé of some of the larger of my pathetic excuses for having vacated these hallowed halls for in excess of two years, as follows:

1) John finally resigned from the Fire Brigade in December 2012 to join me full-time in Spain in running the kennels business (esPerro Residencia Canina de Lujo)

Given the normal strains of colliding periodically whilst living two fairly separate and very different lives (see The Part-Time Wife….), the 24/7 exposure has left us arm-wrestling ever since:

2) We lost three members of our canine family in uncomfortably rapid succession – first, the gentle and elderly Lady Jade, followed by my partner in crime and fall guy, the giant Marcos, and finally the slightly mad and always hungry Qivi. Each and every one of them tore my heart to shreds, but Marcos – aaahh, Marcos – I still haven’t quite got over losing him, and I’m not sure I ever truly will. I wrote about him almost constantly, and was lost without him…;




3) Of course, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and so I am still prone to farcical accidents. There have been a few in the last couple of years, including a car crash which was really, really, really not my fault in that I was T-boned on my road by a guy ignoring a clear give way sign. I also managed to break my wrist when I fell from a small step-ladder whilst reaching too far (which was entirely my fault). But I topped all mishaps thus far (ever in my life, that is) with the latest, which I will report to you in a more leisurely fashion at a later date. Suffice it to say that I currently have full use of one arm only, which makes typing a slightly more tedious and error-prone exercise;


4) The kennels business turned out to be a high-performance beast – it roars like a lion and did nought to sixty in two seconds. A business with no let-up, I ran it pretty much single-handed for the first year, leaving me scarcely time to draw breath until John arrived.

At which point we (The Management) found that we had very different views about marketing, pricing and various other aspects of the thing. So we called a management and strategy meeting (a.k.a. the afore-mentioned arm wrestling contest) and I was subsequently voted off the board. So John now runs the business (and is, indeed, making a fine and splendid job of it) while I fill a back-up role in the accounts and information technology departments, which leaves me a lot more free time and therefore little excuse;

and finally,

5) My outstanding son and his utterly wonderful wife became pregnant last June, and so I have been travelling much more.

I am currently, therefore, writing this from the UK, as my first grandson Oliver was born last Thursday. Of course, it wasn’t without its hitches – Rache has married into my family, after all – and he was in fact delivered by emergency Caesarian with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and had to be resuscitated. They are all fine now, though Rache will need a few weeks yet to be considered fully recovered, and the family unit has already meshed nicely. I am more than blessed to be here with them and able to share so much of it.

Oliver, mum and dad 12 03 15


I only hope devoutly that I’m not a bad influence, and that Ollie doesn’t mean to go on as he started…


‘The Thinking Tank’ by Jae de Wylde

Much to my own great surprise, I loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

When I started reading, I took an instant dislike to Sarah, the main character. Her introduction portrays a woman suffering from a degree of immobility and pain resulting from an old accident – petulant and irascible in turns, and clingy and manipulative with her long-suffering daughter, she is exactly the sort of character for which I have little time and much scorn. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to stick with it.

The acuity of Jae´s writing pulled me in, however. Her style is exceptionally clear, well-constructed and honest.  And as I became more involved with the slowly-building picture of Sarah’s past, and her arrival in the ‘now’, my attitude changed, just as I feel it was meant to do.

As her journey of self-discovery continues, so does Sarah’s analysis of her relationships with those around her. This analysis is insightful, clear and sometimes brutally honest, but beautifully written throughout. I particularly liked many of the short, sharp philosophies that were expressed, and found myself nodding in accord with many of them.

A fairly surprising journey to Spain by Sarah brought me to my home ground, and I read with delight the masterful descriptions of places and atmosphere that flowed from Jae’s pen.

The finale was just as it should be, because I like to close a book feeling content with the outcome.

Impressed as I was, I have bought this book a number of times over to gift away. An exceptional first novel.

Snail’s pace

The rain in Spain has continued to be a pain for much of this week. Patchy it may be but light and refreshing it isn’t. The heavy and ominous clouds roll in menacingly from the west and the long grey tendrils descending from them can be seen to be lashing the countryside on approach long before their staccato sting can be felt. I have been obliged to drive up to Alicante airport and back twice in the last five days and I can honestly report that on both occasions I have actually seen waves on the surface of the motorway.

The downside of such aggressive precipitation whilst driving is that of necessity it slows me down considerably, and the journey that normally takes me just over an hour one way (as long as I stick to the new 110kph speed limit, that is) then takes considerably longer.

The upside is that the Spanish, unaccustomed as they are to driving in such conditions, fear the wet and tend to pull over onto the hard shoulder to sit it out while the heavens empty, leaving me my own personal three-lane road.

The inclement elements put paid too to the Semana Santa parade in Bullas on Sunday  (and, I understand, in many other towns) . Here it was summarily cancelled on the basis that the costumes (the inverted ice cream cones, or Klu Klux Klan outfits as they are popularly known) do not come with an aqualung as standard. So they will just have to stay in mothballs for another year, and the kids will have to do without the armfuls of free sweeties that are normally hurled about for their delectation during this parade.

Back at the finca, the rain has flushed out from the fields a gazillion snails that escape the waterlogged mud to gather on the camino. This makes driving along the camino at such times a decidedly crunchy experience, what with the slowly-advancing army of the snails themselves coupled with the hordes of Bullas gente who also gather in the camino and can commonly be seen stooping low to collect sackloads of the poor gastropods for the old paella.

The rain, while saving us considerable time (and cost) by negating the need to water the crops and the garden every day, has on the other hand made it difficult to get any work done outside while John has been here. We are in the throes of erecting a wooden pergola on the patio at the front of the house, in the hopes that we will have created some much-needed shade there come the uninterrupted summer sun. This pergola is to be built along the same lines as the porch, with railway sleepers forming the pillars, and large-section timbers for the beams.

The sleepers, laden with tar already, have been lying outside (in the rain) for some months now, and so have become sodden. This has made them even more ridiculously heavy than they already were. John, a firefighter, is quite capable of lifting heavy and awkward weights – a mere 5’8″, he is nonetheless a powerhouse and doesn’t flinch when hoisting a 20st man on his shoulder and descending a ladder with him. But even he found himself heaving and straining and turning purple to manhandle these sleepers into position, and I didn’t have a hope in hell of budging them.

We managed, though, mainly through John’s efforts, to place them correctly, albeit prone. Also to notch them all appropriately so that they are ready for the fitting-together stage of the main frame, which we hope can be carried out when John’s out next (weather permitting, of course). I don’t even want to think about the effort that is going to be involved in lifting them into the upright position and holding them steady until they are braced, but hey! No gain without pain, as they say. “They” being sadists, I expect.

I do glance out each morning to check, but alas thus far we haven’t been visited by the pergola fairies.

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