Friday, 24 July 2009

Not laziness this time...

...nor business that´s keeping me from penning more posts. I´ve been ill *cough, sniff, splutter*, and my computer has decided it is too, for the second time this month. I hope it´s not terminal.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Raelha´s first concert for almost five years

Actually, make that concerts, or rather one huge festival jam packed full of concerts. Yes indeed, I spent last Thursday, Friday and Saturday swaying, jigging, jiggling, rocking, dancing, bouncing, pogoing, arm waving and singing my heart out in Bilbao. A full three days of Supergrass - always excellent, and coincidentally my last concert in the UK before coming to Spain; The Ting Tings - surprisingly talented as well as being lots of fun; Asian Dub Foundation; Primal Scream; The Editors; Placebo; Jane´s Addiction - best sound and general entertainment of the whole festival, though they also win the ´worst dressed´ prize for the guitarrist´s flared leather trousers; Fisherspooner - my first taste and upon reflection, I like; Chris Cornell - wow; Depeche Mode - I still have ´It´s No Good´swirling around in my head; and others. Basically, sign me up for next year right now!

I´d forgotten how much I missed the entire festival experience, apart from the three-days-camping grungy feeling which, no longer being a manky student, I attempted to avoid this time with baby wipes, spray-on deoderant and finally a trip to the shockingly cold showers when it all got too much.

And no, I didn´t forget to take my camera, but rather forgot to charge the battery beforehand.

Monday, 18 May 2009


A rather interesting sight seen on a recent night out, flying from the terrace of someone's flat in El Entrego:

Who can name the flag?

You know you have a good job, part two...

...when your students give you cake:

This is actually a rather late Easter posting - the pic is of a traditional Spanish Easter cake that I was given by the student I give a private lesson to three times a week. He owns a café and makes some rather tasty pastries to which Sue is particularly partial. Going in for a nibble every now and again is getting to be embarassing affair though since it always ends up on the house. It's a hard life we English teachers lead.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

You know you have a good job when... can spend a chunk of your time there watching films and listening to music - and it counts as part of your work. Yes indeed, I have shown such gems as Juno, Out of Africa, American History X, Pride and Prejudice, The Constant Gardener and The Goonies as well as some lesser works like The Holiday, Love Actually, Spiderman, Shaun of the Dead, Borat and Iron Man, that still make for good entertainment, especially when it´s in the name of earning a living. Of course, it´s not just watching the film, I do make the students work for their visual stimulation - with exercises that have words missing from a particular scene, they have to listen and fill in the gaps before they can watch the rest of the film - but it´s still a pretty good way to pass an hour.

On the songs front I´ve discovered that something upbeat is best to grab their attention. The current winner seems to be Michael Jackson´s Billy Jean, though it´s closely followed
by Bohmeian Rhapsody, You´re the One That I Want (during the playing of which I have to be very careful not to slip into Olivia Netwon John mode and perform her actions in class - especially the part where she beckons to Travola with a sultry look on her face and runs her hands down her body), Hot Chocolate´s You Sexy Thing, Take On Me and It´s Not Unusual. During these lessons it's a common sight to see us all swaying in our chairs as we mouth the lyrics to the music.

This is all a pleasant change from previous years when I was mostly doing grammar and reading exercises with the students. This year we decided my lessons should be devoted to listening and speaking, and aren´t I glad we did.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Things that make me happy about living in Spain, part VII (I think)

As a little girl I'd frequently go shopping with my mum in town on Saturdays, or during the summer holidays and would always be astounded by the number of people she knew. She worked then as a cashier for one of the high-street banks, in the days when the staff in each bank knew all their customers well, and so got to know what seemed to be about half the town.

It was common to walk down Chestergate, a pedestrianised shopping street in Macclesfield, and take over an hour to get from one end to the other - and it wasn't a long thoroughfare - simply because of the quantity of people who stopped to say hello and have a 'quick' chat to my mum - she even knew the people who owned the town's local sex shop and said they were 'lovely men', (something that made me stop and reconsider my opinion of her when I first heard her voice that belief). Anyway, I'd hang around at her side, half listening to yet another conversation, bored witless and wondering how soon it would take us to get away and continue our short journey to where we were going. I must've looked quite sullen standing there, wishing to be elsewhere, or sometimes crossing my legs and bobbing up and down whilst tugging on mum's skirt to tell her that I really needed the loo and couldn't hold on for that much longer and please could we go right now.

Despite my negative feelings of these experiences as a child, I find now that I'm enjoying being in a similar position here in El Entrego. We have over 200 students at the academia, so I know that many people, plus the mothers or fathers who come to collect them. It's almost impossible for me to walk down a street in town without coming across someone I know - frequently a mother without her offspring, who I will recognise but embarassingly am unable to remember just who her son or daughter is. This is particularly a problem if they stop and want a proper chat, but fortunately that doesn't happen too often yet. And then there are the students themselves, the younger ones of whom will often shout 'Raaay-chelll' all the way across the park and wave their arms madly simply to say hello.

Then, as well as all the people I know from the academia you can add to the list my self-defence teacher and his girlfriend, the cashier from my bank, the manager too, the postman, the electrician, the nice men who work at the farmers' suppliers where I often go to buy vegetable plants, my neighbours, and lots of assistants from various shops around the town. They all say hello.

Even if it's just a brief communication it's a great feeling to walk around town and know people I can greet and who'll return my smile. It makes me feel as though I belong.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


I must be jinxed. There's no other explanation.

In the last few months I've had to deal with numerous household items either failing to work completely or needing repairing.

To give you an idea:

The seals on the back windscreen of the car needed replacing. Everytime it rained I had a puddle in the boot of the car, and not just a drop of water, a real, jump-in-it-and-you'd-get-soaked affair. Water is still entering, somehow, thought the front and filtering down to form a deep puddle in the driver's footwell. Oh, and the passenger window, also at the front, will go down at the touch of the button but needs to be hauled up manually afterwards, though it sometimes refuses to budge. Now it's starting to warm up, I'm going to have to get it fixed. The driver's window is on it'sway out too. Ahh, and the other day, after shopping in Lidl (yes, happily, Lidl does exist in Spain as well), I went to start the car but the key refused to fit into the ignition. Strange, I thought, and checked my key ring just to make sure I hadn't picked up someone else's keys by mistake, but no, they were mine alright. After a bit of persuasion, swearing and coaxing I managed to get the key in, but then it wouldn't turn, and it wasn't just because the wheel had locked. Eventually, and feeling rather foolish, I had to call the insurance company for their roadside rescue. Then, just as the mechanic arrived, and despite 20-odd minutes of fiddling with it before I'd even resorted to calling, the key magically turned and the engine started. Apparently the anti-theft system needs looking at. Although I've since gotten used to the quirks of this and can manage to get the car started on most occasion with no hassle.

The other biggie is my computer. Specifically the graphics card, which I hope to replace shortly, though the rest of it can't be far behind. It currently takes me three or four goes to start up the pc - up from one or two attempts a few weeks ago - and then it freezes at the slightlest hint of any animation or video, and also sometimes without, and requires rebooting again. *Sigh*

On top of that, the washing machine and fridge are on their last legs, as well as the toaster, though I'm hoping they'll last out a little longer. *Crosses fingers* Oh, and I sat on my glasses a few months ago (don't ask) so could really do with some new ones, they're about 10 years old now anyway and I know my prescription's changed.

What else? Well, the bread machine conked out a few months ago, but Lidl had some in (which is where the car not starting incident occurred - I returned, triumphant to the car park with my new purchase, before realising I couldn't take it home) for a bargain €45 so that issue was solved. I had a few problems with the hairdryer, but managed to rewire the plug and that's helped some, though it's still complains at every use. The iron stopped working completely but that was fairly easily replaced.

This last week, the strimmer decided to play up - I hadn't used it for months and when I finally decided to get it out on Monday and pulled the starter cable, the damn thing gave a wimpish sputter before dying on me and leaving the cable extended. Ugh. Then there was a gas leak: my gas bottles were running out after only two weeks, which was weird, since they normally last at least three weeks. After an embarasisng incident when I had friends round for lunch and my last bottle unexpectedly ran out on me half way through cooking the food, I decided I had a real problem. This week the nice man from the gas company managed to find the leak for me and will sort it out completely some time next week. It's good to know the house won't be exploding any time on the near future. And finally, also this week, the toilet cistern decided not to seal once it had been flushed and emptied out my water tank. It took me a while, and some copious swearing, to figure out what was happening. I went to get a new part on Friday, but was given the wrong one so I'm still currently making do with the mop bucket to flush the loo.

Hmm, I think that's it. I'm not sure I have anything else that can go wrong on me now, but I'll be sure to let you if it does.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


This is Samson:
As a kitten, sunbathing outside his barn.

Having found a home, with Cheeky.

I'm afraid that no-one will ever get to met him, since he died on Friday morning. It turned out he had leukemia and his liver was in a really bad way. It was something of a shock since he'd seemed to be healthy until last week and it all happened so quickly.
He was only ten months old - one of the cats that I'd rescued from the barn near my mum's house. I'd brought him back home to get him used to being around people with the aim of finding him an adoptive home - I was going to post on this organisation's website - but he turned out to be such a sweet and gentle cat with the biggest paws -  with which he'd only ever pat at you gently - and so eager for company and love that the idea of letting him go had become very difficult. In the end, I had to give him up in the hardest way possible.

Not only am I devastated, but Cheeky has lost his best friend too, he's become very affectionate now his snuggling partner has gone and is curled up on my lap as I type this, purring.

While I'm here, and on a happier note, I'd like to make one more introduction. This little scamp is Mouse, the third cat I rescued, Cheeky and Samson's sister.

I think she's going to be hanging around now, since I can't bear to give her away anymore. From a quiet, shy, skinny puss, deserving of her name, she's turned into lively, loving little minx.

I suspect Cheeky's going to have his paws full keeping all four ladies in order.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


OK, yes, I admit it, I have been lazy as well as busy. I meant to post in the New Year seeing as I had lots to tell you about, mostly involving my first trip back to the UK in three and a half years. And it was fun. I got to see my sister and her boyfriend, and my niece and flirt outrageously with their cat, a handsome ginger tom called Olly, and eat my first Cauldron Foods veggie sausage sandwich in years, which my mum had very kindly prepared for me to scoff as we left the airport. Speaking of which, I got dizzy - honestly- going round the roundabout in the 'wrong' direction leaving Stansted. I'm properly continental now it seems.

Anyway, I can't remember the last time it was so cold, certainly not here, although at times this last winter it's not been far off. But anyway, the cold there added to the festiveness of the trip (probably since I had central heating to go with it) as did a trip to the panto in Harrogate in which I fully particpated. So much so that I started to lose my voice near the end from all the shouting 'oh yes it is' and 'it's behind you', though that didn't stop me, oh no... it was panto, and specifically my first in years and years, and my first with my niece and I wasn't going to not take part.

Sunrise in Ripon, N. Yorkshire on a cold winter's morning. I was taking my niece to school, quite possibly the only thing that could've induced me to get up that early on such a cold day.

Mr Oliver, what gorgeous eyes you have!

How could I resist? And of course, I didn't.

Anyways, I got my first curries (yes, in the plural) in too long, my first chip-shop chips, doused in malt vinegar, in too long and on top of that was spoiled rotten by all the snug central heating. And, if all that wasn't enough, my mum got me a digital camera for Xmas, so now I can once more snap away happily, thanks mum! After five days in North Yorkshire I pootled on down to London with the expectation of warmer weather. Ha! Temperatures got down to -10º. Though I did still enjoy myself. I got to wander the excellent British Museum for an hour, which was nowhere near long enough but still an adventure.

In the British Museum.

I caught up with friends and enjoyed being in the capital, especially at night. Walking across Tower Bridge and seeing the South Bank and St. Paul's and the London Eye all lit up was something special.
Excuse the blurry pic - still practising with the camera.

As were the cocktails with Sue, the vegetarian curry in Tooting and my first pint of proper ale in what felt like an eternity: it was one I hadn't tried before - Timothy Taylor's Landlord and it was quite possibly the best I've ever had.

Too many to choose from, so we ordered two and shared. I very much approved of the large glasses.

The star beverage of the trip: a very tasty Landlord.

I arrived back home in Asturias to snow falling as I drove back up my mountain. Believe me, it's not pleasant coming back to a stone house that has been empty for a week in the middle of winter when it's cold enough to snow after having spent a week of blissful luxury in a centrally-heated environment; especially since a feral cat ripped the cat flap door off its hinges letting a freezing wind into the house (and I'm still having trouble replacing it with the new one, how can an electric drill be so hard to use?). Then, just in time for the start of work, I came down with a nasty cold and cough, which I've just about managed to shake off completely now it seems that spring and the sun have returned to Asturias.
View down the hill at dusk.

Anyway, since then, what have I been up to? Well, getting a tube shoved down my thorat into my tum to see if I'm Coeliac for starters, which was vile, and I'm still waiting on the results - not until May; trudging down to work and back in more snow; starting a self-defence class and wishing my body was as quick at learning as my mind - legs go this way, left arm goes round and out, right arm goes... aw shit, let's start again, again; and welcoming Sue who's come to stay for two months (not quite the strapping 'au pair' she herself suggested I get to help out, but much better company at least) and has been helping me get the garden in order - the potatoes went in today - as well as being a good Scrabble/drinking/DVD-watching partner.

There's one more even that's happened recently which doesn't suit the tone of this posting, which I'd started over two weeks ago, so I'll tell you all about it in another post very soon.

Sorry to have been away for so long - yet again. Now I have a garden helper I hope to have more time again for the blog.