Spaniss Soup

So, today we ate out at lunchtime – the weather was abysmal, so we shopped, ate and then came home to hibernate for the afternoon. Lunch for me was a ciabatta-like bread stuffed with pork steak and serrano ham. Delicious. Sharon had a Chicken Caesar based sandwich that looked delicious too.

For tea, I cooked Spaniss Soup. I guess that should be Spanish Soup, but each time I’ve had the soup in a local restaurant it’s presented to me as “Spaniss Soup”:-) I’ve no idea what the Spanish name for it is, but my version is more of a hearty meal than a starter.

Spaniss Soup

I bought a litre of chicken stock (Caldo de Pollo) for just less than €1, four slices of serrano ham for a similar price and everything else was in the fridge. Why can’t we buy stocks like this in the UK? Here, you can buy a variety of stocks at a variety of prices – but essentially, there are shelves full of them.  Makes life so much easier for us cheffy types.

IMG_5972Set the stock going to warm up and add half a chopped onion. Two peeled and sliced (or diced, suit yourself) carrots are then added, two sticks of celery peeled and sliced come next – story well and set the whole lot to simmer. Adjust the seasoning (salt) then add one star anise, two bay leaves and a few turns of black pepper. While the soup is simmering, add the four slices of ham (cut it into strips first), We also had half a jar of butter beans that went in at this stage too – continue simmering until carrots are well cooked.

Now, while the soup is simmering chop up two hard boiled eggs and place these, cold, in the bottom of your four serving dishes. If you also have a little chorizo – get that cooked in the microwave and add some to the egg.

The soup should be hearty, but unthickened – adjust the seasoning (i.e. check the salt and pepper balance) and serve onto the cold egg and chorizo. Serve with lots of crusty bread and cold cold San Miguel:-)

The restaurant version is pretty much stock with garnish, but this version is a good filling meal in itself  Enjoy.

Walk to Mijas

Those readers that kindly read the previous post may like to have an update?

As of this morning (Friday) I am stitch free again:-) I’d worn the dressings administered by the Hospital Costa Del Sol until Monday but then took over my own dressing repairs. With a red (elastoplast red) plaster, I was far less frightening to little children and with all drinks administered via a straw my lip (and bridge of nose) survived.  This morning’s stitch removal was something of an anti-climax as a) it didn’t hurt and b) it took the nurse less than five minutes to remove them.

25564377223_fe062a5572So – all done, nothing was/is as bad as it seemed (except brandy through a straw- yuk, and coffee, yuk too).

On Wednesday, partly to keep mostly out of sight and partly to stay fit, we walked to Mijas. The route had very kindly been worked out first by Tony and Gill at Christmas and then by Joanne and Mike in January. Both teams left us photos and directions that were a breeze to follow.

Basically, we walk out of the apartment block and turn left. This follows Calle Pensamiento up under the motorway and ever more ‘up’ into the mountain behind us. I believe the road now becomes a camino (so we were salir a caminar).

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We followed the signs for Rancho La Paz  for quite some way before being required to turn right and follow a different path. I think Tony and Gill had taken a shortcut ‘path’ at this stage, but their route joins the one we followed soon.

26074518452_8cb8af7c1cWe pass a few huge homes on our route and just past one of these Sharon decided to drop off the track and steal a few items of citrus fruits (rock hard!) All along the route there are various cave formations and the view gets ever more glorious. Most of the route is counter-intuitive as (because of the massive cliff face we have to navigate) we spend quite a while walking away from Mija. QUITE a while.

As I say, the views over Fuengirola and the coast become ever more tremendous and by the time we reach the red pillared house, we became a bit blaise. However, the route soon goes UP again and heads west towards Mijas. We pop out onto the main  Benalmádena-Mijas soon after The Hermitage, and we pass an ancient aqueduct before entering town

26100639231_076d51be23_nWe ate lunch at the same place we had a coffee on Christmas Day and then set off back.  We really should have caught a bus and then a txi up the hill to home as both Sharon and I have suffered since Wednesday. I have plantar faciitis and, as it had been relatively mild for the last month thought I’d manage (I did one-way). It’s been painful again since the walk. Sharon’s knees are taking some recovering from the journey back down.

I’m glad we did the walk and I’m sure we will do it again. I’d recommend it to anyone. Message me and I will send you the route.

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Good Friday

Well, I had planned to do all sorts of things to do today once I’d finished my online work. The sun was out and there was not too much cloud, so I could walk/scoot along the coast to enjoy some of that sunshine, I thought that I might take lunch in a local bar, a possible trip into Malaga was on the cards; to see one of the Semanta Santa processions.  The world was my oyster as they say.

Instead, I spent nine hours exploring the Spanish national health system.

It works well – slowly, but it works. It is no worse than our own NHS and is better in some ways. Please don’t read on if you are squeamish.

I’d decided to scoot into Los Boliches before descending onto the coast road and then on to the castle at Fuengirola, but because I couldn’t get parked on the Paseo (it is Easter after all and V. BUSY), I’d come back to park behind the railway station and was therefore taking an untried route when my 200mm front wheel found a >200mm hole I hadn’t seen.

Crash.

I actually saw the ground coming up towards me but there was no time to roll or put out my arms (the usual impulses), so my face took the brunt of the impact. I knew instantly that my top lip was the worst of my injuries but the blood from my nose was the most insistent. Luckily, I’d packed a few extra packs of paper hankies, a bottle of water and (thank Goodness) my cotton hanky was freshly washed and ironed – it took THAT about 10 seconds to become soaked red. I made my way back to the car with paper hankies stuck up my nose, I was dipping water on my lip and wiping the various cuts and bruises on my knees and elbows (and one wrist)  – but no one said a dicky bird.

I came home and made a better job of cleaning myself up before going to see Marlene at Monte Mare to ask if they had some antiseptic (we hadn’t here in the apartment, but we do have now). It was obvious to Marlene, after she’d cleaned me up a bit more, that I needed to see a doctor – so she plied me with sweet tea (and a straw) and called our friend Tony Brown. He told me to go and get my passport and E111. He photocopied these and then poor Tony, who has done this sort of things for folks – lots of times (and therefore knew what he was taking on), escorted me to the emergencia in Las Lagunas. We didn’t do too bad for time there, despite it being very busy; we arrived at 1400hrs and were out and on our way by 1450hrs. Sadly, they said I needed a special lip stitch, which they could not do at Las Lagunas.

So we then went onto Marbella to the Hospital Costa de Sol. Half an hour away.

We spent almost six hours there. HCDS_DSThe routine is to register, in the entrance. You are given an armband with allergies identified and you go through to the waiting area where you are, eventually, called for triage. Triage is a bit like ‘oh, you’re not dying, join the queue‘ but I guess that’s what triage is like everywhere. Then, we waited and waited until we eventually (almost 3 hours after triage) saw a doctor. She said that I must have an x-ray and have the wounds (the bridge of my nose has a massive lump missing) dressed before leaving. She would see me again after the x-ray.

IMG_5901Well, the x-ray was undertaken fairly quickly and we had to wait less than an hour to see the doctor again. However, the dressing hadn’t been done yet – so she sped that along and I soon found myself on a bed being cleaned up again and having my lip stitched.  That went better than I expected – the anesthetic needle hurt far more than the four stitches he inserted. It’s uncomfortable now, but only to be expected I suppose. I have a white ‘Hitler’ moustache:-)

So that’s it. I have to take paracetamol (no kidding) and keep my dressings on until Tuesday and go back to another clinic on Friday for the stitches removing. To say that I ache today (Saturday) is an understatement as, although my face took impact, the rest of my body was also shook up big time.

Big thanks to Marlene and to Tony, especially Tony, for their time and patience.

And now to show Sharon just what I’ve written here.  I’m picking her up at the station in Torreblanca shortly – she will SEE the mess.:-)IMG_5900

Semanta Santa 2016

IMG_5652So, today, having arrived here on Monday, I decided to ‘scoot’ to Benalmádena (which is pronounced more like Benal-mad-henna, than Benal-mud-eena).

Actually, that’s not quite true; I ‘scootered’ around Benalmádena for a bit and then I ‘scootered’ back to Torreblanca, where I’d left the car. I used this region’s fabulous train service to get to Benalmádena and then mainly walked in a zig zag fashion down to the front – which is at the bottom of a very steep hill (too steep for me and my scooter). It’s amazing what you get to see when you’re not just walking though: there was a massive market half way down the hill and next to it was a similarly unexpected park. I meandered through the park, which is worth another IMG_0091visit and then down the main road – only to find myself still about ½ mile away from the Benalmádena marina, which was my destination and which I hoped to explore at my leisure.

Sharon and I had been there before at Christmas with Tony and Gill [see] but my plantar fasciitis hurt much more then than it does now.

Anyway, did I like Benalmádena marina today any more than I did then? NO!

IMG_0093It’s an awful place that does nothing for me, and it was heaving; obviously some countries have already given up and gone away for their Easter Holidays. The marina (and parts of Benalmádena I guess) represent everything about Spain that had stopped me from coming for my first 50 years.

Having said that, I did find a nice long (1-2k?) promenade to scoot along on the way back, which was a pleasant change from the road, which I had to follow for the rest of the 6¾ miles back to Torreblanca.

For tea I made myself Hake Meuniere with French style peas emboldened (!!) with crispy bacon lardons. Lovely.

New Year – 2016

So, another week has gone by and I’m sat on the beach again. I shouldn’t grumble, but it’s been gorgeously sunny all day while I’ve been busy working, but now at 3:00pm, when I down tools and come down here to the beach , the sun has gone behind a huge black cloud.

There are about 10 other people on the beach, including me, for as far as I can see in both directions. I see the harbor wall at Fuengirola as I look west and the breakwater separating Torreblanca from Carvajal in the other; possibly 3-4k? It’s a bank holiday here, but obviously not a beach one, unlike New Year’s Day when the promenade was heaving with families and groups strolling along. The beach was also well occupied.

Betony and Josh left today, I dropped them at the station off this morning. I’m not sure what they thought of the place though. When they went to Malaga on Monday, ostensibly to see the Christmas lights, they were back early – tired from walking.

 

When we’d been to see the lights, with Tony and Gill it was a fabulous day out. We strolled through the park alongside the marina and then, whilst I sat and watched the world go around, the other explored the marina itself, before we set off into the city to find somewhere to wait for it to get dark and the lights be switched on. We had a couple of drinks, some small tapas and then walked around the corner to see the wonderful display they have put on here this year. Well done Malaga.

We all spent New Years Eve downstairs at Montemare and had a great time. there were several more people there this year than the last two years and although the music was – well, poor – it was a lovely atmosphere and great food. Betony had a vegetable lasagne and the rest of us had steaks! Great.

Last night, the three of us (Sharon returned home on Monday because she had to work) went down to Los Boliches to see the 3 Kings’ parade – Día De Los Reyes Magos. But we missed it! Apparently, this is the first year that the parade has set off from Fuengirola and arrived in Los Boliches long after we’d given up and come back to the apartment. Hey ho.

So I’m all alone now, until Friday when Sharon returns (we thought it’d be fun when we booked it) and there’s plenty to do – workwise. I still want to walk in the mountains, explore the coastline on a bike etc. etc. but not this time. Apparently I have an appointment with a podiatrist later in the month. That’ll be fun.

Christmas 2015

Well, as I start this post, Sharon is off rollerblading up the promenade between Torreblanca and Los Boliches.  I am sat here on the beach, in the mid-afternoon sunshine, wishing I’d been able to find a bike I liked before Christmas; then I could have accompanied her.

I have developed plantar fasciitis, for which there seems to only one real cure – time! I first experienced it back in November and it seems to have got steadily worse. The pain when walking for extended periods is excruciating, hence my unsuccessful search for a bike and me sitting on the beach. Just to point out, it is still December.

We’ve just said goodbye to Tony and Gill who have been with us since the day before Christmas Eve. I cooked Beef Bourguignonne for us all that first night and we spent Christmas Eve itself downstairs at Marlene and Rene’s place.  On Christmas Day, Tony and Gill made their way up and across the hill/mountain behind us to Mijas – something I’d also wanted to do this visit as the weather was perfect.  We picked them up mid-afternoon and after a coffee in Mijas itself, we set off for an hour on the beach. Gill and I went in the sea!

me and Gill swimming in the Med. 251215

 

We actually swam for a few minutes – it was cold but not so cold that we couldn’t celebrate Christmas Day with a dip in the Mediterranean!

For Christmas dinner I started us off with tapas as the sun went down about 6:00pm (patatas bravas, new potato and chorizo sticks, sliced cheese, dried (jerky?) tuna and roast red peppers are what I can remember).  We then took our time with poached hake on French peas, roast pork and all the trimmings, a Sharon-cooked cherry clafoutis and some Betty’s Christmas cake with crumbly Lancashire cheese! A toast at midnight and we were done.

 

In France

Our drive up from Saragossa (Zaragoza) has taken two days (which were planned).  We’re at Billy and Angela’s place now near Roussines in France.

The bit where we drive over the Pyrenees to Pau was supposed to be scenic and beautiful, but the weather was a bit unsettled to say the least.  Spain must sit a good bit above this part of France as there was a lot more ‘down’ from the Spanish Tunnels than there was ‘up’.  The torrential rain made some of the journey quite scary (bends etc.) and the same didn’t help when it came to looking for our late lunch in Pau. We were allowed to park in the hotel car park before we booked in and at that time, the sun was shining, but as we sat for lunch in a very busy restaurant (we’d moved on from Two saladsyet another very busy restaurant because outside rain was dripping from the brolly AND people were smoking), it started again in earnest.

We asked to move tables (one had just come free under the canape) but the waiter said “non” with a quite serious expression. I thought he was joking, but he then proceeded to say something which my poorly educated ‘French’ ears interpreted as “of course not, the kitchen has your order and table number“.  At exactly the point at which I’d formed the French to say (I paraphrase of course) “then stick it up your posterior and bring me the bill“, he saw that we had in fact NOT ordered yet and rather sulkily grabbed our drinks and commanded “allez” as he sashayed himself inside the bar and sat us at a table there. It had taken some time to get our drinks and now it took some time to get our food, but (and I MUST say this) the food was delicious and plentiful – so much so that we didn’t eat again that day.

Pau may well be worth another visit, the bit of it we saw was OK and interesting, but with so many places closed for holiday and the weather being AWFUL, it rather spoiled our visit. We woke early on Friday for the last leg of this stage of our journey.  The weather had upgraded from awful to ATROCIOUS!

The entire journey was plagued with torrential rain.  Even when we got to Roussines, the rain was still persisting.  This made the house feel quite cold, so we set off for a supermarket to buy warm clothes (we’d packed in +34° heat and not given a thought to changing weather). One of the beauties, and one of the main reasons for breaking our journey in this way, is so that we can cook for ourselves and eat normally. Some of the portions we’ve eaten this week, driving back have been huge and, more meaty than usual. Neither of us are or want to be non-meat eaters, but we don’t eat much meat and often don’t have any at all. Our first meal at Billy and Angela’s was such a meal: Spanish Omelette and Salad.

Today’s will be different – it’s Sharon’s birthday.

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