Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh my goodness

RoboCop - I spent half an hour trying to persuade it to take my 6,30 euros
Oh my goodness.  I went to a slimming club this evening.  Came out with a lighter wallet and a wadge of things to read.  Got a parking ticket for being a blonde and not realising it.  Council offer of the day was fork out 60 euros at the police station or pay 6,30 on the spot.  I opted for the second.  Several other blondes had parked next to me so I felt a lot better.
At the slimming club I have been paired up with another lady, Christine, so that we don't let our partners down. We swapped phone numbers so we can encourage each other.  I found the British atmosphere a little alien particularly that baked beans seem to be allowed with everything. It made me realise I have become quite the native.  A lot of useful information including how to make a tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) without olive oil.  I can't begin to imagine what The Artist would say about that.
 Came home and had two glasses of cava and a pizza.  Am now off to bed to read up info wadge and see where pizza fits in.  Joking apart, I start tomorrow.  Before my knees and hips give out forever.  I've been given a 1kg goal to lose this week.  Even I should be able to manage that.
No weather report - got a new widget on the side of the page that does it all for me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It’s the little things in life

The alloy centre that goes inside my 17 215/40 tyre - whatever that means

I’VE BEEN saving up to replace two tyres on the car.  It might sound ridiculous but if your car comes fitted with huge, fat tyres that give you traction like a tank and help your car guzzle petrol you’ll know they don’t come cheap.  For those in the know they’re 17 215/40 tyres.  If that's you, please email me and explain what this means.
Anyway the village taller or garage ordered what I needed and today was the day.  We confabbed.  Or rather I asked and Paco answered. 
“So what’s the plan?  New tyres on the front?"
Paco rubbed his blackened hand across his face.  Amazingly he didn’t get a sooty chin.  The black must be embedded. 
“Naaah.  Best put the new ones on the back to stop it sliding around.”
An enlightened “Ah” from me in reply. 
Paco explained – back tyres on the front, new tyres on the back, old tyres in the bin.  And off he went.
I watched him change the first one and asked him if it was normal these days if someone (like me) couldn’t change their own tyre.
“Yes, especially if you have to do this” he replied as he whacked the jammed back tyre off with a large metal pipe.  Something I don’t carry in the car.  I also saw how he dismantled the alloy drums from the rubber bits and felt old when I discovered that inner tubes had gone the way of the choke and other now-obsolete motoring bits.
Then I wandered off, rather bored, and let them get on with it. 
There’s a bakery two doors down and it was tea time so couldn’t resist taking a look at what was on offer.  I came out clutching a bag full of calories, mainly in the form of small Argentinean meat empanadas or pasties, having made friends with the bakeress (yes, I know but I like the sound of bakeress).  Thought I could tempt the Hockey Star when I got home and of course I’d help him out.
Here in Spain, and no doubt elsewhere, some small shopkeepers aren’t too fussed about the appearance of their businesses or themselves.  I’ve been in quite a few soulless places, too depressing to want to hang around in, even less buy anything.  But this bakery was different.  The affable lady behind the counter knew the neighbourhood customers by name.  She was middle-aged, short and rotund.  Her tightly bunned hair was the canary yellow colour of home dye, but it had been carefully applied and there wasn’t a grey hair in sight.  Her full lips were tidily painted a deep red and her eyebrows pencil-thin.
The shop was warm and clean.  The bread was displayed appetisingly in large bins behind her and every counter was groaning with carefully wrapped cakes, biscuits, pastries, croissants – the lot. To one side of the counter was a large fabric-lined basket full of eggs carefully laid out on a bed of straw.  She’d obviously taken a lot of care to entice buyers to spend. She told me when they baked the empanadas, twice repeating the days they were made – Mondays, Wednesdays and Sunday mornings - because she wanted to make sure I would return.  I will I told her.

Temptation lay all around....

They were still busy back at the taller but an old friend from the children’s nursery school days had shown up with a tyre that had a mysterious slow puncture.  We stood by the row of lame cars and tried to catch up on several years of news. The more we talked the slower Paco worked.  The more we joked, the wider Paco’s smile got. 
“He’s in stitches,” said Regina as Paco went off with another tyre.
 We did kids, education, financial climate, lack of jobs and other local empanada salespoints in a flash.  Menopause, hysterectomies, age, aches and pains and frightening health stories took quite a bit longer.  We women of a certain age seem to be a tad fixated on these things lately.  Can’t think why.  We parted ways, perhaps for another couple of years.
I drove home content.  I’d got my new tyres and a safer car. The Hockey Star wasn’t going to skid round corners any more. My wallet had fainted at bill-paying time but I was looking forward to a glass of tinto and I’d make a toast to the little things in life, may I recognise and enjoy them when they come my way.   And another to all the different people who cross my path every day and make it richer.
Ah, and another to Argentinean empanadas …yum.  Think I'll open another bottle of wine.

Weather today: Cold, overcast with some showers.  Wind has dropped. We appear to be on the path of several low pressure trains again, just like last year.   High 13ºC/55ºF. Low 9ºC/48ºF.   SE 21 km/h. Pressure 1005 mb and dropping. Relative humidity 80%. UV Index 2. Snow above 1,400 m.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I’d recognise that face anywhere

FROM time to time in our little village, a desperate pet owner pastes lampposts, walls, in fact anything that doesn’t move, with A4 photocopies of their lost animal.  Usually they’re dogs.  Some offer a small reward, others don’t.  All profess to the family’s love for Fido, and of his delicate health which will suffer without the proper medication.  In fact this last fact is such a recurring one that I’ve decided that either there is a senior-dog napper in our midst or a secret Korean restaurant has opened up with a fistful of clients with a penchant for tough mutt.
I’ve never heard of any of the animals being found, though they could have been.  As the weeks pass the ink on the posters runs in the rain; the paper goes brown in the sun and the wind rips it to shreds until it flaps itself violently off its support.  Interestingly Fido is never worth a colour photocopy.  Just black and white.
Today The American and I took our morning constitutional to pick up the daily newspapers.  A bit of exercise, a chat and a quick bark at the newsagent (a technique I learned off a Yorkshire Terrier a few days ago so it’s still a joke which has The American, The Newsagent and I rolling around rather pathetically).  Overnight a new A4 photocopy had hit our streets but surprisingly this time it is for a lost eagle.  Yes, an eagle.  And the caring owner had even included a photo of his bird.  I studied it for a moment while The American strided ahead (he has long legs).
 “Hey O!”, I shouted.  “Take a look at this”. 
He backtracked.  We looked at the poster.  “Now there’s a face I’d recognise anywhere” I said.  Hoots of laughter.  The joys of sharing the same warped sense of humour.  I thought the outline of an eagle in flight might be more useful.  After all I was hardly going to come face to face with our feathered friend and we have eagles and other indigenous birds of prey flying around these mountains and I don’t think I’m the only one who’d have trouble knowing one from the other. 
We walked on.  I struggled with the ethics of returning our buddy to captivity should he land unsuspectingly on my shoulder.  After all he’d made a successful break for freedom.  Would he be able to feed himself?  The American thought so.  Thought the eagle’s natural instinct would kick in.  I do hope so.  We mused over the situation. 
“Kinda like returning a slave to captivity” said The American after a while.
Fly on feathered friend.  Hope you’re enjoying your new-found freedom.  

Sorry, no weather included today.  TV weather forecast just starting.  Sad I know.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A white Christmas at last

No dreaming needed here, everything was white 

Mini Mama's incredibly delicious gingerbread cookies

Sigh.  Back to work although I had a marvellous Christmas in the UK.  My first white Christmas since I was about six years old although I didn’t have as much fun in the snow this time.  Back then I was an energetic little madame and revelled in the stuff.  Now I’m post hysterectomy, of a ripe age and worried about ripping my stitches, so no snowman building, snowball fights or treks through the countryside, but plenty of laughs inside the house instead.  
We almost didn't make the trip what with Heathrow being snowed in, but after much nail-biting, and angst-ridden moments the Hockey Star and I flew into LHR just as the snow passenger back log cleared. 
Literally the first day the airport was just about back to normal.
Before we started our journey I had the uncomfortable feeling we were ‘flying into the storm’, especially after our flight the day before was cancelled.  But we got away with just a three-hour delay. The HS carried cases, hand luggage, coats, the lot – he trundled along endless kilometres of airport passages laden down like a Tibetan sherpa’s donkey while I, Lady Muck, swanned along behind him.  I could get used to this "I've just had an operation" lark.  Still he carried out his task in good humour. 
Even so I was surprised just how tiring I found the trip.  
Waiting for us at the other end were Mini Mama, Grammy and Grampa, The Beast, Auntie and The Boys (three of my nephews). 
Roads were icy and fields covered in snow so it was batten down the hatches and enjoy the company.  Mini Mama had baked her heart out and Grammy had a fine menu prepared.  Christmas trees sparkled in every room; games were on the table; presents were stacked high; CD choirs were harking the heralds and the fire was lit, though not perhaps roaring, and we truly had a memorable time.
But before we knew it, the Hockey Star and I had been hurtled back across the sky courtesy of BA and Iberia, who were good enough to bring our cases along.  And here we are – back in our daily bubble – having said a sad farewell to the family, especially to Mini Mama.
The Artist, who knows what a good appetite I have, was waiting to meet us off the plane, armed with homemade soup, crusty bread and a large leg of Serrano ham which sent the Hockey Star into a frenzy. 
Alas, today I have returned to the office in the midst of a deadline and wheeled myself back behind my desk hoping no one would notice I was back. 
The day has gone well, although I haven’t resolved the problem yet of how to wish readers a Happy New Year when the splash is about a massive 10% electricity price hike that comes into force on January 1.  Plus a gas price hike too. 
After all you can't write "Happy New Year"and right underneath have Price Hike Start to 2011. Sounds sort of sarky or contradictory. Will try to resolve tomorrow - my brain cell is about as nimble as a farmer whose welly has got stuck in the mud.  I’m sure it’s been knocked for six by the anaesthetic. I’m just hoping it’ll get back to normal some time soon because this floundering feeling is very disconcerting.

Weather today: Grey, grey, grey  – but hey, a lot warmer than the UK where we spent Christmas. High 17ºC/63ºF. Low 9ºC/48ºF.   Wind, easterly 14kms/h.  Pressure 1016 mb and dropping. Relative humidity 67%. UV Index 2.  15% chance of rain. Snow above – They’re not saying.  Perhaps because they don’t expect any. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A milestone day

A short walk and I was exhausted

YES, today has been a bit of a milestone day in my hysterectomy recovery. Given that the sun finally came out and looked like it was staying out for a while I decided to put into action my plan to get some exercise to help me get stronger.
Doctor said I should walk, on the flat.  Trouble is I have to go uphill to get to the flat.  Hmm, what to do?  Drive or walk to flat bit?  I decided my midriff is too sore still to wear a seatbelt and I needed to move the old skeleton so I took to the road to walk up to the flat bit.  At my usual slow pace this takes 5 minutes.  But at my convalescent snail speed it took me 15 minutes.  When I got to the flat bit, I was exhausted.  
Dizzy, shaky and exhausted.  
Luckily the office is right there so I was able to sit down for a while and catch up with The American and Miss Moneypenny before The American kindly drove me home.  
The results of this outing threw me because I had been wondering whether I was fit to go back to work this week.  And it seems that I might not be.
Of course if I am lying around like Lady Muck, or sitting on my bottom in a comfy chair then I'm keen but anything more energetic than a bit of lounging  and I'm wiped out. Am now in a dither as to what to do but will see what the doctor says tomorrow.
Second grand event was this evening.  The Hockey Star has left to visit The Girlfriend in Holland, but without throwing the rubbish out first.  Given that the whiff was maturing rapidly in intensity (I don't want to discuss how long it had been waiting to be thrown out)  I took the bit between the teeth and drove the car up the hill, sans seatbelt, to throw it away.  Found getting in and out of the car quite tough.
But hey, I did both so although less well than I would have liked, I got there. And I now have a plan.  To drive to flat bit, then do some walking.  I know I will get very tired, but if I do a little each day it should help me get stronger.  It's strange feeling like a wimp.
Oh, and PS - Morning TV was all about feet today - and yes, it was interesting and yes, this is definitely an age thing.  I couldn't imagine any health programmes would have been of interest to me at 20.  
Weather today: Overcast and heavy showers first thing but the sky cleared around 11am and stayed that way for the rest of the day.  We even had some sunshine! High 15ºC/59ºF. Low 9ºC/48ºF.   Here there is some debate Aemet internet site says southerly 40kms/h, other sources say westerly 29 km/h and the RTVE gizmo here at the left of the this blog says NW 12kms/h.  Based on my sucked-finger-in-the-air report I’d go with the wind dying out over the course of the day.  Pressure 982 mb and stable. Relative humidity 67%. UV Index 2. Snow above 1,200 m.  

Morning TV

PISTOL start this morning for The Artist, so while he rushed around getting ready to leave for the big city I made coffee and toast for breakfast.  The Hockey Star was long gone when we got up, catching the seven o'clock bus to the university.  It was stilllll raining so I spent another day holed up at home (video of Saturday's deluge included today).  At one point I thought of foolishly going for my muscle-stretching short walk but decided it wasn't worth the risk of coming down with some lurgy. 
Especially after I discovered that I'd had almost 45% of my salary discounted for being on sick leave.  
Now I feel very sick.  
During my convalescence, especially while in the vegetative stage, I discovered morning TV and also, rather depressingly, that every morning the new health topic was of interest.  One morning it was arthritis (who luckily I've not had the acquaintance but The Artist has), then high blood pressure, menopause, then pelvic floor muscles.  Need I go on?  
This obsession with health is very senior-citizenish and must stop.  I must try and will myself into a younger frame of mind if a younger body isn't possible.

Weather today: Overcast and rain most of the day, clearing during the evening but everything is so soggy outside. High 13ºC/55ºF. Low 10ºC/50ºF.   WNW breeze 9 km/h. Pressure 982 mb and stable. Relative humidity 87%. UV Index 2. Snow above 1,200 m.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

It never rains, it pours

A LOT of water has gone under the bridge since I last wrote.  Most of it on Saturday and today. The first rain since the summer and it's tipping it down out there.  It's a great afternoon to be home, warm and cosy, and not have to venture out, but yesterday, after a very soggy Saturday, The Artist and I went for a short and slow walk around the village.  
It was one of those sparkly, crystal clear, bright autumn days - chilly in the shade but bliss in the sunshine.  
My first leisurely outing since my hysterectomy op three weeks ago.  
The Artist succumbed to a Spanish breakfast of churros (fried dough strips) while I munched a pitufo catalana (small bread roll with grated tomato, olive oil and serrano ham), the sun warming my back while we read the Sunday papers and sipped hot, black coffees.  Eventually, as the tapas and lunch crowd started arriving, we hobbled off around the village.  I made it to the church and back although we stopped a couple of times to rest on nearby benches, watching the world go by for a few minutes.  It was a glimpse of old age, if we're lucky enough to get there. 

Making the most of what the day offers!
Up by the church we leaned over the railings (wrapped up in jumpers and scarves) to admire the view down to the sea and found a woman making the most of the sunshine, stripped down to her bikini, in a quiet, sheltered (but overlooked) spot by a stream running through the gardens immediately below our vantage point.  I don't think she's there today.
It felt good to be back in the world and although I was tired after our outing, I felt a lot better for it.  
We knocked back a small beer on another sun-soaked bar terrace before making our way back to the car and home.  I'm definitely beginning to feel better.

Weather today: Local orange alert for heavy rain fall until 6pm. This means we’re expecting approx. 3 cms rain in any given hour and around 8 cms of rain over 12 hours. High 13ºC/55ºF. Low 9ºC/48ºF.  Easterly wind 19-36 km/h. Pressure 982 mb and descending. Relative humidity 94% and 85% chance of rain (Err, it’s been raining all day so I think they stopped short on that one). UV Index 2. Snow above 1,600 m.  
I've added the weather link to my blog today although it's sadly lacking in information and won't always say the same as my note here, which is a compilation of data from several reliable sites including the Aemet one.