Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Olive Weekend

I had spent Thursday and Friday with my daughter and family, who live an hour down the motorway, celebrating first Thanksgiving (where one eats too much) followed the next day by my birthday (where one’s interests traditionally turn to drink). Coming into the weekend, and now safely home, I found myself in bed feeling dopey and with a lungy cough. My goodness! With fears of Covid, no one came close to see how I was doing. The best I got was a brief call from below. ‘You all right up there?’ 

They probably thought I was in the final agony of the virus and that their next sight of me would be a gloomy corpse staggering down the stairs and shouting 'brains!' 

Luckily I slept most of the time and had practically nothing to drink or eat except for a box of chocolates I had been planning to give to someone for Christmas.

There was no high-temperature as far as I could tell, but I suffered from lethargy and while not sleeping or dozing, I found reading to be too much of a bother.

I’ve had all my shots: corona and ’flu, so it could have been anything. In the old days, they’d have called it a ‘dreaded lurgy’.

By an agreeable coincidence, I missed the three days of intensive olive-picking down on the farm and, as I was house-bound on Tuesday, I also didn’t have to lug them down to the almazara for them to be turned into oil.

Think of it as a belated birthday present.

                                Just kidding, they got me on the second harvest. 😀


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Brexpat Day

It’s time that those of us who are British by birth (or passport) and have the good fortune to live in Spain, with papers allowing us to stay, wounded perhaps peripherally by Brexit (we suddenly went from second-class citizens of Spain to third class-residents of Europe, with the appropriate strictures that have been thrust upon us), should celebrate.

The tourist season (why do they call it that, if one is not allowed to shoot them?) is over for another six months or so, and we have the cooling beaches and emptied restaurants to ourselves. We need no longer need to queue to get into the health clinics and the bar-staff will once again greet us enthusiastically by name and, if there’s a karaoke, will even let us sing ‘My Way’ twice in a single evening.

Many of our brothers have fallen by the wayside in this heroic struggle between Europe and Stupidity. Those without the correct paperwork must now resign themselves to shortened visits to Shangri-La to avoid the British winter, and even entertain the possibility of having to sell their villa to a German or (irony alert), a Pole.

Other Brits have found that imports from the UK are a disaster, with even a Christmas card taking several weeks and being steamed open by the zealous Spanish aduana, before charging the mortified recipient a fortune for the time wasted.

We can’t vote in European elections any more, but then, which Spanish candidate ever did anything in Brussels – or elsewhere else for that matter - for the expats?

So, battered and bruised yet oddly triumphant, we British expats can now celebrate being able to stay here without many bothersome issues to worry us. We may not be immigrants (how many of us have taken out Spanish nationality?), yet we have – in our muddling way – won the ring.

There is, as any Spaniard will tell you, no time like the present, so I suggest that we invite the skeleton crew over from the British Government in Exile (it’s in the apartment upstairs from the English library), because Thursday, (Thanksgiving Day for the Americans) is upon us, and anyway, I’ve already ordered the turkey.

From this year onward, we who survived the horrors of Brexit must never forget: Brexpat Day – turkey, baked beans and a nice cup of tea.

Won’t you join us?


Sunday, November 07, 2021

Taking a Few Steps

I was reading one of those noble and irritatingly pious posts that often seem to pop up on Facebook, tenderly placed there by someone who, while short on original ideas, nevertheless feels the urge to receive a small number of 'likes' each morning with his breakfast cereal.

The subject was the number of steps one should profitably make during one's day to ward off heart-attacks, gout and boils on the ankles. This number, says those who know, is 8,000. Eight thousand steps, count 'em: one, two, three... and continue. 

I have a cheap mobile phone among my possessions. It has a direct link to Facebook so that I too can post those occasional inconsequentialities that catch one's attention, along with the kitty pictures.  The phone is of the Chinese persuasion (and none the worse for that) and it comes with a number of useless apps, like a direct link to Amazon (for Goodness' sake) and an alarm clock.

It also has a tiny bean-counter within, which counts the number of steps I make daily, saving me the trouble of doing so myself. It errs on the side of caution and reckons I need to manage at least ten thousand shuffles during my active hours rather than the eight thousand recommended by American doctors, or perhaps it's just that the orientals take shorter steps. 

In reality, while this is useful information indeed - after all, one doesn't want to keel over while one is raiding the fridge - this service only works when the phone is nestling in one's pocket. 

I have found myself more than once walking back to the house to get the phone - not because someone might be calling (I'm retired, and no one calls me any more) - but to allow it to rejoin the count. Plus the steps it evidently missed.

Now, with time on my hands and an empty day to face, it's a wonder indeed that I generally clock up as much as 16,000 paces. My empty day begins as the day-light begins to arrive through the bedroom window (which is why I don't need an alarm clock). I have learned to ignore most of the farm animals, who start their early morning bellow round about 4am, just as I am settling back into bed after the second nocturnal trip to the lavatory. But the dog gets going at dawn, with an endless series of high-pitched yips. She is locked in with the horses and she also needs a pee.

Since I'm soon there - it's around 200 paces away - I also water the horses (there are 35 of them), feed the chickens, the rabbit and the ducks. Then I help Alicia with the feed, the repairs and the usual chores of an active stables. Horses drink a lot, and so I must fill their buckets three times a day.    

The phone doesn't care how I get my paces done. I thought that I could perhaps put the phone into a saddle-pocket and let the students pattering around the ring all day help put my score up to stratospheric levels, which could impress the lower echelons of the Chinese Secret Service as they closely monitor my activities through the ether. I could be increasing my count while sitting in the kitchen and eating a sandwich.

Of course, I'm fooling no one but myself with these inventions. I think I'll take the dog (and the phone) and walk into the pueblo and have a beer and a tapa, maybe see how I'm doing.