Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Spanish confusion

Since we´ve been here I´ve had plenty of opportunities to improve my Spanish. However, despite much encouragement from my good self, Matt has yet to fully grasp the bull by the horns and learn the language properly. He´s fairly hopeless at verbs but does pick up vocabulary very quickly - and remember it.

This lack of knowledge of the way Spanish works has, on occasion, been the cause of much amusement to me. The most recent of the incidents happened in a coffee bar last week. While supping on his Columbian coffee Matt noticed a sign saying tómate un capricho, which translates as ´have a treat´ (from the verb tomar - have or take). For the life of him, Matt could not understand why a coffee bar would be talking about tomatoes, and I had to have a giggle before I explained.

Even better, was one of the first conversations he had with our neighbour, José María, from whom we buy our eggs (a cultural note - this name translates as Joseph Mary and is a common man´s name in Spain. The women´s version is Mary Joseph - María José). In an attempt to make him practice his Spanish I always make Matt go to buy eggs on his own and he normally comes back half an hour later with two dozen big, fresh eggs and tales of what he´s just been talking about and how he expressed himself. On the occasion in question, Matt was at the bottom of our finca, our piece of land, and called across to José María to ask him if he had some eggs we could buy. Very pleased with being able to ask the question, Matt shouted out, so all the neigbours could hear "¿tienes huevos?" . Now, while this can indeed be translated as ´Do you have eggs?´ huevos is also a very common slang word meaning balls (of the masculine variety, not for playing tennis). So in fact, what Matt had asked was ´Do you have balls?´, which here is a way of asking a man for a fight. Fortunately our neighbour is well aware of Matt´s Spanish (in)capabilities and answered Sí, dos - ´Yes, two´, which Matt understood as meaning ´yes I have two (dozen eggs)´. he came back to house, chest bursting with pride, as he told me about his latest linguistic adventure and was most put out when I burst out laughing.

The best Spanish faux pas however, was committed by Matt´s mum on a visit to us here. She would very often walk down the hill into the town and back and one day came home with stories of how she had practised her Spanish, which she has only been picking up in bits and pieces since she´s been visting us here. This day, she recounted, she´d been on her way down the hill and walked past an elder gentleman on his way up, whom she greeted with a "good day". When questioned as to what she´d actually said, it turned out that it was "¡hola, bueno!". She´d confused the word buenas, which can be used as a shortened version of buenos días or buenas tardes, and in fact said "hi handsome!". The best part of it was that he´d responded with a "¡hola, buena!" or "hello gorgeous".

I have four English-speaking friends arriving today. I wonder if any of them will provide me with my next linguistic chuckle?

Sunday, 26 August 2007


Bar my poor hammock trees, all the old ones left in the garden that have been spared culling are now producing lots of tasty fruit. We mostly have apples and pears. Out of all of them, this little fellow has been most prolific.

It's the smallest of our old trees and hasn't seemed to grow at all the the three summers we've been here. Every year, though, it drips with juicy pears.

Nice pear!

We think our apples trees were planted with cider production in mind - a safe presumption to make around here. Even so, they're very tasty as eating apples, although they go very mushy and lose their flavour if you try to cook with them. (We have a cooking apple tree on our garden shopping list for the winter.)

It was discovered yesterday that an old, ivy covered tree at the bottom of the garden is in fact a plum tree, possibly a wild one. Either it's not produced any fruit for a couple of years, or we're extremely unobservant because this year it's covered in small, sweet red plums, unfotuantely we've left it a bit too late for picking - they're so ripe that as soon as you catch hold of a branch most of them fall off into the undergrowth in the field next door. Next year I shall be prepared, a nice plum jam would go down very well methinks.

On my afternoon tour of the garden (now in full sun, hurray!) I also noticed lots of these cute little fellows. Despite the best efforts of our three cats our lizard population is still going strong, not really surprising as the young ones move incredibly fast. This one tried his best not to be photographed and it seemed he turned his head in disgust upon hearing the click when I took it.

Oh yes, I picked three courgettes today too and am currently succeeding in my objective of avoiding marrows, thanks to daily vigilance. I resorted to making a courgette and blue cheese soup with all of our previous harvest a couple of days ago, it was that wet and miserable. Now I shall have to conjure up something summery with this tasty triumvirate.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

A cat, a cart and an horreo

This afternoon was spent sawing wood. I never look forward to it, but as Matt always says, 'if we don't do it now, we'll be cold in the winter'. Put like that, I can't really say no. Once I'm sawing, however, I get into the swing of things and always stay longer than planned. It's enjoyable to be out in the fresh air, getting a bit of exercise and looking at a splendid view, all at the same time.

This is where we store and saw all our firewood:

It's an horreo, a traditional Asturian, rodent-proof grain storage. You can see them all over the region. They're now protected as several years ago Asturians were in the habit of 'accidentally' knocking them over with their tractor so as to let more light into their house. Matt says he remembers similar structures in Kent when he was a young, and rather mischievous, lad.

I always have company when I'm sawing. I may head up there alone, but sooner or later Elbi, Mahou or Beeps, or all three of them, will come and join me. Today I was honoured with Beeps's presence.

Eyeing up a mushroom

On the horreo steps

On the old cart we use as a sawing horse

And even when you think she's not watching, she often still is:

Keeping an eye on me from the next-door chapel roof

I was rather surprised she was hanging around as we'd just given her her monthly flea-worm treatment which is comprised of a simple, but very pricey, pipette squirted onto the back of her neck. The other two get cheaper tablets and pipettes, but giving tablets to our smallest cat is impossible, anyone would think she were fighting for her life when we tried. We've given up with tablets as we were heartily fed up with being scratched and even bitten. As it is, one of us still has to sneak up on her, gently, but firmly grab her, wrap her in a blanket and hold her neck straight while the other one does the squirting. All as quickly as possible, as she still puts up a fight - claws out and teeth bared. She wasn't a pleased puss after we let her go but from the looks of it all was forgiven fairly quickly.

And finally, here is our lovely, growing woodpile which will keep us warm and snug this winter.

Monday, 20 August 2007

A mini-adventure

I was reminded last weekend about a category of driver that I completely forgot to include on my list of Spankers . What refreshed my memory was this:

It was painted on a parked truck that I saw yesterday whilst in La Bañeza, a small town in Castilla-León, the province over the mountains from here. According to Duncan, who is currently working as a long-distance lorry driver, this is very common on trucks from Andalucía, although I can´t say I´ve ever noticed it before. What I have noticed it a similar picture stuck on cars here in Asturias. It´s a specific sticker with a picture of the Virgin of Covadonga on it - she being the patron saint of Asturias, although most places round here seem to have their own version: we have one whose statue resides in the chapel next to our house - the Virgin of Llaneces. So, back to the point. There are many cars that drive around Asturias with this sticker on them, and underneath the picture is written ´Yo conduzco, ella me guía´which translates as ´I drive, she guides me´. The first time I saw this I wasn´t sure if I´d read correctly, but no, it´s true: there are people here who think they can drive in the middle of the road, straddling both lanes and pull over abruptly when it suits them, without indicating of course, because the virgin will look after them. There must be many drivers who, when stopped by the police for some misdemeanour or other, use the virgin as a scapegoat for their atrocious driving: "I'm ever so sorry officer, I was only behind the wheel, it's the Virgin´s fault, she made me do it." And you can imagine a similar story on insurance claim papers - cause of accident: The Virgin.

Anyway, back on track. What was I doing in La Bañeza? Well, Duncan called on a rainy Saturday to tell Matt he was holed up there for the weekend before taking his truckload of tuna cans to be filled with tuna fish in Galicia. He delighted Matt about tales of the bike race that was taking place, with live music in the evenings, stalls and food and a generally festive atmosphere, even free beer. Needless to say, Matt was very eager to hop on his Aprilia and get down there. However, there was just one little problem to this plan, namely the wet, atrocious, Asturian weather. To cut a long story short, I was persuaded to accompany my beloved on his trip in the car on Sunday (next time there´s a concert I want to go to I will use this trip as leverage to make Matt come with me) and Susana, Duncan´s wife, came along too.

As we got closer to La Bañeza we saw numerous bikes driving away from the town. Matt optimistically decided that they were people who had long distances to travel and so had left early, but on arrival it became apparent that we had indeed missed the races and accompanying festivities. This was rather more disappointing for Matt than myself as I was enjoying luxuriating in the sun that has recently forsaken Asturias and left it at the mercy of threatening, grey rain clouds. So, determined to make the best if it we went for a stroll around the town, and them settled down for a few beers before a tasty dinner in posh mesón.

The river in La Bañeza.

In the Plaza Mayor - Matt with the first of many empty glasses.

Matt and I slept in Duncan´s truck, which has a bunk bed in the cab -an entirely new experience for us that we were eager to try (and save €60 in the process by not needing a hotel room) and it turned out to be very comfortable. However, the sound of various truckers starting their engines at intervals in the early morning wasn't conducive to a good sleep, neither was having to get up in the middle of the night to relieve myself behind the truck (as Stephen King once wrote, ´beer is full of vitamin P´). Then, Duncan banged on the truck door at 7.30 the following morning and ordered us out of his cab so he could get his essential cargo of tin cans to their destination by midday. This was the earliest I'd woken up in a long time, but I coped with the shock surprisingly well - for me at least - and managed to greet Duncan with a bright "morning!" instead of my more usual grunts of annoyance at having been woken up way too early.

The best part of the trip was the drive back. We'd hastily driven down there on the motorway, but on the return journey we took our time with a leisurely drive over the mountains.

Heading back home, towards the mountains.

I´d been in that part of Spain before, but what struck me after having been here in Asturias for so long, was the openess of the countryside (and the clear blue of the sky after suffering a week of rain here). You could literally see for miles, to the hazy, blue-grey peaks in the distance. As we approached the mountains, the landscape gradually changed, but it was constantly beautiful. We passed so many picturesque villages and hamlets tucked away in the hills under cloud-free skies, that I frequently exclaimed "ooh, wouldn´t I like to live here!" and if the rain carries on here in Asturias as it has this summer I may just go and do that.

At about 1,600m, just before crossing into Asturias.

Going over the Tarna pass into Asturias we were expecting more clouds and rain, but it seemed the good weather had followed us back and we drove down the mountains on the other side in sunshine.

Taken from near the Tarna Pass - we love stopping up here and taking in the view across the Parque Natural de Redes. Not only does it look good, but the air is clean and fresh and filled with the smell of heather and other vegetation.There was no-one else up there with us. I could've stayed the whole day if I'd had a picnic and no work to go to.

It was only when we got near El Entrego that the clouds appeared again, and by the time I had showered and scoffed a quick lunch the rain was falling once more. Matt happily announced that he was going for a siesta and left me to drive sleepily down the hill to work.

Saturday, 18 August 2007


What does a girl do on a rainy day? Well, she sorts out her onions, of course.

It was a poor crop this year due to all the spring/early-summer rain. Anything I couldn't string up went in a jar with some red wine vinegar (you can't get the malted stuff out here), dried chillies and peppercorns. Now we just have a three month wait until we can enjoy them. I shall have to keep an eye on Matt as I know he's liable to sneak a few earlier to go on his cheese butties, especially now we know where to get hold of a good cheddar.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Things I don't like about living in Spain, part IV

The need to do this post has been building up for quite some time now, although I'd been putting it off because, well, one doesn't like to moan too much. However, I can take it no longer, I absolutely have to rant and rave about bad Spanish drivers, or Spankers as my friend's dad down near Malaga calls them.

Now, before anyone starts with their "hang on just one moment...", I do realise that Spain does not have a monopoly on dreadful motorists and I'm fully aware that making generalisations and stereotyping is a Bad Thing. However, I would like you all to read the following post and make up your own minds.

I first became aware of bad Spanish drivers (to henceforth be referred to a BSDs) when I spent five months living in Valencia in 1996. The flat I rented with some friends from uni was on one of the main roads leading into the city centre, with two fairly busy lanes in each direction. Apart from honking horns, the most common sound - two or three times a day - rising above the general buzz of the traffic, was the screech of car tires as a vehicle had to come to a sudden stop for one reason or another. Then in Lugo (Galicia), where I spent nine months in 1997-1998, I learnt about the impatience of Spanish drivers and their use of the car horn - if Spanish drivers are waiting in a queue for any reason and feel that they should have started moving already, somebody will honk their horn. Once this first move has been made, everyone will follow suit, and it's not just one honk, it's constant honking, no matter what time of day. The road where I used to work in Lugo was a popular honking spot due to it being a narrow residential street with cars parked on either side. All it needed was for one car to double park for a minute to drop something off or pick up a friend and the cacophony would start.

So that's my introduction to BSDs, nothing too damning so far, but carry on reading and you'll see...

Since I have been in Asturias I have learnt just how bad BSDs can be. I don't know if this is because Asturias has a greater proportion of BSDs or because this is the first time I've actually driven in Spain myself. No matter, all I know is that there are a great many people around here who should not even be let near a car, never mind allowed to get in one and motor around.

Apart from the usual suspects (BMW drivers) there are many other categories of BSD. To start off with we have our older drivers, normally male, who have never actually passed a driving test and yet have still been given a licence. This is because, apparently, years ago in Spain the driving licence did not exist, all you needed to be able to drive was a car. When the law was finally changed they just handed out licences left, right and centre to those who were already motoring. I can imagine that this wasn't too bad at the time when cars were slower and there were fewer of them on the roads. Nowadays though, you often come across older drivers doing 20 kph in the middle of the road with cars trying to get past in both directions.

Next, we have the roundabout virgins. I call them virgins, because even though you know they must've taken on a roundabout before, you'd never guess it from their driving. This normally takes one of two forms. The first involves stopping whilst on the roundabout to let cars onto it. You constantly need to be on the lookout in case you have one of these in front of you and have to hit the brakes suddenly. The second category is made up of those people who only ever use the outside lane, no matter what exit they're taking. Matt and I have learnt from experience that we use the inside lane at our peril. Several times we've been cut off when trying to move from the inside to the outside lane to exit and we find that the person who'd originally taken the outside lane has moved all the way round the roundabout with us to then cut us off at the point we wished to exit, meaning that we need to navigate the roundabout once more to finally be able to get off it. The very worst example of roundabout abuse that I have been witness, and unwilling party, to and possibly the worst example of driving I've ever seen in Spain, was at the small roundabout at the edge of town with an exit that leads uphill to our house. There are four roads leading off the rounadbout and I was coming from town to take the last exit home. Behind me was a small white van (yes, OK, I should've known!). I indicated right to let the driver behind me know where I was going and off I went. To my astonishment, when I came to the exit I saw the van coming from my left - the wrong way round the roundabout - to pull in front of me and zoom off down the same exit as I was about to take. I slammed on the breaks and spend a few seconds flabbergasted before I carried on my journey home, running in the front door to tell Matt about the biggest Spanker I'd ever come across.

Next there are non-indicators. The name speaks for itself and includes 90% of the drivers round here. The first thing you know about the person in front of you stopping at the roadside is when s/he suddenly slows down in front of you and pulls over with not the slightest indication of his/her intentions. You can also get a combined non-indicator/roundabout virgin. It's highly frustrating to be waiting at a roundabout for a car that is not indicating and that you assume is going straight round past you, only to find that s/he exits down the road you're coming from, thus spoiling your perfect opportunity to get on the roundabout. And this happens almost every time.

Now we come to bad parkers. You get them everywhere, but they proliferate here. BSDs will park anywhere. They double park on narrow roads, they park on zebra crossings and block the lowered part of the pavement so wheelchair users can't cross the road. They will park on street corners at an angle where the two roads meet. Sometimes it's not obvious they've even parked, they just stop in the middle of the road. Driving through El Entrego on market day is like running a slalom.

Then there are the zebra-crossers, who seem to have no idea what pedestrian crossings are for and drive straight across them at speed. Not only is this annoying when I want to cross the roads, but it also has the effect that when I do stop to let pedestrians cross, they usually ignore me and stay put or wave at me to carry on. Those that do cross often do so with a servile look of gratitude on their face as if I've just done them a huge favour that they can never possibly repay. This lack of regard for crossings has irritated me so much that I've now taken to crossing them, on foot, as slowly as possible, just to annoy the Spankers and make certain that they have to stop to let me across.

The penultimate category of BSDs is drunks. Going out for a tipple with your car and then driving home is very common here, and not just in the evenings but at lunchtime too. They will often combine all the charateristics of the above-mentionned drivers so you especially have to be on your guard. There is a bar half-way up the hill to our house, and I often get caught behind someone who's obviously had 'one' too many and fancies another one the way home. The best thing to do with these is to keep your distance at all times and watch them like a hawk. Don't try to overtake as you never know when they're going to swerve across the road, and they probably don't know either. They'll often slow down from their snail's pace to salute acquaintances on the way up and then pull over when they get near the bar without any indication whatsoever.

And finally we get to the macho youngsters, scourge of the Spanish roads. As the name suggests, this category is mostly made up of the male of the species, although it also includes all those females who feel the need to show that they can drive just as 'well' as their male counterparts. These people often drive Seats or will have souped up another make of car. The Seat is ideal though as it proves what a thoroughly nationalistic and masculine driver is behind the wheel. You know you're in for trouble if you see one approaching in the rear view mirror. Another sign of these drivers is a torrito sticker on the rear of the car. Combine this small black bull with a red Seat León sporting a spoiler and a huge exhaust and you have your muy macho youngster, an even worse offender for speeding, tailgating and suicidal overtaking. Of course, the best way to deal with these is to keep a cool head and let them past. Matt however prefers to squirt his windscreen cleaner if he finds one behind him - as they get so close they end up with water on their screens too. For some reason seem to be unable to deal with using their windscreen wipers and driving at speed at the same time so they normally back off after the threat of a little of water. I still prefer to let them overtake and then curse them loudly, it make me feel much better.

So there we have it, a damning account indeed, I think, and a warning for anyone thinking of driving in Spain. I defy anyone not to let me enter Spankers/BSDs onto my Spanish blacklist!

Friday, 10 August 2007


Matt recently decided that several trees in our trying-to-be-a garden were too decrepit. When we first got here it was just a field partly-covered with old fruit trees that had been left to their own devices; some were partly falling over and all of them were suffering from neglect. Some heavy pruning ensued, but despite this, two and half years later, he took the decision to remove the diseased and unproductive ones - a few days ago the sentence was carried out and he brutally chopped five of them down, much to my consternation. I did plead for my hammock trees, which are very old and gnarly with not a single fruit between them, and they have been magnanimously granted a stay of execution.

Despite this recent culling, we do have the tree balance in our favour. Since moving here we've planted a mandarin tree, two figs (one green, one purple), two different types of plums, a cherry, a walnut, a mimosa, some kind of fir, a lilac and a Japanese maple, plus several shrubs and bushes. We have another walnut and mimosa, two wild peaches and two tiny plum trees waiting to be put in this winter and are planning on planting an orange and a lemon tree too.

Last year, to our great excitement, we got our first figs - just a few, but they were delicious. I love peeling away the skin to reveal the juicy, sweet pink flesh inside. I have my fingers crossed for many more this year - enough to make my figs soaked in brandy, served with creme fraiche, and if we're fortunate we may also get our first manadarins - the tree has tiny green balls on it at the moment that will hopefully ripen before they fall off.

In other garden news, I've finally strung the garlic up, something which Elbi greatly enjoyed taking part in:

The courgette count currently stands at 'lots, with more on the way' although we've been managing to keep up with them so far.

Early-morning cloud

I do like waking up in the morning - as long as it's not too early so I can wake up without help from anything or anyone else - and opening the curtains, as I'm never quite sure what I'm going to see. This morning was particularly special.

The cloud has cleared now, the sky is blue and I can see no clouds. It's perfect hammock weather. Or would be if I didn't have to go and collect some cucho (Asturian for 'manure') from the neighbour.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

We finally see the light, but the cats get a little confused

I forgot to mention in my previous post the building work that had been done on our house this last week. It was nothing major, but it has made all the difference. We had a new front door fitted. One with glass in it, lots of glass. The old front door was a wooden affair. It was so old and badly fitted that it let in lots of drafts. For more than a year we had cardboard and old carpet stapled to it in an effort to keep out cold winds. But no more, the horrid old door has gone and we have this to replace it:

Not only does it mean the house will be warmer in the colder months, but that we get a significantly increased amount of light into the house which I'm still getting used to. The first thing I did when the door was fitted was to get myself one of these:

I love having plants in the house and was quite upset at having to give all mine away when I left Wales, including a rather splendid dracaena. We hadn't had the light or space for plants up until now.

I used to have one of the above in Cardiff, and I loved it dearly, but it grew too tall for the rental house I was in so I gave into the caring hands of my mum, who promptly threw it away when she moved house - no mum, I've not forgotten! So I seized the opportunity to get myself another one. It can grow as tall as it likes where it is on the stairs and I'm hoping it does. I always find a house with plants in it to be much more welcoming.

The only members of the household who aren't too pleased with the new arrangement are the cats. They used to have their cat flap in the old door, so Matt has had to adapt a ventilation hole in the kitchen to give them their own tunnel leading through the stonework to the flap which gives onto the terrace. The tunnel had been prepared two weeks previously to cause the least amount of confusion as possible. Matt checked on the size of the hole by picking up Elbi - who's always happy to oblige, and also the fattest of the three - and shoving her ever so gently, but firmly, through the hole. After discovering that the fat cat would fit through we left the tunnel open for investigation before closing it off until we put the door in.

Cats are conservative creatures and our decision to change the door, and so the position of the flap, has not been welcomed as enthusiastically as we had hoped. Never mind that they will be much snugger in winter, our three felines are not happy at having had their own front door moved, despite our careful planning. They will now often sit by the new door and look in or out and sniff to see what's happened. Only then, when they've checked that the flap hasn't reappeared in its proper place will they resort to using the new entrance. We have only just been forgiven by Mahou, always the grumpiest of the three, who has spent most of the last two days outside, away from the house, in protest. This morning, however, she jumped on the bed with a chirrup before snuggling against my leg and purring gently, which I'm very grateful for.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Summertime, and the living is easy...

Well, it has to be when it's this hot. The forecast is giving it to be 37 degrees today and for once, it's not wrong. It was possibly hotter on our terrace today at lunchtime and we ate inside for the first time in ages. Phew.

Seeing as it's too hot for us to have done anything of much interest I thought I'd post a selection of photos I like, taken during the last couple of weeks or so.

A flower from what we think is an ajo-puerro (garlic-leek). They grow in our garden every year without us doing anything to them. Even if we pull them up they still reappear the following year, although we tend to leave them so we can enjoy the flowers.

Moonrise over the mountains. We've caught a few of these recently as it's now hot enough to eat dinner outside, and we take full advatage.

How to spot a black cat on a dark night.

Three of the luckiest cats in Asturias, on the terrace in the cooler evening weather.

And finally, this is where I'm hoping to laze tomorrow, joined by a good book, a glass of something cool and refreshing and maybe a cat, if I'm lucky.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

The Weekend: Sunday - John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers

I'd been awaiting last Sunday evening with interest, if not anticipation. Having never heard of John Mayall before I wasn't sure quite what to expect. And I still wasn't sure when we arrived at the concert venue in Oviedo as it was full of people of all ages, sizes and dress senses.

Having been fortified with a Rioja from the posh bar we made our way to the auditorium, passing John Mayall himself on the way signing autographs and selling CDs - 'well, at least he's eager', I thought. I noticed a greatly-pleased man who had just bought a CD and also got his T-shirt signed. Said item of clothing was printed with 'classic' album covers - I noted Pink Floyd's 'The Dark Side of The Moon' above the signed John Mayall cover and in true High Fidelity style decided that was all I needed to know about the man. (I have a slight problem with Pink Floyd. For some reason or other, many of my boyfriends across the years have had a P.F. obsession - Matt included - and their albums have been played to death for my 'benefit', despite much protest on my part.)

Being seated at a concert for me is a bad start. My natural concert habitat is a dark smoky room with a bar in the corner, where I can stand, beer in hand, and observe the band. I prefer to have full dancing options too, ranging from toe-tapping to a jump-up-and-down-in-the-middle-of-the-crowd frenzy (although I can't quite remember the last time I did the latter). So it was with a little resignation that, having checked that there was indeed no bar in the auditorium, I settled myself into my seat to await the music.

We had the Bluesbreakers on first to warm up the crowd before they introduced the 'Father of British Blues' and then on came John Mayall, who despite being in his seventies had the demeanour, and body, of a much younger man. 'This is what doing something you love as a profession will do for you', I decided and sat back to see what would happen next. It was round this point that I noticed I had the concert's most-enthusiastic goer right in front of me. A 30-odd year old woman who couldn't stop jiggling in her seat and clapping to the music with her arms in the air - obviously the blues's version of a mosher. Now this was entertainment. I wasn't hugely enamoured with the music - although they were all obviously highly-talented musicians - but put them together with the crowd and we had something worth watching.

A quick glance down my row two or three songs into the performance and I realised that I had found a more fervent admirer than jjiggly-woman. It was, in fact, T-shirt man from the autograph signing. At the end of every song he would half stand up, arms raised in the air, and give those on stage a big thumbs up with both hands whilst grinning and cheering madly. He was obviously having the time of his life and I felt slightly guilty for my lack of enthusiasm, although I was pleased to have found some more entertainment.

The rest of the night proceeded in similar fashion, with two encores at the end. After a pleasant dinner in nearby cafe and a couple more glasses of Rioja, we made our way home. I can't say I'd be tempted to see John Mayall in concert again, although if knew T-shirt man would be there too I might say yes.