September 2019 – 1

We arrived in Spain again, just less than a week ago. Because of delays to our flight we didn’t actually get into the apartment until after 11.00pm. It’s worth noting here too, that the frequency of trains from Malaga Airport changes from three an hour to two an hour after 10:00pm. So instead of xx:02pm, xx:22pm and xx:42pm, they become 10:12pm and 10:42pm until 11:42pm.

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Friday was spent sorting out the apartment, cleaning the car (it had become very dirty again as the local roadworks were being completed) and shopping. We then joined David and Gail at Marleen’s that evening for dinner.  They are both here for most of September and when they go, Graham and Sue will replace them in 916.

As there were quite a few bits of ‘stuff’ in our tiny freezer, I decided to use as much of it as possible before we set off for Salobreña (next week).  So, on Saturday I defrosted some chicken and made a make-shift curry, with basmati rice.  Sharon and I went up to Mijas on Saturday too, to see what their ‘feria’ looked liked.  I’m afraid it hadn’t really started, so we were not up there long.

Mijas

We both walked on to Fuengirola on Sunday morning for a spot of light lunch at Café Costa Del Sol. They do a sandwich called Entrepan, which is basically two slices of toast, with filling. I tend to have the one with smoked salmon. That evening, we accompanied David and Gail to Bar Casa Pepe.  This was our second, David and Gail’s first, visit to the restaurant since it had new owners. It tends to cater for the tourist, rather than the local Spanish, but the food is tasty, even if the portions are a little on the large side.

Monday was ensalada rusa day – I made a pot of it and that what we had with salad, for tea and for lunch on Tuesday. We spent Tuesday morning at the Ayunamiento in Fuengirola – sorting out some bills, which the bank had missed, when changing from Santander to Sabadell. It was much quieter today than whenever we’ve been before, we will have to remember: the day children go back to school in September. All four of us walked down to Los Boliches that evening to eat at Casa Mavi, which is just up the road from the Santander bank. Sadly, this wasn’t our best choice and we were fairly underwhelmed. My pizza was rock hard (in a nice way, but impossible to cut even with a steak knife) and the promised (and eagerly anticipated) topping of ‘Italian Sausage’ was quite disappointing. The wilted ‘Napolitan’ broccoli (friarielli) was soggy and tasted very overcooked.

Castle

Today, Wednesday, I took the car in for its annual service. Tomorrow it will have its MoT (ITV) and all being well, it will be ok for another year (two years in the case of ITV). The British Mechanic is based right over the far side of town, so once I’d dropped the car off, I scootered down to the front, by the castle and then back along the paseo. Lovely morning.

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A few days away

We arrived at Michelle and James’s apartment just before lunchtime, unpacked and then set off to buy food etc. at Mercadona, down in La Linea.  What we should have realised, but didn’t give it a thought, was that July 16th is ‘chuck a virgin in the sea’ day!  Although we have experienced this celebration before, we ate out that time, so we hadn’t realised that it was a bank holiday and that all the supermarkets would be closed!  Aldi, Lidl, Carrefour and Mercadonna in La Linea were all closed. Cerrado!  We’d left our passports back at base as we had no intention of going in to Gibraltar today – however, if we were to eat, we would have to go into Morrison’s in Gib. (We did later see a Dia Market open – but by then it was too late).

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A river, seen on our way back from Jerez.

So we came back, picked up English money along with our passports and joined the always-there queue into Gibraltar. The queue started at the car park just outside Gib, which was full (completo), and almost an hour later we were in Morrison’s car park – about 15 minutes of that was me getting lost looking for Morrisons!  As we had things to shop for (exclusively in Gib), including Sharon’s wedding anniversary present, we marched straight up to Main Street, shopped and returned to the supermarket.  Here, we had our, by now late, lunch in the supermarket café – we shared a salmon sandwich and a scone.  Then, we packed up the car, filled it with lead-free (£1.01 per litre) and set off to join the queue to get out of Gib!  Just 20 minutes this time though – six columns of traffic being allowed out two at a time (those two merging in to one at the gate). This might have been slightly quicker, but traffic was held up in La Linea. Where we would normally turn right to drive around the coast, everyone had to turn left due to the feria set up just outside the border.  We spent that night reading.

On Wednesday morning, we set off for a walk down to the beach about 09:00am.  At one point we were escorted off the golf course, because we had strayed too far – lol.  We strolled along the beach and then back for a coffee in ‘The Square’.  After walking back up the hill, I went for a swim in the pool before it got too busy – because it does get (and has been) busy.  We didn’t do an awful lot more that afternoon, simply read and relaxed.

On Thursday, we drove up to Jerez for the night.  However, Jerez, deserves a post of its own, see it here: https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/jerez-de-la-frontera/

We got back on Friday after detouring along the way to go around some lakes. But that diversion wasn’t too successful. There were lakes, but they were pretty inaccessible; there were also miles and miles of heavy-duty roadworks for us to shake, rattle and roll along.  We called in to Gibraltar, to refill the car (£1.01 per litre) and then spent an hour getting out of Gib and back in to Spain. Getting in was easy at this tme (16:00pm) but getting out was ‘something else’.  Hey ho.

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That evening we ate at La Finca, just up the road from where we were staying.  Michelle and James had been delayed en route back from the UK, so didn’t join us there as originally planned.  We began with a couple of nice starters.  One was lettuce leaves with a tasty, sharp/sweet topping and the other was an empanadilla of feta cheese and caramelised onion both of which were delightful. We then shared Massaman curry and Hoi Sin Noodles. Neither were easy to share, but both were really tasty – we took at least half back for the Gracias.  The pudding was weird. It was like they had put the weirdest flavours of ice cream into some Durex, shaped these into balls and then re-froze. Truly unpleasant.

After a nice breakfast in The Square with Michelle (James and Ewan had gone surfing) we came back to base in Torreblanca, where Billy and Angela were waiting to greet us.

Worth a read.

https://drinksint.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/8026/Sherry:_Needs_a_new_course.html

Early July – ’19

IMG_1739We don’t usually bother with Spain in July or August as the heat can be oppressive.

However, due to the building repair works required towards the end of our last visit, we had to leave the apartment in some disarray.  With Billy and Angela due (according to both our diaries) on the 14th July, we have come out to put the place right and to enjoy some time with Carol and Mick who are staying elsewhere in Edeficio Alessandra and for us to have a short stay at James and Michelle’s place near Gibraltar.

We arrived late on the Thursday evening, having caught the 16:30pm (ish) Ryanair flight to Malaga.  Leeds-Bradford was chaos this time, absolute bedlam!  There were lots of Jet2 flights leaving mid-afternoon and it being just before the school holidays, they were jam packed.  However, our plane left on time and although it was still light when we arrived, we had plenty of time to unpack before going down for the take-away pizza we’d ordered for 22:00pm.  Carol and Mick joined us for a drink (and to watch us eat our pizza) when they came back up from Los Boliches. We spent pretty much all of the Friday rearranging and cleaning the apartment.

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Everything had had to be removed from our terrace and was scattered around the apartment, mainly in the spare bedroom. So there was much cleaning and vacuuming to be done too.  What’s more, because all of the roads around our block are being dug up and repaired, we had to clean the car as well – it was impossible to see out of the windows and some scallywags had written all over it. It’s only been a couple of months!

We met Carol and Mick that evening for a few drinks in Los Boliches and eventually, a meal at Mason Salvador.  I had Abanico Iberico, another new cut for me to remember alongside Secreto and Pluma, other non-prime, but delicious cuts of pork. Splendid.  88639969-7a77-45a6-8058-593233046071

On Saturday, Michelle had arranged to come up with James and see her mum.  We eventually joined them on the beach and after a while had a delicious (late) lunch at the Chiringuito Andalucia Playa. That evening, because we had had a late and filling lunch, Carol and Mick joined us for some cheese, some nibbles and some drinks on the terrace.

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Fuente de Niña

On Sunday, we drove up to Mijas, again with Carol and Mick and strolled around there for a while.  After ice-cream and coffee, we drove over to Benalmádena Pueblo for another stroll and a light lunch opposite the Fuente de Niña.  As we had thought that Billy and Angela were arriving today, we had booked a meal for that evening at Restaurante Montemare, so despite being down to four, we ate there anyway.  Billy and Angela are in fact coming next week, so we will still see them, but not today.

We spent quite a lot of Monday on the beach with Carol and Mick before having some apple pie and coffee at Granier in Los Boliches and catching the first bus back up the hill.  Later we ate at Bar Casa Pepe, re-opened just this year.  Now called William’s Casa Pepe, the menu has changed completely. There are now dishes on there, from around the world and we were none of us stuck with what to order.

Carol and Mick flew home on Tuesday and we drove down to James and Michelle’s place, that morning. More soon.

A short trip

This has been another unusual visit.

Unusual inasmuch as we’re only away for a few days, rather than moving our lives out here for several weeks – which would be more usual.

As I’d said in a previous post (The ides of March), Sharon had fallen ill early in in her March visit and for reasons too lengthy to go into here, we came home early to get her checked out. That done (not overly successfully), we have returned to Spain for about 10 days.17362447_222205938258175_5676946301729226254_n

David and Gail are out here at the same time, so we have had lots of company, which has also made it feel more like a holiday than usual. We joined them at Marleen’s the first evening we were here and they joined us on a trip to Barra de Zappata, in Malaga, where Sharon and I visited in December, 2017 (see that post). We caught the 16:04 train from Torreblanca and took them to the Alcazaba first, as soon as we arrived in Malaga. I’ve never seen it so busy – it must have been the time of day. After a walk around the city and a couple of drinks we went for our meal.

This consisted of …

Three Tapas: Russian Salad (like we’ve never had before), Morcilla, Chistorra,
A Salad: Cruchy chicken salad
and a ‘champion’ dishPulpo.
(My apologies – I cannot find a copy of the menu online anywhere – so no ‘real’ menu names.)

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Sharon’s strength is improving day by day and we’ve had a few walks. Unfortunately, the first one we had to take was ‘up the hill’ from the train station on the night that we arrived as there were no taxis and we’d missed the last bus.  There were no taxis because the Feria de los Pueblos was opening that night and it appeared that the queue at the taxi rank outside Hotel Fuengirola had been waiting ages. Hey ho.  

Another walk was along the front and into Fuengirola for lunch at Café Costa Del Sol and yet another was down the hill to the Anchor Bar, close to the Maxi Mart, where we’d gone to buy milk for the weekend. The Anchor bar is a nice oasis – not especially sunny in the evening but welcoming.  We only had two drinks (Sharon just had sin-alcohol, I had normal sized cañas) but the nibbles were great. We were even given a tapa of bruschetta. Tapas are unheard of down here on this part of the coast, unless you buy them separately.

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Anchor Bar

We also walked down on our first full day to meet David and Gail in Los Boliches, to watch the procession for the Feria de los Puebos. This procession took quite a long time to pass and was supported by maybe a hundred thousand people – it certainly looked like Wembley Way after a big match. We sampled some of the food (all of which looked magnificent) but were not over impressed with the bits we ate. Again; hey ho.

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Another day, we took a walk up in the hills behind us and had a picnic outside the old house at Alcaparra.  We begin by walking up towards Rancho La Paz, passing Cortijo Alegria on our left and then turning right back down towards the coast. The old house is about 150 metres on the right. It has stunning views, but sadly it has, over the years become more and more dilapidated. Part of the back wall has now fallen, so how long it will be here, I cannot say. The grassy lawn is more overgrown that it was last year and the year before (obviously), but not in a nice way.  This time of year usually brings a big show of colour from the wild flowers but we didn’t see much evidence on this walk. Nevertheless, despite Sharon’s reduced choices of food, we still had a nice salad with egg and tuna.

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We arranged to meet Michelle and James for lunch in Benahavis. David and Gail joined us and we met them at the market ground car park, south of the town and walked up. It was a lovely hot day and we had a nice time chatting with each other as we walked. We had lunch at Los Abanicos. We shared a good few dishes but for me, the two stand-out dishes were the Carrillada (which was well cooked, well sauced and succulent) and the Solomillo de Cerdo; a whole pork fillet, perfectly cooked and served covered with a delicious cream and garlic sauce. Sharon’s salad seemed to be a hurried affair – not cared for the as much as our other main dishes. All in all, a very nice meal.

And soon, we will be on our way home.

The apartment is in some disarray however due to repair works on the outside wall of the building. We had been told that the repair men might need to check/repair bits of the inside wall too, so as advised, we have moved everything out of the terrace and into – well, everywhere else – including the spare bedroom. With Billy and Angela due to visit in July, we have had to book another trip out here to put it right (hopefully, they will have finished the repair work by then). See you in July.

Doh!

As an addendum to my earlier post (Maslow), it turns out that a completely new transformer was fitted in the basement of our apartment block.  This transformer not only supplies our block (circa 200 apartments) but around another 200 homes in the vicinity. After three cuts in the week, this was excellent news.

However, as the power came back on, the lifts and the water went off.

This exact sequence wasn’t clear to me when writing, only that the lifts didn’t work until the morning after the power had came back on (so they were ‘off’ all night) and that the disappearance and return of mains water seemed coincidental.

Apparently, lift engineers were called out automatically – they get a warning when things are not working as they should.  They immediately found the problem – Endesa’s engineers had reversed polarity – so that the three-phase stuff (e.g. water pump and lifts) simply wanted to do the opposite of what they were designed to do. All the single-phase stuff (apartments) was fine.

Despite calls over night to Endesa, it was early morning before anyone turned up to fix the problem that they had caused.

Viva España.

Photo credit:

http://pt.coolclips.com/m/vetores/peop1668/Eletricista-com-no-painel/

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Maslow

The visit continues in less than perfect ways.

We have experience three power cuts this week; two lasted slightly less than five hours each.  One was early morning and so prevented us having our early morning cup of tea – but was back on in time for showers etc.  The first was in the evening, so we had to read by candlelight and hope that the power was back on in time to recharge all of our essential electronic items for the following day.  However, neither cuts were particularly inconveniencing. The third lasted around nine to ten hours.  The power was off when we returned from a quick lunchtime visit to Torreblanca and it didn’t come back on until the sun was almost down.

Then, that same evening, the water supply disappeared. No water! No means of cooking food! No heating! – etc.  Reminded me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs..

Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Maslow

We usually get warning of such things – which do happen when the apartment block has its tanks or pipes cleaned – but that night (last night, as I write), we had no warning.  We were able to clean teeth etc. with bottled water, but the toilet got a little desperate during the night. The water was still off this morning, so the plan was to go to the car park and see if the garden pipes were working (they were). Our stock of bottled water had been depleted during the last few weeks as we had not been out as much as we might usually do – so re-filling those bottles we’d just emptied became a priority.

I got to the lifts (we’re on the 10th floor) and found they were not working!

The apartment block lights were all on, which is normal during power cuts – but we were not experiencing a power cut!  So, we were becoming fairly alarmed.  I might have managed to wait until the big Miramar store opened (if it opened on Sundays) but Sharon’s illness has been of a gastric nature and despite the need for immediate toileting, she is also suffering from low energy. Not good.  But as we discussed what we would do, we saw the power go off again – then almost immediately back on.  Then, we heard the lifts working.  So, a quick trip was made to the car park to fill up our bottles while the lifts were working.

Upon getting back, filling buckets and just about to set off back – that water came back on.

Grrr.

As we’re flying back to the U.K. earlier than planned Sharon also decided that now was the time to book us onto the flights and print out our tickets – while we could.

Maslow Graphic by: vecteezy.com

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The ides of March

This year’s Easter visit to Spain hasn’t quite turned out as planned.

Originally, Sharon was supposed to be here for ten days in March, with her sister Joanne and cousin Ann-Marie. I was then to arrive early in April, giving Sharon just a few days here alone. As it turned out, I had to fly out on 25th March, for reasons I go into below.  It also turned out to be a good thing as Sharon had fallen ill early on in her ‘family’ visit. As I write, she’s still not well, but has a specialist appointment next week.

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Schengen countries in Blue. Yellow are committed to join. Grey (!!!)

Because of the Brexit madness, coupled with becoming aware of Schengen rules for travel in Europe, we had investigated ways of continuing to come into Spain for more than the 90 days in any 180 allowed by the Schengen rules. We decided to apply for Spanish residency, which, we were advised, would give us exactly that.

We have no wish to become full time residents, but as we own a small property in Spain and visit there regularly, we thought we’d better make sure we were ok. Our main residency is still in the U.K. where we spend well over six months of the year, but as we tend to visit Spain more regularly between September and April (overstaying the 90 days in 180 rule), the residency permit will prevent any difficulties.

Furthermore, as a U.K. pensioner, I had been told that I would need to provide (A): a SO1 form (may have been S1) from the U.K. government, and (B): proof of my pension incomes.  I was also advised that as a pensioner (presumably, a male pensioner) upon provision of (C): a marriage certificate, Sharon would be allowed the same services as me, with no extra proof of income required. These services would include access to the Spanish health system and sundry social benefits.

However, some of that was incorrect.

The SO1 form, if filled in and submitted, would have divorced me from all of the things I have had lifetime access to in the U.K.  The dentist, doctor, hospital etc. would all become unavailable to me. And, despite our government’s vicious attacks on the NHS – it is still a valuable asset.  So, to continue with our quest for residency, we would have to consider private health insurance. Luckily, as it turns out, we did just that – the insurance started on March 1st.

All of that needed completing before the (now ‘original’) Brexit date as both Britain and Spain had said that whatever was in place for foregn nationals in either country, when (if) Brexit happened – would remain in place afterwards.

So, during the first week of my time in Spain, we registered with the police as foreign residents, renewed our names on the Padron (local government) and made appointments with private health care providers.

Not a normal visit.